Author Topic: Staying motivated in a "down month"  (Read 7688 times)

monstermonster

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Staying motivated in a "down month"
« on: October 30, 2015, 01:12:18 PM »
I just closed out my October expenses with a relatively down month- instead of saving 58% of my post-tax income (as I do most months), I plunged to 45% of my post-tax income, and that was because I spent money on relatively un-mustachian things not because I had any true "emergencies" Like $140 replacing my bras when they finally bit the dust, $50 on eating out, a $55 application fee for a new apartment, $30 on coffee out (usually $6). I was moving money around in my (YNAB) budget all month to cover expenses, and eventually had to pull some money out of my savings categories* to cover the overspending. Which felt terrible. I never have to do that.

With a move to a new apartment coming up, plus some travel and the craziest months of year for work for me, I'm staring down the barrel of a few un-mustachian months. I just don't know how I'm going to keep my normal rate of saving up through the end of the year. This means I'm going to have to redo my Net Worth projections for next year, and I'm getting de-motivated.

I know I'm young and I do better than "most people" but I'm not most people! This month's consumer expenses were really de-motivating for me. What do you do when you hit a hard patch and spend more than you hope? How do you stay motivated?

*not out of my actual savings, just the category- I use 0-based budgeting and transfer my leftover savings into appropriate accounts at the end of the month.

marty998

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2015, 04:24:13 PM »
Warning, an accountant has entered the thread :)

You could consider the bras to be capital assets.

Therefore it is appropriate to include the value of it in your assets line and depreciate it over its expected useful life, instead of taking the expense hit upfront.

Same with the application fee for the apartment.

The coffee and eating out costs are not going to provide benefits over time. So those unfortunately must be classified as expenses.


Bearded Man

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2015, 05:07:29 PM »
Use the pain as motivation to do better.

humbleMouse

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2015, 05:24:18 PM »
45 percent savings rate should be insanely good by anybody's standards.  Take comfort in the fact that you are at least aware of where your money is going.  I struggle to maintain a 30% savings rate!  Its all relative.  Be thankful you are in a life situation where you have the opportunity to even save a penny!!

monstermonster

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2015, 05:28:26 PM »
Warning, an accountant has entered the thread :)

You could consider the bras to be capital assets.

Therefore it is appropriate to include the value of it in your assets line and depreciate it over its expected useful life, instead of taking the expense hit upfront.

Same with the application fee for the apartment.

The coffee and eating out costs are not going to provide benefits over time. So those unfortunately must be classified as expenses.
You made me incredibly happy with that post. Might have to reorganize my YNAB budget to reflect "capital assets".

civil

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2015, 06:31:35 PM »
Remember that you have a positive savings rate, and that is a great start. Every month of >0 leaves you in a better position than last month. I saved zero dollars this month. But I had a crazy month that was mostly out of my control, emotionally. You have to save yourself before you save your money.

Read some discussions here. Resolve to try one new thing to increase your savings next month. Mine is to exercise so I can handle stress better. I let myself go this month, and that's just going to have to be ok :) In case I don't manage that goal, I also want to get a water heater wrap. The utility provider sent a notice saying they'll provide wrap and installation free, so even if I'm too scatterbrained to do anything, I can feel like progress was made.

okits

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 06:40:28 PM »
Accept that setbacks are normal.  Overcoming adversity shows your true determination to reach your goal.

jjcamembert

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2015, 11:17:26 AM »
Warning, spreadsheet nerd here!

I maintain a spreadsheet that is a long-term projection of my income and expenses. Since it's long term the categories are really general (Rent, Living, Fun), but my monthly expenses get tallied and projected each month. Lately my savings rate has plummeted due to various life circumstances all happening at once. I'm spending 20-30% more per month than I did earlier this year :( But, I add that in to my trusty spreadsheet and ask, "How much does this affect my FIRE date?" Usually the answer is that maybe I have a little less money saved up in 20 years, but the actual "years working" doesn't change. Also by looking long-term I can see that expenses are high right now, but in a couple of months things will go back to normal because I'll be done having to pay for x.

It's sort-of like checking the stock market every month; some days you're going to be down a lot. But by sticking with it (and in this case sticking with whatever positive savings habits you can manage) you should end up ahead of where you started in the long term.

