Expense Tracking

Excuses, Excuses! Our November Expenses

“Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it’s so important that we don’t rely on it.”
Veronica Roth, Divergent

[ Day 18 of 2000 ]

And that is what I am going to do now – Explain away all the money we spent in November.

Did you know that it is really hard to start saving in November? I started paying attention to our finances on November 14th. It was going pretty well, and then it was Black Friday. And Cyber Monday. Looking at all the deals around me, I suddenly remembered that I wanted a new set of Dining table/chairs, new benches for the mud room, a new Instant Pot (even though I already have one). BusyDad realizes that our TV is too small. Luckily, we didn’t buy everything. Now the next goal is to get through Christmas without buying all the items we managed to not buy.

When I first started to eat less in an attempt to lose weight, I would crave a lot of things. Just because I thought I shouldn’t eat them. It is extremely similar with saving money. Until now, we never had second thoughts. The moment we thought of something, we would buy it. Now that we decided to not spend money, I have similar cravings to buy stuff. I see blog posts from people with a natural tendency to not spend money. They have a lifetime of experience in not spending money. Sadly, not me. BusyDad is a slightly different category – He gets no pleasure in spending money, but he gets no pleasure in keeping it either. I get pleasure in buying stuff, and this feels like a withdrawal from an addiction. To tell the truth, we managed to spend more than what we normally do. And here is a screenshot from our mint account.

Not something I am proud of. But some of that is truly one-time expenses. If I can limit the number of one-time expenses, we will be okay.

We bought a snow blower for 1300+ dollars. We live in Massachusetts, around 30 miles west of Boston. We get a lot of snow, may be around 50 inches a year. A lot of that is wet snow, and the snow blower we have right now admits defeat when that happens. Having lived in Bangalore, India (no snow!) until 2013, and having lived in an apartment until mid 2015, we had no idea what snow blower to buy. In Nov 2015, I did what I normally do when I buy anything. I read a bunch of reviews, and bought a cheaper snow blower that had excellent reviews. It was an electric one, and we learnt the art of handling the cords so that it doesn’t get in the way. Together with a bit of shoveling we do pretty well. Until the town finally cleans the roads and blocks us from entering the drive way. We live on a cul-de-sac with not many homes, and our road gets plowed at the end. Many times, we would clean the drive way and go to office to come back to a solid-ish white dirty wall of snow blocking our drive way. We are not doing that again. We got us a two stage gas snow blower, hopefully it can handle the mess.

Another big expense was that my car needed new tires. I am pretty sure that it would have been fine for a few more months. But I didn’t question their recommendation. My motto has always been “better safe than sorry” when it comes to decisions like this. If I change it before it is really do, all I lose is some money. And I can afford it right now. That was another 650 dollars. To be honest, both these big expenses happened before we started trying to save money. Hence, not much thought was given about how much it cost, and whether there was a less costly way of doing it.

The expenses that I am truly ashamed of are my Black Friday purchases. I bought a new InstantPot (I don’t think it was even on a sale), and two benches for our mud room. Together, it cost around 250 dollars. These are the things I could have done without. My earlier spending habits won over my dream of early retirement.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, 250 dollars is not huge. Like BusyDad put it, I will just have to postpone my retirement by 4 hours or so. Even if I keep wasting money like this(which I won’t) and had to add 4 hours for every month of the 1982 days that are remaining, it will probably be another month or two of working. No, I am not worried about how long it will take us to build up our nest egg. What bothers me is that habits like these could rear its ugly head any time after we retire. It is too expensive in case I live a long life!

If I remove these three expenses (which would be a typical month), the total comes down to 3047.36 dollars. That amount does not include home, car and health insurance expenses, mortgage or the property tax. Those get deducted automatically from our paychecks and we don’t tell mint about it. Part of these are expenses that would go away once we stop working. 385 of those dollars were spent on child care and the house cleaning services. And we did spend about 200 dollars or so on clothes. Our food and dining expenses would go down as well since I would be cooking more. May be these would be enough to offset the expenses that I haven’t included. We would also sell one of our cars and eventually move to a place where the property taxes are not that high (We now pay close to 9000 dollars a year in property taxes!), and we would have paid off our mortgage before we retire. If we spend 3050 dollars a month on average, that would come to around 36,600 dollars a year which is below the 40,000 target that we have. But it is still too close for comfort since we haven’t included a lot of huge expenses.

The good news is that we have 1982 days left to practice living more frugally. Stay with me, this is going to be an interesting ride.

Here are our expense reports from other months:

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About BusyMom

Mom, Software Engineer, Dreamer - Can't wait to be less busy! . Please leave me any feedback you can think of. I am still learning and anything you can tell me about making this blog better is very much appreciated. .
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4 thoughts on “Excuses, Excuses! Our November Expenses

  1. Have you tried thinking about expenses in terms of how many days earlier you could retire? Ie, buy this instant pot or retire X days earlier?

    Also, hello fellow programmer! I have been toying with using Angular JS to make some cool calculators on my website. Have you thought of using your programming skills to create special things for your blog?

    1. I have tried thinking of it like that – But the answer usually encourages me to buy it 🙂 For me, it is a dangerous path to go down. Because all those days add up. What I have been trying to think is, to be able to buy such things in retirement, I would need 25 times as much in my retirement fund. That doesn’t work either because I know that I wouldn’t buy an InstantPot every month.

      I don’t have too many ideas about what to build. Have thought about it, but not too much. If you need help with building something, or if you have an awesome idea and no time to build, let me know. I will help.

  2. Hi BusyMom. Found your blog today and have been reading some of the past posts. We are similar to you in how we plan our expenses. For 2017, we used to have a total monthly budget with no restrictions by category. For 2018 though, we have prepared a budget by category. Lets see how that works out.
    You situation with the snow blowers reminds me of a post on Early Retirement Extreme – most times it is better to pay extra for quality. It ends up being cheaper overall. On your Black Friday purchases, maybe you need a reminder to read this post before 2018 Black Friday?! Just kidding. Now that you are the FIRE journey, I am sure you will bring this habit under control sooner than later. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I did stop by your blog today. Good luck with your journey.

      I have found that getting a good quality thing is usually worth it. In our case, we didn’t get the right thing the first time. The new one has been working fine now.

      That was a good suggestion. I am going to come back and read that post in November.

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