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.

Korean ground beef with kimchi

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.

Vacation Spending

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.

Riverbank off road camping

Pet Care

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.

Walking the expensive (but worth it) dogs

Miscellaneous

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.

August 2018 Spending (Excludes mortgage + daycare)

Mar 2018 Apr 2018 May 2018 Jun 2018 Jul 2018 Aug 2018
Groceries $497.53 $343.37 $658.76 $353.25 $1,041.77 $393.91
Restaurants $243.63 $583.75 $1,040.03 $529.21 $329.83 $422.17
Fast Food $80.34 $83.54 $120.78 $75.89 $117.72 $65.55
Gym $17.84 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84
Gas $262.00 $199.76 $263.60 $242.89 $117.72 $258.94
Car/Transit $60.00 $0.00 $30.00 $737.53 $640.86 $88.12
Utilities $223.99 $366.55 $200.25 $266.25 $126.98 $129.58
Pet Care $769.90 $221.65 $273.96 $277.56 $578.63 $391.38
Vacations $129.51 $297.44 $971.66 $148.00 $483.45 $110.11
Misc $823.58 $177.49 $354.68 $164.62 $629.79 $232.95
Total $3,108.32 $2,291.39 $3,931.56 $2,813.04 $4,084.59 $2,110.55
Savings Rate 61% 53% 44% 44% 30% 67%
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?

53 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: August 2018

  1. those dogs are worth every cent. i have the general goal of maxing both roths each year. we weren’t gong to do it this year with one drastically reduced income but mrs. smidlap realized we could take an after tax investment and put that into her roth. it’s only very slightly less liquid and tax free gains in retirement is the ultimate goal for us. y’all have some low grocery spending. that stuff is creeping up where we live. we spent half our usual on travel this year and it doesn’t feel like deprivation of fun.

    1. Dogs are absolutely worth it. Travel is a funny one, because a cheaper trip can absolutely be more fun than an expensive one. It just depends how you go about it.

  2. Your spread sheets and progress are inspiring #AwesomeSauce! I’m a newbie FI blogger and love your format and table regarding your spending. I am totally going to steal this from you. The PFC family is currently at a 13% savings rates (not including rental income) with a hope to reach 25% next year. Slowly but surely.

    Keep up the great work!

    Mr. PFC

  3. I love how you are saving money and still enjoying life at the same time. Being intentional about what you do with your money can make all the difference in the world. Thanks for sharing your journey and for being such a great role model of what can be achieved with money when we put our minds to it.

    1. Well thank you for that awesome comment 🙂 The goal is definitely to enjoy life along the way, but don’t spend needless extra to do it.

  4. Congrats on the great month! I love the feeling of spending a lot lower after a big spend month. It helps me to feel like I’m getting back on track. Only a couple more months you can totally hit that big goal!!

  5. Great job! 50% is excellent. That’s my target too. This year has been going really well, though. Our saving rate is 60%. I might be underpaying estimated tax a bit. We’ll have to see how it goes in April. Keep at it!

  6. That’s an excellent savings rate! 50% will have you financially independent in no time. The income side of the ledger is less within your control and 3-paycheck months certainly juice that rate. On the other side are the expenses, those items that are much more within your control on a regular basis. It sounds like you’ve been smart with your spending.

    Sometimes big spend months can be tough to swallow like a snake eating its prey. However, when the expenses mean revert the next month, life feels more peaceful. That’s why you plan on an annual basis to strip out monthly volatility and make sure you’ve budgeted appropriately to shoulder the volatility in expenses.

    1. Yep! Honestly it feels way better to be able to adjust for the big expenses every month rather than have to stress out over the occasional big expenses.

  7. Great month for you guys!! Recovering from spending big in July by having your highest savings rate for the year in August. Keep it up and your should it your 50% savings rate goal for the year.
    I would lump all of my vacation expenses into one instead of putting it on the standard one because it’s spending that you wouldn’t usually do. That’s what I did from my last vacation, instead of putting my restaurant spending during my vacation onto my ‘restaurant expenses’ I put it under my ‘travel/vacation’ one.

