Last month I ended my three-month hiatus of posting savings rates articles and afterwards, I vowed to publish my monthly summary in a timely fashion. One of my goals for 2015 is to defeat the Dividend Diplomats’ Savings Challenge and save 60% of my monthly income 6 times in 2015. Will I be able to recover from my just miss in July, where I saved 56.9% of my income? Let’s find out!
97.5% -Income from Employer
2.1% – Dividend Income
.4% – Other
5.1% – Rent
9.3% – Automobile (Car Payment, Insurance, and Gas)
5.3% – Transportation
1.4% – Utilities (Cable, Gas, and Electric)
3.6% – Groceries
5.2% – Entertainment
5.3% – Travel
4.8% – Other
40.2 % – Total Expenses
59.8% – Savings Rate
Discussion of Results
Oh no! I just missed my mark here….UGH!!! Man, this one hurts. I thought I would have for sure crossed 60% given all of the activities of the month. But I guess I was too focused on the income side and ignored the mounting expenses. Although I must say, I had a really fun month with my fiance, family and friends, so that is the silver lining in all of this. I don’t mind missing the 60% mark if I have some amazing life experiences to go along with it.
Let me start with the income side and as I mentioned in the last paragraph, there was a lot of activity here. This was the month where I felt the income impact from switching jobs again. I am loving to re-birth at my old job so far! When I started, I received a little extra capital as a part of returning and received the sign-on check this month. So talk about great timing for the bonus, especially as I learned my last investing lesson about always having a watch list prepared. You need the capital to pounce on your watch list after all, right? In addition, I received an extra half paycheck from my previous employer for the one week I worked in between pay periods. So technically I received 1.25X salary this month. These provided a nice jolt to the income side, that’s for sure.
As you can see by the percentages, the next two items didn’t have nearly the impact as the income from my employer. But there is no such thing as too small of income! The dividend income received in August saw a nice increase during the month and hopefully that total continues to climb! Second, this was a fun experiment for me, I took a stab at knocking out one of my other goals of receiving $1,000 in “Other Income” during the month. I started out the year with a full head of steam, earning $500 by selling some electronics that were collecting dust. The problem was that I had liquidated my most valuable inventory, so I had to look elsewhere to find new items to sell. Luckily for me, I was bored one day and started surfing Craigslist while watching an Indians game. I came across a few ads for undervalued PS4 games, believing I could double my money. The seller accepted my offer and I posted my new inventory on Amazon hoping for a quick flip. Within 4 days, I sold my inventory and realized a 50% profit. The problem was…this gain was only $25. So I still have $475 to go if I want to knock out my goal of reaching $1,000. I learned a few things from this experience. First, I forgot to factor in the fees for selling on Amazon when calculating my profit. My goodness did that eat away at my profit. I will have to consider the magnitude of the fees for all future sales. Second, I questioned whether it was worth the time for only $25. Selling these products individually on Amazon added four trips to the post office (as everyone knows, this isn’t exactly the fastest moving enterprise out there) since none of the products sold on the same day and I was told that I had to ship the items within two days of the sale. In total, I spent nearly 2 hours between walking to the post office and waiting in line. In this time, I could have been generating income other ways such commenting on other blogs, tweeting, or watching videos on Swagbucks. I need to calculate a value on the time lost moving the sold inventory. But at the end of the day, I was able to realize a nice profit and the experience was positive overall!
Now onto the expense side. Sorry for the long income summary everyone. Told you it was a crazy month. What’s funny is that my weekends were just as action packed (if not more) and as a result, my expenses sky-rocketed. The weekends included activities such as attending Indians games, a live concert watching the Cleveland Orchestra cover music from the British Invasion, hosting out-of-town guests and trying to sell them on moving to our city, a weekend getaway, and so on. I mentioned this before, I loved all the memories I had and I wouldn’t trade them…especially now that the Indians are making a late season playoff push. I’ll focus in on my favorite though, the weekend getaway, because my fiance and I had a much-needed trip away. We visited a bed and breakfast in the heart of Ohio wine country. It was so peaceful being away from the city. Everything was so quite and the amount of visible stars in the sky compared to back home was unreal. During the daytime, we visited several of the local wineries and tasted a lot of wine. They were unique as the wineries we visited that specialized in creating sweet wines with different fruits. They were delicious and unique compared to the standard wines we can purchase at a grocery store. We loved the wines so much that we bought a case, some of which we will keep for ourselves and some we will distribute to others as gifts. I loved the trip, but between the dinners and the wine the costs began to add up. But you know what, who cares! We had a great time…that’s all that matters.
There were a few other expenses worth quickly noting. We booked a flight to St. Louis in September and I drove a lot for work over the last two weeks. What sucks about the latter is that I have to pay the gas up front and receive the fuel reimbursement later, which won’t be paid out until September. The price of two gas tanks is small, but every dollar counts when I missed 60% by .2%!
It always hurts to lose, it is a part of our competitive nature. What was tough about this month was that I thought achieving a savings rate of 60% would be a shoe-in given the extra income from starting my new job. I guess the moral of the story is that you cannot take anything for granted. Going forward, I will be able to use this month as a learning expense and work harder to find ways to keep my expenses lower. Regardless though, I had an amazing month and I wouldn’t have done one thing differently. Hopefully this is what the rest of my life and financial freedom feel like.
How were your months? Were you able to save more income than expected? Did you take any fun trips? Do you have any recommendations on how to earn “Other Income” outside of selling old items and flipping video games? I have four months to go with this goal and I still have some work to do. I am looking forward to reading your comments everyone!