I lost my job at the end of March. Luckily, I had a paycheck and a half trickle in during the month of April. Additionally, I received a $1200 ‘gift’ from the United States federal government. They’re calling it a ‘stimulus check’. Given my situation, my $1200 is going to stimulate my online savings account, earning an incredible 1.55% in annual interest.
When you’re unemployed, cash becomes pretty important. Luckily, I have a good chunk.
Additionally, as a newly unemployed person, the government has got my back. (I didn’t actually receive my unemployment until July, but I have retroactively accounted for it in this expense report. Due to this, I was able to save a ridiculous amount of money this month.
This is the last month where gambling is the line item that is dominating the monthly expense report, skewing the above bar chart in the process.
We have another accounting gain in the entertainment category this month. A result of cashing out the last big chunk of cash from my political gambling account,
From November to February, I impulsively put about $14,626 towards political gambling.
In March, I pulled out $9,160 from my political gambling account
In April, I pulled out $2127.
So, I lost $3,339 in trying to predict primary elections, a 23% loss over just 4 months.
In general, my expenses were minimal this month. I had just moved to a new place a day before getting laid off from my job. And at the end of the month, I decided to move back in with my parents before figuring out my next career move. So the major expense for the month was a moving truck.
Recreational activities for the month included biking, reading, playing tennis with my roommate, and an abundance of video gaming.
Home/Rent – ($561)
An accounting gain this month. Received my security deposit back, and a utility credit. Additionally, I paid my last internet bill for my previous apartment, and bought some moving boxes.
Auto – $283
I spent $233 on a moving truck, along with $50 on gas
Transit/Travel – $0
Staying away from public transit during peak pandemic uncertainty
Health/Wellness – $0
No spending, as long as I ignore my monthly health insurance premiums
Sustenance – $157
I was able to live off my previously stocked groceries. Additionally, for the groceries I did need, I shopped at Aldi rather than Safeway (thanks to my move). Switching my grocery shopping at Safeway to Aldi is a change that’ll probably save me $1000 over the course of a year.
My Chipotle spending shot back up this month. Still lower than usual though!
Additionally, while packing up all my things in preparation for my end of the month move, I stole my roommate’s car, and got a nice crappy meal from McDonald’s.
Daily Living – $33
When shipping my laptop and laptop charger back to my (former) company, I accidentally gave them the power cord for my computer monitor. So, I bought a replacement power cord, and an additional book from Amazon.
Entertainment – ($9149)
My main entertainment expense for the month was buying some tennis balls. Additionally, Settlers of Catan is my favorite board game, so my brothers and I all bought a Catan mobile app! And the last expense in this category is an ICloud storage plan, for an entire $1 per month.
All of these expenses were covered by me cancelling my full priced Xbox Live membership. Without the power cord for my monitor, there was no way for me to play. So I stopped playing Xbox for a few weeks, got a refund for the newly billed monthly Xbox Live membership, and then rebought Xbox Live from a 3rd party source for a few bucks, weeks later when I was ready to game again.
One last time… the main story in this category is my gambling. my gambling expenses were negative to the tune of over $2000 in April, as I cashed out a significant amount of funds.
April Actual Entertainment expenses: $5.11
April Total Entertainment expenses for accounting purposes: ($2002)
Misc Expenses – $1286
No political donations this month, but I sure did owe the government money in taxes!
Pro-tip: Make sure the tax from your paycheck is being withheld properly, and being withheld from the correct state.
I withheld taxes for the wrong state for all of 2019. So I had to file two state tax returns. One to get my money back, and one to make a full, multiple thousand dollar tax payment. (The state that I lived in and did owe taxes to had a combined state and local tax rate of about twice that of the state that I did withhold for!)
Luckily, I had a small federal refund to balance things out a little bit. Nonetheless, I paid a net $1286 in taxes and tax prep fees in April. My stimulus check went straight from the federal government to a state government!
Monthly (Accounting) Savings – $8343
This would be about $6000 without my negative gambling accounting expense.
Paycheck and a half – $2000
Stimulus check – $1200
Unemployment – $4000
April Purchase of the Month:
There aren’t many purchases to choose from this month. If you’re a gamer, then I’m sure you can appreciate how good an investment a gaming console is. The price to entertainment ratio you can get out of video games, especially multiplayer online games, is in a category of its own.
Still, a pesky $10.59/month Xbox Live membership adds up to $127 a year. Multiply that by 10 years, and take into account compounding, and that ends up being an expense of thousands and thousands of dollars. Then of course, the games themselves usually cost money.
While I’ve been trying to play fewer video games, I have waves of binge gaming. I try to minimize my time spent playing alone, and maximizing my time socializing and playing with high school and college friends.
Gaming has been a blessing for me during the COVID-19 pandemic. For a ton of guys I know, it’s a good way for us to check in, joke around, and have a good time together once or twice a week.
So, I’m happy with the fact that I did not have an Xbox Live membership for the first half of the month. I’m happy with the fact that I called Microsoft, and patiently waited on the phone for 10 minutes while they figured out how to issue me a refund for that $10.59.
After all, I had no way to use said membership, why should I pay for it? Additionally, this time without the distraction of video games gave me time to dust off my resume, write some cover letters, and get applying to jobs!
When my cord arrived, a quick google search led me to much cheaper monthly Xbox Live memberships than the $10.59 monthly recurring option offered by Microsoft.
Yes, it’s better to focus on big ticket items rather than penny pinch, but in this case, I’m giving the $2.59 Xbox Live membership my prestigious ‘April Purchase of the Month’ award.
Of course, there’s always the option to buy an annual Xbox Live membership. However, I like the option of letting a monthly membership expire.
Sometimes, a gap in gaming is good for helping me realize that there’s a lot more life to be living when your eyes aren’t glued to a screen.
Of course, if you stop playing Xbox, that doesn’t mean you’ll spend your time in a productive manner. I find it easy to get sidetracked into the deep rabbit holes of reddit, youtube, and recently, online Settlers of Catan.
Getting rid of one ‘time waster’ doesn’t make all the other ones in your life disappear.
So far, despite month breaks from Xbox, I’ve always found myself coming back and enjoying playing online with my old friends.
Hope you enjoyed this month’s expense report, and I hope you’re holding up well during this pandemic.