November was almost near October in terms of spending but a lot better in terms of comfort. The memory foam mattress we spent on in October is finally rewarding us with great sleep. Overall it was one expensive month, with a lot of changes both in how we look at things and actual changes which will affect our lives in the long term.
We spent around 27000/- this month apart from rent and mortgage. We also managed to put in a decent sum into our investments as we talked about in our previous post. This was probably the first time since we started on this quest that we timed the market.
This month’s high expenditure was in line with visiting family and being a 4 member household for a major part of the month. A lot of taxis were taken, restaurants were visited and gifts were exchanged. However we believe this is something which will happen at least once a year and will allow us to narrow down our actual annual expenses.
We cut on other expenses so that we can spend on things which matter to us like family. But to say that there were no frivolous expenses would be a lie. We could have cut corners or simply bought cheaper stuff. In most cases that would have resulted in a lengthy conversation which neither of us wanted to be a part of. After you are married for over half a decade you realize there are certain things you can simply not get through to your family. Picking your battles is the way to go!
November also marked a milestone for us and we surpassed 5% of the amount we believe we would require to retire. To be clear this is only in our actual investment not including our home equity or gains on our investments. It has been almost 6 months since we started our first investment in June and both of us believe we are on track. However we are looking at reducing our expenses even further. We plan to be a part of the Uber Frugal Month challenge started by Frugalwoods on their site and our aim is to keep out budget under 10K. However anything below our current estimate of 16K is a blessing.
Though we have been able to keep our actual household expenses with in the budget there is a clear upwards trend and in last three months. This has been a result of mandatory spending (passport renewals and health checkups) and increased household size, but we are not completely off the hook.
One of the major expenses which we could simply not justify was a midnight buffet at an inflated cost with a friend. The food was good but none of us walked out satisfied. It contributed to 6% of our monthly expense and was something which we wold want to avoid in future. Our solution is to host a few dinner parties which will cost us far-far less and we won’t have to wait till 12 in the night to get fed.
We have realized that we are spending far too much on food than required. We established this by not buying any vegetables except for coriander (technically it’s an herb) and green onions in last two weeks apart from staple trio. We have not gone hungry either; instead we have been using what we have already bought. For us one batch usually works for 2-3 meals for each one of us.
One of the things which have helped us achieve this is meal planning and prepping over the weekend. Most Indian curries reheat very well. We cook a bigger batch and pack in separate containers so that when we leave for office lunch involves picking up a box. The week we have all the food ready, cuts down our lunch costs by at least 25%. Since we still buy rotis from our lunch lady we still spend that much. Not only the cost since we know what we cook with and how we are in better control of what we eat. If you are looking at packing your own lunch then this is definitely a way to go about it. If you are ok with rice as your starch in lunch then you are in even more luck. Its way too easy to prep rice for the week, just pop it in fridge or freezer and then reheat or thaw using your office microwave.
For December we are looking to rationalize our expenses and become more efficient in our day to day jobs. We are travelling again for a week in December and are planning to throw a house party for our team on New Year ’s Eve. We believe it will be quite cost effective instead of going out as well as allow us to celebrate in safety of our house. More than that, I love cooking and none of us are averse to entertaining. This party will serve as a dry run for a few other dinner parties we would like to host instead of going out to eat ourselves.
No post about this November can ever be complete without a brief on how we coped with demonetisation. We actually fared quite well. We usually transact electronically and our credit card is our trusty companion (paid full every month). We did however stand in queues but were able to withdraw enough to provide cash for family and ourselves. But the biggest surprise was reduced crowds in the malls on weekends. We had in past spent 20 minutes in the checking out queue to get groceries but this time it was a breeze.
Our investments have fluctuated through the month as markets dipped up and down. Right now for us it is a game on waiting and watching as our money works for us. That is definitely the benefit of a long term plan.
How did your investments fare in the uncertain times of these past few weeks