Income / Expenses & James Bond Moments – January 2015

I started tracking my Income & Expenses in March 2014. By committing to tracking these numbers and sharing them with you all on a monthly basis, I benefited from questioning every single penny I spent. For the rest of 2014, I managed to keep my expenses to £10,000 a year or £833 per month.

I will continue to record my income and expenses for 2015, but I don’t intend on setting a goal for a specific saving % or an amount for keeping expenses below. I noticed that in 2014 my goals were effective in keeping my costs down, but they also influenced me not to spend money on certain things. That might sound good, but impacted everything including charitable donations and personal development, which are usually really important to me. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous Posts, my priority for 2015 is making money. I want to challenge myself to earn a lot more money. I’m hoping that by having more disposable income, I’ll have more money to invest with. This should then speed up the process to becoming FI. Easy right! I want to call Tom Cruise at the end of the year and shout “Show me the money!”

Here’s a quick breakdown as to what goes into numbers below:

Income

I will rarely have the same wage each month as I have a commission based job. I might also be eligible for bonuses at certain times of the year, which will impact on the total of my wage. My wage figure will be the net sum I’m paid after tax, national insurance, company pension, salary sacrifice for pension, and student loan. I will only include one figure for my wage but I will mention if my commission is high or low and I will also let you know if I’ve triggered a performance based bonus.

Expenses

The first two expenses are fixed amounts. ‘Mortgage/House Bills’ is an account where Miss FFBF and I pay into each month (£485 each) to cover mortgage payments, council tax, water, TV licence, telephone, electricity, and broadband. ‘Food Account’ is another joint account we use to contribute a fixed amount (£60 per month) for food shopping. 


Here’s a breakdown of my Income and Expenses for the previous month:


Income from January 2015
Wage £1,742.70
Dividends £83.47
Ebay £41.52
Interest from Savings £2.34
Google Adsense £61.24
Poker Winnings £5.00
Regular Saver Payout £93.92
Total Income £2,030.19


Expenses from January 2015
Mortgage/House Bills £480.00
Food Account £60.00
Mobile £9.02
Petrol £0.00
Birthdays £22.50
Groceries £27.46
Alcohol £3.29
Coffee Shop £5.50
Eating Out £20.00
Fast Food £0.00
Charitable donations £23.80
Gift for Work £14.00
Gift for Neighbour £1.00
Office Chair £58.99
Toiletries £2.89
Total Expenses £728.45

Income

January’s wage is usually below average for me and this year was no different. My Income was bolstered by some additional revenue streams though.

For starters, my dividends for January were almost twice the amount of my monthly average for 2014. Good start!

I received a larger than normal payment from Ebay. I sold my ‘Frank N Furter’ outfit from the Rocky Horror Show. I’m sad to see it go, but for most of the people seeing me in it, it’s a great relief. 

I have three new categories for Income this month. The first, Poker Winnings, is fairly self explanatory. I mentioned in my recent Goal Update that I hosted a poker night for our January ‘Guy’s Only Night’. We hit the poker table with our ‘Archer’s and Lemonade’ straight after we’d done our nails and straightened our hair. I lost the first game but won the second, which put me up in total over the cost of both games. We had a lot of fun and we plan on playing poker again in the future. 

Mid way through this month I had one of those great moments as a Blogger. If I had a cat, I would have held it in my arms, span around in my new office chair and said “Hello Google Adsense, I’ve been expecting you. I love writing on this Blog. It’s a lot of fun, I’ve met some amazing people and it’s helped my finances and investing no end. I don’t Blog to make money, as the effort involved and the return I’m currently getting is not worth the time (to make money that it). However, if I’m able to make a bit of money on the side, while enjoying the process I’m onto a winner! I had my first payout for the Blog at £61.24. £60 is the minimum threshold you need to reach to get a payout. I started this Blog back in March 2014. Like I said, it’s not a money making venture! For those interested, I’ve averaged between £25-£30 a month since November 2014 to now, so this amount is steadily becoming a nice earner for me! Prior to that I was languishing on £2-£4 for several months. There isn’t much I can do to bump it up apart from continuing doing what I’m doing and hope my audience increases over time. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to you all! That money will easily cover the cost of creating a Kindle Book, my groceries for a month or a ridiculous fancy dress costume (yet to be confirmed). 

My final ‘new’ income stream was the interest I earned from my First Direct Regular Saver. I was paid 6% per tax (5% after tax) on £300 monthly contributions. I thought it was a solid investment last January, although my DGI might get a higher return, I liked the idea of having a fixed guaranteed return and a lump sum so I went for it. I won’t do it again as I think I can earn more than 5% by investing in shares. I would still recommend it to others who are looking for a more conservative investment option. 

