Income/Expenses For March 2014

budgetI’ve been tracking my income and expenses online since I initiated this blog back in early 2011. I do this for a few reasons.

First, I want to prove to the world that it’s possible to become financially independent at a relatively young age even if you don’t make a lot of money. I don’t make a six-figure income. I never have and I probably never will. But it’s not necessary. Often, people focus on income too much. Expenses are just as important because if you make $200,000 per year, but spend $190,000 of it you’ll never become financially independent. Conversely, bringing home $40k and learning to get by on half of it means you’ll likely be able to retire if you want to within 15 years or so. Making less means you have less to save, but spending less means you need less to retire off of.

The second reason I do this is because I want this to be a live look at one man’s journey. You can find countless books by financially successful people, but often it’s long after they’ve completed their trek to significant wealth that they’re then telling you how they did it. It’s easy to postulate. It’s much more difficult to actually show the whole process in action, for better or worse.

And finally, knowing that every dollar I spend is going to be published for the world to see serves as reinforcement to stay frugal. There’s been more than one occasion where I decided against a particular expense after realizing I might be a bit embarrassed to write about it.

So each month I will post my income and 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 March 2014:
Day Job Paycheck$3,643
Dividend Income$709
Online Income $1,200
Other Income$54
Total Income $5,603
Expenses from March 2014:
Rent & Utilities$524
Health$511
Auto$300
Student Loans $224
Groceries$186
Mobile Phone$106
Fast Food/Takeout$81
Restaurants$74
Auto Insurance$49
Pharmacy $44
Fuel$36
Internet$30
Gym$30
Amusement$11
Everything Else*$90
Total Expenses$2,289

*The Everything Else category includes expenses I don’t have a regular budget for. For March, I spent $52 on a gift for my uncle for his birthday. I then also spent $36 as I pitched in half to replace a vacuum for our apartment. Our vacuum was no longer working, so this was an unfortunate, but necessary expense.

Income was fantastic yet again. My day job income was pretty much in line with what I made last year. This was due to some strategic planning on my part. See, my sales are being materially impacted by the new addition to our team. Knowing this was going to happen, and also realizing I was in need of a break from things at work, I scheduled my two-week vacation the very day my yearly anniversary hit on February 17th. My vacation pay is based on my previous 52 weeks of earnings, so I knew I wanted to schedule it while it was worth the most. Scheduling this vacation later in the year would have meant my pay would be based on lower earnings. So even though my sales at work were much lower in March of this year compared to what I was able to produce last March (after adjusting for time off), my vacation pay more than made up for this.

And other income sources were well above average, which helped in a big way. First, dividend income was phenomenal. This was a record-breaking month for me here, and I’m so incredibly grateful and proud of this. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I’m currently at, and I’m now reaping the rewards of past seeds sown. I won’t be receiving dividend income like this every month this year, but I’ll certainly take it when I can get it!

Online income was simply wonderful. I really can’t believe that I’m able to produce a sizable income from my writing now. This is perhaps what I’m most proud of out of all of my income. The fact that you readers are taking an interest in my journey and my words means the world to me. This income is derived from any income I generate from online activities, including income from this blog and freelance writing. This income is net of hosting costs, which were lower this month ($67) due to a credit I have on file with Liquid Web due to some issues when I first set up my account. I’m on pace to generate ~$12,000 in online income this year, which one of my goals.  Note: The LW link is an affiliate link, but I only include it because I highly recommend their services.

The other income was received as cash back rewards from the two credit cards I use. I charge every single expense I can, and then pay it all off at the end of the month. Then every few months or so I cash in my rewards as statement credits.

However, where I really scored some victories in the income department, my expenses were disappointing. Unfortunately, much of this was out of my control.

Most of my expenses here are rather normal. However, the one major increase was due to the finalizing of dental costs relating to a root canal I initiated back in January. Most of the costs were realized that month, but the remainder, due to crowning, show up here.

Food was a tad high, but not out of control. I’m actually a bit bewildered as to how I spent so much on groceries. I looked through my receipts and don’t see anything too far out of the ordinary. However, sometimes I end up stocking up on things towards the beginning or the end of one month which causes some fluctuations in my food costs from one month to another, and it looks like that’s what happened here.

