Although I enjoy being back home, it has not come without its share of adjustments. May-October was pretty much an extended vacation. My days were filled with rock climbing, wakeboarding, motorcycle riding, camping and basically enjoying life with no responsibilities. That little taste of owning my time has me thinking of early retirement or semi-retirement much more so than I once did. Work isn’t horrible, but having some place I have to be five days out of the week, well, it sucks.
Although I started back to work in November, things didn’t really start to fall into place until January which is when I moved into my apartment. I’ve experienced a rough patch with work and the process of finding a new routine lately. Being that it is winter doesn’t help much. I feel ashamed for having complained last year when the low dropped to 65 one night. Last week it dropped to 12 degrees here at home, my bones ache and I long for 65 degree nights.
Managing my expenses takes a little more effort as well. Things are expensive here in the U.S. and I am reminded of how quickly money can disappear. I’ve started to aggressively track my expenses again with the intent of cutting expenditures where they are excessive. Before this was no more than an interesting exercise; when you’re saving 80% plus of you income and your expenses are crazy low it really doesn’t matter. These days it’s a necessity since everything seems to cost something. Here are just a couple of differences:
- Movies: Before—1.33 (includes popcorn and a drink) Now– 15.50
- Electric: Before—zero Now—84.70 (for a small 1BR apt!)
- Rent: Before—171.00 (included all utilities even phone and internet) Now—675.00 (no internet or phone)
These are a few examples, but in pretty much every category the trend is the same, increased expenses across the board. Compound that with a 2/3 reduction in income and you see how controlling expenses becomes crucial.
Some of this is within my control, actually all of it is, and this is where learning to adjust is coming into play. The biggest change at the end of the year will be getting rid of this overpriced apartment. I settled on this because I was burning up the same amount for gas commuting as I would be paying in rent. They also made it easy to move in which was nice. Some places gave me grief over not having a previous rental history from being overseas for the past few years. It also has me continuing to think about buying a place of my own. In this area I could buy a place with cash and avoid the rent or mortgage payment which would be great.
Food is another category I want to cut down. The last couple of months I’ve spent just over 400.00 month in food. This includes eating out and groceries. This is unacceptable for two reasons:
- I’m a single guy. It doesn’t take $400.00 to sustain me.
- I have the benefit of eating at work for free five days out of the week. It really is a nice benefit.
My goal for this month is keeping food expenses around the $100.00 mark. I think this is easily doable if I just change my behavior a little bit.
Cutting expenses is very important to me because that is where the money to invest comes from. I still like to spend, but these days I like spending on investments that give me a return. Since I no longer have the luxury of having several thousands of dollars extra in my account to invest with, cutting expenses is where the extra funds come from. This is why guys like Dividend Mantra are so inspiring. Here is a guy who is not making tons of money, but yet has managed to build a portfolio rapidly approaching the 100k mark in just a few years! That is impressive in my book…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret coming back, nor do I dislike my new life. I’m merely stating that these days I have to think a little more about my finances and what is really important to me and what isn’t. These are questions that I’m sure millions of other people are asking as well as they navigate through life attempting to make money work for them and not just them working for money. 2013 will be full of adjustments, but they are adjustments I am glad to be making.
You are likely to see more posts than usual dealing with cutting expenses over the course of this year due to reasons I’ve stated above and to the fact that the market just isn’t presenting me with stock prices I’m willing to buy at so there is not much buying/selling going on in the Stoic portfolio, (I am really upset that I didn’t have a limit order in on Monday for the dip below 60.00 that YUM! had). There will be other opportunities, of that I’m sure…