Income/Expenses For January 2012

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 January 2012:

$3,558–Regular Paycheck
$954–Bonus and Spiffs

Total Income: $4,677

Expenses from January 2012:

$189–Student Loans
$40–Fast Food and Pizza
$30–Public Transportation
$43–Auto Insurance
$40–Mobile Phone
$2,151–Everything Else*

Total Expenses: $3,260

*The Everything Else category includes expenses I don’t have a regular budget for. In this case it was largely comprised of the $1,900 I recently paid for a used 1999 Chrysler Sebring for transportation. This category also includes the costs for taxes and registration/license for the used vehicle, and also a repair bill as I had to fix a small coolant leak and change the oil. That repair bill was $92. These are obviously unusual expenses, especially for someone who hasn’t owned a car in nine months.

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.

The income was much higher than usual. This is mostly due to the inflated “Bonus and Spiffs” category. I included cash I received from my very generous and loving parents for Christmas in this category. I also received my first Google Adsense payment in a few months in January, and that was also reflected here. I also received a fairly large spiff at work due to a bonus program we were running for the month of December. Thanks to my loyal readers for the Adsense revenue! On top of all that, I also received my rewards check from my Chase Freedom credit card I opened a few months back. That was free money, baby.

Expenses were obviously much higher than normal due to the vehicle expenses. If you take out the one-time costs of buying a car and paying for registration, I would have been in the $1,100 range, which is more my norm. And, that includes gas and insurance on the car. So, overall I’m very happy with all other expenses. Food was very in-line with my expectations, and everything else was pretty normal. I’ve found this budget to be very efficient, but also allows me a pretty high quality of life. My expenses going forward are likely going to be a little more than they have been over the last few months due to the fact that I now have vehicle expenses. I’m ok with that, and having a vehicle has been nice. I enjoyed my time being without a car, but not having to lug a week’s worth of groceries for a mile is a welcome change!

I managed to save 30% of my net income this month, which is actually pretty fantastic if you consider that I bought a car and paid cash for it this month. So, I purchased a car and still managed to save well above what most citizens in this country manage. That’s a combination of good fortune, for which I’m very grateful, as well as my frugal acumen.

My goal is to average a 65% savings rate of my net income, monthly. So far, I’ve hit rates of:

30% – January

This isn’t a great start, in terms of savings percentage, for the year if I want to hit a savings rate of 65%. But it is what it is. I needed a way to get to work and home on my own terms, and the public transportation in this city was not fulfilling that need. If I’m able to hit 60% or more this year I’ll be pretty happy as 65% is fairly aggressive.

How are your budgets doing?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages


  1. says

    Have you considered your own vehicle repairs? I do all my own work on a 11 year old VW Golf with 205,000 miles I’ve owned since new. The frugal me is annoyed when I have to purchase OEM parts online like recently front suspension parts for $193. But if I had the work done at a shop I would be out probably twice that in labor.
    In any case I enjoy your blog and read it every day! Keep up the good work! I wish there were people like you where I work but sadly almost everyone is into the follow the herd mentality.

    • says


      Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoy the blog!

      I work at a car dealership, so my repairs are basically at “cost”. They are very cheap, and almost as cheap as I could do them myself, factoring in my time on a cost basis. Great job keeping up your Golf for so long. Golf’s can go forever, especially the 1.9 liter TDI versions.

      Best wishes!

  2. says

    Nice job keeping those expenses down. I’m currently at about 1400 a month (including what I would consider some fairly extravagant luxuries). The problem is I am only at about $2500 in take home pay, which doesn’t currently allow me the savings rate I am looking for. So for now my goal is to increase income. my goal is to get adsense/internet revenue to $500 a month within the next two years or so. Should be doable at my current rate of growth.

    Like the blog man, keep up the good work.

    • says

      The Money Monk,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s actually quite funny that you stopped by and commented. I just found your blog 2 days ago via jlcollinsnh which I found via Mr. Money Mustache. How small our blogging world can be sometimes! I’ll be adding you and jlcollinsnh and some of the other blogs I found recently to my blogroll.

