Hi, everyone. I know we are a bit late to the game as it is now mid-August… but we wanted to review just how we did on our spending last month with our July Spending Report.
We plan on putting these out monthly to show you exactly how we are doing. As we know, tracking our expenses is an integral first step in the journey to Financial Independence. If you never know what you spend in a month, how will you be able to cut down your spending to save more? How will you know how much money is needed to sustain your lifestyle without a job? Short answer: you can’t.
So not only do we continuously track our spending but we are always working to cut our expenses where we can. Since only 1 of us have a job now, we are trying to save as much as we can. We are up to a 50% saving rate on just one income but the more dollars we can scrape into our savings, the better. It honestly has become addicting.
So let’s dive in to what our numbers looked like…
We have a whole post dedicated to our fixed expenses since they are fixed and don’t change. This way we don’t have to reiterate the same numbers month after month.
We did want to note one change in our spending, though. We had originally quoted our monthly car insurance as being $90.01 a month for both cars. I pay my parents $45 a month and Mr. TTF was paying $45.01. For some reason his monthly bill has gone down and there’s no way we’re complaining. He is now paying $41.15 a month! A much appreciated savings of $3.85.
Fixed Expenses Total = $1,586.56
I pride myself on organization and finding the quickest way possible to do something. The following quote explains my process to a T.
“I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because they will find an easy way to do it.” – Bill Gates
Regardless, we keep our fixed and variable expenses separate so we can focus in specifically on the areas of the most potential for change. We don’t have fixed categories and if a new type of expense pops up in December that we haven’t had all year, we just add in the new line (well, we don’t, but Excel does).
For July, we had 16 different categories of spending. They are all included in the screenshot for you and we’ll touch on most of them.
We should definitely do a post on how we “budget” but I can assure you it is not traditional. We only have two categories where we hold specific budgets for (and this is likely to change in the coming months to potentially just one category). For the remainder of our spending we have an overall budget and everything else gets added into the total.
For now, we can go over our two budgeted categories.
Groceries – $213.26
I love learning new recipes and getting better at cooking for the two of us. Without a budget, I could spend hundreds at the grocery store every single time I go. But when I have to stick to a budget, I actually do (at least I try my hardest) to stay within that amount.
Our monthly budget is $200 for groceries. It’s definitely tight and not something that is easily done. We often are shopping the pantry and scrounging for food but we have gotten so much better in the past 3 months of cutting our grocery budget significantly. This time last year, we spent $390.18 on groceries! Almost double what we are doing now and somehow we still had about $100 in dining out charges.
This month we only went over budget by $13.26! Not too bad. And it is mostly because we had a few unintentional stops to the store for snacks. Chips are our weakness. Honestly, we could eat an entire family sized bag a day if we turned off all our will power. So we broke down a few times and bought them when we ran into Walmart for something else. This is why a LIST helps! even if it’s not for the grocery store.
Alcohol – $53.00
So while I am at risk for sounding like a total booze hound, I need to be real with you all because if we need an alcohol budget, I am sure others out there do too.
We have started to budget our alcohol spending in the last 6 months or so. And you would think we meant out at the bar or restaurants. Nope. Just the booze you buy at the grocery store and bring home. We could combine groceries and alcohol into one category but we needed a specific focus to cut our spending in this category.
That’s the thing with personal finance, it’s personal. If you don’t drink, then you don’t need an alcohol category. If you only think you spend too much on beer, then make a beer category and any other booze can go with groceries or in a completely separate category.
For us, we budget $60 a month for alcohol . We were way way over this amount at one point because we were buying craft bottled beer and champagne for every weekend (we also never had plans so we were always home on the weekends). July of last year, we spent $120 on booze for the house. Not saying we drank all that but boy were we spending haphazardously in this category.
Now, we are making mixed drinks (thank you Kirkland Vodka) and buying 30 racks of Coors Light. It’s not classy by any means but we get to save more money and still have a fun Friday night together. Plus we NEVER have people over so, I think we’re okay.
Quite a few of our categories this month (7) were of our usual expected spending. We’ll break each of those down with the average for the year.
Gas – $222.40
Living in So Cal, we have gas expenses. We have two VWs that average in the low-mid 20s for miles per gallon. Not terrible and not the best but we make do.
Our average spend per month this year comes out to $263.38. This month we were able to stay below that but not as low as we had anticipated now that only Mr. TTF is going to work each day.
However, we still had a lot of driving this month. We took a trip to Big Bear and that brought on an additional 300 miles. I also drove to my parent’s house while Mr. TTF was out of town and that was an additional 200 miles. All in all, I ended up coming in a little less than 200 miles under my old commute (34 miles/day x 20 work days = 680 miles/month), hence the slightly lower gas expense.
As I am sure there will still be drives like these in our future, we probably can’t expect too much lower of a gas line item in our future.
Personal Care / Home Supplies – $99.50
These are two separate categories in our expense tracker, however they are usually bought from the same stores (Walmart or Costco) and can be used interchangeably for many households. We like to keep them separate to really track the specifics of where our money is going.
Our average for Personal Care is $31.29 and we spent $54.11 this month. This was a larger month as everything seemed to run out all at once. This included Shampoo, Dry Shampoo, Face Wash, Deodorant, and Toothpaste.
