Quarterly Expenses and Goal Progress: Q1 2016

Well it’s the first quarter of a new year, and a new year means a new set of goals to keep. Let’s see if everything is “on fleek” so far. Did I just use that correctly?

Total Expenses: $16,323.43
Avg Per Month: $5,441.14

Without Debt Payments
Total Expenses: $10,668.49
Avg Per Month: $3,556.16

Savings Rate: 45.8%

The Necessary Evils :

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Mortgage $2,083.74 $694.58
Student Loans $2,578.08 $859.36
Car payments $993.12 $331.04
Home Insurance $960.00 N/A
Property Taxes $2,162.99 N/A
Medical $209.52 $69.84

That there is the final car payment! Marge’s 2013 Toyota Corolla is officially paid off. Fun fact: The car has 15,000 miles on it, which after 2.5 years means it is averaging only 6,000 miles per year.
Marge and I both had several doctors and dentists’ visits this quarter, making for an unusually high Medical expense.
That is our home insurance for the entire year, and we made $2,000 in extra student loan payments to help get them paid off very soon. And that is also just more than half of our property taxes for the year.

Wine Club Feb 2016 (5)


Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Groceries $1,225.60 $408.53
Wine & Beer $70.50 $23.50
Dining Out $127.52 $42.51
Takeout Food $157.33 $52.44
Total Food $1,580.95 $526.98
Moroccan Stew

Moroccan Stew

I think there is some leftover Christmas party and gift food inflating that grocery bill, and many, many cinnamon babkas made for friends and parties. We also hosted about sixteen people for a wine-tasting party with mucho food, and Marge competed in a mac & cheese competition (if you’re curious, reuben mac & cheese, and no). All things considered, this is a pretty good total. And a lot of good food.



Poets Walk (1)

Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge seen from Poet’s Walk


Quarterly Total Month Average
Auto Maintenance/Other $54.00 $18.00
Gas $197.16 $65.72
Parking $77.76 $25.92
Bus Tickets $130.00 $43.33
Total Transportation $458.92 $152.97

Mostly just commuting this quarter, although we did meet my parents down in the Hudson Valley for lunch and then Poet’s Walk hike in Rhinebeck. $65.72 a month for gas is about $10 less than what we spent on average last year. No car insurance or work on the car this quarter. All is good!



Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Internet $104.97 $34.99
Gas $404.81 $134.94
Electric $221.46 $73.82
Water  & Sewer $111.03 $37.01
Telephone $97.10 $32.37

Tracfone (1)That is one enormous telephone bill for us! Our normal monthly bill for Ooma is about $4. But Marge and I both bought new cell phones! We now have matching Moto E’s, which at $40 each is a slight upgrade for Marge, but a massive upgrade for me. For the first time in my life, I have texting capabilities!
You might remember me as a non-texting “a phone is a phone” candy bar-style evangelist. But we are renting our property out to Millenials. (Ugh, young people) And they like to text instead of call, so I basically needed to text for “work.” This shouldn’t mean anything additional on our monthly bill, though. I still expect that to come out to $5 a month for each of us. Honestly, if you’re spending more than $5 per month, you’re doing it wrong.
Our gas and electric bills look especially high this quarter. Over the years, our utility company has slowly and surely been backing up their payment date, until March, when we had one payment due March 1, and another due March 30. So this quarter includes four payments, not three. Shouldn’t happen again for a long time.

Kring Windy Day

Fun Stuff:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Entertainment $146.27 $48.76
Recreation $374.00 $124.67
Travel $1,282.56 $427.52

We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of free entertainment this quarter. We got free tickets to a Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert, the Mac & Cheese Bowl food festival, an Albany All-Stars roller derby bout, and a Neko Case concert! Basically that entertainment expense is just Netflix, Hulu, some iTunes music, newspapers, and I donated to my friend Simply Sylvio’s Kickstarter campaign for Sylvio – The Movie!
The recreation expense is totally our camping reservation for next Labor Day, most of which will be refunded. We lock up two weeks in advance, and decide later which days to use.
Travel is mostly a huge payment and deposit to reserve a cottage on Cape Cod that we are splitting with another couple on Memorial Day weekend, so we will be getting most of that back.

Christmas Morning 2015 (12)


Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Food $218.87 $72.96
Other $28.28 $9.43
Total Pet $247.15 $82.38

Nothing out of the ordinary for the pets this month. Just food, a dog license from the city, and about 200 pounds of rabbit litter from Lowes!


Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Charity $103.00 $34.33
Clothing $283.03 $94.34
Gifts Given $1,447.82 $482.61
Home $255.58 $85.19
Personal Care $193.35 $64.45
Postage $23.98 $7.99

I made my big once-annual clothes shopping trip to the outlet mall, armed with Banana Republic gift cards from Christmas. I picked up three pairs of pants at the Gap, a few button-down shirts, a t-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt, probably a few other things I can’t remember. Marge got a few things as well, and we paid $0 out of pocket. Other than that, we also bought some hiking shoes at LL Bean partially with gift cards, and Marge spent a bunch on boots.
My big frugal clothing win was a pair of sunglasses: eBags.com gave me free e-Bags money to use since I bought our backpacks from them long ago. I put that towards a pair of sunglasses which I only had to pay 94 cents for out of pocket, shipping included.

Christmas Presents 2015

Gifts: We apparently we were VERY generous this Christmas, which we paid off in January. We gave people heated blankets, shoes, LL Bean clothes, handmade jewelry, made lots of fancy soap, which required lots of supplies, along with supplies for embroidery gifts.



Goal Progress

Back in January, I made up some goals for 2016. Here’s how we’re doing with them.

Total 2016 Spending of $30,000 (excluding debt payments): 

  • Spent so far: $10,668.49
  • On track to spend: $42,673.96

Uh oh. Our total 2015 spending was $35,373. We are on track to be much higher than that! I will take heart in the fact that this quarter contained our annual home insurance bill, and most of our property taxes. And I know we won’t have a repeat of that Gifts expense this year! Those three combined are about $4,500 of the $10k total.

Savings Rate of 65%: 

  • Savings Rate so far: 45.8%

Our method for calculating our savings rate is shown here. Total Expenses, less principal on debt payments / Take Home Income, plus 401(k) contributions at 60%.

Pay off Student Loans: 

  • Balance at January 1: $5,916.51
  • Balance at March 31: $3,564,15

I had to meet a minimum spending requirement on a Barclay’s Arrival card, so what better way to meet a spending requirement than to pay down debt at the same time! I threw an extra $2,000 into our student loans. Responsible, eh?

Max Out 457 Plan and Roth IRAs

  • Goals: $18,000 in 457 Plan / $11,000 in Roth IRAs
  • Saved so far: $4,187.38 in 457 Plan / $1,000 in Roth IRAs

Right now, our weekly scheduled savings should have these retirement plans maxed out by the end of the year.

Contribute to Marge’s 401(k)

Marge’s office still hasn’t switched from their infamous 401(k) provider. They promise to, but still haven’t made the jump! Hence, she hasn’t started contributing anything yet.

Read 24 Books

  • Read so far: 10

Really good progress so far on this one. And I’ve read some really great books. Personal favorite would have to be The Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey. That was maybe the funniest, but definitely the oddest book I’ve ever read. Other greats were The Man In The Rockefeller Suit about the imposter known as Clark Rockefeller, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Watch 36 Movies

  • Watched so far: 13

In looking over the movies I watched this winter, you might think I’m a sucker for thrillers with The Gift, 10 Cloverfield Way, United 93, and Compliance on there, and you might be right. I liked all of those a lot. United 93 might be the best of those, despite how difficult it is to watch, but I have a special place in my heart for The Gift, especially the weirdo ex-schoolmate of Jason Bateman’s character. The other two movies I really liked were Blue Is The Warmest Color (and not just because of that one scene) and the 1950 film noir Gun Crazy. The worst movie I watched might’ve been Terrance Malick’s ponderous pilgrim story The New World if it wasn’t for the fact that I endured CBGB, an exerable viewing experience that only occasionally becomes so bad it’s good.

Write 52 Blog Entries

  • Written so far: 16, including this one!


Years of Savings:

This magical calculation demonstrates how long we could last if we kept living every month like this quarter.  We take our investable assets and divide them by our monthly expenses, without debt payments, above. The number to shoot for is 25, because at that level of savings, you could afford to live forever on your money stash. According to our monthly average expenses and our investable assets, we have…

5 years of savings

Retirement Location Possibility!

If we take that number of years of savings above, and divide by 25, we can figure out where in the world we could afford to retire right now by dividing another country’s cost of living  price index by our own cost of living. I use Rochester, NY, for our own cost of living since it is the closest city to us on Expatistan’s index and is very comparable price-wise.

Our International Retirement Cost of Living Number is….


According to Expatistan’s index, that means we can retire… nowhere!

How were your expenses this quarter?


  1. Great quarter guys! Q1 was good for me as well. Hoping to get my spending down below $30k this year (and that’s just for me) so you guys give me some inspiration.

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