Now that we’re settled at home, things have returned to a much more typical — albiet diffent — pattern.
Mr. Smith and I have a dream of achieving financial independence (FI). We’ve been on this path for quite some time and now feels like the time that increased accountability through reporting our monthly finances. Every month, I’ll 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 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. In addition, I’m not quite ready to discuss our actual numbers as I think that both detracts from what we’re trying to do and I want our story to be a bit more approachable.
I used Mint to generate the spending report and figure out our current net worth. It’s not perfect, but as Mr. Smith likes to say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Without further ado, here’s where we ended up at the end of December 2019.
food and dining expenses
Food and dining expenses made up 14 percent of our spending and 14 percent of our income.
It was our first month home from the hospital. I’m super proud of us for not eating out once during the entire month. Justin’s mom did treat us to delivery one night, but otherwise we cooked all of our meals.
Christmas dinner was lamb that I had bought back in October during a trip to the farmer’s market, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes. The entire meal was dairy-free and I was able to cook it in an hour and a half while Justin played with the baby. It was a definite win.
Despite food and dining being our most expensive category, after the house, it was a pretty good month for us. We spent about $500 less than the previous month and about $200 less than our 12-month average.
Justin and I have decided to go meat-free for the month of January to kick start a year of low food costs. Check back at the beginning of February to see how we did.
Kid expenses made up 11 percent of our spending and 11 percent of our income.
We got our second installment of Montikids toys (referral link where you save $40 on you first purchase). Our little boy isn’t quite ready for this set of toys yet because he hasn’t mastered the previous set, but I think he’ll get there soon.
I also got some clothes and new cloth diapers for him. He’s already wearing 3-6 month sized clothes and we needed a few things to round out his wardrobe for the moment. BumGenius was running a good Black Friday sale and having a few more diapers in our stockpile never seems like a bad idea. Once I finish replacing the elastics on the rest of the diapers that I bought secondhand, we’ll be all set.
Black Friday sales were good for us this year. I had planned on buying Justin his own kinderpack (with bigger straps) later on in the year, but kinderpack was running a “buy one, get one” sale so I did it now. On the upside, these carries tend to hold their value well and we’ll sell them once we’re done.
Lastly, I bought a sign for the front door. Since baby boy has come home, my phone has been ringing non-stop because of medical providers wanting to schedule appointments, give me test results, or just ask me questions. Not to mention the doorbell ringing for deliveries. I had enough. Hopefully the sign will help…
gifts and donations expenses
Gifts and donations made up 11 percent of our spending and 11 percent of our income.
About half went towards a donation to the Ronald McDonald House. Once the weather got a bit too unpredictable for my tastes, I started staying at the RMH full-time. I was there for a full month before baby boy was discharged. If you’re not aware, the RMH provides a free place for families to stay while their kid is in the hospital. Other than a sick kid, the only requirement is that your home be 20 miles or more away. Our house was 60 miles away.
For the first few months, I did the drive daily. There was something nice about being able to sleep in my own bed every night, see Justin, and cudddle the dog. It gave a small sense of normalcy to a very odd situation. Once baby boy was discharged, we made a donation to the charity in a “pay it forward” way.
The other half went towards Christmas gifts for all of the children in our life. Every year, we send books to all of the kids that we know. It’s a fun tradition that we have and will keep going for the foreseeable future.
the actual percentages
We only include paycheck spending in this section as there were some expenses related to the adoption that we paid for out of savings.
Overall, the month was fairly typical for us. Now that we’re all home, we can focus on tightening up our budget and figuring out how to crush our 2020 goals.
progress to fi
As of this month, we are 43 percent of the way to our fi number. This is two percent higher than last month.
We did pull a bit from our savings to pay for our last (hopefully) adoption fee. The way our agency does things, is that you pay a fee when you’re matched with a child and another fee when a child is placed with you. I’ll do a post about the costs of adoption once the dust settles and I know how much we actually paid when you factor in tax credits and whatnot.
As of now, we have no big spending plans for 2020. I imagine that we’ll make good progress in this area in the upcoming year.
How did your month go?