journey to fi: september – november 2019 spending report

Holy cow! It has been a wild few months and the blog had to go on the backburner for a bit. Justin and I were matched with a baby boy who was born 13 weeks early in August. At least one of us had eyes on him every day while he was in the NICU. He was discharged from the hospital about a month ago. Can you believe that they sent us home with a two month old going on 5 months old?! Let’s just say that we’re still adjusting to being a family of three.

All that being said, Justin and I still have a dream of achieving financial independence (FI). We’ve been on this path for quite some time. Most months, I report the percentages that we spent in each category, our savings rate for the month, and our progress towards our FI number. 

You might wonder why I’m reporting percentages and not the actual numbers. Personally, I think that percentages make a lot more intuitive sense for most people. For example, we often see general financial rules expressed as percentages such as the rule that your housing expenses should be no more than 30 percent of your gross income

I use Mint to generate the spending report and figure out our current net worth. It’s not perfect, but as Justin likes to say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” 

Going forward, I’ll discuss our top three expenses with the exception of housing and transportation. These two categories make up a fairly large chunk of our spending and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Frankly, it’s boring and I think the other parts of our spending that are variable are much more interesting to talk about.

Without further ado, here’s where we ended up at the end of November 2019.

food and dining

Food and dining expenses made up 18 percent of our spending and 20 percent of our income. 

Not surprisingly, we ate out a lot during the NICU months. We started out strong in the first few weeks, but the drama of moving to the new house and not having a refrigerator put a definite crimp in things. Eventually, the 120 mile roundtrip drive to the hospital took a toll — not to mention the really bad coffee in the family lounge — and our Starbucks consumptiom also greatly increased. I guess what I’m saying is that something had to give during a pretty stressful time.

We’re going to end the year strong though!

new baby stuff

New baby stuff made up 10 percent of our spending and 11 percent of our income. Essentially, LP’s mom has a real problem with buying exceptionally cute clothes. On the upside, LP was the best dressed baby in the NICU. I’ve started reselling the clothes that he outgrows and am using that money to buy new clothes for him. I promise to reign it in though.

I also spent money to finish getting his room and play area prepared. For his room, I got a rocking chair that has already saved my back quite a bit and some super adorable gnome pictures for his wall. His play area has a toy organizer, rug, and an assortment of toys. Since he’s little, there really isn’t a whole lot that he needs.

shopping expenses

Shopping expenses made up 6 percent of our spending and 7 percent of our income. 

One of Justin’s dreams has been ultralight camping. A few months before we got matched, one of his friends asked if he wanted to go camping and Justin jumped at the chance. The camping trip was in September. Since LP was nowhere near coming home at that point, I told him to go and enjoy himself. It was probably one of his few chances to get away for the foreseeable future.

the actual percentages

Below are the rest of the month’s spending percentages. I only include normal paycheck spending in these figures. Costs associated with house needs and updates and the adoption agency’s placement fee came out of our savings (discussed below).

progress to fi

As of this month, we are 41 percent of the way to our fi number. This is one percent higher than where we were in August despite pulling quite a bit from savings. The stock market appears to have been reasonable for us.

Since we closed on the house in August, there were a few items that we pulled money from savings for. These included having our back patio done, new appliances (washer, dryer, and refrigerator), and window coverings.

We also pulled the adoption agency’s placement fee from here. I’ll write a post at some point about the costs of adoption. Let’s just say that it’s not cheap. These should be the last of our adoption fees now that LP has been discharged from the hospital. However, since he’s a medically complex kiddo, there’s a high likelihood that we’ll be pulling from our HSA funds quite a bit in the near future.

How did your month go? Hopefully, it was calmer than our’s was!


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