How has another month passed since I did my last spending report? Gah, I guess I’m just so intermittently out of it that I can’t keep track.
Well, for better or worse (this time, mostly worse), another month of spending has come and gone. All we can do now is look at the damage.
We’ll start off with the overall numbers:
Asterisks will be explained in each section.
This is the second month in a row where I had to raise the monthly spending projection from its usual $200 to $400ish.
Last month, it was renewing my car tabs for two years. This month, it was my cell service. Mint Mobile gives me 4 GB of data (unlimited talk/text) for $15/month plus taxes and fees. But to get that rate, I have to prepay for a year.
So an irregular expense of $201.37 got added to monthly spending. From here on out, I decided to create a sinking fund for it. No reason not to plan ahead when I know the bill will be coming.
I also had to buy some new sheets. The ones I got on Black Friday (to match the new bedding I’d gotten) were just a little too rough for me. (Apparently I’m a thread count snob now.) So I spent $76 at Ross for two pairs of 500 thread-count king-size sheets.
Also included in this category is my $15.19 Netflix charge and my $52.60 life insurance. There were a couple other odds and ends, but the other big “spending” in this category was $70.77 into Saved Savings.
For those of you who are new, I put any amounts saved through sales, coupons, store rewards, etc. into a Saved Savings account. The savings only count if I were going to buy the item anyway, but it still adds up quite a bit.
This section of the so-called spending is the reason for the asterisk. It echnically, of course, this isn’t “spending” since the amount goes into a bank account (and later into additional principal on my mortgage). But since it comes out of my general monthly funds, I count it here.
The vast majority of saved savings this month was from the gift card I used to pay for takeout. I’m still working on cutting down how much I get convenience food. But I also saved some with store rewards ($2 at Walgreens) and coupons ($7.99 at CVS and $1.80 on Amazon). So that’s something.
Finally, I found a pretty, very delicate opal necklace off Etsy for $27.89. I love it!
Yes, this is the second necklace I’ve bought in three months. (The other was an awesome layered necklace — something I’ve wanted for years — that was only $21 after tax.) I promise I’m not going crazy with jewelry, but I’m excited to be getting close to being able to go out (carefully) and look nice. And I wore my black choker too much pre-pandemic. So I’m going to try to branch out a little as things resume.
I love both necklaces and will be using them plenty — I wore the one above on Saturday when my friends and I met up at a very open, almost deserted bar patio hangout. And I’ll be wearing the layered one to my friend Ryan’s birthday party. (Everyone attending has to have had at least one shot, and I’ll still be staying outside except for bathroom breaks. But socializing! Squee!) So they’re good buys in my book.
The only charge in this category was the $30 for maintenance plans on the main house’s and guest house’s HVAC units. So at least nothing broke this month. That’s always cause for celebration.
Because Aaron got the kittens, I’ve been driving to him rather than the usual vice versa. It’s 20 miles each way, so for the first time in more than a year, I had to fill up the tank twice this month.
I actually kept up decently on laundry this month, so I didn’t come in too much under budget.
I didn’t budget enough here because I forgot to check how much litter I had left when budgeting for this category. So in addition to the usual $33.95 Banfield plan auto-charge, I had to buy about $24 of litter.
Eesh, just barely under the limit here.
In recent months, most of the charges in this category have been because I try to make sure I pay for takeout half the times that Aaron and I order some. This month, it was only twice — but once was after the quasi-hike, and I was so tired I paid for delivery and tip and got a little more food than usual. So it was a painful $41.49.
Otherwise, there were three trips to Dairy Queen, which isn’t great. Blizzards are delicious, but I am trying to cut down on how much of this type of food I eat. So it’s something I will be working on.
I also ordered an extra large pizza and cinnamon sticks ($36.21 after delivery and tip) early in the financial month. I remember there being a compelling reason for my breaking down and spending that much — and getting that much pizza — but I don’t recall what it was. Almost certainly emotions. I’m trying to work on emotional eating, but it’s a process.
I put an asterisk in the spending for this category to remind us that I did buy more takeout than this, but since it was paid for with a gift card, it wasn’t really “spent.” Still, for a more accurate idea of my actual takeout overconsumption, it’s worth noting there were five other meals I “bought” this month.
Finally a month where I didn’t spend anything! I’ll b I feel like every month, even without haircuts or salon hair-coloring, I’ve bought some beauty product or other. Sheesh.
I will start spending in this category again soon, since I’ll resume haircuts two weeks after my second shot. But hopefully even then category spending will be minimal because I really don’t need any more makeup or fancy haircare products for a while.