      It sounds like you’re doing a pretty good job. It wasn’t that long ago that I had a net income of exactly what you’re earning. It was actually only very recently (2011) that I started earning pretty strong income. I’ve been working extremely hard at trying to advance my career, even if it will be a short one. I’m trying to maximize my short career ladder. Great job in keeping your expenses down. You’re saving 44% of your income, which is pretty strong.

      Keep in touch! Take care.

    • says

      That’s awesome, did he link to me? I have been checking is site out for a few minutes and it looks pretty good, I will have to start following it too.

      Yeah I got here through mr money mustaches blog in some roundabout way. As much as I like his blog and early retirement extreme, its nice to read some stuff from people who haven’t actually gotten there yet, and are working on it just like I am. I’ll be staying in touch for sure.

      I see you’re in Florida too, small world!

    • says

      The Money Monk,

      I’m not quite sure how all of that happened. I remember going to his blog, and then I somehow ended up on yours. It’s a great little community.

      I agree that it’s nice to read about people’s journeys as they are happening, rather than a “this is how I did it” type thing. That’s why I love blogging-it’s live, basically.

      So, you’re in Florida too? Good stuff! We’ll have to get some people together for a meet-up!

  3. says

    I still have the herd mentality, it’s just difficult to be different. When I mentioned something to my friends about wanting to retire in our early 40s, I just got a puzzled look and a “yeah, right” I know we will have to adjust our savings rate (currently we are at about 30%). I wonder if we’ll have to adjust our friends? It hasn’t been a problem, but if we go to a saving rate of over 50% I know it will affect our travel style and entertainment budget. It’s all about choices and yours are admirable. I also liked your post the other day about blessings and keeping it all in perspective, so important. Every time I read your income/expenses it is a little shot in the arm for me to tighten up the budget, you are doing great!

    Just think, you spent on that car what a LOT of my friends would spend on a purse, isn’t that crazy?!? **Please don’t blast me for that comment, I’m just being honest**

    • says

      Yeah I wrote on my blog a while back that the single most important trait that all successfully frugal people have is that they don’t care what people think. It’s important, but it isn’t always easy.

    • says


      Well, you have to find what’s right for you. Balancing frugality and quality of life is sometimes a tightrope act and only you know what you’re comfortable with. That’s where the “personal” in personal finance comes into play.

      There’s nothing particularly great or heroic about living frugally and striving for financial independence. I don’t think people who participate in a hyper-consumerist lifestyle are “wrong”, but it’s simply not a lifestyle I’d be comfortable with now that my eyes have been opened up.

      Thanks so much for your support. I’m really glad that these reports are inspirational for you, and give you a little push to keep walking the path to freedom.

      Best wishes!

  4. Anonymous says

    Did you consider a bike before you bought the car? Of course, I don’t know how it would look if you commuted to work on a bike when you work at a car dealership, lol. However, you sure do have the weather there for year-round bike transportation!

    What is a typical grocery list for you? Do you include a lot of fresh vegetables? I find that veggies are expensive. I’d be interested to hear what your list looks like as it might help me cut down my grocery bill.

    I enjoy your blog, keep it up, it’s quite inspiring.

    • says


      I actually purchased a bike when I sold my car last summer. I rode it to and from a bus stop that was 2 miles away from an apartment I was living in. I did that in the heat/rain of Florida summers for months. It was ok, but not a long-term realistic solution to my situation. I’m about 8 miles away from work currently, and biking to/from there would be extremely difficult. There are no sidewalks and it’s not pedestrian/bike friendly down here at all. I considered a 50cc moped and was actually quite close to buying one. In the end, safety came to mind…as having all the money in the world is no good if you’re dead.

