This feels a bit different to be writing this update two thirds of the way through July, because that month unfortunately isn’t looking all that different in terms of expenses. I think at this point, I just need to expect that the summer months will end up being the expensive ones for us, because this is the third year in a row where that has been the case.

Last summer was pricey, but not quite as bad at this one. The summer before that though, we ended up in the red and needing to use our emergency fund to cover those big expenses. After writing that post, I decided I really couldn’t stomach draining our cash reserves like that, so I signed us up for a 0% interest credit card instead.

We did pay off that credit card within the 0% promotional period, so it didn’t cost us any money, but it sure didn’t feel good. After that experience, I told myself that we would never be in that situation again, at least within reason. And we haven’t.

This summer is really expensive again, but we aren’t going into the red. As much as it hurts to see such a low savings rate this month, I have to keep reminding myself that it is still a positive savings rate. Which means we cash flowed all of those big expenses thus far (and I expect to do the same in July).

The woods are always free!

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Groceries and food expenses

If it wasn’t for the $300 quarter cow purchase this month, we would have gotten very close to getting under that $1,000 target for food and drink. As it was, we ended up spending $1,393.05, which is about average to where we’ve landed without a bulk meat purchase.

We did a good job of minimizing our restaurant spending, mostly because we spent all but one night at home in June. Otherwise, we did get out on a date night and went to meals with friends a few times. And then the husband’s worth lunches came to $150 of that total. Since the realization that I wanted to budget one lunch out a week for me, I did spend a little under $50 on lunches for me as well.

Vacation spending

Most of our spending in the vacation category went toward future travel rather than current trips. We did splurge on a single night in Leavenworth at a nice hotel, but it was well worth the trip, and the only vacationing we did in June.

Otherwise, we finally got our passports for the three of us, which came to just over $400, and I paid the annual fee for my Chase Marriott credit card. Since that card comes with a free night, the $95 fee will likely be worth it. We don’t have any plans for redeeming that night yet, but I’m certain we’ll find good use for it.

I also bought my plane ticket to DC for FinCon in September and paid out of pocket as the redemption wasn’t great with points. Plus, I would rather save our credit card rewards for when we travel altogether and need a lot more to cover the trips.

Finally, we booked the Airbnb for my grandmother’s birthday trip back to Leavenworth. We’ve taken her the last two birthdays and she wants to go back there again this year. We have such a good time there together, and it is such a better way to celebrate a birthday than to be buying her some other thing she doesn’t need.

If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We love the flexibility it gives us while traveling as a family – full kitchen, laundry, and extra bathrooms, and it’s usually considerably cheaper than a hotel, especially when you travel as a group. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for $40 off your first stay.

Birthday trip in 2017

Vet bills

June saw the annual check up and vaccines for both dogs, as well as the regular medication costs for our older dog. Our “base” pet care costs right now are about $250 a month between food and medications, so this line item is never going to be insignificant. Stay tuned though, because this number is insignificant compared to July (the pup had surgery).

Home ownership expenses

Much overdue by at least a year or two, we’ve finally tackled our backyard fence replacement. We have a lovely sized yard, but that means that there is just more linear feet of fence that need to be replaced when the time comes.

Since the backyard is completely surrounded by tall evergreen trees and doesn’t ever get direct sunlight, things wear more quickly than they would otherwise. For that reason, the new fence is made of pressure treated materials and stainless steel hardware.

Between the cost of the more expensive materials and the total length of the replacement, this work hasn’t been cheap. Thankfully, my husband has the skills and tools to do the replacement himself, but even so, the total cost to do so is well north of a thousand dollars. Granted, it would have been significantly more if we had needed to hire someone else to do the labor.

But the fence does look good!


We paid to go up to the top of the Space Needle at the beginning of the month. Since it was a local thing, I didn’t put it into vacation spending, but maybe it really belongs there. We definitely had a “vacation” type of day with out of town friends even if all we did was take the bus into Seattle.

That day was also when the New York Times article I was featured in was published in print. I picked up four copies because I wasn’t sure how many hard copies I would want to have, but I was a little shocked that one cost a full six dollars. Clearly, I don’t buy newspapers or magazines pretty much ever.

Otherwise, miscellaneous spending included soccer for the kiddo (it’s an add on that he gets to do at preschool) and a phone holder arm band for my husband. He also bought himself a couple new pairs of Carhartt pants for work after wearing through a few.

