November 2023 Expense Report

As usual, it is time for another expense report. This time for November 2023. As a heads up, this post will probably be longer than the rest.

Expenses

Housing1300
Utilities162
Groceries310
Discretionary125
Other264
Total2161

Housing

Housing was $1,300.

Utilities

My utilities for the month were $162. Now that it is colder, I’m expecting this to go up for the next few months. Although I did have to gas up my car this month.

Groceries

My groceries were $310. So close to my goal of $300. I’m going to blame it on better fruit being in season.

Discretionary

My discretionary expenses were $125. Part of this is expenses to prepare for my roommate’s wedding in December. Without that I come in at just under my goal of $100.

My goal fund currently has $190.

Next month is my old roommate’s wedding. In total I expect my remaining costs for travel and everything to be about $200-$300. This will be abnormally high for one month.

Other

My other expenses were $264. I finally gave in and decided to get a better pair of headphones. It’s nice having more than a couple hours of battery at a time and one ear bud. It was time to upgrade and I’ll probably get 2-3 years out of this pair. 4 years if I’m lucky. You could make a decent argument to me that this is really a discretionary expense.

Total

In total I spent $2,161. This is slightly above my goal of $2,100 which is disappointing. I put most of this on the headphones I picked up this month, but it was time.

Income

My income for the month was $6,714. The table below shows the sources of that income. Currently, I do not include investment income in that total.

SourceAmount ($)
Take-home4354
Retirement2350
Total6714

Account balances

Account TypeAmount
Cash16,000
Taxable81,600
Retirement66,400
Total164,000

The graph below tracks my change in net worth since I started tracking it in January 2023.

Fairly steep and to the right this month. Overall it is doing well and I’m still on track to maintain my goals this year.

Savings Rate

This month, my savings rate was: 68%. Despite going over my budgeted goal I remained above my goal for savings rate.

My average savings rate Year to Date is: 63.4.

Much like the net worth graph, the graph below tracks my savings rate month to month. This is to help me track long-term trends regarding my savings throughout the year.

I have one more month on this graph and then I’ll have to decide if I want it to be a graph just of the year or just of each individual year.

Year in Review

Since November is the month that I rebalance my accounts, I figure it’s a good time to review the year, where I’m at, where I’m going, and set next year’s goals.

Work

Let’s start with work, as I spend a good 8-9 hours there a day. It’s definitely the single activity where most of my time goes.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my job. I think reliability engineering is more in line with where I wanted to go compared to facility design. I get to solve interesting problems and it helps me learn a lot, every day something new is broken (or I’m trying to stop something new from breaking long-term). I get along well with my coworkers and the benefits that I’m getting are alright, although I would suggest some changes to some (like the 401(k)). 

According to a quick Google search I’m making about the average salary for Mechanical Engineers at my experience level. Obviously I’d like more, but I’m happy with my current salary, especially compared to the cost of living in the area.

My workload has been crazy the last few months due to staffing changes but that should ease up in the near future.

Most of my complaints are the same I’d have at just about any job: red tape, office politics, useless meetings, etc.

I could see this being a long-term job, overall it’s got a lot that I look for. Although I would still be open to trying new things if the opportunity presented itself.

Life

Let’s start with the positives. My zymurgy (there’s your word of the day) is going well, I’m planning to bottle the latest batch of mead here in the next few months. I’m happy with most of what I spend my time doing. I’m not feeling like I’m overly frugal, despite the fact others would disagree. I met some of my goals this year, that’s enough for me.

Of course we’ll have to see if this year’s batch of mead turns out alright, but I’m hopeful. There is a lot I’ve learned since last year’s batch, which was meh. Depending on how the batch goes I may even be able to try two batches this year; the melomel that I’m currently making and then I’m thinking of some kind of holiday themed metheglin, or at least getting started on the next batch.

Despite some of the things I’ll be talking about later, I think I’ve lost weight. If how well my pants fit are anything to go off of. Although I’m fairly sure the loss in weight is fairly neutral I wasn’t particularly overweight or anything.

Overall, I’m happy. I’m in a good place in that regard.

Now onto the parts that need improvement.

I kind of had a hard time keeping up with my workout goals and language learning goals, I’d fall on and off the wagon. I think I’ll need to find a better system for both of those. Doing it right after work doesn’t seem to work super well for me, if I have a rough week at work I’ll usually fall off of the wagon and it could take me a bit to get back into the swing of things. Maybe I’ll have to try both of these before work, if I can drag myself out of bed that early.

I’d also like to be able to pick up some of my other hobbies again. For the forge I just need to bite the bullet and buy the stuff so that I can spend the day getting the forge up and running again. It’s a similar story for the 3D printers, I just need to buy the stuff, sit down, and get to work.

