Income & Expenses – March 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 under £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 it impacted everything, including charitable donations and personal development, which are usually really important to me. 

My priority for 2015 is making money. I want to challenge myself to earn a lot more. 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 (£440 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 (£70 per month) for food shopping. 


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

Income from March 2015
Wage  £1,564.02 
Dividends £172.36
Interest from Savings £2.10
Kindle Sales £9.50
Total Income £1,747.98
Expenses from March 2015
Mortgage/House Bills £440.00
Food Account £70.00
Mobile £8.22
Petrol £20.00
Birthdays £3.50
Groceries £3.79
Alcohol £28.68
Mothers Day Gifts £30.49
Eating Out £102.89
Fast Food £3.50
Coffee Shop £6.70
Kindle Course £125.53
Dentist £18.50
Book £13.32
Car Parking £1.00
Microsoft Office £9.95
Charitable donations £20.00
Laptop £274.99
Total Expenses £1,181.06

Income

March’s wage was below average for me. Thankfully my dividends were on hand to bump up my Income total to some degree.

My dividend income was a Personal Best of £172.36 for March. My average dividends were a shade under £50 per month in 2014. My monthly average has now climbed over £100 (£104.02) thanks to March. My Goal for 2015 is to reach £2,000 in Dividend Income. I’ll need to increase my monthly average up to £167 to reach this total. My average is heading in the right direction. April’s dividends are more in line with my 2014 average, but I’ll be setting a new PB in May and June will also be huge for me. I remain optimistic!

I have a new category for income. One that I’m hoping will be a main feature in the months and years to come – Kindle Sales. Amazon make payments into your account 60 days after the month has finished. For example, in March I was paid the royalties I received in January. I opened my account mid way through January, so this is only a couple of weeks worth of sales, and I had two books out at that time. 
There’s one part of Kindle income that I haven’t factored in when it comes to receiving money from Amazon, and that’s the payments you receive for Kindle Unlimited. Some people pay for a subscription service for Amazon products, and if they download your book with that membership, you receive a royalty for it. All the monetary amounts I’ve provided on this Blog for Kindle have not included this extra payment. I’ve decided to include my Kindle payments in my monthly Income and Expenses reports to keep track of them all. In the table below, I’ve confirmed the amount Amazon paid me in black. The numbers in grey italics are estimates without the Kindle Unlimited factored in. I’ll update these numbers once I have the money in my account and it’s confirmed. 

I’m hoping that Kindle and Dividends payments are going to provide more than enough money to cover my expenses in time to come. I have a goal to increase the Kindle Income to £1,000 per month by December. I’m not sure if I’ll achieve this goal. The current sales still have a long way to go, but the % increases from month to month are substantial. I know it can’t continue to double my income each month, but I’ll enjoy it whilst it lasts. I estimate that I’ll earn approx £160 in sales in April, which is close to doubling the income from March.

Dividend & Kindle Income – 2015
Dividends Kindle
January £83.47 £9.50
February £56.22 £43.14
March £172.36 £84.75
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2015 Total £312.05 £137.39
2015 Average £104.02 £45.80


To summarise, March was another low paying month for me. 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. March was £250+ below my 2014 average income. My goal to achieve £50,000 income this year is looking increasingly more difficult, but there’s a lot of work to on Kindle and some big potential returns to be made. It’s great to see the first payment in my account. This should be the first of many, and like my dividends, these payments should add up quite nicely over time. 



Expenses

Now that I’ve proven to myself that it’s possible to live on less than £10,000 a year, I feel like I can challenge myself in other areas. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to go on a mass spending spree, but I’m not going to decline Personal Development opportunities to keep my expenses below a set figure this year. 

March was my first month of ‘freedom’ spending and I made the most of it! 

Stand out purchases this month include a Kindle course for £125. This course is based around helping you form a team and helping me outsource work. 

I bought a laptop, which was a refurb model from PC World (I got a little bit of cashback from it too). Lou and I have been sharing a laptop up until now. In honesty, I’ve just been using it the entire time, and poor Lou hasn’t had a chance to use it herself. I made the call to buy my own so we can both work on our respective computers at the same time. I bought 2013 Microsoft Office through my company for £9.95, which I was really chuffed with. I need Word for Kindle Publishing. We have Open Office on the other computer, which isn’t compatible with Kindle Publishing. Up to this point, I had to email my work address, edit the book during my lunch hour and then upload it to my KDP account. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was a pain when I had edited a couple of books on the weekend, and had to wait for work to put them online. Having Word is a dream now!

Eating out and alcohol were huge for me this month. It was the Spring UK Gathering, and for a bunch of Frugal Goer’s, we didn’t hold back that day! I had a few coffee’s, paid for two meals (lunch and dinner), and bought a round of drinks. That might be normal for most people, but I tend to eat out every couple of months and keep alcohol consumption down to a minimum. I had an amazing day, and I wouldn’t have changed anything about my spending that day. These meet up’s are one offs, and I treat my spending differently. My frugal behaviour throughout the year allows me to relax the purse strings for these days.   

