Expenses: February 2015

ExpensesHere’s the first post that lays our expenses bare!  Since I’m a total voyeur for finance, these types of details are exactly the kind that I love to read on other people’s blogs.

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 a ranger tracks a hobbit.  How else will you know when your Hoard is big enough for you to retire?

We haven’t been great at keeping track of our exact expenses for the past year, but these posts will (hopefully) help keep us accountable.

Without further ado, here are the numbers for February (rounded to the nearest dollar):

Rent: $995

Groceries: $364

Utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer, trash, internet): $171

Cell phones: $45

Netflix: $8

Restaurants/fast food/bars: $56

Insurances (car, personal property, renter’s): $34

Gas: $22

Mortgage expenses: $628

Goblins: $244

TOTAL: $2542

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 a trip to Sam’s Club for some stuff, a few things from Amazon, a camping site fee, lawn service (I know… we’re terrible), and shipping a package.

The mortgage expenses were for the application fee and the property appraisal.  As I’ve mentioned, Mrs. Dragon and I are in the process of buying a house right now.  Obviously, this is not a recurring expense and without it, our number was $1914.   I’m really happy with that.  I thought last month was more expensive, so it’s great to see this number so low.

As for the other expenses:

  • The grocery number is a little more than usual.  We had a friend come stay with us for a weekend in February, and we also purchased extra food for a camping trip on a different weekend (plus a couple of extra six packs :)).
  • Utilities were fairly low this month, despite it being pretty cold.  We have natural gas heat and keep the thermostat pretty low, so it isn’t too pricey.  For all the voyeurs out there, we keep it at 55 at night and while we’re away and 60 when we’re home.  Because we’re crazies… and we have wool clothing.
  • Our cell phone (through the excellent company Republic Wireless) and Netflix amounts are fixed.  No surprises here.
  • In general, we both bike to and from work, so our gas expenses seem pretty normal to me.  We just don’t drive much.  That also allows us to be a one-car household.  The car is a glorious old beat-up 1999 Toyota Camry.  It would probably only sell for about $1000 if we tried, but it still runs like a top.  Our car insurance (which is liability-only since it’s a 15 year old car) is obscenely cheap.  Like $307 a year.  Someone call the jelly school.
  • The restaurant spending also came in fairly low this month.  We went out three times.  Once was for some drinks with friends.  A good time was had by all, and that trip was well worth the $35.  The other two were for Chick-Fil-A.  Mmmmmm.

That pretty much sums it up.  First month of expenses recorded on the blog!  Woo!

The reason it’s so important to track your expenses is that it helps you realistically determine how much money you need to live the life you’re accustomed to.  And if you don’t track your expenses, you probably don’t have a very accurate picture.

Let’s face it, as human beings we are terrible estimators.  We over estimate winnings, under estimate losses, and generally frame things to make us feel good.  It’s not purposeful deceit, it’s just hard-wired into our psychology.

So, if you aren’t tracking your expenses yet, you should try it out for a week.  Record EVERY PENNY spent or saved and you might just be surprised.  Besides, it’s only a week.  Anyone can commit to trying something for a week.

On a related note, the book “Your Money or Your Life” by Joseph Dominguez is a great read for an aspiring FIRE breather, and it talks at length about the importance of knowing where your money goes.  I highly recommend it.

How did we do?  Have you been spending more or less than usual with all this cold weather?


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2 thoughts on “Expenses: February 2015

    • Hi B,

      Thanks for saying hello! Yeah, I can’t believe that I was missing that piece of the puzzle for so long on travel hacking. I definitely plan on trying it out in the coming months. Have you ever done any credit card churning?

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A Beginner’s Thoughts on Travel Hacking

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