February was an excellent, excellent month in the Chedda household. I feel happier right this moment than I ever have before (to preserve the specifics of the moment for my future memory: I’m cozied up on the couch with my favorite blanket, finishing up a quesadilla and some sparkling water, listening to Elgar, tallying up monthly expenses, and Mr. Chedda just temporarily abandoned the video he’s watching on quantum mechanics and walked in and gave me a kiss on the head.)
I don’t quite know why, but I like the upward trend in contentment that I’ve been experiencing the past few months. But this is a financial blog, so let’s focus on the upward trend in money! And the downward trend in expenses.
We bought a bunch of music equipment this month. Mr. Chedda and I are both really interested in music in general, and we own a piano, two clarinets, an oboe, a trumpet, and a ukulele. So, while our expenses were really barebones this month, we did buy a few toys to go along with our instruments!
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. December’s income plus a net worth update (January’s will be combined with February’s)? 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 – $1,825
Another $1,825 from our stash bought us another month in our home.
I got a new job! That means we’ll probably think about moving closer to my new job when our lease is up at the end of April. The sticking point here is that we have to give two months’ notice to our apartment building.
We don’t know where Mr. Chedda will be working in the Fall so we don’t want to move until we find that out. And since we haven’t yet given our notice, we’re now on the hook for May rent as well.
That means that right now, our housing prospects are in a state of limbo. I like to look at apartments in the area we’re considering, but we can’t actually sign a lease on anything until we know if that neighborhood will work well with Mr. Chedda’s commute come Fall.
2. Food and drink – $127.79
Our food expenses were a wonky this month.
Groceries – $59.62
Eating Out – $68.17
Work lunch eating out – $0!
Alcohol and Bars – $20.50
Groceries were ridiculously low. I know February is a short month, but it’s not $60-in-groceries-short. I think we did one grocery run the whole month. In between we did little jaunts to pick up milk or tortillas or fruit, but mostly we ate out of our pantry.
It does help that we’re thinking of moving soon. We’ve been making do with a lot of random pantry stuff like cans of soup, cans of beans, cans of tomato paste, cans of olives, … really just lots of cans that we’ve built up in the past year or so that we would hate to have to pack up in boxes and move.
The ~$70 in restaurant spending includes an order from an amazing ramen place that delivered when we were both really sick two weeks ago. It was delicious (I always soft boil an extra egg to add in)! We got $15 or $20 (I can’t remember–I was super sick) off because we used a promo code and ordered through Amazon Restaurants.
I also paid for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant for myself and an acquaintance who helped me study for the big interview I had that nabbed me $$$$$ in higher salary.
Mr. Chedda and I went to happy hour one night with friends and got four cocktails (big night!) plus tip for $20.50. They had gin and jalapeno and they were scrumptious.
And we managed a $0 work lunch month! Go us!
3. Cell Phones – $75.82
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 $75.82 total.
(The bill hit on March 1 so I guess we’ll pay Netflix twice in March.)
(Ditto. I paid right at the beginning of March instead of during the month of February.)
Gas bill: $39.52
(That’s a normal month of gas for us)
We prepaid the rest of our utilities to get credit card bonuses a while back, so things like water bills and car insurance don’t often show up in our monthly expenses 🙂
Car – $2,032.99
Just like last month, we didn’t actually have to spend so much on our car this month.
Car payment – $2,000
We paid off $2,000 of our car loan in February. 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.
Gas – $32.99
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.
I’ll probably start carpooling part time with him to my new job. We’ll see how that affects our transportation costs, because I’ll no longer be getting my metro transit subsidy and I might end up spending a few hundred more a month on getting to and from work.
Entertainment – $89.34
Music. Music. More Music.
Like I explained last month, we have a friend who is an usher at the Kennedy Center in DC. She snags us free pairs of tickets to shows that don’t sell out.
This month we went to see Joshua Bell on violin with Sam Haywood on piano and John Lithgow (!) reading a poem. We paid a bargain $14 to park at the Kennedy Center. I’m so grateful! Thanks Lin!
