August was a month of some big changes and a lot of realizations. I am confident that the changes we made last month will have their ripple effects on coming months for sure.
We also decided in August to stop publishing our monthly expense reports because they don’t give a clear enough picture since most of the expenses are rolling. Instead we would like to talk more about the financial and other changes during the month. Which is why instead of expense reports it will be monthly updates from now on.
It started like any other month some groceries and a few other expenses. We ended our ban on eating out in last few days of July and in August we were free from and restrictions on it. This was also the month when we hosted a few friends at our place. But the biggest change was how we deal with our health.
We had a few friends from work over for an afternoon and another friend the next day. I love entertaining and cooking so it was a fun day with colleagues, but not so much with the friend. We have realized in past few months that most people are not fit to be houseguests. In fact our friend list needs some pruning and boundaries need to be set. These two days ended up pretty expensive and cost us nearly 10% of our monthly expenses.
We are slowly turning to organic food and we bought a huge haul of organic staples which will last us far longer than the month itself. This ended up being the biggest amount we have spent on food in a long time. In fact it was almost 3 times of what we spent in July.
We started packing our breakfast for office since June-July. This month we started to slowly wean off our paid lunch in office and started carrying part of our lunch. This will help us to keep the cost down as well as eat food we like and be able to control what actually goes into our food.
Fresh vegetables and milk featured largely in our food list this month which not just makes me happy but also healthy. We were never buying too much sugary drinks but this month we simply got rid of them.
We got our blood tests done in July and the results were not quite good. Both of us were facing vitamin deficiency. We started vitamin regimen in July and in August we reaped the benefits. Biggest one of these benefits was not feeling tired anymore and suddenly we had so much more time in the evening. All of those few precious hours after office were now usable because we were not burnt out anymore. I am sure our body internally liked the vitamins even more but this was the biggest benefit we could have asked for. We were waking up fresher and sleeping better than we had been for past few months.
Mid-august I decided to take up a new challenge and help my body feel even better. I stopped drinking caffeinated drinks, alcohol and anything with added refined sugar. Water became my new staple and office coffee (free!) went out of my daily habits. Dairy and fresh fruit or vegetable juices are allowed as well. This was probably the biggest change I have ever made to my diet in my life. Even though the challenge I started for myself is for 100 day only (23 days over) it has helped me realize how good it can be to kick coffee, tea and sugar from your daily routine.
Does this help us save money? Yes and no. Almost all of my coffee was in and by office and if I don’t consume it any more my employer benefits by a few mugs a day. Apart from that I am no more ordering a glass of some drink (alcoholic of not) when I go out which saves a lot of money. Though we had already reduced our restaurant visits, this will result in saving a few bottles of carbonated drinks we bought in a year.
Apart from this we have been consciously monitoring our food, which means I decide what we eat and he eats it. Supplements and cleansing food are high on our lists especially since we do have a few new conditions to worry about.
Neither one of us have started exercising except we are cleaning our place much more, organizing better, cooking more and overall spending much more time being active in our daily life. Has this helped? Yup, we have cleaner house, better food and happier people.
We were able to contribute around 45% of our take home to our investments this month after buying fittings and furnishings for our house we rented out last month. This was not a good thing since we got increased salary this month and we should have been able to save quite a bit more.
A considerable part of our income also goes towards our home loan EMI and the principle portion of it is a tad bit over 10% of our income. Including this we come to a bit over 55% and that is something I am still not content with. There is however a limit to the amount we can save after putting in rent and other mandatory expenses.Apart from these there is a mandatory contribution to EPF which is combined for both of us is around 6-7 % of our take home pay.
In reality I believe we can achieve a maximum 60% savings rate. These savings though are still a bit away from us since we have to recoup the amount we put into our flat as well as the bulk purchases for some food and supplements which we have recently made.
The biggest addition to our income this month was adding rental income to our portfolio. It covers the interest portion of our EMI and allows us to save a bit more. The landlord experience for us newbies has been bittersweet which you should be reading about in some time.
September has continued in the same vein as August and I hope we continue to improve our health and savings.
How was August for you and what are you expecting in September?