Hi all! Here’s what we did in the month of May. 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 May, 2019.
What I did in May
May was a pretty cool month!
- I took a week long “staycation” where I practiced early retirement (Check out my post for more details).
- We hosted a professor for a week while she attended these defenses.
- I had some awesome trail runs
- We had lots of end of the year activities for the kids’ schools.
Money well spent- major expenditures in May
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:
- Electricity usage was slightly higher than last month by about 1 kWh per day. I’m not exactly sure what’s up with that. It was way too cold to even think about air conditioning. We did have to start running the dehumidifier a little bit. Perhaps it is just general fluctuations.
- We used a lot of natural gas. It was one of the coldest Mays that I have remembered. Even though we stopped running the boiler early in the month, we were running the gas fireplace insert well past the 15th.
- One good thing is that we hardly drove at all in the past month! I’m super proud of driving the car less than 250 miles all month!!
It figures that the month after I write about how we keep our grocery budget under $1.25 per person per meal that we have a month with high grocery costs. We did host a house guest for a week, which definitely contributes to our higher grocery costs. Even accounting for the guest we were at ~$1.38/pp per meal. (But still well below the USDA “thrifty” food budget plan of $882 per month).
Our biggest expense was our CSA (community support agriculture) share. While we pay the total expense of our CSA in December ($710), it is delivered over 6 months starting at the end of May. We decided to track this expense by adding $118.50 to our grocery budget in the 6 months that we get the CSA. (So we really only spent ~$546 on groceries if you want to look at it that way).
In an average month we spend ~$550 on groceries. Our goal for June is to get back to $550 including the CSA. It will be a challenge to get there. Let’s see how we do!!
We spent $68 on restaurants this past month. One of them was for a special occasion! My oldest daughter won a poetry competition. We went to her awards ceremony at the state University and then took her out for lunch afterwards to celebrate! It was super cool!
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’s date was pretty cheap. Most of the money went towards a sitter. It was nice enough we could go for a walk and then enjoy a drink together.
Even though “objectively” we had a decent month of spending, I felt like we were hemorrhaging money all month. Not only was our grocery budget high, but this nebulous “household” category was super high. (For reference our average is $75).
The biggest expense was that my phone died. Ironically, it happened right as I was writing about becoming less dependent on my phone. I ended up buying a used iPhone 7 Plus off of Amazon and using credit card points for half of it. I know there are cheaper options, but I really wanted a phone with “portrait mode”. I’m super happy with that. I’m less happy with how often I use my new phone to check Twitter.
While the phone only put $220 against the household budget, it seemed like several other expenses popped. up. Objectively I know we do a great job of saving money and have lower expenses than our peers. Our May spending made me feel like we were spendthrifts.
Long term progress
Our numbers haven’t changed since last month. Although our spending categories were different from last month, our savings rate was almost identical. Moreover, our progress to FI didn’t really change this past month either.
Lately Mrs. GovWorker and I have been getting excited thinking about our post-mortgage life. We are set to pay it off in less than 5 years. (At that time our %FI will equal our “future %FI” as the latter includes both childcare and mortgage P&I). We recently passed a major milestone in paying off our mortgage, which has really fueled our desire to save. At this point, every unexpected dollar we get we are putting towards the mortgage. It feels so good to see our last debt melt away.
In general, I’m not a fan of Dave Ramsey. And I really want to hate the debt snowball method. But I find we are super motivated to pay off our mortgage (even though it has a much lower ROI than investment in index funds). I find we’re generating extra income just to slay the mortgage. While it’s not a perfect analogy for the debt snowball, I can understand how psychologically motivating the debt snowball effect can be. Maybe Dave is onto something? (Eeek!)