Every month I publish my expenses and discuss budgeting and whether my spending is in line with my overall financial goals. I am not frugal whatsoever by nature. Had I continued being as passionate about my career as when I first started, I doubt I would have put an ounce of energy into developing any financial skills.
Nevertheless, budgeting has proven to be a very effective tool in helping me achieve my goals in life. I used to believe that lifestyle choices didn’t have much to do with money. In fact, feeling financially secure can make a world of a difference.
It’s not about having a lot of money. Looking at those in the spotlight with oodles of wealth, they still battle depression, unhappiness, greed, fear, pessimism, and narcissism. Excess is as much of a problem as sparsity. And money needs to be conserved as much as, say, water.
My expenses for September 2017 were on par with my life goals but I didn’t meet my budgetary goals. For now, I believe the former is more important. Doing otherwise would border on being cheap instead of frugal.
Expenses September 2017
In total I spent $3,717 this month. My core spending was $1,233 which is in line with my overall budget as well as my lifestyle goals.
There was $2,484 of spending for my stay in Barcelona. Rent took up the main portion of this and I spent another $780 on travel expenses to go visit a friend in Amsterdam.
I should mention that I have been living a life of absolute fucking luxury! Every morning I wake up, greet the mosquitos, head downstairs to make my coffee and I look around in awe that I get to live such an awesome lifestyle.
Dr. Mo has come a long way from his Hummer driving days, $1,000 shoes, $300 dinners, and $5,000 TV upgrades.
I wrote about the importance of figuring out your core spending. This should be the budget that your investments and retirement funds cover some day.
Had I figured out that core spending is much more relevant than overall spending, I would have pulled the plug on my job a long time ago. Long before having panic attacks in exam rooms.
Housing – $420
Because of HOA dues, property taxes, and property insurance I am locked into about $350/month of expenses. I get a tax deduction for the property taxes so it’s likely a little lower than this.
I my case I need to add home internet and electricity for my housing expenses. That adds another $70/month bringing the total to $420/month.
Housing also involves maintenance and repair. These can be negligible if you do all the work yourself or if you have a low maintenance condo or bungalow. It’s easy to forget about moving costs, furnishings, handyman expenses, window, plumbing, backyard, or roof repairs.
I will post my 2017 housing expenses at the end of the year. For 2016 my total housing expenses are posted here.
My friend just a got the lowest quote on painting her house exterior at around $30,000. Even if done only every 10 years that’s $250/month. Not to mention that you need to have that $30,000 ready to pay which means that it’s $30,000 that won’t earn dividends in the market or appreciate in value.
Healthcare – $240
I include health insurance and my gym membership here. My health insurance is $230/month and my gym is another $80/month. That’s a total of $310/month for the health category.
I’ll keep it simple but because I have a HDHP and can use an HSA, I technically get a $70/month discount because I can set aside a little over $3,000 into an HSA tax-free for the year. So, let’s say $240/month.
I include dental care in this and I think for 2016 I have already spent nearly $700 on my teeth. I had dental insurance for a minute and realized it was a waste of money and so I now pay out of pocket.
Food – $335
Food includes mostly groceries. I would consider dining out as your food budget only if it’s something you do for the sake of convenience, such as at work. Dining out with friends goes in my entertainment category.
Groceries cost me $335/month or €268 which I know is too high for Barcelona. I am very careful about not wasting food and I’m vegan so food should cost very little but I have a slight binging problem which surfaces every once in a while.
On occasion I fantasize about growing my own produce but then I think about the headache of owning a single-family home and that turns me off.
My Individual Core Spending
My core spending is unique, as it is for everyone. It consists of the following line items:
- housing (condo HOA, tax, insurance)
- healthcare (health insurance, dental care)
- food (groceries)
- entertainment (Audible, books)
- financial adviser (monthly fee)
- gym (bouldering gym)
An Ideal Budget
I’ll never stop exercising in life and I’ll never reach the ideal fitness level. And I’ll always budget and most definitely never achieve the ideal budget. Fuck, that’s what I love about these things – it’s an endless project.
However, after living in Barcelona these last few months, I have realized that I can live an even simpler life than I did in Portland and enjoy it even more.
I’m not sure if there is much utility sharing this observation with my readers. I haven’t yet met a weird ass healthcare professional like myself so it’s more of a pet project than anything else.
That said, it seems that I can earn an easy $4,000/month if I work 1 hour a day. So with a monthly household spending of around $1,000/month I would live like a king. I would have 4x the income of my household spending.
Entertainment Budget – $18
This month I spent $18 in my entertainment category. This is the lowest I have ever spent in entertainment.
I feel that my cooking, my Audible subscription, and my gym membership are all forms of entertainment. Spending another couple hundred a month on entertainment feels excessive.
Looking Towards October 2017
My expenses for the next couple of months will be a bit unpredictable. I definitely will have a slightly higher entertainment expense since I’ll be meeting a few friends in various parts of Europe.
If I decide to stay longer in Spain then I’ll have some visa expenses. If I decide to move to another country then I’ll have traveling expenses. We’ll see but I hope that I can at least keep my core spending under control.