Each month, Selenid and I sit down and go through our budget. To do this, we basically just sit with our budget template (download here) and go through each monthly expense. Then we take our savings and apply it according to our written investment plan. In essence, what we do every month is equivalent to mapping out our money flow.
And I want to share with you exactly how are money flow goes…
Rules of the game
- I will only include our W2 income in this money flow chart
- This is post-tax money. I don’t include our tax withholdings for simplicity
- We make non-W2 money via real estate, paid talks (Selenid), my blog, and consulting
- This non-W2 money all gets reinvested into real estate or our side businesses, so that’s why I’m not counting it (I’ve also already documented all of this side income here)
- I also won’t include any bonuses that either of us receive from our W2 jobs
- I’ll be dealing in percentages i.e. 100% W2 income with X% going to such and such, etc.
- These are monthly averages. There is obviously some variations each month
Income money flow
Selenid works as a college professor. I work as an employed plastic surgeon.
In every typical month, we each make 2 paychecks. This is equal to 100% of our W2 income.
Some months, we will make 3 paychecks but this is obviously not the usual so I’m not counting that. As you might guess, we save and invest the extra pay checks during these months.
So, Income = 100%
Outgoing money flow
- Student Loans/Debt = 36.2%
- 403(b)/529s/Emergency Fund = 15%
- Some people will argue I am paying too much towards debt. That I’m not taking advantage of interest arbitrage. But I am a big fan of paying off bad debt and this is what our financial plan calls for
- Real Estate = 0%
- N.B. This is now self sustaining from our real estate income. This allows us to save more for paying off loans etc.
- Mortgage/Escrow = 15%
- This is our biggest non-savings expense. Our home is important to us and our family. We knew we were moving for the long term. So, we set our criteria and found a home that fit those criteria as well as our financial plan. And the home cost us 1.2x our salary, well less than the rule of thumb of 2x your salary. More about that here.
- Internet/Cable/Phone = 0.6%
- Utilities = 1.0%
- Landscaping/Snow Removal = 0.6%
- Cleaning = 0.7%
- Random things for the house = 1.4%
- Car = 1.7%
- Gas = 1.3%
I bought a used car and Selenid leases a Kia Telluride mid-model. We avoided the big pitfall of the doctor car and everything is still ok…
- Groceries = 3.5%
- Eating Out = 3.1%
- Healthcare = 1.5%
- Clothes = 0.7%
- Fitness = 0.4%
- Entertainment = 0.9%
- Daycare = 11.1%
- Activities = 2.6%
- Our dog Luna = 0.6%
- Random monthly expenses = 2%
Things you won’t find on this list
- Life/Disability/Home/Auto Insurance
- We pay these as a lump sum every year. The month these are due we usually just pay less to our student loan debt
- That’s what our emergency fund is for!
- We put a portion of our emergency fund savings each month into a vacation fund. It is now fully funded so we don’t add more to it right now
Key take-aways from our money flow analysis
- Our total average monthly savings rate is >50%
- Other than mortgage and childcare, now other expense is more than 10% of our post-tax W2 income
- Most importantly, this money flow aligns with our desires, goals, and financial plan
- You may hate this money flow and think you would be miserable with it. That’s fine. My goal is not to have you adopt my money flow. But it’s to show how powerful it is to be aware of your money flow
So, think about your financial goals. Think about your intentional (and unintentional) spending. Make sure your spending lines up with what actually makes you happy. Then make sure it lines up with your financial plan.
And then, you will be very well on your way to financial freedom!
I also offer a crash course that will take you step by step through this process.
What do you think? Do you track your money flow? How much is your savings rate? Have you identified any spending that doesn’t line up? Let me know in the comments below!