My Journey to Financial Independence and Retiring Early

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March 2017 Spending Report

March 2017 Spending Report

Here’s everything I spent money on in March! I know this is late but April has been a super busy month. The chart below also comes from Mint, my primary budgeting tool . You can find this view in the Trends tab and select spending […]

Find Out Your Lifetime Earnings

Find Out Your Lifetime Earnings

How much money have you earned in your lifetime? Here’s an easy way to find out! Check out the SSA.gov website! Once you create an account and login you can view your earnings records from every year that you’ve filed taxes. You can also see how […]

February 2017 Spending Report

February 2017 Spending Report

February Spending Report | www.thefiredrill.com

Here’s everything I spent money on this month! Note, this looks different from last month’s post. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to show this.

2017 February Spending |www.thefiredrill.com

  • Car:
    • Gas & Fuel: $103 – Slightly more than budget, but not by much. I came in under budget last month, so I’m still on track for the year.
  • Bills/Utilities:
    • Mobile phone: $35 – I use Cricket which includes all taxes and fees.
    • TV + Internet: $91 – This includes internet and Netflix & Hulu subscriptions.
  • Entertainment: $30 – Movie, popcorn, and drinks for 2.
  • Food & Dining: $177 – this is the overall category and includes spending on lunch, groceries, and any other dining out that I do. This is much better than last month.
  • Home: $0
  • Personal Care: $4 – I bought some lipstick by The Lip Bar from Target using the two gift cards I had last month. Their liquid matte is everything – I got Savage if you’re curious.
  • Travel: $0
  • Shopping: $75 – I bought some household items (paper towels, cleaner, etc.), a hat, and a couple of magazines (more on that later)
  • I didn’t spent anything on gifts/donations or pets this month.
  • Health & Fitness: $20 – I paid bill from the dentist.
  • Everything Else: $90 – Nice! I bought a demo table for a promotion since mine mysteriously disappeared…some stuff for the blog, and a paid a few dollars in fees from my HSA.

Overall, I spent $628 this month. That’s unusually low, but maybe it’s because February is the shortest month of the year.

What’s not included here?

  • I put $2,000 towards my student loan balance and added $346 to my HSA.
  • I added $3,000 to my IRA to try to max it out by the tax filing deadline.
  • A couple of vending machine transactions.

In other News…

 

My side gig got me in a magazine! Actually, two magazines (that I know of)! I signed up with an agency to do promotions and have since gotten a couple of unexpected modeling jobs through them. You can catch me in the U by Kotex ad in the March issues of both Seventeen and Essence magazines. 😀

That’s all I have for February! How did you do on your February budget?

Summer in Paris – $570

Summer in Paris – $570

Hi Folks! This is a new feature of The Fire Drill for my Detroit folks. Since I can’t take all the trip deals that I find, I’m going to plan a cheap trip for you! 🙂 Let’s go to Paris, France for a week for […]

My $100 Trip to Amsterdam

My $100 Trip to Amsterdam

Hi folks! My schedule has been pretty crazy lately and I haven’t found much time to write. I figured it would be easier/faster to do a report of my very first trip with credit card rewards. About 2 years ago, I went to Amsterdam for a […]

January 2017 Spending Report

January 2017 Spending Report

January Spending Report | www.thefiredrill.com

Here’s everything I spent money on this month!

January 2017 Spending | www.thefiredrill.com

  • Car:
    • Auto Insurance: $82 – This is greyed out since I pay that every 6 months, so it holds over a portion of my monthly budget to account for that payment.
    • Gas & Fuel: $84 – Under budget, whoo hoo!
    • Service & Parts: $201 – I got an oil change and had some other maintenance done on my car. This portion rolls over every month, so I should be good on car stuff for a while.
  • Bills/Utilities:
    • Mobile phone: $35 – I use Cricket which includes all taxes and fees.
    • TV + Internet: This actually went up this year. I pay more for faster internet service now so we can stream and game at the same time without either lagging. This also includes Netflix & Hulu subscriptions.
  • Entertainment: $20 – I took myself to the movies once.
  • Food & Dining: $339 – this is the overall category and includes spending on lunch, groceries, and any other dining out that I do. I went over in this category by about $70 which means I either need to scale back or increase my budget. But I also took a weekend trip to Atlanta, so we’ll see if I need to adjust this next month.
  • Home: $37 – I bought a couch pillow and a frame for some art that I bought last year in Kenya (bad photo below). 🙂

    Maasai Warriors Painting | www.thefiredrill.com
    Maasai Warriors Painting
  • Personal Care: $12 – I purchased some face wipes, which worked out to $12 and received two $5 Target gift cards that I can spend in the future.
  • Travel: This category is negative since I have it roll over the unused amounts every month. I budget $200 per month in travel and only bought a $96 roundtrip ticket to Atlanta last month, so there’s a lot of carry over from December and previous months. I did actually spend $44 on Uber rides in Atlanta while I was there.
  • I didn’t spent anything on gifts/donations (though I did donate some items I no longer use to Goodwill), health & fitness, pets, or shopping.
  • Everything Else: $214 – Slightly over budget…This includes things I don’t really budget category for like fees, parking, and various online services/classes I sign up for.

Overall, I spent $1,065 this month (not including any rollover category credits). Not bad.

What’s not included here?

  • I bought a few things in cash this month and I can’t quite remember what they were. I spent about $15 on food and a drink at a bar…and maybe $20 somewhere else…probably also food related.
  • I received an Amazon gift card in December that I’ve been slowly spending down. I bought a few books, some toiletries, and a part for my car for about $60 worth of the balance. Still $140 left! I was looking to spend this on a handheld clothing steamer so I could get rid of my bulky floor model, but I was able to get one that my mom thrifted a while back for free!
  • I put $2,000 towards my student loan balance and added $115 to my HSA.