Oof, this was a big spending month for personal care.
A big chunk of the funds was for my CVS CarePass. It was $52.13 after tax, but it’s more than worth it. I get a $10 credit every month, and since I inevitably always need contact lens solution, lotion or moisturizer, it will never go unspent.
Other than that, I had to buy a new contact lens case and solution ($15.81) when I was staying at Aaron’s but forgot the bag I’d packed. (D’oh!) and I bought a heating pad for just under $18 after my bad back incident. There was also a deal on lotion, plus I needed some eye drops. After the CarePass bucks and a coupon, those were $10.30.
My electric bill is averaged out, so it’s a standard $131.52 a month. My natural gas bills (hot water heater) was just under $26. Normally, I’d also have a water/sewer/garbage bill of about $55, but I discovered an insurance plan benefit that helped there.
So… Medicare plans have weird benefits. For example, last year I found out that mine gives me a $50 quarterly credit for CVS-brand OTC items that I can order online.
The latest discovery was that my insurance “pays” me for doing certain basic medical maintenance. I will get money for my annual checkup, a mammogram, a flu shot, etc. The funds come on a prepaid card, which you can use on purchases at Sam’s Club/Walmart or on transportation or utilities.
So I ended up with a prepaid card balance of $175. My natural gas and electric bills are auto-debited from my bank accounts, so I didn’t want to mess with that. So I’m just using the balance for my water/sewer/garbage bill.
That paid for this month’s $55ish bill plus about $10 in assistance. Annoyingly, though I spent less than $75, a full $75 was deducted. So I guess maybe each credit has to be used in full at once? Good to know for padding my assistance donation each month.
I should be able to pay two more months’ bills with the remaining credits, so I’ll lower the projected spending for this category in April/May.
More insurance weirdness: My doctor got kicked off my plan because he moved. They said he has to recertify.
I wrote a hail-Mary letter to insurance stating that I only stayed with them because he was covered — that he is the only doctor I will see. (Most won’t prescribe Adderall for off-label uses like fatigue, but I didn’t specifically say that lest they freak out about that.) He moved in early September, which means he notified them before that, but the information wasn’t updated in their system until January.
This means that he still showed as an in-network provider during the enrollment period. Which means I entered into what is essentially a year-long contract based on erroneous information they provided me. Thus I asked them to make an exception and still cover my monthly visits.
It won’t work, but it’s worth a shot.
My doctor feels bad, so he’s only charging me what the insurance would’ve paid him ($65). So it’s not a huge expense each month. But it’s still one I’m grumbling about.
Beyond that, I paid for my insurance premium and dental add-on (about $440 together), some supplements, a $25 copay for my psychiatrist and $52 for the two prescriptions I filled.
Eesh just barely under budget here. And while I didn’t buy as much junk food as I have most months, a lot of it wasn’t super healthy either. I discovered a very addictive chipotle gouda that is delicious with Wheat Thins, so it was purchased several times.
I also spent about $54 on food and drinks for when I had the trivia group over for a backyard hangout, so that goosed the spending too.
The asterisk for this category is to remind people that I also buy about $80 of protein bars a month. However, I purchase discounted gift cards from resale sites like Raise to help defray the cost. When I buy those, it’s accounted for in the Miscellaneous category of the month, so I don’t include the cost of the bars in Grocery, lest I count the same funds twice.
Even with the unexpected/irregular expenses this month, I came in about $160 under the projected spending, which is nice. But I still spent more than in an average month, obviously, which is less nice.
And of course, the total up there isn’t the whole picture. I also paid my mortgage — which I don’t include since I always tack on additional principal and would thus always be overbudget — plus made charitable donations and paid my Internet bill, which isn’t included because my business pays for it.
Once you add all that in, I spent $3,662.53 this month. More than I’d like, but about $780 of that was additional mortgage principal. Since I’m now down to $40,000 on my mortgage (woot!), that spending won’t be around in a few years.
So overall, I think I’m still on track to live relatively comfortably even when I’m relying on retirement income.
I’m making good progress, but I only started saving in earnest two years ago at age 40. So I’m not sure how much I can count on having to draw down from in my old age. Thus these monthly reports have the dual purpose of keeping me extra aware of my spending (particularly how quickly it adds up) and comforting me that I’ll probably be okay if I can just keep making headway with my SEP-IRA/Roth IRA/Solo 401(k).
How did everyone else’s spending go last month?