Winter is over! Spring has sprung and March is behind us.
We were back in Austin in March and enjoyed hanging out with friends and settling back into our routine.
We were also able to finally get our bathroom fixed after the unfortunate leak in January and are now mostly finished with the fixes the builder had to make as part of our one-year warranty.
It is absolutely terrific no longer having people in the house—it felt like every time they fixed one thing, they broke two others.
The main lowlight this month was that I injured my foot—peroneal tendonitis, I think—and so had to take a break from my 5K training.
The upside is that I’ve been using this time to work on my pull-ups and I’ve made a lot of progress. I can now do a decent L-Sit pullup and even a three-finger pull-up.
I’ve been doing a workout every afternoon which includes 10 sets of 10 pull-ups, 10 sets of 20 push-ups, 8 sets of 20 lunges, and 8 sets of 20 squats. It’s as much a mental workout as it is a physical one.
I’m hoping to be running again sometime in April, but I’m being a bit overly cautious as I tried to rush the recovery and ended up making it worse.
The economy, meanwhile, continues to blow with the wind, going up, down, and around, and layoffs remain the elephant in the room.
I think we’re still in for a bit more hurt and surprises, but hopefully the economy is headed towards recovery mode before the year is over. This mess started in January 2022 so I think that by sometime in 2024 we should see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m definitely feeling the anxiety but I’m trying to use it as fuel to stay focused and productive. We have a good buffer of savings in case things go south and we’re doing our best to stay positive and upbeat.
In terms of numbers, our total expenses in March were $3,917.17 and my net worth increased by $30,027 to $716,806.3
Here’s how the numbers broke down:
Our mortgage payment was $3,363.61. This breaks down into $1,497.83 for principal, $455.19 for interest, and $1,410.59 for escrow.
As I mentioned in last month’s update, our monthly escrow will be higher this year to make up for last year’s shortage—it was our first year in the house and the escrow wasn’t set high enough to cover the property tax.
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 2023. Small win.
Our house’s market price—according to Zillow—is down around $60,000 from its peak last year. Hopefully this, along with some bills being discussed in the Texas Legislature, mean some property tax relief this year.
We have $228,493.29 to go until we’re mortgage free.
We paid $87.69 in insurance for our 2018 Kia Soul. The insurance, through Nationwide, covers both my wife and myself.
We’re on Nationwide’s SmartMiles program—their pay-per-mile insurance—since we don’t drive much and it’s been working out well so far.
We still have half a tank left from last month so there were no gas expenses this month.
Our utilities include electricity, natural gas, internet, water, sewer, and trash.
Our electricity bill was $10.78 for 78 kWh.4 As the temperature starts to increase, our usage here will slowly go up until it peaks in July and August and then starts to decrease again.
This month, we got a check for $14.88 from our builder for the electricity they used to power the fans to dry our bathroom back in January, so we essentially got a month of free electricity.
Our natural gas bill was $35.41 for 9 CCF.5
Our house uses natural gas for the stove, water heater, and heating. Now that winter is over, our gas usage should start to go down. It decreased by 7 CCF compared to last month and should stick around 5 CCF until winter returns in December.
Our internet bill was $65.33 for the cheapest plan (300 Mbps) offered by Spectrum.
The only other provider in our area is Verizon Home Internet for $50 per month and as I’ve read mixed reviews about their service, I’ve been holding off on making the switch.
Our water, sewer, and trash bill from the city was $80.21 This breaks down into $29.38 for water (768 gallons), $29.04 for sewer, and $16.43 for trash, plus taxes.6
This is $29.87 cheaper than last month as our sewer bill got cut in half since we finally established our sewer winter average!
We spent $118 on groceries—$38.79 at Aldi, $27.48 at Trader Joe’s, $26.27 at Costco, $21.20 at Sam’s Club, and $4.26 at Walmart.
At Aldi we got our usual produce—onions, carrots, bell peppers, strawberries (on sale), apples, and avocados—and some frozen veggies.
At Trader Joe’s we bought 12 jars7 of peanut butter for $2.29 each.
Trader Joe’s still has still the best deal on healthy peanut butter—the only ingredient is peanuts—even though they increased the price from $1.99 around October of last year.
These 12 jars should last us a couple of months as we eat roughly one a week with the oatmeal we have for lunch.
At Costco we got almonds and walnuts and at Sam’s Club we got almonds8 and some Mrs. Dash no salt seasoning which was on sale.
