Have Your Chowda & Eat It Too: Living it up in Boston for $24k per year
I won’t lie. I love this part about my finance journey. I love seeing a year in review, good or bad. I love the data. It’s just cool to see a full year come together and another piece of my story set that I hope I can look back on someday and be proud of.
If you’re not familiar with my situation, I currently live in a area on the edge of Boston called Arlington. I’m an active duty Air Force officer and I don’t really see income from side hustles currently although I’m trying to get my financial coaching business going. I live in a nice apartment with my girlfriend Leslie and as you’ll see, we stay very busy.
So what was 2018 like? Well it has been a roller coaster personally and financially. It’s crazy and sometimes scary how much the view you have of your life and the way you seeing it play out can change in just one year. I thought I wanted to be a Test Flight Engineer and serve a full 20 years in the Air Force but now I’ve started considering what other paths might look like.
I also changed my living situation for the first time in 10 years. I no longer have roommates, I have Leslie and for the first time in 5 years, I actually live in a nice well taken care of place. Somewhere in between there was a house fire that put me in a hotel for five months. No sympathy needed though because I walked away with 2.4 Million Hilton Points.
Some things didn’t change though. Every year I tell myself I’m done with school and yet something always comes up.. This year I received my masters degree as well as a Security+ certification. I think I’m going to be the most overqualified full-time backpacker on any of the Colorado trails when my time comes to retire hopefully in the next 5 years.
Now you might be wondering why I’m writing all this. What is the point? Well I use real numbers and I give an extreme amount of transparency, not because I’ve made any money off the blog, not because I want to brag, but because I want to help inspire people to a financially responsible life to a life of freedom. I started this blog in the hopes that my friends would read it and follow me so I had friends to be retired with and who knows, maybe some strangers will enjoy it too.
So what did this year look like from a numbers perspective? Well I spent $24,704 total which came out to be 73.5% of my post tax income. I did this while cooking good and healthy meals. I traveled a ton (see below). I saw a lot of concerts (some listed below but got tired of looking them up). I had some unusual large purchases such as buying a truck and taking private pilot lessons.
I have a nice home in a large metropolitan city, I travel all the time, I constantly do events, I remain happy and healthy, and I do all of this for $2k per month. I feel like I can do everything I want to do and still march down a rapid path to financial independence.
Want to peek behind the curtain and see all the deets? Read on then…
Total Expenses - Spent $24,704 - That’s a 73.5% Savings Rate
March looks like a really expensive month for me but in reality I only had $1,335 in normal spending and the other $2,500 came from the purchase of a pickup truck!
March I also completed my Masters degree from the University of Arkansas
April was increased due to purchasing flight time for my private pilot license
Sept my rent was super low because me and Leslie were splitting my old rent price temporarily until we moved into our own place in November
Nov saw a big jump thanks to moving in to our new place and buying all the Christmas presents...what can I say, I love Christmas
Total Income - Earned $93,133 after taxes
April’s increased income came from saving all my per diem on a work trip.
May was also increased due to extra per diem from work trips
Oct saw an increase due to my first sales as a financial coach and some more per diem from work trips
In April I began taking lessons for my private pilot's license
In May I attended an intro to Test Pilot School for two weeks
In June my house caught on fire (READ ALL ABOUT IT)
In October we started The FI show Podcast
Eating Out / Drinks
Aug was abnormally high because my renter’s insurance said they’d be covering my additional meal expenses but then later changed their tune after they realized my hotel had a stove eye and microwave. I was a little upset but it could have been worse.
I rarely mostly meat and vegetables.
I don’t make a shopping list, only criteria such as protein or carb whih allows me to focus on sales.
I use apps like Flipp to help keep up with sales
I try to preserve my freezer for meat only so I can stock up on cheap protein
Starting in July my groceries were capped at $60/month because the house fire situation meant that the insurance was paying anything above and beyond normal expenses. They were a little shocked by my normal grocery expense but luckily I had plenty of documentation.
Aug was inflated because of renter’s insurance changing their mind on covering my increased food expenses due to my hotel having a stove eye. I have to give USAA credit though, they spend a ton on me through my house fire situation even though it was just a $9/month rental policy.
Sep is not a typo! I took full advantage of my hotel having free breakfast everyday and free light dinner Mon-Thurs. Also, I was on several trips where I always snagged free food but the total of under $6 was actually for 2 people
Oct saw a continuation of maxing out free food from the hotel
Nov was back to reality and purchasing all my own groceries in the new house
Feb came with an additional $546 in tuition costs.
Sept bills look so low due to rent being split at my old rent price prior to me and leslie getting our own place
Nov saw us moving into our new place. We each pay $837.50 a piece but utilities are included
Travel — $3,850 for the year
I have a lot of travel that didn’t cost me because I had rewards points or I stayed with friends but I still spent $320 per month on traveling.
That’s 16% of my overall budget and I don’t mind that one bit
Iceland - flights were $250 round trip and 3 of us split air bnb and rental car costs
Vermont - Skiing
New Hampshire - Skiing
New Hampshire - weekend getaway
Mexico for my annual mission trip
New York City - to visit Leslie
Austin - Memorial Day trip
Denver - to officiate my friend’s wedding & some amazing hikes
Hamptons - anniversary trip
Yosemite (Hiked Half dome in sandals!)
4th of July near Cape Cod
Denver - to attend my friend’s birthday
Grand Canyon with my dad
New York City - to move leslie to Boston
Denver - to attend a Concert
Mexico - vacation with mom and great scuba diving
Mississippi - 10 year reunion
Orlando - Fincon
Arkansas - CampFI
Catskills Mountains, NY
Austin - Thanksgiving
Orlando - work conference and Harry Potter World
Acadia National Park
Mississippi - Christmas
Hawaii - Paid for our big 2019 getaway!
Birmingham - concert
Vermont - New years ski weekend
Randy Rodgers Band
Koe Wetzel - Again
UFC Heavyweight title fight in boston
Beer and Cheese Fest
Purchased the epic pass for unlimited skiing in 2019
New York Redbulls Major League Soccer
Red Sox game
David Blaine live magic show
9k race at Fenway
Oyster Shucking experience (highly reccommend this)
Mississippi Football Game
Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special
Net worth Change - $46,425.37 increase but investments lost $22,004