February 2018 Spending and New Habits

In 2017, we spent $64,000 on everyday expenses. In 2018 we have the goal to be able to live off one wage, or $60,000. To generate that using passive income and the 4% rule, we’ll still need $1,500,000 invested! Every dollar less we spend is another dollar we don’t have to save up for in retirement.

Daily Spending Rate

I’ve been in avoidance mode all month, because it felt spendy from day 1. This mode is not helpful! We need to calculate our daily spending rate more frequently so we can make course corrections along the way. I will Tweet our DSR once a week as an accountability measure.

This month I even questioned our goal, because I’m seeing expenses everywhere. I don’t think we can live off one wage this year. At one point I even considered giving up. What was I thinking? I’ve been telling my nephew that anything worth doing is hard; I need to follow my own aphorism. What I thought was just our goal may have morphed into a BHAG, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. (I went down a rabbit hole of inspirational quotes – you may see some on Twitter.)

Graph of Cumulative 2018 Daily Spending Rate.
Still way too high above the goal line.

It is a slight improvement over January, but nowhere near enough. We’ll have to have some very lean months to make up for our poor start. Next month won’t be better, because our health insurance is due :-/

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.


YNAB February Food Spending.
This month hurt our personal spends.

We went over on two categories—junk food and eating out. We both agreed to cover this from our spends, but the final total hurt. It’s equal to one week of our spending money—each. It was a very busy, social month.

Spending Outside Our Values

  • We went out to a chain German restaurant for a family member’s birthday (their choice). It was expensive, the food mediocre, and the atmosphere like a nightclub. Unpleasant, and a waste of money. At least now we know not to go back.
  • The other waste of money was a night after work when we were having a family member over for dinner. I had to stay back at work, and it was all too hard, so we got takeaway Chinese. This was purely because we were having a guest. If it had happened on any other night, we could have dug in the freezer for one of our backup meals. Two of the dishes were great, one mediocre, and another awful. We won’t order from there again either.

Spending Within Our Values

Three meals, including an avocado toast!

  • I got to catch up with AwP and Miss Balance at a beautiful café, where we sat for three hours! This is living my values.
  • Mr. ETT and I lunched in the Blue Mountains with a group of ex-colleagues.
  • Mr. ETT went to the pub with his workmates.
  • We went to another pub with family for lunch.
  • Mr. ETT took his mum out to lunch.
  • Finally, Mr. ETT and I had to go to a major shopping centre, which is rare for us these days. Even though we were over budget, we decided we wanted sushi for lunch, followed by ice cream. It was wonderful. I mean, the sushi was OK, but being together with Mr. ETT… We both speed along at such a breakneck pace that sometimes it feels like we don’t spend time together. We’re there, but we are always doing something else (or in my case, plotting, planning, thinking ahead…) This spending was our values, mainlined!

As for the junk food, I’ve started stress eating at work. It needs to stop. You can’t out-exercise a poor diet, particularly with the little exercise I’m doing.

Clothes $45

Mr. ETT bought some moisturiser. He argued that it doesn’t belong in “Clothes”, but that’s where I’ve put it from day 1, so there it stays. We have $270.15 left for the rest of the year.

Outside of the cafe where AwP, Miss Balance and Mrs. ETT lunched.
The café.

 Gifts and Giving

Only one this month, so we donated to the Cancer Council. While I support the work they do, I admit to a cringe when I drew this out. I used to donate monthly, but ended up pulling out because of the sheer volume of correspondence they sent. So much paper, and none of it cheap. I hope they still aren’t posting out half a tree.


I started reporting on our spending in terms of the number of days early retirement it costs us. Some of these items are essentials—there’s no way to avoid them, so counting the cost in days is pointless. However, I’m hoping to embed the concept that the way we choose to spend our money now has a direct correlation to how long we have to work in the future. I base calculations on 2017’s Daily Spend Rate of $193.

Motorbike Tyres = $470 (2.5 working days early retirement)

Mr. ETT is going on a long ride in March. He found a special where the front tyre was half price if you brought the back tyre at the same time. Good tyres are a safety issue, essential spending.

Dental = $508 (2.5 working days early retirement)

Mr. ETT had another visit. This is the last one for this year—we are now saving for the rest of the work to be completed next year.

Electricity = $600 (3 working days early retirement)

Our electricity went up by $50/month. This is because of all the air conditioning we have been using. The heat is one reason we want to move.

Vaccinations = $192 (1 working day early retirement)

Frank and Jelly had their annual vaccinations. Next year they will also have to get their teeth cleaned, unless the special food we are trying helps in the meantime. Otherwise, it’s going to be very expensive.

Inside of the cafe where AwP, Miss Balance and Mrs. ETT dined.
We sat out on the balcony. This was the view inside before it filled up.


Someone signed up for YNAB – thanks! Please double-check that you’ve been credited with your free month.

To counteract my inherent grinchiness, I added a Christmas category to YNAB. It’s a bit late, so I divided last year’s spending by 11 months instead of 12. We now have a goal of $70 a month. Hopefully I’ll breathe easier this year when it comes time to spend.

