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:
|phone, tv, internet||-212.8||-238.476|
|car note & ins||-1061.42||-471.044|
|house, misc shopping||-362.14||-498.563|
|car repair, gas, toll||-1003.55||-486.014|
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?