Ridinkulous Quarterly Expenses: Q3 2016


Puzzling sign at the Dutchess County Fair bird barn. Don’t be like Breakfast

The calendar on the wall says it’s October. You know what that means! Time for cardigans and hot mugs of mulled apple cider. Time for leaf-peeping and apple-picking. Time for scarves and slippers.  Logs for a fireplace or wood-burning stoves? Burn ’em if you got ’em! You know how I do. I’m Mr. Muh-fuggin’ Autumn Man! Welcome To Fall!

How did we do on our expenses for three months leading up to this most auspicious season? All I can say is, what a difference timing makes! Looking at our savings rate, you’d think we had failed spectacularly since last quarter! Our savings rate has been slashed in half from 71.7% down to 34.7%!  But in reality, our discretionary spending was nearly identical to the previous quarter. How could this be? Two things caused the drop in the savings rate:

  1. We paid our property taxes. We paid our school taxes for the entire coming year ($1,965), and half of our county tax for the year ($641.26). This $2,606 alone accounts for almost the entire jump in total non-debt expenses from last quarter: $5,745 to $8,505.
  2. Last quarter contained an extra paycheck for both of us because of the way the weeks fell. That’s thousands of dollars less in income this quarter.

Crazy fluctuations are the reason why I do a quarterly expense report rather than a monthly. But even after trying to smooth out expenses, we still see crazy swings due to big expenses from quarter to quarter.

Total Expenses: $10,589.53
Avg Per Month: $3,529.84

Without Debt Payments
Total Expenses: $8,505.79
Avg Per Month: $2,835.26

Savings Rate: 34.7%

Serious Stuff :

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Mortgage $2,083.74 $694.58
Home Insurance  N/A N/A
Property Taxes $2,606.96 N/A
Medical $116.04 $38.68
Home Maintenance – DIY $63.72 $21.24
Home Maintenance – Contractors $300.00 $100.00

All pretty much status quo here. We had some dentist co-pays under Medical. And the $300 is a down payment for a gardener to make our backyard look nicer. We don’t trust ourselves with plants.



Felafels from scratch


Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Groceries $1,228.24 $409.41
Wine & Beer $91.39 $30.46
Dining Out $298.48 $99.49
Takeout Food $201.45 $67.15
Total Food $1,819.56 $606.52

Mystery mac and cheese

On the whole, up just slightly from last quarter. We keep our food costs down by rarely eating out, and making cheap, delicious meals at home, as outlined in the Cost Per Serving series. Those are from-scratch felafels. They’re super easy if you have a deep fryer. And only use dry beans, never canned.

I also worked out a recipe to enter in our local mac-and-cheese cooking contest which Marge has entered twice. Can I bring home the gold? Some other time, I’ll let you in on the recipe, which its un-Googleable status proves to me is completely unique. Any guesses?


Annual car at campsite photo


Quarterly Total Month Average
Auto Maintenance/Other $46.00 $15.33
Gas $222.56 $74.19
Car Insurance N/A N/A
Parking $25.92 $8.64
Bus Tickets $130.00 $43.33
Total Transportation $424.48 $141.49

No car insurance payment this quarter! So this is super low. Our gas expense was slightly higher since it’s the summer and we took some long-distance summer trips across New York state. Can you say “camping in the Thousand Islands?” I knew you could. Other is highway tolls and an annual inspection.
Also, that is the last of my parking expense. Formally $26 a month, and now zero since I cancelled my parking pass. Instead of driving, this summer, I’ve been biking a lot, or taking the bus.



Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Cable $154.94 $51.65
Gas $92.48 $30.82
Electric $207.67 $69.22
Water  & Sewer $104.46 $34.82
Telephone $18.09 $6.02

Telephone bill is our monthly Ooma bill, at about $4/month. Plus Marge ran out of text messages on her Tracfone, so we bought another 1,000 texts for five dollars. What a deal!
Electric bill is a bit high, only because using an air conditioner at night is an optimal way to sleep!
We also seem to be getting a deal on our cable internet. You’ll remember, when we finally cancelled our basic cable package, Time Warner gave us a 12-month discount on our cable internet, from $57.99 to $34.99. Well, according to my calendar, that promotional rate ran out in July, but they only increased our bill to $39.99. I wonder how long this will last, but for now don’t tell anyone!



Llama judging at the Dutchess County Fair

Fun Stuff:

Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Entertainment $281.58 $93.86
Recreation ($121.99) ($40.66)
Travel $1,134.58 $378.19

: Okay, I know it’s a negative number! This is because we always reserve two weeks of camping far ahead of time, then cancel whatever we’re not going to use and then get a refund for those dates. Trust me, it’s easier this way. The cancelled camping days negated all of the money spent at the county fair, mini-golfing, the horse racetrack, and buying more camping gear. And that fair, oooh. Visiting the Dutchess County Fair is one of our favorite days of the year.
Travel: You can basically owe this all to Marge’s trip to Las Vegas next February, plus some annual fees on travel rewards cards.
Entertainment: Some Netflix, Hulu, newspapers, tickets to two Magnetic Fields shows, and a few albums. Can you guess what my favorite album I bought is? The Avalanches’ Wildflower, of course! I’ve only been waiting 15 years for it to be finished. Even if you’ve never heard of them, please spend 13 minutes watching this promotional video. You won’t regret it.

Unrelated picture of rabbits


Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Boarding 183.00 $61.00
Food 142.63 $47.54
Medical 141.42 $47.14
Other 46.88 $15.63
Total Pet 513.93 $171.31

About a $500 drop from last quarter, since last quarter contained Maeby’s surgery. We also had to pay the dog sitter and someone to watch the rabbits while we were camping, hence the boarding expense. Maybe camping isn’t that cheap after all!



Quarterly Total Monthly Average
Charity $112.00 $37.33
Clothing $169.71 $56.57
Gifts Given $15.91 $5.30
Home $271.17 $90.39
Personal Care $179.04 $59.68
Postage $41.46 $13.82

Biggest clothing expense this quarter was my new pair of Doc Martens for $58. The last pair lasted four years, so ideally this new pair will last until I’m contemplating retirement. Wait and find out!
Home expense includes a new printer we got for $68, the same printer that the Frugalwoods were apparently waiting on buying as well.
Our old Sonicare toothbrush was acting up, so Personal Care includes a new Sonicare toothbrush I bought for $43.98. Tooth care is very important! But so is saving money. So I sold the old broken one on eBay for $4. People fix those things!


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: $24,918 (Q1 = $10,668 / Q2 = $5,745 / Q3 = 8,506)
  • On track to spend: $33,224

Pretty close! But will we make it?? Our last quarter cannot have more than $5,082 in non-debt spending. Due to a professional gardener we’re hiring for a little bit of yard work, I think we will probably exceed that.


Savings Rate of 65%: 

  • Savings Rate so far: 50.9%

So far, our savings rate has varied wildly by quarter from 44.7% to 71.7% and now 34.7%. To achieve our goal of 65% for the year, I calculate that our Q4 savings rate must be over 100%. So basically, we have no chance of making this goal. Our only hope now is to beat last year’s savings rate of 57.4%.

Our method for calculating our savings rate is shown here.


Pay off Student Loans: 

  • Balance at January 1: $5,916.51
  • Balance Today: $0

This goal was met way back in May!


Max Out 457 Plan and Roth IRAs

  • Goals: $18,000 in 457 Plan / $5,500 in each Roth IRA
  • Saved so far: $4,187.38 in 457 Plan / $5,500 in each Roth IRA

We finished contributing to our Roth IRAs in July. And my 457 Plan is on track to max out at the end of the year.


Contribute to Marge’s 401(k)

Despite our hopes, Marge’s office still has not joined a new 401(k) provider. For the time, they are still stuck with Ascensus, Taker Of Fees and flirting with joining some subsidiary of Schwab. I had been squirreling away cash in a money market fund so we could put 100% of her paycheck into the new 401(k) company, max it out in 2016, and pay for current expenses out of the money market stash. But now it just looks like we’ll have a bunch of cash in the money market fund with no use for it. What do you think? Rental property down payment? After tax Vanguard mutual fund?


Read 24 Books

  • Read so far: 22 (Six this quarter)

Wow. Very close to completing this early.  Some really good books this quarter, too. Nicholas Baker’s The Mezzanine, a hyper-observant short novel about things you forgot you observed. A cookbook called Make The Bread, Buy The Butter that attempts to find the triangulation sweet spot between frugality, deliciousness, and joy of cooking for a variety of foods. I read Escape, about a woman that split from the FLDS, the Warren Jeffs cult.

img_6555But my number one book, of course, was How To Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants by my man David Rees. Because of this book, I ditched my electric pencil sharpener at work and got an Alvin Brass Bullet so I can experience the sensory pleasure of sharpening my own pencil by hand, instead of the violent, loud machinations of the electric sharpener.


Watch 36 Movies

  • Watched so far:  30 (Eight this quarter)

Best one? If you haven’t seen Tickled, hurry up, don’t read anything about it, and go see it! Next favorites were probably Whitewash and Gimme The Loot.


Write 52 Blog Entries

  • Written so far: 31, including this one.

Falling behind!


Years of Savings:

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

7.36 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 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!


  1. Come on Norm, rein it in on the spending! 🙂 It’s great that your goals are a bit of a stretch. I go the other way and have goals that I easily crush, and therefore feel like I’m taking names and kicking a$$. Maybe I should shoot for some stretch goals for 2017.

  2. I love that you have stretch goals. I need to create a couple more of those for next year. I think I was too conservative so that I could feel good about reaching my goals but haven’t really challenged myself as much as I could have.

    Keep up the hardwork 🙂

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