April’s spending looked pretty similar to March, and both looked very different from months prior. COVID-19 spending looks like food, drink, and housing expenses, with very little else. While this might change a little bit through the summer months, I expect things to look pretty similar for much of the year.
When travel isn’t really possible – other than looking hopefully at some camping in the near future – we really don’t spend much on anything else. Our childcare costs have also stayed low, as the kiddo hasn’t been at preschool since the end of February. In theory, he starts kindergarten in September, so I’m wondering if he will actually go back to his preschool before he “graduates” from there.
As I promised myself, the money we aren’t spending on his childcare will be going toward his future college savings account, so there’s more heading that way right now than I had expected. Silver lining, I suppose, though it’s anyone’s guess what college will look like in another decade or more.
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Food and Drink
Again, these expenses were wildly out of control, similar to what we used to spend prior to focusing on our spending. However, unlike then, this spending is purposeful. (And grocery costs are higher in general as well). We buy dinner every Tuesday for #TakeoutTuesday, a few lunches during the week, and sometimes an extra dinner. Beer and wine are purchased from local spots instead of the grocery store, which is more expensive, but worth it to help keep them afloat.
You’ll notice we also do have some “Vacation Food” expenses in April. We camped out in my parents’ yard overnight and bought take out dinner for everyone that evening, as well as bought drinks from a local brewery and a local wine store. While perhaps not quite a “vacation” in the traditional sense, it seemed like that spending belonged there. That, and it felt nice to be able to calculate something other than a $0.00 there yet again.
I’m feeling very grateful that we had our high vet bills last year and not this year. Not just the cost, but also the fact that it would be extremely stressful to need to take our dog in to the vet regularly right now. The one medication she’s still on is ordered online, and otherwise, the only pet costs we have right now are regular food and supplies.
This number keeps growing. As millions of Americans continue to apply for unemployment, I feel compelled to share the wealth that we do have. Much of this giving is to local restaurants in the form of much larger tips than we’d normally give, as well as the local food bank, other COVID-related causes, and our regular recurring donations.
If you’re in a good spot financially, I would still encourage you to continue saving – cash is definitely king right now – but perhaps you can find a bit more in your budget for sharing with those who don’t have the means. Life is rough for everyone right now, but lack of money makes it even harder for many.
April 2020 Spending (Excludes mortgage, daycare, insurance)
|Apr 2020||Mar 2020||Feb 2020||Jan 2020|
|Including Mortgage Principal||44%||45%||31%||61%|
2020 is going to be a wild ride. No matter what though, I’m grateful to be able to save – and give – as much as we are. While life is clearly more than money, money does make things easier, and any bit of easier is a big deal right now.
We’re sitting at a 45% savings rate a third of the way through the year. We may or may not finally hit that elusive 50% savings rate, but things are looking good for us financially right now no matter what. With so many people out of work and struggling, the difference between 40%, 45%, and 50% seems a bit silly. While that goal will always be in the back of my mind, it absolutely isn’t top priority this year. I’m much happier with the creep up of our giving percentage more than a creep up of how much more cash we can push into savings.
Net Worth Tracking – Personal Capital
**Even with the wild stock market swings as of late, I’m glad to have my net worth tracked via Personal Capital. Full transparency, I still haven’t looked – we don’t need retirement funds for a long time yet, so knowing how much our investments have dropped really helps no one. Things look better there than a month ago, and it will be interesting to look back on our net worth chart in the future. I’m glad that I will have a record of this time going forward, and we’re in it for the long game. And knowing where our money stands is a big part of that.**
It’s been more than a year and a half 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.
18 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: April 2020”
That’s a fantastic idea to put the money you aren’t sending right now on preschool into your little guy’s college savings instead! Also, I love that you put your food expenses from your backyard camping into the vacation category. (Somehow, that would make it feel more like a real vacation to me.)
Ha, it totally made it seem more “real”! The best we’ve got right now.
We’ve been trying to give back to local businesses too, albeit in a much more limited way (since we still have a lot of our own financial safety nets to work on). I’ve tried keeping our grocery costs as normal as possible, but groceries really are becoming more and more expensive! It makes me wonder how much hif that will be permanent, and how much will calm down over the next year or two. Nevertheless, we’re trying to grow a few more vegetables than normal this year in our garden, and we got six more chickens to add to our laying flock! It’s been so nice not having to worry about finding eggs at the store.
Groceries have absolutely gotten noticeably more expensive. How many chickens do you have / how much space?
I’m glad you’re diverting his preschool tuition to his college fund. You’re correct that no one can predict the future of higher education and its costs, but better to be prepared than not. This year is definitely different financially than most. I’m not sure what I’ll spend on vacation this year, since the one vacation I had planned has been canceled. (I’m supposed to be in Croatia right now!) But I’m using that money to pay for things I’ve needed for a long time (replacing old sneakers, new flip flops, house things) and using some to help those out of work. I hope you make your 50% savings rate! 🙂
Boo, sorry your Croatia trip had to be cancelled! Fingers crossed it can still happen someday.
Btw, I saw a tent in someone’s backyard this morning while walking my dog and thought of you! 🙂
Ha! Love it.
Glad to hear the pet expense are down! I know how tough that can be!
SO tough! Fingers crossed they all stay healthy this year!
Love the idea of funneling the saved childcare funds into college savings. Our spending habits have been pretty similar to yours this month – mostly saving where we can, but definitely spending more in our eating out budget than ever before (Adam is overjoyed about this. Usually I’m the stickler when it comes to eating out, but it’s looking more and more like the local restaurants are at serious risk of shutting down, so trying to support where we can.) All travel and adventure plans are cancelled for the summer so that’s a huge savings, but I can’t imagine going the whole summer without trying to find some sort of adventure, even if it’s semi-local.
The tricky part is going to be reeling back in all the extra take out once things settle back down 😉 I’m with Adam – it’s been pretty great haha
Love the funnelling of daycare tuition into a college fund!
One thing we did to increase our giving is take the payment that would otherwise go to our (closed) gym and repurpose it for the local community kitchen. It’s not a huge amount of money but…it’s something. In addition to supporting the men and women’s shelter in our city, they also run a program that sends students from homes with food insecurity home with backpacks of food every week. They’re continuing that program now and where we have not been impacted financially it feels like literally the least thing we can do to help.
Love switching recurring expenses that are on hold over to giving! If everyone gave “a little, but not much” we would be in much better shape as a society.
Thanks for publishing! I’m so proud of your giving creeping up. I think that should be a big part of what we celebrate in the PF world right now. It’s concrete and amazing!
So many of us are in the position to help financially right now – and we should be.
Great idea on the childcare savings! I’m sure that will work out really well especially with all that time for it to still grow. Backyard tent is a great idea too! We were planning on camping a whole bunch note this year but sadly not sure if that’s going to be happening as much as we wanted 😔
Yeah, we are hoping some camping can still happen this summer, but it’s going to be tricky finding out of the way spots I expect.