It’s reporting time in the personal finance blog space and here’s our August 2017 update. This year we are tracking our progress on our 1) one paycheck project; 2) investing habit; 3) health and fitness; and 4) other fun stuff.
LIVING ON ONE PAYCHECK
Last March, we agreed to try live on one paycheck in order to improve our finances as a couple. We are trying to limit our monthly spending to my net pay, which is the lower pay, so we can save more than 50% of our total take home pay every month.
Our spending spree finally ended in July and in August 2017, we managed to live off with my pay alone. Yay! Even if there was an extra week in August, and it was a 3-pay cycle for me, our expenses were still under my regular net pay. Despite hitting our goal, we still spent a bit higher in the following categories:
- Restaurants. We had to pay for our birthday dinner with the August bill, which makes the bulk of this category. We admittedly went fancy and we’d probably do it again next year. We also took my youngest brother out for dinner.
- Entertainment. We went to the Van Gogh exhibit last July but this was also paid in August. We also purchased a Dream Theater ticket for my boyfriend. This is the first time we’re not seeing a concert together, after we got together, but I’m not a big fan and it will be nice for him to go with his friends.
- Shopping. Harris Scarfe had a huge sale and we finally decided to buy new winter blankets. We were able to buy a king-sized wool blanket (level 5 warmth rating) for $60. We also bought one for my brother as a gift for when he moves to his new house.
August was the month of investing for us. I’m not comfortable in sharing specific numbers but we did open a Vanguard retail fund account, bought some shares and opened a RateSetter account, too. My boyfriend has recently shown interest in investing and is now also looking for shares that we can buy. I created a (free) Sharesight account and their dashboard actually helped my boyfriend better understand how share performance works.
Our original plan was to start investing in September, but our house-hunting plan isn’t going as expected, so we decided to take some money from our deposit fund and did it in August instead. We are still actively looking for a house but we haven’t been to any inspections lately. We still want to buy a house but we talked about changing our plan/strategy and we’re likely to do this starting September. We’re still firm about our budget and we’re not planning to raise it at this stage.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Melbourne had one of the worst flu seasons this year and while we managed to avoid the flu, we didn’t escape the common cold. We missed the gym for two weeks because of this and we honestly struggled to go back. This has been the slackest we’ve been since we signed up to the gym and we feel bad about it. We had to remind ourselves that some things are beyond our control — we can only really try our best.
My boyfriend also took a follow up blood test to find out if his results improved from the last time we had our tests. Sadly, his cholesterol level did not change at all. This was disappointing, especially with the improved diet and intense workouts, losing ~7kgs in the process. Our GP suggested that it may be hereditary and wanted to give him prescription medicine, which he refused. He said he prefers that we improve our diet a bit more and if that doesn’t work still, then he’ll consider taking medicine.
Starting August, we decided we’ll do meat-free lunches three times a week and do meatless Mondays. This is a bit difficult for him because he’s a meat-eater and he likes his rice, but we tried taking salads during the last week of August and he liked it. I started looking for salad recipes that I think he’ll enjoy better than the usual tossed fresh vegetables so we can mix things up. We’ll be doing this mostly for health reasons but it will also be interesting to find out how this affects our grocery spending.
I picked up Mandarin practice again in August. I can still read and understand basic words and simple sentences but I’ve forgotten most of the things I’ve learned and I still struggle with speaking. It was nice to do a refresher.
I knitted more stuff for donation and gifts but mostly smaller, quick-knit items that were completed in one sitting. I’m planning to make some dishcloths and tea towels to give as Christmas presents this year. It would be nice to give scarves, mittens, socks, ear warmers for Christmas but they don’t make good summer gifts, do they?
We finally hit our target in August! Now, the challenge is to maintain this level of monthly spending regularly. *fingers crossed* August was also extra special because we started investing together. It seems like we’re doing really well with this couple-moneying-thing, don’t you think? And although we faced some obstacles in the health and fitness front, they’ve actually opened up new opportunities for us to improve our current diet.
How was your August? Did you face some obstacles last month, too? Let’s talk about your story in the comments!