September 2017: hiking, meetups, and a few surprises

I thought this spending report was going to be short and sweet, essentially “I went hiking a bunch of times this month, here’s a pretty picture and then some numbers,” but oh no, there’s a lot that happened in September. Before I talk about all of that, yes, I did go hiking a bunch and here’s a pretty picture.

Also I just realized that this is my 6th spending report and that September 29th was the 6-month anniversary of my first blog post. I completely overlooked that (oops), so a belated happy 6 months to me!


September was the month of PF blogger meetups! It started with what was my first meetup, at which the #DCMoneyNerds consumed a truly impressive amount of all-you-can-eat sushi. I got coffee with the Budget Epicurean when I went home to NC to visit my parents (thanks for the very thought-provoking conversation!). If anyone is in the RTP area, let us know so she can start a PF blogger group down there, of which I’ll totally be an honorary member! And then last Thursday there was a much smaller #DCMoneyNerds get together while Gwen from Fiery Millennials was in town for a work trip.

Sushi boat
Remember that time we ate a ridiculous amount of sushi?

My thoughts on the subject essentially boil down to “I don’t know why y’all are such awesome people and so fun to hang out with, but you really are.”

Visit home

Every few months I decide to be a good daughter and drive home to visit my parents. It helps that mom usually bribes me home with mother-daughter outings to the ballet, which happened this trip, and they usually send me back with a bunch of food. I’m not complaining about that! And I get to play with the dog.

If you follow me on Twitter, you saw a lot of this hairy beast a few weeks ago

Oh yeah, and spend time with my parents!

This particular visit featured the aforementioned ballet, a long-overdue haircut (mom way back in May: “will you let me hack a few inches off for Mothers’ Day?” Woah, chill), the also aforementioned coffee meetup, and singing at church with mom on Sunday. She suggests it every time I come home and I suspect it’s her way of ensuring her heathen daughter goes to church at least a few times a year. Anyway.

My parents sent me back to DC with a bunch of fresh veggies and a whole bunch of zinnias, both from their garden. I left town from the garden so mom could snip off a bunch of zinnias for me so they’d be fresh, and I was halfway home by the time she texted me to say she was finally done cutting all the flowers that were ready to be picked. They have a truly impressive and overwhelming amount of zinnias, and I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of my haul that I could conveniently insert right here.

Here’s where it starts to get interesting

Before I give you the number for how much I spent dining out, I’m gonna warn you it’s really high! Not long ago, this number would’ve been a fairly typical amount I spent out each month and I wouldn’t have thought much about it either way. Things have changed and now this represents a shockingly high number for amount spent on restaurants, bars, and yes, even coffee in a month. In fact, I haven’t spent this much money out since I started tracking my spending and net worth a bit less than a year ago.

At risk of needing to whip out the smelling salts for people as they gasp at this admission: I’m totally fine with all of this. You may now commence clutching your pearls and swooning on the closest available fainting couch.

The month had lots of meetups, plus lots of hiking. I bring food with me for hikes, but I also do let hiking days become fast food days occasionally, especially if I’m going with other people: some early mornings with long drives call for breakfast sandwiches, and even less occasionally I just need some guilt-free grease after a long hike—see also Sunday’s tweet on this subject. There were also two other occasions of eating out just for the hell of it, one of which involved me paying for what the Groupon didn’t cover when I went out to lunch with my parents while at home. Buying your parents lunch out is such a fantastic feeling!

Now that you’ve recovered from that horrible shock, here are the numbers:



My half of rent
Internet and utilities


My half of utilities


It helps that I’ve eaten a lot of BLTs lately (with real, homegrown tomatoes instead of the sad, tasteless ones from the grocery store) since they’re both cheap and delicious!
Student loans


Automatic loan payment


Usually we do Thanksgiving at our house, which is convenient since I can drive. This year we’re not, so here’s my part of the Thanksgiving plane ticket after what my parents covered


Artificially low for the amount of driving I did. Going hiking with friends means I get to split the cost of gas, plus my parents told me to show up at home with an empty tank since they had $0.40 off per gallon at the grocery store that they needed to use by the end of the month. Since we filled up my car and two of their vehicles in the same trip, they paid for it, so that was $20 I saved right there. Thanks, parents!
Barre membership




Lots of metroing once a week for rehearsal is definitely expensive. I’ve already upped my pre-tax work travel benefits once and I’m wondering if I need to do it again slightly, but I don’t want to put too much on my metro card since I don’t use it every day


I think that was the last of the needing to replace holey items that lived in my unmentionables drawer. Since it took me so long to do this, I’m here to say: if you’ve got high-school-era underwear with lots of holes or socks that have completely stretched-out elastic, just get rid of them!
Museum fee


Had to pay for the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. I’ve gotten spoiled by all the free museums here in DC and forget that actually paying for them is kinda the norm, whoops


Personal care


$32 of this was for a haircut the weekend I went home to see my parents. It was WAY past time for a haircut since it had been over a year since my last one, so it was definitely worth it. See ya, split ends, and a truly impressive amount of hair (I’m definitely still getting used to the shorter length)