The mobile phone expenses were high, but that was due to me switching services to Aio Wireless and “splurging” on a new phone. Of course, this was all done to save on mobile phone bills over the long haul, and so far I’m incredibly happy with this decision. I’m getting great service with Aio, and thanks to a reader’s suggestion I swapped the SIM card from my crappy new phone to my old iPhone 3G and it works perfectly. Thanks, torsverr.

All other spending looks pretty normal. Fuel was held in check very nicely, and I didn’t go crazy on anything.

I managed to save 59.1% of my net income this month. I feel like I’m getting back to normal here, though I also know my income from work is going to be significantly reduced going forward. Due to such, I’m considering some moves here that may cause a short-term hit to my savings rate for a long-term increase in happiness and overall well-being. In addition, I’m looking forward to lower expenditures over the summer and fall as I’m coming out of an expensive funk now that dental costs are behind me and tax season has also concluded.

My goal is to save 50% of my net income, averaged monthly. So far, I’ve hit rates of:

49.8% – January
21% – February
59.1% – March

With the first quarter behind me, I’m now at an average monthly savings rate of 43.3%. Not incredible, but it is respectable. I knew this year was going to be challenging, but I’m just going to continue putting in maximum effort. I know hard work goes a long way, and I’m not letting my foot off the gas pedal. Looking forward, I’m expecting less income from my day job, but I remain hopeful other income sources will make up for this somewhat. And I know I’ve got some spending coming up relating to a birthday celebration for my girlfriend in late April. Other than that, however, I think expenses should be fairly low for the foreseeable future.

How was your March for budgeting? Did everything go to plan?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    You are killing it!!! Around 35% of your income this money came from other sources instead of your day job… That is quite impressive for some one who works at a job and do it in about a 3-4 year window.

      • says

        Investing Pursuits,

        Thanks! I know that luck plays a big role in all of this, but so does hard work. Hard work is really underrated.

        I’m incredibly grateful to be in this position. I honestly never would have thought I’d be where I am right now four years ago. I had some dividend income projections drawn up, and while I’m ahead of those projections…I’m way ahead of my projections in terms of overall income, especially online income.

        Thanks for the ongoing support. Without readers like yourself this blog would be nothing.

        Best wishes!

        • says

          Reminds me of a quote from the movie “The 13th Warrior”:

          “Luck, often enough, will save a man if his courage holds.”

          Call it luck if you want, but things just tend to work out better for people who work relentlessly toward their goals. Great work! Keep it up and more good ‘luck’ will be coming your way.

          • says

            TMM,

            I’m completely with you. I have an article partially penned about this very subject. Luck is important, but luck typically finds those that work for it.

            Appreciate the support! Hope all is well with your journey.

            Cheers.

  2. says

    Hi Jason, and greetings from Finland! Great job here on savings, yet again. I also managed to save about half of my income. I invest little bit differently than you due to my broker having fixed minimum cost of $10 per month. One transaction cost about $0.70 so I end up buying stocks every other day. I buy lots of different stocks but usually 1 or 2 piece only. Eventhough my blog is in Finnish, you can take a look at my stocks from tab “Salkku”. Thanks!

    • says

      Viisikymppisenä eläkkeelle,

      Thanks for stopping by all the way from Finland! I really appreciate that. To know my blog is somewhat popular halfway across the world is really encouraging and inspiring.

      Great for you to only have $10/month in fixed costs to invest. I suspect that if I had low commission costs like that I’d be investing much more often in smaller amounts. Very nice!

      Best of luck as you continue your journey. :)

      Cheers.

      • Paapaa says

        I use the same broker as Viisikymppisenä eläkkeelle: Interactive Brokers. Check it out:

        https://www.interactivebrokers.com/

        Those low comissions really make it possible to diversify efficiently. I also buy stocks weekly – if not daily. IB includes all the big stock exchanges in the world. And works flawlessly.

        • says

          Paapaa,

          I’ll have to take a look at IB. I remember I looked at them a while back and there was something I didn’t like. I also didn’t know they offered a flat $10/month. I thought they charged a very small fee per share.

          Thanks for sharing. And I’m really glad IB is working out so well for you. :)

          Cheers.

