April 2023 Expense Reports – New Categories

As usual, it is time for another expense report. This time for April 2023. This month, budget category updates.

Expenses:

Housing1352
Utilities384
Groceries297
Discretionary249
Other50
Total2,332

Housing

Housing was 1,352. Due to my landlord changing the platform for auto paying, I now am charged a convenience fee to do so, this is why the total increased slightly. I may look into credit card reward bonuses to offset this increased cost (including this category I’m finally spending enough a quarter to be able to do so) or just start writing a check and dealing with the long drive every month. Currently, I’m not getting enough reward points on the cards I am using to offset this fee.

Utilities

My utilities for the month were $384. Other than the usual $90 deposit from my utility bills, there are also my phone and auto insurance bills now, which were on kind of a weird schedule for the initial payment. I expect them to be trending downward for the next few months as it warms up since I’m not planning on using any cooling this summer if I can help it, although my lawnmower is electric. Ideally, once temperatures get warm at night my gas bills will essentially disappear until it starts to get cold again when I expect them to pick up. I just don’t know at what point in time this will occur.

Groceries

My groceries were 297. This comes in just under my goal of $300. For the next few months as it gets warmer, I’m going to switch my dinners over to salads. I’ll see how this goes for meal expenses (maybe it’ll be worth it to plant my salad stuff over the summer).

I’ll have an update on how my cost-saving methods for meals next month or the month after just to have more data to look at (I had two different dinners this month). Although I think my meal per smoothie has gone down a bit by having one less handful of frozen fruit and one more of greens. I’ve also managed to stretch some of the items that go into my trail mix for an extra week, meaning I’m buying these items every other week.

In the interest of transparency, I went to the store on April 30th to buy groceries for the first week of May. I decided not to count this trip in April’s spending, usually, I only count what purchases have been posted to my cards or accounts by the first, when I pay off all of my bills. But I did go back and forth about whether I was just making excuses to come in under my goals for spending. I can see the argument that I did purchase in April so I should include it in that month’s purchases. I’ll let others comment on how and why they would count that expense in April vs May. In total, it was $45 for that trip.

Discretionary

This is a new expense this month. I’ve found after tracking it for some time that my other expenses were a category that was too broad for my uses. So I’ve decided to rework the categories a bit from here going forwards. Instead, I’ll have my discretionary expenses which are supposed to track items I could cut out of my budget (such as non-consumable household spending such as extension cords). I’m hoping these new distinctions will help me keep better track of where my money is going. My goal for this expense category is $100 a month. I may break this category down even further as needed.

This month most of it was plant stuff, I ordered the last plant that was outstanding from last month. I also bought some pots for plants that needed them, the old pots they were in have been used for newer and smaller plants. I also include two recurring expenses in this category, one for a streaming service and another for the teas I buy every week when writing these posts. Looking ahead I’m expecting a few pots and some other household items I’ve been putting off buying to fall under this category.

Leftover discretionary expenses

Whatever is left over from this budget at the end of the month will be rolled over into a savings account to cover the expenses toward goals, vacations, or other things. I’ll treat this money as already spent so I don’t have to worry about feeling guilty spending it. I’m unsure how I’ll place these into my savings rate calculations or expenses for that month. Should it be an expense the month I pay for it or in the month I set the money aside? Maybe both? Should I count that portion as income when I set it aside or when I withdraw from this account? Should I count it in my net worth?

Currently, I’m leaning towards not counting it in expenses the month I set it aside but counting it as income for that month. Meanwhile, the withdrawals will be counted as expenses for the month the purchase would normally count towards and ignored as income when money is taken from this account. I’m also just going to count it in my net worth even if it is “already spent.” Over the long term, I’m expecting this would be indistinguishable from regular noise in how I calculate my savings rate and the average would level out.

I expect a month to cover the remaining pots for the plants I’ve already ordered and then this new method will start in full swing since I don’t think that I’ll come in under $100 for May.

This month I spent $249. I expect this to go down next month as some of the items I bought this month are one-time expenses. $120 was for the pots and about $60 for the plants.

