Monthly Financial Snapshot: September 2017

Had some extra spending this month on travel due to my sister visiting me for a weekend, as well as purchasing plane tickets and airport parking for my annual trip to visit family. I paid cash for 2 of the 3 flights because I found a good deal on one of them and the second one wasn’t really expensive enough to justify using points, as well as the lack of seat availability since it was the holiday season. I did redeem points for the 3rd flight because Southwest had a sale and thus had redemptions available for a good price. Besides this, my expenses for this month were fairly ordinary.

My newest credit card reward scheme which I put into action this month was inspired by this post over at the Wealthy Accountant. This month, I made an estimated federal tax payment for 2017 of $3,000 over at Pay1040. This allowed me to meet the first tier of minimum spending on my BA card (earned me 50,000 British Airways miles, cha-ching!) a month early, as well as get me a head start on the 2nd tier of minimum spending for the card ($10,000 total spent in the first 12 months) which will earn me another 25,000 miles. And all it cost me was $56.10 in fees and an interest-free $3,000 6-month loan to the federal government, which I value at about $12.60 in lost interest (after tax). Seeing as I likely wouldn’t be able to achieve the final tier of spending goal ($20,000 total spending in first 12 months, earning another 25,000 miles) without this trick, I am essentially buying BA miles at about 0.25 cents each. Since I value them at about 1.7 cents each, this is highly profitable. Just goes to show how valuable credit card sign-up bonuses can be! I intend to do this trick again for the 4th quarter of 2017. The downside of this is it makes this month’s numbers look especially bad, since I have to front the cash for the deal and it greatly reduces my after-tax income for the month.

Anyway, here’s my spending for the month:

Category Sep-17 Comments
Rent $768.75 $750 for rent + $18.75 Plastiq fees
Internet $55.92 Internet is kind of expensive.
Cell Phone $186.22 Paid for 1 year of service through MintSIM. = $15.51 / month!
Natural Gas $19.23 Slightly below average.
Electricity $33.24 Slightly above average.
Water $41.30 Less than average this month, because I was gone for half of last month.
Groceries $154.79 Slightly above average.
Car Insurance $0.00 I pay every 6 months in April and October.
Gasoline $59.11 Spent a weekend in Chicago, so more driving for me. Also still going to the gym several times per week.
Car Expenses $0.00 Nothing to see here, move along
Health $48.44 Heavily subsidized, high-deductible health plans through my work. Includes health and dental. Also monthly gym membership.
Other $0.00 Nothing to see here, move along
Necessary $1,367.00 Overall about average.
Restaurants $32.02 Had 2 meals with a coworker.
Entertainment $9.99 Netflix
Shopping $71.75 Less than average for the month.
Travel/Parking $984.35
My sister came to visit from out of town. Plus, bought tickets and airport parking for visiting family in December. Also includes annual fees for credit cards.
Gifts/Donations $10.00 Donation to my favorite Youtube channel.
Software/Games $15.17 Domain name renewal for this site!
Business $234.06 Inventory and expenses.
Other $25.00 Yet another expense for my personal project.
Discretionary $1,382.34 Somewhat above average, mostly due to travel expenses.
Total Expenses $2,749.34 Somewhat higher than average overall.
Gross Income $6,632.65 2 paychecks + business income
401(k) Match $194.72 My company matches 3% of gross salary
Taxes $3,763.32 Federal + state income tax + payroll taxes. I prepaid $3k of federal income tax and marked myself exempt for the rest of the year.
Net Income $3,064.05 Way below average due to the massive self-imposed tax bill.
Savings $314.71 This is misleadingly low. I am giving the government a loan which I will get back in 6 months in my tax refund.
Savings Rate 10.27% Savings / Net Income. This is my second-lowest since I started tracking my expenses, but see above for why it is misleading.
Net Worth $173,181.47 Despite the low savings rate, still increased by $2,400 thanks to the market!
Projected time to FI (assuming 6% growth and 4% withdrawal rate): 6 years, 4 months!

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