Money Well Spent- October 2021

By Sam •  Updated: 11/10/21 •  8 min read

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Here it is- my monthly recap of my spending, saving, doing, and blogging.

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What we did in October

October has to be one of the best months to live in Wisconsin. Although the daylight rapidly disappears, the scenery is beautiful. All of the leaves in the hardwood forest change from green into a mélange of reds, oranges, yellows, and purples. And the prairies go from being a tangled mess of tick-filled grasses into golden pathways.

We celebrated October by spending a lot of time outside and in the woods.

GovWorker running a trail race
Fall trail races are the best trail races.

The teenager and I completed two trail runs together (and we both placed in the top 3 in our age group for both races). I was quite surprised that I placed at both of the races as one of them was quite competitive.

I wrote early this year about how I am “training to be a centenarian” by running less and weightlifting more so that I won’t have mobility issues in my 80s. As a result of that, I feel quite a bit slower and out of shape when I run long distances. Placing in my age group was a great sugar high to end my running season, although I know that if I want to place again next year I’ll need to add in a bit more mileage to my current schedule.

Pumpkin regatta

Another cool thing that we did this month was participate in the “Giant Pumpkin Regatta” that our local university does each year. My father-in-law loves to listen to some horticulture professors (who called themselves the “Vicars of Vegetables”) on public radio.

The Vicars were always talking about a Pumpkin Regatta where people race around a lake in hollowed-out giant pumpkins. This year was the year we made plans to go.

Picture of GovWorker racing a pumpkin at the great pumpkin regatta
Never thought I’d race a pumpkin in my life.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that they wanted volunteers to race the pumpkins! I jumped on the opportunity to paddle a pumpkin.

Although I did not win my race, I also did not capsize my pumpkin (which happened to several other racers). I consider staying (mostly) dry a much bigger win.

Community garden update

We only made it out to the garden a couple of times this past month to collect some squash and pumpkins. While I’m sure we could have done more to prepare our garden for Spring 2022, we did not have the time, energy, or motivation to do the prep work.

We did receive quite a bit of produce from my in-laws and our community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes. We have filled up all of our Mason Jars for the winter and now both of our chest freezers are nearing capacity.

Harvest time is really one of the most wonderful times of the year (and just another reason that October is so great)!

What we spent in October

October was another great month for our spending.

Hard to avoid things like property taxes, groceries, and healthcare.

For reference “allowance” is what goes into my wife and I’s individual accounts. The rest of our money is pooled jointly.

Major expenses for October 2021

Groceries- $503.52

For the second straight month we spent about $500 on groceries for our family of 5. If you want to know how we do it, I updated some old posts detailing our weekly grocery spending.

For a long time, we benchmarked our spending against the USDA Thrifty Food Plan.

However, they recently doubled the grocery budget for the USDA Thrifty Food Plan. Now we spend just a small fraction of what the USDA thinks it costs to feed a family of our size.

Kids- 187.90

The biggest expense in this category was the kids’ 4H fundraiser. We are big fans of 4H and there is just one fundraiser a year. This expense seems well worth it.

In addition to the fundraiser we bought a couple of birthday presents so that the kids could attend their friends’ birthdays.

I feel like this category might be bigger since we bought the oldest kid a new winter coat. However, Mrs. Gov and I disagree whether kids clothing should be categorized under kids or clothing.

To her credit, clothing is obviously clothing. But I would rather categorize it as “kids” since we wouldn’t be buying kids clothing if we didn’t have kids.

Pets- $91.93

A relatively small amount of spending on pets this past month. We bought a 6-week supply of food for the dog and 3 month supply of cat food.

frost on the ground at the 9-springs E-Way
We had our first frost in October.

Gas & Auto- $70.38

We filled up the car twice in October. Since on a normal day, we don’t drive, this section of the blog has turned into a list of trips for the month.

In October we drove to the two trail races and also had a big trip to visit Mrs. Gov’s Grandmother.

Progress towards financial independence

We have been plotting our “projected passive income” against our monthly expenses since we read Your Money or Your Life. The idea is that sometime these lines will cross and you will be financially independent.

We use CountAbout to track our expenses (and receipts). One cool feature about CountAbout is that it shows your how close you are to FIRE.

Now that we aren’t paying for daycare, these lines got *a lot* closer together. They were just a few hundred dollars away from touching.

Our lines have almost crossed! (Graph from our CountAbout Dashboard)

The big drop in our expenses happened when we could finally stop paying for daycare. And the big spike in August was our crazy special-assessment from the city for changes to our block that we did not want and actively protested against.

With Holiday spending on tap for November and December, I’m pretty sure our lines won’t cross in 2021. However, January 2022 is looking like a very promising month for the crossover point.

What I read in September

If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you know that I’ve been on a young-adult romance kick.

I read another great YA book in September called, Love in English“.

The book is about a high school girl who moves from Argentina to the US to be with her father. She is immediately thrown into a school where she doesn’t speak the language and eventually falls in love with two different boys. One of them is the All-American hero type, and the other is a Greek boy from her ESL class.

The book did an amazing job of helping me understand how scary it must be for ESL students at school. (The book was based upon the author’s own experiences moving from Argentina as a teenager).

Overall, I thought the book was great. It was fun to read and I was able to see the world through a perspective other than my own.

Favorite purchase

I bought myself some new slippers!

I’m a big fan of Bombas socks. (If you want to try Bombas socks, you can get 25% off through using this link.)

I have been getting a lot of advertisements for their slippers.

I love my new Bombas slippers

Since I’m working at home several days a week, AND we keep our house on the chilly side, I felt like I needed to invest in something to keep my feet warm this winter.

My feet get sweaty in most slippers, so I was excited to see their slippers were a cross between a sock and a slipper.

They’ve been great so far. I can’t recommend them enough (and you can get 25% off if you’d like to try them for yourself).

Blog highlights (32 months)

I have been working hard on the blog the past few months. Major highlights for the past month were:

  1. Appearing on the Money Talk with Tiff podcast
  2. Updating my post about federal employee drug testing and adding a YouTube video to that post.
  3. Having my post about daycare costs featured on All-Star money.

YouTube

I made two videos this past month.

I’m trying lots of different strategies on YouTube including a “clickbait” type headline/thumbnail about federal employee leave.

I also made a video about drug testing as part of my updates to that post.

I’m really hoping that these videos start to take off.

Have ideas for new videos? Let me know by leaving me a comment on my YouTube channel.

That was my month! You can tell me about your month on my Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Sam

Sam i.e. "Gov Worker" started working for the government at age 18 and loved it so much that he never left. He started GovernmentWorkerFI in 2019 to help fellow federal employees understand their benefits, take control of their finances, and live their best lives.