Hi all! Welcome to May!! Here’s what we did in the month of April! I started writing these “Money Well Spent” posts as a way to reflect on the previous month and talk about our spending in some key areas. It’s also a way for me to reflect on the current state of affairs in our family For a larger explanation of why I write these posts, check out March 2019’s post.
So without further ado, here is my money well spent post for April, 2019.
Money well spent- major expenditures in April 2019
I don’t want to just minimize the money we spend, but I’d also like to be frugal in how much we’re taking from the earth. Posting our utility usage helps me be accountable for that. Nothing too different from a normal month. But here are some highlights:We used a lot less natural gas since it’s finally spring here (sort of). One thing I don’t understand about our house is that not only do we use less heating energy when it is warmer but our “Therms/degree day” is also lower. In case you’re not familiar with the term, “therms/degree day” is a way to normalize the energy you use to the outside temperature over the previous month.
We used more electricity in April than March. (about 0.6 kWh/day). I have no idea why.
We drove almost exactly as much as we did last month. In March, we drove what felt like a lot because we took a trip to Chicago. In April, we drove to my in-laws (180 miles) and my oldest daughter and I drove to a trail run (120 miles). Perhaps it’s the case that each month there are some “special” road trips and that’s where all of our mileage comes from. I guess those 2 trips accounted for more than 60% of our miles driven.
That being said, I wouldn’t trade those trips for anything. We had a really nice Easter with family. We got to spend time with my wife’s grandparents who we don’t often get to see. Everyone had a great time.
And I love doing trail races with my oldest daughter. We have really great conversations on the car ride to and from the race. This time we talked about Constenoga wagons, the Oregon Trail, and trail racing strategy. She’s a much better runner than I am now (she was in the top 5 females overall!!) and it’s fun to see her be so proud of her accomplishments. This was the highlight of my month.
We spent almost exactly our average ($612) on groceries this month! (Off by only 1 dollar!). I have been writing a lot about groceries lately. It seems people are genuinely interested in how we feed our family of 5 on so little. I’m going to try to write more about our groceries in future months (which pictures of our grocery hauls.
This month we made the decision to go on a full vegetarian diet. Meatless March went so well that we decided to just keep going. We have been watching a lot of food documentaries lately and after watching hidden camera views of slaughter houses for the third time we realized we couldn’t be a part of it. Also, we made the mistake of letting Kid1 watch a video with us and she pretty much went vegetarian on the spot. Kids are sometimes much better about doing the right thing than adults are. I could think of a whole bunch of justifications in my head about why I should be able to still eat meat. But knowing that she’s vegetarian makes it easier for me not to cheat.
I still have no idea what I’m going to do when I have to eat in a restaurant on work trips. Lettuce salad with no croutons? Most vegetarian meals at restaurants are pasta. And when you’re allergic to wheat there’s not a lot else out there. Indian food is really easily doable, but typically when I have to do a work dinner we end up at a brew-pub or a steak place or something in between. Maybe it’s a good excuse to duck out of work dinners. Because there’s nothing worse than meeting with people all day and then having to take it into overtime with dinner and drinks before meeting with them all again the next day.
We spent $40 on restaurants this past month. I don’t remember when or why. Sorry.
Dates are absolutely the best thing we spend money on every month. I *love* my wife. I love spending time with her. Unfortunately we both work, I have to travel, and the kids are so full of life that we don’t get as much time as we’d like to talk and hang out and catch up.
This month we scheduled a babysitter a couple of weeks in advance of our date and it turned out to snow six inches on the day of our date. In March, we had a beautiful spring date where we went for a walk and enjoyed some cider at an outdoor restaurant. We were hoping to recreate that, but April snow stopped it.
- Walked with umbrellas and rain boots.
- Stopped at a gas station to get free mochas (long story, but we rock their loyalty program even though we hardly buy gas).
- Took mochas to a common area at the local university.
- Played board games & drank mochas.
- Got a GF pizza & cider for dinner.
Not bad for a snowy day date!
We ordered 10 cubic feet of mulch this month (to be delivered in may). Mrs. Fig does a great job of making our yard look awesome. Part of this involves spreading mulch around our “front yard” which is really just space between our steps and the curb.
Long term progress
Our numbers don’t look super great this month. We had to prepay some of the summer daycare expenses, which is why our savings rate is below 50%. My friend the Passive Aggressive Investor lists all of these different ways to calculate savings rate. But it’s way to complicated for me. I just assume every dollar that I didn’t spend last month is a dollar I saved to spend in the future. Therefore, savings rate is just the difference in what I earned and what I spent. (I add mortgage principal back in as it is a paying off of a debt).
Our prjoective passive income (4% of our liquid net worth) divided by our expenses over the past month is 31% “percent FI”. But this doesn’t represent our progress towards financial indepence because our youngest will soon be out of daycare and our mortgage will also be paid off in the next 5-6 years. We are almost 2/3 of the way to our FI goal without these large expenses.