Don’t get me wrong though, these numbers are primarily written for me and Mrs. Dragon. Every good FIRE breather knows that to be successful, you have to track your expenses.
You have to track them like Homer tracks donuts. Mmmmmm…. donuts. How else will you know when your Hoard is big enough for you to retire?
Without further ado, here are the numbers for April (rounded to the nearest dollar):
Utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer, trash, internet): $330
Cell phones: $46
Restaurants/fast food/bars: $232
Insurances (car, personal property, renter’s): $34
Home improvement: $837
New refrigerator: $487
The Goblins category is a catch-all for stuff that we don’t always spend money on. All the little budget goblins that steal our money throughout the month. This month it included renewing the antivirus software on my laptop, $3 in USPS change of address fees, renting an appliance dolly for our move, and buying an area rug from the salvation army.
There are a couple of big expenses that really jump off the page. First of all, $837 on home improvement is a lot. This includes paint, painting supplies, ground cloths, a lawnmower, a weedeater, some new light fixtures, led lightbulbs, various pieces of hardware, and a lot of other little things. In April we were prepping the new house for move-in and we spent quite a bit of money getting it ready. The house was already essentially move-in ready, but there were a number of things that we wanted to change. Like getting rid of the baby-shit brown wall color, for example.
The new fixtures were bought because the current bathrooms aren’t up to code. Bathrooms are either supposed to have a window that can open, or a vent fan. Our two baths currently have neither, so I bought a few light/vent combo fixtures to install.
Moving forward we will likely spend a couple hundred on home improvement for the next couple of months as there are several small-ish projects and items we want. Things like leveling and re-laying the back patio and buying a grill and ladder. Of course, we are going to try to buy used when possible and I’ve been scoping out ladders and grills on craigslist. No luck yet.
The big one-time expense monster got us again this month when we purchased a new refrigerator. Our new house has a pretty small space built in to the countertop area for a fridge, so our old fridge wouldn’t fit. We ended up selling our old fridge, and we couldn’t find a used one in our area that fit our size restrictions. We needed both width and depth to be around 30″ or less. So, we ended buying a new one from Sears.
There were also several categories that were higher than normal. For example, utilities were really high because we had double utilities for the month, and we had to pay several connection/new account fees to get the utilities up and running at the new house.
Restaurant spending was also really high. I had the unexpected trip for my grandfather’s funeral service and the issue with having no fridge for a few days. These two things really drove our number up. Luckily, we had an airline voucher that payed for the plane ticket for the trip, and in exchange for buying a few meals for my family I stayed for ‘free’ in a hotel room with my brother. Costs could have been a lot higher.
Surprisingly, grocery spending was also high. The biggest culprit here was that we bought several six-packs of beer and a few bags of ice for the friends who helped us move. This combined with more meat than normal drove us up toward the $350 mark. Typically, I’d like this number to be about $300.
That’s pretty much it. There will be some changes in the next expense report because we won’t have renter’s insurance and we’ll be getting a mortgage payment instead of rent (with double housing costs for half of May). We also won’t need to buy any new appliances (hopefully) and the connection fees for all the utilities won’t be back.
In all, this wasn’t our best month. But, given that we had an unexpected trip, moved into our new house, made several one-time purchases relating to the new house (lawnmower, weedeater, fridge, paint), it wasn’t too bad. Hopefully one of these days we’ll return to ‘normal’ spending levels.
Of course, the reason you track your expenses is so you know what ‘normal’ is. Like I said in the last expense report, it’s easy to say that this month’s spending was high because of X, Y, and Z, but if you always have things that drive your number up, then they need to be planned for.