Income/Expenses For October 2011

Each month I will post my income/expenses for the previous month. I track every dollar in and out, so what you see is exactly what I earned and spent (rounded to the nearest dollar).

Income from October 2011:

$3,708–Regular Paycheck
$81–Dividends
$200–Bonus and Spiffs

Total Income: $3,990

Expenses from October 2011:

$452–Rent
$160–Student Loans
$74–Groceries
$73–Restaurants
$53–Internet
$52–Public Transportation
$44–Pharmacy
$21–Fast Food and Pizza
$40–Mobile Phone
$30–Gym
$105–Everything Else*

Total Expenses: $1,106

*The Everything Else category includes things I don’t have a regular budget for. In this case,  it was gifts. My mother and one of my sisters both share a birthday in October. I spent ($50) on an Amazon gift card for my mom and ($25) on a gift card to American Eagle, a clothing retailer, for my sister. I also bought two cards and stamps ($3). My girlfriend and I also celebrated our 2-year anniversary together. I purchased ($21) a camisole she liked and some flowers ($6).

As always, in the interest of full disclosure I like to display my income and expenses from every month for public view. This will catalog my journey to financial independence and prove that it is possible to achieve early retirement on relatively modest means.

This month was much of the same. Although these reports may come across as boring and repetitive, these budgets are the result of focused work and extremely frugal living. I’m most proud of these budgets out of everything I’m doing to attain early retirement and financial independence.

Income was great. Anytime I can earn almost $4,000 in net income in one month I feel blessed. I had a great month at work and everything went very smoothly for me. I tend to work 50+ hours per week and feel appropriately compensated for my time and skills. My total income total from this month was only $5 different from what I earned last month, which was very interesting.

Expenses were as expected. I really tried to get my expenses below the $1,100 mark, but once again I failed at that. All in all, I’m pretty proud of where everything landed. The restaurant expense was due to a nice dinner out with my significant other as we celebrated two years together. The internet expense was lower than last month, as this included only one full month and will likely be my expense total going forward. The food expenses were lower than last month, and total food expenses landed at $168, which is right under what I target.

Rent came in at $452, which is my half of our $900 rent on our 2-bedroom apartment. I pay online, and it unfortunately comes with a $2 processing fee. This expense is fairly low and I don’t see rent ever going much lower than this. My public transportation costs were higher than normal. This is due to our bus system raising fares from $0.75 per one-way ride to $1.25 per one-way ride.

One note to consider is that my expenses will likely be rising over the next couple months. I have to purchase a plane ticket to fly home to Michigan for Christmas and I’ll also have some small expenses for gifts for the holiday season. One of my sisters has a birthday in January, so there will be a small expense for that as well.

I managed to save 72.2% of my net income this month, which is fantastic. I don’t think I can improve a whole lot on this number and am very satisfied with that mark.

My goal is to average a 50% savings rate of my net income, monthly. So far, I’ve hit rates of:

52.5%-January
54.4%-February
39.9%-March
61.8%-April
35.9%-May
72.9%-June
50.0%-July
64.3%-August
69.6%-September 
72.2%-October


I am now at an average of 57.3% for the year. I’m ahead of my goal and am confident I will meet and exceed a 50% savings rate average for the year.

How are your budgets doing?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages

Comments

  1. says

    This is remarkable 72%. I probably spend 4-500 every month on restaurants.
    This is my extravagance, all my other expenses are controlled esp
    The big ones ( i drive a ten year old car.)

    Sfi

  2. says

    Sfi,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    It’s hard not to spend money on restaurants. I really enjoy eating great food, but I’m a horrible cook. Luckily, my significant other is a wonderful cook so that eases things quite a bit. Good on you for driving an older car!

    Best wishes.

  3. deedubs says

    Thanks for posting your budget — it made me think more about my own, especially given that I am in a similar situation as you. I should really do the same thing and actually mark down all my expenses each month, just to see exactly how much I spend and save.

  4. says

    deedubs,

    No problem! I hope it serves as inspiration.

    I definitely encourage setting up a budget. I’ve talked about it a few times now…the importance of budgeting. I currently have a Mint account that all transactions run through. It makes budgeting very easy and isn’t time consuming. It’s extremely easy to underestimate how much you’re actually spending and putting it all on paper will keep you honest.

    Best of luck!

  5. Jakub says

    Hey Mantra, it’s awesome to save nearly $3000. Have you consider buying a scooter? I managed to buy one for $1800 with just 1600kms. And I’ll get the money back in less than a year, because now I live in Sydney and weekly public transport ticket cost $40 or single return train ticket $4.4+. At your place it’s cheaper, but I guess in USA are scooters and petrol cheaper as well. Plus it save you time which is possible to count like extra $ :-) With 125cc you can easily drive about 130kms for 2 litres of petrol.

  6. says

    Wow! Simply amazing mantra! I still live with my parents and barely manage to save 80% each month. I hope that I do half as well as you when I venture on my own. Thanks for being so transparent with your financials! It really serves as a great guide and inspiration.

  7. says

    Very inspiring mantra. I don’t know how you manage to keep your grocery bill so low but well done. More cash for the dividend portfolio.

  8. says

    Jakub,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I have considered a scooter. I actually wrote about why I was considering one here:

    http://www.dividendmantra.com/2011/07/late-to-work.html

    The only real reason I haven’t already purchased one is safety. I live in an area with a large older demographic and due to such I’m a bit concerned with getting run over or killed. I think a small scooter would end up actually being cheaper than taking the bus and I’d also save time, as you alluded to. But, again, the safety factor is concerning. Maybe I just need to go out and do it?

