Budget Check & Cash Flow Update - October 2019

Budget | Cash Flow | Personal Finance
Budget Check & Cash Flow Update - October 2019

The saying goes that cash is king.  While that's true, a more accurate saying when it comes to finances is that CASH FLOW is king.  Whether you're retired, still working or just starting out the only way you can improve your financial house is to have positive cash flow.  

If you're in the accumulation phase then that positive cash flow allows you to save and invest to build up your future cash flow.  If you're already retired, or FIREd, then congratulations because I'm sure your cash flow is well above what you need.

We've been fairly lax in regards to our budgeting, but the time is right to really get things moving forward.  One of our big goals for 2019 is to focus on our monthly spending.  When it comes to personal finance it's rather simple: income - expenses = savings and savings x investing = financial independence.  There's obviously two main levers there and while we'd all like to increase our income, many times reducing expenses is some of the low hanging fruit that you can go after to increase your savings.

Budget Check

Total income for October came in at $10,108.97.  The bulk of the income, ~93.5%, came from my day job, le sigh; although that should come as no surprise since we're still in the accumulation phase.  Approximately 3.9% came from dividends, 0.4% from interest on cash in my savings accounts, 0.5% from cash back from my credit card and the remaining 1.7% from my side hustle.
Budget | Income | Passive Income
Monthly Income Breakdown - October 2019
Total expenses for October crept back higher to $4,433.45.  Although $1,000 was for extra debt payments on our non-mortgage debt, i.e. car loan.  We're making good progress on getting that paid down, but we still have a long ways to go with just over $19k remaining on the balance.

Core expenses came in at $3,137.95 which was right around our average since February.  The reconciliation between core and total expenses amounted to $1,000 of extra payments on the remaining car loan and $241 for our camping/cabin trip and $54 of expenses that I don't consider core because in a worst case scenario we could cut it out.

October saw higher than average income and lower than average expenses which led to excellent net positive cash flow of $5,675.52 based off all income and all expenses.  Looking at just work income, but including all expenses, we still managed positive cash flow of $5,020.51.  Needless to say I'm pretty stoked!

Our savings rate from all income sources came to 56% while our savings rate from work income alone was 53%. 
Budget | Cash Flow | Savings
Cash Flow Check In October 2019
*A few notes about the cash flow check in.  All income is only income that I receive and does not include my wife's income likewise for the expenses.  We've found it's easiest for us to just keep separate accounts since I'm gone most of the time for work.  Also, pre-tax withholding for the 401k (I currently withhold 6% in order to get the full 5% employer match) and the ESPP through my employer (4% post tax withholding) are not included in the above savings amount.  

Net Work Cash Flow

While my net cash flow from above includes all income and all expenses, I wanted to get a more granular look at the cash flow that is available each month.  So I started calculating my Net Work Cash Flow which is calculated at post-tax income only from my work and core expenses.  

The above might be the true cash flow each month; however, it's not really representative of our "free cash flow" each month.  The idea is that all other income sources outside of work income are already going directly into savings or investing or in the case of dividends remaining in the brokerage account.  On the expense side the majority of our expenses fall into the core side and most of the other expenses are extra debt payments rather than further discretionary spending.

Moving forward, I believe this gives a better idea of our cash flow each month that can/will be used for debt reduction, saving and investing.
Income | Expenses | Cash Flow | Savings | Financial Independence | Personal Finance
Net Work Cash Flow October 2019

Overall we've done quite well on our Net Work Cash Flow with October's coming in at $6,316.01 and our 6-month moving average at $3,872.46.

Non-Work Cash Flow

Each month I like to examine the state of our non-work cash flow.  Since our goal is to become financially independent the monthly cash flow has to come from somewhere in order to cover our expenses.  I break our non-work cash flow into 2 categories: (1) Passive Income: dividends from taxable accounts and interest, and (2) Non-Work Income: all income from outside of my day job.

Passive income for October totaled $435.34 and covered 13.9% of core expenses.  Non-Work Income totaled $655.01 and covered 20.9% of core expenses.  

Through the end of the October passive income has totaled $6,043.58 while non-work income has totaled $11,083.13.  Over the TTM passive income has averaged $618.97 per month with non-work income averaging $1,116.61 which cover 16% and 29% of core expenses, respectively.


October was a great month for cash flow as we had above average income and below average expenses.  That's always a great combination and leads to great savings rates.  I don't expect to have results this good too often, but every now and then things will line up to let us put up some great numbers.  

As usual there's still room to improve especially on the expense side.  I'll be looking for ways to cut back on spending as I'm sure there's at least a couple hundred dollars that could be cut just by revisiting some of our bills, namely homeowner's and car insurance.

I want to be aggressive with debt reduction; however, my main focus is going to be building up cash and our investment accounts.  The rough plan moving forward is to use ~$1k per month toward debt reduction with the remaining cash flow going to the savings and investment accounts.  I believe that will strike a good balance between freeing up cash flow as well as improving our passive income.

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What are you doing to improve your cash flow situation?  Are you working on reducing expenses or increasing income?