Monthly Money Check: Penny Eats Down Under in February 2017

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Dear Rich,

I’m starting to eat at fancy restaurants like you!

Well, maybe not, but our restaurant category was a little higher than usual this month. We went to a pancake breakfast put on as a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts. It cost us $32. I wasn’t sure whether to classify that as a restaurant or a charitable donation, so I went with restaurant. Another restaurant cost was when Mr. Penny and I went out for Valentine’s Day. We went to the Outback Steakhouse and went ALL out… appetizer, dessert, everything! (Total cost: $57.56) So yummy.

I am laughing at myself for getting so excited about the Outback Steakhouse. I realize that it sounds silly, especially to a man of such fine tastes as yourself (and to some of my friends who roll their eyes at such places), but I really do love the Outback. I fell in love with their food (especially their Cheese Fries appetizer) when I waitressed there years ago.

But that got me to thinking a bit about our perceptions of restaurants. Like, whether we like it or not is influenced by the reputation of the restaurant. The Outback Steakhouse is a chain, so liking it seems kind of cheesy and uncool, amirite? I wish we could all (myself included) get beyond our perceptions and experience something fully and truthfully for what it is.

Remember Marilyn Hagerty, that food critic from the newspaper where we grew up? A couple of years ago, she wrote this loving and earnest review of the Olive Garden that went viral. The reason it went viral was because she was reviewing it with great detail and sincerity as she would any other restaurant, when it was just, you know… the Olive Garden.

But I like that, because it was honest.

It reminds me of this passage from a book I just read, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn: To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.

That’s a nice sentiment, isn’t it?

Well, here’s what my financials looked like for February:

Also this month, in a constant attempt to bring more hygge into my life, I did something I always wanted to do: I made a rag quilt. (Cost = $43.54) Well, technically, I had my mother-in-law make it (because, she’s retired, and, as my husband says, “she’s always looking for something to do”), but I picked out the fabric and did the rag clipping. Here is what it looks like:

I can’t begin to tell you how much joy this quilt brings me. I’ve been wanting one for years, and I’m so glad I finally have one.

Okay, back to money talk. Everything else was pretty basic. I’m hoping to have one month without big expenses (like the CPA or the school fees we had this month), but we’ll see. It seems like there is always something. Without the student loan payment (which we technically don’t have to pay), this month’s expenses were $2,411.23. I’d like to get that under $2,000 one month. That shouldn’t be too hard, as long as nothing big comes up.

Here’s what our expenses look like side by side with last month:

Just a reminder… the reason we don’t have a grocery bill is because we get Food Support (more on that later).

Oh, and thank you for the advice about cashing in some of our IRA to pay down our student loan. You cut 3 years off our repayment plan! We’re now down to $152,919.00 and a 10 year repayment plan. Here’s what that looks like now (click to enlarge the chart):

I guess that’s about it. Looking forward to seeing what you did with your month.




16 Replies to “Monthly Money Check: Penny Eats Down Under in February 2017”

  1. Penny, I’m curious what type of internet service can you get for $9.95 per month? Do you watch TV / movies online, or no TV? Max over at Max Your Freedom recently had a post on cutting the cord.

    And I’m curious, what can you get these days at Outback for $57? Did you get “appetizers” or “AUSSIE-TIZERS”? (That’s their bad pun, not mine, mate).

  2. I love me some Outback! Too bad we no longer have one in our city (it closed 2 years ago). It’s only 7am here, but now all I can think about is how much I want a Bloomin’ Onion! Thanks Penny. 🙂

    I am curious about medical costs. It’s one of my biggest worries once I pull the plug from my job and we move into early retirement/self-employment. I have budgeted $750 per month. That seems like a lot for two healthy 40-somethings and 3 kids, but I worry it’s not enough, especially given the uncertainty of the ACA in the future. Are you able to qualify for ACA subsidies that effectively make the cost $0 or do you follow some other strategy?

    1. Mr. Zero — I’ll let Penny chime in on her medical plan but I’m glad you mentioned ACA. I think the ACA situation is a potential hurdle for the FIRE community and I’m not sure how people are planning to work around it.

      For me personally, I’m going to start an HSA next year that will provide a nice tax deduction now and hopefully build up for use later during retirement.
      Rich @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: How Rich Spends $2,000 On Food — February 2017My Profile

  3. Nice budget breakdown. I like how detailed it is. There’s so much power in breaking out the numbers the way you did because you can really start to look for ideas and categories where you can save real money. Every time I want to get some extra money in my life, all I do is either try to earn more or turn to the budget to see where I can cut out $50, and every time I think ‘there’s nothing more I can cut’. I’m almost always surprised that that’s not the case.
    Suburban Toolbox recently posted…3 reasons why everyday status symbols no longer carry the same weight.My Profile

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