Slowly Sipping Coffee

Our money went where? October 2015!

Well, it was the month of the car expenses. The 6 month car insurance policy came due, and since we decided not to buy a new car since it the estimated cost difference was only ~$500 over the next 5 years to downsize the car, I bought two new tires and a new battery for my car.   I did do a quick check to see if I could find car insurance cheaper – but not this time! I find it’s also good to do a quick check on insurance policies at least once a year.

We did well on groceries – and I saved receipts so that I could do a full analysis (post to come), since the last few months our grocery bills were creeping up on us. This month we spent $576 on groceries – not as low as I would like it, but that number is still below $600, which is good target for us.  We are averaging about $640/month this year, which I feel is a little high.


Here are the actual numbers for this month, as well as what we are averaging monthly in 2015:

Oct-15 AVG 2015
mortgage -1900.34 -1906.17
house utilities -365.12 -313.558
phone, tv, internet -212.8 -238.476
daycare -1828 -1936.03
car note & ins -1061.42 -471.044
health 0 -35.506
groceries -576.67 -639.454
house, misc shopping -362.14 -498.563
car repair, gas, toll -1003.55 -486.014
gifts/entertain -141.33 -82.546
pets -16.22 -199.133
maids -264.14 -255.895
cash -70 -39
gym -87.12 -87.12
travel 0 -222.863
total -7888.85 -7575.61

Other expenses that were out of the ordinary – we celebrated our anniversary! So, we went out for dinner.  The evening out cost us almost $200 with the babysitter – and while I enjoyed the company, our meal was subpar and over $100.  It wasn’t the best way to spend our money.  I think I would’ve had a better time if we had just gone to the wine bar and then maybe gone for a walk in a park or something.  It’s funny how much I prefer home cooking to anything else.  Or maybe if we could just hire a babysitter to put the kids to bed, so that we could cook and then have a nice, uninterrupted dinner on our patio…   I think we are stuck in the habit that to celebrate an occasion you have to go out for a nice meal – I am curious, what do you all do to celebrate?

Let’s see, I’ve started Christmas shopping this month. I prefer to have most of my shopping done before Christmas. On the plus side, I think we are almost done shopping for the kids.  Mr SSC and I buy each other gifts from our allowances, so that won’t come out of the main budget.  We are brainstorming ways to decrease our spending at the holidays, so this will be our first year of trying it out.  Our ‘shopping’ category was also a little bit higher because we got a few family portraits taken at church, and while I was not planning on spending so much, they were actually good. And since my parents were in town, they are also in them – which means I had to buy a couple copies for them also.  It funny, I don’t mind spending money too much on photos – we occasionally do hire a photographer to take family pictures.  I am decent with a camera myself – but the issue is getting the kids to look at a camera on a tripod if no one is standing there waving their arms and acting silly. Hopefully, in a few years, the kids will willingly look at a camera and smile, so that I can take the photos and edit them myself!

Our savings is back on track – I was able to invest $10k this month in VTSAX. We had been building up a bit of a cash cushion in case I was laid off, but I wasn’t, so I was able to invest while the market was still down.  And let me tell you how happy I am to see our investment numbers back up to our August levels!  It puts a big smile on my face.  We are almost 75% of the way to our FI target!!! Go team SSC!

I’ve mentioned recently how we try and estimate our budget for after we achieve our Fully-Funded Lifestyle Change, and for the first 10 months of the year we are looking at an annual spending in our FI lifestyle of $50,524 including taxes and insurance. Not too bad. I feel comfortable with a little bit of slush so we are still aiming for $55,000 in yearly family operating expenses.  Of course, this is our first full year tracking spending, so it will be interesting to see if it decreases in 2016 as we become more mindful of purchases.  For giggles, I just looked up how much we have made from dividends in our taxable accounts. $4240. Not bad, I’ll take free money.  I don’t really do dividend investing right now anyways.  When we move to the next phase of our life, I will move investments around a little bit more to optimize dividends as well as our taxable income, but this isn’t a strategy I have optimized yet.  Based on some rough calculations of our dividend optimized portfolio, I do expect us to take in about $15,000/year in dividends which will cover just over 25-30% of our spending.

Now we move on to the fun part of the year! I’ve got three weeks of vacation saved up, so I am excited to have a mental break from work the next few months.  It is still a gloomy place – there is another round of layoffs being announced this week, but I’m not included in them.  Rumors are no raises next year, minimal if any bonuses. Plus the company just announced in their Q3 earnings call that there would be significantly more layoffs to come… I feel like my segment of the company will be safe from layoffs until maybe the spring – so that gives me a good 6 months or so to keep saving money!  I have to say, it is nice not worrying as much as my co-workers about layoffs.  Mr. SSC’s company recently hinting there will be major cost-saving plans implemented soon for them… so  it is still a very dicey time for our household.  But, at least barring an economic or health disaster, I feel like even if we both lost jobs, we could move to a yet-unknown dream town near the mountains and get some jobs teaching and be just fine…

How did y’alls Octobers turn out? Anyone have neat ideas on ways to celebrate anniversaries without an expensive meal out?

