February was a great month for us! Or maybe it wasn’t who knows? Oh wait, I should know… Maybe I should write “February was A month for us!” and just leave out a descriptor, good or bad. There wasn’t a lot of change although I noticed our “pets” category comprised 10% of our total spend for the month. Yipe! I got a bonus at work – woohoo! That was pretty unexpected considering we still didn’t make money last year, but I am not complaining. Beyond that, it was a pretty normal month. For the number voyeurs out there, here is a look at the charts and graphs of our spending and how it stacks up to last month.
Big Spending Categories
The top 5 spending categories are dominated by mortgage, daycare, pets, allowances, and the kids’ college savings. Pet costs were a lot higher than usual this month. Greyhounds have notoriously bad teeth, and we noticed what looked like a cracked and bad tooth when brushing Lola’s teeth. She had a dental cleaning, but plus side was that February was dental hygiene awareness month for dogs, and we got 20% off on that stuff. Her tooth turned out to be fine, it was just some staining that had it looking so funky. While she was there, she was within a month of her yearly checkup and some booster shots, along with some more heartworm medicine and such. We also got Zoe some new ID tags and between that and the vets it all added up to about $900 worth of pet costs – sheesh!
The kids college funds are trucking along, and with the bonus this month, we will top off their accounts with the after tax remainder. That will get both of their accounts up to $44k and $48k and with a projected 4% growth should get them each around $77k for college. We haven’t decided whether to keep putting in the $800/mo through the end of the year and then call it good, or just call it good right now. The main sticking point is getting more money locked into a tricky place to access it if they end up not using it. Plus, it’s not like we won’t be able to help out from a non-529 account standpoint if it comes to that anyway. Thoughts?
Groceries came in high again and for a short month too – ok it’s only 3 days less than most, but for some reason it feels like a shorter month. Mrs. SSC’s parents were in town for 4 days celebrating her mom’s birthday, so that added some expense in. The rest is just general creep in the grocery bill, so we’ve been keeping a closer eye on it so far this month.
hobby work spending came in at $545 this month too. That’s her registration for the AAPG or annual petroleum geologist convention – only the best 4 days of talks, posters, and displays around! She did realize that there is some grant money that she can apply for and get reimbursed for this so we’re hoping that goes through. She also got some leads on potential funding and research projects for next year, so that could help with boosting her publishing opportunities, street cred, and possibly even her income. Exciting!
Big Saving Categories
I don’t think there were any big gains or cost reductions this month. Oh, our neighbors have been getting quotes to get the fence replaced – yes that has finally come due – and instead of $900 for the side we share, our one neighbor now wants to go with another company that will be closer to $1200. Our back neighbor and other side neighbor however, would rather use someone that quoted us at $16/ft instead of the place our side neighbor is using at $22/ft. That price difference adds up pretty quickly when you’re talking about replacing ~270’ of fence. So that will start trickling in soon, or maybe just all get slammed into March’s spending report. Who knows. We’ll at least save $6/ft on 2/3 of the fence though. Aye yi yi…
Looking at the numbers as they stand now, we’re projected to hit our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) number in summer 2018. Of course, that’s assuming no major market correction happens between now and then, so yeah… That sound is me laughing in the background at the thought of that. I welcome it to keep chugging up and up, but somethings gotta give right? Again, who knows? Definitely, not me, the guy who did not major in economics or finance. Our plan is still me working until 2019 anyway, and with being a little more spending conscious we could even stay in Houston on Prof. SSC’s salary and not have to dig into investments immediately.
We also have a good year’s worth of costs in cash currently for when things collapse and we don’t want to sell our stocks at the bottom of the market. Since we’re not planning on living off of this nest egg for a few more years yet, we’re not super worried about a market correction. Plus, when that does happen, maybe I can convince Mrs. SSC to plow some of that stockpile into the markets as they start to recover and we can just replenish the cash stash.
That’s about it for our spending fun this month. Nothing too exciting or deviating from the norm. We just need to keep an eye on the groceries, and some other minor things, but overall, everything is doing alright. As John Prine said, “Pretty good, not bad, I can’t complain. But actually, everything is just about the same”.
How was your February? Pretty good, not bad, you can’t complain? Any thoughts on sticking more into the college savings or calling it good and helping out with non-529 funds further down the road? Let us know, we’d love to hear your take on it.