Our Expenses – January 2017

We spent over $7,500 this month! Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it seems. Read on for the details.

Scroll down to the bottom if you just want the numbers (I don’t blame you!) but read through the explanations if you want a more thorough dive through our spending.

Being able to look at the details of other people’s budgets and expenses is one of my favorite things about the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community. It appeals to my voyeuristic side and it’s a no-nonsense way to see exactly how people assign value to different pieces of their lives.

I’m tracking my expenses each month for you and I to examine every single dollar I spend.

If you want to peep last month’s expenses, go here. Last month’s income plus a net worth update? Go here. And to get an explanation of why we have so few insurance and utility bills listed, go here.

The Usual Suspects

1. Rent

As usual we paid $1,825 for the privilege of living in our apartment for another month.

Stay tuned on this expense because we’re thinking about moving if I get a new job. Our current lease is up at the end of April. I’d like to not increase our rent—decreasing it significantly would be pretty hard in the area we’re looking at, with the standards we have (short commutes, public transportation access, and washer/dryer in unit), but we can at least try to not pick somewhere more expensive than our current place.

2. Groceries – $107.54


I don’t know how we’ve spent so little on groceries over these past few months I’ve been tracking expenses.

Last month we spent $57.70 and in November we spent $124.41. It’s kind of ridiculous that the amount we’ve spent on groceries in the past 3 months is less than what I would have expected we’d spend in just one month.

Once again a spendy friend gave us a promo code for free Blue Apron deliveries that served as dinners for a week. We make fun of him for buying Blue Apron (good-naturedly and to his face), but he says the ~$70 per week price is less than what he used to spend on weekly dinner groceries. Okay, dude, just keep giving us your promo codes 🙂

I also took home some leftovers from a catered work lunch (this is pretty rare in my office) and we ate those for a few days.

And we finished up eating the frozen portion of a giant split pea soup batch we made a month or two ago.

3. Cell Phones

Same as usual. My Nexus 5X on Google’s Project Fi plan costs around $30 a month (depending on my data usage). Mr. Chedda has a Samsung Galaxy S5 on a Verizon Prepaid plan for $45 per month. This month we paid $77.68 between the two of us (aaaaah $2 of lifestyle inflation since last month!!).

4. Bills

Netflix: $7.99

We’ve been watching Santa Clarita Diet, Black Mirror, Family Guy, and Scrubs. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched Scrubs in its entirety more than 5 times and our first dance as a married couple was to “Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel.


Internet: $60.59

Gas bill: $38.46

Our utilities bills for gas and internet were pretty normal this month. The gas bill fluctuates weirdly because I don’t think they read the meter every month.


The Anomalies

Car – $5,327.66

What? Let me break it down for you. This actually includes six distinct categories of car spending.

1. Car payment – $5,000

We paid off $5,000 of our car loan in January. Our official monthly car payment is around $200, but we’d rather have the car paid off sooner than the 5 year loan period requires. We have enough cash to pay it off right now, but by paying it off a few thousand at a time we get to leave more money in the stock market or in our cash buffer.

We’ll probably keep putting in a thousand or two a month toward the loan, so it will be paid off in around 6 months from when we bought it.

If you’re a stickler for accurate net worth calculations, my deepest apologies. We haven’t been counting the car loan against our net worth, so these payments count as pure expenses on our balance sheet instead of lowering our debts.

2. Insurance – $181.65

This is six months’ worth of car insurance for Sir Shrimp. One car. Two married impeccable (and impeccably married) drivers. Insured at the minimal legally required level. With Geico.

3. Property Tax – $52.03

Local property tax for Sir Shrimp. We also got a prorated refund on our property tax for our previous car, Big Blue Vue, which will show up in our income post.

4. Inspections – $44.00

This covered the required Virginia state emissions inspection and the other required inspection (I forget what it was). We’re set on inspections for a year now.

5. Gas – $38.02

That’s two fill ups for us. Mr. Chedda drives to work most days now because it’s cheaper and faster than using the public transportation system, so we’ve been buying more gas.

6. License plate mount – $11.96

Our car didn’t come with a place to attach a front license plate so we went to an auto body shop and asked how to attach the plate. They sold us a license plate mounting kit, which we didn’t really need in the end.

If you run into this circumstance, you can just use a normal drill to create two holes on the front bumper of your car and then use two normal screws to screw the plate into those holes.

You don’t really need specialized equipment, but now our plate has a spiffy frame and we’re $12 less rich.

Travel – $38.50

This is actually the bill for the wonderful crepes we ate around Christmas in France but didn’t get charged for until January. I count travel eating as travel because we would have made our own crepes if we had been at home.

Note to self: find out how difficult crepe recipes are.

Entertainment – $27.00

We have a friend who is an usher at the Kennedy Center in DC, so she
snags us free pairs of tickets to shows that don’t sell out. They tend to be Thursday night tickets to National Symphony Orchestra concerts, which aren’t always my cup of tea, but this month we got some amazing ones!

Mr. Chedda took this picture when he was in ROTC. Very star-spangly!

We went to a concert called “Portraits of America” where the NSO and a piano soloist played Rhapsody in Blue and a surprisingly amazing Stravinsky arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner.

I haven’t felt very patriotic lately, but hearing our national anthem played by a group of people who have dedicated their lives to greatness in their art was strikingly beautiful. The version we heard was arranged by Igor Stravinsky, a Russian who immigrated from France to the U.S. durin
g World War II and grew to deeply love our country. As a tribute to his adopted home, he arranged the anthem as a stately chorale instead of the usual military-style march. He said he wrote it out of a “desire to do my bit in these grievous times toward fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism in this country.”

