Monday, March 5, 2018

Budget Porn, February 2018

Sometimes I wonder what google searches bring readers to this post series. What kind of weird, low-budget (or should I say, "affordable") porn is someone looking for when they stumble upon this blog?

But we don't judge here, friends. If you're here to satisfy your financial voyeurism by looking at what someone else spends on groceries or restaurants, that's just fine. And if you are here by accident, and were instead looking for actual pornography, that's fine, too.

I hope you'll stick around.

Here is how our spending broke down in February:

Budget Porn, February 2018

February Total Spend: $3,377
Non-Mortgage Spend: $1,901
2018 YTD Spend: $8,341
Projected 2018 Spend: $50,047

The cash system is beginning to work its magic, as we came in under budget for all three of the categories we actually have jars of cash for: groceries, date night, and restaurants. In the Done by Forty household, under-spending on food counts as a minor miracle. I don't think that's happened once in all the years we've been tracking our spending in our trusty spreadsheet. 

On the other hand, there are a lot more categories in which we don't have a jar of cash. This is by design, because we don't want to bring cash inside to a cashier when we buy gas, and we still want to buy things online. On top of that, there are plenty of things that aren't really discretionary: our utilities, our insurance, medical expenses. I doubt that the method of payment is going to cause us to spend more on these areas.

Still, we did spend quite a lot on the dogs, baby expenses and home improvement this month. Maybe using more jars is the answer?

Jax got a bad ear infection so we brought him in to have our vet look at it. She prescribed some new ear drops and gave us some tips on how we can potentially treat this ourselves going forward. Jax has always had problems with his ears. Twelve years in, I doubt there's a medication or home concoction that will ever truly solve the problem. We also refilled his prescription for his painkillers, which help him move around without his hip hurting him as much. Dealing with this stuff is just part of life with our old pup.

He's not that old.
We had some home maintenance costs in February, if only just to remind us that, yes, houses can be expensive. After plunging away at the shower drain all day, and perhaps re-injuring my hernia a bit, I finally admitted defeat and called in a plumber, who snaked the drain, failed to get his camera down the drain, and handed us a bill for $175. 

I went ahead and installed these hair catchers in the shower and the kitchen and, yeah, it's shocking how much they catch. It's unsettling to use my bare fingers to scoop them out every couple days, but better for that stuff to end up in the trash can than down the drain. Like Jay Baruchel's family home in She's Out of My League, we have very fragile plumbing.

We're also spreading out the baby expenses as best we can, and in February our big purchase was this crib. Mrs. Done by Forty has done the heavy lifting on the research for the baby purchases, and this one had all the things we were looking for without being too pricey. And luckily, the local store was able to find one in a nearby warehouse way cheaper than the online price, and they took a 20% coupon on top of it. You go, brick and mortar.

Next month, we can afford to buy the mattress.
Despite having a few one-off costs, we were able to land right around where we'd want to be on a monthly basis for a $40,000 annual spend goal. I'm going to call it a win...if only because I know the next couple months are going to be crazy expensive. More to come on that.

For now, let's see where the Mad Fientist's Laboratory puts us on our path to financial independence.

On track to be done by forty...but just barely.
I wish I could say the spiky spending of 2017 was going to be a thing of the past. But with the baby due in late May, a few pricey purchases are coming up in the next couple months. The $40,000 goal might seem ludicrous by this summer, and mathematically impossible by the fall. But as of right now, hope springs eternal.

I hope your March is off to a great start. As always, thanks for reading, friends.


*Photo is from andres.moren at Flickr Creative Commons.

19 comments:

  1. Wow May is coming up! You feeling ready? I'm so impressed people keep track of their spending month over month. I don't like PC for that task so I do it manually with an app and it's hard to keep it all up. Glad the cash system is helping you spend less!

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    Replies
    1. We are so not ready yet, Tonya. But we're getting closer. Still a million things to purchase but, more importantly for me, more books to read.

      Our spreadsheet is just a habit at this point. I end up finding it's kind of like a mindfulness exercise: by putting each cost into the spreadsheet of what we spend, I see how well we align to our monthly goal for each category, and then adjust if we're off track.

      Delete
  2. Wow, very good results, congratulations. I never though of using the cash jar system, looks very simple yet promising. I may give it a try in the future.

    Thanks for sharing all these details.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, Poor Swiss! I think you may be our first commenter from Switzerland.

      We're planning out our first trip abroad with our soon-to-arrive baby, and Portugal, Southern France, and Italy are on the list. Since we're in the neighborhood, we should probably visit Switzerland too, right?

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    2. Poor Swiss -- I tried to comment on your last post on the radio/tv tax, but I was blocked a couple times. Apparently the blog thinks I'm a bot. :) Just wanted to give you a heads up.

      Delete
  3. I am beyond jealous of your health insurance cost -- we pay $800 per month for just me and my husband and still have to pay $30 copays, 20% of anything, AND have a $3,500 deductible. Plus the costs of all our medications ans supplements. Sigh. The Health section of my budget spreadsheet is the one that makes me the most depressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know we're very, very lucky to have health insurance costs where they are. For a little context, that is the cost only for me. Mrs. Done by Forty is a PhD student so her R.A.-ship covers health insurance, tuition, and also pays her a small stipend.

      But when she graduates, she'll likely either come on to my insurance or, depending on her work situation, have her own. Same with the baby. But either way, our health insurance costs are going to go up in May/June, and then again likely in December.

      Delete
    2. Not worth it. go without and fly to mexico to get health care it will cost you less

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    3. For all health care? For the baby, too?

      Seems like a really inefficient way to go in for the regular check ups.

      Delete
  4. Congrats on your success with the cash jar for those 3 categories! Sounds like it's worth testing the hypothesis on a few other categories for sure. And just over 2 years to FI? That's fantastic. Good to have the nice round target to hit it by Forty, but sounds like you'll hit it within spitting distance of that goal one way or another.

    Cheers, Frankie

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Frankie! If we can manage to lower our annual spending we could hit FI crazy soon. But it's hard to say whether the higher amount we spent in 2017 is more like what we'll spend going forward.

      And yes, maybe more cash jars is the answer. Maybe for the baby? I dunno.

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  5. Congrats on being only 2 years from retirement, DbF! The finish line is so tantalizingly close!

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    1. Thanks, Kristy! I'm consistently torn between the possible upside (maybe we'll hit FI this year!) to the possible downside (we may be more like 5 years out if a correction hits at the wrong time).

      But at this point I'd be very happy with the average.

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  6. You are doing great, congrats!
    Pets do cost a lot of money but totally worth it:)

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    1. Thanks, Caroline! I checked out your last post and it looks like you're doing great as well. And I like the name: Money Scrap has a nice ring to it.

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  7. My main peice of advice on baby purchases is that if you think you need something you probably don't! Outside of the obvious, cot, pram, changing mat, baby clothes and day to day consumables.

    We bought a fair number of gadgets that we barely ever used then baby grew out of the age where they were useful surprisingly quickly. Luckily we bought most of that stuff second hand so it didn't dent the finances too much. I'd definitely wait till baby comes before buying too much kit as well.

    I did a couple of posts summarising this and other aspects of parenting on the blog, if you wanted to take (another?) Look. Won't post the links here but should be easy enough for you to find :)

    If you want a specific chat about any of it feel free to drop me a mail as it's all still relatively fresh in my mind/experience! Good luck again! :)

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    1. That is all good advice, FIREstarter. I suspect we are buying/receiving way too much. But being that it's our first time, we probably are going to make a ton of mistakes...just part of the process of learning, I'm sure!

      I'll definitely search your blog for some tips and maybe reach out.

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