I know the last update was only a couple of weeks ago, but I’m apparently back on schedule — however long that lasts — so it’s time to talk about how I did this month.
As a reminder, I paid off my mortgage (sorta), so from now on I’ll only be calculating my saving rate pre- and post-tax.
Anyway, here’s where my money went this month.
My trusty Honda Civic should still have many years ahead of it, but I’m nevertheless saving for an eventual replacement. I put $300 into the Car bank account.
Either this will mean that I have the full replacement cost when the time comes or that I’ll at least have a hefty down payment and be used to have a car payment. So it’s win-win.
This is a long-term savings goal, so it’s counted in my saving rates.
My annual premium should be due before too long, but luckily I saved $100 a month in an account so that I won’t have to take it out of my main savings account.
Since this money will be spent in under a year, I consider it short-term savings and don’t count it in the saving rates.
Okay, definitely not savings. But if we’re looking at where my money goes each month, this is a goodly chunk of it. About $1,552 of it, actually.
If this sounds like a lot, remember that I pay both halves of FICA tax plus federal and state income tax. So I tuck that amount away in preparation for my quarterly payments.
Again, obviously not savings. But it’s where a chunk o’ change goes. And this month it was an even bigger chunk of change than usual. Sigh.
There were some confluences of expenses, a card’s annual fee hit and the printer I’d had to buy for my business was in this billing cycle too. So $1,288 went to my various cards.
Like washers, dryers and fridges, HVAC units have almost no standard lifespan. Some die after 12 years. Some trivia friends have one that’s more than 20 years old.
But since mine is just over 10 years old, I realized I’d better start saving so that I don’t have to gut savings if my unit is plotting early retirement. So $145 a month goes into an HVAC fund.
Since the money hopefully won’t be spent for well over a year, this is considered a long-term goal and counts in my rates.
Guest house rent
I have a small guest house out back that I rent to a nice gal who’s been here for two years and claims she’ll stay as long as I’ll have her. Given how far below market the rent is, I don’t blame her. But she’s a great tenant, so I see no need to raise the rent.
In the past, I put the rent money into my mortgage payment as additional principal. But since my mortgage is paid up, I’m just making base payments to my mom. So this money helped pad my account so I could put more of my paycheck into a 401(k) contribution.
So it contributed to my savings success this month but won’t be counted as actual savings.
A relative has come out as transfemale. She’s a good kid, and those surgeries aren’t cheap. Meanwhile, I’m doing well, and my job seems steady for now. So I’ve started saving $50 a month that I’ll give to her when she’s ready to have the procedure(s). Even if she has them as soon as she turns 18, I should have around $2,400 to give her. So hopefully that helps a little.
Since this is money for someone else, it doesn’t count in my saving rates.
I was given a replacement iPhone in March 2020 but for some reason, it’s started acting very buggy. I feel like it’s since the last update.
So thankfully, I’ve been putting $50 a month aside to get a replacement. I’d hoped that would be a year or two down the road but at this point, I may just switch as soon as I have the amount.
Obviously, this is not a long-term goal, so it’s not counted in my saving rates.
I pay an annual premium to Orkin to help with termites, since my house seems to have been designated a delicacy. Sigh.
Each month, I put $27.67 into an account for when the bill comes due.
Since these savings are spent in under a year, they don’t count toward my saving rates.
I love my Mint cell service. I get 4 GB of data plus unlimited talk/text for $15 plus taxes and fees.
The catch is that after an initial three-month subscription to see how you like the service, you can only get the best rate by signing up for a year of service at a time.
So each month I save $16.78 for when I have to next re-up. Totally worth it though!
Each month I save all money that I get from using sales, coupons, store rewards, etc. on things I was going to buy anyway. I also put any credit card rewards into the account.
Normally, I also put in $160 for all of the frugal hacks that have lowered my bills over the year. But when I went into my worksheet to write this, I found that I’d forgotten to keep that out this month. I think probably because saved savings used to be added to my mortgage payment. So with that over, I forgot to keep it back for other purposes.
So as a result, saved savings this month was $71.42 — thanks mainly to a $50ish credit card reward from my Citi Double Cash card.
The funds went into my main savings account, so they’re being included in the saving rates.
Each month I put a minimum of $200 into my emergency fund. I’d like to have a year’s worth of at least bare bones expenses in the account.
But to hasten my progress a bit, each month I take all of the amounts already mentioned in this post, all recurring charges and the money I keep for day-to-day spending and deduct it from my overall paycheck amount. Then I take the result of that and round it down to the nearest $100. (So $1,550 would become $1,500.) The difference is put into my emergency fund.
This month that meant that another $31.07 went to the EF. Gettin’ there!
Obviously an emergency fund is a long-term goal, so it gets counted in my saving rates.
Once all of that was accounted for, I just had to decide how to split the remainder between the savings account and my i401(k).
For the past year, I haven’t been putting more than $200 to $300 in savings most months, because the balance was plenty healthy. But the patio project has been adding up, and more importantly, redoing the bathroom plus getting the house painted is going to be at least $6,500. So I’m going to start putting more into savings each month for a while.
In this case, that meant that $505 went into savings. (It was supposed to be $600, but I’d already moved all of the money around and set up a paycheck deduction by the time I noticed the annual fee had hit one card. D’oh!)
But I’ll remind you that I don’t have to start repaying the loan from my mom until December. So there were extra funds to shovel into retirement. Which is good, given that I only got serious at age 40.
Thanks to also getting a bit of income from the blog this month, was able to put an astonishing $2306.29 into my i401(k). I may just be able to retire after all!
So as a result, my numbers this month were:
Pre-tax savings: 46.7%
Post-tax savings: 57.9%
Obviously, it’ll be much less impressive once I start paying on the house again. But even so, it’s still worth celebrating when things go well.
Ye old disclaimer
As I say every month, please remember that very few people’s finances are truly apples to apples. So if your numbers don’t look like mine, remember that I have several advantages that many don’t.
First, this month I had no mortgage payment. Kind of a big deal. And even when payments do resume, I’ll be paying $820ish a month, which is less than most folks.
Second, I’m a one-person household. I don’t have any kids or other dependents, so the only expenses I pay are my own. That saves a ton.
Third and probably most importantly, I have a well-paying job. If you make more money, there’s just more of it to save. Pretty simple.
So, as long as you’re doing your best, don’t beat yourself up about whether your numbers match any you see online. Just be proud that you’re doing the hard work to be smart with money.
How’s everyone doing these days with savings?