November 2017 Spending and New Habits

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!

This was the month I had a meltdown, fell off the wagon and generally decided I didn’t want to adult any more. Thankfully it began to pass after a couple of weeks, but I’m still working to regain my enthusiasm. I will say that I really appreciated being back to meal planning. Even though I rebelled against the planning work that has to be done to make it happen, the result is so much less stressful. Now if that isn’t a metaphor for Financial Independence, I don’t know what is! It’s just that meal planning can be done in an hour, and FI takes >15 years. Hopefully my appreciation once we are there will be equally magnified.

Daily Spending Rate

… aaaaaand here’s the buyers regret. Why did I choose to fall off the wagon in what was already going to be one of the most expensive months of the year? Look at the peak on the graph. We seem to be tracking Bitcoin… November still sees us under target, however December is going to be equally costly. We have more annual car expenses, along with Christmas. Not the way I want to end out the year but let’s all cross our fingers for squeaking in under goal.

Graph of Cumulative 2017 Daily Spending Rate.

Our Budget

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.

Top-level YNAB Categories - Budgeted and Spent.
Yep. Motor vehicles are costly. So is poor decision-making.

Food $1396.63

YNAB Food Categories - 3 out of 4 are overspent.
It seems I forgot to take a screenshot before shuffling money to cover the overspend. Did I mention how much I don’t like red?

Massive overspend again, but thankfully not as large as last month. Part of this was my descent into don’t-care land, so the Groceries Want spiralled with purchases of all the tasty-but-terrible-for-you sugary, salty, fatty foods. In addition, which I hadn’t realised until I sat down to write this post, is that Mr. ETT also returned to old habits of buying lunch every day. So my meltdown appears to have had double effect. Not only were we buying takeaway for dinner, but there weren’t leftovers for him to take for lunch. That really stings. Even so, check the graph below. It is still less than what we spent in November 2016. What on earth were we doing back then?!


So why, when we weren’t meal planning, were our groceries still so high? It seems to be because, instead of doing one shop and staying away for the rest of the week, it turned into multiple little trips. Not only do extra purchases happen every time we walk into the shops, we were probably buying the pre-prepared, easy to shove-in-the-oven food, which works out to be far more expensive than home-cooked meals created from fresh ingredients.

I’ve already confessed to the Groceries Want spending. With the total disengagement from everything that is good for me, I felt like I stepped into Wilky Wonka’s world: swimming in chocolate. Still pulling myself out of that sugar haze.


Eating Out

We went out to dinner one night after work, to catch up with a friend. Initially when she texted I thought “No! I don’t want to go out on a school night, I’ve got too much to do, I’ll be too tired…”. I gave myself a talking to, replied with “yes”, and had such a relaxing night. I’m glad “mum” me came out and gave me a lecture.

A friend we hadn’t spoken to for about 3 years called us! It was great to renew the friendship and meet his new girlfriend.  We headed into the city and ate out at the trendy Tramsheds in Annandale. (OK, for the purists, apparently Annandale isn’t the city. As we live in Western Sydney and hardly ever head in there, my definition of “the city” is pretty broad.) This was another great night, and as eating out and experiencing new places is one of our values, there’s no regrets there.

Mr. ETT and I also took ourselves out to lunch at a local café we hadn’t tried before, even though it’s been around for some time and has great reviews. We weren’t disappointed.

Mr. ETT went on an overnight motorbike ride with his brother to Dubbo and Dunnedoo. He also attended the Jindabyne Snowy Ride for the Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation charity. Isn’t it fabulous when doing something you love also contributes to helping others?

Graph of Eating Out Spending based on who spent what.
At least the “both” spending was a sizeable chunk this month.


Our busy social month explains why the alcohol is so high as well. None of this socialising happens without alcohol for Mr. ETT. Even if we aren’t paying to go out to dinner – just going around a friend’s or family, alcohol is involved. I begin to see how it is an embedded part of  our society. We even went to a 2 year old’s birthday party, and there was alcohol. I don’t think this is normal. It’s got to be possible to enjoy yourself without it. Don’t get me wrong – Mr. ETT doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. He completed Dry July with me last year. It’s the cultural expectations that I don’t think I saw until I stepped outside of them.

Gifts and Giving $225.19/$281.14

I’m not sure how I managed to get gifts and giving out of sync, but as long as it favours the giving, I don’t mind. We had a couple of birthdays, and began a bit of Christmas shopping. Giving was made up of the Stephen Walter Children’s Cancer charity mentioned above, as well as Mr. ETT’s participation in Movember. Men’s health promotion is important to Mr. ETT. He sees too many friends and family not taking enough sensible steps towards regular maintenance and prevention. It’s a relief payment for both of us that he gets to shave the moustache off!

Motorbikes riding at Thredbo
Some of the participants in the 2017 Snowy Ride.


Big month of car costs, with registration and maintenance on Mr. ETT’s car. These weren’t due until December, but knowing that car insurance and maintenance on his motorbike are coming in December, we wanted to spread the load over a couple of months.

