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

Expense reports

March 2020 Expense Report

March Expense Report

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Who knew that our whole world would change in March? COVID-19 suddenly changed everything. All our plans went down the drain and we’re staying at home, wondering when things will get back to normal.

After getting through the initial shock and reading about the panic buying, we made sure that we filled, our fridge, the freezer and our mini-freezer. Our grocery bill was up 4x our average. Fortunately, we’re stocked up for now, so our grocery bills will be lower going forward. We did pay a higher margin, though, since we did most of our shopping online, via Instacart and Amazon.


  1. Our total monthly expenses were $12.5k
    • Our budget has exploded 🙁 I really hope that the next few months will be much better
  2. We spent $3k more in groceries than our average
    • Lots of online buying from Amazon and Instacart. We have a full fridge, freezer and mini-freezer, so we’ll recoup this amount
  3. Insurance payments for car and home added $1.2k
  4. One-time events added another $1,000
    • $561 for an event photographer and $446 for a gift
  5. House cleaning payment was $900
    • Cumulative payment from the beginning of the year until now
  6. We had almost no personal expenses and went out only once
Comparing expenses: March 2020 (green) vs February 2020 (yellow)

Detailed breakdown

Groceries$4,147Had to stock up due to COVID-19 🙁

Costco (40%), Amazon (25%), Instacart (17%), Whole Foods (13%), Aldi (5%)
Mortgage$2,658This is a 15-year mortgage @3%
Daycare$1,660Monthly deposit
Insurance$1,265House: $750
Car: $515

I need to call both of them and either get a lower payment or change insurance companies
Housecleaning$900Cumulative payment from 1/1/2020 to 4/1/2020
Photographer$561One-time event
Utilities$446Water (45%), Electricity (40%), Internet (10%), Alarm (5%)
Gift$322One-time event
Restaurants$131Our last night out before COVID-19 🙁
Gas$126Most of it from Costco
Children’s activities$93Sports activities for children
Cell phone$72

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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