September 2019: FinCon, etc

One day I’ll write a post that’s not a spending report, but it is not this day!

September was a whirlwind of a month. It started off with an anniversary—my partner and I have been dating for more than a year now (he’s great, love is stupid and gross, ew), so we treated ourselves to a lovely dinner out. Which definitely bumped up the restaurant spending for the month. No regrets.


The next week was FinCon. I don’t honestly have it in me for an actual post about it this year, especially considering it was so long ago at this point. Just know that this year I took a different approach than I did last year. I went to maybe two sessions (in case you can’t tell from my lack of posting and lack of posting anything that’s not a spending report lately, the myriad sessions about “how to grow your blog to 1 million views” absolutely didn’t sound worth my time) and prioritized spending time with people instead. And resting. I made sure this year I got plenty of rest and alone/introvert recharging time. No dragging myself out of bed for 8:30 sessions. I think one morning I was awake but still laying in bed until 10am and it was GREAT.

You wish you’d been in the party house!

I’m not going to lie, not having to travel for it this year was pretty great, and it’s always fun to play tourist when people come to visit. I paid for the Airbnb cost in August (there was no way I wanted to commute back and forth late at night/early in the morning, especially given the prioritization of rest) so September’s expenses were the many, many meals out, as well as some drinks. I’m pretty happy with how relatively low expenses were, considering I ate out just about every meal, despite not wanting to do so. But it’s hard to spend time with people when you’re eating lunch at the Airbnb with groceries you bought instead of going to a restaurant with a group!

DC showing off with gorgeous weather

I also paid for next year’s ticket while it was on sale. I’m not 100% sure if I’m going next year, but I figure I’m better off buying the ticket now when it’s the cheapest it’ll ever be and therefore easier to sell to someone else if I’m not going than it would be to wait and buy a more expensive ticket later.

Rooftop chilling at a super expensive bar I would never go to on my own if I were paying instead of at a sponsored happy hour? Don’t mind if I do!

New York state of mind

The last weekend of the month featured a long weekend up to New York to visit my partner’s parents. As with any family vacation, you think it’s going to be restful and low-key, but then you end up with late nights/early mornings and little downtime!

It wasn’t relaxing, but we had a good time. My partner is newly an uncle, so we saw the baby, and then one day we went on a double date with his parents to some of the wineries/breweries around one of the Finger Lakes. I’ve never been to that area, so it was a nice change of scenery for me. On the way home, we took a detour to Letchworth State Park. We ended up getting home very late that night because we spent about four hours hiking around instead of the two we’d planned on. No regrets, it was gorgeous!

If I didn’t take an artsy photo with flowers, did I even go somewhere?

As if moving weren’t enough, here’s another change in my life

A year and a half ago I wrote about how I sing in a choir and for years had considered dropping out because I am too goddamn old and tired for an hourlong walking/metro/walking commute home on a weeknight at 10pm, but decided not to because I like singing in a group too much.

Last semester we had two concert cycles instead of the usual one, which meant many more weeks than usual of two nights of rehearsal in a row instead of one. And I was just exhausted. Our last concert we sang the same piece we’d sung my first semester in the choir and that seemed like a nice way to tie up my time with the group.

I was pretty set not to sing again this time around, which was also compounded by the fact that I moved 15 minutes farther away from the metro stop I got off at from rehearsal. So either I’d be walking half an hour or biking at 10:40 at night to get home from that stop, or I’d have to transfer lines to go to the stop much closer to my new apartment, and at that time of night you frequently end up waiting 20 minutes for a train. No thank you to any of that. Singing is nice and all, but not worth that.

But I auditioned for and was accepted into a new choir in August. Rehearsal takes place the same time/day of the week as my old choir. EXCEPT that rehearsal is held a 15 minute walk from home. So I get home at 10:15 at the latest instead of 10:45 at the earliest and more usually 11:00!!!!

There’s a money side to this, of course there is

I’m not going to lie, paying dues and for the music for three concert cycles a year is $$ and a huge reason why I never seriously considered this choir in the first place. Sure, I was paying $6 per rehearsal to metro to/from with my old choir, but at least that was money taken out of my paycheck pre-tax and automatically loaded onto my metro card. Since I never saw that money I could almost convince myself that it was free.

