Dividend and Expense Updates

My savings rate and expenses – March update – tax refund


March is always a weird month for me as it’s the month I usually get my taxes done. The goal is to shoot for a $0 tax refund but that’s nearly impossible. Sometimes you completely miss the mark due to unknowns like stock sales and bonuses(which get taxed at a much higher rate).

This year, I missed the mark which means I got a decent sized tax refund this month.
The tax refund essentially means that my expenses in 2016 were too high and my savings rate was higher that I had calculated it.
Still, it’d be a huge task to go back and recalculate everything there which means I’m left with my second option; to look at it as additional income in 2017 and move on. It’s not the most accurate way to do it but it is the easiest. I’m always a fan of taking the easy approach.
I wasn’t expecting March to be the highest of months. I had some known expenses here but the refund certainly changes that expectation.
Let’s take a look at the gross income breakdown for March.

gross income
I saved 38.7% of my gross income this month. The tax refund is handled as tax-free income in this calculation so it does spike up this number quite a bit. Adding in my employer contributions brings this number up to 42.6%.
That is not a bad number and will certainly help with my savings goals for the year.
The tax refund was also instrumental in helping me max out my ROTH IRA without having to dip into my investment cash allocation too much as seen in my last portfolio update.
Taxes were about the same as usual; perhaps slightly lower due to the refund. Expenses were quite high this month; the highest for the year as I had some one time costs for a vacation I have coming up!
Let’s look at the savings rate.
save more
It’s another awesome month with a savings rate of 49.03%! That number jumps to 53.93% when I add in employer contributions.
Saving all this money can only mean good things for my portfolio and future growth.
I am aware of the refund’s effect on the rate as it would drop by more than 20% without that influx of cash. Therefore, I’m not patting myself on the back just yet. I know I got bailed out by moving some money from 2016 expenses into 2017 savings but I’ll take the funky accounting if I can get it!
I’m just a bit shy of another 50% savings rate month for the year which is one of my goals and still only have one 50%+ month against minimum of 3 as my lowest goal tier. This does also bode well for a 40% overall savings which is another one of my goals.
I did say that I spent a bit more than average this month so let’s take a look at where my money went.
tax refund
Traveling is expensive and the March breakdown shows that in a big way. Rent is still my biggest expense but travel comes in second. That’s just plane tickets, a car rental and the hotel!
The expenses there are for a trip I’m taking towards the end of next week to visit Nashville, TN. They don’t even include any costs I’ll incur while there on food, parking and fun stuff.
I’m pretty excited for the trip even if it means my savings rate will suffer. I need to visit more places and get more experiences in my life. I’ve already got a ton of reservations set up and am excited to see what the Nashville culinary scene has to offer. I know that my restaurant costs for April will be off the charts but can’t wait to explore the city and enjoy the good food.
Recently, I had some health issues last month that required a few visits and those costs are still ongoing. I saw some of the bills come in for March and expect to see more in April as well. It’s really amazing how much something as simple as a doctor visit can cost when you have a deductible based plan. I’ve talked about insurance before and it still remains one of my biggest worries when it comes to early retirement planning. Projecting costs in that area is so hard when it comes to premiums and potential deductible/out of pocket exposure any given year.
Car and grocery expenses came next.
My side hustle expenses were higher for this month as a I bought some stock photos on sale.
I do have an update on the side hustle I want to write about soon. The weather is beautiful and work is busy so it’s harder to stick to my one hour a day.
The one hour a day commitment doesn’t sound like much. However, when you’ve got two hours total to yourself, it gets a bit more tricky.
Balancing that aspect of my life with the other parts that I also want to experience is important so I’ve had some thoughts about it.
I’ve come to a decision that might affect my ability to meet the goals I set for myself regarding my side-hustle but that’s a story for another day.
Low restaurant expenses excited me this month. I did eat out a few times but used points off a restaurant group rewards card each time I did. We also ate a lot more at home in preparation for April’s trip. I know I’ll be eating a lot of expensive food at fancy restaurants then. They do say that waiting makes the heart grow fonder. So, it was rather easy to avoid the usual expensive Saturday dinners with the girlfriend. We both know we have a slate of awesome restaurants lined up for almost a whole week.
It’s also a lot easier to eat at home when the weather outside sucks. That was definitely the case in March. I do expect my restaurant expenses to increase during the spring and summer months. I’m often outside and it’s much easier to eat out when you’re an hour or two away from home.
That’s it for today. Hope all of you have a good weekend.
Travel may delay my next post or two. I plan to do absolutely nothing but relax, sight-see, listen to music and eat good food in Nashville. This my first visit to the city. It’s also my first trip of the year. I’m eager to get out of my state and see some new things.
How was your savings rate for the month? Were there any expenses that caught you by surprise or was everything as expected?

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