My saving grace this month was a $400 bank account opening bonus. This additional income propelled my savings rate from a mediocre 18%, to a more acceptable 29%. The best part about it was that opening this account, and changing my direct deposit to this account for my bi-weekly paycheck took no more than an hour of my time. Let’s round up and assume I spent 2 hours setting up and managing this bank account. That’s still a pre-tax hourly pay rate of $200/hour. Sweet!
However, this $400 of additional income was NOT enough for my tower of savings to surpass my rent and utilities for the month. Month over month, rent and utilities continue to be a massive expense. Perhaps my relatively low levels of spending outside of rent is pennywise and pound foolish. My rent is consistently about 50% of my monthly expenses. I would gain significantly, and could afford to spend more on fancy cheeses and other groceries if I had a slightly less luxurious living situation.
For now, let’s dig through July’s line items:
Home/Rent – $1191
Rent – $1083
Internet – $40
Other utilities – $59
Auto – $369
Car Payments – $319
Gasoline/Fuel – $45
Parking/Fines – $5
By chance, $45 is the same exact amount I spent on gas last month! Additionally, I paid $5 for parking during my trip to Denver. I’m thinking about paying off the entirety of my auto loan, selling my expensive new car, and purchasing an older, more affordable vehicle for my income level. This would also allow me to stop paying for collision/comprehensive insurance, which is required when buying a car with a loan (and completely makes sense when your car is relatively new and expensive). More on this in the future. This potential change is simply speculation as of now.
Transit/Travel – $206
Flights – $196
Metro/Bus – $10
I had a good old friend of mine throw his birthday party more than halfway across the country from where I was. I initially declined the invitation, but thanks to some convincing from a mutual friend, I impulse bought my flights across the country for a weekend visit, just three days before actually flying out. The visit ended up being action packed and tons of fun. I saw 10+ old friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen in about a year’s time. Additionally, I got to surprise the birthday boy, after initially rejecting his invite.
In the end, this lavish last minute weekend travel experience was enjoyable, and not ridiculously expensive. My flights ended up totaling $196, and my travel to and from the airport via regional bus totaled $10. Without this trip, my (non-car) transit/travel spending would have been zero for the month. No regrets, except for my Monday at work after a red-eye flight back to the east coast.
Health/Wellness – $0
(I am ignoring my monthly health insurance premiums here)
Sustenance – $169
July was another low-spend month for sustenance. The $51 in alcohol (officially accounted for in my entertainment category) was almost exclusively due to purchasing alcohol for my buddy’s birthday party in Denver. I didn’t get reimbursed for most of the alcohol I bought, but everybody had fun and that’s what’s really important.When it comes down to it, I can easily afford such an expense. As for food, I spent only $79 on groceries, and almost matched my grocery spending with Chipotle spending of $67!
Unfortunately, I’m still spending money on fast food: $23 this month, from one trip to Domino’s Pizza and a few small McDonald’s trips. Occasionally indulging in cheap convenience fast food continues to be a weakness of mine, despite knowing that these foods are bad for my immediate and future health.
Daily Living – $91
After doing inventory on my underwear stockpile, I noticed quite a few that were frankly falling apart. Holes, overstretched waist bands. Boxer briefs that I have worn for years have slowly loosened and become boxers. Whether this degradation is caused by general wear and tear or excessive dryer use, I don’t know. But I decided to buy some premium underwear, a pack of 5. And gosh darn they are comfy.
Additionally, I bought some expensive bowling ball cleaner. I lazily didn’t re-categorize this to my “equipment for hobbies” category in Personal Capital, so in the daily living category it stays!
Entertainment – $809
Alcohol – $51
Entertainment – $503
Equipment for Hobbies – $228
Another month, another ridiculous amount of cash spent on bowling. I bought a second bowling ball, which is pretty obnoxious, but each ball has a purpose. One ball is a strike ball, and one’s a spare ball. Hopefully the spare ball never gets used.
Additionally, bowling league costs me $25 per week. I generally pay for myself and my brother in cash and get reimbursed from my brother through Venmo.
For some reason, the bowling alley only accepts cash for league payments. The thing I love about bowling alleys is that they haven’t changed at all over multiple decades. It’s still the same simple game. The staff are still old and grumpy. They have the same old greasy menu items and crappy fries at the snack bar. And their payment systems are apparently stuck in the past as well, only accepting cash in an envelope each week for league bowling.
The brand new ball, along with custom drilling for that ball, and resurfacing of my old bowling ball led to a total cost of $228. This $228 applies to my “equipment for hobbies” category. As for general “entertainment” spending, my spreadsheet is telling me I spent $503. That’s a ton of money spent on bowling (but this number includes alcohol spending as well, and additionally, my $190 of “reimbursement” this month should mostly be applied to this category, bringing down my total monthly entertainment expenses (pretty much just bowling and golf) closer to $300.
Still, I’m looking forward to much more reasonable spending in my entertainment category in the future. $809 spent on entertainment for the month is crazy! New rule for myself: no more impulse bowling ball purchases.
Misc Expenses – $89
Web Expenses – $61
Political donations – $23
Total Savings – $1091
Our savings this month decreased slightly, mostly due to increased entertainment spending, and making a last minute trip to Denver.
July Savings Rate: 29%
July Mistake of the Month:
In a moment of Sunday night drive and inspiration, I purchased a .us domain along with a hosting plan to go with it. I spent multiple hours preparing content and the website aesthetics itself, before finally dragging myself into bed at 2:30 AM. I spent downtime at work the next day continuing to work on the website, preparing for it’s inevitable launch, until a plethora of spam calls and emails started coming through.
Generally when you purchase a website, there is built in personal information protection, or at least an option to hide your personal information from the public view for a small cost, generally known as WHOIS protection. For .us domains, this is not possible due to regulations placed on the internet and domains by ICANN (the Internet regulatory authority) and the US government itself.
So, I recklessly plastered my address, email address, and cell phone number across the internet for a day or two before changing the listed information to a brand new email and google voice number.
So lesson learned: It turns out .us domains have a major downside, there is no WHOIS privacy/personal information protection if you purchase one.
My sudden drive and inspiration led to an impulse buy of a hosting plan and a website domain without doing the due diligence to understand the negative implications of the .us domain extension. I’m out a small amount of cash for purchasing the .us domain, but luckily, I can use the hosting plan I purchased elsewhere (including on this website!)