(Bizarrely, his use of a dominant seventh chord in the arrangemen
t almost got him arrested according to legend, because police thought it was illegal to rearrange the national anthem.)

Anyway, it was an amazing arrangement and concert and I was satisfied to pay $14 for a parking garage near the Kennedy Center so that we could go see it (the nearby metro station was shut down). When we were leaving, I spotted a cheaper nearby garage, which we parked in the following weekend for another concert for $13. One saved dollar!

Eating out

Work lunches – $13.64

All mine. This encompasses a verrry tasty shake from Shake Shack that I ate (drank?) while meeting up with an old coworker for lunch, plus a burrito bowl from Chipotle.

Mr. Chedda doesn’t spend money on work lunch eating out anymore! I guess since he’s working in a school now, he doesn’t have coworkers trying to drag him out to restaurants. He almost exclusively brings PB&Js and yogurt to work for lunch now.

Not work lunches – $28.90

There wasn’t very much restaurant spending this month. Mr. Chedda bought a snack (~$8) while we were out and about one weekend, and then he went out to dinner with a friend (~$20).

Some notable zeroes

  1. No alcohol/bar spending. We did drink two of those bottles of wine we brought back from Italy last month, though!
  2. No electronics/random shopping spending.
  3. No blog spending. I paid for the domain and 3 years of blog hosting for ~$80 when I set up the site so I don’t pay any ongoing fees right now.

Every dollar we spent this month

Car$5,328.66Car payment, insurance, registration, inspections, etc.
Rent$1,825.00We love our homey apartment!
Groceries$107.54Nice and low!
Phone$77.68A cell phone on Google Fi and one on Verizon Prepaid
Internet$60.59Usual internet bill
Health$45.16Stocking up on cold meds and chapstick
Travel$38.50A yummy crepe meal in France
Utilities$38.46Washington Gas bill
Eating out$28.90A meal and a snack for Mr. Chedda
Entertainment$27.00Parking for two free concerts
Work lunch eating out$13.64A shake and Chipotle for me
Clothing$10.58Dry cleaning
Gifts$10.55A late Christmas gift
Netflix$7.99We don't have cable
Alcohol & Bars$0Home drinking!
Blog hosting$0I prepaid blog hosting for 3 years for $82.08 in November 2016

The total

Not including rent, this month we spent $5,794.25 out of our take home money. All told, we spent $7,619.25.

And if you take out our $5,000 car payment, we spent $2,619.25 including rent and $794.25 excluding rent

So if we had paid our usual ~$200 car payment instead of making a giant lump payment against the loan, we would have met the random goalpost I set last month of keeping our spending under $3,000 a month. Nice!

How did your January spending shape up? 

13 thoughts on “Our Expenses – January 2017”

  1. That rent number sucks, but I LOOOOVE how low your grocery bills are! I’m going to stalk this blog for your secrets. 😉

    I don’t know if you already do it, but Google Fi lets you combine accounts now. It saved us $5/mo. It’s something they implemented back in the fall and I didn’t know about it; figured I’d pass along just in case!

    Congrats on overpaying on that car loan! It feels good to see debt significantly decrease. 🙂

    1. I’M impressed by our grocery bills! I hope that level is sort of sustainable!

      And thanks for reminding me about the new Google Fi plans. Mr. Chedda isn’t on it, but I’m trying to convince him to join when he needs a new phone 🙂 We’ll see what happens, because he definitely likes more storage on his phone than what I have on my Nexus 5x.

  2. I love Stravinsky. He is either my first or second favorite composer, but I had never heard that arrangement, so thanks! (I also think it’s ironic that the link you provided is performed by the LSO.) Also, we have similar taste in tv shows.

    Nice job with the spending. You set a high bar…

      1. Shostakovich, Brahms, and probably Mahler. No particular one – I just kind of jumble them all in my head, but I really like Stravinsky’s ballets. I play trumpet so I tend to be drawn to brassy stuff. I actually didn’t even know that he was a US citizen.

  3. That’s awesome about the free Blue Apron dinners-how are they? I keep threatening to try them when I find promo codes, but haven’t yet.

    It’s really cool that you get free Kennedy Center tickets-definitely worth the $14 (or$13!) in parking!

    1. The Blue Apron dinners are always interesting and fancier than what we would cook ourselves. We’ve used a lot of new vegetables and prepared some fancy meat cuts that we wouldn’t have bought otherwise, like tuna steaks. The downside is they can take a while to prepare, especially if you’re like us and your usual weekday evening dinner is heating up leftovers or cooking pasta or something like that.

      We did go on a kick of trying all the different meal kit services for just the free or half priced trial week, and that was fun and inexpensive! Like churning, but for food!

    1. Yeah we are always hustling so we get a lot of random food via work leftovers, family or friends who don’t want to keep all the leftovers after potlucks, or (lately) meal delivery kit free week promotions. We couldn’t keep food expenses so low if we actually had to buy all of our groceries! And we eat meat pretty rarely (maybe once a week).

  4. That concert sounds like it was awesome! That’s one area where I’m willing to spend on, though it’s been a while. It’s pretty awesome that you scored some freebie tix!

    Also with Julie – how do you guys spend so little on food in HCOL area?

    1. Yeah the free tickets are amazing! We just went on Thursday to see Joshua Bell on violin and Sam Haywood on piano, and John Lithgow read a poem in the middle of the concert! It was weird but some really great music.

      The fact is if we didn’t get these tickets for free we wouldn’t be going to concerts at the Kennedy Center. There are plenty of free or almost free concerts around, especially since all of the military bands are based in our area.

      And check out my reply to Julie about food. Basically we jump on any free food we see and we’re always on the lookout for ways to keep food costs down. Helps that we’re not picky and we don’t mind repeat meals over and over again!

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