You know how sometimes you let chores and errands and obligations pile up until there's nothing left but to ignore what you want to do and take time to actually do what needs to be done? Yeah, well that's what the past week has been like for me.
I've spent most of my waking hours cleaning and repairing the house, driving around Portland to take care of troublesome tasks, and calling companies (and government agencies) to close accounts and/or clarify questions. This includes six hours I devoted to replacing the kitchen faucet. Ugh.
All this is to say: I haven't had time to work much on Get Rich Slowly during the past seven days.
That said, I have been diligently tracking my expenses. As I mentioned at the start of the year, one of my goals in 2019 is to get back to basics. I'd grown complacent over the past few years. I'd succumbed to lifestyle inflation. I want to cut back on expenditures large and small this year to bring my budget more into balance.
Let's see how I did.
January Spending Report
This month, more so than normal, I was eager to analyze my spending. I spent half an hour clicking through Quicken to see if/how my habits have changed since the first of the year. Here's what I found:
- I spent $701.01 on food in January. Of this, $211.63 was spent on dining out, $346.63 was spent on groceries, and $137.77 was spent on HelloFresh. (The final $8.98 was spent on junk food. I track how much I spend on buying crap at gas stations and convenience stores.) Last year, I averaged $1038.03 per month on food, so this is a delicious decline of 32.5% from that level. Nooice! My hope is that I can cut this even more. Even with the drop, this is way way high.
- I spent a lot on health and fitness in January. Much of this was spent to purchase a new indoor bike trainer — a stand on which I can place my road bike so that I can ride it in the house. I also bought a new yoga mat, etc.
- The pets cost us $186.63 in January. Hmmm. I didn't know they were this expensive. Seriously, I haven't been paying attention to how much our zoo costs us. What really surprises me is that our three cats cost more than the dog!
- I spent $326.08 on “sin” spending in January. That's way too much. I track how much I spend on alcohol and marijuana. (Pot is legal in Oregon, remember. I don't often use it recreationally but I do use it for sleep almost every night.) As I'll probably write about in the near future, my alcohol spending should decrease sharply in coming months. I've decided that I have a problem and I want to change when and how I drink.
- I only spent $3.99 at the iTunes store in January! This is a huge win for me. I spent less than Kim did at iTunes this month, which is crazy talk. I spent far less than the $204.85 I paid in December. How did I do this? Simple. I didn't let myself browse the new releases. (That said, when I opened iTunes the other day, I did notice that a movie I've been wanting for a long time — Willow — is now available. It took some strength to resist that. I put it on my Wish List in hopes that I'll see it on sale sometime.)
- I pumped $5141.33 into Get Rich Slowly to make up for a cash-flow crunch. We switched primary ad sources in November, and there's a gap while we wait to get in the new vendor's payment system. (Money came in last week. Yay!)
- My home value continues to decline. Zillow now says our place is worth $422,000. Nineteen months ago, we paid $442,000. Since then, we've put in about $100,000 of necessary repairs — plus another $50,000 in upgrades. In other words, our home is worth $170,000 less than we've spent on it. This whole situation remains a sore spot with me. But, as many readers have noted, because Kim and I love this place and have no plans to move, it's a sore spot that doesn't really matter. (And I'll bet some of you would be happy if I stopped bringing this up.)
If we ignore the Get Rich Slowly cash infusion, I still spent $4819.27 last month. That's about $1000 more than I wanted to spend.
Looking through my list of expenses line by line, I actually see $1034.40 of one-time expenses. So, in theory, next month my spending should be under $4000. In theory. The problem is that I suspect other one-time expenses will arise. I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm constantly rationalizing “one-time” purchases…as if there should be a $1000/month line-item just for “one-time” expenses. I hope not. But I suspect it's true.
Last month, my net worth increased by $30,617.91 (or 2.29%). That's amazing! This was all because the stock market was on a tear, though. The gains aren't due to any acumen on my part.
My goal for the first quarter of 2019 is to become more mindful about my spending. Sure, I want to slash what I can, but my main aim is to be aware of where my money goes, to track it diligently so that I can make appropriate changes going forward.
I doubt I'll post a spending update every month — I'm not sure there's much value in these for anyone other than myself — but I'll publish a few throughout the year. If all goes according to plan, by the end of December I'll have broken some bad habits and built some better ones!
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.