See how much this family of two with two dogs spends every month of the year! Track their progress and get great frugal tips as they are saving their way to early retirement

January Spending – So High We May No Longer be Considered Frugal

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It’s the start of a new month, which means I get to review our monthly spending! This month was pretty stressful unfortunately, with lots of doctors appointments and a new job for Mr. Kiwi. But, I’m glad we got our money situation figured out, so it’s one less thing we have to worry too much about.

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. We were finishing paying off our debt and new to understanding money. 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 (even in these expensive months), it helps me connect with our values and goals.

December spending for this family of two plus two dogs - frugal simple living
A walk in the snow after a basketball game! Frugal trick – park 1 mile away to get free parking and a nice walk.

We are planning a bunch of home renovations this year, so I think we have a few more high spend months ahead of us. But we’ve been saving for these renovations for the past few years, and have saved to pay for them with cash. This month we bought a new cordless nail gun off ebay, and the faucet and vanity for our master bathroom. I of course purchased the nail gun off Ebay by clicking through the Ebates shopping portal (sign up today and get $10 after you make your first $25 purchase), to get save an additional couple of dollars.

Before tackling the big renovations, I took on the small project of upgrading our guest bathroom vanity using leftover supplies from other projects.

I went back to commuting alone this month and enjoyed my walks into work while listening to some great podcasts.

I also attended the Work at Home Summit, and I’m still playing around with different hustle ideas. I’m feeling so inspired! And if you are reading this before February 5 it’s not too late to get all the content for free!

If you want to know more of what we do, follow us on Twitter and Instagram! I’m also on Pinterest.

January Expense Report Intro

A monthly feature on the blog is a detailed breakdown of our monthly expenses AKA monthly spending or budget. 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!)

DIY Bathroom Vanity Renovation
The finished product!

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).

See all of our expense reports here. And if you haven’t signed up for Personal Capital get started today! It is free and organizes all of your accounts in one place!

What’s Missing?

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! Snowy frugal hiking

  • Car Insurance for our two (cringe) cars: We pay our auto insurance once per year to take advantage of a pay in full 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 for garbage service!
  • 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 I’m also participating in the free February Plank challenge!

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!

We spend our time participating in frugal activities with friends, cooking, gardening, and have built up hobbies that support our frugal values!

But now on to what you are really interested in…the January Spending Report!

January Spending Report

Here’s all the January expense report details for our pack:

Category Total Spent Notes
Mortgage $950 Includes property taxes on home insurance
Restaurants $95
Restaurant meals with friends to celebrate birthdays
Gas $86
Computer $297 I got a new computer to work on this blog!
Cell Phone $20 One cell phone on the parents family plan
Entertainment $57 Coffee out a few times and two brewery visits
Internet $59 Gotta have Internet
Pet $93 We restocked on dog food
Gift $12 Supplies to build some shelves for a friend’s new baby
Home Improvement $295
We bought a cordless nail gun and supplies for our upcoming master bathroom renovation.
Dining Table $250 We bought a new dining table off Craigslist. After years of patience, we found one we really liked that is giant. It will be perfect for board games.
Mountain Bike $300 Used mountain bike bought off Craigslist to retrofit with the E Bike conversion kit we bought in November.
Grocery $372 Yikes, crazy high, but it balances with December’s $152 grocery bill. And I restocked our pantry with peanut butter, coffee, and popcorn.
Medical $450
Prescriptions, deductible, copay, and our insurance premium through August. Gotta love inexpensive grad student insurance.
Utility $192 Gas, electric, and sewer bills!
Rewards -$10 We sold a space heater
Total $3,518 This was a super high month in spending for us! But with all the renovations planned for this year, I’m thinking our spending will be on the higher end quite frequently.
Total Minus the Mortgage $2,568

January Spending Summary

The January expense report definitely shows some room for improvement! Inside I’m cringing over how much we spent, even though they were all intentional expenses. I think in February I will be instituting a pantry challenge to get that grocery line item back down.

Monthly spending for this midwest DINK couple with dogs
A tasty dinner we enjoyed.

Overall, I’m really excited to get the electric bike working, so Mr. Kiwi can start commuting on bicycle. And the mountain bike we purchased fits both of us, so I can use it in a pinch! Once this snow melts, we’ll be able to put it to good use.

The stress of changing jobs, and seeing doctors again for Mr. Kiwi’s headaches has definitely been felt this month. And I kinda wonder if that contributed to our higher spending overall. I also think I’m playing with the balance of happiness vs. frugality, and working out those kinks. Last year we spent on the lower end of normal, and I think I’m feeling the urge to indulge a bit more. Or maybe it’s just winter and winters mean more indoor activities.

Every month we evaluate our spending to compare, engineer, optimize, and track using Personal Capital. (Join us on the adventure to financial independence!)

What exciting things did you do this month? How did your monthly spending go?

5 comments on “January Spending – So High We May No Longer be Considered Frugal”

  1. Reply

    Your frugal card has been revoked!!

    I love the color you painted your vanity, that would actually work really well in my bathroom and my vanity needs an upgrade too. I might just do the same thing. Problem is I think I also need a new vanity sink and faucet so my overhaul will be a bit more involved. Time to get on YouTube and learn…

    1. Reply

      Haha, yep. We’ll see if I can earn it back in February. And yay for YouTube, teaching me how to fix/build everything.

  2. Bahaha, I laughed so hard at this title. Uhm, we spent more. Like, a lot more. I shudder to think how long it’ll take to get my frugal card back. 🙂

    What kind of computer did you get? I’ve been using my work laptop and I’d like to get something just for personal use.

    1. Reply

      Haha, yeah, this is a lot for us, especially with the BIG decrease in income starting this month!

      This is the exact computer we bought (it is no longer on sale, so it’s quite a bit more now, and I wouldn’t but it for this price). I would prefer a smaller one, but I’m sharing it with my hubby who likes having the full number pad.

      The other computer we seriously debated buying was this one:
      We decided on the other one since it has more storage. Though solid state drives are faster, and are definitely the wave of the future.

  3. Pingback: Church of FI – 2018 Asset Allocation and January expense reports - The Jolly LedgerThe Jolly Ledger

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