          • says

            Yes, they charge minimum of $10 per month even if you would do 0 transactions. But because one transaction can cost $0.70 and currency transaction would be $2, I usually buy dollars first, and then do 12 transactions in a month with this $10 minimum fee. Good for diversification =)

          • Paapaa says

            You can do about 14 transactions paying only the minimum $10. And if your Net Liquidation Value >= $100k there is no minimum fee at all. Check the Cost Plus pricing – it is basically always cheaper than the Flat Rate pricing. They also have good mobile app.

            The only potential downside is that the trading platform takes some time to get used to – it has tons of features and everything is customizable. But eventually it is very simple to use. The Advanced Order Management is basically just a spreadsheet where you can list stocks you want to follow. Very easy to buy (and sell) and keep track of everything.

            Ok. Enough praising :)

            • says

              Paapaa,

              Hey, nothing wrong with praising. Word of mouth is wonderful! I’ll definitely take a look at this.

              The only thing I don’t like is that they don’t have physical branches, at least not that I can see. I like to have my money and stocks with brokers that have physical branches so that if need be I can stop in and say hi. I’m just old school like that I guess. However, I also know this comes at a price through the form of higher commission fees.

              Best regards!

              • Paapaa says

                Ok. I don’t see the need for that. I don’t even mind that the broker is operating from a totally different country. (I’m also from Finland…). All things can be handled via interned or phone calls. I can’t think of any reason to actually visit their office. I think a physical branch is just a useless expense in most situations. You should definitely think if you just think you need the physical access – but you actually don’t.

                • says

                  Paapaa,

                  I see how banking and money is going virtual, but I’ll gladly take B&M access when and where I can get it. But that’s what’s great about brokers and banks: many different choices for all of us. :)

                  Take care.

      • Alice says

        Hi,

        I’m also a devoted reader from Finland. I really admire your hard work and progress and I wish you all the best.

        • says

          Alice,

          Thanks so much. Your readership is valued and appreciated! :)

          And I wish you the best as well as you walk your own path. May we both experience massive success in life.

          Best regards.

  3. says

    I think you’re getting closer to FI than you give yourself credit for Jason. It looks to me like your dividend income and online income combined, covered 90% of your expenses this month. That has to feel good my friend :o)
    -Bryan

    • says

      Bryan,

      Thanks for that. Sometimes I need that reminder. I’m going through a tough phase right now with higher-than-normal expenses and some frustrations at work, but my progress is getting my very close to the point where I can just hand in my two-week notice and do something else for a while. That’s incredibly encouraging. :)

      In fact, I do have some ideas that will materially change my journey. These ideas wouldn’t necessarily lengthen my journey, but could improve my overall happiness. I’m excited to potentially shift things a bit this summer. And it’s because I’ve made so much progress so far that I’m even thinking about doing something like this. We’ll see!

      Hope all is well with the newborn and mama!

      Best regards.

  4. says

    Good looking month DM! Savings rate at 59% is still very solid. Good work. On the other hand, I think there are other passive income sources that you, me and others haven’t tapped into. Perhaps a page dedicating to this where we all can brainstorm together? What do you think?

    • says

      DividendVet,

      I’m interested in this. What did you have in mind? Is there something in particular you’d like to see discussed, and in what kind of format? Let me know!

      Take care.

  5. says

    Hey Jason, great job! Any savings rate is a positive, you’re doing great! Same boat here, trying to figure out where i can squeeze more through, groceries is definitely the biggest one this end, i do love my food though so i sacrifice other things to compensate. Online income, i got a ways to go :) lol An interesting challenge for sure. Your dividend income is rocking along, i mean you covered a little under half your expenses this month with it…i think that’s fab. Keep it up.

    • says

      Tales,

      I hear you on food. I think that’s probably the one area of my life that I make what could be defined as “sacrifices” in. While I don’t really view my life as a collection of sacrifices, I would love to eat freshly prepared food a lot more, and preferably prepared by someone other than myself!

      If I were a billionaire I know for sure I’d keep my local sushi and pizza spots profitable. :)

      Cheers.

      • says

        Yup, i hear you and i’m starving right now lol. Apologies on my math before – i seem to be on a different planet this weekend, i seem to making tons of spelling mistakes and getting my math all wrong lol. All fingers and thumbs, I meant 1/3 of your expenses are covered by your dividend income is great! I can’t wait for the day when it is covered completely, in theory that day should arrive faster due to compounding returns.

