COVID-19, protests over police brutality, continually high unemployment, and a looming recession (but hopefully not a depression). May, and all of 2020 thus far, has been a wild ride, and it appears that the uncertainty will be with us for a while yet.

Thankfully, we are very, very lucky to have our jobs right now, and we are able to save “as usual” right now. That said, our giving rate has gone up quite a bit, as is our eating out. As foodies, and people who care particularly about our community, spending our dollars on take out (with big tips) seems like the best thing we could do with our money right now other than save it. That, and continue to donate to organizations that are doing good work.

That said, life is still very uncertain, and cash will always be king, so I continue to beef up our savings accounts as well as send funds to our IRAs. While I am definitely a bit looser with our wallet these days in the name of supporting local businesses, I still want to save a good portion to protect our future.

Walks with masks on more crowded trails

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Food and Drink

We are still spending ” too much” in this category – more like we used to spend prior to tracking our expenses closely. While this is very intentional right now, this blog is definitely going to have to keep me accountable once things go back “to normal” so we actually adjust back down and spend less again in the future. Because really, we like eating out, especially in an area with so many good restaurants to choose from.

The amount we spent in May though was lower than April, so things should be good if we can keep it at this level for now. Grocery spending is still up as well, but I know a good portion of that is due to the fact that the cost of food as very clearly skyrocketed (and we aren’t at the store often / can’t quite hunt for deals in the same way).

Vacation Spending

We took a day trip out to the Olympic Peninsula in May! On a whim, we hopped a ferry and hung out in Sequim for the day. It definitely felt a bit strange walking down the mostly empty streets downtown, but I was able to pick up some of my favorite coffee grounds while we were there. And simply going somewhere felt pretty great.

I also prepaid my share of a bachelorette party weekend I’m attending, fingers crossed, later this summer. We made sure that the cabin has a decent refund policy, but I’m hopeful that the trip is possible. For once, it was someone else organizing the lodging and the trip, and I have to say, I enjoyed just sending her money and leaving it at that.

Sequim Bay

Giving

Our giving rate should stay high through the year. When life is so uncertain – and often not so good – for so many, I feel compelled to send our money to others. If you are in a good place financially, perhaps 2020 is the year to stretch yourself a bit with giving. Charitable spending is definitely a muscle, and one that can use flexing often.

April 2020 Spending (Excludes mortgage, daycare, insurance)

May 2020 Apr 2020 Mar 2020 Feb 2020 Jan 2020
Groceries $583.40 $691.81 $1,147.50 $302.18 $368.63
Restaurants $875.80 $1,236.04 $718.94 $441.15 $425.21
Gym $0.00 $0.00 $17.84 $17.84 $17.84
Gas $80.28 $71.25 $88.19 $162.43 $78.88
Car/Transit $0.00 $127.81 $0.00 $30.00 $194.59
Utilities $187.50 $387.99 $192.08 $237.87 $293.98
Pet Care $233.53 $186.28 $221.55 $310.88 $169.30
Vacation $181.90 $0.00 $0.00 $1,176.33 $528.07
Vacation Food $102.05 $218.79 $0.00 $110.32 $1,150.33
Home/Tools $148.86 $77.04 $550.81 $1,304.77 $335.08
Gardening $408.28 $4.39 $40.49 $18.11 $0.00
Gifts $342.42 $183.67 $137.00 $216.08 $137.67
Alcohol $127.77 $148.83 $267.76 $100.99 $241.95
Clothing $60.02 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Misc $373.03 $225.30 $417.41 $184.00 $654.89
Total $3,704.84 $3,559.20 $3,799.57 $4,612.95 $4,596.42
Savings Rate 45% 38% 40% 24% 58%
Including Mortgage Principal 50% 44% 45% 31% 61%
Giving % 6% 7% 5% 3% 2%

We did spend a bit more in May than in April, but lower than the beginning of the year still. That said, our savings rate is higher thanks to my work situation right now. Surprise: I’m working full time for a while.

My goal is to drop back down to 80% time soon enough, but the additional income feels pretty amazing. All of the hours don’t feel amazing though (but necessary, and voluntary), so I’m doing my very best not to get drawn into the additional income. Even if we actually hit that 50% savings rate this month.