We also paid $24 for a kit that has all the necessary equipment for replacing clarinet pads. A few months ago someone in our local Buy Nothing Group gave us a clarinet that had sat unused and unloved for decades in their basement.
It has some patina and needed a few pads replaced, but it’s a beautiful old jazz-style wooden clarinet from the 1940s or 1950s.
In my proudest handy moment to date, Mr. Chedda and I spent a Saturday afternoon taking the entire clarinet apart, cleaning it up, replacing pads, and then putting it back together. It worked!
That afternoon of entertainment and lifetime of future clarinet duets for Mr. Chedda and me were certainly worth $24!! (Full disclosure: since then we bought some cork to recork a few of the tenons, so there’s still a bit more spending to do to get it up to tip top shape.)
Capo and chorales
For months, Mr. Chedda has been eyeing this giant book of 413 Bach chorales with notations and analysis. He finally took the plunge and paid
almost $50 for it.
He’s already used it for many nights of bedtime reading. After we fixed our second clarinet up, we played some of the chorales as clarinet duets. Mr. Chedda also arranged a few of them as quintets for my family to play at their church. In short, I didn’t think it would be worth $50, but it may have proved me wrong.
We also purchased a cute lime green ukulele capo to make singing along with the ukulele a lot easier. Cost: $3.37. Totally worth it since it should improve our campfire singing many-fold.
Electronics – $58.90
Cases on cases on cases
In the most unlucky streak of phone dropping ever recorded, both Mr. Chedda and I broke our cases and needed new ones. At least the phones didn’t break!
That put us back $19 for two cases. Luckily we have old phones that fit in cheap cases!
We also bought a $9.99 laptop sleeve for the laptop we got around Black Friday.
Toys!!! (Remote control outlets)
In addition, a relative gifted me a $25 Amazon gift card that we used to buy a new toy: remote control outlets.
They are so cool! We were getting tired of getting out of bed in the evening to turn off lights that had accidentally been left on by the couch. These remotes can turn off lights THROUGH WALLS. For only ~$5 out of pocket, these were a great gift to ourselves.
Interviewing cost me $12 because I stupidly forgot to get my parking ticket validated. Usually I would get frustrated to an irrational extent about something like this, but I actually like to think about how it cost me only $12 (and hours of my time) to interview and get a much better job. I’m excited to start tomorrow!
Some notable zeroes
- No clothing spending. I was tempted to buy a new work wardrobe for my new job but I’m going to wait it out, see what everyone else wears, and buy things slowly as I need them.
- No health spending. This is good because Mr. Chedda was briefly uninsured for the past week :/
- 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||$2,032.99||$2000 car payment, 2 gas fillups|
|Rent||$1,825.00||We love our homey apartment!|
|Entertainment||$89.34||Parking for a free concert, clarinet fixing kit, ukulele capo, Bach chorales book|
|Phone||$75.82||A cell phone on Google Fi and one on Verizon Prepaid|
|Eating out||$68.17||Delivery ramen plus a Vietnamese dinner for two|
|Groceries||$59.62||Nice and low!|
|Electronics||$58.90||Two phone cases, laptop sleeve, remote control outlets|
|Utilities||$39.52||Washington Gas bill|
|Alcohol & Bars||$20.50||Happy hour-ing with Mr. Chedda and friends|
|Travel||$12||Parking for an interview (I wasn't sure which category to put this in)|
|Blog hosting||$0||I prepaid blog hosting for 3 years for $82.08 in November 2016|
|Internet||$0||Paid in March|
|Work lunch eating out||$0|
|Clothing||$0||Even though I had interview and I'm starting a new job!|
|Netflix||$0||Paid in March|
Not including rent, this month we spent $2,456.86 out of our take home money. But $2,000 of that was overpaying our car payment! What a ridiculously low spending month, especially with all of the extra entertainment/electronics spending we did. $456.86!
All told, we spent $4,281.86.
Was the shortest month of the year also your cheapest month of the year? It was for us!