21 thoughts on “Our money went where? October 2015!

  1. Fervent Finance

    Happy Anniversary! Great job plowing money into VTSAX. I did the same in October and saw a five figure net worth climb due to low expenses, market rally, and putting the money saved to work.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! I felt really good about getting to invest a bunch, and knowing that I bought it at least a little low!

  2. Steve @ Think Save Retire

    Congrats on the great month and getting your savings back on track! It’s wonderful knowing how close you are to being financially independent, isn’t it? It makes things that much easier going forward. In fact, if another round of layoffs roll through your company, volunteer to be one of the people who gets laid off. That might just be enough at that point to be “close enough”! :)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I may volunteer… we shall see. I almost volunteered this last round, but since my husband and I are in the same industry, I was worried it would be too risky.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I used to be disappointed if I wasn’t done Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I just love to buy presents for my family, so I buy them year round!

  3. Our Next Life

    Hooray for the market bounceback — so glad you got to buy some shares on sale before the rebound, too! We’re just happy to be back on track with our goals for the year.

    Given that keeping your job in the last round was a bummer, I’m hopeful that a new round in the spring seems like a potential opportunity. I third Steve and Maggie in saying maybe you could volunteer? We just had a corporate-wide call this morning and heard that we need to be “leaner and smarter” next year… who knows what that will end up meaning! But I’m definitely prepared to volunteer for a buyout if the opportunity arises. :-)

    On the anniversary Q (happy anniversary!), we have in recent years shifted to picnics or other casual celebrations. This year for my birthday, we went to a movie and then got Thai take-out. The movie was cheap because our theater chain gives you free birthday movie, and the take-out was a lot less than a sitdown meal would have been. Of course, we don’t have kids, so it’s a very different proposition!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Picnics sound great! I miss living in Louisiana – because they had an open container policy, so you could just go to a park and drink a bottle of wine or two! There is a free outdoor theater in Houston that I was almost thinking could be a fun alternative too.

  4. Freedom 40

    Happy anniversary! My wife and I have gotten away from actually giving presents on anniversaries. Instead, we do enjoy a nice dinner out or sometimes going to the theatre to see a musical. The Mrs. really likes that and it is an experience we can look back on. Of course – not often cheap!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      We’ve never given presents for anniversaries… just nice dinners. But nice dinners do get pricey! Actually this year on our actual anniversary I had tickets to the ballet with my friend… but my husband has no interest in ballet!

  5. Stockbeard

    I’m worried about how synchronized my mood is with the market these days.

    August/September was borderline depressing, and today I feel like I could do anything with my life. It’s tough to see your FI date fluctuate so dramatically just in a few months. What do you think?

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I have been trying lately to be zen about market ups and downs and not worry. Of course in the back of my mind I am thinking about it… I think of it as training myself to be market insensitive so that when we dont have jobs and the markets are down I wont freak out too much. I try really hard to not worry about stuff I can’t control, I think it takes lots and lots of practice.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! Although, I should’ve known – after this great month, we just found out our AC needs replacing, so November will not be impressive :(

  6. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    I’m waiting til the end of my pay month before I know the full numbers. I get my check around the 10th to 12th of each month. Depends on how slow the mail is being at that time. But I know our spending was sloppy this past month. I’m going to try to be more vigilant in this coming month. More “You don’t need that Snapple/Pepperidge Farm cookies” statements to Tim, argument/pouting be damned. As long as I avoid being a hypocrite and buying too many snacks myself.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I was just adding up our groceries — I’ve developed a nut habit, and Mr SSC a chip and guacamole addiction. Its amazing how much little ‘treats’ can add up to!

  7. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    I love that you guys are really working on socking away savings – that’s so important, especially if the layoffs do come to pass. We haven’t gone out to an expensive place for dinner in years. Sometimes I wonder if we should spend more. I just looked on our spreadsheet and we spent $25.51 for our anniversary dinner. I don’t even remember where we went, LOL, and I’m guessing Rick doesn’t either. :-) The older we get, the more we simply enjoy being together, no matter where it is. You guys are doing great – keep up the awesome work!

    1. Mr SSC

      Thanks! We realized that we were probably hosed when we entered the restaurant and there were about 60 high school kids dressed up for homecoming.We were right. :) It was nice getting to hang out and talk and not be in the same rut as if we were at home. for some reason, it’s easy to revert to comfortable at the house and not make it as quality as if we’re out of the house.
      We are trying to stay on top of savings as much as possible, because even though Mrs. SSC just got through that situation, my company is gearing up to do the same. Hopefully, more guillotine style, and just quick and get it done, but who knows. It’s just the price of business in this industry during a downturn, so it is what it is and no need to stress too much.

  8. May

    I wish my grocery spending was under $600 month! I keep trying.
    We don’t really celebrate our anniversary (I claim we celebrate it everyday we are together – LOL – sappy- gag) We do surprise each other from time to time with a treat but not related to any particular day or celebration. Looks like you had a great month. Good luck with the work situation and interested to see how it all turns out.

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