Finance Tracker: March 2014

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Once again I find myself late to the party on this one. Here it is early JuneĀ and I have neglected to post both my March, April, and May updates. What a sorry blogger I am. That will soon be rectified.

March saw both higher income than usual and higher expenses. If you are interested in tracking your finances down to the penny, you should try my stupendous IM Finance Tracker spreadsheet. It’s free!

And now let’s see the March 2014 numbers:

Expenses Amount Comments
Mortgage + Escrow $995 Main mortgage, taxes, insurance, HOA
Rental House $0 See note below
Life Insurance $62 Two term policies
Groceries $248 Just about average for 2014
Gasoline $145 Four tanks
Online Services $11 Domain name renewal
General Merchandise $187 Costco, Wal-mart, Amazon
Cell Phones $44 Ting Wireless
Restaurants $0 No dining out!
Alcohol $293 What a lush! Actually, see note below
Electric $36 283 kWh
Internet $20 Sharing wireless connection with neighbor
Auto Parts $6 Transmission fluid
Other/Misc $9 Pet food for family
Medical $142 Doctors’ appointments
Memberships $110 Costco membership renewal
Dental $180 Paid for two cleanings
Travel $152 One plane ticket
Total $2,640

Starting in March, I made one huge modification to how I calculate these totals. Convinced by my friend BNL, I no longer count the mortgage on my rental property as a monthly expense. Conversely, I also do not count the full rent check that I receive as income. Instead, I only track the difference between the two, which could count as either income or an expense depending on whether the rental finances are in the black or red for that month. If there are no repairs or maintenance to complete, I will earn a small profit each month. That was the case in March.

Some expenses were even lower than usual. For instance, we didn’t go out to eat at all during March, which is a first. Other categories were far higher than average. Take Alcohol, for instance. We spent nearly $300 on alcohol? What kind of soggy lushes are we? What happened to my previous household alcoholic reformation? Did Mr. IM fall off the wagon? No, not exactly. In actuality, I decided to get into the art and craft of homebrewing my own beer (as well as cider, mead, and wine). The bulk of that $293 was just a startup cost for the equipment and ingredients. That said, homebrewing has already proven to be fun, rewarding, and even frugal. Expect a homebrewing post… eventually.

Oh, and how about that $36 power bill? This is why I love San Antonio in the early spring.

And now for the income side of the equation:

Income Amount Comments
Salary $3,401 After taxes and health insurance
Rental Income $87 See note above
Taxable Dividends $332
Retirement Dividends $283
Royalties / Web / Other $1,907 Includes income tax refund
CC Cashback $46
To HSA $537 Pre-tax payroll deduction
To 403b $666 Includes employer match
Total $7,259

Our March income was higher than I anticipated. For one, I received a royalty payment from my technology books as well as a little blog income. The biggest chunk of it, however, is a larger-than-anticipated federal tax refund. Usually I have owe money at tax time, but since my wife became a stay-at-home-mom, our 2013 income was lower than the previous year, so I ended up getting a big refund. Still, no complaints here.

March signaled the end of the first quarter, which means we earned some fat dividends. All totaled, we earned $615 across all accounts in dividends. I’ll take it!

Savings Rate

Using the above figures, our savings rate for March works out to 63.6%. I find it hard to describe just how happy that number makes me. I recognize that it is an anomaly considering the large tax refund we received, but I still take great delight and comfort in seeing such a high savings rate, especially since we’re a one-income household. Hopefully future months will maintain at least a 50%+ rate.

Expect April and May updates soon.


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