I started tracking my Income & Expenses in March 2014. By committing to tracking these numbers and sharing them with you all on a monthly basis, I benefited from questioning every single penny I spent. For the rest of 2014, I managed to keep my expenses to £10,000 a year or £833 per month.
I will continue to record my income and expenses for 2015, but I don't intend on setting a goal for a specific saving % or an amount for keeping expenses below. I noticed that in 2014 my goals were effective in keeping my costs down, but they also influenced me not to spend money on certain things. That might sound good, but impacted everything including charitable donations and personal development, which are usually really important to me.
As I've mentioned in previous Posts, my priority for 2015 is making money. I want to challenge myself to earn a lot more money. I'm hoping that by having more disposable income, I'll have more money to invest with. This should then speed up the process to becoming FI. Easy right! I want to call Tom Cruise at the end of the year and shout "Show me the money!"
Here's a quick breakdown as to what goes into numbers below:
I will rarely have the same wage each month as I have a commission based job. I might also be eligible for bonuses at certain times of the year, which will impact on the total of my wage. My wage figure will be the net sum I'm paid after tax, national insurance, company pension, salary sacrifice for pension, and student loan. I will only include one figure for my wage but I will mention if my commission is high or low and I will also let you know if I've triggered a performance based bonus.
The first two expenses are fixed amounts. 'Mortgage/House Bills' is an account where Miss FFBF and I pay into each month (£485 each) to cover mortgage payments, council tax, water, TV licence, telephone, electricity, and broadband. 'Food Account' is another joint account we use to contribute a fixed amount (£60 per month) for food shopping.
Here's a breakdown of my Income and Expenses for the previous month:
|Income from January 2015
|Interest from Savings
|Regular Saver Payout
|Expenses from January 2015
|Gift for Work
|Gift for Neighbour
January's wage is usually below average for me and this year was no different. My Income was bolstered by some additional revenue streams though.
For starters, my dividends for January were almost twice the amount of my monthly average for 2014. Good start!
I received a larger than normal payment from Ebay. I sold my 'Frank N Furter' outfit from the Rocky Horror Show. I'm sad to see it go, but for most of the people seeing me in it, it's a great relief.
I have three new categories for Income this month. The first, Poker Winnings, is fairly self explanatory. I mentioned in my recent Goal Update that I hosted a poker night for our January 'Guy's Only Night'. We hit the poker table with our 'Archer's and Lemonade' straight after we'd done our nails and straightened our hair. I lost the first game but won the second, which put me up in total over the cost of both games. We had a lot of fun and we plan on playing poker again in the future.
Mid way through this month I had one of those great moments as a Blogger. If I had a cat, I would have held it in my arms, span around in my new office chair and said "Hello Google Adsense, I've been expecting you". I love writing on this Blog. It's a lot of fun, I've met some amazing people and it's helped my finances and investing no end. I don't Blog to make money, as the effort involved and the return I'm currently getting is not worth the time (to make money that it). However, if I'm able to make a bit of money on the side, while enjoying the process I'm onto a winner! I had my first payout for the Blog at £61.24. £60 is the minimum threshold you need to reach to get a payout. I started this Blog back in March 2014. Like I said, it's not a money making venture! For those interested, I've averaged between £25-£30 a month since November 2014 to now, so this amount is steadily becoming a nice earner for me! Prior to that I was languishing on £2-£4 for several months. There isn't much I can do to bump it up apart from continuing doing what I'm doing and hope my audience increases over time. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to you all! That money will easily cover the cost of creating a Kindle Book, my groceries for a month or a ridiculous fancy dress costume (yet to be confirmed).
My final 'new' income stream was the interest I earned from my First Direct Regular Saver. I was paid 6% per tax (5% after tax) on £300 monthly contributions. I thought it was a solid investment last January, although my DGI might get a higher return, I liked the idea of having a fixed guaranteed return and a lump sum so I went for it. I won't do it again as I think I can earn more than 5% by investing in shares. I would still recommend it to others who are looking for a more conservative investment option.
