Looking back to where our finances were in 2017 when we had to use our emergency fund, we’ve come a long way in getting a closer hold on our monthly expenses and are so much better prepared to adjust as needed. We’ve been lucky this year to both have our jobs, though our roommate has lost his (but is okay so far financially thanks to helping with homeschooling and my years of bugging him about saving money).

With COVID and distance learning came homeschool kindergarten for our family, the husband now works 80% time along with me. I feel so thankful that we are in a place where we could both drop back at work to make the childcare and schooling thing work. In a time where so many women are downshifting or leaving careers due to COVID stressors, we are able to somewhat balance the workload, making it more doable for us both to keep our careers through this process. And really, the purposeful, equal downshift that’s allowed us to homeschool the kiddo has been a small bright spot in 2020.

Homeschool adventures

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Food and drink

After completely blowing our food and drink budget March through July, we’ve settled into a more sustainable higher spending. We’re clearly still spending more than pre-COVID, but well less than we used to before keeping a close eye on our finances. We’ve continued to tip more, so each meal costs more, but it feels absolutely right when our restaurants are still struggling so much.

And plenty of garden produce

Vacation

The husband went on a hunting trip at the beginning of September, so there were some vacation expenses there, but mostly due to groceries and stopping at a restaurant on his way out. He managed to bag a grouse, but all the deer he and his hunting buddy saw weren’t legal yet (and the smoke rolled in before they could go back out).

The kiddo and I, along with Purple, took a day trip out to the Peninsula when Kristy and her family were in Washington before they came and stayed in their travel trailer in our front yard for a weekend. Much of the vacation food spending came from this trip, as I like to stock up at Sunny Farms and Nash’s Produce while we’re in the Sequim area. We also did the Olympic Game Farm together, which is so worth it, and COVID-friendly since it’s a drive through attraction.

September 2020 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)

Sep 2020Aug 2020Jul 2020Jun 2020May 2020Apr 2020Mar 2020Feb 2020Jan 2020
Groceries$664.52$584.71$987.84$549.38$583.40$691.81$1,147.50$302.18$368.63
Restaurants$656.20$560.34$702.62$1,180.85$875.80$1,236.04$718.94$441.15$425.21
Gym$17.84$17.84$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$17.84$17.84$17.84
Gas$248.57$259.23$213.11$187.41$80.28$71.25$88.19$162.43$78.88
Car/Transit$0.00$249.66$30.00$0.00$0.00$127.81$0.00$30.00$194.59
Utilities$300.60$280.96$157.81$344.02$187.50$387.99$192.08$237.87$293.98
Pet Care$315.03$102.02$904.85$102.37$233.53$186.28$221.55$310.88$169.30
Vacation$139.10$114.88$199.25$116.99$181.90$0.00$0.00$1,176.33$528.07
Vacation Food$379.99$235.51$503.25$402.44$102.05$218.79$0.00$110.32$1,150.33
Home/Tools$612.70$606.01$259.80$126.54$148.86$77.04$550.81$1,304.77$335.08
Gardening$132.04$191.45$203.79$80.87$408.28$4.39$40.49$18.11$0.00
Gifts$76.53$357.92$205.51$122.18$342.42$183.67$137.00$216.08$137.67
Alcohol$331.22$81.20$138.44$75.61$127.77$148.83$267.76$100.99$241.95
Clothing$0.00$114.09$130.47$0.00$60.02$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Misc$147.27$437.16$831.72$1,983.09$373.03$225.30$417.41$184.00$654.89
Total$4,021.61$4,192.98$5,468.46$5,271.75$3,704.84$3,559.20$3,799.57$4,612.95$4,596.42
Savings Rate27%25%46%31%45%38%40%24%58%
Including Mortgage Principal34%32%50%37%50%44%45%31%61%
Giving %5%5%5%5%6%7%5%3%2%

September was our lowest spending month since May, which felt good. We landed at a 34% savings rate, which means we’re at 43% year to date. We again won’t hit a 50% savings rate this year, but with both of us now working 80% time, I’m happy with anything north of 30% each month now, and really, any positive savings rate is pretty wonderful compared to many people’s situations right now. We are so lucky and blessed to still save so much, and I’ve continued to make sure our giving stays higher as well.

*I do have to note that our spending in September was actually higher due to supplies purchased for our chicken coop build, but we used some of our stimulus money for that spending. We’ve also purchased a few kindergarten homeschool supplies and spent some other money locally, but I’ve decided not to include that $2,900 stimulus in either the nominator or denominator for these monthly updates. If we ever see another stimulus, we will spend it locally as well.

personal capital

It’s been more than two years 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? 

12 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: September 2020

  1. :O who is that sweet kitty with all the produce? Also, are three of those bowls brussel sprouts? What a harvest!

    It’s really cheering to see that both you and your husband have downshifted at work to share responsibility for homeschooling. My heart grieves for all of the women being pushed out of the workforce due to the avalanche of governmental and social failures that led us to this point. Everyone is having to shoulder extra burdens right now, and it gives me a spark of hope when I see men taking on their share of that burden as well.

  2. Hey, I’d missed that your husband is now at 80% time too. That’s a great option during this pandemic. Well..always, but especially during this pandemic. It’s so great that you’re all able to design the life you want while enjoying the moment. Your savings rate is still impressive!

  3. RE: “We’ve continued to tip more, so each meal costs more, but it feels absolutely right when our restaurants are still struggling so much.”

    THANK YOU! In an effort to catch up financially, I recently started delivering pizza on the weekends. It is generous folks like you that make it worthwhile, as we drivers depend heavily on tips for our compensation.

    1. I can’t IMAGINE buying food right now and not tipping well! Some of the baristas’ stories they tell me have me fuming.

  4. Wow, is it October already?! I am amazed at your garden haul especially given this crazy PNW summer weather. We’ve been trying to be intentional at both ends of the consumer spectrum – using things up and purchasing wisely. But a few large purchases with exorbitant delivery or markup (thanks, rural tax) have put a dent in the budget. Still counting ourselves lucky though and spending locally when we can.

    PS- love the Olympic Game Farm, glad your kiddo got to go!

  5. Good for you maintaining that giving percentage! Admittedly an area I need to improve in. It’s tough in the accumulation phase to make sure that giving is part of the budget. Kudos to you!

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