Money well spent February 2020

by Government Worker FI | Last Updated: March 18, 2020

Here’s our “money well spent” spending recap for February 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.

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Money well spent- major expenditures in February 2020

Money Well Spent February 2020 infographic
February 2020 infographic. This time with “Screen Time” data from my iPhone included.

Environmental impact

I don’t want to just minimize the money we spend, but I’d also like to be frugal in how much we’re taking from the earth. Posting our utility usage helps me be accountable for that.

We drove 381 miles this past month. Nearly all of the miles were on our two trips out of our city. We visited Mrs. GovWorker’s parents one weekend & Mrs. GovWorker and I had a *night away from the kids*. OMG. 24 hours with kids is definitely worth the money we spent on it (and the miles we drove to get there).

Our February 2020 natural gas use was about the same as it was in January 2020 when normalized for degree days. As I wrote in December, our natural gas use is dictated by our house.

We’re already pretty lean with our electricity use, and most of that electricity comes from our (hacked) electric hot water heater. However, last month we managed to use 1 KWh per day less than we did in January. I’m not sure why that is. I fantasize about buying a sense electric meter for our house. If I had one, I’m sure I could slay some energy vampires and really kick butt on our electricity use.

cat sleeping picture
This guy thought February was a big snooze.

Screen time

As I write this I am traveling forward in time rapidly approaching my death. I don’t know when I’ll die. If nothing catastrophic happens to me, it’s likely I’ll live another 350,000 to 400,000 hours. I’ll spend a third of that time sleeping (roughly) so only have 250,000 to 265,000 useful hours left on this planet.

How many of those do I want to spend being fully present?

I wrote a little bit about my phone feelings when I reviewed Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. But I have more feelings about it now. My phone is a powerful tool. It helps me blog and run my side hustles. But every minute I spend looking at my phone is a minute I’m stealing away from being fully present.

On one hand, I could wait until I’m at a computer and fully devote myself to responding to an email. Or I could whip out my phone and shut myself off from truly living and give a half-thought out response right away.

I don’t want to fritter away my life staring at a screen. Therefore, I am holding myself accountable by listing my number of hours of screen time in these monthly roundups.

I spent 54 hours (or 1.86 per day) staring at my phone this past month. That’s more than 2 FULL DAYS of my life (including sleep) that I wasted. That’s insane. And I feel cognitive dissonance about my phone. I don’t want to spend my life distracted and looking at my phone. But sometimes I feel like I need to look at it. While I know that this is about an average amount of use for a phone, it still feels like I’m slightly addicted to or dependent on my phone. And I want to be free.

Groceries

Once I started sharing our numbers publicly, I found out that we spend a lot less than most on groceries. In a typical month we keep our grocery budget under $1.25 per person per meal. For the second straight month, we NAILED IT!

We spent about $430 or $0.99 per person per meal! That’s *less than half* of the the USDA “thrifty” food budget plan of $882 per month (for our size and age of family).

One change this month was that we were using CountAbout to track our expenses. Previously we tracked everything in a spreadsheet and would total up our grocery budget at the end of the month. Having a running odometer of our grocery purchases throughout the month definitely helped us think twice about whether we needed groceries or could wait another couple of days in between trips.

Restaurants

It was another quiet month on the restaurant front. We spent $20 on cupcakes from a gluten free bakery near our house to celebrate Mrs. Govworker’s birthday. She also bought pizza from a restaurant (using a gift-card).

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.

I’m purposefully *not* sharing our daycare expenses because when I did in a much earlier spending report (which I have since deleted) I was mocked. Daycare is expensive, but it is worth every penny. And while I think it’s important to have conversations about money (this is a finance blog!) I think it’s okay to maintain some mystery around our finances.

picture of Mrs. Gov and Kid 3 ice skating
We were able to do a little ice skating this past month.

We spent $76 on non daycare kid expenses this past month. This included:

I don’t necessarily feel like kids need Valentine’s Day gifts. But they get gifts from their grandparents so I felt cheap not getting them anything. Also it’s hard to believe this all added up to $76.

Gas & Auto

We spent less than $24 on car ownership last month and filled up the tank once. Transportation is often one of people’s largest expenses. But we minimize this by hardly ever driving a single car that we own outright.

Long term progress

long term progress money well spent February 2020
Long term progress to financial independence.

Our numbers are a little bit lower from last month. Obviously the stock market had a big dip at the end of the month. But I still feel like we’re on a great track. Our assets would sustain about 34% of our expenses at a 4% withdrawal rate. Also, our two biggest expenses (daycare & our mortgage) will disappear in a couple of years and we’ll be at roughly 60% of our expenses.

If we keep saving about half of our income we’ll achieve financial independence before we know it.

So- that’s Money Well Spent, February 2020 edition! What were your big money wins & losses this past month? Leave a comment!