I woke one morning to discover that the sheets on my side of the bed had a hole in them. Frugal “using things until they wear out” FTW! I set up a watch on Facebook Garage Sales after checking out prices at Aldi and online, then waited. There weren’t many on offer that I was willing to pay the price for, but I eventually found a new set locally that saved us some money. It looks like another set will go soon, so I’m back on the lookout.

We paid our tax bills of $150 combined, which was probably due to earning from our investments. Hooray!

Someone signed up to YNAB using my affiliate link – thank you! I hope you get as much out of it as I do. Enjoy your free month, and thank you for mine.

World's Largest Virtual Solar System Drive - Neptune
Mr. ETT got to see a part of the World’s Largest Virtual Solar System Drive – Neptune!

Personal Goals


Nup. Nope. No way. My head isn’t in the right space and I’ve let this one go. For now. I know it’s important. I know there’s no better time to start. I know I’ll reap the benefits. I need to change-manage myself but honestly, I’m not ready.

Grow Fresh Herbs

It turns out that when fresh herbs don’t die, you have a lot of fresh herbs! They are growing like wildfire, faster than I can use them. Some of the oregano stalks are 30cm tall. I am still hesitant to cut them, and I need to experiment with the best places to cut the plant. Do I want them growing bushy or are they better off tall? Do I cut them down low, or just halve their height? I have let family know I have them; it seems I also need to investigate drying and/or freezing.

Maintain Friendships

I was at work on a Wednesday when I received a text from my friend that lives in Wagga Wagga. “I know it’s a long-shot, but will you be around on Friday morning?” she asked. All the planets aligned because, yes, I was! I just happened to have a day off work that day, with no firm plans. It may seem like I’m cheating in that she contacted me, but this was the friend I was going to call in November, after running into her daughter while we were visiting Kiama.

I also telephoned another school friend I hadn’t spoken to in a few years. She was just beginning a new job so it was an exciting time to catch up.

Affiliate plug!

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!

One more monthly report for 2017 before we know whether we reached our goal. Although December will be expensive, I’m feeling cautiously confident…

5 thoughts on “November 2017 Spending and New Habits

  1. Amy says:

    Keep working on the goals! We’ve been able to cut our food spending down to an average of $800 AUD this year down from the $1350ish from last year. As long as you’re making progress over the past that’s good.

    I’m an Exercise Physiologist, I got my Master’s degree in the field and have been training people for 19 years next month. I wanted to tell you not to worry about “exercise” for now. Just try to work more activity into your daily life. Park further away from your work and stores when you go to get a little extra walking in. Go for a walk on your break at work if you get one. Even if it’s just laps around the building. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Go for a walk after dinner with your husband. A lot of daily physical activity like cleaning can count towards your needs. If you want strength exercises too then do body weight squats through out the day. I have a sign on the bathroom door reminding me to do squats. I started off doing 5 after I went each time and worked to sets of 10. You could do wall push ups against the door every time you leave the house. If there’s a sport that you enjoy playing do that. If you enjoy hiking try to do that once a week. Small changes in habit build to larger changes over time. Little boosts activity through out the day adds up to meet the recommendations for physical activity.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I’d be super happy with $800. I think food spending will need to be a focus for 2018 because there’s no reason other than lack of discipline for our spending. Also, it ties directly in with our health, and we could definitely do with an improvement there.

      I’m not too bad with the incidental exercise. I never take the elevators at work, and sometimes I’ll go up and down an extra flight of stairs while I’m in the stairwell, just for. I love the idea of adding a couple of exercises to toilet time, what a great trigger – I’m definitely going to try that. The incidental exercise isn’t enough, though. I need to get back into walking and doing the 7 Minute Workout. I don’t even dislike doing it. I think it’s just that it’s not a priority (or a habit, yet), so once I lost focus, boom. Done.

      Thanks for your support and encouragement, I really appreciate it.

  2. StrongMoneyAustralia says:

    Hahah, spending tracking bitcoin – love it!
    Man, that food bill is…to be honest, insane. Those little trips increase your car costs too 🙁
    Does Mr ETT know you have the pie chart which highlights ‘his’ spending? lol that seems like a recipe for an argument 😉
    Cheering for you guys! I want to see you guys come flying out of the gates for a ripper and hardcore frugal 2018…

  3. weenie says:

    I have to say that pretty much all my socialising involves alcohol too, so I get where you’re coming from re your alcohol expenses. This time of year, there’s occasion for a couple of spots of heavy drinking (and heavier hangovers) but generally, I drink moderately and don’t touch alcohol on a school night. I can’t say I’ve ever felt the need to do a ‘dry’ month, but in 2018, I do want to watch my own alcohol spending (for home) as it’s been pushing up my groceries bill. Hopefully, if I can kickstart my homebrewing again, that should help reduce the costs.

    Keep at it with the rest of the goals!

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