Our Sam’s Club membership is expiring in May and we won’t be renewing it as we prefer Costco. The only area where Sam’s really outshines Costco is in their selection of spices—Costco is pretty limited in this area. But this isn’t enough to justify the cost of the Sam’s Club membership.9
Finally, at Walmart we got some flour for arepas and some Italian seasoning.
And if you’ve ever wondered whether a Costco membership is worth the price, read this post—I analyzed our purchases from the past year and estimated we saved around $500!
We spent $64.63 in fun bucks this month.
$7.65 was spent at Walmart and Aldi on ingredients for a dinner with our neighbors and the dinner for our one-year anniversary.
$23.39 went towards a homemade breakfast buffet with a couple of friends. We got fresh tortillas, eggs, breakfast sausage, and cheese and made some delicious breakfast tacos.
$8.11 went towards our anniversary lunch at Ikea—$3 plates for meatless Monday plus a frozen yogurt cone—and $0.21 went towards our anniversary breakfast at Starbucks (we had some Starbucks Rewards Stars saved up.)
And $42.37 went towards materials for our raised bed—$8.64 at Walmart for 6 packs of seeds and $33.73 at Costco for 4 bags (50 quarts each) of potting soil.
We’re looking to get the raised bed set up in April and we’ll hopefully be eating fresh veggies before spring is over!
Finally, we recuperated $17.10 in fun bucks as we returned two bottles of prosecco to Costco that we had originally bought for the dinner with our neighbors—the Jack Daniel’s and margaritas were more than enough. 🍻 🥴
Our miscellaneous category came out to $104.58 this month—the highest yet this year.
$76.81—73% of the total—was spent on garden maintenance—weed and feed for our grass, a hand spreader for the weed and feed, and insect killer to spray along the house’s foundation to keep those pesky ants and crickets at bay.
We bought the weed and feed (Scotts brand) and spray (Ortho brand) at Costco as they had a great deal and the hand spreader at Walmart.10
Aldi ($3.09 for white vinegar) and Ikea ($5.13 for a silicone baking mat) were beneficiaries of this category as well.
Finally, the remaining $19.55 were spent at Walmart and Costco on exciting items like baking soda, dry shampoo, hydrogen peroxide, and mouthwash.
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.
We spent $1.81 on envelopes for my wife’s Etsy side hustle.
I started my first full-time job in August of 2017 and started tracking my net worth that December. This first entry came in at $19,054.64.
As of March 2023, my net worth is at $716,806, an increase of $30,027 from last month as the stock market decided to go up. The rollercoaster continues and I’m not particularly enjoying it.
March was a good month.
We flew past the one-year mark of our marriage and are making some fun plans—planting veggies, going camping for the first time, and visiting family—for the months ahead.
In terms of expenses, we spent relatively little—only $553.56 outside of the mortgage.
The spending was fairly representative of a typical month so unless we do something out of the ordinary, like traveling, we should be able to stay in the $4,000 to $4,200 range.
My goals for April are to work on the blog, to exercise and recover from my foot injury, and to stay upbeat—it makes a huge difference in my own happiness and in my relationship with my wife when I work on being positive.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make much progress towards last month’s goal of exploring new parks and trails in Austin due to the injury, but this is still on deck for the year.
I hope March was a happy month and that April is even better.
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Our Starbucks date cost us $0.21—yes, 21 cents—as we had some Starbucks Rewards Stars saved up.
The Ikea lunch came out to only $8.11 as we took advantage of the $3 meatless Monday plates. And since I like to shower my girl with expensive gifts, I also got her a frozen yogurt cone. 🍦 ↩
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 was $0.101 per kWH plus a fixed fee of $3.42 and taxes. ↩
The cost was $1.26 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 plus a fixed fee of $25.31 or a flat rate $60.38 if you haven’t established a sewer winter average. ↩
Six creamy and six crunchy. I’m more of a creamy peanut butter person but my wife tilts towards crunchy. In the end, all peanut butter is terrific. ↩
I took a risk as I saw them at $10.28 at Sam’s. Unfortunately, the risk didn’t pay off as they were $9.99 at Costco. 😩 ↩
Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed was $84.99 for a 45.26 lb bag that covers 16,000 sq. ft.
The Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor and Perimeter with Comfort Wand was $24.99 for a 2 pack of 1.33 gallon bottles.
But there was a $50 discount for buying them together which means the Ortho spray was essentially free and that the weed and feed had a $25 discount, lowering its price to $60. $60 for 45 lbs of weed and feed is a better deal than I’ve seen on Amazon, Walmart, or Home Depot. ↩