Friday, August 8, 2008

July Budget Busters

July was my most expensive month yet since starting my early-retirement savings plan. It even came pretty close to last November, when I spent over $3000, largely on clothes and accessories (I had free rent that month, and I still managed to spend that much money! It had been a really long time since I'd bought any clothes.)

Total July spending? About $2700 dollars. What did I do to create that kind of wallet damage?
- $600 gift card at Jewel-Osco. As a promotion, they offered a 10% bonus on gift cards if you gave them your economic stimulus check, so my $600 got me $660 to spend at Jewel. We do most of our shopping at Aldi, but go to Jewel every few months for specialty items like dill (not sweet) relish and the particular rye crackers I like. I think the gift card will last us most of a year, and since we only buy items we can't find elsewhere for a cheaper price, I consider it a 10% return on investment--not bad when I've lost about 9% in stocks since the beginning of the year.

- $691 on a plane ticket. A domestic plane ticket. To Minnesota. It was a family reunion for the side of the family that isn't very close--some of the people there I hadn't seen in fifteen years. I tried to find another option, but the town I was going to doesn't have a train or bus station, is very far away from any other city, and even if I had a valid driver's license I don't think I could have managed an eleven-hour drive by myself. I think being able to spend a lot of money to see people who are important to you is an important luxury, if that's not an oxymoron. I hated spending the money, but I am very glad I went.

- About $80 on books. Part of that was a Korean bird book for my mother. They moved to Korea on Monday. Neither of them was terribly excited about it, but my mother in particular seems a little depressed by the prospect of spending two years in Korea--there's basically no chance of her getting a job in the ministry, and from past experience I think she's really much happier when she's working in her chosen field. At least once this tour is over they're done with the military for good.

The rest of the $80 was postage on books I sent out for paperbackswap. I posted a bunch of new books and most of them got requested, so I have a bunch of credits waiting for when books I want become available.

The good news is I still made my savings goal for the month, thanks to a bunch of freelance income, and my net worth is catapulting towards $40,000. At my current spending level (about $20,000 a year) that's about 8% of what I'll need to retire. I feel like I'm making real progress, and once the market starts to recover (I swear it's going to someday) I should be heading towards early retirement by leaps and bounds.


Elizabeth Halt said...

Congrats on making your savings goal - and it sounds like your spending all made sense.

I hope your mother finds she enjoys Korea more than she expects. Maybe she could find a volunteer ministry-type position if she can't find work in it. ?

Scarlett said...

Thanks! I talked to them the other day and they seemed to be in pretty good spirits, so I hope you're right!