Man oh man does it feel weird to be writing one of these articles again. Similar to Lanny, I had taken a few months off of writing an income and expense article for a variety of reasons. Through switching jobs again, traveling for my old job, and insert any life activity, time has been at a premium. Enough with the excuses from my end! While Lanny performed a 3 month income summary earlier in the month, I decided to forgo summarizing the last three months and instead focus solely on July. But don’t worry, I will update our Savings Challenge page to display the last 3 months since one of my annual goals is to defeat the Dividend Diplomats Savings Challenge 6 times this year! Let’s see how I performed in July.
83.5% -Income from Employer
16.5% – Dividend Income
7.6% – Rent
12.2% – Automobile (Car Payment, Insurance, and Gas)
1.6% – Transportation
2.0% – Utilities (Cable, Gas, and Electric)
3.0% – Groceries
9.0% – Entertainment
7.7% – Other
43.1 % – Total Expenses
56.9% – Savings Rate
Discussion of Results
Man, this one hurts….it really, really hurts. I know, a 56.9% savings rate is awesome and I should have nothing to complain about. But I thought for sure I was going to crack 60% this month after receiving a $605 special dividend from Kraft. This month should have been a cake walk. So I guess this is an important lesson on why you should not assume or take anything for granted. So let’s dissect the expense summary above and see if I can pinpoint exactly where I slipped up and incurred some additional expenses this month.
After reviewing the expense area above, it is pretty easy to spot the two outliers here. I lost the Savings Challenge due to my inflated Entertainment and Other expenses for the month. First, what the heck happened in the entertainment section?? Well, after a travel-filled first three months at the position I recently left, I was finally home at night. So the lady and I cashed in on all of this extra time we had together and began exploring all of the food and bar options in our community. We are spoiled by the area we live. There are two main roads that run parallel to each other and each road seems to have a restaurant and bar on nearly every corner. If you wanted, you could eat at a new restaurant every night in a month and barely cover half of the options. And this is just the community we live in, not including downtown Cleveland or the dozen of other surrounding communities. We had always complained that we haven’t had the time to explore since I was always traveling and when I was home she was usually working (she is a nurse and they have some odd hours). However, as we all know, these endeavors cost money and can add up quickly. July was a perfect example of what happens if you don’t find the balance between eating out and spending. I still have some work on refining this and I know I could change how I order (splitting a dinner and salad as opposed to two meals or something like that). But at the end, we had a lot of fun evenings together and found some cool spots to recommend to others or visit again. Well worth it in my opinion!
On to other expenses….historically I have been able to keep this expense <3% of my income. However, my dress clothes wardrobe needed some serious updating. Lucky for me, the J. Crew Factory online was running a heck-of-a special that allowed me to pick up some new dress clothes for an average of ~$15/article. It sucked incurring this cost, but man was it needed. My old dress clothes were beginning to show signs of wear and tear after wearing them regularly for over two years. A necessary evil in the business world, so I just had to bite the bullet. In addition to the new clothes, there were a few birthdays in my family resulting in the purchase of a few gifts. I wouldn’t even think about skipping these purchases!
Even after writing this article, I am still bummed about not hitting a 60% savings mark in July. The table was set perfectly for it with a massive special dividend. Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it now and I must begin looking forward. The largest takeaway from this month is that I should begin focusing on the timing of some purchases, especially if I am close to reaching a 60% savings rate where every dollar counts. I didn’t have to purchase the new clothes in July and I probably could have held out until August if I wanted to. No one at work would have cared. However, I didn’t think of my savings rate first and as a result the purchase jeopardized my savings rate. So in the future, I need to think about the timing of purchases before I make that decision as opposed to reflecting on it after the fact.
How were your months of July? Were you able to set a record? Do you have any suggestions on eating out frugally? Please pass any tips along!