Long term, fewer hours is best for my – and my family’s – life. But oh, I can understand how easy it is to get stuck at a higher income. The temptation of significantly more money is real.

May pin

Personal Capital

It’s been TWO YEARS now 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 (though also important to know NOT to look during market volatility if it would make you tempted to pull your money out).

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.

How are things going for you financially? 

19 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: May 2020

  1. Fingers crossed you get to do the bachelorette party! Life has to get back to some semblance of normalcy, right?!

    Like you, I’ve been spending more than usual too – some giving to my usual non-profits, replacing things that need to be replaced, treating others when we visit, etc. Part of me misses my old spending habits, but I’ll get back on track at some point. Life is very off just now!

    1. I sure hope it happens, at least in some fashion. Love your new spending habits ❤️

  2. Love that you make giving a priority! This is great! I’m curious – what was your big gardening project?! 🙂

    1. No specific big one this time – just lots of peppers and tomato starts (a $50 olive tree!), Sluggo, etc.

  3. We too are very fortunate to still be fully employed and I’m not taking that for granted. I set a new aggressive saving goal to make sure our bases were fully covered for a year should anything change, plus an extra cushion.

    I’m still fiddling a lot with our spending, giving, and saving. All of it is increased because our daycare tuition, our second largest bill, has been suspended temporarily. It’s weird having the trade of keeping money in our pockets instead of having childcare again, it’s like the first year of JB’s life when I chose to do most of the care at home because we didn’t have good options. It’s both nice to be able to give more freely and a struggle day to day that we’re coping without help.

    How did the full time work increase come about?

    1. We are just super busy with normal work + covid related work, so I stepped up to help get stuff done.

  4. I am writing my experience as well to share my FIRE journey in Malaysia. Happy to see your post and I’m trying hard to save at least 70-80 percent of monthly income.

  5. I spent double on my restaurant budget in May as well. I wanted to ensure I was doing as much as I can to support my friends and the local establishments impacted by the protective Covid measures put in place.

  6. Hopefully the bachelorette party actually happens! We’re getting to a place where I’m living (east coast Canada) where restrictions are slowly starting to ease up, but there seems to be a good understanding that that could change at any time.

    Things are going alright for us financially right now. We are both employed full-time and have been through the whole pandemic so the changes re: how we spend our money have mostly been adjustments. Less on gas, but definitely more on takeout. More charitable giving, less shopping outside food. We’ve also been very much in that cash is king mindset, so instead of paying off the student loan, we’ve been storing the cash in savings. Our loan is currently frozen and not accumulating interest so this felt like a good strategy at least for the time being. Ideally, we’ll be able to make a big lump sum payment in the fall. That’s the goal, anyway.

    1. Saving the cash and then doing a big payment at once makes total sense. If you need it then, you don’t have to make the payment.

  7. On Monday I decided to reduce my retirement contributions by about $200 per month so that I can give away 10% of my income as standard practice, as I was raised to do. This means that two goals I set earlier in the year – maxing my 401(k) and saving 50% of my income – won’t be achievable. However, I feel much more at peace once I finally made that decision. I’ve always been someone who championed reparations and wealth redistribution as a way to enact racial justice, and there was always some unease gnawing at me for pursuing financial independence. Wealth accumulation is an oversimplified description of FI, for sure, but it’s part of it, and I knew deep down I was contradicting my values by having a low giving rate (about 3%) while saving something like 53% of my income.

    Though I won’t meet those two financial goals I set at the beginning of the year, I’m still on track to save about 47% of my income. Like you, I don’t have a specific FI number or timeline. I’m 24 – I have plenty of time to continue to save while enjoying my current work (though boy, I can’t wait for that eventual part time schedule…). The tradeoff of a lower savings rate is worth it. Now I feel less torn about my pursuit of FI – which is very important to me – because giving 10% no longer something I’ll compromise on.

    1. Wow – 10% – that’s incredible. I’m working my way up there as well. At 24, you are way ahead of the game!

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