My fiscal January began on Saturday December 31st and ran through today, Friday the 27th. I track all our expenses, assets and savings in a spreadsheet using a variety of categories and I am able to see our entire financial picture on one screen which I LOVE. This spreadsheet has been completely the one thing that has enabled me to change my financial picture. In good times and bad, I have tracked our finances since January 2008 in good detail without fail. My OCD kicks in without a doubt but, in this case, it has been a good thing.
Here are some 'highlights':
1. Achieved food spending goal of $144/wk for 3 adults. This includes all food from all sources (grocery stores, restaurants, Starbucks, etc) We did not visit any restaurants at all in January. We went to Starbucks once. Goal is $576 for the month ~ I came in at $572. I will try to drop the weekly spend down to $140/week in February. I write out a weekly menu plan and never shop without a list.
2. I have set a family goal of giving up restaurants entirely for the year. If people want to invite us to go out to eat, we will explain our situation. If they still insist and offer to spring, they will have to pay for the meal. Otherwise, we will decline the invitation. We just don't enjoy buying overpriced, underwhelming meals any more. The only exception will be vacations and trips. The plan is to take our food with us along with pots, pans and a portable cooking range but if that isn't feasible, restaurants might be our only recourse. I'll update our restaurant activity (or lack of it) each month. We have a vacation booked for April.
3. Gasoline spending was $66 for the month. The spouse works close to home and, as we only have one car now, I'm trapped in the house daily while our car sits in the parking lot at work. If I need to go post a letter/package or go to the store, I walk.
4. Numerous No Spend days. There are many days now during which I spend zero dollars. 2017 will be seeing many more of these types of days. We just don't need anything apart from food. Closets are stuffed with unworn clothing and we have all the furniture we need. Our kitchen is well stocked with appliances and the necessary utensils to cook any and everything. I have been improving our kitchen situation for the past couple of years. There was a time when I didn't even have a decent frying pan.
5. Household bills: Electric, gas, water, internet, cell phone, insurance, trash pickup, Netflix, XBox .... all under control and well within limits.
6. Credit Cards: All paid off, balances at zero with the exception of Capital One which sits just below $4000. I'll probably pay this off at the rate of $1000 a month and get rid of it.
7. Savings Balances: All going up right now. With a 4% annual withdrawal rate, we will be self sufficient in retirement but it is proving difficult to break away from the psychological aspect of bringing home a weekly paycheck. The spouse is having trouble with this, he can't imagine that we are now in a position of self reliance after years of dealing with my overspending and hoarding prior to 2008. My financial mismanagement of yore has left deep and lasting scars.
8. Mortgage: Balance is $56,992. Plan is to pay this off within 5 years' time. We could pay the mortgage off today but the money is doing us more good in investments than it would be sunk into this house. Essentially, we don't need to have a mortgage but ....we do have one .... for that reason.
9. Credit Score: My credit score used to be in the 400s, as was the spouse's (because of me). Today, my score is 721 and the spouse is 724. This marks the first time in our lives that we have had scores in the 700s. Goal is 760+.
10. Financial Goals for February:
1. Increase checking account balance by at least $1000.
2. Food spending under $560. No restaurants.
3. As many 'No Spending Days' as possible.
4. Sell some stuff on Craigslist. Continue downsizing.