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Expenses Spending Budget Budgeting Control Decrease
in Blog, Reports, Spending

Reintroduction of the Reports

Hey, guys! I’m back with the new and improved reporting system. What this means: first, I’m going to be doing away with the past reports, as I feel they haven’t been entirely accurate of the whole picture of what is going on.

Second, I feel like they haven’t been in depth enough; I feel like I haven’t fully explained what I did in the arena to increase income, explaining fluctuations in spending, and how wealth is increasing (or debt is decreasing). I promise I will try to do a better job of this going forward.

Last, but not least, I want to start giving an account of how my time was spent. Not necessarily how I spent every minute of my day (although that may happen), but just a general overview of where I put my time, and how that is influencing things with my website(s), writing, etc, and how changing my habits going forward may allow me to do something better, or learn more.

Again, I’m going to be putting the past month’s happening at the top of each report, so if you see it on the income report and you move onto the spending report, feel free to skip it! That section will begin with…

Past Month’s Happenings

Indeed! Time to discuss what was up in September. Geesh. I seriously can’t believe October is already here. No bueno, am I right?

Well, September was a…happening month, haha (I’ll show myself out). In September, I did the following:

1. I Found Myself an Editor

I found an editor for my first short story, Sometimes It Pays, and it was awesome. The feeling of finally moving forward was amazing. It is pretty great when your work progresses another milestone. I hope this is the first of many, but I plan to share my experiences with finding the editor, in addition to the editing process, once the edit is complete. I already did this with respect to my beta reader experience. I think being able to write well, regardless of the writing, is one of the keys to financial success, after all, it is ubiquitous in our lives.

2. I Started The Official YouTube Channel of The Smart FI Sprint

It’s true! Now there is an area where you can visually see me as I yell at you not to go out and buy that shiny new bauble (but you weren’t going to do that anyway, right?). All kidding aside, I finally delivered on the promise I made to you all that I was going to branch out into the video medium. I did it and in the first week I received:

  • 73 views
  • 7 likes
  • 3 subscribers
  • 327 minutes of total watch time

That completely surpassed my expectations, and I can’t be more grateful to the people out there who watched it!

My goal with the videos I create is to try and reach more people than I normally would with just the website or podcasting.

However, like the website, I want to make an experiment of–and earn a little extra income from–Adsense. Wouldn’t you know it though? I forgot to monetize my video before all of those views started rolling in! I should’ve had a V8, amiright? But, I did that today, and I plan on seeing how that pans out in the future. I’ll probably play around with the ad structure going forward to make it as unobtrusive as possible.

3. We Got a New Car

This kind of happened in August, but since it happened close enough to September, I figured I would discuss it here. I’ve been driving Patti The Prius (yes, how my wife addresses the car) around for a little over a month now. Everything has been fantastic with it, and it has been a gas saver like no other.

I’ve been averaging 44.7 miles to the gallon, whereas when I was driving my Monte Carlo, I was averaging about half of that. This means I will be paying half as much for gas. The current tank has about 420 miles on it and counting. Can’t wait to see the savings trickle in!

As for how I’ve been spending my time over the last month, I didn’t track it, but I most likely put a larger portion of my time toward posting on the website than writing. I have plans for new works of fiction, but I also have ideas for several non-fiction works as well. So, I’m going to try and be a little more even when it comes to extra-website writing. In addition, I also put a lot of time into overhauling the website and adding newer features in, such as the contact area.

The Report

And now we finally come to the expense report:

BillsMonthly Estimates ($, USD)Monthly Actual ($, USD)Difference Between Estimate and Actual (%)Change From Last Month (%)
Car Insurance113.42136.4220.28N/A
Mobile Phone44.1630.77-11.20N/A
Internet61.9561.950N/A
Television18180N/A
Gym Membership60600N/A
Life Insurance10.7610.760N/A
Renter's Insurance12.1412.140N/A
Rent9049040N/A
Student Loans210021500N/A
Health/Vision/Dental Insurance138.14138.140N/A
Car Payment159.62159.620N/A
Groceries/Pharmacy340407.5719.87N/A
Gasoline/Car Service/Parts160173.558.47N/A
Electricity800-100N/A
Alcohol5049.27-1.46N/A
Dining Out150149.89-0.073N/A
Fast Food4035.52-11.20N/A
Personal150660.58340.39N/A
Online Business/Writing/Marketing10012-88N/A
Totals4692.245170.1810.19N/A

There were several things of note (both positive and negative) that occurred with our expenses last month. They include the following:

A New Car

Yes, I consider this a cool celebration, but also a time of mourning. It was a great experience, finding this car. However, with that car came a new monthly payment of almost $160. This tacks on a relatively expensive new monthly payment and a whole load of extra debt. I’m really not happy about that fact, but it was unavoidable. I know I could have gotten a way cheaper car, but there is always the chance I could have gotten a lemon. For the price I paid, I got an extremely fuel efficient car, that is one of the most reliable out there. The savings on gas alone should make a huge difference over the same time span of the loan.