June 2019 Spending (Excludes mortgage, daycare + insurance)

January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019
Groceries $382.11 $530.94 $448.95 $387.07 $584.58 $603.42
Restaurants $332.61 $302.23 $717.76 $550.39 $418.46 $493.34
Gym $17.84 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84
Gas $188.43 $212.72 $280.00 $159.49 $217.98 $147.20
Car/Transit $166.00 $152.90 $129.46 $60.00 $0.00 $30.00
Utilities $223.98 $353.82 $308.60 $193.46 $185.97 $296.78
Pet Care $210.18 $257.93 $790.49 $1,063.70 $366.29 $654.98
Vacation $882.18 $373.60 $217.50 $458.79 $444.81 $1,044.85
Vacation Food $364.99 $464.36 $213.05 $376.98 $367.00 $179.50
Home/Tools $281.94 $93.86 $53.45 $90.22 $88.66 $1,211.12
Gardening $0.00 $36.61 $0.00 $0.00 $434.39 $0.00
Gifts $28.31 $90.00 $45.98 $28.39 $20.00 $242.61
Alcohol $55.93 $136.45 $99.52 $83.47 $107.38 $116.79
Clothing $29.28 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $84.46
Misc $70.50 $195.80 $195.89 $203.37 $230.36 $310.56
Total $3,234.28 $3,219.06 $3,518.49 $3,673.17 $3,483.72 $5,433.45
Savings Rate 28% 34% 62% 42% 33% 13%
Including Mortgage Principal 34% 40% 66% 47% 39% 19%
Giving % 3% 3% 4% 3% 3% 2%

Bottom line, it was painful to write out our expenses for June and share it here. After almost two years of sharing our monthly savings rate here on the blog, June was by far the lowest we’ve had by a good margin.

19% – or just 13% excluding our standard mortgage principal payment – feels like a paltry small amount compared to the 35 – 55% we’ve been hitting (and up to 61 – 67% in three paycheck months). As someone who is publicly sharing and striving for an average fifty percent savings rate for the year, June really felt like a failure on its face.

I then went back and re read my post from the end of summer 2017 near the start of my blogging journey (and before I started tracking our expenses so closely). We had similarly large expenses over a number of months during that time as well, but we weren’t able to weather that spike nearly as well.

We didn’t have a 19% savings rate that summer. In fact, we didn’t have a positive savings rate at all. Back to back spendy months landed us in a place to need to use our emergency fund (or eventually open that 0% credit card).

Beans and rice dinner 🙂 

Prior to that, we had used 0% financing for home improvement situations from our furnace and hot water install to our washer and dryer. We’ve always been able to find ways around paying interest, but paying back those 0% loans meant that we weren’t putting money away toward our future instead.

We have come a long way from needing to find ways to cover an additional few thousand dollars in expenses that crop up in a single month. Because our base expenses are low enough now, we can cash flow those payments and simply put less into savings during those months.

And clearly, we didn’t have to spend money on some of the things that popped up in June (namely my FinCon plane ticket and future vacation spending). But we are also not on an all out sprint to financial independence. We could have shaved off a few hundred dollars off of June’s spending, but to what end?

Overall, our money went to reasonable places, and that’s really what matters most. And we are still at a 41% savings rate year to date halfway through the year. Will we hit 50%? Maybe not. But hopefully we can at least match last year’s at 46%. No matter what, I can say that we have been intentional with our money and have made the best choices we could with the options we had.

Net Worth Tracking – Personal Capital

It’s been more than a year since I initially downloaded Personal Capital and started actually tracking our net worth. While savings rate is still more important to me because it’s what we can actually control, there is something to be said for having a sense of your overall net worth.

I was unconvinced for a long time that I even needed to track our net worth, but I’m so glad that I finally set up an account where I could track it all. I especially appreciate being able to look at the graphs for individual area, like investment accounts and cash savings.

We have a bunch of separate accounts, so it’s really nice to see them all in one place. I’m also working on growing our overall cash savings, and Personal Capital aggregates them all across four different banks, which makes things a lot simpler.

If you haven’t set up a way to track your net worth, I’d recommend Personal Capital for that purpose. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll also get a $20 Amazon gift card for doing so.

One note though: at the point your linked accounts cross the $100,000 mark, they will call you and try and convince you to let them manage your finances with one of their advisers. If you ignore the calls, though, they will stop calling. I haven’t had a need for their advisory services, but their interface for tracking net worth and having a single place to look at your full financial picture is excellent.

24 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: June 2019

  1. 19% is still almost 5x the national average!! As long as you strive to do better, I just know you’ll be bumping up against that 50% threshold by the end of the year! And in the end, even a 40-ish percent annual savings rate is still absolutely incredible for a young family of homeowners, with a pet, in an expensive city!

