Ridinkulous Quarterly Expenses – Q1 2017

Well it’s time for our quarterly expense wrap-up. The first quarter of 2017 here at Ridinkulous headquarters held some serious highs and lows. Among the highs, we got to spend ten days in Thailand seeing the sights, eating great food and relaxing on the beach. Later, Marge went on a trip to Vegas and I did some hiking around the Hudson Valley. I competed in a cooking contest, and celebrated my birthday by buying a bunch of smoked meats at the Polish deli.

Our low point came two weeks ago when we had to make the extremely difficult decision to put down one of our pet rabbits, Cornelius. I could write a macabre but potentially useful entry about what happened, the associated expenses, and how we made the decision, but not today. Send your well wishes to his brother, Klaus, who is living alone now. We hope to get him a buddy sometime soon.

Cornelius (left) and Klaus

Total Expenses: $13,404.86
Avg Per Month: $4,468.29

Without Debt Payments
Total Expenses: $11,321.12
Avg Per Month: $3,773.71

Savings Rate: 37.7%

Serious Stuff :

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Mortgage $2,083.74 $694.58
Home Insurance $985.00 Annual
Property Taxes $2,584.62 Annual
Medical $77.01 $25.67
Home Maintenance – DIY $2.14 $0.71

A couple big ticket items jacked up our spending this quarter: Home insurance and most of our property taxes. Well at least that’s $3,500 in non-debt spending that won’t show up next quarter!

Food:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Groceries $911.86 $303.95
Wine & Beer $73.25 $24.42
Dining Out $219.54 $73.18
Takeout Food $254.71 $84.90
Total Food $1,459.36 $486.45

We did pretty good on food this quarter. Less than $500 per month! Last year we averaged over $600 per month. We ate a lot of great, cheap food in Thailand for ten days in January. And I experimented making new foods at home. I made a couple semi-successful loaves of bread. I got America’s Test Kitchen’s Bread Illustrated for Christmas and I want to learn how to bake real bread this year. Still, nothing’s turned out perfect (not risen enough, crumbly texture) but I’m learning.

I also made takoyaki (fried octopus balls, left) for the first time in that fancy pan, which was another Christmas gift. And I competed in a mac-and-cheese contest that Marge has competed in twice. I was also unable to bring home the gold. I was definitely cheated.

Our cars during the March 14 snowstorm

Transportation:

Quarterly Total Month Average
Gas $174.58 $58.19
Car Insurance Not  this quarter Bi-Annual
Bus Tickets  $100.00 $33.33
Total Transportation $274.58  $91.53

Holy moley, that’s a good transportation bill! Both of our work was cancelled during the great March 14 snowstorm. Transportation Savings! We spent under $60 a month on gas this quarter, and the only other expense was my bus pass. We averaged $286 a month last year, so $91/mo is great, but it won’t last when the car insurance bill hits.

 

Utilities:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Cable $119.97 $39.99
Electric $150.75 $50.25
Gas $339.83 $113.28
Telephone $44.08 $14.69
Water  & Sewer $373.83 $124.61

WATER FAIL! Our boring water bill suddenly got a lot less boring this quarter!  It spiked to 3x more than normal!

This happened once to my parents when they moved to a new house. There was a sudden spike in the water bill, and they thought it just had to do with shower having multiple showerheads. It turned out to be a leak in the main between the road and the house! Luckily they had insurance to cover this repair. So immediately, my mind turned to this and I was sure we had a leak outside, because I was sure there were no leaks inside the house. The water main goes under our brand new patio and shed, so my mind was racing with nightmare repair scenarios.

The handle in question

I called the water department and they sent someone out immediately, not with tools, but with computer printouts. Have I told you I like my city? The printouts showed a huge spike in our water usage, but only while we were on our vacation. The gears clicked into place. The woman who watches our rabbits used the toilet and left it running. Unless you nudge the handle up, it can remain down. And it was running when we came back from Thailand. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it had been running for ten days. Well, did you know a running toilet uses 120 gallons an hour, or 3,000 gallons day?? You know now! And it’s all due to a faulty handle. (I fixed it)

 

Koh Kood, Thailand. Enjoyed this in January, paid for previously

Fun Stuff:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Entertainment $195.84 $65.28
Recreation $28.28 $9.43
Travel $2,040.52 $680.17

Entertainment was mostly Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, a few albums that I bought, and the $35 Oscar festival pass.

