This has been the busiest month for me, by far, since Lanny and I began the Dividend Diplomats’ Savings Challenge last year. I found myself having many new inflows and outflows this month, which can be both a good and a bad thing. The question is, with all of this new activity, was I still able to achieve a savings rate of 60% of this month?
Income from Employer: 72%
Tax Refunds: 25%
Dividend Income: 3%
Apartment Expenses (Rent, Utilities, Cable): 6.03%
Car (Loan Payment, Insurance, Tune Ups): 7.52%
Entertainment (Nights Out, Family Events, etc.): 8.01%
Gas/Transportation (Fuel for Car, Transit Fees): 1.38%
Food (Lunch/Dinner Expenses, Grocery Bills): 1.37%
Cell Phone: .98%
Other (Wedding Expenses, Tax Expenses, Items for Apartment, etc.): 13.33%
Total Expenses: 38.6%
Savings Rate: 61.4%
Discussion of Results
Heck yeah! I am back on track here everyone and added another W after suffering my first defeat of the Dividend Diplomats’ Savings Challenge last month. Now, with a savings rate of 61.4% in April, I am halfway towards knocking out my 2015 goal of saving 60% of my income 6 times in 2015, as this was the third month I achieved this feat so far. What makes this even better? I have officially pulled ahead of Lanny in our competition since he was not able to defeat the challenge this month. So for those of you keeping track, the score is Bert – 3, Lanny -2. Regardless, Lanny, you had a heck of a month my friend. You were able to still save of 50% of your income with all of the wedding festivities you attended. Very impressive. Knowing you, you will jump past me in our head to head competition within the next few months because you are that resilient. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it was a very busy month for me. So what the heck happened?
First I’ll start with the income, as there were three instances that caused my income to spike this month. First, when I switched jobs at the end of March, I was set to receive my final paycheck from my old employer in April. Nothing special. But what I forgot was that my final paycheck included the payout of all unused PTO. BINGO! So I was able to liquidate my time off into cold-hard cash (Yes, unfortunately I had a lot of unused PTO…). This payout essentially functioned as a third paycheck of the month and was a huge help to my top line. The downside, this was a one-time occurrence, so I have to enjoy it while it lasts.
Second, we all felt this impact in some form (some positive, some negative), I received a nice refund check from the tax man. Each person has their personal preferences here with this one, as many could argue that I should reduce my tax withholding and take the cash spread out throughout the year. Very valid arguments! But I am in the camp that I do not mind receiving a lump-sum refund, it just has never really bothered me. Maybe I’ll change this one day once I take out a mortgage and have less free cash flow to work with. Regardless…the tax refund also added a nice sum to my top line. But once again, this is a one-time event and the income will vanish in May! Lastly, my favorite of the three, my April dividend income increased compared to January! So in April, I was able to receive triple-digit dividend income (albeit, this dividend income was slightly less than the sum I received in March). So yeah, I had quite a few new inflows this month, can’t complain, right? Unfortunately, I also mentioned there were several new outflows this month, let’s see what extra expenses I incurred in April.
Similar to the income, I had several one-time expenses that I incurred. First, the tax man giveth and the tax man taketh away….While I had my federal and state taxes withheld, I had to make a payment for local taxes. The county we live in is a pain in the rear for taxes, the rates can be very high depending on which city you live in and the system can be quite confusing to outsiders. Luckily for me, the local tax payment was smaller than the refund I received, so the net impact was positive. But man do I hate writing those checks! Secondly, I can’t believe I am going to sound so much like Lanny with saying this, but I paid for reservations for an upcoming bachelor party. I cannot wait for it and it is going to be a hilarious time, but the fees took a nice chunk out of my income for the month. Still, I wouldn’t trade this expense for anything! Lastly, I’ll rapid fire some of the other expenses that helped drive up my expenses for April. At my old job, parking and my cell phone bill were covered…at my new job, not so much. Some nice extra expenses there. I can’t wait to get married next year and as we continue to plan the wedding, the bills keep coming. Finally, with the nice weather, we decided to go out for a few more meals than usual, causing my entertainment expenses to increase slightly from the prior month. Sorry for the quick hitters there folks!
Man it was a busy month! I am very excited and fortunate I was able to achieve a saving rate of 60% this month. The cool thing is that the extra revenue this month was a catalyst for establishing a strong position in Norfolk Southern, for without the extra cash from my extra paycheck and tax refund, I certainly would not have had the extra capital available to invest. But this is the idea after all; Find ways to increase your top line and live frugally to find ways to increase your bottom line, because each extra dollar saved can be put to work generating dividends and growing your retirement nest egg. I love seeing the equation function and it reminds me that we are on the right track and getting closer and closer towards achieving financial freedom!
How was your month of April? What was your savings rate? Do you prefer reducing your tax withholding on each paycheck or do you prefer receiving a lump sum in March/April?