I had my twice yearly check up at the dentist, Mothers Day, and I bought I book which are all out of the norm for a monthly spend. The combination of these purchases has resulted in my biggest ever spending month since I’ve been recording expenses – £1,181.06.


How do I feel about that?

To be honest, I’m not too worried. I’m not delighted with it, but most of the ‘big ticket’ items (laptop and course), should pay ‘dividends‘ in time to come (My comical genius didn’t even notice the pun – It’s all natural people!). I wanted to loosen up my spending a little to allow me to develop and earn even more money moving forward. Buying cakes and coffee won’t do that, but books and courses will. 

There’s a fine balance between the living frugally and developing yourself, but I believe I can continue to spend wisely and keep expenses relatively low, whilst significantly increasing my income. 

Do you find the balance between living frugally and developing yourself difficult? 


Last year, I fought the urge to develop myself because I wanted to keep my expenses low. I want to change that in 2015.  

My aim is to generate more disposable income by the end of the year. I haven’t shown any signs of that just yet, but I’m expecting bigger increases towards the end of the year. Let’s see how I get on!

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 I 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 an important goal for me this year.

2015 Expenses Income
January £728.45 £2,030.19
February £725.03 £1,793.69
March £1,181.06 £1,747.98
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2015 Total £2,634.54 £5,571.86
2015 Average £878.18 £1,857.29


My average spend at the end of February was £726.74. After a Monstrous March, the average has jumped up to £878.18
My income average was £1,911.90 at the end of last month. It’s now down to £1,857.29. 
April has been much better on both ends for me, so I’m likely to see a nice rise in income and  a noticeable decrease in expenses. 


Saving Rate Average

Saving Rate 2015 – %
January 67.3
February 62.8
March 65.5
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2014 Average 65.2%

I managed to save/invest £1,145.25 in March which was 65.5% of my income. My saving percentage for 2015 is currently 65.2%. I think this figure represents a solid average for me at the moment. In the next few months, my dividend and Kindle income should increase this figure above the 70% mark on a more regular basis.

Overall, a low income and big spending month, but a ground breaking one too. We’d had our first big UK Gathering, I had my first Kindle royalty, and I have my own laptop. 

Thank you all once again for your continued support. It means a lot!


How was March for you? Do you struggle to balance living frugally and keeping expenses down? I love to get your thoughts!

0 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply 24th April 2015

    Nice write up Huw

    I was wondering how you would view the spend in Stratford. For us it is a spend that we don't normally have, however, we do not regret it for one minute as the value we got from yourself and others in terms of ideas, motivation etc. far exceed what we actually spent in monetary terms.

    Glad to see that the kindle is coming along nicely and the income is doubling each month. I have spent practically all my free time on this over the past 3 weeks and am close to publishing my first book. I have fallen into the trap of going for perfection and have spent this last week just editing and formatting the book. I need to just get it out there and see what happens. Now I know the steps the second one should be much quicker and easier.

    Richard

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 24th April 2015

    Hey Huw

    Whilst your expenses have been high, the reasons have not been frivolous, ie the UK Gathering and your laptop. These aren't expenses you will incur every month and both are fairly important – one social/educational, the other a tool to help you achieve FI (and maintain a good relationship with Lou by not hogging the laptop!).

    The projections you have for your Kindle book are most impressive and I don't doubt that we'll soon be seeing the income overtake your dividends!

    Fantastic savings rate despite the high expenses though, well done.

    March as you know was an epic one for me. Sadly, April will be below par as it's proving to be an expensive month!

    Have a great weekend!

  • Dividend Dreams

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Your monthly dividends look good. The nice thing about frugal living is that it doesn't take much by way of dividends to actually make a difference. Keep up the good work.

  • Tawcan

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    I have the same thought as weenie. Most of these expenses are one time expenses so I wouldn't put too much emphasis on them. Looks like you're doing very well with your Kindle book sales, definitely keep up that excellent work going.

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Hi Richard
    Good luck with the Kindle book!

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Thanks Weenie

  • Dividend Drive

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    I agree with Tawcan and weenie. I would not worry about one-off expenses too much. As long as your general trend is for low expenses it should keep the average down to a normal level. One-off expenses are hard to budget for, but it is important they are budgeted. These sort of months are useful for reminding you of that which is a useful prod over the long term!

    The expenses were for a good purpose that is important. Frugality should not mean you should forget that your a human who does–believe it or not–have more than just eating, housing and sleeping needs!

    You still pulled together an excellent savings rate for the month and clearly your side hussles are starting to pay–erm–dividends which should also increase over time and grow in enjoyment for you!

    Keep up the great work!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Hi Richard,

    I view the spending very much like you and Alison. I didn't regret anything about the way I spent money that weekend. I enjoyed myself and felt relaxed knowing it was a one off. You're right, it wasn't just about the money that was spent. I got a great amount of value, knowledge and fun from the whole day. It was totally worth it!

    The kindle is coming along nicely. It's a slow burn initially, but once your books are up and running, it soon adds up. I was guilty of the same painstaking process of editing that you're going through. I would encourage you to continue building the quality of your books. This will help the longevity of it on Amazon, your earnings, and your satisfaction levels. I've put out lower quality books and they don't compete in those areas.
    There is something to be said for getting books out there, because the path for quality can lead onto the search for perfection, and you might end up never releasing anything. I'm looking to publish useful, quality books, that are 'good enough'. I have no doubt you'll find the right balance.

