One of these months, I’ll get back to doing these updates before the last week of the following month. Clearly, I’m not there yet though, as we’re a week away from June now. Thanks to the accountability of promising that I would update here publicly, I still make sure to go through our spending in detail, even if a bit after the fact.

When I started this blog four years ago, our finances weren’t in as good of a place as they are now (though still relatively not in a bad place). After we had to deal with emergency vet bills that we couldn’t cash flow – and didn’t have separate funds to pay for – I promised myself that never again would I have to make the decision between paying credit card interest or opening up a 0% interest credit card.

While I realize that it’s a pretty privileged place to consider that to be a unhappy bad place financially (we could pay our bills, and we could pay for our dog’s emergency room stay), it feels so much better to now have our finances in a situation where a future emergency expense would look very different. We have a good buffer between our spending and our income every month, plus we have a lot more in cash savings, just in case.

Thanks to the last four years of diligence to create a better financial picture for us, I don’t think about our numbers daily like I did while we were readjusting our spending. Now, I have a general picture of where our spending is each month, and it’s gotten a lot more boring (in a good way). I still review them every month to make sure we continue to stay on track, but it’s more checking in on things than constantly staying vigilant to reset our spending.

We make *enough* to get by comfortably at this point (in large part thanks to a very low mortgage, paid off cars, and very little childcare expenses) that a bit of fluctuation month to month works out fine. We could definitely be saving more (see: a someday 50% savings rate), but life is best lived with balance, and we seem to have found a good balance there. SlowFI really is my jam.

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Food and Drink

Groceries are definitely more expensive, and it’s not that we’re really buying different food than in the past. Groceries are just more expensive. Even with our purposeful uptick in restaurant spending, our grocery budget has gone up noticeably.

We also spent a weekend in Leavenworth in April, and we had quite a few meals out while we were there. The town may not be known specifically for its food and drink, but it really should. We might ignore all of the souvenir and other shops downtown, but we sure do enjoy the restaurants and the natural areas surrounding the town.

Stimulus Money

The last stimulus check went to chicken coop expenses, which included another $500 at Dunn Lumber in April. Thanks to the salvaged lumber from my parents’ house, we didn’t have to spend more than that, but even the miscellaneous bits cost quite a bit. Now definitely isn’t the best time to be buying any construction materials, but it will be worth it once we finally have our chickens.

This is another one of those months where we spent more than our expense sheet below shows, thanks to the stimulus checks. Instead of showing it below on the numerator and denominator though, I’ve decided to leave it off, since it’s not a “regular” part of our finances. Other than coop stuff, we’ve spent it on extras and fun stuff (like my husband’s new archery stuff), donations, and our son’s college fund, so it feels fair to keep it outside of my tracking.

Sinking Funds vs Savings Rate

These expenses, on the other hand, I’m not sure if they should be included in the spreadsheet below. My husband’s truck had larger repairs in April, to the tune of about $2,500. These expenses were paid for by sinking funds in one of our Ally savings accounts, so it wasn’t exactly an “April” expense, and I left it off my calculations.

Perhaps I should have shown it here though? This is the first big expense that has been paid for by longer term savings in a while, so I’m struggling to decide how to code it. Any thoughts are welcome 🙂

Apr 2021Mar 2021Feb 2021Jan 2021Overall
Pet Care$117.63$219.29$156.98$261.16$755.06
Vacation Food$425.70$106.24$369.89$0.00$901.83
Savings Rate34%39%34%36%35%
Including Mortgage Principal41%46%41%43%42%
Giving %5%6%5%5%5%

At the end of the fourth month of the year, we’re sitting at a 43% savings rate for the year so far. Considering we are both working 80% time, this feels awesome. Granted, this is a higher savings rate than if there were no stimulus checks (and sinking funds), so the second part of the year will likely not look quite as good.

Regardless, it feels really good – and very strange – to be sitting in such a good financial situation more than a year after COVID began to rock our city and our country (and the world). We don’t know what the future holds, but for now, I’m content with where we’re at these days.

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.

2 thoughts on “Monthly Financial Update: April 2021

  1. Congratulations on the #SlowFI path and 80% employment. I’m glad that your family has gotten to a good place with your savings and cash flow. It’s so freeing to realize you don’t have to worry about paying for important things – no matter what your priorities are.

    As for the minutia of what/how to track – I would include the truck repairs in your spending account and saving rate. The money you spent came from saving, but savings you have from not spending it in other months. If you’re trying to calculate an annual or overall savings rate you need to include everything you spend from savings to get an accurate picture. Otherwise you end up with an inaccurate picture of your cost of living. It’s always a car repair one month, and every few years an appliance repair or you realize after 15 years maybe you do need a new mattress. By including all of these purchases, even the one paid from sinking funds, you eventually see the complete cost of your life – amortized over 5-10-15 years.

    1. Yeah, I’m thinking I’ll catch that up when I look at our overall year end spending – versus putting it in a specific month.

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