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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…