Money well spent January 2020

by Government Worker FI | Last Updated: February 19, 2020

Here’s our “money well spent” spending recap for January 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 January 2020

money well spent January 2020 infographic with categories
Money Well Spent, January 2020. I love making these infographics for these posts!

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.

Our January 2020 electricity and natural gas use were about the same as they were in December 2019 when normalized for days (and degree days). As I wrote last month, 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.

At least checking our bills so closely each month helps me make sure that we’re not inadvertently wasting electricity. And maybe one of these months we’ll modify our house to reduce these further.


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. This month, we NAILED IT!


We spent about $440 or $0.94 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).

What is our secret? Well, last month we spent a little bit more than an average month and I think we were eating through some of the excess food we bought. We also spend a lot of time doing meal prep. One of my fellow bloggers wrote a great post about meal prep if you want to get started prepping your own meals.

Mrs. GovWorker and I are talking about taking pictures of all of our groceries and receipts for a month so you can follow along with us. She’s been a huge fan of MoneySavingMom since Crystal Paine started blogging ages ago and before she was ubiquitous on the internet. And Mrs. GovWorker’s favorite posts are where Crystal would post her grocery receipts. So maybe we’ll have fun doing our own, vegetarian, gluten free version of MoneySavingMom’s grocery game. (UPDATE- we’ve started doing it- check out our Grocery Confessions series)


picture of us on our anniversary in January 2020
Hard to believe we’ve been together for 15 years!

We spent $13.66 on restaurants this past month. Mrs. GovWorker and I had our 15th wedding anniversary!! Our anniversary is very close to the holidays and our youngest daughter’s birthday. It feels like by the time we’ve made it through all that we’re too exhausted to celebrate our anniversary.

So- we celebrated in the most 15 years married with 3 kids sort of way. We ordered Indian food and ate after the kids went to bed. (We split an order of Paneer Masala). Despite sounding lame, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it. And to me, that’s what financial independence is all about- being comfortable with who you are and spending money to support that.


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.

In January, I bought a cello for $350 from a neighbor whose daughter had quit playing cello. GovTween has played cello for a few years and will likely play for a few more (maybe she’ll play as an adult- who knows). Buying the cello now (all in for $350 with bow, case, and other accessories) should pay for itself in rental fees within a few years and I can always sell it afterwards.

Also, if Kid2 or Kid3 play cello, it becomes an extremely good value.

Gas & Auto

We spent less than $60 on car, gasoline, repairs, etc. last month. I guess that means we filled up the car twice. I hardly remember driving it. It was a pretty uneventful car month. I’m only reporting it since some people commented that cars/transportation didn’t show up in our major expenses. This is the beauty of bicycles people.

Long term progress

Money well spent January 2020 progress towards FI
Here are our numbers for January.

January was a month where we seemed “close to FI”. While we’re only 36% of the way to our FI number, we’d be 64% of the way there if our mortgage were cleared from the bank and Kid3 was out of daycare. Both of those will happen in the next couple of years. While there are a lot of unknowns, sometimes it feels like by the time we’ll have cleared those obligations we’ll hit financial independence the heartbeat after that.

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