March 2019-Cost of Living

The more we track, the more we learn.  It’s becoming more and more apparent what areas of spending need guardrails.

Review of Last Month

In our February cost of living post,  we discovered food costs to be 17.7% of our total budget.  20% was spent on transportation and 31.6% on housing.  We were paid for a number of items that happen once a year like land tax or membership fees.  Those miscellaneous items totaled 30.7% of our total costs.

Cost of Living Details
Home Costs

Housing costs were pretty comparable with February.  Now that’s it’s getting warmer, we’re having to heat the house less as well as use less electricity.  Total home costs were 31.9% of our total, which is very similar to February.

Food Costs

Last month we estimated $445.29 for groceries, and March was an improvement with $313.56.  That’s $131 of savings!  If only it wasn’t lost to dining out.  My goal for keeping Dining out costs under $150 was a disaster in March.  It actually went up from the last month.  How much you ask?  $118, which is pretty much our grocery savings.  A big part of that was related to a hectic schedule.  No excuses though, that’s everyone’s issue.  This is something that has to improve.  Food costs were 18% in March which is slightly lower than last month.

Unexpected Costs

There are things you can’t avoid, and there are things you deal with.  We had both in March.  I got sick and had a few doctors appointments with accompanying prescriptions.  I rarely ever go to the doctor so I really shouldn’t complain.  While rushing to work late, I earned a speeding ticket.  I have nothing to say in my defense.  To top the unplanned events off, we needed to have surgery on our dog in a semi-emergency situation.  To recap, that adds up to doctors ($216) + traffic ticket ($175.30) + pet care ($213.54), for a grand total of $604.84.

In addition to those unexpected costs, I did need to pay for tax preparation in March as well as some vacation costs (which are somewhat planned).  I pay a CPA for taxes because of previous business ownership and complexity.  Tax preparation cost $205, but I have the added benefit of being able to bounce ideas off someone extremely knowledgeable.  I mentioned vacation because we were surprised to be given a trip for our anniversary.  It’s still really early on in the details, but these costs are related to passports since they needed to be renewed.

Unexpected costs totaled $604.84 + Tax prep ($205) + vacation costs ($340) = $1,149.84

Just like last month, this miscellaneous category bit us.  35.2% of our money was sucked up here, and 30.7% was spent here last month.  Time will tell if these are normal or anomalies.

Take Aways

Total spending for March came to $4,017.61. That’s a -3.9% change compared to last month.

Our goal to manage food costs better didn’t exactly improve in March.  We have a goal to reduce the cost of Dining Out to be $150.  We more than doubled that this month.  So, not the best result.  We’ll keep working at though!

Here is a link to our Goals.



Author of Tracking my goal of achieving financial independence in 10 years.

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