  6. says

    DM,
    Looks good. You are diversifying your income quite nicely. Its good to see you aren’t afraid to eat out and take out food every once in a while. That’s kind of a no no in the PF blogging world. We got a pizza last night and I felt guilty for a brief second, then I figured it was worth it to skip cooking and dishes for a night. We budget about $200 for ‘entertainment’ which includes eating out and take out. But some of that goes to alcohol as well. Nice month overall with the spending and dividend income.
    -RBD

    • says

      RBD,

      I’m definitely not afraid to eat out. I simply watch my portions. This helps limit both my costs and caloric intake. However, I’d probably not eat out as much as I do if I were by myself. My girlfriend – love her – insists we eat out a few times per month. If I were single again I’d probably visit sit-down restaurants very infrequently, instead choosing fast casual places when/if I ate out.

      And I don’t drink, so that probably really limits my entertainment/eating out costs. But your budget of $200 for this sounds very reasonable. I’m sure that’s well under what most Americans spend.

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the support!

      Best regards.

  7. says

    Hi DM,

    60% saving rate – this is incredible!

    I wonder whether you’re using a certain tool for tracking your costs or whether you’re just collecting every bill and record it in an excel spreadsheet. I would appreciate if you could share this info. I would be interested to do the same with my income and expenses, although I am pretty sure that I will end up at a way much lower saving rate…

    Keep up the good work!
    M-d

    • says

      MUCLE-dividends,

      Thanks so much! I finally hit a really great monthly savings rate this year. Hitting 60% used to be fairly routine for me, but it’s been tough going in 2014 so far!

      As far as tracking expenses go, I use Mint.com. It categorizes and tracks my expenses accordingly. It also will email me if I exceed my budget in any particular category, based on the amount I budgeted. I highly recommend it:

      http://www.mint.com

      Best wishes!

  8. says

    Keep patting yourself on the back, sir! The 9-5 job that you’re trying to escape may throw curve-balls and frustrate you, but this is exactly what you’re planning for. I’m so happy and proud that you’ve set yourself up so that you no longer only rely on income from your job. All your hard work is really starting to pay off. I’m excited to hear more about some other opportunities you’re considering. Thank you very much for sharing and inspiring :)

    • says

      Ryan,

      Thanks so much for the very kind words. I’m incredibly grateful to be in such a fantastic position. All of the planning and hard work over the last few years has allowed me to cushion some of the income loss at work nicely.

      Work has been really frustrating lately. I’ve never been party to a situation where the benchmarks I’m held to have increased substantially while my pay has simultaneously decreased in such fashion. It’s really unique. The constant criticism I get there due to these increased benchmarks is nothing short of disappointing.

      But I continue to focus on the things that bring me joy, like writing and interacting with so many great people that stop by. This is truly a source of great pleasure for me. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Take care.

  9. says

    Excellent work, you’re breaking records all over the place! $1200 in online income for the month is incredible. I’m sure others will point out that between your online income and dividend income you are almost in a position to cover all of your needs for the month. All of the non-work income that you’re getting must be incredibly empowering.

    • says

      Spoonman,

      I’m definitely closer to covering monthly expenses at this point than I thought I’d be. But it’s a most welcome surprise! :)

      I’ll have to stop by the ERE forums soon and check out your progress. I haven’t been there in probably a couple of weeks or so now. You guys are still targeting FI sometime around August, if I remember correctly. It’s quickly approaching!

      Hope all is well.

      Cheers.

    • says

      Young,

      Thanks so much. It’s a dream come true for me to write, inspire, and also be compensated for it. I’m really in a great spot in life right now. :)

      I appreciate you stopping by!

      Take care.

    • says

      S Arun,

      Thanks. I couldn’t do it without you readers, so thank you so much.

      Freedom is ours for the taking. We can all have it if we work for it. :)

      I appreciate you stopping by! Stay in touch.

      Cheers.

  10. says

    Goes without saying you’re doing an awesome job Jason. The fact that your online and dividend income already almost exceed your expense needs (although a margin needs to be provided for SE taxes on the online income) means you are closer than you think to being FI. Watching this journey has been phenomenal. Keep up the motivation, hard work, and chasing those big dreams.