I promised myself I would never get another auto loan. Although I decided I had to in this case, sometimes getting an auto loan might be good sense.

Auto Insurance

My wife and I got a new policy for the both of us. So, we finally took over the responsibility of her insurance from her parents. This increased our expenses by approximately another $53 per month.

On top of the new monthly payment, we also had to pay a sign-up fee of $23, a rip, right? Insurance companies, I tell ya. The one good thing that came out of the circumstance though was that we got to bundle everything together, making it cheaper overall (my monthly car insurance actually went down).

Health Insurance

My wife recently turned twenty-six, and although it happened at the tail end of July, I just wanted to bring it up here since I didn’t in a recent report. This added another $71 to our monthly expenses. This is unavoidable, unfortunately. We are just both extremely lucky we have good health insurance. I know for a large number of people rates are much higher, so I really can’t complain.

Student Loans

We recently made a decision to throw as much as possible at our highest interest rate debt, instead of trying to do a mixed pay-off. This will lead us to paying as little interest as possible in the long run. We’re now paying $1500 per month on the private student loan. After last month, we should only have about six months left until the sucker is paid off! Then we will just have to pay off our government student loans. We accidentally paid an extra $50 on loans this month, whoops! As the children say nowadays, sorry not sorry.

Dining Out/Alcohol/Fast Food

We did a much, much better job of staying in budget in these select areas than we have in months past. Since we met the budget for these various areas, the hope going forward is that we can maintain this level of spending in these areas. We want to keep decreasing spending in the fast food area. Hopefully, we can decrease the fast food budget to $0 in the future.

Electricity

We didn’t pay a dime for electricity last month! “Don,” you beg. “Please, tell us your secret to never having to use electricity, might energy wizard!” As flattered as I am, I cannot in good faith tell you I used no power. You see, we received our deposit of $150 back from the power company in the form of a credit. This applied to our bill last month (which was actually around $115), so we ended up paying nothing.

In October, the rest of the money will be applied toward our next bill, so that will be cut down as well! Having a nice financial surprise every now and then is more than welcome, I’m sure you’d agree.

Personal Budget/Expenditures

The area that killed our budget last month was personal spending. It blew away the rest of our variable spending. It was a combined $660. The budget is $150. I know, I know. I’m tearing my hair out as well, and if I let you down, I apologize sincerely for it.

Before you close your browser in disgust (understandably), allow me to explain why this was so high. Labor day weekend, we went boating on the lake south of us with my wife’s family. This required $110 from us. My wife also bought flotation devices, also commonly known as “floaties”, which was about $45. In addition to this, she got her hair done, which is a tri-yearly affair, we bought fishing licenses for the boat trip, we bought lots and lots of wedding pictures, some albums to put them in, and on and on.

So, long story short, I’m not proud of that very large number. Like two mature and loving adults, we discussed this issue, and we have agreed to not overshoot the personal budgets we have set for ourselves. If there is an upcoming purchase, we have agreed to notify the other party and discuss. We both know that financial issues are the number one cause of marital discord, so we take everything very seriously when it comes to expenses.

To climb on my soapbox, I highly suggest that all of you out there do the same if you are in a relationship or thinking about getting into one. There is never a bad time to discuss these things. However, make sure you do it in a completely rational and thoughtful manner, or else there is a very strong chance you may get no where.

Wrap-Up

Whew, this was a long one, but definitely worth it. The areas of increase in our spending are mostly from new monthly additions to the bills that we can’t avoid, unfortunately. They’ll end up adding on about $320 per month of new spending, or $3840 per year (*sobs quietly in corner*). We goofed up and spent way more on personal things than we should have in September. That will be our main area of focus going forward. However, we did get our spending under control in other areas, such as our alcohol budget, dining out, and fast food.

Have any questions about how we are spending our money, or how we are going about reducing our spending? Feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to reply. The battle to reign in spending is a never-ending one, and I wish all of you Personal Financiers the best of success!

-That Learning Guy




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