April 2018: yikes

For April’s spending report, I’d instead like to direct everyone’s attention to March’s spending report. What a great month that was! Look at that beautiful savings rate! Nothing to see here!

Oh you’re still here? Damn. I guess I have to get into this then.

I kind of want to run away from my laptop screaming instead of writing this post, which means in the name of transparency I really need to write this. Why did I decide to start this blog and publish my numbers again? ?‍♀️

Let’s start with the good things.

Have parks pass, will hike

I started off April with my first hike of the season!

Bonus, for anyone that’s seen Silence of the Lambs, Prince William Forest Park is absolutely where they shot the opening scene of Clarice running through the woods for training.


I wrote about this exhaustively, but my CampFI ticket (plus the bottle of whiskey I brought as my contribution to the booze stash ?‍♀️) was a huge part of my inflated spending in April. Worth it? One hundred percent. Like I’ve said, this blog is a priority of mine, and that includes fun blog-related socializing opportunities!

This was a thing that happened. Also I swear I’m breathing in pollen just by looking at photos from that weekend

Membership fee

April marked the first time I have ever paid an annual membership fee for a credit card. I opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred* last March as my first foray into travel hacking, and I’ve decided to keep it open instead of canceling it right before the fee hit.

The reasons for this are twofold: one, the CSP is the only Chase travel card I can afford to open. Sure, the redemption value and points accumulation opportunities are better with the Sapphire Reserve, but I can’t swing that minimum spend, and I can’t afford to immediately pay a $450 membership fee (yes, I know you get $300 in travel credit, but that doesn’t help me afford the fee up front). I really appreciate that Chase waives the $95 fee for the first year for the CSP cards.

Two: I’ve got other Chase cards on which I’m accumulating points as well, but those are technically cash back cards. Those points won’t count for travel until I transfer them over to my CSP account, so if I want to redeem them I’ve got to have a travel account open.

I guess you can say this is the price I pay for free travel.

*hello, yes, that is a rare affiliate link. IF you decide to get in on the travel hacking game and open a travel card ONLY IF you can use credit responsibly and pay it off IN FULL AND ON TIME EVERY MONTH (unless you’re taking advantage of interest-free promos to float some things, in which case I certainly can’t judge because see also my plan for my car insurance), I’ll get points when you sign up using this link. Thank you in advance if you do! But also do it responsibly. I’ve been in credit card debt, and even on 0% interest cards, it fucking sucked. And this card does not give you an intro 0% promo period and paying interest will quickly erase any travel value you’d be getting. So please don’t do that to yourself. /soapbox

Here’s another hiking photo as distraction

Oh, you actually really just want the damn numbers already? FINE.

Avert your eyes



My half of rent
Internet and utilities


My half of utilities


Not great, especially considering I didn’t go to the grocery store for most of the week after my chorus concert because my mom had left me so much food (bless her). But this did also include a Costco trip or two
Student loans




Barre membership




Fast food stops on hiking trips #NoRagrets
Personal care


Charitable giving


I’ve set up a recurring monthly donation of $25 to Planned Parenthood


This was my mom’s ticket to see my chorus concert and our tickets to see a different show that weekend, too. She offered to pay this, and I still could ask her to reimburse me, but tbh this was a very small price to pay for the week’s worth of groceries/leftovers she left in my fridge on a week I desperately needed something easy to eat!
Misc dues/subscriptions


Patreon and my CSP annual membership fee


Cost of the ticket, a bottle of whiskey from work I brought to share, food on the way to camp because OMG SO HUNGRY, and gas money
Total spending:


Paychecks and other income


Missing March’s extra paycheck right about now
Side hustle income


You know how I said I was going to work less in the summer? I inadvertently worked less in April because I was so busy, but ouch. That definitely comes with a reduction in the extra income that I’ve been getting used to…
Total income:





For anyone keeping track at home, that’s a 2% savings rate. But this brings up a couple of questions.

Student loans: savings or spending?