    • says

      W2R,

      Thanks, man. As you know, your support has been instrumental in some of the things happening here. I do appreciate it.

      I think with some tweaks to my expenses I could start covering more than 100% of expenses via dividend income and online earnings. That’s really shocking and phenomenal to me. It almost seems…surreal. I fully expect my spending to decrease later this year. For one thing, my car “payment” will go away in the fall as I stop amortizing out the cost once the full purchase price has been realized through these budget reports. That will reduce my “spending” by $300/month right there. Furthermore, I think some tweaks could bring my monthly spending down quite a bit more. I’m excited! :)

      Hope all is well with you. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

      Take care.

  11. says

    Jason,

    I am glad for you that your online income & dividend income: $1200 + $709 = $1909 will cover almost 85% of your total expenses. So, instead of 12 yrs FI journey, you are much-2 closer :)

    Keep it going!

    Passive Income Mavericks

    • says

      PIM,

      Thanks. It’s really crazy right now. I never would have thought I’d be this far along a little more than four years in. I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to do thus far, but I know I still have a lot of hard work in front of me. And I’m ready for it!

      Thanks for stopping by. Keep up the great work on your end too. :)

      Best regards.

  12. Tyler Tran says

    Two Thumbs UP.

    No need to reply Mr. Mantra. Keep up the good work. Keep hustling hard. I know you do hella hard anyways.
    You’re an inspiration and Bless your soul.
    Lots of love.

    Thanks bud. Take care.

    • says

      Tyler Tran,

      Thanks. I appreciate the comment and the recent email. Like I’ve said many times before, this blog wouldn’t exist without you readers. You guys make it a really special place for me, so thank you.

      Best wishes!

  13. says

    Hi DM,

    Cracking month for Income, well done!

    I’ve read the comments above, and I’d like to echo a lot of what is being said……

    Your Online income is really impressive! For us new to blogging, it’s so inspiring and motivating to see someone earn this type of money on a monthly basis. I give you full credit for writing such an engaging and interesting blog that keeps so many people around the world interested. I would sign up to having half of your success if I could! :-)

    Your Dividend income growth is also very impressive. The increases you’re gaining year after year are proof that your strategy is working. Like others have eluded to above, it’s starting to cover a good chunk of your expenses now and FI is looking that bit more real for you. Congratulations on all of your hard work!

    Combining your online and dividend income must be very exciting for you. Your expenses are 85% covered for March…..WOW, how motivating??!!

    I hope you’re able to find more joy in your day job or if you decide to find an alternative, good luck with that process!

    Thanks for sharing this information, your monthly Income/Expenses posts are the reason I started a blog and I’ve tried to implement a similar strategy due to success I could see you having.

    Cheers
    Huw

    • says

      Huw,

      It’s extremely inspiring to me that I could make a few tweaks to the budget and pretty much cover my expenses through income that doesn’t come by way of my day job. It’s really incredible, and it’s definitely not lost on me.

      I’ve been more and more frustrated at work lately, and it seems like everything is coming together here in terms of my ability to get out of it. It’s almost like the universe is telling me something here. I don’t really believe in things like that, but it is kind of funny how so many things in my life are converging right now. I’m going to continue working hard and plowing along as long as I can. But in the meanwhile, I hope I can brainstorm up a better solution for the long haul. I value my time, but it seems like my employer doesn’t. Unfortunate, but it’s why we’re all here doing what we’re doing. :)

      Thanks for stopping by. And you’ll see my success one day too. Just keep at it. Work, work, work. The seeds you’re sowing today will grow into trees a few years from now.

      Best wishes!

  14. says

    Wow, nice savings for March, this month if you came over your 50% target. My March was quite bad, it had some one-time expenses and I ended up having to run around constantly which meant I cooked less and payed more for pre-made meals.

    I’m trying to tighten the belt as much as I can for April to make up for it, let’s see how it goes!

    Cheers,
    DividendVenture

    • says

      DV,

      I hear you. It seems like I’ll have a fantastic month, and then the very next month will be a total dud. I used to be able to be much more consistent when my expenses were much lower, but it seems like you add a little here and there and all of the sudden it’s much easier to rock the boat.

      And I’m looking forward to tightening my belt here as the year goes on. I want to get back to some serious frugality again. It’s time to bring back old school Jason. :)

      Best of luck with a frugal April!

