February has passed. Over 16% of the year is now behind us.
My wife and I spent a good chunk of February in Florida. We got there early in the month for my mom’s birthday and stuck around for a couple of weeks as we also had a friend’s wedding.
It was revitalizing being with family. I got to see my sisters during my mom’s birthday, my wife and I took daily walks with my dad, and we had dinner with my mom and dad every night.
The weather was sunny and warm, we ate amazing food, and I worked out often and had some good runs as I continue to make progress on my eight-week 5K training plan. The wedding was great too.
All in all, February was an A+ month.
In March, we’ll focus on getting our house fixed up after the unfortunate accident last month and on settling back into our routine in Austin.
In terms of numbers, our total expenses in February were $3,975.12 and my net worth decreased by $34,506 to $686,779.1
Here’s how the numbers broke down:
Our mortgage payment was $3,363.61. This breaks down into $1,494.87 for principal, $458.15 for interest, and $1,410.59 for escrow.
Our monthly escrow will be higher this year as we’re paying back the lender for the shortage we had last year—it was our first year in the house and the escrow wasn’t properly calibrated to cover property taxes.
We’re technically getting an interest-free loan as the lender paid the property taxes in full at the end of 2022 and we’re paying them back throughout the year. Small win.
We have $229,991.12 to go until we’re mortgage free.
We paid $89.68 for insurance for our 2018 Kia Soul. The insurance, through Nationwide, covers both my wife and myself.
This was our first month with Nationwide—we switched from Progressive early in the month. I made the switch to take advantage of the bundling discount after moving our home insurance to Nationwide last month. This discount saved us $106 on our home insurance policy.
We’re on Nationwide’s SmartMiles program—their pay-per-mile insurance—since we don’t drive much. We’re saving around $30 per month compared to Progressive while getting better coverage.
We also spent $23.52 on gas to top off the tank and got a refund for $52.48 from Progressive for the unused portion of January’s premium.
Our utilities include electricity, natural gas, internet, water, sewer, and trash.
Our electricity bill was $34.75 for 270 kWh.2
I estimate that around 140 of the 270 kWh were consumed by the fans we had to run for a few days to dry the bathroom and by the builders fixing the exterior wall. I sent proof of this to the superintendent3 and he agreed to refund us $15.
We also switched to a new provider mid-month as our contract with our current provider ran up and they wanted to raise our rates by around 40%. We signed a 12-month contract with another provider instead which should only cost us an extra $10 over the course of the year versus what we paid last year. Energy price inflation is real.
Our natural gas bill was $41.33 for 16 CCF.4 Our house uses natural gas for the stove, water heater, and heating. Accordingly, our usage is higher during winter and should be getting lower over these upcoming months as the weather heats up.
Our internet bill was $65.33 for the cheapest plan (300 Mbps) offered by Spectrum.
The only other Internet provider in our area is Verizon Home Internet at $50 per month. I’ve seen mixed reviews online about their service so I’ve been hesitant to make the switch. Internet service in the U.S. is a racket.
Our water/sewer/trash bill from the city was $110.08. This breaks down into $27.91 for water (479 gallons), $60.38 for sewer, and $16.43 for trash, plus taxes.5
Our sewer fee should get cut in half in April when we establish our sewer winter average.
Our travel expense this month was all Uber. We used Uber to get to and from the Austin airport as well as to get back to my parent’s house after the wedding.
We used our free month trial of Uber One to get a 5% discount on our rides. If you have a CapitalOne Quicksilver or Savor credit card, you can get an additional 6+ months of Uber One for free.
Another quick and easy way to save on Uber is to use the Raise app to buy discounted gift cards. We didn’t use this “hack” this time but it would’ve saved us $35. I’ll write a post on this soon.
We spent $32.30 on groceries—$16.77 at Aldi, $10.95 at Costco, and $4.58 at Walmart.
Our spending in this category was artificially low this month as we mooched off my parents. We also had $17 in Costco Executive Member rewards which made our Costco run cheaper.
And now that we’ve been Costco members for a year, I analyzed our spending and calculated we saved around $500 by shopping smart at Costco. Pairing Costco with a price-focused grocery store like Aldi can mean big savings!
We spent $84.30 fun bucks this month.
$50.86 went towards a 1.75L bottle of Monte Alban tequila and a 750ml bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey. $17.43 went towards two bottles of prosecco and a bottle of margarita mix from Costco.6
That’s a whooping 81% of our fun bucks spent on alcohol, which is funny since we don’t really drink much. (The alcohol is mainly for a dinner with our neighbors.)
The last $16.01 of our fun bucks were spent at Aldi on ingredients for an arepa dinner with our neighbors.
We spent $9.29 on a tablecloth and deodorant at Walmart.
I thought our $2.50 Arm & Hammer deodorant with no aluminum, parabens, or phthalates was pricey until I looked at the top shelf at Walmart and saw that the current “cool” deodorant with the same ingredients sells for $12.97. $12.97! That’s five times as expensive. For deodorant. I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t.
If you’re spending $12.97 on deodorant and need help allocating the rest of your budget, please give me a call. I know a good bank account number.
Our home insurance is covered through our escrow with our mortgage lender, and both my wife and I get health insurance through our employers.
As the health insurance premium is deducted from our paychecks, it’s not included in the table at the start of the post.
The first entry in my net worth tracker came in at $19,054.64 in December 2017. I had started my first full time job in August of that year and had recently finished paying off my student loans.
As of February 2023, my net worth is at $686,779, a decrease of $34,506 from last month as the stock market took another dive. The volatility continues and I don’t see it getting better until inflation eases up and the Fed stops raising rates.
February was another good month. It’s hard to go wrong with family, sunny weather, good food, and exercise.
In terms of expenses, we spent relatively little—only $611.50 outside of the mortgage.
While our groceries spending was artificially low as we were lovingly fed my parents (thanks mom and dad!7), our travel expenses were higher than usual, so it mostly evened out.
We should be able to keep our spending in the $4,000 to $4,200 range for a good chunk of the year, with exceptions for months where we travel or do something out of the ordinary.
My goals for March are to work on the blog, exercise, and visit some of Austin’s beautiful parks and trails during the weekends—we’ve been here for a year now and it’s high time to do some more exploring!
I hope February was great for you and that March is even better.
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My wife and I track expenses together but our net worth separately. Our finances are combined for the most part, but we’ve always tracked our net worth separately and never bothered to combine our tracking. ↩
The cost is $0.106 per kWH plus a fixed fee of $3.42 and taxes. ↩
The cost was $1.13 per CCF plus a fixed fee of $21.60 and taxes. ↩
The cost of water is $0.005 per gallon plus a fixed fee of $25.48. Sewer is $0.006 per gallon plus a fixed fee of $25.31 or a flat rate $60.38 if you haven’t established a sewer winter average. ↩
I evenly split the $17 in Costco rewards between the groceries and the alcohol. Our total spend at Costco this month, after using the rewards, was $28.38. ↩
My dad is this blog’s sole reader. Hola pa! ↩