In other News…

I stopped my 401k contributions for now. 🙁 I am trying to get these student loans paid off, and that was the best way to free up my cashflow. I should be able to start them up again later this year, so we’ll see if I can get back to maxing that out later.

I’m getting a bonus (& a 401k match)! This was unexpected and I’m still not sure how much, but that was a nice surprised that I learned about in January. Good thing I maxed my 2016 contributions!

That’s all I have for January! How did you do on your January budget?

How to Remove Excess HSA Contributions

How to Remove Excess HSA Contributions

After my last paycheck of 2016, I realized that I over contributed to my HSA. I was scheduled to max out the full $3,350, but my calculations didn’t take into account the prorated employer contribution I received. Because this is a tax advantaged account, you can’t […]

How to Make Money as a Brand Ambassador

How to Make Money as a Brand Ambassador

A few years ago I learned of a whole new job community where I could make $15+/hr with no experience! I fell into the world of brand ambassadors over Memorial Day weekend in 2014. My first job paid $20/hr and all I had to do […]

2016 Financial Recap & 2017 Goals

2016 Financial Recap & 2017 Goals

Happy New Year! I’ve decided to do something very scary for me, but I’m excited to share. I’m going to break down all of the my savings and expenses for 2016. In 2017, I’m planning on doing monthly reports so that you can see how I budget each month to be able to save towards my FIRE goal.

Despite all the doom and gloom around 2016 on social media, I’ve personally had a fantastic year. I moved in with my boyfriend at the end of 2015, was able to travel to Kenya with my mom in February, head over to Greece & Italy in September, and participated in a few photoshoots (yay, side hustle!). I also started The Fire Drill in 2016 which allows me to share my goals with all of you! So without further adieu, here’s my progress…

 

 


Net Worth

The green bars are assets, the red bars are debts, and the black line represents total net worth (assets minus debts). I started the year with a net worth of $32,100 and ended with a net worth of $70,400. That’s +$38,300 and a 120% increase! Just two years ago, my net worth was negative, so I am super proud of this progress. My debts include my student loans and whatever varying credit card expenses I have that month. In 2017, I want to KILL my student loans. I am so tired of those red bars holding me down.

2017 Goal: Hit 100k net worth

Student Loans

I only paid off $2,800 this year. 🙁

This is changing in 2017 – I still have about $25,000 left to go and my goal is to eliminate the rest of these loans over the course of this year. This also means I need to back off the investments. Sigh…

2017 Goal: Pay off student loans

Investments

I did want to hit 100k in investments by the end of the year. While that didn’t happen, I did hit $100k in assets! I’m super close to meeting this goal in early 2017. I did not have the cash to fund an IRA for 2016, but I did max out my 2015 IRA, 401k and HSA. So I saved $26,900 and about $10,700 is due to market appreciation, dividends, and company matching.

2017 Goal: Hit $100k in investments

Spending

Whoa, January! That was such an expensive month! I started a side hustle that month and spent $3k in inventory and probably another $500 on other things related to that. I also bought two tickets to NYC (on the way to Kenya), paid a down payment on our safari trip, paid 6 months of car insurance and bought new tires. Phew! All other months were relatively normal in terms of spending. In November, I did a “no spend” month in which I tried to only pay for necessary expenses. I still bought some unnecessary things that month, but I still count it as a success. In 2017 you’ll get the breakdown at the end of each month of what I spent money on in detail.

Overall, I spent $22,019.87 in 2016, which is $7,354.89 less than I spent last year. But, since I didn’t pay rent this year, it’s about the same. Here’s everything I spent money on in 2017:

  • Auto & Transport: $3,084
    • Gas: $900
    • Insurance: $1,394
    • Service/Parts: $784
    • Parking/Public Transport: $6
  • TV & Internet (including Netflix/Hulu): $844
  • Cell Phone (Cricket): $420
  • Side Hustle Stuff: $6,150
  • Groceries: $1,484
  • Dining Out & Bars: $1,386
  • Entertainment: $144 (Apparently, I’m easily entertained lol)
  • Fees (annual fees from credit cards, foreign ATM fees, etc.): $418
  • Gifts/Donations: $976
  • Home (furniture, cleaning supplies, etc.): $830
    • I also received my security deposit back from my apartment so Mint subtracted $595 from this amount.
  • Utilities (bills left over from 2015): $139
  • Health (Invisalign payments, doctor’s visits, dentist): $2,300
  • Personal care (hair products, hair cuts, makeup, etc.): $243
  • Pharmacy (I think this is mostly hair products that I’ve been hoarding…, razors, soap, a few prescriptions, etc.): $413
  • Pet: $140
  • Travel: $2,200
  • Shopping: $1,408

2017 Goal: Spend less than $20k & be better about splitting transactions properly

Income

This is the income I received after taxes plus my pre-tax contributions. This also includes side hustle income, which I have yet to pay taxes on. Basically, it’s cash in-hand + money put straight into investments, which totals $54,244.74 for 2016. My goal is to secure a promotion and increase side hustle income in 2017.

2017 Goal: Hit $60k

All charts above come from Mint. If you’re not sure how much you spent this year, how much you made, or any of these other metrics, I encourage you to sign up for Mint or Personal Capital now. I have almost 6 years of data now and can go back and tell you what my spending/income was for each of these years so quickly. They are great tools for budgeting and actually taking a look at what you’re expenditures are so you can work toward making positive changes. Just try one, they are both free!

Do you guys track your spending? Did you meet all of your 2016 financial goals?

Saving Money on Purchases All Year Round

Saving Money on Purchases All Year Round

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using links in this post. For you last minute shoppers, here are my top tips on saving money on online purchases all year round, not just during the holidays. I […]