We hit our best savings rate yet in the month of August, which felt so good to follow up July, which was our most expensive month of the year so far. I probably could have shuffled some of our expenses forward to August to balance out the months a little bit, but I didn’t want to wait on some of the larger expenses, namely vacation spending and pet care. The purpose of tracking annually though as well as just monthly is to even out those lump sum spends and figure out where we are in the long run, because an individual month is never going to show the whole picture.
However, I feel that tracking monthly also has its purpose to make sure that we are on track throughout the year, and that regular check in gives me a chance to reign in our spending in subsequent months before it gets away from us. Regardless of all of that, it felt so good to have such an awesome month.
We both had three paycheck months in August and we received our quarterly check from our real estate investment, so the income side of the equation was really, really good. I also got a small amount from Amazon affiliates from my blog (very small – $17) and of course rent money from our roommate. Because of all the “extra” income compared to a regular month, our savings rate would have been pretty good regardless of what our expenses looked like, but those were also lower than normal, so the combination made for a really, really good month.
Food, Housing, Transportation
Unsurprisingly, our overall food budget was down this month after the bulk cow purchase last month. Our freezer is still mostly full, but we’ve been eating quite a few meals from that purchase, which is especially nice because it helps to avoid unnecessary grocery trips. The garden was still in full swing through August as well, so we were able to supplement our meals from there as well. However, our grocery spending doesn’t seem to be lower in the summer even with all of the garden produce, and I’m starting to think the reason is that the meals I make in the wintertime are just inherently cheaper per serving than the meals we typically eat during the summer. That, and I do a lot more baking once the temperatures cool off and I’m okay with heating up the house with the oven once again.
Like most months, the bulk of our restaurant spending was done over weekend trips, but we squeezed in a date night during the week in August as well. Not our cheapest dining out month, but not our most expensive either. Overall, our food budget was pretty decent in August. Of course, it is still much higher than it “needs” to be, but we do value spending a bit more on that budget category (though not to the extreme that used to be our normal). Almost our entire entertainment budget is food and drink related, which is why you won’t see a separate line item for that.
Our utility bills were extra small this month as well. Our furnace has been entirely off since May, and I’ve been hang drying all of our laundry. We have had to spend a little bit of money on watering the garden, but not a significant amount compared to the overall water bill. The furnace will be turned back on in September and the rain will mean that our laundry can’t be dried outside, but at least we won’t have to water the garden any more.
Since we did some prepayment of our upcoming trips in July, the vacation spending we had in August was 100% for trips taken in that month, namely ferry and campsite costs for Labor Day weekend. We did go camping another weekend in August, but we went north instead of west, so there were no ferry expenses, and we camped for free in public land, so there was no campsite cost.
Gas and restaurant / grocery expenses were higher than at home because of these trips, but I’m continuing to put those costs in their respective categories instead of to vacation. One of these months I’m considering tracking food and gas expenses that are solely related to out of town trips just to see where that lands, but it hasn’t happened yet. I think I don’t want to lump them in with “vacation” spending though, or I’m apt to write myself a blank check to spend as much money on food as possible while we travel. By keeping it in the food category, I keep myself honest and under control.
You know it’s been an expensive year for the pets when under $400 for the month feels “pretty good.” Our dog with the heart condition was suggested to go on kidney diet food, and one bag of that costs $98 (compared to a bag of the regular food we buy from Costco for $40). She has a very sensitive stomach, so we’ve had to start the transition to the new food very slowly, but she has thrown up a couple of times, so I’m wondering if we will actually be able to make the transition.
The rest of the spending included a new light bulb for our snake, his food once a week, our dogs daily meds (approximately $130/month), pill pockets so she will swallow said meds, two bags of regular dog food, and a tennis ball thrower for the dog who is allowed to run around (thanks mom for getting the kiddo hooked on it so we needed our own). We didn’t buy any cat food or flea medication, had no check ups at the vet, and we still spent almost $400 on the pets this month. Crazy what happens once health problems show up with pets. Animals aren’t too expensive until they are.
My husband is preparing for a week long camping trip this month, so he had a few new purchases to make to get ready. We did have a few leftover gift cards floating around from last Christmas though, so this expense was much smaller than it would have been. His idea of “hunting food” is a case of MREs, so he bought those as well, and now the crazy former Marine he is thinks they aren’t a bad weekday lunch as well. Apparently they are so much better than the ones he ate in the military, but I’m mostly going to take his word for it.
The other miscellaneous spending for the month was a few new (used) books for the kiddo from a small town bookstore we stopped at on the way out camping, a girls night I went to, and the cost to mail newborn cloth diapers to a friend an hour and a half away so she could start using them with their new baby as soon as possible. We had stopped to see them on the way home one weekend, but I didn’t plan ahead to bring the diapers, so a flat rate shipping box it was.
|Mar 2018||Apr 2018||May 2018||Jun 2018||Jul 2018||Aug 2018|
|Excluding Mortgage Principal||57%||47%||39%||38%||23%||63%|
Year to date: 50% Savings Rate
Obviously, the two months where we received three paychecks each have done the heavy lifting here on keeping us up at that 50% savings rate for the whole year. There are no more of those though, so I’ll have to be pretty focused to keep us at that mark through the last three months, including holiday, anniversary, and birthday spending. Fortunately though, most of that spending is more on time than “stuff” so the cost shouldn’t be overwhelming. Speaking of the holidays though, I’m behind on getting gifts put together; after all, Christmas is less than 100 days away now.
When I set our big goal of hitting a 50% savings rate for the year back in January, it felt pretty unlikely that we would manage to make that happen. After all, our previous annual savings rate were less than half of that (22-23%). I figured it was better to have a reach goal and that we would be better off than if it’d set a less ambitious number. Now that the bulk of the year has gone by, that goal seems more achievable than I ever expected it would be. It goes to show the power of tracking your spending and being intentional with how your money is spent. I don’t feel like we had any less enjoyment this year than the previous years, but we spent a whole lot less in the process.
Did you set annual goals for yourself? How are they looking now that we’re heading in to the last part of the year?