    1. Yeah I’m constantly going back and forth of how to classify vacation expenses. Maybe I’ll adjust for 2019.

  8. I love your monthly financial update posts. They feed the numbers side of my brain. You really crushed it this month. It’s so inspiring. I have yet to cross the 50% savings rate and that includes mortgage principal. I have been in the 40% since I started keeping track a few months ago….I love your off road camping picture. It reminds me of my camping trip a month ago. My most memorable times of any given year are my summer time camping trips.

    1. Keeping track has made alllll the difference. A little insane to think about how much our number has jumped up this year.

  9. Your dogs and fam are too cute. A 50% YTD savings WITH a kid and dogs!? I am AMAZED. I think a good month is when we save 40%! And we are DINKs. You really are busting all my excuses here. 🙂
    Also, that kimchi and Korean beef looks amazing. Just cook for me when I come visit Seattle. 🙂

    1. You have to remember I have 4 years on you (5 years if you consider when I graduated college). And I will absolutely cook for you next month!!

    1. That’s exactly how we got into trouble spending waaaaay too much on food 😉

      And a very very small piece of a larger apartment project.

  10. Your Marine husband is right, the commercial MREs are way better than what they feed the troops. I like the commercial ones as well. They really are not bad. I am curious which ones he bought?

    I am still only a few weeks in to trying to track my spending, and it’s not easy to catch it all. I am impressed with how well you are doing it. The sheer act of trying is helping me be quite frugal. I think a lot more about purchases. This is something my wife does not need help with, but I am learning.

    1. He bought a variety pack so all the flavors lol. And you’re right, they aren’t AWFUL. Just not something I’d choose to eat 😉

  11. Great job there Angela – looks like a fun month, that camping spot looks awesome. Congratulations on the 50 % savings rate for the year – shoeing you can both have an amazing life, work part time, have a family and save loads.

    1. We had a fun busy month for sure 🙂 The savings rate sure has been a constant exercise in mindfulness this year!

  12. You are doing great, congrats on hitting that killer annual average savings rate. I find that summer is a bit more expensive overall as we tend to be out and doing more things. Winter with that hot stove and big pot meals like soups and chillis tends to keep food costs down for us as well as we eat those for 4 days or so and they are so cheap to make. I hear you on the vet costs, our cattle dog has an auto-immune issue that flares up once and awhile so that means a vet visit and medication. For our funds I want to really clamp down harder on my spending. As for savings rate I have zero as I have gone down the ER path and left work last year. I am doing some freelance gigs to cover expenses and preserve my investments so I can reinvest the dividends.

    1. Exactly right on the super cheat awesome winter meals! And I hadn’t realized you’d pulled the ER trigger – awesome.

  13. 67% Yikes! That’s next level thrifty lol. I want a dog too, but we still live in an apartment, we’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on a house for years lol smh.

    But when i hear about the cost of owning dogs, i must admit i’m not too thrilled. But i know if we do go down that road, i will be oh so excited.

    Cheers and congrats on maintaining that 50% target!

  14. Very well done! Thanks for sharing how it’s possible to reach a 67% savings rate. The 50% rate this year is impressive. I do set yearly goals for my savings. I’m within the range of still reaching the goals, but I’m slightly behind. Thanks for the extra motivation.

  15. Congratulations on maintaining that 50% savings rate. The misses and I are hoping to achieve that same rate. Its slightly harder on one salary at the moment, but we aren’t doing too shabby. Keep up the awesome job. Also your dogs look absolutely incredible, we are considering one of our own, maybe once we increase our monthly income a bit.

    1. On one salary!! I’m freaking impressed. We have 1.8 between the two of us, but we do have daycare costs as well.

    1. Rolling in the big time blog money now 😉 And I agree. Once a pet comes into our home, they are there for life and to be treated like family.

    1. Yeah, unfortunately that’s a pretty good month for us now. Worth it though, because our old girl is doing so well.

  16. Aw, is November not an extra paycheck month for you? Because it is for me, and let me tell you, I am already looking forward to it 😅

    Woohoo Amazon affiliate payouts! I was thinking I’d just not report it since it’s a line item I’d have to add in separately and just let it reduce my spending, but I guess in the name of transparency I probably should, hmmm…

    1. Nope. We get paid bi-weekly so it’s only twice a year. And amazon affiliate payments are pretty odd. Not exactly sure where I should report it because I get it in gift card form.

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