A Software Engineer's Path to Financial Independence and Early Retirement (FIRE)

Expense reports

August 2020 Expense Report

August 2020 Expense Report

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August is the last month of the summer. It was also the last month of our self-inflicted semi-isolation. After 5 months of staying at home, limiting social gatherings, ordering everything online and keeping our children away from daycare, it was time for a change.

It was time to partially regain our previous lives. We decided that it’s time for the children to return to daycare. And we physically went to the grocery and retail stores. We also met with some other families (who were also semi-isolating like us).

Initially, it felt a little strange and risky. Being in the same grocery store isle like other people never felt more crowded. Seeing children play together in the daycare without wearing masks, felt quite unnerving. However, having calculated all the risks of getting infected with covid and the toll that this situation had taken on our lives, it was the best thing to do for us. Obviously, we still took precautions, wore masks everywhere and kept the social distances. It felt really good to be closer to normal.

Our expenses for the month increased to $9.1k. The biggest differences compared to last month were the daycare (for 2 children), our grocery and shopping expenses, as well as an one-time donation.


  1. Our total expenses were $9.1k (compared to $5.8k for July)
    • The biggest contributors were the $2.2k for daycare, and $2.6k for shopping and groceries (compared to $2.1k for July)
    • Going forward, we expect the expenses to remain at this level.
  2. Daycare is expensive: $2.2k for 2 children (and does not include the whole month of August)
    • One of the few benefits of this whole situation is that we had avoided daycare, which ends up being very costly. Going forward we’ll be paying around $2.5k/month for 2 children
  3. Groceries expenses were more than 2.5x compared to last month
    • I’m not sure if this was because of more impulse buying when visiting the store or if it was because we had depleted our inventory. This is something to look closer going forward
  4. We did a one-time donation of $600 to a child that needed to be hospitalized due to a rare decease
    • Regardless of our FIRE goals, it’s great to help others when they are in need. Our donation is just a tiny drop in the large number of expenses that need to be paid by the parents of that particular child. We wish them the best
  5. Fixing electrical appliances is expensive: We spent $171 to fix our oven
    • Our oven broke down and we called a technician to take a look.
    • The visit cost $171 and it only included the inspection
    • The technician order additional parts and we’ll have to pay for a second visit, in order to have the oven fixed
    • In the meantime, we are using the bbq and the gas stovetop to cook everything. We found so many new uses for the bbq!

Detailed breakdown

Mortgage$2,658This is a 15-year mortgage @3%
Daycare$2,2292 children at daycare
Groceries$1,818Whole Foods (50%), Kroger (40%), Costco (10%)
Shopping$809Amazon (90%), Walgreens, Target
Gift$597One-time donation to a child with a rare medical condition
Utilities$221Electricity (50%), internet, garbage, alarm
Home maintenance$171One-time expense to repair our oven
Healthcare$166Children’s visits to the pediatrician
Personal care$148Wife’s haircuts
Gas$128Costco gas (50%), Kroger (30%), 76 (20%)
Cell phone$672 lines with T-Mobile, unlimited plans. Received discount for not using much data
Other$35Random items
Children’s activities$20Online learning for children
Fees$12Random fees
Education$3Online learning

How to easily track your monthly expenses

This is the methodology that I use to monitor my monthly expenses. You can also do the same:

  1. Create a free online account at Personal Capital
  2. Link your accounts, so that you can track them in the Personal Capital dashboard
    • Bank accounts
    • Retirement accounts (401k, IRA, etc)
    • Credit cards
    • Investment accounts
  3. At the end of each month, view the list of your Expenses (also found if you go to Banking -> Cash Flow -> Expense)
    • Go through each line one by one
    • Check if the “Category” of the expense is correct. If not, then move it to the correct category. You can also create your own categories
    • When you are done, you can view the graphs with the aggregate data and compare your expenses with last month
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About Me

I am an engineer with 15+ years in the tech industry, including roles at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. I've been a Software Engineer, Product Manager, and Technical Program Manager. I also have an MBA from Kellogg School of Management with Majors in Finance and Marketing.

What drives me? A passion for empowering engineers to achieve Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE). I reached FIRE, when I turned 40 years old. Whether it's through personal finance strategies or career insights, I'm here to guide you on this path. Have questions or need advice? Feel free to reach out!

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    1. Hi Anant,
      Here is my methodology:
      1. I use mint.com to track my expenses
      2. In the mint website, I go to Trends -> Spending -> By Merchant
      3. I filter for the specific month (using the “During” filter)
      4. I export the resulting expenses by clicking on “Export to csv” at the bottom of the page
      5. I paste the contents of the csv to a Google Sheet that has 3 columns: Merchant, Expenses, Category
      6. The first 2 columns are directly from the file. I fill in the “Category” column. Instead of doing it manually, I have another sheet with 2 columns (Merchant, Category) and I do a VLOOKUP in my latest sheet to fill in the merchant. If there are new merchants, I add it to the sheet with my VLOOKUP
      7. For the month, I create a pivot table in order to add the total expenses for each category
      8. I create a pie chart using the results of the pivot table

      It is relatively easy to do once you establish a rhythm. Let me know, if you still want me to share a sheet, though.

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