Income/Expenses For December 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 December 2011:

$3,948–Regular Paycheck
$181–Dividends
$555–Bonus and Spiffs

Total Income: $4,684

Expenses from December 2011:

$474–Rent
$160–Student Loans
$62–Restaurants
$56–Groceries
$106–Fast Food and Pizza
$57–Public Transportation
$53–Internet
$44–Pharmacy
$40–Mobile Phone
$39–Everything Else*

Total Expenses: $1,096

*The Everything Else category includes expenses I don’t have a regular budget for. In this case it was gifts for Christmas and my youngest sister’s birthday. As I explained before, most of my Christmas gifts were procured from a reward program I participate in from my employer.

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.

Well, this is the last monthly budget for 2011 and it was my best one yet. I look back on the year and I can slowly see myself becoming more proficient at managing a monthly budget and I see my frugality becoming more of an everyday way of life instead of a sacrifice. It’s really wonderful!

Income was the highest I’ve ever recorded for one single month. This is because there were 5 paychecks for me in December, so my regular paycheck category is higher than usual. Also, December’s dividends were the highest I’ve ever received as my passive income continues to reach new heights. The major difference, however, is the bonus category. I received a fairly large Christmas bonus at work, which was much appreciated. That accounted for most of that category.

Expenses were pretty well in line, and I can’t complain about anything. I believe, without going through every monthly budget I have, that this is the first time I’ve spent less than $1,100 in one single month. I’m very proud of that! I’d love to get the expenses in the triple digits, but I just don’t see that happening. I think I’ve really stricken a nice balance between frugality and quality of life here and the $1,100 mark monthly is right in my wheelhouse. It takes time to find that right balance, and if you cut your budget too far you will find yourself experiencing diminishing returns. Trust me.

Food was a little higher than usual. This is due partly to the holidays. I ate a little more than usual, and ate out more than usual as well. Traveling added to that as I ate in airports coming and going. I had long layovers in Atlanta to and from Florida and ate overpriced low quality airport food. Oh, well.

I managed to save 76.6% of my net income this month. That’s a fantastic number and if I could maintain that to any regularity I’d be extremely happy. In the end, a higher savings rate will depend more on increased income than reduced expenses. My expense level is right about where I want it.

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
62.3%-November 
76.6%-December


I reached an average of 59.3% for the year of 2011. I exceeded my goal and almost hit 60%! That’s pretty fantastic for my first full year of actively pursuing a frugal lifestyle. I’m proud.

I’ll be updating my goals page to reflect the fact that this goal has been achieved. I’ll also be reviewing my goals from 2011 and also putting forth my goals for 2012 later this week. Stay tuned!

How are your budgets doing?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages

Comments

  1. says

    Bravo!!!!! Multo buono!!! Superb.

    I am doing pretty ok in the budget. This past month I trimmed down immensely. I got microfiber towels instead of paper towels, I’m making my own washing detergent, I’m having a ball.

    I downloaded aceBudget2 on the iphone, and it is a very good app. I tried that instead of Mint, it’s working for me (I got queasy about giving them my bank info).

    I mostly do my own cooking so I believe I have you beat for the food budget, I have it at about 33/week (beans, lentils, kale, veggies, chicken etc). But you’ve whomped me on rent, and of course, car…I need to pay gas and insurance. Unfortunately I will be saddled with higher expenses there than I would like for another year, but after that I could look to cut those down which will be lovely.

    Thanks for your continued output, keep up the great work.

  2. Anonymous says

    Congrats DM!! You really did well from starting in June and continuing through Dec. Nice work. Yes, a 59.3% avg. savings rate in your first year is something to be proud of!
    ExpatERE

  3. says

    Wow that is an impressive month. The best part of the budget is that you still enjoyed plenty of restaurants and pizza. If you cut a budget too far life isn’t fun anymore. Ramen noodles get old real fast.

    I’m trying to use more coupons, drink less energy drinks and quit nicotine to reduce my budget.

    I don’t know how you spend only $56 in a month on groceries that’s amazing. I average $40 a week on food plus extra for razors, shampoo, tp, etc. I have a metabolism like a jackrabbit plus I excercise 5-6 days a week, maybe it’s that? I eat 4-5 bowls of cereal for breakfast and will be starving by lunch o.O

  4. Anonymous says

    Wow! Your saving rate is amazing. You don’t even have to pay for utilities (water/electricity). Your saving rate makes my savings rate look like trash.

    At this rate of saving/investing and low expense; your should be able to get out of the RAT RACE pretty quickly. Excellent Job! Your effort is giving me encouragement to save more and to reduce my expense a lot more. Thanks for sharing.

  5. says

    Joe,

    Thanks buddy. I appreciate it!

    Man, you whooped me on the food budget. I don’t cook, and have little desire to…which does negatively affect my budget. I typically target about $180 in total food expenses a month which includes groceries, fast food and restaurant visits and I exceeded that a bit this month. In the end, I find that $30-40 more in food a month makes a big difference in my quality of life so I’m not as strict on the food budget as I was, say, 6 months ago.

    You’re doing great man. Making your own detergent and all that is wonderful. Keep it up man. Every dollar saved is an extra dollar earned, which is then producing income that will make it easier to save that next dollar. Gotta love it.