To summarise, my January was very good for a 'January'. When I look back at what I earned each month in 2014, and if I discount what I received for selling my car (as a large one off), it was £2,033 per month. So, January is bang on average. To hit my £50,000 Goal this year I need to increase it to £4,166 per month. Literally more than double. Now that I fell short this month I have even more to earn........ Great!
After my hugely excessive December things were back to normal for me in January. I was very pleased with my overall spending this month.
My House Bills, and Food Account were standard.
My mobile contract is now up so I have to source a new one. I don't know about you, but when I have to get a new contract my first thought it "Bugger!" or something close to that. As soon as I start searching the Web and Topcashback for the latest offers it's quickly turns into a game and I really enjoy the process. My OCD nature kicks in and it consumes me until I find the best value item. Anyway's, I've kept my handset for yet another year (Galaxy S2) and my new Sim Only deal will cost me £7 per month. The contract will start next month. Topcashback was fairly limited due to the low total spend, but I still managed to score £5.25.
I had my 3 year old nephews birthday, so the spend was a little higher than normal for Birthdays.
Groceries were bang on average, as were alcohol and coffee shops. We went out for a meal this month so that was a touch higher than normal.
I'm pleased to say my charitable donations were much higher than normal, and they nearly hit the total I contributed for the period I tracked my expenses last year between March and December. If I knew how to put in an embarrassed Emoji in these posts, I would put one right here!
There were more 'gifts for work' than any other month last year. There were a 'few birthdays and a wedding' (not quite a film title - shame).
I 'borrowed' a bottle of ketchup from my neighbour. We ended up finishing off the bottle. There wasn't a lot there, and he said to keep it (which I refused initially). I know I didn't have to but I bought them another bottle to say thanks more than anything. For those of you that are wondering, I didn't do the downgrade supermarket challenge on this item, I just bought exactly the same bottle as he had passed onto us. I won't force my frugality on anyone.
I eluded to me final spend in my James Bond villain moment, but for those of you that didn't catch on I bought a new spinny, faux leather, office chair. Prior to setting up our office, I've been writing on this laptop in the front room. In the evening's it can be quite distracting as Miss FFBF is watching TV at the same time. Now I can close myself off in my own space and get busy. With work, to clarify.
The chair was bought from Ebay. It was a self assembly jobby, and it was delivered to my home address. It's very comfortable, and I like the look of it. I searched every charity shop in our local town for an office chair before committing to buying a new one. There were plenty of options, but nothing that catered for my back/posture, and comfort needs. I would eventually like to buy a bigger desk for the office and perhaps a whiteboard. Then I'll know I've made it!
The chair purchase signified more than just having a chair. It was an important step towards being productive in my own space. I've noticed the difference for having it already. I'm sure this will compound significantly over time too.
I don't have an expense goal for 2015, but I receive a lot of questions about my expenses, perhaps more than most other things I write about. I thought would keep tracking them as people are interested, as am I. Whilst I was tracking the average for that, I thought it would be worth doing the same thing for Income, as it's equally important and for my goal's this year, even more so!
My average spend at the end of December had frustratingly increased to over the £10,000 a year average of £837.05. After a more stable spending month, I'm pleased to report that my 11 month average of tracking expenses is now £827.17. My total spending over 11 months is now on £9,098.92. If I'm able to spend less than £901.08 in February, then I will have officially lived on less than £10,000 in a year and I can put that challenge to bed once and for all.
I managed to save/invest £1,365.41 in January which is 67.3% of my income. This lowers my 11 month average to 69.4%. I've now established that this percentage is about average for me. The monthly percentage fluctuated a lot last year - As high as 83.9% and as low as 56.8%. I'm hoping to gradually increase this amount over time this year as I increase my income.
Overall, a solid start to the year, still a lot more to achieve, but generally very happy. Have a great February all!
How was January for you? Did you have any James Bond moments? Or were you also left disappointed with lame film titles like me?
Labels: Income & Expenses