    Let me know how it works out for you! I’m definitely interested in this as a possibility for myself.

  9. says

    Henry,

    Hey, if I could go back in time and stay longer at home I would. Great job on hitting 80%. I don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon..at least not until the dividend income grows significantly.

    I’m glad the transparency helps. I do it on purpose. There are so many financial “gurus” out there who write books or have T.V. shows, but don’t actually show everyone how it’s done. I like to put it all out there, and show everyone exactly how I’m doing it. It may or may not work, but at least I’m giving it my best shot.

    Best wishes!

  10. says

    DSO,

    Thanks for the encouragement. It’s appreciated.

    The grocery bill could actually be lower. If it wasn’t my slight addiction to pop (soda) I’d probably be able to save at least an additional $20/month. But, hey, you only live once! Keep in mind, I eat plenty of ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches though.

    Keep in touch!

  11. says

    Speaking of eating ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches, have you given any thoughts about the long term health effects? I know those things contain plenty of salt and MSG. I’m a total health nut and eating healthy is adds a premium to the regular cost.

  12. says

    Henry,

    Good questions. I have thought about the long-term health consequences and although I can’t really defend ramen noodles, I think there are much worse foods I could eat than PB&J sandwiches. I work out 3-4 times a week to counter some of the negative health consequences.

    In the end, I truly don’t enjoy eating vegetables and a lot of healthy food, regardless of price. My diet is as much a function of what I like to eat as it is a function of budgeting. I just really despise eating most vegetables. I wish I liked broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery and the like..but I actually hate that stuff. I’m just a college kid at heart I guess, as I enjoy burgers, pizza, cheap sandwiches and the like. Again, I work out pretty consistently to try and counter my unfortunate diet preferences. It works for me as the last time I got checked out I aced the basics.

    Hope that helps!

  13. Whit says

    Great job reaching over 70% savings rate (average in America is what, 5%?!). Henry makes a good point concerning healthy foods. It’s amazing you spend a little over $70 in groceries. When I see that number, I immediately just think sandwiches at Aldi and skim milk/cereal.

    I mean that’s just plain ridiculous/awesome to maintain that kind of budget. But at what point will the benefit of extreme frugality outweigh the costs of the results in long-term health costs. Sure, you can work 3-4 times a week, but diet is the foundation toward fitness. You made a good post about when extreme frugality may not be warranted (discussion of the cell phone plan), does it also pertain to eating healthily?

    I try to eat healthy foods (grass-fed beef, cage free eggs, fruit and veggies) and obviously I won’t be getting even close to under $100 a month with that on the menu.

    I guess maybe it’s a double edged sword. You spend too much money trying to live maintain good health, but have no financial freedom in your old age, or you save up and reach financial freedom early but keel over and die before even enjoying your financial freedom.

    I’m an avid reader and I look forward to your thoughts and the next post!

  14. says

    Whit,

    Thanks for the response. You have some great thoughts there.

    I agree with you on balance. I think you have to maintain a certain quality of life while still striving towards your financial goals. You mentioned the cell phone example, and that’s a good example where I felt trying to cut expenses too far in that category was affecting my quality of life negatively.

    It’s tough to say on the diet. I would say that I’m on this kind of diet now, which is kind of a college student diet, to save as much as possible as fast as possible. But, as I alluded to earlier, I really don’t enjoy eating “healthy”. So…it would actually, in my opinion, have a negative affect on my quality of life to significantly improve my diet in terms of eating healthy food. Again, my diet is just as much a function of saving money as the fact that I truly don’t enjoy eating certain types of foods.

    Will I continue to eat this way when I’m 40 and older? Unlikely, as my body would likely tell me well before then that it’s time to change things up.

    I’m going to write a post on this at some point in the near future. Although I do eat a lot of ramen noodles and sandwiches…I also eat takeout food, and I eat at restaurants. On the weekends I eat a normal American diet. I eat stuff like pasta, burgers, chicken-based dishes like chicken marsala and the like. My extremely cheap food is limited to the Mon-Fri routine.

    I hope this clears things up a bit for you. I think I’m going to post something soon to show exactly what I eat and how the budget arrives where it does. I enjoy being fully transparent.

    Best regards!

  15. says

    Charles,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I live in Sarasota, Florida. It’s fairly affordable here and the weather is wonderful. Also…no state income taxes. I hand-picked this location as a great location to build wealth.

    Singapore seems really nice, but also fairly expensive. I’m assuming you live there. Do you like it there?

    Take care!

  16. says

    wow! Nice job on the saving rate!

    Noticed that your rent, food/restaurants and even transportation expense is real cheap compared to where I am from (Singapore).

    Which country do you stay in?

  17. Anonymous says

    Guys, take note that the figures are in US$, so should translate into about 1.25 times Singapore dollars. Even then, the expenses are still amazingly low…From Singapore here too..

  18. Anonymous says

    Singapore is expensive but.. if you have financial knowledge and good will power, you can save pretty alot as well..

    Expenses
    1. 600 bucks on food monthly
    2. 40 bucks on public transport.
    3. 115 bucks on internet + mobile phone
    4. 500 bucks on insurance

    I think that’s the bare minimum for me so far.

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