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).
$555–Bonus and Spiffs
Total Income: $4,684
Expenses from December 2011:
$106–Fast Food and Pizza
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:
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