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

Expense reports

February 2020 Expense Report

February Expense Report

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February was an interesting month. We had a lot of one-time costs that increased our spending by almost 60% compared to January 2020 and to February 2019. As part of these costs we also paid the security deposit for the 2nd child’s daycare, so we got a first taste of the increased expenses that will follow. As I’m writing this post, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic, so it will be interesting to compare this month’s expense report with the upcoming one from next month and see the differences.


February 2020 Expenses
  1. Our total monthly expenses were $12.1k:
    1. This is almost 60% higher (i.e. $4.5k) than last month (January 2020 – $7.5k) or last year (February 2019 – $7.4k)
  2. Most of this increase was due to one-time costs:
    1. New cell phone and DSLR camera: $1,921
    2. Security deposit for second child’s daycare: $1,055
    3. Auto maintenance (repaired the car brakes): $484
    4. Doctor visit for an uninsured relative: $352
  3. The remaining part was due to:
    1. Discovering that I had not paid the last water/sewer bill, so I paid for 2 bills this time: $523
    2. Annual fee for the Alliant Credit Union credit card: $99
  4. Preview for the increase in daycare costs, starting in August:
    1. My second child is starting daycare in August, which means that our daycare costs will more than double.
    2. Our expenses for the second half of the year will go above $10k/month. Not looking forward to those expense reports 🙁

Detailed breakdown

Daycare$2,175Includes $1,660 (monthly payment for 1 child) and $1,055 (security deposit for 2nd child)
Mortgage$2,658This is a 15-year mortgage @3%
Shopping$2,378New cell phone and DSLR camera ($1,921). The rest was mostly from Amazon (50%) and gifts
Groceries$1,22645% from Whole Foods, 35% Costco, 20% Aldi
Utilities$813Includes water/sewer (2 bills), electric bill, garbage, internet, alarm
Car maintenance$484Replaced brakes in one car
Healthcare$428$352 we one-time costs for visiting relative
Restaurants$386We went out 9 times. 50% of the amount is due to 2 of these times
Children’s activities$341Sports activities for children
Gas$138Most of it from Costco
Fees$134Annual fees for credit card, late bank fees
Personal care$130Haircuts
Cell phone$722 lines, unlimited plans
Coffee$24Similar to last month

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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