To summarise, my January was very good for a ‘January’. When I look back at what I earned each month in 2014, and if I discount what I received for selling my car (as a large one off), it was £2,033 per month. So, January is bang on average. To hit my £50,000 Goal this year I need to increase it to £4,166 per month. Literally more than double. Now that I fell short this month I have even more to earn…….. Great!



Expenses

After my hugely excessive December things were back to normal for me in January. I was very pleased with my overall spending this month. 

My House Bills, and Food Account were standard.

My mobile contract is now up so I have to source a new one. I don’t know about you, but when I have to get a new contract my first thought it “Bugger!” or something close to that. As soon as I start searching the Web and Topcashback for the latest offers it’s quickly turns into a game and I really enjoy the process. My OCD nature kicks in and it consumes me until I find the best value item. Anyway’s, I’ve kept my handset for yet another year (Galaxy S2) and my new Sim Only deal will cost me £7 per month. The contract will start next month. Topcashback was fairly limited due to the low total spend, but I still managed to score £5.25. 

I had my 3 year old nephews birthday, so the spend was a little higher than normal for Birthdays. 

Groceries were bang on average, as were alcohol and coffee shops. We went out for a meal this month so that was a touch higher than normal.

I’m pleased to say my charitable donations were much higher than normal, and they nearly hit the total I contributed for the period I tracked my expenses last year between March and December. If I knew how to put in an embarrassed Emoji in these posts, I would put one right here!

There were more ‘gifts for work’ than any other month last year. There were a ‘few birthdays and a wedding’ (not quite a film title – shame). 

I ‘borrowed’ a bottle of ketchup from my neighbour. We ended up finishing off the bottle. There wasn’t a lot there, and he said to keep it (which I refused initially). I know I didn’t have to but I bought them another bottle to say thanks more than anything. For those of you that are wondering, I didn’t do the downgrade supermarket challenge on this item, I just bought exactly the same bottle as he had passed onto us. I won’t force my frugality on anyone. 

I eluded to me final spend in my James Bond villain moment, but for those of you that didn’t catch on I bought a new spinny, faux leather, office chair. Prior to setting up our office, I’ve been writing on this laptop in the front room. In the evening’s it can be quite distracting as Miss FFBF is watching TV at the same time. Now I can close myself off in my own space and get busy. With work, to clarify. 
The chair was bought from Ebay. It was a self assembly jobby, and it was delivered to my home address. It’s very comfortable, and I like the look of it. I searched every charity shop in our local town for an office chair before committing to buying a new one. There were plenty of options, but nothing that catered for my back/posture, and comfort needs. I would eventually like to buy a bigger desk for the office and perhaps a whiteboard. Then I’ll know I’ve made it! 
The chair purchase signified more than just having a chair. It was an important step towards being productive in my own space. I’ve noticed the difference for having it already. I’m sure this will compound significantly over time too. 


Income/Expense Average

I don’t have an expense goal for 2015, but I receive a lot of questions about my expenses, perhaps more than most other things I write about. I thought  would keep tracking them as people are interested, as am I. Whilst I was tracking the average for that, I thought it would be worth doing the same thing for Income, as it’s equally important and for my goal’s this year, even more so!


2015 Expenses Income
January £728.45 £2,030.19
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2015 Total £728.45 £2,030.19
2015 Average £728.45 £2,030.19



My average spend at the end of December had frustratingly increased to over the £10,000 a year average of £837.05. After a more stable spending month, I’m pleased to report that my 11 month average of tracking expenses is now £827.17. My total spending over 11 months is now on £9,098.92. If I’m able to spend less than £901.08 in February, then I will have officially lived on less than £10,000 in a year and I can put that challenge to bed once and for all. 

I managed to save/invest £1,365.41 in January which is 67.3% of my income. This lowers my 11 month average to 69.4%. I’ve now established that this percentage is about average for me. The monthly percentage fluctuated a lot last year – As high as 83.9% and as low as 56.8%. I’m hoping to gradually increase this amount over time this year as I increase my income. 

Overall, a solid start to the year, still a lot more to achieve, but generally very happy. Have a great February all!


How was January for you? Did you have any James Bond moments? Or were you also left disappointed with lame film titles like me?

0 Comments

  • Hi Huw

    Despite not setting 2015 spending goals it's clear you're still controlling expenses well.

    Comparing to my efforts:
    – If I'm interpreting your Income table correctly your Wage of £1,742.70 is after tax. Gross that's an annualised £26,400. I don't count any investment return as Income so £0. Spending of £728.45 is an annualised £8,741. So under my definition that's a savings rate based on gross earnings of 67%. Few people who aren't "setting a goal for a specific saving %" will come anywhere near that. Congratulations.
    – In comparison I think I'm doing well at 55%. I'm at a bit of a disadvantage as I'm a higher rate tax payer and rent in London but even so I know how much effort I have put into getting to 55% so a hat tip to you good Sir.

