After our expensive year in 2016, we set ourselves a goal to reduce our spending by 10% in 2017. We want to do this because it has a double effect. Firstly, it frees up more money to invest for our future. Secondly, if we can live on less, then it brings that future much closer. In 2016, we spent $80,000. To generate that using passive income and the 4% rule, we would need $2,000,000 invested!
June turned out to be a better month than I was expecting. We exceeded our daily spend rate goal last month, and I knew we had a big bill coming up this month. In the absence of other big bills though, it didn’t have too much of an impact.
Daily Spending Rate
Our daily spending rate in June was $180, the third lowest for the year. This keeps our average for the year under our goal of $194.34, at $183. I know I shouldn’t say this, but I’m hesitantly starting to think that maybe we will manage to make our goal for 2017. (Sigh. Now I’ve said that every whitegood we own will probably stop working simultaneously…)
Ouch! Our highest food spending for the year, and the first time we’ve broken into the four-figure mark. It is again due to eating out, and alcohol. I was a bit shocked to discover that when attending the pub for a friend’s birthday, we spent just under $100 on drinks. That did include shouting for others, but when we add up the meal, the alcohol and the gift, the total spend for that afternoon was $195. I have mentioned previously that when we go to a pub, it’s very easy to spend money as we are buying drinks one-by-one on a card. I didn’t learn the lesson, but hopefully I will this time. We need to take cash to the pub so it is easy to see how much we are spending.
(If you are unable to see the graph, you can view it on Tableau Public.)
As you can see below, we went over budget in both the eating out and the alcohol category.
I think it is fairly obvious that we aren’t budgeting for food. We are simply tracking spending. I did realise we were nearing our budget for Groceries Want, and I put the kibosh on buying any more. Still, I see the red in the other categories and get frustrated. But then, a post by my friend Adventures with Poopsie got me thinking. She said:
Let’s say we’re achieving a savings rate of 60%, does it really matter if the other 40% we spent was done on groceries, take out or petrol? We don’t think so.
Does it Matter?
As long as we stay within our total budgeted spending for food, does it matter that one month we spend more on eating out, and the next we spend more on alcohol? Also, these categories do play into our values:
- Now that we are no longer going to restaurants, cafés or getting takeaway all the time, the opportunity to do it while catching up with friends is something that we enjoy and appreciate, so I’m happy to spend money on it.
- As far as coffees or lunches for myself, so far this year I have averaged $20/month, about 1 lunch and 1 coffee. I don’t feel this is excessive, so I’m not worried about actively reducing it.
- Mr. ETT has no desire or intention to reduce the amount he spends on eating out. (Caveat: if I ask him to take his lunch, and get a leftover meal from the freezer out for him, he will take it. We’re only at 1 a week at the moment, but it’s an improvement.)
- We are meal-planning sensible, healthy meals, shopping at Aldi, and have added a couple of vegetarian meals each week. There isn’t too much more we need to do to reduce our Groceries Need category. I know that there is more we could do, but it doesn’t have to be a race down to 20c meals.
I will continue to track the four categories, particularly because alcohol isn’t high on my list of values. If we end up with a month of 90% spending on alcohol and 10% on food, then we know there’s a problem. (Actually, we wouldn’t know much of anything with that amount of grog in our systems!) I’m just not going to stress too much if we go over in any individual category.
The bulk of this was the afternoon at the pub, the second bulk was purchasing sake from the sake brewery we visited. I also purchased a bottle of wine to take on the houseboat with us.
There was some confusion as to when we were to arrive to pick up the houseboat. Turns out we reached Brooklyn too early, so we decided to get one last injection of good coffee. The café that we found was tiny and cute and a little bit hipster. Their teapots came out on crocheted squares! Unfortunately I can’t remember the name they were trading under, but it looks like it was The Brooklyn Tuckshop (which may or may not have morphed into act casual.) They serve home-made, high quality food and the coffee was great.
We also attended a weekend lunch catch-up with some friends who are old colleagues, Mr. ETT took a family member out to lunch, and of course, the pub.
Gifts and Giving $71 Each
Not a high spend on gifts this month. Along with the birthday mentioned above, we bought a bottle of wine for a friend, and another small gift for a colleague. Mr. ETT finally drew one of my charities out! That’s right, this month I donated to Diabetes Australia, as well as purchasing The Big Issue, and a $1 donation to The Not Forgotten Ones Inc. when I bought cat food.
