I spent $4,568 in February 2018. Every month I like to review my spending and see what went well and what didn’t. As a physician it’s easy for me to accrue expenses and this month was heavily related to work.
The breakdown of my spending is below.
Work Expense – $1,173
For my medical board investigation I needed to travel to San Diego, Ca. The majority of this spending was for hotel, dining out, entertainment, flight changes, and transportation.
This category came out to $1,173 which I am planning on writing off against my independent contractor income come tax-time.
Travel – $808
I still have some spending to do for this Spain visa which I’m working on. It certainly got a lot more expensive than I initially guessed. I’m not sure what the running total is but this last $800 was spent on translation services.
There are still 2 trips that I need to make to San Francisco and a final trip to Spain to pick up the visa. After that I’ll have an official long-term Spain visa.
Health Insurance – $449
I won’t have to worry about health insurance soon. For now, I spent $175 on a dentist appointment and $274 for my monthly health insurance premium.
I tried to explain to this dentist that I didn’t need xrays and she still talked me into it. I really need to be more firm about this stuff. Whatever I don’t feel 100% informed on I tend to err on the side of paying a little more – just in case. This is my baseline consumer mentality which I constantly have to put into check.
Groceries – $438
My diet is mostly a whole plant-based diet. I don’t eat processed foods or animal products and this has saved me quite a bit of money.
The only thing that can get expensive is that I also buy mostly organic. But because I don’t consume packaged items or meats I believe I still save a lot of money.
Entertainment – $250
This has come down a lot from what it used to be. Initially after retiring I was spending a lot of money on taking trips, watching theater, drinks with friends, etc.
If I can keep this category under $500 then I’m quite content.
Exercise – $156
The other categories I haven’t listed are self-explanatory especially if you’ve been reading this blog for a while.
I’ll talk about my bouldering gym membership which is about $80/month. This month I also needed to pay for my shoes to be resolved. This often will come out to $60 along with shipping.
The Retirement Budget
I would call the above my working budget and not my retired budget even though I consider myself retired.
If I didn’t have the ability to generate income then I would be living on the profits from my investment portfolio. In that case I couldn’t spend much more than $2,500/month based on my current investment portfolio.
That said, it’s hard for me to imagine not being able to earn an income. I could always:
- repair appliances
- teach at a college
- sell online courses
- flip classic cars
- be a handyman
- work as a mechanic
- write for a living
- teach ESL
Or I could always do telemedicine.
Finally, I always review whether my core spending has increased. So far it hasn’t.
Lifestyle creep is one of the main reasons doctors have a hard time budgeting or adopting a frugal lifestyle. It’s not the money we earn but the income we keep which helps us achieve financial independence.
Lifestyle creep is when we start living our lives relying on certain expenses in order to be happy to maintain a particular standard of living. I think of them as owning a car, having a gardener, having clothes that need to be dry cleaned, relying on air conditioning, or soap – JK.
Our core spending is directly correlation with our core lifestyle.
My core lifestyle is getting up to a cup of home-made coffee in my tiny, paid-off condo. It’s followed by a stroll to the library and then off to the grocery story to get some fresh ingredients to cook with.
I then either go for a long bike ride or head to the gym to climb imaginary rocks. My day finally ends with another home-cooked meal and reading or watching something fun and educational on YouTube.
I can socialize with my friends without the need to spend money or to impress anyone. And that is what keeps my lifestyle simple and so incredibly enjoyable.
I’ve wanted a serious kitchen blender for 3 years now and I have resisted the urge to buy one because that would be a lifestyle creep. After the blender comes the pressure cooker. Then the slow cooker. Next the waffle maker and a convection oven. Soon I’ll need an espresso machine or else I’ll feel like I’m living in poverty.
I try not to gravitate towards hobbies which require a car or long traveling to get to the desired destination because I don’t want to develop a car habit again. The car itself isn’t the problem but it’s the gateway expense. With it come licensing, insurances, repairs, maintenance, gasoline, eating on the road, extra storage to fill up, and parking.
Gadgets are another one. My most recent expense was a bluetooth headphone for the gym which I’d been wanting for nearly 2 years. I finally caved and paid $99 – didn’t need it. Though I did but I didn’t. I’m back to good old passive headphones and happier because that’s one less creep I avoided.
Some might read these last few paragraphs and worry that I’m missing out on life or that I’m practicing intentional poverty.
I assure you that my life is far more fun and exciting when there is less shit cluttering it up. I also get a lot more joy from the freedom I have to do whatever I want with my free time as opposed to needing to spend my time working to pay for things which don’t bring me real happiness.
But you’re you and not me and maybe to you not having a car would be like me not having my dental floss. But my friend V. has a truck and she drives it 1-2x a month. The truck is 30 years old and she pay $25/month insurance on it. There are many ways to enjoy life and still achieve our financial goals.
And the point of achieving financial goals would be to become financially independent and not rely on our jobs for our lifestyle expenses.