My first Expense Audit, I’m one month into FIRE, looking to reduce excessive spending, get a truer picture of my expenses, and just take back control of my finances (from my past-money-dumb-dumb-self).
Looking at what I have spent in the past is downright depressing 😭 So. Much. Waste! I want to shake my past self 🤦♀️ but alas, I’ve done a lot worse in my life than spend needless money, so I suck it up and move on. However, I know that an important part of FIRE is to know what I spend per month/ per year, and simply saying, well, “all of it”, isn’t good enough!
I’ll be tracking my future expenditure, to get a better idea now I am “money conscious”, however it’s a good opportunity to see where I need to focus my mental energy the most. I only have so much willpower, and I can’t tackle everything at once. 💗
On a high-level I know my biggest unnecessary cost is food, so I have started to make changes there already, but I’ve still got to mentally work up to looking at my past food budget numbers, as I’m embarrassed and scared to fully realise the impact of those poor choices on my wallet as well as my body. 🍔🍕🍟🙅🙅🙅
So easy things first! I like bills, wow, never thought I would say that 😂 but I like the fixed nature of them. Sure, electricity has different rates, peaks and consumption levels, but I can’t emotionally eat electricity. There’s no will power needed, and I don’t feel guilt when the bills comes in, and they stick to a schedule, going up annually if at all. Yay for the predictability of bills!
Let’s look at the monthly cost of my Subscriptions and Services at current:
|GSuite / Gmail – Personal||$ 8.32|
|Cloud Storage – Dropbox||$ 18.96|
|Private Health Insurance||$ 82.60|
|Spotify Premium||$ 11.99|
|Stan (Streaming Service)||$ 10.00|
|Password Manager||$ 3.37|
|Centr (Fitness app)||$ 19.99|
|Treadmill Hire||$ 100.00|
|Total Personal Expenses:||$ 265.23|
|Car Insurance||$ 19.45|
|Car Registration||$ 61.46|
|Car Roadside Assistance||$ 15.25|
|Total Living Expenses:||$ 997.17|
|Adobe Creative Cloud||$ 76.99|
|Web Hosting #1||$ 50.00|
|GSuite/Gmail #1||$ 8.32|
|GSuite/Gmail #2||$ 8.32|
|Web Hosting #2||$ 16.42|
|Total Side Hustle Expenses:||$ 224.54|
|Monthly Expenses Total:||$ 1,486.94|
There’s a few there that are painless quick wins! 💪
🙅 Spotify Premium – I’m not a music nerd, I don’t listen to that much music, I’m not creating playlists for house parties, I can still use it just with ads, no problemos! Insta-cancelled!
🙅 Stan (Streaming service) – I have a binge watching problem, I feel like I’m wasting my life watching others. I do like the shows “Younger”, “Bold Type” and “Preacher” but they’re not important to my life. Also I have free Netflix from my Sister’s account. Insta-cancelled!
🙅 Downgraded internet plan – I am on a fast unlimited plan, it’s the “middle” of the range plan, sounded reasonable and not excessive when I signed up. All I do is basic internetting and streaming. I guess now I also upload YouTube videos too, but my new plan is capped speed, it doesn’t actually cut me off. I can live with slow internet at the end of the month!
🙅 Side Hustle GSuite #1 – I am pretty particular with things like having a good domain name, not having email addresses come from @gmail.com @yahoo.com etc, thought it looked sloppy and unprofessional. And maybe when GSuite was $4 a month, that was fine, but at over $8 now I am done! My eCommerce site (which I make very little money on) doesn’t need a custom email address, nor does it need Drive etc. Insta-cancelled!
🙅 Centr – Centr is a fitness app/program by Chris Hemsworth. I really love everything about it, it’s got good vegan & vegetarian meal plans, the work outs look fun, but honestly, I have never used it. It’s been over 6 months now, so it’s time to pull the plug. Self motivation for fitness isn’t my strong suit, I need military style shouting in my face. I downloaded all the recipes I wanted to try before cancelling though hehehe. Insta-cancelled!
🙅 Side Hustle GSuite #1 – My other side hustle co-founder took this Gmail accounts onto his credit card, I have been paying for it for 3+ years etc. So that’s handy. Insta-transferred!
Instant Savings $68.62 per month / $823.44 per year
In 12.5 years (FIRE goal) at a 4% return just doing this will bring me a few extra bob.
Over all not the most drastic reduction, but certainly good to shed those!
Less quick wins.
These require me to action something, involving anywhere from 1 day to 5~ days work.
🛑 Cloud Storage – Dropbox
I’m using <100 gig of 2 terabytes, and I don’t even like Dropbox that much, I started using it when they had an auto-backup of phone photos, I loved it, but they killed that feature years ago and I’ve just never bothered to explore other options.
My plan is to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) as my cloud storage (S3). They have really cheap rates based on usage only, I think they’ll be around for a while, and I have the tech savvy to use it, so may as well. I’m estimating this will cost me $5 a month. If I go past 800 gigs of storage, it might not be as cost effective, but happy to reevaluate if that time ever comes.
🛑 Private Health Insurance
I’m still thinking about this but looks like I can get this down to $63.65 by dropping the extras that I never use. I’m going to research a little more and get my teeth cleaned while I still do have dental extras though.
🛑 Treadmill Hire – $100
I’ll instantly save $15 by not paying late, whoops, and then I am going to cancel this hire at the end of 2020. I’ve set some fitness goals so this is helping with those, I do actually use this treadmill, but I will drop this and start running outside.
