Income/Expenses For December 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 December 2012:

$4,528–Regular Paycheck
$235–Bonus and Spiffs

Total Income: $5,216

Expenses from December 2012:

$189–Student Loans
$118–Fast Food
$28–Public Transportation
$40–Mobile Phone
$9–Everything Else*

Total Expenses: $1,189

*The Everything Else category includes expenses I don’t have a regular budget for. In this case I spent $9 on some oil for my 49cc scooter. It’s a 2-stroke and consumes it’s oil, and does require regular additions.

Income was pretty strong this month. I had a rather strong November in terms of sales, even factoring in the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m lucky to be in a city that is relatively vibrant in an otherwise down economy. Dividends for last month were my highest ever, and it’s amazing that the passive income covered such a large portion of my regular expenses last month.

Expenses were definitely held in check last month. You’ll notice no gift expenditures, even though Christmas has come and gone. That’s because I viewed it as an exchange in wealth, and actually the holiday event netted slightly in my favor. So, instead of adding up my gifts as “income” and factoring that against gifts as “expenses” I just excluded everything. It makes more sense, as otherwise it would skew my income and expenses unfairly.

Food was a tad high this past month. This is because of the holidays. I plan to bring this back down slightly going forward. If I can hit somewhere around $250 over the next few months I’d be pretty happy with that. You’ll notice a slightly high fuel bill. This is because I borrowed a car from my parents while I was in Michigan for the holidays to visit my best friend about an hour away. I filled their gas tank up on my way back home, as it was full when I took the vehicle.

Everything else, in terms of expenses, was pretty fantastic. I’m really ecstatic any time I can get my total expenses down below $1,200 in one single month. If you factor out my student loans, which is just old debt service, I actually spent closer to $1,000 to sustain myself. Pretty neat!

I managed to save 77.2% of my net income this month. That’s fantastic. It’s among one of my highest monthly savings rates ever, and I finished 2012 rather strong after a weak summer. Now that 2012 is complete, I can show you how the entire year looked like, month-by-month, below.

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

30% – January
74.7% – February 
39.6% – March
72.6% – April
55.2% – May
22.3% – June
29.9% – July
70% – August
76.9% – September
51.9% – October
79.2% – November
77.2% – December

I finished the year of 2012 with an average monthly net income savings rate of 56.6%. Pretty solid if you compare that to people my age, but way below the standard I set forth for myself at the beginning of the year. I’ll aim to improve on this number in 2013.

How are your budgets doing?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages


  1. says

    Wow, everything else is pretty cheap! Seriously, 1200$ a month is very cheap. With a rent under 500$, no wonder why you don’t want to buy a condo! Congrats. I have just done my first budget… and it’s 3 800$ a month. But for 2! Well, It’s a first one and I will try to keep it as low as 3 000 $

    good job dividend mantra!

    • says


      I’ve made some pretty good decisions over the last couple years, fortunately. I’m lucky to have been able to reduce certain expenditures down to a comfortable minimum. Of course things can change pretty quickly. I’m actually interested in diversifying my investments further, and real estate may be in the cards…so we’ll see!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best wishes.

    • says


      Thanks! I really would have loved to at least surpass 60%, but certainly being able to save over half my net income means I’m blessed.

      I’m 100% commission based. That’s why my income fluctuates so much month to month. That’s also why savings rate fluctuates, even though my expenses are relatively stable.

      I do split a 2 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend. We could probably reduce this slightly, but not much. We purposely picked this place because it’s walking distance to things we need (grocery store, shopping) and also on the bus line. I’m lucky!

      I often weigh continuing to rent cheaply against diversifying my portfolio into real estate. We’ll see.

      Best regards.

  2. Anonymous says

    That’s a great savings rate! Even though it’s not quite at the goal you set, it’s something to be proud of. I’m a bit “jealous”, as your monthly expenses are less than my monthly rent. That might be a product of where we live but I’ll also be looking to trim the fat a bit this year.
    Anyway, I’m just starting on my journey (Dividend Investing, financial freedom) and greatly enjoy reading your blog.

    • says


      Geographical location has a lot to do with rent costs, among other expenditures. I happen to live in a relatively affordable area, although not the cheapest city around here.

