March was a really expensive month. Except…it wasn’t. Quite a bit of money ended up being charged on our credit cards, but a good portion of that spending doesn’t actually end up here on my report today, for a number of different reasons.
Number one being that we received our stimulus checks for this round, and my husband and I both spent a portion of ours on spendy stuff: a crossbow for him, and materials for the chicken coop for me.
Lumber is particularly pricey right now – and I chose not to shop at one of the big box stores – so I walked out of Dunn Lumber with one trip to the tune of $725. However, because these were “stimulus” spends, I’ve chosen to leave them off the ledger altogether, rather than putting them on both the numerator and denominator.
My husband also had a number of work purchases over the month, but those get expensed to the company, so again, they don’t show up here. The credit card is simply a pass through. The same is has been true for money I’ve raised through my Eastside Restaurant Support group.
I had a couple of big restaurant purchases on my credit card in March, but those were buying restaurant meals to provide for a local homeless shelter, funded by the community. A bit complicated at times, but absolutely worth it for the impact we can make as a group.
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Food and Drink
After a less expensive February (see: well more expensive still than pre-COVID), we were back close to $2,000 in spending on food and drink (and alcohol) in March. We aren’t drinking as much, but our per alcohol purchase has gone up (fancier bottles!) so we’ve been spending close to the same.
Until things go “back to normal,” our take out purchases will continue to stay high as well. The only trick is going to be for us to go back to the lower spending we’d kept up for the years prior, since we’re serious foodies and we have a ton of awesome restaurants in our area.
PS – for those of you who are local, we are running the Eastside Restaurant Support week (eight days) starting today! You can find out more information here or in the Facebook group 🙂
Look at that! Vacation spending happened again in March! We went camping for a weekend up at Bay View State Park. State parks are particularly affordable when it comes to campsites, and even more so when they are on their winter rates. It was a perfectly lovely (sunny) weekend, and it felt like a big adventure because we’d never stayed there before.
We may not be doing big international vacations right now (no flying at least until the kiddo is vaccinated), but as the weather warms up and all the adults are vaccinated, we’re finding more weekends to head out of town.
March was also a pretty good giving month, clocking in at 6%. When I started tracking our giving, we were regularly only at 2-3%, and even that felt like a lot. Like most things, giving really is a muscle, and it gets easier the more often you work it.
The idea of “waiting” to give until you have more to give doesn’t sit well with me, because it will always feel like a lot until you simply start doing it.
March 2021 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)
|Mar 2021||Feb 2021||Jan 2021|
|Including Mortgage Principal||46%||41%||43%|
It feels a bit disingenuous to say that March was our best month for our savings rate so far in 2021 since there was quite a bit of spending from our stimulus money that didn’t show up here.
That said, we wouldn’t have spent all that money (or found ways to do it more cheaply) without the stimulus. We did also send the majority of the kiddo’s portion to his college fund, which is slowly starting to grow now that we don’t have a big childcare bill.
Three months into 2021, and we are at a 43% savings rate, even with both of us working just 80% hours. We may have cut our hours last year to respond to the childcare dilemma during COVID, but we also refinanced and pay less on childcare, so it’s evened out pretty well so far.
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.