For whatever reason, November has trended to be one of our least expensive months of the year, ever since I started tracking back in 2017. This year was no exception, even though this year looked so different than the last three. Honestly, it’s been a long time since we’ve spent so little in a month that I had to make sure I’d actually gone through all of our credit card receipts and hadn’t missed one.

When so much of “normal” life isn’t happening right now, I suppose it makes sense that we are just spending less. Zeroes in five categories certainly helped as well.

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Food and Drink

Since we’ve done such a good job of stocking up and we’re now back to shopping only once a week or less, our grocery bill reflects that and is lower than it’s been in a while. Really though, this category is one that makes sense to look at over the course of the year, because we’re eating plenty of food right now that we purchased quite a while ago.

We went through our chest freezer and pulled everything out and wrote down exactly what we have in there, and that has helped a lot. We’ve done better at going to the freezer first and pulling out meat or other meal ingredients ahead of time instead of thinking about the grocery store right away.

Baked goods, meals with less meat and centered around beans/lentils/barley keeps the price down a bit as well. The garden is still producing a little bit, and that helps keep the cost down for the pricier incidentals like fresh herbs or bunches of green onions.

Homemade waffles with leftovers of my sisters Thanksgiving cranberry sauce

The husband and I are both on a hiatus from drinking as well since about a week before Halloween, so we spent no money on alcohol for ourselves in the month of November, and the same will likely be true for December as well. Considering we usually buy local, good quality alcohol, this dropped our food and drink bill quite a bit.

Vacation Spending

A big fat zero for November. Now that the days are colder and COVID numbers are extremely high, even the small “vacation” type spending and weekend trips from this summer have been put on hold. We have not left the state of Washington since we returned from Iceland in mid-January.

Our travel rewards points are growing though, and I’m starting to think that a fancy trip may be in order once we can go places again. If you travel hack/accumulate travel rewards, what are you doing with them right now? I’ve considered cashing them out to use for groceries, etc, but really, I think I want to save them for a big awesome trip someday in the future.

Pet Care

November we spent less on our pets in…well, probably years. They are all doing well right now *knock on wood* and we have been purchasing food and medication in bulk, so we didn’t buy much of anything in November.

I really should take them in for their regular check ups, but with COVID, it’s just felt like an extra appointment, and I’ve been waiting. If you have animals, have you been taking them in for their regular appointments or are you waiting a bit like us?

Happy dogs

November 2020 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)

Nov 2020Oct 2020Sep 2020Aug 2020Jul 2020Jun 2020May 2020Apr 2020Mar 2020Feb 2020Jan 2020
Pet Care$29.59$73.95$315.03$102.02$904.85$102.37$233.53$186.28$221.55$310.88$169.30
Vacation Food$0.00$188.08$379.99$235.51$503.25$402.44$102.05$218.79$0.00$110.32$1,150.33
Savings Rate44%37%27%25%46%31%45%38%40%24%58%
Including Mortgage Principal51%44%34%32%50%37%50%44%45%31%61%
Giving %6%4%5%5%5%5%6%7%5%3%2%

Well, we somehow ended up with a 51% savings rate for November, the first time we’ve “saved half” since the husband and I both went to fewer hours at work and had our incomes shrink. We are now at 44% for the year. We won’t hit 50%, but settling in over 40% in this year of all years feels pretty dang incredible.

Our giving in November was 6% – matching our highest month so far, in part thanks to the restaurant giveaway I kickstarted right before Thanksgiving. With indoor dining shut down again (rightfully so, with COVID numbers as they are), and lack of federal government support, our restaurants need so much help, as do the people they employ. Our food budget is up quite a bit this month, as are our even bigger tips (25-30% is now not a rare thing), so this spending report will look a bit different in December.

Especially seeing that above-50% savings rate number for November, I’ll remind myself yet again when I start worrying about how much we’re spending on take out and at coffee shops that we are doing this for a purpose, and we have the money to share.

How are things looking for you financially as we – finally – close out 2020?

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.

10 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: November 2020

  1. I know you are purposely keeping your restaurant spending high to support local businesses, which is awesome. I’d be curious the breakdown of what that money is buying- how many times per week, what’s the average cost per meal, how much of that number is tips, etc? Could be a post on its own 😉

    1. Hmmmm yeah maybe I should go through a post and dig deeper into this. We seem to lean more on restaurants for lunches and then home cooked dinners.

  2. re: doing an inventory on the food front — we actually ended up doing this over the weekend thanks to our kitchen reno. Should have done it a LONG time ago because you’re totally right — it really does help. Gave us a much better idea of what we have and, more important, what we don’t need (hello, black beans, of which we have like six cans…)

    We have two cats and neither have been to the vet since COVID started. That said, I don’t think either of them are due for an appointment, either? Our vet usually emails us when they’re due and I have not seen anything. When we get it, we will likely try to get them in sooner as opposed to later, just to keep them up to date on their shots. In fairness, though, our COVID numbers are relatively low and we don’t really go to far these days, so I feel OK about it. I think if I lived somewhere with high numbers, I would wait.

    1. Yeah…. I’ve gotten a couple of pet emails, which I’ve promptly ignored. Oops.

  3. We’re only going to the vet for strictly necessary visits and that’s been defined as labwork to confirm and identify infections. We try not to haul Seamus in if we can avoid it both to avoid exposure and to spare him.

    We’ve been buying food and medications for him in bulk too so it causes huge bulges every 2-3 months in our spending but this month and last month were higher than our average spending because I’ve been wrapping up our donations for the year.

    I am a little curious about our savings rate for the year but I’m not sure I’ll get around to calculating that since my spreadsheets don’t already have that particular bit of data crunching built in. I did hit my investing goal at least and exceeded last year’s giving total and those are the more important numbers for me..

  4. Well done! Like you, I’ve rooted through and used things In my freezer lately. It was getting too full and I had to make room for turkey leftovers!! 🙂 And I’m saving those travel points for some day in the future. In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy this quiet time at home and figuring out where I’d really like to go next. Great job on cutting the alcohol!

    1. Cutting the alcohol was actually way easier than I expected, which is why we’re pretty much keeping it up for now (excepting my one birthday drink last Sunday).

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