      I’m excited for you to just be starting the journey. That’s really a fascinating time where you’re constantly learning and forming big dreams. I hope it works out for you!

      Take care.

  3. says

    Well done DM. I think I mentioned in an earlier comment that one of the reasons I enjoy your blog is that it demonstrates that dividend investing can work for a wide range of investor types. I don’t keep track of my expenses, but I think I spent more on Starbucks in 2012 than I did on my first car! That being said, and I am fine with it. I don’t live frugally, but still manage to reach my target investment contributions and remain relatively debt free. You have a much more aggressive retirement plan than do I, and it looks like you are making excellent progress – congrats!

    • says

      Dining on Dividends,

      Living frugally is not necessary to achieve financial independence. Certainly if I made significantly more money my budgets would be much larger and more flexible. I’m not frugal by nature, but I’ve largely come to accept frugality and even enjoy it to a degree. My income and goals somewhat dictate this.

      As long as you’re reaching your goals and still having fun that’s all that matters. After all, life is short!

      Best wishes.

  4. says

    I love that a $19 fuel bill is “slightly high”

    You rock man!

    I’ve still got a ways to go until my total expenses are as low as yours, but I am also doing pretty good on the ‘rent’ front. My mortgage on a 3/2 house is $900 and I also split that with my girlfriend.

    • says

      The Money Monk,

      Haha! Thanks. Yeah, it’s funny re-reading that…but I meant it to be serious. It comes across as a bit humorous now. Sometimes I lose a bit of perspective. It wasn’t that long ago that a $19 fuel bill for an entire month would have been a dream come true! Now, it’s expensive. Funny how that changes, and of course could change again at any time. I’m extremely lucky to be riding the bus right now and saving money, but a car isn’t completely out of the cards in the future.

      That’s awesome that you’re splitting a relatively cheap mortgage with the girlfriend. You rock too!

      Take care.

  5. says

    Thanks for breaking this out it’s a good exercise to see. I do notice you don’t budget anything for yourself for entertainment which I did for about 6 months, but realized I’d rather spend $300 a month on entertainment. $300 a month is $3600 a year which is $36,000 over 10 years. I’d rather spend that $300 since it gives me, in my opinion, a much higher quality of life. Based on my current income that means I have to work 4 months longer for every 10 years i give myself an entertainment budget. A very easy trade-off for me to make! I understand I didn’t take into consideration the compounding of the 300, but I’ll be all right in any case :)

    My income is very similar to yours, maybe slightly higher, but my expenses are about $1,800.

    I also currently don’t have any set date to retire. I am just saving as much as I can, and doing whatever basically. I actually really enjoy my job and hope I continue to do so! However I do want to retire much much sooner then “traditional”. I am 26 and do plan to retire in the 40-45 range but no set age.

    Congrats and such a great savings rate and still maintaining a current high quality of life!!

    • says


      Quality of life is something that’s important to maintain and try to keep as high as possible. I’m certainly not against that. Like I said in an earlier comment, my income level and goals dictate my expenses to a degree. I did take a hiatus this past summer and spent significantly more than $300/mo on “entertainment” and largely found no great increase in quality of life. So, as anything in life – it’s all relative. I’d rather measure my quality of life in terms of how many minutes per day I have completely to myself, without having to sell it away to an employer.

      Being able to retire in that 40-45 range would be fantastic, especially if you’re not breaking your back to get there. That’s much, much earlier than most people…and some don’t ever retire at all. So keep up the great work!

      Best wishes.

    • says


      Thanks for stopping by!

      I had a pretty strong month last month to finish out 2012 strong. I’m happy and very lucky.

      Hopefully 2013 is off to a great start for you.

      Best regards!

    • says

      Headed Home,

      Thanks! I really appreciate the support. I’m extremely fortunate to have had such a wonderful year. I can only thank my lucky stars.

      I hope all is well with your move back home!

      Take care.

  6. says

    Congrats on a 77% savings rate! And a 56.6% rate for the year is still far ahead of most people. What did you average if you take out your June/July hiatus? My plan is to average 80% for 2013, mainly from increasing my income.

    • says


      You’re killing it man. You hit a 80% monthly savings rate multiple times last year, and I’ve never been able to do that. I’ve come very close, but have not been able to break that mark. I’d have to raise my income level from here fairly significantly.

