Budget Update – September 2020

Today’s post is to update our budget information. It was March/April 2019 when I last wrote about our budget for living in financial independence. While much has changed in the world since then, much has also stayed the same. We still live in the same paid for house and drive paid for cars. Our only bills are those associated with living and our lifestyle choices. We have no debt (unless you count Mr. Sunshine’s braces), and that means no large house payment. Thus, we can live on fewer dollars than many others. In addition, our household is small, two adults, one golden lab (Barkley) and one very old cat.

In this post, I will contrast our budget in 2019 ($35,880) and our budget now in 2020 ($35,676). While the total spending is very similar, there are some distinct differences.

Item2019 Annual2019 Monthly2020 Annual2020 Monthly
Property Tax$2000$167$2200$183
House Insurance$800$67$900$75
Electric$2580$215$1900$160
Garbage$275$23$276$23
Food$6000$500$7200$600
Cell Phone$1800$150$600$50
Car Insurance$1875$156$1900$160
License Plates$550$46$900$75
Gas/Diesel$3600$300$2100$175
Gym Membership$600$50$600$50
Spending Money$3000$250$2400$200
Gifts$600$50$1000$83
Health Insurance$1200$100$1032$86
Tuition$5000$417
Travel$6000$500$7500$625
Mr. Sunshine Braces$2568$214
Pet meds/vet$600$50
Fitness spending$2000$167
Total:$35,880$2990$35,676$2976

While many of our fixed expenses (property tax, insurance, utilities, etc.) have stayed the same, some of our flexible spending has moved toward those things where we find value (travel and running/triathlon). In addition, we had the unexpected expense of braces for Mr. Sunshine. We have chosen to make monthly payments and keep these funds invested in our health care savings account. Finally, with our cat getting older, she has developed some health issues that require daily medications and both our animals require occasional vet visits.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the $5000 that I had planned for yearly tuition for my PhD program, has been reduced to zero. Over the past year I have written many scholarship and fellowship application letters, eliminating the cost of my entire PhD degree! The most recent fellowship that I received will cover the remainder of my tuition and fees. This is a very large bonus, without this we would likely choose not to spend as much on travel or fitness. Reducing this budget item from $5000 to zero, allows us to fill up some other categories that make our lifestyle enjoyable.

With very little difference between our 2019 and 2020 budget, it shows me that our expenses have not gotten out of control. We did make a large purchase of a new vehicle (2020 Jeep Wrangler) – paying cash. This was not in our budget and actually very out of character for our spending habits. I nearly had a panic attack when thinking about writing the check. Maybe I will write about this decision in another post, it was purely selfish and personal reasons that led to this purchase.

From here I will try to update our finances monthly. While we really do not budget, we do track our spending very closely. I have used Quicken for the past several years, and before that we used Microsoft Money (no longer available). From tracking our income and expenses, I can dig down deep into the pennies of our spending.

What I really need to do is work a bit harder at actually analyzing this data more frequently.

Cheers! See you in the next post.

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