March 2016 Spending Report

This is the continuation of The Working Years. Part #3, to be exact. Now that I’m back in the USA I actually have normal expenses. Rent, utilities, insurance, gas, etc. It’s crucial that I get my spending under control because my FIRE date is only eight months away!

Will I be able to maintain a $2,500 per month spend rate? We’ll see…

Let’s start with income.


Income for March was great. Paychecks/Salary included my Federal tax return of $18,307, a contract completion bonus from my job of about $13,000, and regular paychecks. Investment income was from VTSAX and VBTLX, and interest income from my Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts.

On to spending.



Spending was a little crazy. Over the past eight years I was lucky enough not to own a car, so when I came back I bought a used Chevy Sonic. It had just under 50,000 miles and cost $8,995 before stealership fees. I know what you’re thinking – it wasn’t the most efficient way to buy a vehicle – but this car fit my needs perfectly and it’s completely paid off. I also moved into a condo, so $52 went to a U-Haul rental in the Automotive category.

I rent a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 800 square foot condo for $900 per month. The remaining $267 was for the security deposit. $1,167

Next is Insurance, where I pre-paid my 6 month premium for the Chevy, and paid for annual Umbrella Insurance. I could have got a better rate on my car insurance, but there were some minimums I had to meet in order to qualify for the umbrella insurance. $678

My grocery tab was enormous, mostly because I was starting from absolutely nothing. Also, organic produce is expensive! I paid once with cash, so my grocery tab was $617.

I’ve been using professional tax services since I’ve been overseas. It’s definitely expensive, but has been money well spent while working. I will be doing my own once I don’t have W2 income and save the $550.

Although I’ve been racking up the points with my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, I decided to pay cash for the flight to see my sister in Louisiana. By doing that it bumped my points up enough where I now have two free domestic round trip flights. There are also a few $2 public transit expenses, and parking station fees in there. $536

General merchandise was pretty high, but again mostly due to moving into a new home and not having essentials, e.g. bath mats, shower curtain, some kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, picture hooks, miscellaneous household goods. I also bought a bike lock, a simple wrist watch, some ear plugs, an anemometer for paragliding, two power strips, and a new gasket for my sweet German growler. $325

Hobby expenses included R/C airplane batteries, my Academy of Model Aeronautics annual membership, Meet annual group dues, my paragliding check ride and P2 pilot rating, and Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding membership dues. $316

I got a good deal on my internet connection through Comcast. Fast enough internet, modem included, month-to-month basis for $50 per month. Since I was a new subscriber, they required a $100 refundable deposit. Also, my gas provider hit me with a $35 new account fee, but the usage was low. $200

It had been a full year since I bought my last pair of running shoes. Since I actually run these days, I bought a really nice pair of Adidas Ultra Boost for $115.

My restaurant tab was more than I’d like. Yeah, I’d been deployed for a 1.5 years so it’s not a huge deal. The most expensive outing was lunch for two at $60. My friend helped me move the heavy things from my storage unit to my condo, and I took him to lunch as thanks. $165.57

On the 1st of the month, my Eagle Cash withdrawal kicked in from late February. Eagle Cash is a great way to pay for things while deployed because nearly every store or vendor accepts it, and you don’t have to use your personal credit/debit card where you normally don’t shop. You have to load funds onto it, and the cash is held on the card. $60

The dive bars (the type I like!) around here only accept cash, and I spent $58.50 on delicious adult beverages. I sold a few things over in Afghanistan, so I’ve been using the cash from those as beer coupons.

I didn’t use much fuel in March simply because I essentially relaxed for the month. It doesn’t hurt that my car gets 32mpg combined, either. Not bad. $48.

The rest of the smaller expenses included a little bit of dental work, postage and shipping, a renters application fee, my Utah license, a Ting sim card, coin operated laundry, and some personal items. $139

The grand tally is $15,902 and change. Ouch! Moving back to the US, buying a car, pre-paying insurance, and small luxuries (food and beer) made for an expensive, but unavoidable month of spending.

My net worth climbed nicely due to the tax refund and contract completion bonus. My employer recently made some brokerage changes, so my historical net worth on personal capital is a bit wonky.

I’m interested to see how the rest of the year plays out and see what I get for averages. After all, this is a test to prove whether my $2,500 per month spend rate is possible.


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