garden

July Spending Report for our Family of Two

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A monthly feature on the blog will be a detailed breakdown of our expenses aka spending. The intro will be the same each week, so if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, so skip to the table below. For those of you who are not aware we are a pack of two adults and two six year old dogs (who I still refer to as puppies). The puppies really don’t cost too much, so you can blame the humans for being spendy. One of the dogs would be happy to hunt and forage for her own food, but alas, we live in suburbia.

garden
The day’s yield. Our garden is producing a plethora of veggies at this point!

Why Track Spending?

After the infamous and life changing conversation at my friends’ (it was a joint party) 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. I chose to go back a month from the conversation and started the tracking in December 2014 (hooray credit cards, you already do most of the grunt work).

This has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of our seeking FIRE. Second only to reading the Stock Series. We use our very own categorized spreadsheet to track our spending, but use personal capital too. As time passes, and 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, but now it is old habit. Don’t get me wrong I love watching it grow, but I’ve just relaxed a little in my stressing.

Alphabet Letters
I sewed these sensory letters as a gift for our nephew’s first birthday! I used fabric scraps and put crinkly shopping bags between the fabric so they make noise!

We also don’t have a monthly budget. By tracking our expenses we have a record of what we spend, and  quickly realize if things are getting out of whack.

In the 2.5 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).

 

 

What’s Missing?

You may have noticed that a couple of typical spending categories were missing in this 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
  • Cell phones: Mrs. Kiwi has a work provided cell phone, Mr. Kiwi is on the in-laws family plan. We pay them $20/month, in one or two installments over the course of the year.
  • 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, we also ride our road bikes sometimes, and practice free yoga using doyogawithme.com

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

July Spending Report

Here’s all the July expense details for our pack:

Category Total Spent Notes
Mortgage $950 Includes property taxes on home insurance
Restaurants $3 I exceeded my work allowance for lunch a couple of times
Gas $70 Two tanks of gas
Car Maintenance $129 New rotors and a sensor on the HHR. We also replaced the brake pads on both cars, but have the lifetime warranty Autozone brakes (return the used brake pads, get free new ones).
Entertainment $75 This includes going to the brewery with some friends, our planetarium date, along with some other fun stuff
Internet $0 Prepaid for Internet in June
Travel $333 Plane Tickets to visit friends in Colorado purchased!
Gift -$17 We helped some friends out with a survey, they gave us $20. We also spent a couple dollars getting their platt map and some supplies for the survey.
Home Improvement $16 Some screws and misc. to keep things running smoothly here. (This is where spending creep seeps in…)
Pet $0 Stocked up last month!
Grocery $233 This is pretty typical. I always think we will spend less on groceries in the summer, but then we buy 6 pounds of cherry to freeze and enjoy in smoothies throughout the winter
Medical $20 Doctor Copay
Utility $115 Still no AC for us!
Rewards -$31 Credit card rewards and interest on our bank accounts. We also sold our old mattress on craigslist.
Total $1,897

Summary

The July spending report includes a pretty awesome purchase of two plane tickets to visit some college friends! We worked to intensely cut our spending, which allows us to easily afford plane tickets to CO and achieve a great savings rate in the same month.

Bees
A bumble bee helping pollinate our garden

In our almost 3 years of expense tracking we almost had our first month with less than $1800 spent! Thanks in part to the UFM Challenge. If you haven’t done it yet, I highly recommend the challenge. We realized on the last Friday of July that we were on pace for our lowest spend month! This was exciting (especially considering we bought two plane tickets to Denver), but we also fully realize that this is an arbitrary goal, and our consistent savings practice is what will lead us to achieve our goals and cubicles. As a result, since we had a lazy summer weekend ahead of us, Mr. Kiwi decided to spend Saturday working on some routine maintenance on our two cars. The check engine light had recently lit up on one car and both needed new front brakes. Neither of us have an intense interest in cars, but Mr. Kiwi is fairly mechanically inclined, so he maintains our cars. (In our division of labor, he takes care of “projects,” I do the heavy lifting on the “routine” tasks.)

We typically hover around $2000/month in spending including the mortgage. So many changes to our spending took place in the first two years of tracking. Thus, 2017 has been a fairly consistent year of practicing frugality and embracing all the fun that comes with it, the July expense report clearly shows that. Things really are on autopilot for us, as much as I would like to be tweaking things.

We previously pre-paid a couple months of internet to hit a minimum spend requirement for a credit card bonus, that’s why you don’t see an internet cost here. We are half heartedly into credit card hacking, but aren’t as committed as many others. Our spending is so low that sign up bonuses are hard to hit without prepaying for things, so we are only opening 4 cards/year between the two of us. If you get into churning credit cards, I highly recommend using Personal Capital to track your spending and keep all of your accounts organized!

How Is Your Spending going this Year?

 

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