But. I’m going through a phase right now where I can barely keep my eyes open when my alarm goes off in the morning as it is, without getting home once or twice a week at 11pm or later. I cannot imagine how much more tired I’d be if I were still singing with my old choir. Time is money, sleep is money, my health is money, and being able to walk home in 15 minutes and be home enough before bedtime that I even have some time to wind down is worth a lot of money. Sure, I have now chosen the more expensive option, but the price difference is not a straightforward “$6 per rehearsal for the metro versus [whatever the dues/music costs break down to per rehearsal]” comparison when you factor in how much better of a lifestyle choice the new choir is for me.

I paid the dues for all three concerts this season up front (even though I’m not 100% sure I’ll be able to sing in the third concert so if I can’t I’ll have to get a refund) because I was working on a new credit card minimum spend. Add in another $40 for the music this concert and approximately $50 for two choir folders (I bought one for my mom—who also sings—since buying two made more sense shipping-cost-wise) and you’ve got a damn expensive hobby.

Oh well. Have I mentioned how awesome it is to get home at 10:15 on rehearsal nights instead of 11???

Wait, what’s up with that income section?

You would not be alone in thinking there’s some weirdness with my paychecks and retirement contributions numbers below, because I, too, thought they were off and had to double-check that yes indeed, they’re correct.

I do have a vague memory of greatly bumping up my retirement contribution percentage again towards the end of August. I’d ascertained that I can’t afford—even with my reduced rent amount—to max out my 401(k) this year. I’m sooooo close but won’t be able to do it, which is extremely frustrating since I will be able to next year. It’s just that I didn’t contribute enough at the beginning of this year/my raise and COL increase came too late in the year for me to make that last push at the end. But I pushed my contribution up to a place that’ll get me within a few thousand dollars of maxing out.

I didn’t really see that in August both because it happened during my last paycheck of the month and because it was an extra paycheck month. But September was the first month with an extra ~$50 in retirement contributions per paycheck and a corresponding ~$40 less in pay per paycheck (approximately $8 of which is tax savings).

But this month demonstrates extremely clearly that with my employer match, I’m contributing more to my 401(k) than I am taking home in my paycheck + making in interest.

Considering I’m not maxing out, I think what that means is I need to earn more damn money ?

The damage

Rent $650.00 Rent got even cheaper! No, but we did get (and split) a $100 credit for dealing with the MASSIVE hassle of moving into a unit that didn’t yet have a separate address from the unit above us. You don’t realize how much of a problem that is until you need to do things like get internet, but Comcast only lets there be one account per address…
Internet and utilities $49.39 Really pleased with this number
Groceries $115.41 FinCon and a long weekend away from home definitely helped with this low number
Gas $25.21
Barre membership $104.94
Car $144.45 I SERIOUSLY needed a new tire, so this was the cost of a new front tire and a rotation of tires on the other side
Restaurants/bars $99.21
Vacation $384.40 $312 of this was my flights for Christmas (juggling two family holidays is hard!) and the rest was for wineries etc in the Finger Lakes
Misc household goods $0.00
Personal care $0.00 Don’t worry, I make up for this in October
Charitable giving $25.00
Misc dues/subscriptions $42.99 Patreon dues
Fees $145.00 A credit card fee, half of the Costco membership renewal fee, and a $20 fee to change my address with the DMV (at least I got a new license out of it ?‍♀️)
Chorus $301.82 Ouch. Expensive hobbies gonna expensive hobby
Medical -$20.00 I got some things reimbursed from my FSA (like my heating pad, which recently has spent a lot of time in the “best purchase I’ve ever made” category)
Shopping $46.16 I bought some jewelry and I spent a whole $4 at the library book sale
Blog (FinCon)
$316.24 Considering this includes next year’s FinCon ticket and I ate out pretty much every single meal at FinCon this year, this is not bad!
Total spending: $2430.22
Paychecks and other income $1773.43
Retirement contributions $1905.40 Uh yeah WHAT
Side hustle income $325.70
Cash back $130.66
Total income: $4135.19
Total: $1704.97
Savings rate: 41%

Honestly, I had low expectations for September given the anniversary meal and all the FinCon spending. Oh, and the new choir. This isn’t all that bad!

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