Income Update - December 2013

 I'm a big proponent of tracking every single penny that comes into your hands if you're really wanting to make a change to your finances.  Mental accounting is too difficult to keep track of and the mundane everyday expenses get forgotten.  Once you keep a detailed history you can see that you're really spending $400 per month on restaurants or $100 on coffee or whatever little expenses that are fine by themselves but add up quickly to destroy a budget.  This is why I like to keep track of all of my expenses to help keep myself accountable and looking to see what areas I'm just plain doing poor in.  If you want to improve your finances, then please track everything for a 3 month span and then take action to make positive changes.

December is typically a horrible month for most budgets as there's lots of get togethers, nights out, and of course all the gifts and travel with Christmas.  Gifts weren't much of an issue for me during December as I save throughout the year but the extra driving and larger meals to cook sure did bust the budget for the month.  Minimum expenses came in at a whopping $2,545.32 for the month.  That's not good at all, although an increase was expected due to all of the increased levels thanks to our house purchase.  Food continues to be the largest category that's not related to the house.  Due to lots of driving and being busy with work I wasn't as diligent with keeping up with my spreadsheet as the month went on so some purchases got categorized as groceries when they weren't.  The joys of shopping at Walmart, where you can get anything and everything all in one trip.  Total expenses increased to $2,646.19 which is honestly just wya too much money.  I've had 5 straight months of increasing expenses, and that trend needs to get broken.  My average minimum expenses increased from $1,532.31 through November to $1,616.73 for the full year.  This is well above my goal of $1,400 or less, but the house has a lot to do with that.  Average total expenses increased as well from $1,709.24 at the end of November to $1,787.32.

There's some room to cut my expenses, but a large portion are relatively fixed and related to the house.  I'm working on eating healthier and cheaper, mainly by avoiding pre-packaged foods.  So hopefully that will have the double bonus of fueling my body better as well as reducing my food expenses.  A big thorn in my side is the $300 per month payment for the refrigerator that we purchased to go with our house.  We didn't have one, so the purchase was a necessity and I just didn't have the time to search for better deals through Craigslist or some other avenue.  Getting rid of that $300 would help to reduce December's expenses by over 11%.  We were able to get 0% financing for 1 year, so it's user friendly as there's no interest expense on that.  If the markets continue to provide little value, I'll be tempted to use some excess cash flow in February to pay off the balance and get that expense done with.  Of course, we'll be snowballing at least a portion of that payment into the other payments we have for the furniture, so the expense wouldn't be completely gone.  What do you think would be the best route to take?

As mentioned in my December dividend update, I received $535.16 in dividends last month.  Adding in the $1.87 in interest income brought my total potential retirement income for December to $537.03.  My expense coverage ratio just from dividends and interest was solid at 21.10% of my minimum expenses for the month.  This was a big dropoff from September's coverage of 35.05%, although that's attributable to the much higher expenses.  My FI income, monthly income based on the 30 year US Treasury bond of 3.96% using my net worth excluding traditional retirement accounts, came in at $709.35 which covered 27.87% of my minimum expenses from December and was slight increase over November's 27.69% mark.

Overall it was a pretty successful month as far as budgeting and saving as much as possible.  There's still some work to be done and I'm hoping to refocus with the new year underway.

*Minimum Expenses are only the expenses related to rent, utilities, car, food, minimum payment on debt and other necessities. In other words, the required amount of replacement income I would need for financial independence.
*Total Expenses are the total monthly outflow of money.
*Potential Retirement Income is income received from dividends, interest, cash back from credit card purchases and any other source of income not related to my job.
*FI is my liquid net worth invested at the 30 year treasury bond yield at the end of each month divided by 12 to get monthly income.

Monthly Income
Category Amount
Paycheck $6,277.72
Expense Check $2,214.46
TOTAL $8,492.18

Monthly Expenses
Category Budgeted Amount Actual Amount Subtotal
Mortgage $911.84 $911.84
House Insurance $127.92 $127.92
Property Taxes $371.08 $371.08
Gas $175.00 $173.88
Car Insurance $100.25 $100.25
Groceries $200.00 $298.11
Restaurants $125.00 $176.43
Debt Payment (Fridge) $300.00 $300.00
Cell Phone $10.81 $10.81
Miscellaneous $55.00 $100.87
Gifts $0.00 $0.00
Trip $0.00 $0.00
Roth IRA $0.00 $0.00
Emergency Fund $2,500.00 $2,500.00
Gifts $75.00 $75.00
Investing $3,465.28 $3,270.99
Car Maint/Repair $75.00 $75.00
TOTAL $8,492.18

I've updated my Progress page to reflect December's changes.

How did you do on your budget for the month?  Is there anything you're going to focus more on in January due to December's spending?  Got some new goals for 2014?


  1. Hey JC, it looks like you survived December alright. We lost track of our budget last month, so I'll tally up the damage in the next few days. We visited family in the midwest, and then drove to Denver to see more family. We weren't expecting to do that, but it is cheaper than $800 in airfare for my wife and I to take a second trip.

    I haven't had to buy a fridge in a while, and didn't realize they were over $3k now. WOW, no wonder the store offered financing! I'm curious about your cell phone. Do you have Republic or someone else? We have a legacy carrier and it costs a fortune.

