5 Month Update! (October 2016-February 2017 Monthly Spending Update)

It has been a while since I’ve posted, and I’ve got a ton to catch you up on. Even though I haven’t posted in a while, there has been a lot going on. The last update I gave was in September, and so in the months since then, I’ve gone on a few trips and enjoyed the holidays. Even though I put my blog on the back burner, I’ve been staying on top of my finances, and I’ve continued to read personal finance blogs.

A few of the highlights from the last five months:

  • Took trips to Nashville, Pittsburgh and San Diego for fun/holidays, and Orlando for business.
  • Got a raise, and decided the best use of the raise was to increase my 401(k) contributions.
  • I raised my 401(k) contributions for 2017 to max it out, just like I promised in my Millionaire Pledge.
  • Spent a lot more than I would like in January, so I tried embarking on a “Frugal February” to restore some of my cash accounts.
  • Continued to be making my lunches and breakfasts, and taking the bus every day to keep costs low.
  • Celebrated Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend with some home cooked steaks from Whole Foods. They were probably the best steaks I have ever made!

While my financial highlights are great, the most exciting day of the past few months is when I went to the Rose Bowl game and saw USC beat Penn State! (hence the photo above)

Five months’ worth of expense updates!

I’m not going to go through each category like I was before, just due to the number of months involved. I’ll highlight some big ticket items that I feel are worth explaining, but other than that I’ll try to keep it pretty short.

 Budget  October November December January February
Rent                  900                 900             900             900             900             900
Electricity                  120                   30                26                24                17                23
Gas                     35                     6                  6                  7                  9                10
Cable                  120                   33                33                29                33                33
Car Insurance                  125                 122             122             117             116             116
Gas & Fuel                     85                   49                52                92                57                34
Other Auto                  155                 148             144                81             105                10
Entertainment                     50                   90                16                85             165                24
Groceries                  130                 256             107                95             175             194
Restaurants                  110                 276             222             221             243                 –
Misc. Expenses                     75                 225             242             119             257                  7
Pets                  175                   27             176                74             469                 –
Shopping                     50                   31                59                 –             213                 –
Total Savings               1,690             1,627          1,715          1,975             1,062          2,468
Total Income           3,820          3,820       3,820       3,820       3,820       3,820

Savings Rate


43% 45% 52% 28% 65%


As you can see, my savings rate for the entire period is pretty much in-line with my budget, and barely creeping up each month (with the exception of January) as I discover ways to be more frugal.

October-December I was on autopilot. I wasn’t doing anything crazy, and things sort of stayed the status quo. By December I finally hit the 50% savings rate I had set a goal for in September.  However, January and February were two really big “learning” months for me.  I felt like I didn’t do anything too drastically different in January on a day-to-day basis. I still made my lunches, and I still took the bus, but my spending jumped drastically. The entire increase in spending can be quantified in 4 splurges:

  • Paid for pet boarding over the holidays. My share of boarding 2 dogs for multiple weeks cost about $350.
  • Had an old high school friend visit from out-of-town, went out to 2 dinners. Cost about $125.
  • Bought my girlfriend sunglasses as her Christmas present. Cost, about $200.
  • Bought some new furniture, and picture frames to fix up and decorate the bedroom. My share was about $200.

These 4 splurges in total, cost about $875. Without them, I would have been right around in line with every other month. I don’t regret any of the expenses, which is good, but I did learn a great lesson. You can do everything right for 27 days of the month. But in those other 4 days, if you are not careful, you can ruin your budget. It is tough to stay vigilant for the entire month, but if you can limit the damage of those off-days, you’ll be in good shape.

In February, I tried to be hyper attentive to my spending the entire month. After January’s spending flurry, I needed to rein things back in.  I’ll lay out the specifics of my “Frugal February” later, but I learned a lot about myself and my “base” level of spending at this point in my life. I wasn’t entirely frugal, but my “off-days” were missing the bus and spending $10 on parking, or forgetting my breakfast at home and getting a $2 Clif bar from the market below my office, instead of a $200 furniture shopping spree, or a $65 dinner.  My “Frugal February” was a success, as I saved much more than I had in any other month.

How has your financial journey been going the past few months? Anything new and exciting come up?



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