FI/RE Family July Expense Report
Another month has come and gone, and now it’s time for me to share the damage we have done to our checking account over the month of July.
Rent: $2,248: Currently our largest monthly expense, it is set to go up an additional $120 with the renewal of our lease set to take effect next month. The rent also includes the cost to park our two vehicles. Although we could lower this amount by moving further out, Mrs. FI/RE and I decided the additional cost is worth the shorter commute.
Mortgage: $1,173: We still own the house we lived in during our previous assignment before moving to the Washington DC area. Fortunately, we have had stable, rent paying tenants for the past 2 years, which allows us to make a slight profit every month after the deductions made by our property manager.
Childcare: $1,000: This amount is slightly lower this month due to a surplus from the previous month. Our family’s strategy on paying for daycare involves using our AMEX Blue Cash Preferred Card (which pays 6% on groceries) to purchase $500 gift cards from our local grocery store. After the $5.95 gift card fee, we still net $24.05 per $500 gift card purchased. In addition, the grocery store will occasionally have promotions where we can get discounts towards gas, which when they do, we may purchase enough gift cards to cover several months of daycare to reap the benefits of discounted gas (see below). Unfortunately, our primary family hauler is quite thirsty.
Food: $293: Slightly over-budget for our family of 5, but not too bad all things considered. A tactic we employ to keep our food budget low is to do our primary shopping at the military Commissary, supplementing these trips with excursion to Aldi, which if you haven’t been, please go. Although their store looks pretty basic, they don’t offer plastic bags, and you have to return your cart to the front of the store to recapture your 25 cent deposit, the savings get passed on to you in a major way. Another strategy we use is to eat almost everything in our freezer/refrigerator before we buy more groceries. With that being said our grocery bill for the month was racked up by over 15 trips to the store. Could we be more efficient buying more at once? Sure. But we probably would end up throwing more away, or freezer burning things beyond recognition.
Misc: $154: This category represents all the trips to Wal-Mart, Target, Dollar Tree, etc. that our family makes where we purchase everything from toothpaste to deodorant to nail polish. Rather than going line by line on the receipt to see what goes where, I usually just lump these trips into my Misc. or general merchandise category.
Electricity: $108: Although slightly elevated for our family, the electric bill has been impacted by the insanely hot weather we had in the DC area during the month of June. According to our energy provider, our home used less energy than most of the similar homes in our area, which they said had an average bill of $149. This is another advantage of apartment living: smaller space, smaller utilities, usually. We also keep our windows open as long as possible and utilize a stand up fan, to keep the air circulating.
Cable: $86: Of all of our bills, this is the one that irks me the most. There used to be a time when you could threaten the cable company with moving on to one of their competitors and in a few minutes, lower your bill by 20 – 40%. Unfortunately, this tactic has failed me over and over during the past few years. We could just go internet only, but then the cable company raises the internet rate within a few dollars of having both TV and internet. So, for right now, I am biting the bullet and dealing with the price. If any of you out there have any suggestions/tips on how to combat this bill, please comment below.
Insurance: $64: This value includes a 20-year term, $500,000 life insurance policy for me and the Mrs., along with car insurance for our two cars, who have a combined age of 31 years. We recently switched from USAA to GEICO, for a purely monetary reason, which has saved us over $200 every six months. I implore you; if you haven’t shopped for car insurance for a few years, do so immediately.
Car Gas: $49: After lashing myself for the inability to lower my cable bill, it is a great healing ointment to see the gas pump roll up to only $16 for a full tank on a 20-gallon vehicle. Through leveraging our unavoidable daycare bill, we were able to keep our gas expenses reminiscent of a time when Michael Jordan announced his first retirement, the first episode of “The Sopranos” aired, and were introduced to the magnificence of Jar-Jar Binks in the release of “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”
Baby Misc.: $43: I almost forgot how much protein shakes for babies (nee formula) cost. Fortunately, I was able to score a pretty good deal through stacking my Boxed.com 20% off coupon, with an AMEX $25 off $65 coupon, and finally an Ibotta rebate that was worth $12. When all was said and done, I purchased (4) 27-oz tubs of formula for an out the door price of $8 per can, with a net savings of around $67.
Auto Misc.: $43: We had to get the oil changed for both of our cars this month. When we lived in our single-family home, I would do this in the garage and save a little bit of money. But I won’t lie, having someone else do it, and deal with the spent oil and dirty filter, is worth the ever so slight premium.
Clothing: $35: With school starting for our little hellions, I mean angels, we are starting to get their shopping done, especially for my oldest who is heading off to Kindergarten.
Cell Phone: $26: Mrs. FI/RE utilizes Republic Wireless as her carrier, whereas Mr. Fire gets by using Google Hangouts/Dialer on his free 1GB of data from FreedomPop on his Galaxy S3 phone. This combination has worked great for us, and has been quite reliable.
Water: $22: Another advantage of apartment living is that we don’t have to worry about maintaining grass. Since our unit is relatively new, we also get metered individually (including our electricity), so we only pay for the water that we use, and don’t have to split the bill amongst our neighbors who may be a little more wasteful than us.
Restaurants: $13: We really don’t eat out much as a family, but we decided to splurge on McDonald’s for ourselves and the kids. One way we get our dining out fix is through the use of Uber Eats. Being active duty military, AMEX waives the annual fees on all of their products including their Platinum Tier cards. One benefit of the Platinum card is that you get $15 a month to use on Uber not only for rides but also their food delivery platform (Uber Eats). Since Mrs. FI/RE and I both have AMEX Platinum cards, we get a total of $30 each month in Uber credits to use for rides or food. Needless to say, we have been using it for food lately.
Electronics: $1: The budget item I struggle with the most to keep down. I did good this month with just a 3-month subscription to Spotify for $0.99 being lumped into this category. I am doing my best in resisting the purchase of a new laptop, as the Dell I am typing on is going into year 6, which is like 100 in computer years. I keep telling myself that for what I do on a day to day basis, it suits my needs. But goodness, isn’t that Surface Laptop pretty.
Overall the month of July was a pretty conservative month with total spending coming in at $5,358. Stay tuned for the fun that August will bring.