Let’s talk about the area, Illinois is flat compared to what I’m used to back home. I miss the mountains, I don’t think I’ll enjoy staying in the area long-term. The hiking is fairly sparse, at least with an easy trip from where I am. I’ll be looking for somewhere where I can get some good elevation change and can get out to a lot more places, even if that proves to be difficult. Not to say I’d mark everywhere that’s not got mountains off of the list, I try to be open to trying just about anywhere (when I was looking for this job I even had Puerto Rico on my list of places I was applying to for instance). Otherwise, probably sometime next year I’ll start seeing what opportunities are out there with a goal to find something around 2025.

Had I not tried the move or anything similar I would have never known. I think overall, it wasn’t a bad thing. I tried Illinois and it wasn’t for me.

If I could find a slightly smaller place with roughly the same size garage that would be nice. Preferably one without a lawn. But those are about the only changes I’d make while staying in this area. I think I probably will be looking for an overall smaller place with whatever my next home is.

Financial

I thought that my goals for this year were rather aggressive. Despite that I was able to increase my net worth by almost 50% this year. WIth a few more years of data under my belt I’ll probably be able to make better goals for each year.

There’s still room for improvement of course, if I could do more to automate my savings that would be great. That would probably just require some small tweaking to my existing system.

I still have a bunch of miscellaneous investments floating around. But those will be waiting until retirement. Although with the rebalancing my 401(k) is much more streamlined. Over the next year though I’ll probably need to create a pre-tax IRA to roll over some of the older 401(k)s so that I have greater long term control over what choices I invest in.

All in all, I’m very pleased with where I am today compared to where I was at the start of the year. I’m making progress.

The Blog

I think the blog has also been helpful for me. Forcing me to write out my thoughts and stew on them a bit before I put them out there. I think I’ll probably keep it going. I may tweak some of the formats and I could probably do better with site design (such as coming up with a logo). But overall I’m enjoying it, even if I’m probably not the most knowledgeable or make errors.

The website probably has issues I’m not aware of. As I learn of them I’ll work to fix them.

I’m also still fairly confident in my stance that I won’t monetize it. I’ve got nothing to sell here.

Goals for next year

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the goals for the next few years.

GoalNotes
Net worth = $200,000 by the end of November 2024.Change ~$50,000 should be easily doable based on this year.
Net worth = $250,000 (CoastFIRE)Change ~$100,000 fairly ambitious. Most likely 2 years out
Reach Lean FIRE (NW = $750,000)Multiple years (approximately 6).
Full FIRE (NW = $1,500,000)Multiple years (Approximately 11).
Start Housing fund?To be used at or a few years after FIRE. Would extend the timeline for above two goals ~$700 a month less dedicated to retirement.
Establish GlidepathGlidepath for movement of more assets to bonds as retirement approaches.
Establish a moving fundPut some cash aside to cover moving costs in 2025, ~$5,000. To be reimbursed by signing bonus in a new position.

The biggest thing of note is that these goals are all financial. I figure no one wants to hear about me working out or trying to learn Spanish or whatever other personal goals I have.

Overall I think there are only two I need to cover here. The first being a housing fund, this will cover the costs of buying a house after I hit FIRE, maybe it will be used for a down-payment if I find an area I plan to stay in long-term. But currently the plan is, if I get started on it would be another investment account to start saving some cash to purchase a house in ~12-14 years. If I started next year it would be approximately $700-$800 every month for living arrangements in the price point I’m currently considering.

Although the exact model of this plan is not perfectly clear to me yet. Maybe I’ll just extend my FIRE target by this amount.

The second goal would be the glidepath. Currently I have something like a glidepath to begin deleveraging the risk in my portfolio by shifting some portion of it to bonds. I’m just not happy with it yet. So I’m going to try and figure out something I’m more happy with (even if it is just a flat new asset allocation 2-3 years out from retirement).

I believe the rest are fairly straightforward. Mostly just specific milestones along the way to FIRE and ballpark estimates of when I’ll achieve those.

Wrapping up

Overall, I think I’m in a good place. Probably middle to the end of next year I’ll start looking for a new position, probably another reliability engineering position in an area I might like better.

I’d like to find more positive things to say in the Life section. Part of the hard part is I talk about the things I’d put there elsewhere (doing well savings-wise, enjoying work, etc). While I’m usually a pessimist, I think things are looking up.

I have some other projects, because I don’t have enough hobbies, but I doubt they’ll launch this year.

I know this was a fairly long-post, but I think it does well to do some reflections on the year to find what worked and what didn’t work so you can continue to move forward.

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