At my dad’s suggestion, I bought two cans of Fix-a-Flat: one to keep in my trunk for emergencies, and one to use right then on the tire of mine that’s the worst offender for needing more air (guy at the auto store who saw me buying 2 cans: “have you considered new tires?” Nah, they’ve got plenty of tread left). And then after I spent $1.50 inflating all my tires back up again. We’ll see how long that lasts before they’re obviously low again…
Misc dues/subscriptions


Spotify and Patreon
Amazon Prime membership


This one snuck up on me this year, tbh. Now that I’m buying a lot less stuff mindlessly, I’m going to take the next year to decide if it’s worth paying for this again


Half of this was a donation for Hurricane Harvey relief that I made in August but didn’t post until September, and the other half was for Hurricane Maria relief (reminder for my US readers that Puerto Ricans are US citizens, too!). It’s been a heartbreakingly horrible hurricane season so far (can we have a real discussion about climate change yet?)


Household items, plus an online course. I said it was miscellaneous!
Total spending:


Paychecks and other income


It was a rare five-paycheck month, yay!
Side hustle income


Pretty much all of this was actually August money that showed up in September: I sold some gift cards I had laying around that I wasn’t going to use and got paid for the dog sitting I did at the end of August. This month I did sell one thing on Craigslist (slowly getting rid of things I don’t need, hooray!)
Total income:





A note on that number: holy shit that’s awesome and I honestly had no idea I was going to end the month like that (although the fifth paycheck certainly helped, and most of that money is still sitting in my account until I get around to doing something with it)!

And that’s because I pretty much do feel like I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck, but at least now it’s mostly because I’m doing productive things with that money instead of mindlessly spending it all. I mentioned in my Qapital review that it’s a pretty aggressive app; because of that I have a bunch of money sitting in my account that’s allocated towards various in-progress goals. That’s one large factor of why I sometimes feel a bit strapped for cash.

The other reason I don’t feel like I actually have this much extra money sitting around is because I’m paying off some consumer debt. Yep, here’s a dirty little secret: I’ve got credit card debt (I hope the smelling salts are still somewhere handy). I opened up a new credit card last year that gave me 18 months of zero interest, and I wasn’t paying attention back then to what I was spending money on so I racked up a few thousand dollars’ worth of debt. It was easy let the amount owed accumulate each month since I didn’t have to worry about interest payments.

In addition to building up my savings and investing, I’m throwing quite a bit of money at this debt (plus that’s one of my Qapital goals). I’d be more aggressive about it if I were actually paying interest on this, and I will for sure pay off the entire balance before that intro rate is gone. I’m really looking forward to when I do this because I’m pretty sick of throwing money at my credit card every week after I get paid. There are so many better things I could be doing with that instead.

Now’s a good time for a reminder that credit card interest is a bitch and you have to pay off credit cards in full every month. In this case, do as I say, not as I previously did.

Okay, apologies for the multiple shocking admissions there about my spendy month out and my pre-FI-path credit card debt. I hope everyone’s delicate constitutions survived the multiple trips to the fainting couch!

8 Replies to “September 2017: hiking, meetups, and a few surprises”

    1. I know, it’s just too horrible to bear! 😛

      Thank you! I’ve definitely made a note in my mental calendar and will have more than a line about my one year blogging anniversary haha.

  1. Honestly after all your warnings in the introduction about the high spending on restaurants, I didn’t think the number was too bad! Sometimes these things happen and you did save a good chunk regardless. It sounds like you enjoyed the experiences you got out of it, so it’s not wasted money. I appreciate your honesty in these spending reports even when you have a month where you’re not always this perfect frugal person.

    1. Alright, so perhaps it was a bit hyperbolic considering that used to be an average number spent out for me! I absolutely did enjoy the money spent-this would’ve been a very different post otherwise.

      Thanks for the comment, E! It’s interesting that publishing the numbers every month sometimes keeps me from making a purchase. Conversely, sometimes I make a purchase and then debate for half a second whether or not I’m going to include it in the spending report because the frugal police might come after me for it (or more likely, because I’m judging myself for the purchase). But what’s the point of hiding it? I want this blog to be very honest about my journey, and pretending I didn’t spend money that I actually did would accomplish nothing. Plus, then I’d feel like my net worth should be higher from all the money I supposedly didn’t spend! 😉

  2. Oh hiiii, blog birthday twin!

    I’m also really jealous of all those meetups you guys had. That’s why I had to poach David away 🙂 The restaurant spending didn’t seem too bad to me, but then again, that’s a normal amount where I live! And now I’ve got homegrown tomatoes on my mind…thanks!

    1. Heyyyyy! I’m glad one of us remembered and wrote an awesome post about it 😛

      Oh so you’re the mastermind behind David deciding to leave-how dare you?! I suppose it’s okay if you guys get his awesome meetup-facilitating skills now, especially since we’re only a few hours away and can easily crash your meetups! 😉

      You’re welcome but also sorry. Homegrown tomatoes are the best!

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