March 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

March. Sigh. I knew the health insurance was coming, so I also knew that this was going to be another month we wouldn’t meet our daily spending rate. We are a quarter of the year through, and it’s been normal life expenses that again have pushed us over. I’m feeling discouraged, because April will be the same. Our house and contents insurance is due, along with registration for my car and Mr. ETT’s motorbike. I will put the oven and stove on hold again.

Graph of Cumulative 2018 Daily Spending Rate.
It’s getting worse.

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.

March 2018 YNAB Categories

In my 2018 Spending Goals post, I identified three areas of spending I thought we could cut to reach our goal:

Food $911.81

I had to pay for nearly $50 of Groceries Want (junk food) from my spending money. I’m stress eating because of work, although I’m aware and trying to moderate my behaviour again. Each of these purchases was made knowing I would need to reimburse, so it was a deliberate decision. I also paid for some KFC directly out of my spending money, despite the Eating Out balance having enough to cover it. Learn from my mistake—it was awful! I really wanted to enjoy my dinner, and I did not. It was compounded by knowing I was consuming my personal spends!

Mr. ETT had to pay for $117.40 worth of alcohol. He went away on a long weekend motorbike group get-together, as well as purchasing a bottle of spirits. Despite having access to YNAB and recording his spending, we still argued at the end of the month. He doesn’t think he should reimburse his spending for drinking while away. He said if that is the case, then we aren’t budgeting enough for alcohol. I said that if it is really that important for him to drink, then he should be happy to spend his own money on it. We’re at an impasse as I write this.

Clothes $19.89

I needed some stockings for work, and Mr. ETT needed a make-up brush for his play. $250.26 left for the rest of the year.

Gifts and Giving

Less than $10 this month on both, so I’ll roll over the difference to April and donate then.

Pink, Red and Yellow Poppies


I thought I might start 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. Calculations are based on 2017’s Daily Spend Rate of $193.

Health Insurance = $1,984 (10 working days early retirement)

I did a bit of shopping around, but decided to stay with our current provider. There are two reasons: firstly, the majority of insurers enforce waiting periods, sometimes up to 12 months. Now we have existing conditions, it’s not matter of simply swapping. Also, the plan we are on is no longer available. When I sat down with the insurer, it appears that we are getting a higher level of benefits for the same price as the new plan. What annoys me most is that there is no option to increase the excess beyond $500.

I’ve just realised that paying for this yearly over the next 10 years will cost us 100 working days, 20 weeks, or 5 months of early retirement. And that is without the inevitable, way above CPI yearly cost increases. Damn.

Motorbike Green Slip and Insurance = $1,077 (6 working days early retirement)

This doesn’t include the registration, as Mr. ETT will pay it in April. On a happy note, I received my green slip refund of $54.48. Have you got yours yet?


Jetpack made me laugh by complimenting this site while trying to sell me an upgrade. Template, anyone?

Jetpack "Large Successful Site" Fake Compliment
I suspect their definitions of “large” and “successful” are different to my definitions—particularly at $30/month!

Mr. ETT and I had a singing battle in bed on a Sunday morning—George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set on You”.

Mr. ETT “It’s gonna take money
A whole lot of spending money
It’s gonna take plenty of money

Mrs. ETT “It’s gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It’s gonna take patience and time

This is us in a nutshell.

Also, AwP, Poopsie, Miss Balance and I went to see Mr. ETT perform in Much Ado About Nothing. I loved it, and it was great to get together with those two very busy women. I also got to meet the titular Poopsie of “Adventures with Poopsie” fame!

Personal Goals

Stay Sane

Not fantastic on this front. Is anyone a fan of Napoleon Dynamite? We only discovered this gem last year, but we’ve watched it a couple of times. I spend my days at the moment mimicking Napoleon’s mannerisms, particularly “Fricken’ IDIOTS!”, followed by a disgusted sigh. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my job. I know this will pass.



No Drinking

Probably just as well I’ve given it up. Still no temptation, though, so I think I’ll stop reporting on this (unless I break it, but I can’t see that happening).

Affiliate plug!
YNAB March 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!

7 thoughts on “March 2018 Spending and New Habits

  1. Miss Balance says:

    ‘I’m feeling discouraged because April will be the same.’
    This isn’t a good start 😔
    Perhaps now isn’t the time to be aiming higher when you have a lot going on at work. Especially if there isn’t agreement on the priorities and how to get there as a team.
    Sorry Mr ETT but alcohol while away with your mates is absolutely a personal expense that should come out of your own individual spending/splurge money.
    On another note, what on earth do you get for over $900/month that you class as food? You know I’m only relatively new to tracking every dollar to a category, but over the past 3 months I average $150/month groceries and $100/month eating out. Double it and it is still only $500/month. Where does the extra $450 come from? I’m honestly curious on this one as I thought I was pretty generous with food and buy anything I want. If you could save even $200/month here, how would that make you feel? Perhaps that could be a team effort goal for April that you both work hard towards?
    So glad to hear you shopped around for health insurance 😊 even if you ended up with the same provider, at least you know you are getting the very best deal for you.
    P.s. get your oven fixed 😝

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I know. I’m discouraged because I deliberately didn’t go full-on with our goal this year. We only need to cut another $4,000, which I thought wouldn’t be that difficult. It’s true that our priorities aren’t aligned, although I would say that Mr. ETT is the one who wants the outcome of not working far more than I do. I think it’s because he isn’t into the FIRE scene so much, he doesn’t get the direct link between spending now and retiring later.

      As for food, I budget $850/month for all food and alcohol. Compared to the previous us, this is still good. In 2016, we averaged $1,465 and month, in 2017 it was $1,000 a month. I think I’ll try to do an in-depth look at the first three months of this year in another post, so you can see where it all goes.

  2. Dave@StrongMoneyAustralia says:

    That damn insurance 😉

    I’m with Miss B as well, Mr ETT needs to pay for his own damn drinking lol. We didn’t budget enough is a classic spenders solution, rather than we spend too much.

    Haha I got that Jetpack email too – I was thinking jeez they’ve obviously got the wrong person!

    Awesome you got to have another blogger-girls catchup too – nice work.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      “Classic spender’s solution”—that’s a good point. And I get it’s difficult to go against your natural tendencies. I’d have just as much difficulty if I was forced to spend $200 on a piece of clothing. It’s something we have to work through together, because there’s no use being miserable or fighting when the outcome is 10–15 years away!

      Lol, I’m glad I’m not the only one. At least I got a chuckle out of it!

  3. Grogounet says:

    Hello there
    mostly agree with miss balance on comments.
    it seems also that you re putting yourself under a lot of pressure to achieve your goals. maybe a bit too much?
    you ll get there eventually and remember to have fun on the path (easier said then done i know) but there was not a lot of happiness in your post 🙂

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Oh Grogounet, I wasn’t feeling a lot of happiness. You are right about the self-imposed goals. I guess we will have to sit down and have a family meeting, like Adventures with Poopsie. We’ve both been so busy (me with work, Mr. ETT has been in 2 plays at once) that we haven’t had a lot of time together.

  4. Pia says:

    Alcohol on a mates play date? Personal expense, sorry! In fact, since you aren’t drinking, I think all alcohol should be personal expense.

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