Since I posted my November update only a couple of weeks ago, I feel like I don’t have much news to write about. I have the entire week off as a company holiday, so I’m using this time to relax and recharge.

I did a better job this month at cutting down on food spending by routinely preparing work lunch for myself at home. Compared to last month, my combined restaurant and grocery spending is about 33% lower, saving me about $200. I’ll see what other expenses I can cut next month in order to further pare down my spending.

I did some more traveling this month. I went to Beppu, Oita with my girlfriend one weekend for her birthday. I got our flights using a mixture of United miles and travel credit from one of my cards. The night at our resort was paid with my annual free night certificate from my IHG card ($49 annual fee). Unfortunately, this year is the last year that I can use the certificate at any IHG property, and going forward I will be restricted to properties under 40,000 points only. Seeing as this property regularly lists for over $600 / night (it was just over $1,000 per night at the time I booked!), I’d say this was a good way to close out the unrestricted night era. Finally, my girlfriend and I also visited Tokyo Disneyland one weekend. It’s a fairly short trip from where we live, but since I had an unused Hyatt free night award, I booked a night at the new Hyatt Place Tokyo Bay. Although it isn’t one of the “official” Disney hotels, it is still a great location for anyone visiting the resort area, with shuttle buses to and from the resort, as well as free buffet breakfast. I’m happy that Hyatt has priced it as a Category 4 so that I can continue to use my annual free night award at this property (hopefully they won’t upgrade it to a higher category) in the future.

Here’s a summary of my expenses for this month:

Category December 2019 Comments
Rent $910.49 Normal monthly rent
Internet $30.43 Cheap internet compared to the US
Cell Phone $0.00 Payment will post early next month due to new year holiday
Natural Gas $21.64 A little less than what I used to pay in the US
Electricity $24.12 About even with what I used to pay in the US
Water $33.93 About equal to 1 month’s usage in the US
Groceries $264.42 About $100 more than my typical grocery budget in the US
Transport $41.30 Not too bad
Health $151.47 Health insurance
Other $0.00 Nothing to see here
Necessary $1,477.80 Only a little bit higher than what I used to pay in the US
Restaurants $140.99 Much lower this month, due to packing lunches
Entertainment $49.59 Saw Rise of Skywalker with girlfriend
Shopping $565.58 Got myself a NAS for storing my data
Travel/Parking $281.14 CC fee + weekend trip with girlfriend
Gifts/Donations $19.96 Souvenir for coworkers
Software/Games $99.00 Lifetime upgrade for my feed reader of choice (Feedly)
Business $0.00 Nothing this month.
Other $0.00 Nothing this month.
Discretionary $1,156.26 Not terrible, but I can do better
Total Expenses $2,634.06 Not terrible, but I can do better
Gross Income $4,894.10 Salary + Q4 dividends
Taxes $288.77 Pension (SS equivalent) + unemployment insurance
Net Income $4,605.33 Pretty good, although dividends made this artificially high
Savings $1,971.27 Not too bad, but dividends helped a lot here
Savings Rate 42.80% Not too bad, but dividends helped a lot here
Net Worth $325,852.62 Good gains from the market helped to finish the year at an all-time high!

Projected time to FI (assuming 6% growth and 4% withdrawal rate): 5 years, 11 months.

Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとうございます!