Thursday, February 2, 2012


In this post I will discuss my monthly budget.  It will be fun to look back at this in the future.

$1860 - Take Home Pay (after taxes)
$119 - TSP Contribution
$95 - Match on TSP Contribution
$2074 - Total Income

Fixed Expenses:
$0 - Rent
$0 - Utilities
$225 - Car Savings Account
$81 - Car Insurance
$10 - Cell Phone
$30 - Internet
$346  Total Fixed Expenses

Variable Expenses:
$190 - Groceries
$75 - Gas
$50 - Haircuts
$305 - Fun Money
$620 - Total Variable Expenses

Miscellaneous Expenses:
$284 - Car Maintenance, Clothes, Presents, etc.

$610 - Dividend Stock
$119 - TSP Contributions
$95 - Match on TSP Contributions
$824 - Total Investments

Savings Rate - 39.7%

As a soldier in the US Army, one of the benefits is that I do not pay rent, utilities, or insurance copays.  We do pay state, federal, and FICA taxes.  The fixed expense "Car Savings Account" is to build cash for purchase of a different vehicle in the future, I do not actually have a car note.  I intend to drive a vehicle about 5 years and use built up cash to buy a new one when the time comes.  All variable expenses are paid in cash so in the end they kind of morph together.  I stay away from credit cards.  I give up rewards programs, but have found that when I only pay with cash it forces me to make better decisions.  It's too easy to lose track of finances with credit cards, at least for me.

In reality I usually have some money left over at the end of the month.  It depends though, car repairs and Christmas presents are killers.  Looking at my budget I could potentially trim down a few areas.  I do not live a life of luxury, but I do like to drive a nice car.  I have thought about reducing car savings contributions, but am undecided right now.  I have also been thinking of shopping around to find a better rate on car insurance.  I'm over 25 and have a pristine driving record; I think I might be over paying.  Spending $50 a month on haircuts is rediculous, I realize this.  I get my hair cut every single week (unless I'm on leave).  I am a professional soldier and must maintain a military appearance. 

Overall I think a 40% savings rate is really good.  It allows me to build assets and still enjoy life.  If only I made more...


  1. Cool stuff. This is something I track every month as well, as you probably know...and I find it extremely helpful in organizing the way I spend money and becoming more efficient at it.

    A 40% savings rate is pretty great. That's well above the average citizen, and I'm sure it's way above what the average soldier saves. You're making great strides toward your goals.

    Now, I just have to catch up to that monster portfolio of yours! I'm hoping I can end 2012 where you're starting it in terms of portfolio value.

    Best wishes.

  2. You'll catch me, I guarantee that. My time horizon for early retirement is 16 years from now, there is a lot of time for compounding. You're right, I'd estimate 90% of the military lives pay check to pay check. I've been lucky to avoid castrophes. One of my soldiers had his debit card number stolen yesterday. In one day he's had $1700 of fraudulent charges. Luckily the biggest charge of $1400 went over his limit and was declined. To make matters worse we think it's his roommate. The whole situation really makes me mad, he's a good soldier and does the right thing. Hopefully his bank will reimburse him, and we find the thief.

  3. Found your blog by way of Dividend Mantra. Just wanted to say that a 40% saving rate is nothing to sneeze at. Well done. Looks like you have a few other areas in which you could trim expenses if you wanted to. Spending is such a personal thing and some people have no problem giving up things and others feel deprived. You got to find that balance for what you want now and what your working towards. How do you track your spending? I use Quicken, but have recently started using excel to get little more detailed. Best of luck and looking forward to keeping up with you progress.

  4. thestoicinvestor,

    Honestly I don't pay much attention to the details of tracking it. My fixed expenses are automaticly deducted. I withdraw $320 cash on the 1st of the month and $300 on the 15th. I use cash for food, gas, fun, and everything in between. Sometimes I might have to use my card for a purchase, I'll just remember what it was and withdraw less cash on the next payday to compensate. I have misc. expenses and an emergency fund for unexpected bills.

    I agree with finding a good balance in a budget. My budget is for me and me alone, I do not have a wife or kids. It would be different with a family. Sometimes my girlfriend gets mad because I do not like to spend money, but she's a flight attendent (makes less than me) and understands. I'm happy with a 40% savings rate. I'm not even sure I need to save that much to reach my goals.

    I grew up in a frugal family. My parents lived well below their means, I learned from them. They semiretired at 50 out of boredom of being fully retired. I hope to do the same.

    Thanks for stopping by