Well, I made it. It is still February and I’m posting my January update. Phew. If it wasn’t for the accountability of always posting these each month here on the blog, this one probably wouldn’t have gotten done. Every time though, I am so glad that I have the data and have done the reflection (kind of like a workout – I never regret it after I’m done).

I’ve been tracking over three full years now (all of 2018, 2019, and 2020), and it’s fun to be able to look back and track trends over that time period. That, and wow does our net worth look better with the intentionality over those last years.

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Food and Drink

It’s been almost a full year of intentionally spending more money on take out meals in order to support our local restaurants. At least the first half of 2021 will be rough as well, so we will continue to spend more of our budget on restaurants than we would otherwise. Fingers crossed that better weather, lower COVID infection numbers, and higher rates of vaccination will mean better times ahead for our local businesses.

As far as grocery shopping is concerned, I think $500-$600 a month is probably our new normal. This definitely is partially due to higher food costs, as well as being more intentional on buying locally as much as we can.

Vacation

Well this was a big fat zero for January, which was very very different from January 2020, where we were in Iceland for the first part of the month. I’m hopeful that January 2022 will include more travel, but we aren’t making any big plans for now because it feels like way too many unknowns at this point.

That said, we do have a long weekend coming up relatively soon, so we will have some vacation spending coming up! Still in Washington, but we are so excited to actually get to pack a suitcase. The last time we went anywhere overnight was back at the beginning of October for a camping trip, and the last time we left the state of Washington was January 2020, when we returned from Iceland.

Clothing

We spent all of $31.89 on clothing in January, which was some clothes for the kiddo from the thrift store. I lucked out and found a North Face jacket for him for $5.99 and a pair of snow pants for $12.99, along with a few other pairs of sweatpants and shirts.

March 1st will be the official four year mark for my clothes buying ban, so as always, my clothing budget for me personally sits at zero.

Giving

This is the part of my finances that I’m most proud of over the last year or so. We’ve been spending more dollars on giving and charity (and a lot of direct aid), but I’ve also seriously upped my volunteer hours.

I’m not sure how to track my non-monetary giving (beyond the dollars I raise from others through my Facebook communities), but COVID has meant that the number of hours I spend has skyrocketed. The need is so great, and I am more than happy to spend my “leisure” hours helping others.

January 2021 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)

Jan 2021
Groceries$497.49
Restaurants$1,179.27
Gym$18.63
Gas$149.11
Car/Transit$185.41
Utilities$205.59
Pet Care$261.16
Vacation$0.00
Vacation Food$0.00
Home/Tools$170.06
Gardening$48.87
Gifts$71.80
Alcohol$109.54
Clothing$31.89
Misc$488.45
Total$3,417.27
Savings Rate36%
Including Mortgage Principal43%
Giving %5%

A 43% savings rate feels pretty darn great with both of us working 80% time. We did refinance our mortgage in November, so our minimum mortgage payment dropped a few hundred dollars. We are paying the same as we were before (which was a couple hundred dollars beyond the minimum), which means as long as we keep that up we’ll have shaved an extra three years or so off our mortgage.

As long as all goes as planned, we have approximately 15 years left on our mortgage, meaning we’ve cut off about 5 years off from the initial 30 year term. However, we did decide to refinance with a 30 year term instead of a 15 or 20 year to keep the flexibility of a lower required payment. We can’t predict what the future will bring, and the lower fixed monthly costs brings me peace of mind.

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.

One thought on “Monthly Financial Update: January 2021

  1. Though we have not gone on any long distance travels all year and we anticipate no travel for this year either, we are still saving up. We have no destination in mind yet. But we are saving to also account traveling with a baby now.

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