    Please let me know when you launch it as I'll make sure I download a copy for you!

    Good luck!
    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Hey Weenie,

    You're spot on. My expenses were high this month, but it wasn't due to mass consumer spending. I've tried to invest in myself in various ways.
    Lou has been amazing during all of the work I did on our shared computer. However, she wanted to get into doing more investing and start selling books on kindle, but as I was on it most of the time, she said she was too polite to say anything. Now at least we both have the freedom to research and work on what we like without worrying about the impact on the other person. The laptop purchase was for her as much as me really!

    The Kindle earnings are just 'projections' at this stage and I'm not sure if I'll hit the £1,000 in one month during 2015, but I'll give it a bloody good go. If I don't hit that goal in 2015, I know I won't be far away and in reality, there is no time limit on it. If I were to achieve it in Feb 2016, I'd still be delighted!
    I'm now familiar with the process, and I can continue to fine tune it throughout this year to help me increase my income. My book sales may fizzle out or heat up, but I can just keep releasing more books until I get there. I believe that my new strategy of writing my own books will help too. I'll put them out in my name and see if I can reach out and help people in areas that I'm interested in and passionate about.

    Congrat's on March, and I hope you can keep things tight for the remaining week this month.I look forward to hearing about it soon!

    Thanks as always!
    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Thank you so much DD!

    Yes, I hope I continue to keep my expenses low, and build my income streams in both dividends and kindle. The subtle changes to each factor make huge differences over time.

    Cheers
    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Hi Tawcan,

    Thanks for stopping by. I agree with you both. The headline figure is high but I'm happy with the quality and value I received in return.
    The early stages of kindle are going very well. I hope they can continue to grow in this way for as many months as possible, but I'm not holding my breath on that. It has to stop at some point…… In the meantime, I'm going to keep putting books out there and see how I get on.

    All the best!
    Huw

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 25th April 2015

    Hi DD,

    I totally agree. I'm very happy with my purchases and I believe they'll offer great value in time to come.

    I believe that my personal development suffered to a degree last year, and I don;t want that to happen again. I still believe that I can develop my skills and knowledge and live frugally.

    Love the intended pun! Yes, kindle's working very well for me currently. I want to continue rolling this income snowball, and perhaps….PERHAPS…. I'll earn enough to cover my expenses with it. That would be unbelievable!

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Huw

  • Dividend Drive

    Reply Reply 28th April 2015

    It is a balance a lot of frugalers come across I suppose. How do you keep within the bounds of frugal living whilst also ensuring you are investing in yourself properly. I think you're getting it very right at the moment! Though it must feel a little bit of a backwards step when you look at the figures only!

    Judging from the Kindle progress so far, certainly looks like it could continue to grow. Good luck with it!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 30th April 2015

    I think you're right, I'm probably not alone in trying to strike that balance. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at on that scale currently, much more so than last year,

    Thanks again!
    Huw

  • No more Waffles

    Reply Reply 1st May 2015

    Huw,

    I remain impressed with the performance of your Kindle effort! Excellent results and return on your investment. Let's hope you can keep this up.

    Also, don't worry too much about one-time expenses like your laptop. These things can and do happen, so no reason to think you're wasting money. Besides, you'll use the laptop as a tool to make more money.

    Keep it up,
    NMW

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 2nd May 2015

    Hi NMW,

    Thank you very much! I've been very pleased with it too. April has been another successful month for kindle, I just hope it continues to succeed.

    I appreciate your encouragement. I see the laptop as an investment than a consumer spend. It's also an investment for Lou. She's delighted that she can work on her own laptop.

    I hope all is well with you.

    Cheers
    Huw

  • As usual apols for the very late comment, I always get round to catching up at some point though 😉

    I think you make a very good point about being frugal to the point where you could be holding yourself back.

    Or even worse, blowing money on unproductive things whilst not wanting to spend money on things that could have a future pay back. I've had plenty of website ideas over the years and never got round to having a pop at a lot of them in the early days because I didn't want to spend the money on setting up web hosting (although I don't think I realised how cheap it actually was). Also I didn't have the time nor inclination to actually get on with doing it! Now I'm marginally more motivated 😉 and perhaps less importantly can see much more clearly that you sometimes have to spend money to get a return, whether that be monetary or just improving yourself.

    It can be a bit of a risk and sometimes you may end up failing or spending money on something that didn't help at all but at least you will have the lesson of not doing something similar again (or if you do you will know what mistakes to avoid next time)

    Cheers 🙂

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 19th May 2015

    Hi TFS,

    First of all, there's no need to apologise for 'late' comments, as there is no time frame in my opinion.

    Well said. Having an expenses goal was fantastic, and I would recommend anyone doing at some stage of their life. The caveat is that every spend is questioned, including personal development, and entrepreneurial activities .
    It's been an important step for me for branch out and take some risks on Kindle and I'm sure that it'll pay me back in the end.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Huw

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