December Spending Report – Lots of Travel
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It’s the start of a new month, which means I get to review our spending!
When I first started tracking spending using Personal Capital (sign up for free today), I was not excited to see where my money was going. However, taking the time to truly dig into our budget helped us slash our annual spending by $15,000. Three years of tracking later, I now love reviewing our spending, it helps me connect with our values and goals.
December, was cold and snowy, so I did not get outside as much as I would have liked! But we loaded up the car and went on a one week road trip around Lake Erie! Mr. Kiwi and I needed a vacation and some time away from the to do lists before he starts his new job (today 🙂 )! I’ll share all the spending details for our frugal road trip later this week!
We were offered free tickets to a local basketball game! So we enjoyed a nice night out with my parents!
We celebrated Christmas many times over with family and friends! Bought a few Christmas gifts for my hubby’s family, since they still exchange gifts. I even bought a Groupon for an Escape room to try out in the next few months! I of course purchased it through the Ebates shopping portal (sign up today and get $10 after you make your first $25 purchase), to get an additional 6% off the groupon price!
We also reviewed our financial goals for 2017 and some of our favorite beers.
I love how in winter people escape into more quiet. I’ve found time to read more books, and really enjoyed Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. It’s a different take on the American Dream, from the perspective of an immigrant family living in NYC during the financial crash.
I would like to thank all you readers for keeping me motivated and joining us on our journey!
Somewhere in there we found time to rescue some treasures (this month an extension cord and ridiculous decorative light) and work our standard 8-5 jobs. I’m looking forward to FI when I won’t need to interrupt my day with going to the office!
December Expense Report Intro
A monthly feature on the blog is a detailed breakdown of our monthly expenses AKA monthly spending. The intro will be the same each week, if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, skip to the table below.
For those of you who are not aware we are a pack of two adults and two dogs. The puppies really don’t cost too much (except in September when they are due for their annual vet visit), so you can blame the humans for being spendy. (Get to know us a little better by reading this post or checking out the About Us page.)
Why Track Spending?
After the life changing conversation at my friends’ joint birthday party, our pack decided to get serious about how we manage our finances. This meant endeavoring to track every dollar (or Tanzanian Shilling) on our balance sheet. We started tracking our spending using Personal Capital in December 2014. (Check out our review of Personal Capital here! And let me know if you have any questions!)
This has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of our seeking FIRE. Second only to reading the Stock Series and following the Simple Path to Wealth. We use our very own categorized spreadsheet to track our spending, but primarily use personal capital. Now that I’ve been on the FIRE path for a couple of years I’ve relaxed my net worth obsession. It was awesome growing that first 100k!
We also don’t use a monthly budget. By tracking our expenses using Personal Capital we have a record of what we spend and quickly realize if things are getting out of whack. We spend based on our values, and a budget would probably lead to us spending more. But if a budget works best for you, go for it!
In the 3 years of tracking our spending we have recognized that not all of our spending practices align with our values, and have cut our spending significantly. Just seeing where all the money was seeping out the sieve was so EYE OPENING!
Lifestyle creep had started to set in, and we were falling victims to the rat race. Frugality took up its sword and slashed the waste and negligent expenses. Now, we are a lean, mean, and saving the green pack (DINKs FTW).
You may have noticed that a couple of typical spending categories were missing in this December expense report breakdown. I’ve done my best to explain them here, but if you have any questions or notice any gaps let me know!
- Car Insurance for our two (cringe) cars: We pay our auto insurance once per year to take advantage of a discount
- Water bill: We have a well and a water filter/softener, which helps us save money in the long run!
- Garbage service: we compost and recycle most of our waste. Instead of paying for a monthly service we pay $3 per bag, but have the buy the bag tags in bulk. We pay about $20/year going this route!
- PMI: We put 20% down on our house, so no PMI for us!
- Car payments: both cars are paid in full (2006 Chevy Cobalt and 2010 Chevy HHR)
- Gym memberships: We seek out free (or super cheap exercise). We walk, have an exercise bike, elliptical, adjustable weight dumbbells, do body weight exercises, ride our road bikes sometimes, and practice free yoga using doyogawithme.com.
How do we Spend so Little?
We’ve spent our years seeking FIRE ruthlessly cutting our spending to align it with our values. This really helped us eliminate most of our consumer tendencies. We’ve always loved getting good deals, but then we ended up filling our home with a bunch of stuff. Things don’t bring us joy, and once we realized that it was easier to say no, and save our money instead of spend it!
But now on to what you are really interested in…the December Spending Report!
December Spending Report
Here’s all the December expense report details for our pack:
|Mortgage||$950||Includes property taxes on home insurance|
We went out a few times this month with friends, and even went out on a date lunch to celebrate Mr. Kiwi’s new job!
This doesn’t include the gas for our one week road trip, but it does include gas to visit family and friends for Christmas and New Years!
|Car Maintenance||$30||Wiper fluid and an oil change that we (gasp!) outsourced!|
|Cell Phone||$20||One cell phone on the parents family plan|
We hit up a few breweries to celebrate the holidays with friends in town, went ice skating, and stocked up on our favorite beers.
|Internet||$59||Gotta have Internet|
|Travel||$637||We took a one week roadtrip! This spending includes gas, hotels, food, beer, and all trip related purchases. I also organize a weekend wine trip with friends, this includes the $150 deposit for the party bus.|
|Gift||$154||Our Christmas spending on the few people we still exchange gifts with. Including a Groupon to an escape room.|
|Grocery||$152||A low month since we were on vacation and visiting family for lots of the month! We did splurge on some good vegan cheese and sausage using a gift card we received!|
Prescriptions, and Doctor Copays. I’m grateful we have good insurance.
|Utility||$112||Gas, electric, and sewer bills!|
We sold some dining chairs and an old dresser on craigslist. We cashed in some credit card rewards, earned interest from our bank, and our Ebates (get $10 for signing up through this link) arrived.
|Total||$2,436||This was a higher month than normal, but with Christmas, New Years’ Eve, and a week long vacation, I’ll take it!|
|Total Minus the Mortgage||$1,486|
December Spending Summary
The December expense report includes aligns well with our values! We took a frugal vacation and enjoyed another week off together over the Christmas holiday.
Mr. Kiwi enjoyed a month long mini-retirement to recharge before starting his new job this month. One of the best parts of having a high savings rate is being able to take some time off between jobs to recharge. We didn’t set any massive to do lists, so he was able to enjoy a couple of weeks tinkering on projects he cares about and relaxing.
I’ve been toying around with a couple of career moves for me, but we’ll see where that lands in the next few months. I’m slow to embrace change and appreciate a lot of the security we have now. But having all that time off helped affirm my values.
What exciting things did you do this month? How’d your spending go?