Our Home Supplies average is $32.76 and we spend $45.39. This month the majority of this total came from Costco for toilet paper and tissues.
Nothing too crazy but now we shouldn’t expect crazy amounts of spending for these categories in the coming months. That’s what averages are for.
Eating Out (Fast Food / Restaurants) – $18.84
This is a confusing category for us. We rarely do go out, especially by ourselves. But when we do, we rack up some large tabs. This can be hard for us to account for in our spending. This month was nothing unusual however. We had only $6 in fast food charges for the late night drive to Big Bear. And then our date night was Carne Asada Fries for a picnic at a vista point. Not a bad month at all.
Utilities – $35.59
July is usually the hottest month of the year here in So Cal. I remember last year, the first week of July is when we started reaching the 100s. This year however, was incredibly mild. Even with me home full time, I probably turned on the AC maybe 5 times and last year we had to sleep in the living room under the AC unit at night just to stay cool. That said we saved a butt ton on our utilities bill this month compared to last year’s whopping bill of $212.28.
Pharmacy – $18.00
I have a few prescriptions that I get on a monthly basis so this expense is nothing unusual. Luckily it is only this much and actually usually less!
Car Wash – $6.00
So quick story: Mr. TTF used to be the WORST with his car’s cleanliness. He basically had stuff falling out of the car if you opened the passenger door. I remember we went on our first “date” (not a date, PS) and I’m pretty sure I had to slide an old bowl of dried oatmeal out of the way to get in. But now that he has a new car (new to him) he has been taking such good care of it and I am insanely proud!
We usually get at least one of our cars washed each month. Of course, if it is a rainy month then we won’t go at all. And we usually get the car wash right before we see people, i.e. my parents and they always comment on it. $6 well spent, for sure.
These are our expenses that were a bit different compared to what we expected for the month.
Service & Parts – $245.23
We like to get both of our car’s oil changed at the same time when we can. My car can go every 10,000 miles and Mr. TTF’s Passat needs to go every 5,000 miles so we schedule all of mine when his is up every other time. July was one of those months. We ended up spending $52.71 on each car’s oil change with synthetic oil, a great deal compared to our last 3 oil changes.
I also had a dead battery! I was frustrated that I need to buy one for almost $150! But given that the lovely, Mr. TTF had to jump the car 3 times in just one week, it seemed necessary.
This is obviously our largest expense for the month and to have it unexpected, can hurt some. Luckily we were able to cash flow this due to our style of budgeting with just one large budget and all our categories fitting into that budgeted amount.
When startin gout with cutting expenses, we recommend setting up sinking funds for car maintenance expenses. You know how much you drive and how often your cars need oil changes. You can also figure out what expenses can come up with cars and how often like tires and batteries. This way, you can plan ahead by saving small amounts each week, paycheck, or month toward this expense and when the time comes, you will have enough to pay for the entire expense.
Pets – $26.80
A small expense that we don’t normally have but we had the timeshare dalmatian for a few weekends and bought a new bag of food and a few toys! A fun expense that we can never argue with!
Gifts – $34.29
My best friends birthday is at the beginning of August and she lives in the UK so I decided to finally send her a “care-package/birthday present” after a year or two of saying I would. I sent her favorites (Hot Cheetos) and an old shared flannel we had.
We also sent a super late Mother’s Day gift for Mr. TTF’s mom (sorry!!). We sent a framed family photo of one of our trips together. So all in all the shipping for these gifts wasn’t bad and nothing we couldn’t handle!
Clothing – $15.07
I got a gift card for my birthday (back in April) and finally decided to spend it. It was for Target so I knew it would be dangerous for me to go. I ended up buying a purse and a sports bra so I went over the amount by $15.07 not too shabby if you ask me. (Flashback to Target receipt of 2015: $115.00 *shudder*).
Doctor – $30.00
Lucky for me, my copay for my doctor’s visits is usually $15. I have been piling on the visits now that I have my weekdays free. Nothing too crazy here, we just haven’t seen a doctor line item on the report in quite some time.
Finance Charge – $15.04
This is a BIG NO NO! Ugh, we still need to call to try and get this one reversed. Since I have been home, I have been taking over the finances at home so Mr. TTF doesn’t have to worry about it. Unfortunately, this particular charge happened during our transition between who was doing what.
It turns out we had a bit of a balance on a card on the due date and didn’t end up paying it until later that week. Do note that we still paid the minimum balance due but the remainder the statement balance got hit with the interest.
Total Variable Expenses = $1,033.02
Total for July = $2,619.58
So all in, we needed up spending $2,619.58. At the end of last year, we had consistently gotten our expenses down to about $4,000 a month. Our goal going into 2019 was to push that to $3,000 per month. In March, we finally got it below the $3k mark and did the same thing again in April. We then challenged ourselves to an additional $500 getting cut, making our monthly expenses only $2,500 a month for two people! With rent coming in at exactly half of that, we knew it may be challenging at times, but we are getting closer and closer to making this a consistent habit!
We are pretty proud of our July Spending Report. If we keep this spending consistent then we’ll only be spending $31,434.96 a year for two people! Much better than our $48,000 than we were projecting at the end of last year. And with only 7 months of work, look how much of a difference we were able to make!
What did your July Spending Report look like?