At this point, we are absolutely not going to hit a 50% savings rate again this year, though we should be above the 40% mark. Much more than last year, I’m actually okay with that. I expect that we will hit that savings rate eventually (or, at least, when we stop paying for childcare), but we don’t have a short term goal that means we need to hit 50%+ versus 40%+. This was also true for last year, though, and I was a lot more frustrated at this point in the year knowing that I wouldn’t hit that big goal I’d set for myself – we landed at 46% at the end of 2018.
That was the first year I’d really attempted to up our financial game, and it showed. In 2016 and 2017, we saved 22% and 23%, respectively. So *only* reaching 46% meant an actual doubling of our savings rate (and more that doubling our actual savings, as our incomes increased slightly due to raises as well). Because of that new found focus – and thanks to diving more deeply into the financial independence community where incomes tend to be higher, I spent the end of 2018 feeling like we could have just done a little bit better to hit that “save half” mark.
This year though, I realized early on that the 50% savings goal was likely a bit too high and we would likely not reach it. Much of this was due to vet bills, as well as bigger – and more frequent – travel. It’s taken a while, but I’m now okay with that. We are on this path to financial independence in a real way, but we also don’t have an end date of when we want to leave our careers. For us, financial independence is about freedom and options in the future, and the security that comes with having enough financially. Not an early retirement date.
We are fully on the SlowFI path, and I feel like I’m finally settling in to the fact that it’s okay that I don’t have any big medium term goals in the 2-5 year time frame. I plan to write more about this in a separate post later, but I feel like I’m starting to be okay with sitting with this stage of life. For so long while I was growing up and through my twenties, I constantly had big goals and dreams: graduate college, get married, buy a house, finish grad school, have a baby, grow my career. I now *have* all those things, which is incredible, but it’s left me in a weird place for a while with floating in the now. Now, finally, I’m getting to a place where that’s okay. Not just okay, but good.
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Groceries and Food Expenses
While not under that $1,000 benchmark I’ve set for us this year (with little success), we weren’t wildly over in this category either, which is an okay win, if you know us. We did spend more this month on both groceries and eating out, but very little on vacation food. We were home the full month of October, except I did spend a weekend at Cents Positive at the beginning of the month, and did spend some money on food. While I didn’t technically go anywhere overnight, I’m going that as vacation spending. The husband and the kiddo took a day trip that same weekend, and I coded that spending the same way.
Our grocery and alcohol budget was a bit inflated as well, thanks to the neighborhood Oktoberfest we hosted. While others did bring things to share, we made and provided the bulk of the food and drink, which cost a a bit more than our typical weekend spending. That said, we would have spent significantly more than that had we gone to Leavenworth for the weekend like we did the previous year.
While we didn’t go anywhere in October, we did spend some money on vacations. Again, the husband and kiddo went out to Port Townsend for the day while I was at Cents Positive, so they did spend money on the ferry. We also booked plane tickets to go visit our old neighbors who moved to Austin. I did use a few Chase Ultimate Rewards points (thanks to whoever signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred through my link!), but we didn’t have enough for all three tickets thanks to the Iceland trip, and we paid the remaining $541.60 out of pocket.
We again managed to stay under $300 on pet expenses in October. There’s a time where that would seem expensive, but not this year. Year to date, we have now spent $6,568.62 on our animals, and the vast majority on our one dog. This month, beyond our standard medications for her, we bought two large bags of dog food and a heated bed for our cat. Cross your fingers for us – maybe we can stay under $7,000 for the year.
Again, we had our recurring soccer payment for our kiddo at preschool. I also had copays for the dentist and the doctor as well as some medication. My husband also replaced the locks on his truck himself from parts he ordered, which cost some money, but way less than if he’d taken it in to the mechanic. We may choose at this point in our lives not to do our own oil changes, but the work he does do saves us considerably more than the few dollars on an oil change. Our time is precious, and only some things end up being worth the extra time.
He also bought himself an archery target for the set up in our backyard. while the target itself was $100, he’d previously used straw bales that were composting into the ground. By having his own set up in the backyard, he is able to practice more often and it saves over going to a range, which isn’t cheap.
Side note – my husband also did buy himself some Carhartt overalls (he and the kiddo can now match!) so that’s the clothing cost for the month. Oh – and we bought ourselves some Yaktrax for our Iceland trip (and for the next time we have a Snowpocolypse locally). I wasn’t sure where to code those, but they felt more like gear than clothing, so I put them in with the rest of the miscellaneous category.
I also paid for my annual car tabs, which cost $102. Washington State just voted this month to cap car tabs at $30, which was extremely disappointing, as they fund transportation and our light rail system. People were upset about huge ballooning car tabs, but that was only true for the newer, fancier cars. This vote will hurt our region, and hurt those who can’t afford it the most.
October 2019 Spending (Excludes mortgage, daycare, and insurance)
|May 2019||Jun 2019||Jul 2019||Aug 2019||Sept 2019||Oct 2019|
|Including Mortgage Principal||39%||19%||26%||60%||34%||40%|
October was our third cheapest month of the year, which felt great. Only in January and February did we spend less, and not by a lot. Even so, I feel like we could definitely spend less if we buckled down. We are choosing not to, though, so this is a pretty good balance for us right now.
We are at a 41% savings rate for 2019 so far, and I expect we will end the year at about that rate. November and December should be reasonable for costs unless something unexpected pops up – which is always possible. No matter what, we are well on our way to a significant net worth and financial independence likely in the next decade.
And while we might not have a “high” income, we very much have a high enough one. That, coupled with a low mortgage payment and part time family childcare, our incomes stretch a lot further than they would otherwise. While financial independence – or at least financial stability – is a great goal for anyone, I do appreciate and realize how fortunate we are to even talk about that reality for us. No matter where you are in life, though, finding just a little space between your monthly expenses and the next month is a huge, life changing deal.
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.