      Take care.

    • says

      Under The Money Tree,

      Thanks so much. I don’t always knock it out of the park, but I think that’s why I like posting these updates. They’re my real life victories and setbacks as they occur. I’m only human, and sometimes I fail. But it’s overcoming mistakes and failures and learning/growing as a result that makes it interesting for me.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Cheers.

    • says

      margaret,

      Thanks so much! I appreciate the kind words. I’m even more glad you found me, as I really appreciate my readership here. I hope to continue writing and inspiring for years to come, so make sure to stay in touch. :)

      Best wishes.

  15. Ville says

    Another Hi from Finland :-)

    I reduced my mobile phone costs by 75% by starting to use WhatsApp. I wonder where that puts AT&T and others in the long run…

    Big congrats on your online income!

    • says

      Ville,

      Hey, so great to have another reader from Finland. Hope all is well on your side of the planet! :)

      Yeah, I have concerns over some of the telecoms. While I think the valuation and yields are attractive for many, I’m sticking with what I’ve got right now. I never planned on any of them being large positions anyhow.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Take care.

  16. donebyforty says

    Your net expenses are fantastic, and impressive in their own right. But I’m most impressed by your income diversity, Jason. That’s an area in which you blow by us in our household — we are really dependent on one source of income now. But we’re working on it!

    • says

      DB40,

      Thanks. It’s been a long journey filled with hard work, but I’m so glad I started it. Every day is progress. I think that’s just one thing I love about dividend growth investing. Every dividend received is actual cash I can reinvest, thereby increasing equity in a company permanently. It’s a permanent change in my wealth, vs. just looking at stock prices.

      I wasn’t overly impressed with my expenses this month, but the dental costs were completely out of my control. And in a few months I’ll be all done amortizing the costs related to the purchase of my Toyota Corolla. It’ll sure be nice to have that off the books and get back to some frugal budgets.

      Thanks for stopping by. And I wish you guys the best of luck with diversifying your income sources going forward. :)

      Cheers.

  17. says

    Very inspirational. Thank you for continuing to share your intimate financial details with the blogging community. We really appreciate your hard work in documenting your journey to FI. It will pay off for you sooner than you think, and the legacy you leave for your love ones will be awesome!

    • says

      luckydog17,

      The appreciation you guys show me makes this all worth it, I promise. I’ve gotten emails over the years that express concern over my transparency, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want theory here; I want real-life results. There’s many books out there that claim to show you how to build wealth, but I’d rather show how I’m doing it when life gets in the way. Life is much more complicated than books might lead you to believe, but I’m giving it my all. :)

      Thanks again for the support!

      Best wishes.

  18. says

    Excellent income this month (especially dividend income)! $700?? Woah! I remember when you were raking in about $50… Incredible!

    • says

      CI,

      Thanks so much, I appreciate it. And I remember those days fondly! You didn’t even have a blog back then, and now you’re kicking out some serious dividends from a $150k+ portfolio. :)

      I appreciate the ongoing support through the years. We’ve definitely grown as investors and individuals. May that growth continue!

      Best regards.

      Best wishes.

  19. KM says

    Jason,

    Great work and fantastic persistence. It is going to become increasingly difficult to resist the urge to hand in your two weeks notice as you get closer to the point were your ‘other’ income sources cover your expenses.

    My wife and I are still only at the beginning of our journey but we continue to improve. February was our best month ever and then we did even better in March. We managed to spend AUS$3400 between us for the month including rent which we were both very happy with. My wife is currently unemployed but looking hard for work but luckily I earned just under $13,000 for the month net. Certainly will help bring our dreams closer.

    Good luck and just don’t jump too soon.

    KM

    • says

      KM,

      You’re absolutely right that it’s getting incredibly difficult not to hand in my two-week notice. However, it’s not for reasons related to my increasing online income. Rather, my particular situation is just very frustrating and disappointing right now. So I’m more inclined to move laterally to something else rather than just make a go of writing full-time. However, being able to sustain myself through my writing would be a dream come true. I won’t lie about that.

      And congrats on a fantastic month there. You guys managed a very, very high savings rate, especially for just one income. I know the cost of living is higher in Australia than here in the US for the most part, but with that spread between income and expenses you guys should be able to attain financial independence rather quickly. It looks like you guys saved almost 75% of your income this month. If you’re able to keep that up you should be able to claim freedom within a decade. Keep it up!

