Howdy, howdy, howdy! Look it’s another month behind us! That was quick even for February, the shortest month of the year.
I think February might be one of my favorite months. This is when the temperature starts heating up around Seattle. We start getting milder chilly weather, some bits of sunshine, some droplets of rain. It’s like a mild sampler plate of changing seasons and fluctuating temperatures. On top of that, there are three holidays in February (Vday, MLK & President’s Day) which means extra long weekend and extra days off in a month that’s already short!
There was nothing we wanted this month that we didn’t get. (Well I wanted to binge buy thousands of monopoly tickets for the thrill of a $25 movie pass…#sarcasm)
Hitting The Bottom
I found this month to be particularly interesting because of how our expenses turned out.
About 2 weeks ago, I told my husband that it would be an interesting attempt to bring the expenses we can control (non-housing related) to a bare bottom of “oh, just ballparking, like $400 a month?”
I don’t think we have hit that yet since I started writing these family budget reports.
Last month in January, we spent $741 in the categories of non-housing related expenses.
In December 2017, we were on vacation for part of the month so I’m discounting that as an outliner. But last November, we spent $865 (partially higher due to airfare for December) and so on and so forth.
I think our household clings around the $600 to $900 mark every month in non-housing related expenses.
I’m not really sure where that $400 number came from but in my head, I figured that $400 a month of living costs would be a fair challenge to tackle some frugal day. I think the $400 came from some passing statistic I heard somewhere that the average take-home, post-tax, 2-week paycheck for a minimum wage worker was about $461.
The irony is frugality is a hundred times more fun if there is no actual financial stress. I thought that as a challenge it would be ‘fun’ to see what our bottom line can be. You know, in case of the financial apocalypse.
I’ll know where in the bottom a family like ours should start from.
Anyway, I was thinking of doing that challenge someday but after hubby finished updating our budget spreadsheet a few hours ago, we realized we not only kept it under $400 this month we kept it under $300 (by a penny.)
Related: 11 Perks of Growing Up Poor
Granted February was a short month, still, we didn’t consciously plan for it. I definitely didn’t think that this month was going to be the month that we hit the testing bottom line I thought of only…like 2 weeks ago?
Since November, I started using the TablePress plugin on WordPress. It makes things easier to input and easier to read as well. I started doing decimals too for this month of February, our original set up was to run to the nearest digit. Not sure which one I prefer yet…
February 2018 Income
|Premise||Family of 3 + Pets in Pacific Northwest|
|Source||Takehome (Post Tax+Ret)|
Petting sitting Charlie (small white shih tzu) paid a little more this month because the dog’s family went on a week-long vacation up north. I sold a cutting board we never used on Craigslist too.
My husband received an extra “bonus” this month for his on-call work (which means double pay aka overtime.)
We’re having a sizable HVAC expense but that’s not being billed until March/April because the guys had to order new parts to the furnace. We are taking time off for our rental since it is a luxury vacation rental…and in the February chill, it can’t be considered luxury if our heater is busted so we’re closed for business. Soooooo…boo.
Airbnb income is almost a thousand dollars short because of the HVAC. But I’m not too bummed about that. Finding a good HVAC company was the biggest hassle here. That took an entire week to arrange.
Truthfully though, I did really enjoyed my week “off” and spent most of it being
productive playing video games with hubby.
February 2018 Expenses
|Category||Budgeted For||Actual Spent||Rollover (2018 Year to Date)|
|Vacation + Travel||$50||$0||$100.00|
|Internet||$60||N/A||Covered by employer.|
|Electricity, Gas, Water, Sewage, Trash (incld Airbnbs)||$350||$447.70||$48.05 (Billed every 2 months so it goes high/low depending on which month.)|
|Mortgage, tax, insurance etc.||$4,500||$4207.03||Airbnb guest's kids lost our FireTV stick so replacement cost was included in here just this once.|
|Spending Total||$299.99||So we lived on a little more than $10 a day basically.|
Groceries – $263
Props to us for keeping grocery costs so low. I’m starting to think shopping at Sam’s Club was more expensive overall. Since we’re only 3 people and my husband eats his meals at work…we don’t need to buy in bulk all the time, especially if it costs more.
We might just delay that Costco membership a little longer.
My dad and I are shopping at Safeway/Albertsons, Grocery Outlet and the Asian supermarket near our house.
We both have the same rule: 9 out of 10 times if it’s not on sale, don’t get it. Just don’t get it.
I also get subscribe and saves shipments monthly on Amazon for snacks that are split between our household and feeding our Airbnb guests (yes that $263 even includes feeding our guests a muffin/donut breakfast treats!)
I know that snack foods at Sam’s Club and Costco are either more expensive or around the same ballpark as Amazon’s prices when Amazon has items on sale (e-coupons) and after an extra 15% off from their Subscribe & Save program.
So if you’re a big fan of snack foods, I would give Amazon a chance. I recommend the free DealNews Android app for beginners and look out for alerts on Amazon deals.
Eating Out – $0
The first month ever, $0 in eating out. (I know, I’m scared too.)
Besides telling myself to clear out the 50 frozen beef & turkey patties in the freezer…the 3 lbs of powder mashed potatoes…the…yeah anyways, I just didn’t feel like going out in February.
Uninteresteddddd. Hubby offered to take me out on a date night as promised and I said I really wanted to clear out the freezer food instead.
Following my grocery guide, I have been very good about sticking to grocery items instead of dining out. When you aim for ZERO it’s not a sliding scale of “ohh maybe I can treat myself.” No. Zero spending is zero spending.
You know what I found out?!? After a while, you stop caring/wanting/desiring that something which sets better behaviors down the road.