    Take care!

  6. says

    ExpatERE,

    Thanks for the encouragement. It’s much appreciated.

    Yes, 60% for the first year is pretty good and definitely higher than I thought I would hit. I’m going to set my goal for 2012 pretty soon here and see how high I can get it!

    I hope you’re hitting your savings goals.

    Best wishes.

  7. says

    Compounding Income,

    Yes, I have been less strict on food lately. 6 months ago or so I hit $119 in total food expenses (everything), which is my lowest to date. I found myself suffering because of it and my food budget has been generally trending up ever since. I mean I could probably get by on $80 a month eating nothing but sandwiches and mac & cheese, but I wouldn’t be very happy. I’ve become flexible as the budget has transformed over time. I’m still learning.

    For stuff like razors and what not, I actually spend a lot of money (relatively) on toiletries and those are all accounted for in the pharmacy budget. I use Gillette Fusion razors due to bad experiences with cheap razors and as you can probably tell from my picture I shave my head daily. So, I spend a lot of money on that stuff. But, you will notice a pharmacy expense of $40 or more every single month. That includes razors, toiletries, etc.

    Best wishes!

  8. says

    Anonymous,

    Thanks! It’s been challenging, but very rewarding.

    I actually do pay some utilities. My water bill is included in rent. My apartment is $900, which is split 50/50 with my significant other. I pay my half of water. We made a deal where I pay internet and she pays electricity. The two bills are pretty close every month, so that works out. I also pay for dinner whenever we go out, so my food budget is higher than hers. It works out pretty well/evenly for us.

    I certainly hope you’re right about exiting the rat race soon! A part of me wonders if exiting even earlier than I plan with 50% of monthly expenses covered through passive income and then just working part-time to cover the rest. Then again, the finish line really isn’t that far away. We’ll see!

    Take care and best of luck on your own journey!

  9. says

    Great job!

    I like you am a fellow head shaver, but I only shave my head once a week. I’ve tried several methods to keep razors sharp and leaving them in a glass of cheap vodka has so far been the most successful for me. I usually get an extra shave or two out of my razors.

    I just finished paying off all of my school loans and debt so I’m going to start investing soon. Love reading your advice on investing and your strategy. Hope to meet ya at the finish line.

  10. says

    Kanwal,

    Thanks for stopping by. Your support is always appreciated.

    I’m glad you find it inspiring, and yes I not only post about results…but also exactly how one could copy everything I’m doing if they were so inclined. No secrets here! :)

    Best wishes.

  11. says

    The Kechi One,

    Thanks for stopping by. Glad to see a fellow head shaver here. It certainly would be a lot easier just keeping it buzzed and what not, but one can’t fight genetics!

    Definitely hope to see you at the finish line. I’m doing my best to see it as soon as possible.

    Best of luck on your journey!

  12. Anonymous says

    i guess you dont drink alcohol – that will save you millions – but if you keep eating all that fast food and pizza your life span will be cut dramatically – how about investing in the fuel your body needs to do well just like your dividend aristorcrat companies do – you cant run on money alone
    sorry i had to mention it

  13. Just Wondering says

    Hey Mantra,

    Great post! Love the website. You got one of the most interesting blogs on dividends going.

    Just wondering where does the income for running this blog go? Above you have a Bonus and Spiffs category $555. Is this the amount you make from ads on this blog? Or how do you calculate this blogs income and do you re-invest that income as well?

  14. says

    Just Wondering,

    Thanks for your encouragement and I appreciate your support and readership.

    Any income I receive will be accounted for in my bonus/spiff income category, however this month did not include any blog income. The $555 in bonus income was mostly a Christmas bonus from my employer.

    I’ve made less than $400 from this blog since inception. I’d love to turn this into a larger source of income, but in the end I do it for the fun of it. When it ceases to become fun and inspiring to others, I’ll no longer do it…no matter how much money it’s generating.

    Best wishes!

  15. says

    DM

    Enjoy checking your blog on a near daily basis as I am picking up a lot of valuable tips. Thanks for running the site and keeping your fan base informed of your progress

    Had a look at your expenses from Dec 11 and wondering what kind of interest you pay on your student loans and when you expect to have it paid off at the current rate? Reason I ask is if you were to take a chuck of your dividen money and put it on your student loan or completely pay it off you wouldn’t have that overhead interest hitting your bottom line from your student loans.

    Example is if your interest was 4% of 25,000 that would be about a 1000 bucks in interest / year. You pay that off and it is like you are making a solid 4% on the 25K for as long as you would have had that money oweing. Then that 4% you are not paying on student loan is not subjected to taxes where I believe your dividen interest is taxible.

    It would certainly throw a wrench in your dividen income but the net difference may be to your advantage and you could meet your end goal quicker or with more money in the bank

    Again keep up the awesome work

    Cheers.

    • says

      Roger,

      Thanks for your support. It’s much appreciated! I’m glad you enjoy the blog and continue to stop by. That’s what makes it all worth it.

      My student loan interest is below 3% and it’s tax deductible. It’s probably one of the best types of debt to have, other than the fact that it’s not possible to discharge it in bankruptcy. I’m paying it off as slow as possible, as eventually when I drop out of full-time work I’ll go on a IBR plan.

      Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your support.

      Take care!

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