We lost $100. Poof! Just totally disappeared. We had reconciled our cash the day before (in YNAB-speak this means that we had counted everything, and what is in our wallets matches what is in YNAB) so we know WHEN it happened. We just have no idea HOW it happened! It sucks, but at least we weren’t relying on it.

Personal Goals

Stay Sane

Well, it’s started, and so much more quickly than I was expecting. I did 5 hours extra one week (for free, which I hate. Expect a future post on this). Then, it ramped up by a million, and it’s not possible for me to complete everything that needs doing. So, I am pushing back and prioritising bare minimum. My stress is manifesting not only through eating junk food—my sleep appears to be affected as well. I’m OK, though. This is temporary until go-live, then things will settle to a lower level of crazy. I’ve got this.

View from the cafe
The view from our seat on the verandah. Nature and hanging with friends is excellent for restoring sanity.


I started exercising again! Thank goodness, because I do feel better (who’d have thought?) I woke really tight one morning—carrying some of my ramping day-job stress—so I wanted to do some stretching. I opened my 7 Minute Workout app and did a workout. At the end it balefully reminded me this was the first time since last November that I’d opened it. Pfft.

Exercise to me is like budgeting to Mr. ETT. We don’t like the process, but the benefits are undeniable. (After the pain. I need to do the app more than one day a week, because I hurt!)

No Drinking

A little more difficult this month, because I got bored. Having wine at home gave me more variety in what to drink. Without it I either have water, juice+water, or milk+/-Milo. I know the Milo is no good for me, so I try to minimise it. Maybe I need to add in green or liquorice tea. With my stress levels rising, it’s a good time for an alcohol ban!

Arty Cafe Water Bottles and Cups
Who needs alcohol when you can make water look so pretty?

Were you on top of your February spending as you went? How often do you check?

Affiliate plug!
YNAB February 2018 Promo

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 is involved in spending money. YNAB offers a 34 day free trial period. If you try YNAB and after your free 34 days, you 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!

10 thoughts on “February 2018 Spending and New Habits

  1. Pia says:

    Try adding lemon and mint to your water. Other variations can be oranges, apples, strawberries and berries. Even cucumber. That should give you different flavour profiles to keep it interesting. I also have a rather large tea collection, iced tea is a great thing to have right now! (No sugar added). Don’t get sucked in by the pretty packaging and smells at T2 either. There’s loads of better teas out there.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Oh Pia, I’m a T2 woman! I have been making iced tea for my afternoons at work to try and overcome the desire for chocolate. I did get a little gaspy at the prices last time, so I’d love other suggestions! What’s your favourite?

      Thanks for the tip of adding fruit to water. I can do that. Also, Aldi only sells massive cucumbers, so that gives me something else to try with them, thanks.

      • Pia says:

        Amongst others, Lupicia’s tea quality is amazing. They have a store in Melbourne and an online store as well I believe. Good tea is worth the price tag (T2’s isn’t for the most part)

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I tried some iced green tea yesterday, Grogounet. It worked. I felt like I was drinking something a little bit special. As you say, it’s even healthy for me. Win!

  2. Dave@StrongMoneyAustralia says:

    Man that’s a beautiful picture on the verandah – how tranquil, and what a way to de-stress!

    Sounds like a super-busy month – most well laid plans go out the window when there’s too much going on, so don’t feel bad 🙂

    Well done for getting back onto the exercise…shame about the junk food lol!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      ARGH, the junk food is killing me (literally and figuratively). I’ve got to find a better way to deal with stress. Glad I’m on an alcohol ban, I should put myself on a chocolate/sugar ban as well. Hmmm, I may have to think about that.

  3. Miss Balance says:

    I like how you can really pinpoint what expenses are in line with your values – this is super important for ongoing commitment to your goals and making sure you are focusing on spending in those areas and not so much in others.
    I agree with the others above about green tea, or any herbal teas really. I love them and it definitely helps to steer clear of other bad things when you have a nice range to choose from. I personally have 4-6 cups of tea a day both hot and cold depending on how I feel. Some favourites are plain green, green with jasmine, mint tea, cinnamon. I’ll also occasionally try a few others depending on what is on special at my local supermarket or online. Just be sure to purchase those without any additives – especially sugar.
    p.s $45 on moisturiser 😛 no words can describe what I’d like to say there….

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I’m a bit late to the party on matching expenses to values! For whatever reason, it took a while for me to get my head around the concept. Writing it down is a learning exercise. It forces me to decide whether the activity was right for us.

      I think it was you who recommended the liquorice tea in the past? Now I’ll have to try cinnamon tea as well 😉 I’ve been trying this, and it has made a difference, thanks.

      He has sensitive skin that breaks out if he tries anything else (believe me, I’ve tried.) Then we spend the money on medication instead, so #notwinning. We did manage to find an alternative soap, at least.

      • Miss Balance says:

        I’m not a big fan of liquorice tea so probably wasn’t me but if you like it I’ll take the credit 😉
        That sucks about Mr ETTs skin. In that case spending more on products that work is acceptable – but still ouch!

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