      Best wishes.

  20. ToughMother says

    Hi DM,
    I’m NOT from Finland. ;-)

    Just a quick question to help me along with my own computations, if you don’t mind. When you share your income and expenses, regarding the “paycheck” category: is that net? after taxes and benefits and such? do you have any retirement $ taken out and do you put that back in again since it is savings really? I’d love to compute my savings rate, but am looking for some guidance.

    Thanks a mil, and I really enjoy your blog! I’ve been growing my dividend income stream over the last 2+ years and am hoping to close in on $4K for 2014.

    ToughMother

    • says

      ToughMother,

      Haha. Good to know I also have readers outside of Finland.

      My income is net of everything, including taxes and all other deductions. That’s the actual cash I took home. However, I don’t really have any benefit deductions like health care or retirement, and I’ve gone over the reasons before. Basically, the benefits at my work suck.

      Congrats on your success thus far. $4k in dividends is a very healthy income! That’s over $300 per month towards your freedom. Keep it up. :)

      Best wishes.

  21. Annie says

    Hi my name is Annie. I am really impressed with you. I put more money in my 403 b than I do my Roth. My mother thinks I should put more in Roth and less in 403b. What do you think?
    Will you retire at 40?

    • says

      Annie,

      Thanks for stopping by. And I appreciate the kind words!

      I certainly hope I’m able to retire at 40. I’m giving it my best shot, and whether or not I reach my goal will be documented here for the world to see. I certainly hope I don’t fail, but if I do then I’ll just keep going until I get there. Even becoming financially independent at, say, 44 years old would be a hell of an accomplishment.

      As far as your question goes, I’m not totally familiar with the 403(b). From what I know of them, some offer high-cost insurance annuity products, so be careful. A Roth is a no-brainer, in my opinion, and everyone should contribute if they can. If you get a match at work for the 403(b), it might be worth it just for the match, at least. At that point, you’d use both. Best of luck!

      Best wishes.

  22. says

    Where on earth do you pay $524 for rent & utilities? Do you have 4 roommates? Sorry, don’t mean to be nosy. Didn’t read through the whole site yet or all the comments.

    • says

      Dee,

      I share a two-bedroom apartment in Sarasota, Florida with my girlfriend and her young son. Our rent is $925/month, and we share the rent as well as utilities. We split everything 50/50. What you see is my half for rent, electricity, and water.

      I hope that clears that up.

      Best wishes.

  23. says

    $36 for a month of Fuel? For your car or house? I live near Boston and everything is expensive up here. All the major coastal cities seem to be getting this way – NY, Boston, San Fran, etc. My brother only lives in states where there is no income tax too. He also lives in Florida now. Do you find it makes a big difference?

    • says

      Dee,

      Well, I would move if it meant that financial independence was tough to attain otherwise. I’m just that committed. And I did move back in 2009 from Michigan to Florida. Avoiding the 4%+ state income tax from MI was just one of many reasons I moved, and I don’t regret it. However, after five years I am thinking of moving back north because I miss my family. But I’ll only move if it means I can still pursue FI with the same intensity I’m accustomed to.

      Best wishes!

  24. KensingtonMom says

    HI! Great blog – although credit goes to my husband for finding you, its the first one that he asked me to look at that I thoroughly read. We started our venture into dividend investing over the past year and slow. He gets the credit for seeing the value in this and teaching me to see it as well. We are still lacking an end game and the plan to get there. This is some inspirational reading though.

    Wondering what you use to track your Finances. You mention tracking them online monthly – wasn’t sure if you were just referring to what you post to your blog or if you might recommend a useful tool.

    KensingtonMom

    • says

      KensingtonMom,

      Tell your husband I said thanks! I appreciate the readership. And I’m glad you stumbled upon my humble little spot on the internet. :)

      I use Mint.com to track my income and expenses. Almost every single time I spend money it’s electronically tracked and sorted into the appropriate expense category. Same goes for income; although, I have to manually enter my dividends. I highly recommend Mint. It makes budgeting easy, and will email you if you go over a certain spending category.

      I hope this helps! And best of luck to you two as you continue down your path. :)

      Take care.

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