Hey Loyal Blog Friends!
Here it is- my monthly recap of my spending, saving, doing, and blogging.
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Table of contents
- What we did in November
- What we spent in November
- What I read in November
- Favorite purchase
- Blog highlights (34 months)
- That was my month! You can tell me about your month on my Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.
Please do not confuse my personal blog for financial advice, tax advice or an official position of the U.S. Government. This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.
What we did in November
November was a great month.
For the first time since the pandemic started, Mrs. Gov & I got away for an overnight trip without the kids.
It was so incredibly relaxing to not be responsible for anyone besides ourselves. We basked in the quietude, went for lots of hikes, read books, and binge watched TV.
It was fantastic.
Beyond that, November marked the first month that I worked part time. I used a portion of those hours to work on the blog. But I also got to spend time having coffee with my parents and hanging out with the kids after school. It feels *really* good to have a few more hours in my life.
Community garden update
Our growing season is officially over. We harvested our Brussels sprouts and noticed that our garden plot was colonized by weeds in our absence.
Gardening seems super exciting in February when everything is a frozen wasteland. But our motivation always tends to wane as the summer goes on.
What we spent in November
While November was an enjoyable month, it was an expensive month for several reasons:
- My FEHB cost more since I transitioned to part time employment. It was also a 3-paycheck month, so I had 3 health insurance payments.
- Our adults-only getaway was a large budget addition in the “vacation category”. We were relatively frugal. And it was totally worth every penny. But it did make our spending higher than normal.
- We also booked a night at an indoor water park for the kids. We have been Covid-conscious the past 2 years and avoided large crowds. The middle child desperately wanted to get vaccinated so that she could do the fun stuff she missed out on for 20% of her life. Now that everyone 5+ can get vaccinated, we figured it was our turn to deliver the goods.
- We did nearly all of our holiday shopping in November.
Even with those big expenses (and lower income because of my part time work) we were still able to save over a third of our income.
Pulling together these spending reports is a breeze since CountAbout automatically tracks our expenses and we categorize them throughout the month.
For the third straight month we spent only $500 on groceries for our family of 5.
That works out to $1.11 per person per meal.
Saving money on groceries is one of our major jams. I’ve detailed what our grocery shopping hauls look like (and cost) and spelled out our general framework for eating gluten free on a tight budget.
This month’s grocery spending is especially impressive (to me) since we hosted (a small) Thanksgiving dinner.
We spent a lot more than normal on kids this past month. It was all totally worth it!
The teenager wanted to have some friends over for her birthday and we ordered a mountain of takeout food for her party. She had a fantastic time and it was fun to see everyone so happy.
Teenager and I also both signed up for next year’s trail race series (before they raised the prices in 2022). Racing together has been some of the best “quality time” we’ve spent together and I’d pay anything to have more of it.
(Full blog disclosure, her race fees are in the “kid” category and I paid my fees out of my “allowance” which isn’t otherwise tracked).
Our beloved greyhound Kenny woke up with a limp one day and it didn’t go away for over a week.
We took him to the vet who said that he had an overuse injury and prescribed doggie Advil. We have the best vet. Somehow the appointment and medicine only cost $68.
Unfortunately, Kenny and I weren’t able to go on as many walks as normal this past month. We were both a little sad about it.
Gas & Auto- $327.14
We barely ever use our car. But that doesn’t mean that the car doesn’t need maintenance.
The car needed an oil change. And while I used to change our oil and do quite a bit of car maintenance, I feel really good about paying someone else to do it now.
One great thing about taking the car in for the oil change was that they were able to fix our heat shield at the same time.
Living in the arctic, the bottoms of our cars rust quite rapidly from all of the salt on the roads. Every car I’ve owned the heat shield has eventually rusted off and rattled around the undercarriage and created horrible noises.
In my DIY auto days, I would anchor the cursed heat shield back on with random screws or even plastic zip ties. Sometimes I’d try to rip it off or dismantle it with a reciprocating saw. It was always the worst.
I’m happy we had enough money to just write a check and not have to deal with the heat shield.
Progress towards financial independence
Honestly, we took a step back since my last update.
The market went down a bit over the past month. (After going up ~40% of the past year, losing ~1% doesn’t seem like a big deal).
At any rate, the path to financial independence isn’t linear. We’re close to hitting our FI number and hopefully we will cross that finish line in the next year!
What I read in November
I took a break from Young Adult relationship novels and read a nonfiction book this past month.
I really enjoyed the book Breath, by James Nestor.
For context, I believe that Western medicine is great at treating disease and extending your lifespan after you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease.
However, I believe that Western medicine is horrible at preventing you from getting chronic disease.
As I age, I’ve talked extensively about extending my healthspan. That is, extending the time until I get a chronic disease.
This book fits nicely into my worldview of how I understand the science of longevity. It talked about the science of why meditation feels so awesome and how chemoreceptors in our body get out of whack when we don’t breathe properly.
One interesting part of the book talked about how our breathing affects our vegus nerve, which made my mind jump immediately to Dr. Sarno’s work about chronic pain that make my MD friends roll their eyes.
Here is my recommendation. If you are someone who believes Western medicine has all of the answers, I’m not sure you’d enjoy this book. But if you think we still have not fully uncovered how our bodies work and are looking to try unproven methods to improve your health, you will really enjoy the book.
So I didn’t purchase anything “fun” this past month. (Although I’m hoping that Santa has a very long shopping list for me).
Despite my lack of new purchases, I’ve really really been enjoying October’s purchase of Bombas slippers.
If you’re looking to treat someone special in your life this Holiday Season, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with extremely soft & cozy socks, slippers or underwear.
(If you want to buy Bombas as a gift for someone in your life, you can get 25% off through using this link.)
Blog highlights (34 months)
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been one year since I joined Online Impact. Online Impact is a membership community run by Pete McPherson of Do You Even Blog.
Although joining Online Impact (OI) was an investment, it has paid for itself many times over. Since joining I
- Took every course Pete McPherson ever made (for free, as part of the membership)
- Had biweekly mastermind meetings with 5 other bloggers with similar goals and challenges to my blog
- Could message the community any time I wanted when facing new obstacles with my blog.
- Attended multiple free workshops run by awesome online business creators.
Link: Online Impact
Pete has opened up OI again to new members. If you read these for the blog updates and want to take your blog to the next level, definitely check out the sales page and see if it’s for you.
I have been working hard on the blog the past few months. Major highlights for the past month were:
- Completely overhauling my blog theme to Carbonate 2.0. It required a lot of CSS & HTML edits to the back-end of my site but it was so worth it. I love the new navigation. Also, I updated my blog logo & color scheme.
- I wrote a really long guest post for The Fioneers about my transition to part time work.
- Appearing in a roundup of personal finance experts.
- I found out that an Ivy League university links to my website on their career page.
- I was featured on All-Star Money for my post about inflation worries.
I have big goals for the blog in 2022. I’ve mapped out my next couple of months of content and I think it is going to be “epic” as my daughters would say.
I have been taking a lot of courses on blogging over the past 6 months and excited to put them all into practice. I’m sure hardcore fans like you (who read my monthly updates) will notice & enjoy the changes.
I was able to make 1 YouTube video this past month. Some of the YouTube keyword research I did suggested that a lot of people look for “eOPF” on YouTube.
I haven’t gotten a ton of love on YouTube (yet). But it took years before I started to get regular blog traffic. So I’m not planning on quitting now.
Also- just a reminder that “likes & subscribes” on YouTube are super helpful for the algorithms and I’d love it if you interacted with my content on that platform.