I’ve always included my loan payments as part of my spending on these reports. It’s not spending per se in the way that buying a plane ticket is, but it’s still money that’s not mine. And $514 left my bank account in April and is no longer mine.

On the other hand, paying off debt is a boon to my net worth. And I’m way less inclined to count it as spending when it’s such a huge amount and skews my savings rate so much. When I delete out that $514 from my spreadsheet (hahaha if only that were the case!), my savings rate shoots all the way up to 23%, which isn’t great but is still at least respectable. But manipulating my spreadsheet doesn’t make a difference to my bank account (if it did, you can bet I’d be playing around with that income number every damn month!), so that’s a moot point.

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter and this isn’t a question I need to answer. Because after May’s spending report, that line item is gone for good!

What about that 401(k) contribution?

So I’m contributing 20% (although I just bumped it up to 25% yesterday, just for fun to see what happens to my paycheck. I’ll likely change it back to 20% because my cash flow isn’t where I’d like it to be, but I thought I’d see what happens anyway) of my salary pre-tax to my 401(k). Plus my employer contribution, my pre-tax savings rate is 29% just for my retirement savings alone.

I have never factored that into my savings rate calculations purely because of the math; I am too lazy to figure out how to combine my post-tax savings rate every month and my 29% pre-tax savings into a form that makes sense for this monthly post.

So I doubt anything will change there. But just know that when I report a savings rate of 2% or 20% or 50%, that doesn’t include the 20 (+9)% of my gross paycheck that I never see.

Are my personal finance blogger credentials revoked?

So. Tune in next month for a similarly scary spending report, I suspect. I’ve got a new credit card with a minimum spend I need to meet, I’ve got a FinCon ticket (yes, I’m officially going!!!!), and I’ve got car insurance to pay for (albeit cheaper car insurance than it was last year).

And now you know why I worked both days last weekend, plus picked up a shift on Monday and Tuesday as well… At least my side hustle income will be more than $200 in May! ?

14 Replies to “April 2018: yikes”

  1. I really wanted to go to camp FI :(. I’m sure it was well worth the investment. Hopefully i get to go next year!

    And at least you still ended up in the black, spending less than you earned. No shame in your game Erin!

  2. Ah! The 20% contribution to your 401k totally counts! I always get frustrated by PF folks who don’t count that towards their savings rate since it is basically our whole savings!
    You are doing awesome adding that much and that’s probably the smartest place to stash your money. Stop being so hatd on yourself! No credentials revoked 🙂
    Also major props for spending on Camp FI, I always struggle with spending money to do those things. I should stop being so cheap.

    1. It’s the bulk of my savings, too, so I really should include it. I didn’t want to compare pre- and post-tax dollars which is why I hadn’t been including it, but that’s about to change with May’s spending report.

      In some ways it’s so easy to spend on things like CampFI—it’s gonna be fun and I totally want to do it! But it’s also very hard at the same time as well because that’s money I could be saving instead…

  3. You definitely should be including the 401k contributions as part of your income! I mean, just think how much bigger your paychecks would be if you were contributing 0%.. the savings rate this month would be higher than 2%!

    I also include the contributions from my employer cause I mean that’s really just like your own contributions but free! There no guarantee you’d get that kind of match if you go anywhere else so I think it’s just part of your total pay package. Just my opinion though! ?

    1. You’re totally right that a lot of that money would be in my paychecks otherwise. And hah given that I get a pretty awesome employer contribution, it would make my savings rates look pretty damn great if I included ALL of my retirement contributions. I’m writing May’s spending report now and I think it’s going to end up looking very different from all of them so far thanks to the feedback everyone’s given!

    1. Yeah, it’s gonna be time to move somewhere with a lower COL sometime soon unless I magically get a VERY significant raise. I’m getting very frustrated lately by the cost of rent.

    1. In a world where I’m a perfectionist and didn’t want to compare apples to oranges in terms of pre- and post-tax money ?

    1. I’m about to write May’s spending report and don’t worry, there’s going to be a change on it! (Especially because without my pre-tax savings I spent more than I brought in and would love to not have a -20% savings rate ?)

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