Transportation – $15
We reloaded $15 for my bus fare and that’s it for the month. We had a referral credit for ReachNow that we used to drop off a friend (it was hailing that day and real friends don’t let their friends walk in ice balls falling from the sky). Do I think we would ever make it under $400 a month if weren’t car-free freaks? Noooo way. Please come soon self-driving rental cars!
Personal Care – +$34 (lol)
Our vision insurance came through and reimbursed our money so we had a positive gain in personal care. Not only did we not spend money on personal care this month, we got money back!
Please don’t think we walk around like cavemen. It’s just stockpiling. Our toilet paper supply lasted our family an entire year with 3 high occupancy, full-time Airbnbs full of guests and I think I only paid $75 for all of us last year. It was 150 rolls I think.
We have a large stockpile of personal care items. We run Airbnbs so we have to provide shaving cream, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toilet paper, detergent, different types of soap etc. Which may sound expensive but I’m a sleuthing couponer. The stockpiles I get end up covering for a good chunk of expenses.
We are both due for a haircut soon though. Jared is going back to a salon because they did a great job last time. He has curly/wavy hair and I have no idea how to cut his hair type. I can sling my haircut at home since my Asian hair is pretty easy to care for but….if he’s going to a salon, childddd, I get to get pampered too! 😛
Entertainment – $0
Entertainment…um…old video games from my husband’s Steam account. Eventually, we would need to buy a new hard-drive but we’re waiting on a good sale first.
(See…9 out of 10 times if it’s not on sale, don’t get it. Just don’t get it.)
I am slightly addicted to The Sims 3. My husband and I also spent an hour playing Tetris. He wiped the floor with me, I…I am mentally incapable of playing Tetris.
(You know if we had friends like normal extroverts…this category would probably be higher…)
Home Maintenance – $46.75
Fanciful spoils! Our 3-month fridge water filter came! It’s pretty freakin’ expensive but I can’t give up delicious drinking water. Good water steers me away from delicious soda and soda is definitely more expensive than $46.75 if you include the healthcare costs down the road.
Misc. Expenses – $0
Goose eggs! Nada! Pretty chill month. I got rid of stuff misc. stuff on CraigsList. Most of it for free just to declutter our dining room.
Pets – $8.36
We spent nothing on Grace this month. The brat gets nothing 🙂 (because we gave her everything already!)
But we bought a few treats and supplies from PetSmart for my Dad’s pet rabbit. Grace’s insurance is taken out of my husband’s paycheck the same way taxes are taken out so we don’t see it anyways.
It’s nice having a part-time doggy brother for Grace and being paid to do it is the cherry on top. Those two rascals play together, groom together and I’m noticing they’re starting to copy each other.
For example, Grace loves only going to the bathroom to drink water. I have no idea why dogs do this!! Is bathroom water better than kitchen water?!? Then Charlie started going to the bathroom to beg for water too and…I just don’t understand, it tastes the same to me! Grace also has a tendency to stretch out her front legs whenever she greets me and Charlie started doing it too.
They both have their favorite toys. I say “Go get your toy!” and they would both run and get their respective toys, then run back to me to play. So adorable.
I was thinking it would be a nice change of scenery to stop one of our Airbnbs and do a full-time doggy daycare instead. In Seattle, dog lovers dominate and it’s a working professional town so daycare (any kind really) is lucrative.
Vacation – $0
I asked hubby if he wanted to go to Disneyland, he said no. I’m not the only tightwad in the relationship…I want to go to Disneyland.
Cell – $0
I was charged for two months last month so this month was $0. I am the only one with a cell phone plan. My dad is on a government-sponsored (?) one-time payment plan grouped together with my mom (who lives in San Francisco). My husband has his phone and service covered by his employer (because he uses it more for work.)
We made it under $300 this month because we had low expenses (look how many ZEROS there are) and a good balance of reminding ourselves about using what we already have.
Next month, I’m hoping to shoot around $350-$400 and keeping our expenses low again.
February 2018 Net Worth
See…I wish I had good news. I wish I could say our hyper frugal living turned the tables around and it all paid off but that’s not how life works. Frugality softens the blow and that’s amazing but it’s not a money maker. I mentioned in last month’s update our snapshot was taken right before the 10% market correction so it was inflated. Despite all the work bonus, side hustling, not eating out – we’re still about -$2,000 short making this……………………………………………………………….our first ever red month. We’re still youngish millionaires (hooray) but let’s see where the market goes…
Most of the hit came from our brokerages naturally. We started holding onto more cash, you know, just wanted to pad on some cushion in case…especially with the untimely HVAC cost looming. I wish we were holding onto more cash so maybe we’ll see where we are at after and go from there.
Almost every professional working adult we know in real life is holding onto some sort of cash so I’m seeing a lot of nervousness. It’s not about how the market fundamentals are doing if the masses are anxious so yeah, even I’m a wee bit anxious because we wanted to sell our rental and go back to being lazy again. Hubby also trimmed the Amazon bush again and sold a few more shares of stock when it hit new highs last week.
Besides the shakiness of the overall market, there is the gift of mental framing. Instead of looking at this as a -0.196% month to month drop, in the past 2 months, we still managed to jump in the overall positive direction. My friend Soap never forgets to frame my life for me and she’s right. Most readers can tell I have a pretty laid back, comfortable and easy life…deservingly or not is up to your call. But I know for sure life is better when the small things are there to make it better. Like last week when my husband and I ran into each other while walking each dog and seeing their excited reaction when they saw each other from afar even though…they were living together and saw each other less than 30 minutes ago. Lol!
(Isn’t Grace adorable? My pupper is da cutestestestest.)
Is it bloody red net worth updates all around this month? How was your February?
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