Last fall I stopped doing monthly savings updates as I found it was common to have one month completely thrown off by a car repair or some larger expense and then followed by a good month. Over the course of three months though things seem to even out pretty well.
The first quarter this year was a very good example of this as I started the year out with a car repair. It is amazing how much a $250 repair will throw off all of my numbers. But following this up with a couple of good months and I was back on track.
Last year I was trying to keep my savings rate around 40% of my take home pay and pretty much hit this goal exactly. This doesn’t take into consideration the 20% I am putting into my 401(k) or the $3,250 I am putting into my HSA so I am actually saving a little bit more than what I am going over in this post. One thing I have noted in the past is that I am not making boatloads of money so although I would love to be saving even more of my take-home pay as the net amount of my check is pretty small this 40% goal is a reasonable expectation without making drastic life-altering changes to my lifestyle. I am really trying to cut back though and we have shown some progress in our monthly food budget which is one of our biggest expenditures so hopefully I can save more over time.
So how did I do? Well, pretty great with a savings rate of almost 47%! Now this does include my annual bonus that I received back in February and I was able to save 100% of this so this will obviously skew the numbers up a little. But even if I didn’t receive this bonus and have the extra savings, I still would have saved 41% of my income which is still just slightly above my goal. Yay!!
The thing that is especially great about this number is that I am actually spending more of my paycheck on food.
“What? But you said you were making progress on food costs? And how can that be good?”
Yes, as a household we have made some great progress of reducing our food costs but as I am the one doing the meal planning and most of the shopping the majority of the food costs are actually coming out of my paycheck. I have a rough guideline of spending $250 per month on food but my average over the past 3 month is $491, so almost double this goal. But as my savings rate without my bonus for the past 3 months is 41% this means that I am spending approximately $250 less per month in all other categories than I was last year. Progress! Significant progress in my opinion!
All of the savings numbers here don’t reflect Mr. SFF’s spending/savings as we still have separate checking accounts so our household numbers are likely much better since I am taking on these food costs. I hope to do a post mid-year with an update of our joint numbers as Mr. SFF didn’t have time to reconcile his numbers for this post. But if all goes according to plan (of which I am sure that will be snags), I am hoping that we can continue to reduce many of our total expenses.
Although I don’t have a budget per-se, I do have targets for my spending and so far I am doing a pretty good job of staying within these or even slightly below. The area where I expect to have the biggest savings is my fitness. I love working out, going to fitness classes, going to races, and personal training sessions but after looking at my numbers over the past couple of years I decided it was time to cut back. The amount I spent on fitness in 2014 was obscene but in 2015 I reduced my fitness expenses in half and I am looking to cut my 2015 number in half for this year. This likely means no personal training sessions which I love but can add up. So far I am on track with this goal and this is even taking into consideration two races that I signed up for in January. I have a separate spreadsheet with my fitness and race schedule for the year and I do think that I can make this happen.
So overall I am pretty happy with my numbers. I continue to make progress at reducing my expenses without drastically changing my current lifestyle. Being frugal doesn’t mean a life of no fun and I am excited to continue seeing progress towards our financial independence goal.