Frugal April

I spent more time than usual prepping my monthly report because I was finding Mint to be limited in its reporting capabilities. Don't get me wrong, I love Mint; it makes managing our budget far easier than it would be otherwise. I dumped all of our transaction history from Mint into Excel - this definitely made evident how much I love Mint considering it has entries going all the way back to January 23, 2009. This is just a goldmine of data, and I could definitely get distracted by combing through Pivot tables for trends lol. #Excelnerd

As I suspected, the simple bar chart trend I've been pulling from Mint is leaving out some categories. Since its primary driver is THIS April's transactions, even when I select the comparison point of last year, it's only pulling in categories from last year that were also in this year.  For instance, we had some spending for our UK & Ireland trip that occurred last April, but these aren't pulling in to our Mint comparison chart because we haven't had any UK expenses for THIS April.
I've been focused on cutting spending, so I've used last year's spending as a baseline. Really, my goal is to see what can we accomplish financially this year that allows us to plan and save for the future while still living a comfortable lifestyle here and now. So, I've been looking especially hard at the spending that doesn't bring a lot of value to our lives.  For instance, we kept the house at 60 degrees this winter. For old me, that would be unheard of, but frugal me realizes that I only get so much value out of running up our utility bill. If I got too chilly, we turned up the heat a couple degrees or turned the fireplace on for a while, but we mostly made do by piling on some warm clothes. Honestly, it wasn't so bad. I know not everyone would feel that way, and we definitely bumped the heat up when we had guests, but there are other things I'd rather spend money on than utilities.

Using Excel, it will be much easier for me to filter out things like Business Services expenses. These are for work, and I will get reimbursed for them, so I don't want them to factor into my spending rate for the month.  Our rent cost is the same, so I can filter this out as well. Without further ado, here is an Excel Pivot Chart for my April spending (2016 v. 2017). I spent 39% less this year compared to last year, so let's look at how this breaks down.
Auto & Transport: We somehow had over $100 less in Gas expenses this year, so we must be doing less driving. We had our last car payment this month, so I am excited to see the boost to our savings going forward!

Bills & Utilities: We switched Internet providers, so the cost was slightly higher than usual this month due to installation costs. We also paid the utility bill this month, and we didn't have a bill to pay last April.

Entertainment: No expenses this month.

Food & Dining: Wow. So, we spent over $550 on restaurants last April, while we spent a much more respectable <$200 this April.  We did spend much more on alcohol, but hopefully, that will last a while.

Gifts & Donations: We had a return last year, but we only had one small expense this year: flowers that Francisco bought me.

Health & Fitness: I had a Dr's visit last year.

Pets: Supplies purchased this April but not last.

Shopping: I had my big Sephora purchase this April but somehow I only spent $5.00 more than I did on Personal/Health Care last year. It looks like I also had a couple of large Sephora purchases last year!

Taxes: Because of our tax errors, we had to pay the State back from our previous refund.

Travel: Last April, we booked our flights to the UK.

The good news is that we hit our Net Worth goal for the YEAR already. Now this is only because Francisco had an ESOP [Employee Stock Ownership Plan] from his previous employer that we weren't taking into account. So, I guess we should technically bump up our goal, but it's definitely nice to get this boost.  


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