🛑 Adobe Creative Cloud
I really do love having Adobe, I use Lightroom, Photoshop, InDesign, and now After Effects for YouTube videos, but it’s such a big cost that I’ve been paying for a very long time. I don’t use it *enough* and in reality it’s mainly for personal use. I’m getting annoyed at paying for it, month in month out. There are good alternatives to most of the suite so I’m going to suck it up. However, I paid for an annual subscription, that is paid monthly (WTF), so if I cancel then I will forfeit most of the remaining 6 months, so I’ve decided I may as well use it and then cancel, so that’s 6 months away. There are 10 calendar reminders screaming at me in July to cancel it!!!
So my gas bills aren’t actually $98 a month but this is the only amount they let me direct debit monthly. I have about $160 in credit in the account, so I am going to move to “direct debit when bill is due” and only pay the exact amount every 3 months. Now that I am using YNAB, I’m not worried about not having money to pay the bill, I’ll still plan for it monthly, just not direct debit it. My average bill is about $50 dollars so that’s $48 more a month that I can invest!
Paying $48 is ridiculous considering most months I don’t make a sale! I want to ramp up this eCommerce website again, but even then, I don’t want to pay this per month. I am planning to build my own website and use the Shopify Lite plugin, which will bring this down to about $14 per month.
🛑 Website Hosting #1
It actually auto-renewed after the $2.99 price for the first year, a massive per month jump, so after this one year I will cancel it and move to Green Geeks a host that uses Green energy.
This all requires extra work, I’ll aim to do the ones I can before the end of the year, and hopefully working all this out motivates me to actually do it, and posting it on the blog keeps me accountable! 🤞
So once I sort out all those actions, I’ll have:
Additional Savings of $303.31 per month / 3639.72 per year.
Holy cow! That’s pretty significant, I’ve never really worked it out like that before, the per year cost really drives home the savings!
So using the same 4% return, hypothetically if I saved this every month for the next 11.5 years (not 12.5 as some of the subscriptions won’t end until next year), I’ll be looking at:
Now that’s the sort of numbers that are motivating! 🎇
And now if I combine the insta-cancelled and additional savings numbers
Total Savings of $371.93 per month / 4463.16 per year.
Boom! 🤯That’s a year of retirement right there! This girl is on fire! 🔥
Look, I know that it’s not going to play out like that, I’ll increase my health insurance to full cover, need more gigs in storage, not get a 4% return, etc etc, but I am pretty happy using this loosey goosey method of calculation to help motivate and inspire me to save and invest my money. It’s those 💪 marginal gains 💪 that will add up, and as I’m on a path to FIRE in 12.5 years, I need to be particularly aggressive in these early days!
I will record what the actual costs of the new services I move to end up being for my records, but +/- a few dollars I should think.
|Current||Insta-Cancelled||Once Altered or Replaced|
|GSuite / Gmail – Personal||$ 8.32||$ 8.32||$ 8.32|
|Cloud Storage – Dropbox||$ 18.96||$ 18.96||$ 5.00|
|Private Health Insurance||$ 82.60||$ 82.60||$ 63.65|
|Spotify Premium||$ 11.99||$ –||$ –|
|Stan (Streaming Service)||$ 10.00||$ –||$ –|
|Password Manager||$ 3.37||$ 3.37||$ 3.37|
|Telephone||$ 10.00||$ 10.00||$ 10.00|
|Centr (Fitness app)||$ 19.99||$ –||$ –|
|Treadmill Hire||$ 100.00||$ 100.00||$ –|
|Total Personal Expenses:||$ 265.23||$ 223.25||$ 90.34|
| Total Saving: |
|Car Insurance||$ 19.45||$ 19.45||$ 19.45|
|Car Registration||$ 61.46||$ 61.46||$ 61.46|
|Car Roadside Assistance||$ 15.25||$ 15.25||$ 15.25|
|Water||$ 12.00||$ 12.00||$ 12.00|
|Electricity||$ 62.00||$ 62.00||$ 62.00|
|Gas||$ 98.00||$ 98.00||$ 50.00|
|Rent||$ 650.00||$ 650.00||$ 650.00|
|Internet||$ 79.00||$ 69.00||$ 69.00|
|Total Living Expenses:||$ 997.17||$ 987.17||$ 939.17|
| Total Saving: |
|Adobe Creative Cloud||$ 76.99||$ 76.99||$ –|
|Web Hosting #1||$ 50.00||$ 50.00||$ 50.00|
|GSuite/Gmail #1||$ 8.32||$ –||$ –|
|GSuite/Gmail #2||$ 8.32||$ –||$ –|
|Meetup.com||$ 16.49||$ 16.49||$ 16.49|
|Shopify||$ 48.00||$ 48.00||$ 14.00|
|Web Hosting #2||$ 16.42||$ 16.42||$ 5.01|
|Total Side Hustle Expenses:||$ 224.54||$ 207.90||$ 85.50|
| Total Saving: |
|Monthly Expenses Total:||$ 1,486.94||$ 1,418.32||$ 1,115.01|
| Total Monthly Saving: |
I will revisit some of my other costs in the future too, but this is already a lot of things to do for now and until I audit my other expense areas, might not be the highest value to spend time on. I’m aiming to action the additional savings projects before 2020 begins!
If you’ve got any tips for cutting costs in the areas of Services and Subscriptions, I would love hear from you about them, please drop me a message in the comments! I’ll also take high fives! ✋
TLDR: By cutting some needless subscriptions and finding alternative services and products, I can save and invest $4463.16 more a year.
Watch this exact blog post on my YouTube channel: