My third month of taking the Dividend Diplomats 60% Savings Challenge is officially over. I am coming off quite the high note in October as I was able to successfully save 63% of my income! Could I keep the momentum going and achieve the coveted 60% savings ratio once again this month?
Savings Rate Summary
Before I disclose the results for the month, I think my savings rate is going to head in the wrong direction in November. Why? I travelled significantly less for work this month than I did in October. When I am on the road, my company covers all expenses and reimburses per file for the wear and tear I am putting on my car. From a selfish savings ratio perspective, travelling is great because I save 100% of my income when travelling. From a life perspective, it is terrible as I am missing out on spending time with friends/family, and missing out on potential memories. Since I was home a lot of this month, I had more opportunities to spend and rack up all different sorts of bills. Since I already know my savings rate is going to decline, lets see the final results!
Man, my savings ratio dropped 10% this month to 52.47%! Similar to Lanny this month, I did not pass the Diplomats Savings Challenge. However, I took a much larger step back than he did as he only missed the mark by a few percentage points. As I discussed above, I had a hunch this was coming; I just didn’t expect that large of a decrease. Let’s dive into the individual categories to see what exactly caused this decline.
Savings Rate Summary: Income Analysis
I had the same three sources of income this month as last month: paycheck, dividends, and fuel reimbursement for traveling. My total paychecks and dividends remained approximately the same (I received $2 less in dividend income during the month). The big drop off came from the decline in fuel reimbursements for traveling. This income stream declined 55.5% this month. Even though this is not my main income source, 10% of total income this month and 20% of total income last month, a decline of income of this magnitude makes maintaining a higher savings ratio much more difficult as the expenses continue to pile up.
Savings Rate Summary: Expense Analysis
I have broken down my expenses into the following categories and have broken each category down as a percentage of total income. As we can see in the chart below, ny total expenses for this month were 47.53% of my income, which is much worse than last month’s total but still better than my September total of 51.44%.
- Apartment: No significant change this month outside of the increase in my untility bills. Fall has turned to winter and as a result, my furnace switch turned from “off” to “on.” So unfortunately, my gas bill climbed this month.
- Entertainment: Similar to last month, I was pretty tame in terms of entertainment on the weekends. I did not travel to anywhere to visit friends as I did in September and I did not attend any sports games (as hard as it was to not spend on Cavs tickets). Most of my weekends were spent either babysitting my niece, having dinners with the family, or just relaxing at home. Sounds perfect to me. In my opinion, November is one of the best months for college football games as it seems Ohio State and others schools save their best games for last. So I think all but one of my Saturdays were spent sitting on the couch and watching the great matchups (I’ll spare us all a big college football discussion and save it for when Lanny and I begin a sports blog!). As I mentioned, there was one Saturday where I went out and spent a night on the town. Cleveland had its annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. It was a very fun event and we met up with Lanny and other friends after the lighting but before he went to the Kip Moore concert. Instead of going to the concert, the lady and I went out to several new bars in the area. While we spent a lot on food and drinks that evening, every penny spent that night was worth it. It was a great ceremony and the city did a great job with the lighting . I attached a before and after photo of the Christmas Tree below as we had a primetime seat for the lighting!
- Car/Gas: My monthly gas expense went down due to the fact I traveled less this month – one of the benefits of not traveling. In total, the lack of driving saved me a tank of gas, or about $50. As I have discussed at length in other blog posts, I am trying to find ways to reduce my monthly car, insurance, and gas bills. My efforts to do so fell short this year since I could not find the right deal on a car and I have too much negative equity in my current automobile. I am determined to reduce this mark and you all gave me some great ideas. I cannot wait for the day when this line item is significantly reduced!
- Travel: As I mentioned earlier, I did not travel for pleasure this month. Another 0% in the books!
- Food: At the risk of beating a dead horse, this expense increased due to the fact I wasn’t traveling as much this month. This increase was unavoidable and I expected it to happen. I have to eat meals one way or the other, so if I am not traveling/getting reimbursed for my meals, I must purchase the food myself.
- Other: The Other Expense category increased significantly due to a few purchases around the house and the fact the lady and I joined the local YMCA. For each person, there was a one-time sign-up fee of $50 and a recurring monthly membership fee of $30. We weighed several lower cost options in the area, but there were no other gyms that were as close to our home that offered the same amenities/features. The YMCA offers your typical workout equipment, basketball courts, a swimming pool, and an insane amount of free classes. I am excited to continue to use this pass and work on getting in better shape!
Unfortunately, I was not able to defeat the Dividend Diplomats Savings Challenge again this month. I had two negtive trends that doomed me from the beginning: less income and more expenses. Not a recipe for success. As each month passes I am getting closer and closer to finding ways to efficiently spend my money and reduce unnecessary expenses, so I can achieve my savings goals without missing out on any amazing experiences. The big elephant in the room is my car situation and until I resolve this situation – it will be difficult to consistently save 60% of my income. The hard part is that I am being very stubborn with the situation, as I discussed in my lengthy post about the topic. Overall though, even though I may seem upset about it, I am very happy that I was able to save 52.47% of my income this month. Without this savings rate, I would not be able to purchase stock (Like IBM Last week) and accumulate the income producing assets that will one day catapult me into financial freedom.
How did my savings rate compare to yours this month? Did anyone else notice that I was much closer to the Christmas Tree during the lighting ceremony than Lanny? AS always, thanks for stopping by!