You know how they say it’s tax time, use that as a trigger to check your smoke detectors? (Well, they do.) I decided to put that in place to make sure I check them yearly from now on. It turns out this was a mighty sensible idea, because at some point in the past, we had taken the batteries out. OMG. Seriously, who takes the batteries out and forgets to put new ones in? And who lives with them for goodness knows how long, walking under them every day and not seeing the dangling battery wires? Us. So stupid. If our house burned down, we could have earned a nomination for a Darwin Award.
Upon inspection, the detectors were old and discoloured with broken cover clips. We now have fresh smoke detectors with working batteries. I’ve also added a reminder in Evernote to check them next year. Check your smoke detectors!
It’s around the time of our wedding anniversary. Having lost the diamond from my engagement ring a few years back*, I now use this date as a trigger to pay for a jeweller to check the settings and clean it. This cost $110 for both rings, but that’s way less than the cost of replacing a diamond. The rings came back polished and sparkling. I don’t think I need to get the wedding band done every year, as there’s no stones in it. I’ll probably keep that to every second year, because I do like the finished product. They look brand new and shiny.
*Mr. ETT’s eagle eyes spotted it on the bathroom floor two days later.
Also, I bought a new gas stove from Aldi! It came at the perfect time. We have needed to replace our oven and stove for a few years now. I finally began the process of finding new ones and comparison shopping for price. Unfortunately, in the time since the house was built, standard sizes have changed. They’ve become smaller, which means we can’t just buy a new stove or oven and put them in the existing spaces. We will need to get creative (or a cabinet-maker) to fit them properly, so I’d put it on hold yet again.
When I saw the gas stove advertised at Aldi, it was almost the spitting image of the one I had chosen to pursue later on. It was also nearly half the price of my chosen one, at $229. This saving will more than pay for the extra work needed to fill the gaps.
Mr. ETT self-studied and completed an exam to earn an industry certification. Very proud.
Carelessness cost me both time and money this month. While I was cooking a delicious recipe by Pia from BKLA (you should try it), I sliced a chunk off my top knuckle with a mandolin I recently bought. Always follow the safety instructions, folks. It was too serious for just a bandaid, so I needed to purchase some proper wound dressing. Being on my finger, however, it became dirty and manky-looking, so I also had to pick up some tubular gauze with finger protection. This looked like I was wearing a condom on my finger.
I also took a Sunday afternoon to give the inside of my car a good clean. When I went to work the next morning, I opened the door and thought “Oh, my car looks so clean!” I then went to start the car – flat battery. I’d obviously knocked the internal light while I was vacuuming. Mr. ETT has a machine that will charge up batteries, so it didn’t cost me anything but time. However, it did mean that I needed to drive to work because car needed the run, and I was now too late to get parking at the station. It costs $20/day to park at work, with no guarantee of a spot. To avoid this, I ended up parking at a train station 2 stops away, and then leaving a big note on my bag so I didn’t catch my normal train home out of habit. I also had to work back to make up for the wasted time.
While I fall within the healthy body weight range, I actually weigh about 10% more than is normal for me, and I’m very unfit. Much like lifestyle inflation can negatively impact your financial future, succumbing to the dreaded middle-aged spread can impact your future health. At the end of last year, through some introspection, I identified that I ate too much. I ate because I was bored, stressed, or when something in the fridge or cupboard caught my eye. I couldn’t remember feeling hungry – I was constantly eating before my body had the chance to fully digest and process my last meal.
I am still on track to meet my weight loss goal by 31st July, but I’m glad of the chance to participate in Dry July – this means no alcohol for the entire month. Last time I did it, I was well prepared. This time I thought it would be a lot harder because I decided to do it on a whim, but so far that hasn’t been the case. A couple of times I’ve simply said “I can’t, I’m doing Dry July”, and it’s been easy-as to walk away and feel just fine about it. I think this is an example of me being an Obliger in Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. If I didn’t have the accountability of Dry July, I would be saying “oh, I shouldn’t, I’m trying to drink less this month… OK, pour it down my throat!” Stupid brain.
Time for New Goals
This means I will complete the three health goals I set myself at the beginning of the year (no sugar in coffee, walk 1 day/week, eat less) in the first 7 months. I’m already maintaining the first two. I am confident that I will be able to maintain the third once it’s been met. I’ve been thinking about what comes next. Now I’m at a healthy-for-me weight, and I’m improving my aerobic fitness, I want to work on building some strength in my core.
Does anyone know of some super-short core strengthening exercises that are suitable for total n00bs? I’m looking at 5 minutes tops, to start.
I use, and totally love, YNAB to track my spends and budget. Mr. ETT doesn’t exactly love it, but he does use it – super important when more than one person spends money. YNAB offers a 34 day free trial period. If you try YNAB and love it as much as I do, then by signing up through this link, both of us will get a free month in our subscriptions!