Next month I’m expecting this to be lower. I’ve got a few household items to buy (I.E. a garden hose), some discretionary groceries (I’m going to count my fancy loose-leaf teas in this category instead of groceries), and a few small pots for the new plants.

Other

As with discretionary, this category is changing some. This will be for unplanned expenses. I shoot for an expense of $0 in this category every month. This will be for items I can’t easily avoid putting off for another month. This month it was just some outstanding expenses from my move and some maintenance supplies for my bike that I didn’t have. I currently don’t have any expenses for the other category that I know of on the horizon.

This month I spent $50 on other expenses.

In total, I spent $2,332. I’m not exactly happy with where my expenses were this month, I’d like to lower them back down closer to $2,100 a month. I expect with the pots out of the way and my new budgeting methods I’ll be able to get closer to this number.

Income:

My income for the month was $6,556. Currently, I do not include investment income in that total. I expect this to be the same every month from here on out, excluding my yearly bonus.

The table below shows what types of income I received.

Take-home4,240
Retirement2,326
Total6,556

Account balances:

Account TypeAmount
Cash16000
Taxable65,600
Retirement42,600
Total124,200

Starting this month, I’m going to start rounding down to the closest $100 for these categories. I think that at the $100 area currently there’s not crazy variation day to day. I’m sure as the value gets higher I may have to adjust this value.

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

The graph is still trending up and towards the right. Other than some weirdness between when I started this blog and the first expense report, it’s trending rather linearly right now. I’m curious when my investment returns will start to make it trend with more of a curve than it currently has.

Savings Rate

This month, my savings rate was: 64%. I want to get this number higher as my goal every month is 66% or more. I’m going to do this by, as mentioned above, breaking out some of my expenses in other ways to try and make it easier to track what I’d be able to cut in the future.

My average savings rate Year to Date is 64%. This is also lower than I’d like it to be, I shoot for a long-term average of at least 66%. I’ll have to work harder next month to hit this value over the next few months.

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.

This month I’m sitting at just below the average I want to be at. However, after I get some better tricks to help boost my savings rate a bit more, I expect it to level off a bit. I’m getting both contributions to my 401(k) and my regular paycheck.

Goal Updates

GoalTermTypeProgress
Expand Emergency FundShortOne time100
Workout 5 days a weekShortContinuousOn Track
Repair ForgeMediumOne time25
Enroll in a Spanish CourseMediumOne time0
Reduce Spending in a CategoryMediumAnnual0
Repair 3D PrintersMediumOne time25
Expand Potted GardenMediumOne time100
Net worth 150,000LongOne Time83
Learn Spanish Verb ConjugationLongOne time30
Set New Workout GoalsLongAnnualOn Track
Reach FILongerContinuous8.3
Expand Engineering SkillsLongerContinuousOn Track
Obtain some Degree of Fluency in SpanishLongerContinuousOn Track
Maintain Retirement ContributionsLongerContinuousOn Track
Increase Savings RateLongerContinuousN/A
Expand workout RegimeLongerOne TimeOn Track

As always, this table is the same as the table located here.

Most of my new plants have arrived but there are still a few outstanding that I will need to get a few more pots for when they arrive in May. Once those arrive and are potted I’ll update this one to be completed.

For working out I got back on track. While I missed a few days in April I was consistently lifting and doing my bodyweight workouts. This goal is going well.

For my 3D printers, I have an update. An upgrade recently came out for one of my printers. So I will wait on this goal until I can see the parts it will have and others I may need to order. Most likely I’ll be getting the upgrade at some point anyway. This means I’ll just be ordering the consumable for my other printer when I have room in my goals budget. This will probably be after I do my forge though as the warmer weather will make it easier to do the relining of the forge.

For Spanish it was kind of a mixed bag this month. There were quite a few days that I missed. I may play with my schedule a bit and maybe try to find different days to work on this. Maybe I’ll have two floating days I can miss as long as I make them up later rather than trying to do them during the week. Maybe I’ll start doing them in the morning instead? I’ll be experimenting.

That’s it for this month. I’ll see you all next week.

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