      Keep up the great work! I know I won’t even be able to touch those numbers. I’d be happy with a repeat of 2012.

      Best wishes!

  7. Anonymous says

    Good afternoon DM,
    I had a question for you and all your readers. My wife and I use a 2% AMEX rewards credit card from Fidelity for all our purchases (or a 1.5% Visa at places that don’t accept AMEX). We pay off the balance every two weeks and our monthly rebates go directly against our student loans. I know the dollar amounts are minimal and not all purchases can be made using credit cards (rent, utilites, etc.) but still its money left on the table. Do you do this? Also, we started buying giftcards from various websites Cardpool, JunkCard, etc. for places we shop every month (Walmart, CVS, Target) again saving a few bucks each month and again putting the savings against student loans. Your thoughts?

    • says


      I use credit card rebates every month. I don’t spend a lot of money, so the rebates add up very slowly…but every little cent counts. I think that’s a fantastic way to raise a little extra “free” cash on the side. As long as you’re paying off the credit cards every month it’s truly free money. Keep up the great work!

      Best wishes.

  8. says

    Great job on the savings! I am currently “only” saving about 50% of my income myself. I was saving more previously but found I was living to save instead of saving to live, if you know what I mean. I must admit, I do get quite a bit of enjoyment from watching the bank account grow however lol.

    • says


      Hey, saving 50% of your income is pretty strong. I’d be very happy with being able to save that much of my net income while still living my life however I want. At that point, the journey is all gravy!

      I’m with you on that last part. I get quite a bit of enjoyment watching the dividends roll in and the net worth increase. I guess I’m easily entertained!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Take care!

  9. says


    Cheers on ending the year on such a high note! Very impressive how close you were able to come to 80%. I’m going to make 80% my target savings rate for 2013, although I’m not sure how realistic it is at this point.

    Also, congrats on a tremendous year in saving + investing. I’m sure 2013 will be even more fruitful for year as the dividend growth and compounding keep on working its magic.

    Best wishes in 2013!

    • says

      FI Fighter,

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m fortunate to have had a great year, and I had a pretty strong finish to 2012 after a lackluster summer.

      You’re doing fantastic. If you could save 80% of your net income this year, that would be simply phenomenal. I believe that’s up there with the kind of savings rate that Jacob Fisker had when he was on his way to a 5-year early retirement. Crazy stuff!

      I hope you can hit it! You’re already pretty close, so some minor tweaks and increasing dividend income will surely get you there. Keep up the great work!

      Best wishes.

  10. says

    Nice work DM!
    It looks like you were at almost 40% coverage of dividends to expenses last month. Thats outstanding!. Your’re almost halfway there!
    I need to do a similar exercise. I must confess, I haven’t taken a serious look at estimating out my expense coverage from dividends, but this is pretty motivating.

    • says


      I only wish I had 40% coverage of expenses through dividends every month! I’d consider dropping down to part-time work if that were the case. :)

      I’m sure you have a pretty large coverage of your expenses through dividends as you’re receiving such a large income source through them. I bet you’re higher than you think!

      Take care.

    • says

      Compounding Income,

      Thanks! I appreciate the support.

      2012 wasn’t as great as I had hoped it would be, but nonetheless I’m extremely fortunate that it was as good as it was. I could just as easily be struggling to pay bills and running up debt every month. I never fail to keep perspective.

      You’re doing great over there, even though your income is somewhat capped. You’ve got a monster portfolio and your dividend income is rockin’! Keep it up.

      Best regards!

  11. Anonymous says

    Congratulations on a very successful 2012! I really enjoy reading your blog, and it inspires me to save and invest.

    • says


      Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoy reading the blog and it inspires you to invest and better your financial situation. That’s fantastic. I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that this blog may inspire others.

      Take care!

    • says


      Wow! I’m honored!

      Thanks so much for that. I’m truly blessed to be in such a great community of bloggers/investors/savers. I appreciate it!

      I hope 2013 is starting off fantastic for you, and best of luck with all your goals.

      Best wishes!

    • says


      The figure you’re referencing is after taxes. I try to post my net income as often as possible. Obviously dividends are gross, but the taxes are then reflected when I reconcile taxes in Feb/Mar. So the income/expenses are net figures, overall.

      Best wishes!

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