    Cheers
    RIT

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 8th February 2015

    Hi RIT,

    You're very kind, perhaps too kind!

    I do my saving % a little differently to others, as I like to know every penny in and every penny out. My method effects the comparison people can make, but it works for me. This month has been a lower than average spending month. I'm not at the stage where I can keep it this low just yet. My income was average though.

    Thanks for stopping by and being so complimentary. All the best!
    Huw

  • writing2reality

    Reply Reply 8th February 2015

    Great start to the year for sure! Being able to sock away cash at that rate will payoff quite quickly. Each year you save 67% or more, you're actually buying over two years of freedom. Pretty spectacular.

    And given your already very low expenses, it makes sense to work harder on the income side of things. I'm sure with your motivation you'll find a way to maximize your revenue. Keep up the good work!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 8th February 2015

    Hi W2R,

    Thank you very much for the kind words and encouragement.

    It's nice to know that others out there think it's sensible to focus on increasing my income this year. I think I'll keep a steady ship with my expenses for 2015. I just need to prove to myself that I can earn significant money from side hustles.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Huw

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply 9th February 2015

    Huw

    I find it interesting and inspiring to see what other peoples annual spend is and compare it to ours.

    Our annual spend is somewhat higher than yours at £18k, however, that is for two of us. Would your total household spend be double what you spend individually.?

    Richard

  • Tawcan

    Reply Reply 9th February 2015

    Great stuff on receiving the first pay cheque from Adsense! 67% savings rate is very impressive. Good start to the year. 🙂

  • Dividend Legion

    Reply Reply 10th February 2015

    Huw,

    Wow, 10k expenses would be amazing feat, and it looks like you're on track to achieve it!

    Adsense is also a nice little extra, especially since you enjoy blogging. Hopefully this amount will grow with time as your readership increases!

    DL

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 10th February 2015

    Hi Richard,

    I can identify really identify with that. I also find it interesting and inspiring.

    £18k between two people is excellent. The spending above is all me and doesn't factor in Miss FFBF. She spends more than me generally on shopping and car bills. I would guess her's is somewhere between 10-20% higher than mine.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for stopping by!

    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 10th February 2015

    Thanks Tawcan. I was chuffed to bits to see the Adsense payment come in. 67% saving rate was solid start too. A pleasing month overall.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 10th February 2015

    Hi DL,

    I'll be chuffed with a £10k spend a year and it looks like I'll achieve it so far.

    Adsense is fantastic. I feel very fortunate to be receiving any money for doing this. Log may it continue.

    Thank you for the kind words and support!
    Huw

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 11th February 2015

    Hi Huw
    Well done on the Google Adsense payout! Looking at my own stats, I think it's likely to take a couple of years before I get a payout but even then, I shall be really happy!

    When you were describing your leather chair, I could just imagine you (perhaps with a cat…), going "Mwahahahaha" as you look at all your dividends rolling in! 🙂

    Great work on the income, the expenses and the savings rate – excellent stuff. I note with interest the poker winnings. I don't play the game myself but it's something I've always wanted to learn so maybe I'll make it a goal of mine at some point, although as I no longer gamble as much as I used to, this is just going to be a fun thing!

    Err…Frank N Furter? Lol, sorry, can't get fish net stockings out of my head now! "Tell us about it, Janet!" 🙂

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 11th February 2015

    Thanks Weenie! I thought exactly the same thing last year with Adsense. I worked out that I should get my first payout at the end of this year, but things have turned around in the last 4 months. I have no doubt the same will happen for you.

    I totally do the evil laugh whilst spinning on my new chair. I was a big reason to why I ended up buying it! 🙂

    Thanks for the kind words. I'm pleased with how this month has gone too, it's a good start to the year. I love poker! The game itself is very easy to play. The rules are straight forward, there's a lot of maths involved in it as well as psychology (with bluffing etc). It's a great social game to play whilst chatting. I might end up playing it a couple more times this year, but I don't think I'll be making any serious money with it. If I manage to win another game, I'll definitely jump onto the chair and celebrate with a "Mwahahahahaha".

    Weenie, I can promise you the fishnets were worn. Me and two other guys had a 'make-up' party at my house, and I kid you not, a women made a drunken pass at me when I was dressed as Frank N Furter. I said to her "sorry I'm with someone. But what are you doing when I'm dressed like this?". She didn't answer me, and I'm sure she didn't know either. I scared quite a few people in my team that night and like you, they struggle to shake the image.

    Mwahahahahaha (whilst spinning with cat)

    Huw

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 11th February 2015

    I hope you're right about the Adsense!

    Lol, thanks making me laugh on a dreary Wednesday night!