    If you ever go looking at Amazon, because Walmart doesn't have something.....think of me. I'm an affiliate, and so accessing through the banner ad on my blog (right side) will earn me a finders fee when you buy something. Take care and have a great week


    1. Bryan,

      December sure was fine although I know I could have done better. Like I said though I save throughout the year so there's no surprises, although given my cash flow I can probably stop that and invest that money throughout the year and then just use the cash flow for November/December to pay for all the gifts. Prices for flights are ridiculous and when you couple that with the high likelihood for delays in the midwest that just makes it worse. Glad you were able to hit up both Denver and the midwest, although I'm sure you're glad to be out of the cold.

      There's cheaper ones available but my wife wanted one of the French Door ones and those are generally more expensive. We actually bought one, then found out that the space for the fridge is too small by about an inch so then we had to go and find one that would fit. That severely limited the options but she's still happy with the one we have.

      I've covered it before but I guess a note on each update should be in there. Since I work out of town so much my wife and I find it much easier to just keep our finances/budget separate. So we each have bills that we're responsible for. I jumped onto my wife's contract with Verizon, but since the house purchase she's now taken over all expenses for the cell phone except for the $10.81 that I pay for insurance. I'm still not sure if I should keep it or not, but phones are just so damn expensive now. I do want to switch though to one of the other "non name brand" providers. $50 per month for unlimited everything is so much better than the $90 that my phone costs for unlimited talk/text and 2 GB of data.

      I don't buy too much stuff off Amazon, or stuff in general for that matter. But when/if I do I'll try and keep you in mind. My wife on the other hand loves Amazon. Not sure what the T&C are for Amazon, but I know Adsense says you can't ask for anyone to click on your ads or anything like that. Amazon might be the same for their banners. But they'd have to find a random comment on a random blog to find out that you asked about it, if it is against the rules.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi PIP,

    Your income is really great! :-)

    I tracked also every single Penny (Cent) in 2013.
    My saving quote was 24%.
    But I have a wife (she works not), a child, a dog, a house, a car...
    Only I earn money!
    I think 24% is OK.
    But in 2013, I try to reach 30% saving quote.


    1. D-S,

      24% on one income and supporting a full household is quite impressive. I know mine won't be able to stay this high forever because kid(s) will be in the future. My wife and I are just starting to try and have a baby so there's more changes to come. Best of luck on pushing it up to 30% for 2014.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. W2R,

      An extra month or two would be just fine by me. ;) Although I'm also ready, or at least I think I am.

      I really just need to re-focus on lowering my discretionary expenses, especially food. That's usually the highest expense that I have that I can choose to pay or not. I'm leaning towards getting the fridge off the books as well, although the math doesn't say that's the best thing since every debt is all 0% interest and we're paying enough to get everything paid off early. It's more just a hindrance and I want to see it gone. Heart says yes, head says no. I'll probably get the fridge paid off in February/March/April if the markets aren't giving us good opportunities.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. JC! It's been a while, still looks like you're raking in the cash and doing well. Keep up the good work brother.

    1. Marvin,

      Glad to have you back and to see some posts coming up. Oilfield trash oilfield cash baby! Unfortunately all that money means I'm working like crazy. But it's for a good reason, FI!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. December wasn't such a great month for my budget. I spent more during the holidays than I had initially planned. Not a total disaster though. Just looking to get back on track in the new year!

    1. First Million,

      December is usually a rough month as there's all the gifts as well as the usual higher food/alcohol expenses that go along with all the get togethers. I'm ready for 2014 as well.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Your savings rate is crazy good.

    Well done. The more you save, the more you can invest :))


    1. Mark,

      I'll take a 70% rate on a bad month any month of the year. That's the biggest thing about working in the oilfield. There's lots of money to be made, but so many of the people I come across at work just spend it all. I've met one guy that has gotten a new truck each year for 5 years in a row? Seriously? Talk about taking a beating on the depreciation!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Pursuit,

    Another fantastic month. That income remains off the chart!

    Glad to see gifts came out of savings and weren't an issue for you this month. Gifts really killed me in December, but I embraced the spending.

    Keep up the awesome work! And good luck with adding to the family. :)

    Best regards.

    1. DM,

      I can't really complain about a near 70% rate in a horrible month for expenses. The food costs killed me this month as well as the high gas expenses for my car. Lots of driving to and from the rig in December.

      I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it goes well and there will be some more news to report in a few months!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Looks good PIP. Is the $298 on groceries for 2 people, or just you? If 2 people, you have serious ninja skills...

    December deposits were better than average for me, but would have been stellar if not for Christmas presents. January will also be above average. I'm paying 6 months of car insurance and a year of rental insurance so a stellar month will be foiled once again. There's always something... Damn you life!

    1. CI,

      Those groceries expenses were way out of whack. I spent more time at home this month so I bought more food for the house. I typically stock up on some things for the house when I'm there but the way it worked out I was home 3 different times during December because of the timing of us finishing the wells. That and buying extra things to be able to make some food for our family Christmas really busted the food portion of the budget.

      January is going much better though, now I just need to keep it that way the rest of the month.

      That's good that you were still able to be better than your average despite the higher expenses for Christmas. I know what you mean about life getting in the way. It always seems to do that!

      Thanks for stopping by!


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