      I’ve discussed groceries a few times on the blog, but I don’t eat as healthy as I should and I’ve been open about that. My weekly meals are usually a corn or rice based cereal for breakfast, ramen noodles or sandwiches for lunch and generally sandwiches or something light for dinner. On the weekends, the meals open up quite a bit. I’ll eat pizza, get take out Chinese etc…or we’ll go out to dinner once a month. I work out consistently to offset my lack of dietary discipline. There is room for improvement here, I’ll admit.

      Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I hope it continues to be a source of inspiration for you. Take care!

  5. says

    I’m so impressed. At first I was like “whoah, Mantra, those expenses are looking a bit high for you” and then I saw that you bought a car this month. And that you still managed to save $1400. Super impressive.

    • says

      Mustachian Acolyte,

      Thanks for stopping by. Always good to hear from you. I hope all is well as you flex your frugal muscles.

      Thanks for the support. Yeah, I was actually a little proud when I was actually able to honestly say I still saved 30% of my net income even after buying a car. Pretty crazy. Of course, my income was also fairly high due to a number of different outside income sources all coming in at one time.

      Keep in touch! Best wishes.

    • says

      Investment Road to Freedom,

      Thanks so much. I’m glad to see you recently started your own blog to chronicle your journey to financial freedom. Best wishes on your path.

      65% is certainly reasonable for a lot of people. It just depends on what you’re willing/able to do without. And, even if it proves too difficult I’m sure you’ll do great. I think the average savings rate right now is somewhere around 3% if I’m not mistaken. The fact that you’re aiming high and starting a blog shows your dedication and willingness to have an open mind.

      Best wishes!

  6. says

    Looks like we had a similar Jan, i.e. larger than normal expenses (unbudgeted), larger than normal income (unbudgeted).

    My Feb is already looking better, good luck on yours!

    I also dig the Chase Freedom reward checks a couple times a year .. they’re nice.

    btw, do you ever write covered calls on your equity investments to squeeze out a couple more percent in profit?

    – Ye Beneficial Bard

  7. says


    Yes, it does look like January was a bit of an anomaly (hopefully).

    February is already shaping up to be much better, and I’m hoping I can save at least 70% of my net income to get my average back up a bit. I know March will be rough, due to taxes.

    I don’t write covered calls and I don’t get into options plays. I like to keep things simple and I buy equities at attractive prices, based on my allocation at the moment of purchase. There’s many ways to make it more complicated and probably make more money out of it, but in the end I feel pretty comfortable about what I’m doing; i.e. I can sleep at night.

    Best wishes!

  8. Mo says

    I’m interested to see how your expenses play out over the year with the new (for you) car added in– after living without a car for a period of time. The monthly impact will be interesting to me because perhaps this is the most accurate experiment to determine exactly how much a car is “worth” to you. Good luck.

    • says


      I’m interested in this too. It’s actually kind of nice having a car again, to be totally honest. This city is so spread out and the bus was proving to be difficult to rely on. I was starting to feel a little isolated and “left out” by not having a car. I feel a little more “normal” having a car, and it’s proving to make certain aspects of my life easier.

      Waking up later and getting home earlier is nice.

      Thanks for the well wishes. They’re much appreciated.

      Take care!

  9. says


    I was looking at your food expenses adding them up. It is just $191?! How do you spend just $191 on food for a month. As that is just $6.37 per day and assuming you eat 3 meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch , Dinner) it will be $2 per meal!

    Seeing your car expense $1900. I must say that is real cheap. In Singapore the amount is at least 31 times more =(

  10. says


    Actually $191 is more than I like to spend, as I actually target $180/mo on food. To be honest though, I’m starting to be a little more relaxed on the food budget as I really enjoy eating! :)

    Well, yes I did only spend $1,900 on a car…but keep in mind that it’s 13 years old and has 135,000 miles on it. It’s very, very used.

    Best wishes for you in Singapore!

  11. says

    $1,900 for a car in cash instead of getting a loan and the traditional money sink. Nice.
    I have some coworkers who have shiny new sports cars and I have to shake my head when they later complain they have no money at the end of the month.
    Quite inspiring Dividend Mantra. Its nice to find another progress blog. I’m really liking your

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