Money well spent August 2020

by Government Worker FI | Last Updated: September 12, 2020

Here’s our “money well spent” spending recap for August 2020. I write these posts to reflect on my life right now and give you insights into our lives and our spending. For a larger explanation of why I write these posts, check out March 2019’s post.

I took a few months off from writing these posts. With the pandemic going on, it all felt like too much. I do think it’s fun to share these posts about how we’re spending our money and what’s going on in our lives.

August is one of my favorite months. Mostly because I have a birthday! I also love how there is back-to-school excitement. Finally, I love all of the wonderful food that August brings. Not only is it tomato season in the Midwest, but at the end of the month, you can get fresh apples from some early producing cultivars.

Picture of a sunset
I snapped this picture walking the dog one night. It was a beautiful month and I live in a beautiful city.

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As I’ve said before, my only goal during the pandemic is to “make sure everyone in our family is doing the best they can be doing during this time.” The pandemic isn’t normal times. Our spending is a little bit different. Eventually things will change back again.

Money well spent- major expenditures in April 2020

Money well spent August 2020 numbers
Money Well Spent, August 2020

I thought I’d change up my infographic style. I had been making them in Piktochart but decided to make it in PowerPoint this month. I had a *very* specific idea for the graph and got really frustrated that I couldn’t customize the graphs in Canva or Piktochart. It was extremely painful but hopefully next month will be easier.

Spending/Saving

So as you can see we saved 35% of our income, 15% of our income went towards our mortgage principal and we spent 50% of our income. I had been calling our savings rate 50%, but this is a little bit more transparent.

For the record, spending rate is a pretty damned arbitrary number. I don’t include my TSP match in the saving. Some of our saving is in tax deferred accounts. And my “income” doesn’t include the money taken out of my paycheck for taxes. I swear every financial independence blogger reports their savings rate and they all report it differently.

As you may know, we track all of our expenses and net worth in CountAbout. It’s a great tool for tracking expenses and developing budgets. One of the best features about CountAbout is that you can attach receipts. It makes organizing paperwork for tax time a breeze. If you’re interested you can sign up through this link for a 15 day free trial.

Groceries

So I’m kind of shocked we spent $1100 on groceries. Before the pandemic, back in February, we only spent $430 on food. So yeah, big change there. We’re now above the USDA “thrifty” food budget plan of $882 per month for our family. (The USDA thrifty plan is used to determine the food stamp allowance for our size and age of family). This is a new personal high in grocery spending since we started tracking expenses. But I kind of don’t care. Mrs. Gov and I are exhausted from the parenting-telework-parenting-telework carousel. It’s hard to be outraged about spending some extra on pre-packaged snacks.

Kids

Are kids expensive? Besides daycare– I think having kids is in many ways, cheaper than advertised (especially when you have more than 1 kid). So I’m sharing our spending in the “kid” category this year.

Children's handwriting
I shared this picture on Twitter. This is how my youngest daughter wrote her name at the start of the pandemic and in August 2020.

We spent less than $40 on kids this month. So far we’ve spent $998 on kids (excluding daycare, and I guess food).

There’s no easy answer to “how much do kids cost”. Bloggers that insist kids are cheap don’t mention childcare or healthcare. (An ER visit will set you back about $10k, and we’ve had a couple of those in 12 years of parenting). But when you look at what we actually spend on kids, it’s less than a lot of people spend on their hobbies.

Gas & Auto

We spent $24 & filled up the Mazda5 once. We drove to visit our parents (outside, socially distanced) a couple of times. I’m dreading the guilt I will feel *not* visiting them after things freeze. (Which seems like it will be September 15th after this week of crappy weather).

Favorite Purchases

I thought I’d add a section about what was the thing we bought in the past month that was a “treat” or something that made our life better.

I wrote a little bit before about how we “redid” or basement during the pandemic. We continued that project and spent another several hundred dollars on epoxy for the floor. Our basement is now actually nice and not scary.

Picture  of my basement with epoxy floor
Candid shot of our basement- including wet laundry. It’s no longer a spider den.

I also bought these off-brand printer cartridges for our laser printer. I was a little bit skeptical because they only cost 10% of the official manufacturer’s price. Lots of Amazon reviews said that you might need to take apart your old printer cartridge and re-use the SIM chip. However, I was able to drop these knock-off cartridges in and print away. I proofread much better on paper copies so it’s nice knowing I can print as much as I want for hardly any money.

Long term progress

GIF showing our progress towards financial indepence.
Progress towards financial independence

I can’t say that these graphs change very quickly, but I do feel like we are making progress towards financial independence. We hit a major net worth milestone this past month. We are getting closer and closer to paying off our mortgage. Once our mortgage and daycare are behind us, our “Future %FI” will equal our current “%FI”. Financial Independence is starting to feel somewhat tangible since the first time we’ve started this journey.