July 2015 Expenditures
A Month Of Merrymaking
July was a month of fabulous summer hoopla for the Frugalwoods. We really lived it up and enjoyed the idyllic New England weather. The month kicked off with a breathtaking hike up Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Pierce in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This hike was so fantastic, I just had to write a post about it.
Then, we had the pleasure of hosting Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog along with his lovely wife and adorable daughter for the July 4th weekend. Opening our home to friends who are passing through town is one of our favorite things to do. Jeff and his family are the third “internet blog friends” we’ve welcomed into our abode. Meeting fellow frugal folks online and then translating those friendships into face-to-face relationships is such a fulfilling aspect of writing Frugalwoods :).
The next weekend found us jetting over to Salem, MA for our very frugal day trip, replete with a visit to a boat, a tour of a Custom House, and a stroll through the Peabody Essex Museum. Later in the month, we hiked Mt. Liberty in the White Mountains–our third 4,000 foot summit for the month. We capped off July with an all expenses paid weekend jaunt to Burlington, VT (thanks to Mr. FW attending a conference there for work and me tagging along).
The Best Part
But the very best part about our fun-filled month is that it barely even touched our spending. The primary impact to our budget was in the line item of gasoline–our multiple roadtrips (twice to the mountains, once to Salem, and once to Burlington) did pad our gasoline bill quite a bit. But despite this additional expense, we still clocked in under $1,000 in non-mortgage expenses, which is our ideal monthly spend amount.
Adhering to our $0 frugal weirdo entertainment budget is easy since we’re willing and eager to seek out free and frugal forms of amusement. There’s just no reason to pay for typical summer diversions like movie theaters, concerts, restaurants, and the like when we can frugal it up and still have a blast.
Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$e$
Mr. Frugalwoods and I use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide our below analysis for you fine people.
Tracking expenses is, in my opinion, the best way to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it. Sounds harsh, but without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a frugal must, folks.
Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital for my expense tracking.
Where’s Your Money?
One of the easiest ways to optimize your money is to use a high-interest savings account. A high-interest savings account gives you money for nothing. With these accounts, interest works in YOUR favor (as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you). Having money in a no (or low) interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:
Let’s say you have $5,000 in a savings account that earns 0% interest. In a year’s time, your $5,000 will still be… $5,000.
Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account that–as of this writing–earns 1.70% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,085.67. That means you earned $85.67 just by having your money in a high-interest account.
And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low (or no) interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person. Be the person who earns money while you sleep. Rack up the interest and prosper. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, is here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.
How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report
From top to bottom. I jest, you could read it bottom to top if you so desire, I’m not going to stop you. As regular readers know, we itemize every single dollar we spend (which is why there’s a line item for $2 this month). I do this because it’s the most transparent articulation of how we allocate our resources and managed to save 71% of our take-home pay in 2014 (not counting maxing out our 401Ks).
Interested in how we keep costs so low? Check out How We Save 65% Annually. If you’re up for some hardcore frugal adventuring, take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, and, see how we did one year later in How A Year Of Extreme Frugality Changed Us. If you’re curious about the common expenses missing from the below, our August 2014 Expense report has the answers (or feel free to ask in the comments).
Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than How We Manage Our Household Finances. Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence by age 33 and move to a homestead in the woods.
We don’t budget and instead live on frugal autopilot. This technique saves us the time and hassle of building a budget (we’re some lazy frugal weirdos). The caveat here is that many people find budgeting incredibly helpful and I in no way malign the budgeting process. If you operate more successfully with a budget, then budget away my friends.
Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in the month of July:
|Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance||$2,407.80||Yep, it’s high. But, we live in a very high COL city (Cambridge, MA) and this house will be our cash-flowin’ rental after we decamp to our rural homestead. We’re not accelerating paying down our mortgage because we have a super low interest rate (3.8%) and we’re confident our money will yield a greater return through our investments.|
|Groceries||$373.44||Slightly higher than our usual $300-$350/month for the two of us. We’ll blame it on the pregnancy ;).|
|Utilities: Water||$135.28||Standard amount for our water bill, which covers three months of use.|
|Household goods from Costco||$105.18||Household supplies (including such things as dog food, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, vitamins, and more). This total does not include any human food.|
|Utilities: Electric||$78.42||It’s electric! Boogie woogie woogie.|
|Gasoline for Frugalwoods-mobile||$73.85||One of our most expensive gasoline months on record. This is attributable to our two hikes in the White Mountains, our day trip to Salem, MA, and our roadtrip to Burlington, VT. All worthy outings to be sure.|
|Internet||$56.95||Savvy readers will note that this is lower than in prior months. That’s because Mr. FW finally prevailed in his attempts to get the company to lower our bill. Hooray!|
|Doctor visit co-pays||$32.00||Co-payments for several doctor’s appointments.|
|Utilities: Gas||$21.23||This reflects our gas bill for June–you can definitely tell we’ve had the heat off!|
|Beer||$16.74||An important part of the frugal weirdo budget ;). Since we never eat out, it’s nice for Mr. FW to have some choice beers to enjoy at home. This is the cost of 15 cans of Founder’s IPA, purchased from Costco’s liquor store.|
|Laundromat||$13.00||I conducted my annual laundromat visit to wash our master bed comforter and our big down coats in their giant front-loading washers. Kind of ironic how expensive it was given the fact that our comforter (hand-me-down) and one of the coats (great trash find) were free to begin with. But hey, cleanliness is a good thing!|
|Tolls (via our MA E-ZPass)||$11.00||Tolls (via our MA E-ZPass) for our drives out to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to hike.|
|Back-up and CDN for Frugalwoods.com||$10.21||Gotta keep the ol’ Frugalwoods.com backed up! We’re lucky that Mr. FW is a software engineer and can manage our website himself, which keeps our blog-related expenses extremely low.|
|Motor oil for car||$5.30||Frugalwoods-mobile needed a top-up of oil. I’d like to find a cheaper option for this–I’m wondering if maybe Costco sells it… we’ll have to check next time we’re there.|
|Angie’s List annual membership||$4.79||We decided to purchase an annual membership to Angie’s List, a decision I’ll explain further in a future post on home improvements. This was the discounted annual rate I secured by finding several online coupons and paying through PayPal, which saved an additional 20%. It’s always wise to search for coupons!|
|Park entrance free for hiking||$3.00||The cost of the park entrance fee for our hike up Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower.|
|Brownie while hiking||$2.00||The notorious brownie we bought at the Mizpah Springs hut while hiking Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower. Sooooo delicious.|
What do you think of our expenses? How was your July?
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