    1. That’s very very true. And all what I keep telling myself. If only I’d listen better 😉

  2. Keep up the hard work, make sure you are finding that balance between lifestyle creep and preparing for the future. Our personal finance is a tough one and something we need to always be vigilant with.

    1. Absolutely true. Creep is a constant thing. If only we could fix it once and be done.

  3. We all have these lumpy months. The fence isn’t cheap, but it could have cost a lot more. I bet it’d be over $3,000 if you had to hire someone. Contractors are so expensive now and they are all super busy. Anyway, I’m sure your expense will be back down to the average level next month. Keep at it!

    1. Oh absolutely. Unfortunately we aren’t done with it yet, so that isn’t the full cost. But labor always costs way more than materials.

  4. I too forget how far we have come from having to put unexpected expenses on a credit card and then paying them down to now either lowering our savings rate or begrudgingly pulling money out of savings to cover it. Keep up the awesome work! I wouldn’t sweat your lower savings rate for June, you are still doing great!

    1. Exactly. It wasn’t that long ago where we wouldn’t be able to cash flow that kind of month, let alone save a chunk of money still.

  5. It sucks that this month was so tough on your savings rate but you’re right that at least it was positive this month. Sometimes that’s all you can hope for — especially when it signals progress from past years where you had to finance your expenses.

  6. Looks like you had a lumpy month, we all go through that though. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Hopefully the pup is doing better.

  7. My sweet dog cost me a lot the last few years of her life and I regretted none of those choices. Your savings rate will jump back closer to the 50% mark your next 3 paycheck month. Here’s some perspective though – remember those days when you thought you were awesome for a 10-20% savings rate? You were awesome, even then. Just now you set the bar higher. In the scheme of things, when you hit your work optional number, this will be a blip on the screen. It’s the bigger picture that matters, the larger behavioral shift you have made permanent habits that are what’s important here. Cheers to continued forward movement!

    1. Love your perspective, friend. And you are absolutely right. Doesn’t mean I’m not any more impatient for that three paycheck month though 😜

  8. I’m still stuck on the $6 newspaper thing. I guess I haven’t paid attention to those prices either!

    Anyway, your progress is great even with a few expenses jumping up on you. It seems to me that you’ve hit a nice balance of knowing where you want to be and not making it painful to get there. I enjoy these expense reports and reflections.

    (Also – I thought your PC link and explanation was really well done.)

    1. I mean, it was the Sunday Times, not the regular everyday paper, but still! I was shocked.

      And thank you on the PC comment 🙂

  9. Do you use sinking funds for big expenses like vacations, home repairs and vet bills? It took me a while to actually implement this in our spreadsheets but now it saves a lot of stress when big ticket items pop up.

    1. No, I haven’t done much of that until recently. I’ve started though, and even having an extra bit to throw toward our dog’s surgery this month has made it a lot less stressful. I think I’m sold.

  10. I agree with Joe, we all have these really bumpy months. I think we put $20k in June from home maintenance to doctors/tests to transportation/vacation planning. That means we didn’t save a penny and even lost savings in June, it’s so bummy to think about but that’s life. This is why I don’t want to do these reports anymore haha, the individual months doesn’t matter as much as the overall trend. The trend on your transportation costs looks great!

    1. $20K! Yikes. That is a seriously painful month. But you’re right – Spending is definitely not a flat thing.

  11. We all can’t stay at the consistent rate with our expenses. Stuff just comes up and you have to deal with it and unfortunately it will hit you in the wallet. I’m sure you’ll bounce back and get there with your goal of a 50% savings rate. We traded in our Prius C for a SUV a few months ago and it took a hit on our savings rate since we paid the car in full. I would rather take a dip in our savings rate than deal with monthly car payments with interest.
    I was hoping to attend FinCon this year but with the caring for the newborn, it won’t feel right to go out of town and leave the family even for a few days. Hopefully next year I can finally attend my first FinCon….crossing fingers it can be somewhere in the west coast in 2020. Enjoy FinCon in DC Angela!!

    1. Darn! Sorry to miss you at FinCon this year, but that makes complete sense with the new baby. Fingers crossed for next year.

  12. Yep—like Joe, Bob, Lily, and Kris have said: those lumpy months get to me too, but they’re totally normal! You’re still doing really well and are incredibly mindful and aware of your spending. That’s more than half the battle!

    1. Yeah, it’s easier to know it logically, but my gold star seeking self still doesn’t love it 😉

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