Travel expense is artificially inflated. We paid for a rental on Cape Cod over Memorial Day for $1,075, but we’re getting $400 of that back as a deposit, plus another few hundred from the other couple staying with us. Travel also includes $210 for our next round-trip flight: St Kitts and Nevis! We paid using Lufthansa frequent flyer miles, so that is just the cost of fees and taxes. We’re going after Thanksgiving.

Maeby hiking the Hudson Valley

Pets:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Boarding $514.50 $171.50
Food $225.86 $75.29
Dog License $12.50 Annual
Total Pet $752.86  $250.95

Pet expense was extraordinary because of Maeby’s boarding expense while we were in Thailand, and also because of the rabbit sitter. That cost us $25 and $18 a night respectively.

 

Miscellaneous:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Charity $117.00 $39.00
Clothing $89.23 $29.74
Gifts Given $1,127.53 $375.84
Home $244.29 $81.43
Personal Care $271.29 $90.43
Postage $43.11 $14.37

Home expense included a new (to me) camera bought on Ebay for $91. That is offset by the $41 I sold my old (identical) camera for. The old one had a scratch on the lens I was getting sick of, and I wanted to get rid of it for Thailand.

Also, I Marge and I each bought used Amazon Kindles on Ebay. I bought an older model for $10 just to try out the “ebook lifestyle” and I like it a lot. I still prefer using Paperback Swap for books because I can keep them for as long as I want, where the ebooks I get from the library get returned automatically after a few weeks. House expense also includes our Christmas tree and a brand new snow shovel, replacing one we bought for $10 ten years ago!

Gifts Given is last year’s Christmas bill.

 

Goal Progress

Total 2017 non-debt spending of $30,000: 

  • Spent so far: $11,321.12
  • On track to spend: $45,284.48

Ouch! Our first quarter is always hard because of the property taxes and home insurance. I fully expect to not meet this goal this year anyway, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try!

 

Savings Rate of 65%: 

  • Savings Rate so far: 37.7%

Gonna have to do better than that! Our method for calculating our savings rate is shown here.

 

Max Out 457 Plan and Roth IRAs

  • Goals: $18,000 in 457 Plan / $5,500 in each Roth IRA
  • Saved so far: $4,200 in 457 Plan / $750 in each Roth IRA

This shouldn’t be any problem. Marge’s 401(k) plan is still not worth investing in, so I will probably save that extra money as cash at Vanguard, wait for a stock price “correction,” and then invest it.

 

Read 24 Books

  • Read so far: 5

Will have to pick up the pace on this a bit. My favorite book was Alan Partridge’s Nomad, but that’s a bit of an acquired taste. You might enjoy The Skies Belong To Us: Love and Terror In The Golden Age of Hijacking, a book about the airplane hijacking craze of the 70’s. It’s a fun one.

 

Years of Savings:

This magical calculation demonstrates how far we could get if we kept living every month like this ones listed above.  We take our investable assets and divide them by our monthly expenses 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 non-debt expenses and our investable assets, we have…

6.42 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 used Hartford, CT, for our own cost of living since it is the closest city to us on Expatistan’s index and is comparable price-wise.

Our International Retirement Cost of Living Number is….

47

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

4 Comments

  1. So sorry to hear about Cornelius!

  2. Hi Norm,

    Long-time reader, first time caller. Thanks for writing your blog! I think we’re at similar stages in life…e.g., I have an identical plan for maxing out, except I use trad. IRAs. I learned from you about the value of Tracfones, and it has saved a ton for me (800 min w/ purchase of a phone on eBay).

    I don’t know if you have read anything by Nassim Taleb, but I recommend it. He does not share our political beliefs, but he is brilliant.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Norm

      April 8, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Thanks so much Locke! It’s hard to know if anyone gets anything out of this blog sometimes, so I’m glad to hear the Tracfone is working out for you. For some reason I never see other personal finance bloggers using them.

      I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of Nasim Taleb and his “Black Swan” but don’t know anything about him. Would you recommend that book or another one?

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