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November Spending Report – We Bought an Electric Bike (Kit)

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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 about my money was going, but taking the time to truly dig into our budget helped us slash our annual spending by almost $15,000. Three years of tracking later, I now love review our spending, it helps me feel more comfortable with our financial independence/early retirement (FIRE) goal.

Budgeting for two DINKs
We did not buy this ridiculous outfit at the thrift shop!

November, involved lots of cooking and time outside! We visited family for Thanksgiving (only shopped at the thrift store) and discussed our giving plans for the end of the year!

We made the jump and bought a Luna Cycle mid-drive electric bike conversion kit! We’ve been working to drive less, but our complainypants selves have been slow to ditch our cars. Thanks to Physician on Fire (PoF) for writing up a review! We bought the same kit that PoF recommended the week before Thanksgiving, it looks like the kit is sold out now, but here’s the mid-drive kit without the battery on Amazon. (Warning – buying a high quality battery is a key detail in an electric bike 🙂 .) Mr. Kiwi plans on installing the kit on the first bike he bought with his own money in high school, a hybrid bike with front fork suspension. Also, our frugal (cheap?) selves did not buy the fancy tools, we found some cheaper ones on Ebay and when it’s all assembled we’ll update you on the installation.

We also have some BIG NEWS coming, which has been a big focus for November! Check back next week when we’ll clue you all in on the details!

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

Somewhere in there we found time to rescue some treasures (this month a cold frame for the garden) 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!

November Expense Report Intro

A monthly feature on the blog is a detailed breakdown of our expenses AKA 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.

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.

November Spending for DINKs and budget
Yum, Thanksgiving pie!

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 (we are working on updating this to share a copy with all of you!), but also 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 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).

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 November 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!

Homebrewing to save money and an excuse to get together with friends
the Gingerbread beer we brewed in October is going on tap soon – on nitro! (If you’re in the neighborhood stop on by!)
  • 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!
  • 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!

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 November Spending Report!

November Spending Report

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

Category Total Spent Notes
Mortgage $950 Includes property taxes on home insurance
Restaurants $36
We went out for two cheap meals over Thanksgiving to see friends and family!
Gas $77 Carpooling to work saves us money on gas!
Car Maintenance $25 New wiper blades needed for one of our cars, bought through Ebates (get $10 for signing up through this link)
Cell Phone $20 One cell phone on the parents family plan
Entertainment $81
Charitable donations, a couple of breweries, knitting supplies, and other fun stuff
Internet $59
We have high speed Internet, which is cheapest to get with HBO included in our area
Electric Bike Kit $795 Physician on FIRE inspired us to buy a Luna Cycle middrive electric bike kit. We’re anxiously awaiting for it to arrive in the mail!
Pet $21 Arthritis Vitamins for Keweenaw
Grocery $223 Right on track with our average grocery spending for the year!
Medical $120
Prescriptions, and Doctor Copays. I’m grateful we have good insurance.
Utility $49
No electric/gas bill this month, so this is just the sewer bill
Rewards -$187
We sold an old dining table on Craigslist! And we cashed in some of our DiscoverIt bonus for our spending last year (sign up for 2% cash back on your first year of spending, plus 5% on certain categories, and discounted gift cards)!
Total $2,268 This is pretty much in line with our average this year.
Total Minus the Mortgage $1,318
Total Minus the Mortgage and E-Bike Kit $523
Okay, this is laughably low. Maybe I should stop reading personal finance blogs, so I don’t buy expensive toys! (Just kidding PoF!)


November Spending for DINKs and budget
The awesome view at the end of our Thanksgiving hike!

The November expense report includes aligns well with our values! We bought the E-bike kit, which should reduce our driving in 2018 and help us be more green! We worked to intensely cut spending that provided us little happiness, which allows us to achieve a high savings rate each month.

Things really are on autopilot now. But check back next week for the big news!

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

Also, check out my frugal holiday gift guide if you are still hunting for great presents this holiday season!

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

8 comments on “November Spending Report – We Bought an Electric Bike (Kit)”

  1. Congratulations on your continued work toward achieving your goals. I always find it helpful reviewing the spending table summary to get some additional ideas to reduce our spending as well.

    Your point about things being on autopilot are also key.

    Congrats again!

  2. Reply

    I’ve been intrigued by the idea of buying an electric car for awhile now, but an electric bike never occurred to me – I’m interested to hear what you guys think of it.

    I also really like that you prioritize your values over having a budget by dollar amount. I’ve been considering creating a budget for myself, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t improve my life or finances because it may cause me to spend too little on things that are important to me and too much on things that aren’t. I think your system may work for me too, as long as I’m always mindful of what I’m purchasing.

  3. Reply

    I love seeing spending reports where spending is always focused on priorities and values. 🙂 Looking forward to your big news!

    1. Reply

      Thanks! We worked hard to figure out our values and then shape our spending!

  4. I’m impressed you made managed two meals out for $36! That’s like fast food status for the three of us haha. And I keep meaning to set up a cold frame for the garden but I should probably just get on it already.

    1. Reply

      Yeah! We got take out from a Mediterranean restaurant and brought it to a brewery, which makes it easy to split one sandwich and a large side. The other meal was a lunch out at a sit down restaurant, so that was $24 of the cost, and totally worth it for the time with family.

  5. Reply

    Very detailed spending report! Love the transparency!

    1. Reply

      Thanks! It helps us stay accountable and reach our goals!

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