It’s time for the second monthly installment in my 2017 project to document my actual money habits. Last month, I broke things into individual articles. Starting this month, I’m going to combine all of my tracking into a single post. Stats nerds, rejoice!
And because I’m tracking four facets of my life this year, I’m going to share them all here, for better or worse.
To start, let’s look at a non-financial facet of my life: my weight. Things finally went too far in early February. After months of talking about fitness (but not doing anything), I decided I’d had enough. So had Kim. We’re together to lose weight and, more importantly, to get fit again.
I weighed in at 198.2 pounds on the morning of February 6th. By the end of the month, after careful adherence to a vegetable-focused diet with heavily reduced alcohol intake, I’d dopped to 186.0 pounds. In other words, I lost twelve pounds in February. Yay!
Next up, here are my transportation numbers for February. As I mentioned last month, I’m tracking every mile I travel in Portland during 2017. (I’m not logging mileage for vacations or business trips; that’d be too complicated.) Here’s the spreadsheet:
February’s numbers were surprisingly similar to January’s. In February, I averaged 13.08 miles per day (versus 13.83 in January). I walked 4.29 miles per day and traveled by car 8.48 miles per day. (In January, I walked 4.40 miles per day and traveled by car 8.66 miles per day.)
As in January, most of my trips were by foot. I only used a car on 50% of the total days in February. But when I do use a car, I tend to travel far. I’m interested to see how these numbers will change now that I’ve rented an office a mile-and-a-half from home and the weather has begun to improve. (I made my first bike trip on February 26th; I’ll start biking more often as the cold and rain give way to sun.)
Also new this month, I’m going to share my business finances. In my end-of-year review, I highlighted my company financials. Last year, my company received $4233.36 in revenue, or about $350 per month. Many Money Boss readers asked me if I could talk more about how I make money from the site, so I intend to do so in the future.
For now, here’s a simple breakdown of the company’s finances so far in 2017:
It might seem strange that I have columns for both sales and income. What’s the difference? Well, to me, sales are transactions that occur during a given month. So, during January my sites generated $763.73 in sales and in February they generated $461.20 in sales. But I didn’t receive that money during those months. Instead, there’s a lag time between when the sales occur and when I get paid.
Sometimes that lag is minimal. When I sell the Get Rich Slowly course, I’m paid a few days after the end of the month. But other sources — such as Amazon — can take a couple of months to pay. As a result, the income column shows how much I actually received during a given month. (And by “received”, I mean “deposited”. If I’m slow to deposit a check, the money can show up in the following month’s income. It’s an imprecise science.)
Expenses are pretty straight-forward. Net income is the difference between the company’s monthly income (actual money received) and expenses.
As you can see, blogging isn’t tremendously profitable for me right now. I’m putting in a lot of work without a lot of current rewards. But I’m okay with that. That’s exactly how I expected things would go. My goal right now is to build a library of great material at Money Boss (and elsewhere) while also growing the readership. Because I’m financially independent, I’m in no rush to make fast cash by compromising my principles. I can be patient and make money eventually…sometime in the future.
But I’m guessing the numbers you really care about are my personal finances. Let’s finish by looking at those…
During 2017, I’m tracking every penny that enters and leaves my life. I have plenty saved. That’s the good news. The bad news is I have almost no income, as you just saw. I want my stash to last another 30 years or so, allowing me to live a modest lifestyle while resisting the slow, silent killer called inflation.
According to the best online retirement calculators I’ve found, I should be able to spend $4000 per month without worry. Maybe a litte more. But how much am I actually spending? That’s what I aim to discover with this project.
Here’s the summary spreadsheet:
Because that’s probably blurry and tough to read, I’ll go over the most important numbers.
First up, let’s talk about net worth. Once again, it grew substantially.
- My net worth on 31 Dec 2016 was $1,577,014.27
- My net worth on 31 Jan 2017 was $1,591,985.32
- My net worth on 28 Feb 2017 was $1,618,634.45
My net worth increased by $26,649.13 (or about 1.67%) over January. For the year, my net worth has grown $41,620.18 (or about 2.64%). Most of that gain has come from the roaring bull market. (I have no easy easy to calculate monthly market returns for my investments. I could provide them last month because Fidelity shows “year to date” gains. But there’s no monthly performance report that I can find.)
What about my spending? In January, I spent $4801.76 (or about $154.90 per day). While this doesn’t put me into a panic, it was more than I had hoped and anticipated that I was spending. Most of the best retirement calculators show that my current nest egg can safely support spending of around $3900 per month without the need to earn more. Obviously, I was over that in January.
I was over that $3900 safe spending level in February too. In fact, I spent more in February than in January. (And I know already that March spending will be higher yet.) Last month, I spent $5035.73, which is about $179.85 per day.
Again, this is no reason to panic. The numbers aren’t way out of line — it’s not like I’m burning through $10,000 per month — but my current level of spending probably won’t be sustainable for the next thirty years. In the long term, I’ll want to make some corrections.
As in January, the biggest problem spot appears to be food spending. I spent $1090.72 on food during the first month of the year, including $554.95 in restaurants. Last month, I managed to cut that back to $842.63 on food, of which $249.58 was in restaurants. That’s progress, sure, but there’s lots more to be made. And the restaurant battle hasn’t been won yet. I’ve eaten out several times this month already, and we have plenty more planned nights out.
It seems like I could help both my belly and my bottom line by becoming a more savvy diner.
February was a big month behind the scenes for me, both personally and professionally. As is always the case when Real Life intervenes, you couldn’t really tell from the surface of the blog. Among other things:
- I spent the first part of the month looking at real estate in my neighborhood. Kim and I were toying with the idea of moving into a place with a yard so that our animals could have room to roam. We couldn’t find anything we liked, though. Plus prices in Portland are way too high.
- I rented office space so that Money Boss could have space of its own.
- A close friend and I are exploring the idea of purchasing a rental property on the Oregon coast. Kim and I will visit the place next week to see whether we want to commit to the investment.
- I agreed to invest in a colleague’s business. Earlier this week, I wired $50,000 to Shannon McLay, who runs The Financial Gym in New York City. I’ll talk much more about this decision (and Shannon’s business) in the future, I’m sure.
To me, it feels like I’ve woken from a long nap and started moving forward. After we returned from our year-long RV trip, I struggled to find direction. I couldn’t adhere to a fixed schedule, and I didn’t know what direction to take. Now I do. I’m excited about the future, and I look forward to chronicling my financial evolution here at Money Boss.