We made it.
After a few months of unexpected expenses, house moving and expensive (but great!) summer holidays in Italy, we finally setup our monthly deposits into our ISAs. As this was our first month as officially investors and since we are still funding our emergency fund, we ended up setting up small contributions into the Vanguard LifeStrategy 100% equity fund.
We plan to keep funnelling a majority of our income into the emergency fund until the end of the year, and hopefully by that time we will have stacked around £10k. This will give us a good safety net and will cover our expenses for a few months in case anything unexpected happens. After that we will focus solely on topping up our investment accounts.
On our first month tracking our expenses seriously, our income totalled £3.690. This value will fluctuate every month since Mrs. WB paycheck tends to oscillate according to her shifts and their different hourly payrates. As for expenses, even buying flights for the upcoming holidays and three pieces of furniture for our bedroom, we managed to spend £2.420. We finished September with £1270 saved and a solid 34.42% savings rate. On our investment accounts, we made a total contribution of £300 into our ISAs.
By tracking our monthly spendings on a spreadsheet, we were able to avoid splurging money on stuff that we didn’t need (one more dinner out or a new piece of clothing). It also helped managing our weekly budget. Instead of doing everything in the first week of the month we tried to split all the extras along the month, perhaps this is something obvious for most people but unfortunately it took us a while to get here. This overview contributed immensely for our good mood on the last days of the month, knowing that we did enjoy ourselves (not just the first week of the month) and still managed to save a great chunk of money.
Housing – £868
Currently we pay £868 for our newish one bedroom flat. The rent is £750 plus the council tax fee, which is £118 to be payable during 10 months a year. It’s a fairly new flat within a walking distance to the city’s high street where we can get anything that we need under a 10 minutes walk. Sometimes this can be a problem since we have dozens of pubs and restaurants right below our house, making it too easy to just go downstairs and grab something to eat or hangout with friends for a couple of pints.
Transportation – £31.50
The costs on transportation were really low this last month. This is due to the fact that I buy my bus pass every three months for £190. If we spread this through each month, it’s a £63 a month, which I think it’s a quite fair price. On top of that there’s also Mrs. WB bus pass (£30) which is way cheaper than mine. We are currently still living without a car, mostly because of our central residence but this will probably change next year. Although it is a relaxed commute for me, it is still two hours and forty minutes that i spend every day sitting on the bus (if I drove it would be only forty minutes). Mrs. WB would probably keep her bus pass but she would drive if she had work shifts during weekends or late shifts during the week, saving her essentially the same time as me.
Eating out – £80
Since we were really looking forward to make a good figure on our first blog post we knew that we couldn’t spend much money in eating out. We can definitely hack this out by not going into expensive restaurants. Having said that we still managed to spend £80 with three dining outs. There’s dozens of restaurants where we can have a wooden oven made pizza and a drink for 10£ each and we will still be perfectly happy with our night. We definitely don’t need a 30£ each dinner where you pay and extra 20£ for an awful bottle of wine. It just doesn’t feel right.
Groceries – £300
This was also a good month with groceries. We did some meal preps for Mrs. WB, since she has to take her lunch from home. She made a weekly plan of every main dish plus some fruit and snacks.
Luckily, I do have breakfast, lunch, coffees and snacks available everyday for free at my current job, provided by a catering company which reduces our food spending considerably. We ended up spending at least 300£ during the whole month.
Utilities – £184
There are still a few months to go until our utilities bill gets lower. We are currently paying our two new iPhones 6S, which accounts for £76 with 2GB of data and unlimited calls. There are still 7 months left until we end our contract. After that it will go down to 40£ a month. On the electricity bill we pay £55 with EDF Energy. Every light in our house is now a LED light and we do tend to run our washing machines during night time, when the electricity is one third the price than it is during the day.
Fitness – £42
As we all know, we shouldn’t forget investing in our health. It is really important to workout a couple of times a week, not only to keep your body in shape but also for your mind. We are currently on a gym where we pay £19 each for a 24 hour open gym with plenty of room to do our own stuff, a great variety of workout machines and also free classes that we can to book in advance. It really has a cool atmosphere and we throughly enjoy going there.
Shopping – £60
During September we did behave quite well, spending money with three fairly cheap things. The first one was a digital kitchen scale (£7) – (which I am really proud of), the second one was an glue gun (£20) to fix our toilet paper holder that was about to crack and the last one was a simple white shirt (£20) from ZARA, for me to take on a pre-wedding party earlier in the month. Overall, I felt really impressed with the fact that Mrs. WB didn’t bought anything new for herself to wear.
Home goods – £100
As we are still furnishing our new flat that we moved into a couple months ago, there are still a few things missing. Things like a TV stand, the actual TV, a proper dinning table (we are still using my old office desk that barely fits 2 people) and a footstool. Other than that we are mostly set. So for this month we bought two bedside tables and a chest of drawers to properly organise our clothes. Thanks to IKEA for giving us the opportunity to spend £100 on these three stylish items.
Coffee/pub entertainment – £25
After a few rough nights during the month of August, everyone wants to get back on tracks and get healthy (and save some money as well). Instead of meeting our friends at the pub and spend £100 we met them at home, with fresh juice, tea and cookies (not with booze, for a change). This lead to a fairly good month whereas those £25 that we did spent were in healthy smoothies, not on alcohol.
Everything else – £646.50
Last but not least, there were £646.50 that we couldn’t track, which is quite a lot and it’s our main goal to try and reduce this value as much as possible. It was mostly food related purchases because we tend to go into the supermarket to grab one or two items everyday and this adds up fast. Our goal would be to completely remove this category and keep everything in their right place. At the moment we don’t have access to any reliable budgeting applications that tracks all our transactions like Mint.com or PersonalCapital.com as US residents currently do. There’s actually an application called Ontrees.com but unfortunately it hasn’t been accepting new signups for a few months now.
That is it for our first financial update since we started taking our finances really seriously and we hope to improve our tracking skills for the upcoming months.