  • My Dividend Pipeline

    Reply Reply 15th February 2015

    Huw,

    Great looking month! Congrats on your savings rate. Hopefully your adsense revenue keeps climbing. I just looked at mine this morning and it looks like I have almost made as much this month as all of January. There is nothing wrong with some extra side money!

    MDP

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 18th February 2015

    Hi MDP,

    Thanks very much! Yes, I hope I can continue to grow the adsense earnings. It's such a nice bonus to blogging, as I would be writing anyway.

    Here's to both of our adsense revenues growing this year!

    Cheers
    Huw

  • Dividend Mantra

    Reply Reply 22nd February 2015

    Huw,

    Congrats on getting the year started with such a strong savings rate. You're on pace for FI within the next decade, which is incredible.

    Best of luck growing the income. Now that you've got your expenses as low as you can get them, it makes sense to try to increase the income. I've been fortunate in that the hobby of blogging became a way to earn a living.

    Keep up the great work!

    Best regards.

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 22nd February 2015

    Hi DM,

    Thank you very much. I've pleased with the start of the year. Feb is also looking like a below average spend month too.

    Yes, income is the big drive for me this year. I know I could improve my expenses further but I don't think I have as much opportunity as I do with my income. Really, when it comes to increasing Income their are no limits. I don't necessarily want to relentlessly work towards a massive income, but I realistically think I can increase my income by x2 or x3.

    Earning money writing a Blog is a real plus. I didn't think I'd be making money this soon, and if it continues to a level that's a quarter or half of what you make I'd be delighted!

    All the best, and thanks for the well wishes!
    Huw

  • theFIREstarter

    Reply Reply 2nd March 2015

    Nice work with the income in what is usually a sparse month for you!

    I don't think I am at the £60 for google adsense level yet (haven't checked it for a while) and that is after 1.5 years. Maybe I need to review the ad placements!? But as you say we aren't blogging for the money so really I'm not that bothered. A payout would be nice though 🙂

    I'd really like to see a post on your kindle books strategy… I searched the backlog and couldn't find much information about that? Basically how are you managing to work, blog, keep up with investing stuff and pump out 4 books a month!? (If this is a top-secret MI5 level project then no worries though?!)

    Is it simply just (to paraphrase from your previous post) because … "yes that's right, you are awesome!" ? 🙂

    Another well done on keeping a Galaxy S2 going for so long. I mean this is a feat that really requires more celebration and perhaps a blog post of it's own as well 🙂
    I had one about 2 years ago and it didn't even last a year (I used to take it running, don't think the sweat and wind/rain did much good for it though!)

    "With work, to clarify" – That made me laugh!!! 🙂 – The chair sounds good though. We got an office chair through freecycle last year and while it's good it's not that comfortable. You can't put a price on not getting a bad back!!!! I will probably look to upgrade when I start doing more working at home later in the year, and setting up a proper office space as well. I know what you mean about trying to concentrate with the goggle box on 😉

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 2nd March 2015

    Hi TFS,

    I hope you're well!

    Overall jan was a pleasing month for me. The Adsense was a lovely bonus that I wasn't expecting at this stage of Blogging. Like you say, I don't Blog to earn money, but I sure as hell won't be refusing cash for doing so. It's just not my driving force that's all. (Perhaps similar to you?)

    My Kindle work is hands down the most popular topic I'm receiving questions on this year. The reason I haven't done anything yet is due it to being new, I want to ensure I'm writing about something I understand, and ideally have some results to show. February is the first month I can actually talk about and give people an idea of the money you can make – Stay tuned for that one!

    You've hit the hammer on the head for that one TFS. My awesomeness is the biggest factor in how I'm able to churn out books, Blogging, work, investing, and training etc. 😉

    It's not all awesomeness though. I certainly don't manage to juggle all the balls at all times. I've dropped a few balls over the last few months to put it lightly. I'll change that metaphor into spinning plates as it's more suitable. I just try and keep one plate spinning then move onto the next one. My blogging for example, has suffered during February, but my progress on Kindle and coaching has been great. I'm trying to take satisfaction on the progress I'm making, and not to worry too much about the areas that are standing still or slipping behind. It's a work in progress.

    I love my Galaxy S2, and just like an old pet or an old car, the longer I have 'Gary' the better he gets. I have a real sweet spot for him, and I will try and squeeze as much life out of the little bugger as I can. Joking aside, I treat Gary well. I don't run around sweat or treat him mean. Kind words and comfort in my side pocket have done the trick thus far.

    Offices have been used for much more than just 'work'….. I've heard. I still have some work to do in my space, but it does the job currently. You're absolutely right. I looked around charity shops and there were cheaper options, but I would have got what I paid for – Poor comfort. I'm happy with the chair so far. I'm getting daily use out of it (mainly for work).

    Thanks again for stopping by. I'm pleased the post put a smile on your face!

    All the best
    Huw

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