How is it already time for one of these again? I guess this is what happens when I don’t post as much. Which I am hoping to change soon, for the record. I have just felt so scattered for the past while.
Anyway, let’s see how I did this month. As a reminder, I calculate my saving rate in three ways: pre-tax, post-tax and post-tax where the savings also includes additional mortgage principal paid.
As another reminder, I have approximately a zillion sAlly accounts for various goals/sinking funds* so a lot of my “savings” doesn’t go directly into my main savings account.
So let’s see where my money went this month!
*Accounts where you save up for an anticipated expense.
I put $300 a month into a fund so that I’ll have either a tremendously large down payment or the full replacement cost of a car when my 2012 Civic dies. Since it’s only got about 81,000 (?) miles on it, hopefully I will have the full cost — even as car costs have gone insane.
This goal is for more than a year away (I hope, anyway), so it’s a long-term goal and counts toward my saving rates.
I have a yearly premium, so I put away $100 a month toward that. Since this bill is less than a year away, it doesn’t count toward my saving rates.
I pay taxes quarterly: FICA for my business and my state and federal individual taxes. While I’m having to save less now that I reconfigured my taxes, I do still have to put So each month I’m putting aside a little over $1,550 toward the next payment due.
This of course doesn’t count toward my saving rates.
Obviously, this doesn’t count as savings, but this post is looking at where my money went for the month, not just whether it was saved.
And this month was painful. A confluence of expenses meant I had to pay almost $1,300 to the cards. Owwwww.
The main house’s unit (the guest house has its own system) is now about 10 years old. HVAC units here last anywhere from 12 to 20 years. Whee, uncertainty.
So I’m putting away $145 a month toward that eventual, hopefully about 10 years from now, expense. This does count as a long-term goal so is included in my saving rates.
I have an iPhone 7, and based on Apple’s history, my phone won’t accept updates much past the next phone’s release.
That’s often not a problem for functionality right away, but apps do reach a point where your phone can’t accept the latest update, so the app won’t work at all. And Apple does slow down older phones. So I’m saving $50 a month toward a newer model for when the time comes.
This may be as little as a year away (depending on app updates/how frustrated I get with my current phone), so I don’t count it in my saving rates.
Cell plan fund
Even though Mint Mobile is so cheap — I pay $15 per month for 4 GB of data — it does still add up. And that $201.36 bill (including taxes and fees) did hurt this time around. Probably because it came due in a month where I had some unexpected expenses.
So it might not be so bad this next year, but why chance it? Thus I’m putting away $16.78 toward next year’s payment. Since this is another payment coming due in less than a year, it doesn’t count in my saving rates.
Termite protection fund
Each year, I pay Orkin about $330 for the year’s protection. Termites like my place, so it’s a good investment. But again, the bill hurts when it hits my card each winter.
So $27.67 goes into this Ally account each month. As the payment will be due in less than a year, the money doesn’t count toward my saving rates.
A relative recently came out as transfemale. (She’s still a teen, so “woman” seems inappropriate just yet.) I know the surgeries that can be associated with a transition are pricey and rarely covered by insurance. And I’m in a good position financially right now, even if I worry sometimes, so I’m saving $50 a month and will give it to her when she’s ready to have the procedure(s) done. It won’t be huge — probably around $2,000 max — but I figure it’s something.
Since this isn’t money I’ll be keeping, I don’t count it in my saving rates.
Guest house rent
I have a small guest house in back that I rent out for $500 a month. Even though it’s really small — 412 sq ft to be exact — I could probably get more. Phoenix rent is crazy.
But I don’t need the money at present, and the tenant is great — quiet, pays on time and, god love her, is even apologetic when she has to ask for repairs — so I see no reason to ask for more right now.
I tack this money on to my mortgage payment to help me pay down my loan faster. So this counts in the third savings rate I mentioned.
Over the years, various frugal hacks have helped me trim expenses. This includes things like cutting the cord, switching from Vonage to Ooma etc. I estimate it’s about $160 less I spend each month. And I don’t want that money to disappear into general spending. So I put it aside as what I call saved savings.
I also include money that I save from sales that I hit (on anything I would have bought anyway), coupons, store rewards and credit card rewards. This month, that was an additional $105.69.
These amounts also get added to my mortgage payment and thus count in the third saving rate.
I’m trying to hit a year’s worth of my emergency budget in this account. I always put $200 into the account, but I boost this a little in my as-always overly complicated way.
Basically, I take my paycheck and deduct all of the above amounts, my general spending allotment for the month ($1,100 this month) and auto-deductions like my life insurance and the electric bill. Once I have that number, I round it down to the nearest $100 and put the difference into my EF. So $1,550 would become $1,500 and $50 would go to this fund.
This month, that meant an additional $77.94 went to my emergency fund. It looks like this puts me only about $1,415 away from my goal. Woot!
Obviously, the emergency fund is a long-term goal. So it counts toward all three rates.
SEP-IRA and savings
All this left $1,800 to divvy up between my savings account and my SEP-IRA. My savings account balance is quite healthy, so while I do want to keep growing it, I don’t feel the need to put a ton of money in. Thus I put $300 into savings and $1,500 into the SEP.
There was some miscellaneous blog income this month, so the total amount to go into the SEP was $1,621.21.
Given that I got a late start saving for retirement in earnest, this is very good news. In fact, added to the rest of the contributions from this year, I’m already 65% of the way to maxing out the account. (I can put 25% of my employee salary into this account.) Plus last month I put $1,900ish into my i401(k).
And yes, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to sock away this kind of money. It’s a huge blessing to have a salary that lets me save so much each month.
All in all
Despite the large credit card bill, I still had some very respectable results.
Post-tax with additional mortgage payment: 50.7%
I aim to have the third saving rate be 50%, so I was happy to see that I met that goal. Of course, I’d love to have had more breathing room — I feel like 50.7% is sort of squeaking by — but I know these results are pretty dang awesome. So I should probably just take the win.
I say this every month, but I also never know if someone new is stopping by the blog to read these updates. So to repeat myself once again:
If your results don’t look like mine, that isn’t a reflection on your saving skills or dedication. In fact, many of you are more frugal than I am. My success comes quite a bit from the advantages I have.
First and foremost, I have a high salary. It’s a heck of a lot easier to save when you just have more money left over after basic expenses. Basic logic.
Second, my mortgage is ridiculously low. The market was still pretty far down when I got this place, so I only pay $612 a month for a place to live. Even with utilities and occasional repairs, that means so much less in housing expenses for me versus most people.
Also, for better or worse, I don’t have any kids. I’m sure I would have loved the little sucker(s) with all my heart, but there is definitely a part of me that’s relieved I don’t have one of those adorable money pits. Mainly the part that’s scrambling to catch up on retirement. But also the part that enjoys only having to take care of myself — and being able to make last-minute plans without worrying about finding a sitter.
There are other advantages too, but those are the biggies. So this is me reminding you that it’s almost impossible to do an apples-to-apples comparison of two people’s finances. As long as you’re making an effort to handle your finances, you’re leagues ahead of many, many people.
How did everyone else’s financial month go?