Waiting until near the end of November to write this post might have been a mistake, because I’m able to look back at the relative freedom we had to move around and do things in October stings a bit. Granted, “relative freedom” means a camping trip with our two friends and eating outside at restaurants when no one else was around a couple of times.

Compared to now, where we are limiting ourselves to minimal grocery shopping trips, masked hikes with the neighbors, and no one but the four of us in our household, October – and the summer – seems a bit idyllic. It’s clear we’ve been at this pandemic thing for almost nine months now when the summer months feel that way.

Now, at the end of November, days away from Thanksgiving, with hospitals already at capacity, all I can feel is anxious dread. Where are we going to be in three weeks? And then after Christmas? Though, perhaps the death due to Thanksgiving will put a damper on Christmas. But maybe not, considering how many Americans are still traveling this week.

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Food and Drink

It’s hard to believe that it feels like we’ve spent SO much money on food and drink this year (over $1,800 in October), and yet we still used to spend more – when the kiddo ate less. Now, though, we’re spending more intentionally. Our grocery budget continues to stay high for a number of reasons. One, we continue to keep a good stockpile as preparedness for whatever this year will throw at us (if you haven’t done this yet – here’s a list I wrote back in March). We’ve eaten through much of what we purchased in the spring, but we’re replacing it now and then some, so that cost is still pretty high.

We have also gotten into a routine of doing the bulk of our shopping at our local farmers market. While some things may be cheaper in season than the grocery store, for the most part, this choice does cost more money – but we get far better tasting, far more sustainable food this way. The farmers markets near us are closed for the season, so now we are shifting to more shopping at 21 Acres Market in Woodinville, which is even more expensive than the farmers market, but so worth it for low waste, local food over the winter. And then of course, grocery store prices are up this year as well.

Seriously the best salad I’ve ever eaten (Deru Market)


We took at camping trip! It was just for a weekend, and we stayed at the KOA up in Lynden, but it was a lovely weekend and so, so worth it. The weather was lovely, the ponds on the property were lovely, the company was lovely, and the few meals we ate out on the way up and back were lovely. We almost stayed home that weekend to get some work done around the house, but I’m so glad we decided to take the trip, because it will be our last one for a while.

We did reserve an Airbnb in October for my birthday weekend in December, but with the cases rising the way they are, we cancelled it, so those funds are back in our bank account. The savings is nice I suppose, but I would rather have taken the trip. The 44% savings rate for the month (even with our reduced incomes) feels decidedly less good than a weekend getaway with the people that were our small bubble. But we have no bubble any more, because it doesn’t feel even a little bit safe, so we aren’t taking the risk.

October 2020 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)

Oct 2020Sep 2020Aug 2020Jul 2020Jun 2020May 2020Apr 2020Mar 2020Feb 2020Jan 2020
Pet Care$73.95$315.03$102.02$904.85$102.37$233.53$186.28$221.55$310.88$169.30
Vacation Food$188.08$379.99$235.51$503.25$402.44$102.05$218.79$0.00$110.32$1,150.33
Savings Rate37%27%25%46%31%45%38%40%24%58%
Including Mortgage Principal44%34%32%50%37%50%44%45%31%61%
Giving %4%5%5%5%5%6%7%5%3%2%

Wow. We spent a lot less in October than the months prior. In fact, it was our lowest expense month by over $500 for all of 2020. Granted, we have both cut back our hours to 80% time, so we’re making less money now, so it felt necessary. Even so, I wasn’t expecting to get as close to a 50% savings rate in October as we did. With that, it puts our number for the year at 43% – short of saving half, but anything 40% or more feels like a lot this year.

Honestly though, in a year where so many are out of work or minimally employed and barely hanging on, this savings rate – along with our increasing net worth – feels a bit wrong and so much like Monopoly money. It’s time I set some more recurring donations, because others need this extra more than we do. My brain is on overload though, so I know I need the recurring charge. If you have a charity that is dear to your heart, please let me know; I’m looking for another one or two to add to my monthly rotation.

*Again, we spent some of our stimulus money in October (husband bought some new tools), but that cost is not shown in the spreadsheet above because we are counting those funds as a net no gain/loss – meant to be spent.

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.

11 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: October 2020

  1. I’ve been feeling similar about giving more this year. I did a bunch of research and set up a more defined giving strategy with a bunch of monthly donations.
    My two cents is that giving to proven organizations helping people living in extreme poverty is super important because it’s hard to even comprehend the conditions people are living in and so little money can go a long way to help. Partners in Health and charities recommended by the charity evaluator GiveWell (I just donate to their fund that they allocate based on current need) have been my choice there.
    Also since you seem similarly passionate as I am about more sustainable and less cruel meat / protein sources, definitely look into the work of the Good Food Institute, which works to get research investments into more meat alternatives (plant based or cell based) that are more meat-like and cheaper to better compete with factory farmed meat.

    1. Hmmmm maybe just a recurring donation to GiveWell is just the thing for right now. No extra brainpower needed lol

  2. I so desperately want to go on a big solo roadtrip to hike and bike across the west coast from north to south again. I am feeling a bit trapped and needing an escape (even if I do go outside here everyday lol) One day soon this will be possible so until then I will be happy with my health and place in life right now.

    Like you, my dining budget is very high compared to the previous months last year. I am averaging about $200/month more as I grab coffee and baking everyday (also because I ride my bike and like road treats) to keep supporting the many local bakeries and cafes.

    1. Travel is on my mind almost constantly these days. Someday, someday…..

      And yes. It’s been a loooong time since I’ve spent this much on take out coffee.

  3. It’s so bittersweet to be maxing those savings this year. Though we do love to save, there are some times you really do just want to spend a bit on those special memory-making things. I’m sorry you had to cancel that AirBnB, but it does sound like you had a nice camping trip. Stay safe out there. Sending hugs.

  4. That’s too bad you had to cancel your upcoming little trip. Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be the hardest times for me so far in this pandemic, and I suppose that’s true for many people. It’s a bit ironic as our 7yo told us after last year’s marathon Christmas trip that he wanted to stay home for Christmas this year, and he’s getting his wish! Just not quite the way we’d expected. We thought it’d be a nice break from being busy with school and everything, but instead it’s going to be more of the same thing we’ve been doing for 8+ months now. Oh well! We are pretty lucky overall compared to many. I hope to spend a bit more on takeout food and drink this next month or so as our local places really need all the business they can get. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

    1. Thanksgiving was actually a really lovely day for us. Hoping Christmas can feel low key and special like that too. Finding that it’s the “everyday” for us that’s harder.

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