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

Expense reports

September 2020 Expense Report

September 2020 Expense Report

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September was the month, where we switched from “mostly online groceries” to physically buying everything from the grocery stores. We also picked up food from the local restaurants. It was not possible to keep up with the self-isolation mentality for long.

It was also the first month, where we paid full daycare tuition for both children: $3,712! Ouch! This roughly corresponds to $50k/year. We postponed paying this amount due to covid, however going forward it’ll be part of our fixed monthly expenses. When will it be time for both children to go to elementary school??

Observations

  1. Our total expenses were $9.7k (compared to $9.1k for August)
    • The biggest contributor was the daycare, which was $3,712 for 2 children. This is now almost 40% of our monthly expenses
    • Second biggest contributor is the mortgage. I tried to see if would make sense to refinance to a 10-year loan due to the drop in the interest rates. However the end result is that we’d gain less than $7k within the next 10 years. I’m not sure if it’s worth to make this change
  2. We had almost $400 in one-time expenses
    • Our oven needed repair, so we paid $310 to fix it. This is on top of the $171 that we paid in August, for the technician to come to our house and investigate the problem. All in, $500 to fix the oven 🙁
    • We applied for a passport for one of the children. This added another $80 of one-time expense.
  3. We paid $437 for car insurance (2 cars, 2 drivers)
    • We pay the full amount for car insurance every 6 months, in order to get advantage of the offered discount
    • It feels nice to “forget” about this cost for 5 consecutive months, but the budget of 6th month does get hit.
    • It is interesting that car insurances lowered their premiums, since most people are not driving that much anyway (compared to pre-covid)

Detailed breakdown

CategoryExpensesComments
Daycare$3,7122 children at daycare
Mortgage$2,658This is a 15-year mortgage @3%
Groceries$1,717Whole Foods (50%), Costco (35%), Kroger
Car insurance$4372 drivers, 2 cars with Geico
Shopping$349Amazon (33%), Etsy (33%), Nordstrom, Walmart, Home Depot
Home maintenance$310One-time expense to repair our oven
Utilities$179Electricity (60%), internet, garbage, alarm
Restaurants$131Take-out (3 times)
Gas$85Kroger gas (100%)
Passport application$80One-time fee
Cell phone$722 lines with T-Mobile, unlimited plans
Children’s activities$20Online learning for children
Other$3

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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