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!
Urgh, this was a month of excess and things breaking down. Also, there was a mix-up with my pay at work, so it arrived over a week late. While this has no practical implications for us (it affected December’s budgeting) we spent $400 more than Mr. ETT earned. While I know (cerebrally) that we can’t live our current lifestyle on one pay, this made it real. I sense a goal for 2018…
Daily Spending Rate
Despite all the repairs we needed to affect this month, yet again we stayed under our daily spend rate. Once more, I believe that’s because we had no annual bills to pay, which always takes a big chunk out. 3 months to go!
As I reflected after one year of blogging, I want to be more transparent in reporting our numbers. This is the first step – everything we budgeted and everything we spent via our top-level YNAB categories.
I’m really cranky with us. Another month way above $1,000. Clearly we had no self-control. This behaviour is not just damaging financially, it’s damaging to our health. We’ve got to stop. If nothing changes, then nothing is going to change. I’m going to institute a weekly budget food meeting, so we can talk about what’s going on as it happens
We spent less than budgeted for Groceries Need, but we overspent on Groceries Want – the junk food. Writing up this post, I can’t even tell you it was for anything specific. It’s just junk that we had at home. Even so, altogether we spent less than our budget, so I’ll grudgingly accept that as a win while working to make sure it doesn’t happen in October.
OMG. Most of this was to buy spirits for a get-together with friends where we made cocktails. Was it a fun night? Yes. Was it worth what we spent? No. While shopping for this, Mr. ETT called to say a particular bottle I like was on super special, did I want that to keep at home? Stupidly, I said yes. I should have been stronger.
Mr. ETT also went out a few times for a beer. That didn’t add up to much, though. Then right at the end of the month, he bought another bottle of spirits to drink at home. It’s all too much. We had to cover some of this from our “Stuff I Forgot To Budget For” category, the first time this year. We talked about how we could have invested that money for our future; both of us were regretful.
This is the first time our 2017 spending has exceeded our 2016 spending.
Last month I realised that I should be quarantining Eating Out money for a café or restaurant that we visit together. Like pay yourself first, but for food. My plan worked! Well, almost. On day 1, I put a fake entry into our eating out budget as a holding amount for the restaurant we were going to during the month. It turns out that for this particular restaurant, I didn’t quarantine enough, and we still spent over budget.
There’s a couple of wins here, though. Firstly, look at the pie chart. For the first time, our together spending outweighs either of our individual spending. That, my friends, is an example of spending matching our values. Secondly, although we went over budget, this is the reduced budget I implemented last month. If we were to look back to July then it only came in $5 over. I know this sounds like cheating, but I really feel that without going to a super expensive restaurant this month, we’d be fine. Mr. ETT continued to take his lunch each day. Winning!
Gifts and Giving $23.99 Each
A very small month on the gifts and giving front, which is unfortunate because I drew out Tassie Devils. Mr. ETT particularly loves Tassie Devils, and we spent a wonderful afternoon at Devils@Cradle, a sanctuary at Cradle Mountain that contributes to conservation and research. Actually, I decided to increase this with my spending money to $50, for which you can “adopt” a particular Devil for a year.
The mixer tap in our kitchen became loose, so was swivelling around. I found the excellent video below (yes, FIREstarter, it’s another Aussie “how-to” video!), picked up some mixer tap spanners for $10.50, and in about 5 minutes, Mr. ETT had fixed it! We tried asking around but couldn’t find anyone who had a set. Purchasing the spanners was worth it for us, because we know it will happen again. We have them stored right under the sink, ready for next time.
The stupid pop-up plug in our bathroom sink also broke. I’ve never liked that thing from the beginning. I got home from work one day to find Mr. ETT drawing on more of his new-found plumbing skills to replace it. Our bathroom installer had used silicon to put it in place. Apparently to do the job properly, you need a special plumbers putty. Unfortunately, try as we might we couldn’t find anyone who had some, or anywhere to buy it – even the local plumbing supply store didn’t stock it. I drew the line at ordering it from England, so we went the old route and used silicon as well.
A Fallen Tree
A tree fell on our house! I got up that morning, let the cats out and pottered for a couple of hours before Mr. ETT woke up. He said “Did you hear the wind last night? There was also a big bang. Maybe something in the laundry fell over.” I hadn’t heard anything! When I walked out into the back yard, there was the tree.
Once upon a time, this would have completely thrown us. We would have called an emergency tree lopper on a Sunday when everyone else was calling them, and paid a fortune. Instead, we stood and contemplated it for a while, then decided to go in for a good breakfast and a coffee. After breakfast, we came out and just tackled it.
It wasn’t big enough to do any damage, thankfully, but it did tear the cat netting. I climbed on the roof and cut off as many branches as I could reach, but we decided that the trunks were too heavy for us to handle. Also, we didn’t want to risk damaging the netting any more, so we did call in the experts – for the next week, when no one was in a rush.
The change in our attitudes since discovering FI has been amazing. It’s not just about money – we are becoming more competent human beings!
Retire Early Goal
On a happy note, we have now saved enough to retire 2 years early, based upon our 2016 spending.
Two wins and a big fail this month. For those of you that know me, you won’t be surprised that my fail was …
I had a HUGE fail on the exercise front. Not only did I not start the 7 minute workout once a week, I didn’t go for a walk for three whole weeks, AND I fell back into old eating habits. Luckily, I reached a point where I started feeling bad, so I simply started again. It really was as easy as that. I went for my walk. I stopped eating crap. This seems to be one case where hedonic adaptation has worked in my favour. I’ve adapted to feeling well, and it didn’t seem to take too many weeks of being off the wagon before I was prompted to do something about it. I’m sticking with my original goal, which means for October I need to jump straight to doing the workout twice a week.
Grow Fresh Herbs
My herbs LIVE! I nearly had a heart attack when I came out one day to find them looking like this…
Turns out, they needed water. I’m slowly beginning to learn how much the pot should weigh when they are happily watered, although they’ve drooped another couple of times. At the moment with the heat I’m watering them every couple of days. I also used them in a recipe, but when it came time to harvest, I didn’t want to cut them! It seems counterintuitive that I’m so worried about keeping them alive, then I take sharp pointy objects to their beautiful new shoots…
I called one of my school friends for her birthday in September, and another friend I haven’t spoken to for a while. There are no birthdays in October, so I will just have to pick up the phone and connect.
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!
Only 3 months left for 2017 – how are your goals coming along?