And in terms of the general population, you're still 1) Not going into debt, and 2) Saving x times the average American (average is around 5%)

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2015, 11:21:09 AM »

MishMash

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2015, 11:40:00 AM »
Man, I almost started a thread on this exact topic...except replace your month with my year.  We had SOOOOOOO many "surprises" that ate up huge costs that we pretty much gave up by August (funeral expenses, trips to and fro, 2k on new uniforms, our parked car getting hit...TWICE, our hot water heater eating it, our AC eating it, a roof leak, a bathroom leak, rental house drama etc).  By August we pretty much said screw it, every time we cut something to make up, something else broke.  Our typical 65% savings rate has run about 45% this year...and some of that was nothing but convenience, like eating out while living out of a hotel for a couple of weeks and hiring someone to do the roof repair because frankly, with my luck, had we tried to do it ourselves...one of us probably would have died.  Seriously, this year is making me feel like Will Ferrell in Dodgeball, except I REALLY suck at dodging those wrenches.

I was feeling so awful last month when I realized that we wouldn't hit our monthly number AGAIN. But, then I just tried to change my thinking, we're still on track to save a chunk of money, we had a TON of expenses this year, some of them highly emotional, and you know what...we managed to cover those 10's of thousands of bills without GOING INTO DEBT.  We pulled off what very few people in this country could do, be met with a stupid amount of emergencies etc and ACTUALLY be able to pay them.  And not only that, we still saved money even though we had both emergencies and conveniences that really ate into our budget.

I'm not going to care much for the rest of the year, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the car accident that killed my dad, and there may be huge lawyers fees in the future to cover my mom but you know what, we made it out the other side, bruised, financially a little worse off then we could be...but we made it.  I can't imagine how much worse this year could have been if we didn't have cash on hand to deal with these things.

2016 though...we're back to game on!

catccc

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2015, 11:49:29 AM »
October was really bad for my family, too.  $474 on eating out?!  There were a couple of birthday dinners, one of which ended up with some unexpected guests.  I was barely thinking when "my treat!" slipped past my lips.

Anyway, you will have some better months than others.  Better years than others.  Allow yourself a mental reset each month, and move along.

btw, I have a YNAB account for prepaid expenses- for instance, I purchased some toys for future b-day gifts (my kids get invited to a lot of bday parties).  I think it was a dozen of nice toys valued at over $20 each that I snagged for $7.  I'll expense them as they are used.  I also use this account for other things- like I bought $75 of grocery store giftcards from the school's silent auction.  Rather than saying I spent $70 on groceries when I cut the check, it was a transfer to the prepaid account.  When I use the gift cards, that is when the actual grocery expense is recorded.  I don't do this with clothes or bras, though.  That would be a stretch for me...

icemodeled

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2015, 11:53:11 AM »
Everybody experiences down months.. sometimes longer even. Just keep your chin up and do all you can. We have had a bad start to this month.. found out 2 tenants are moving without notice or paying rent they owe. Another we may have to evict. Already have one empty unit we just finished fixing up so thats 4 empty places! Thats a huge hit to us financially (seriously, landlords are not all rich.. so many think that) We have many expenses to pay regarding rentals plus our own bills.. will not be a good month of saving, will probably be in the negative :(

Always ups and downs.. will happen. Do you best to recuperate and fight on!

partgypsy

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2015, 11:57:16 AM »
Man, I almost started a thread on this exact topic...except replace your month with my year.  We had SOOOOOOO many "surprises" that ate up huge costs that we pretty much gave up by August (funeral expenses, trips to and fro, 2k on new uniforms, our parked car getting hit...TWICE, our hot water heater eating it, our AC eating it, a roof leak, a bathroom leak, rental house drama etc).  By August we pretty much said screw it, every time we cut something to make up, something else broke.  Our typical 65% savings rate has run about 45% this year...and some of that was nothing but convenience, like eating out while living out of a hotel for a couple of weeks and hiring someone to do the roof repair because frankly, with my luck, had we tried to do it ourselves...one of us probably would have died.  Seriously, this year is making me feel like Will Ferrell in Dodgeball, except I REALLY suck at dodging those wrenches.

I was feeling so awful last month when I realized that we wouldn't hit our monthly number AGAIN. But, then I just tried to change my thinking, we're still on track to save a chunk of money, we had a TON of expenses this year, some of them highly emotional, and you know what...we managed to cover those 10's of thousands of bills without GOING INTO DEBT.  We pulled off what very few people in this country could do, be met with a stupid amount of emergencies etc and ACTUALLY be able to pay them.  And not only that, we still saved money even though we had both emergencies and conveniences that really ate into our budget.

I'm not going to care much for the rest of the year, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the car accident that killed my dad, and there may be huge lawyers fees in the future to cover my mom but you know what, we made it out the other side, bruised, financially a little worse off then we could be...but we made it.  I can't imagine how much worse this year could have been if we didn't have cash on hand to deal with these things.

2016 though...we're back to game on!

You know sometimes just surviving, or not going into debt is a victory. I truly hope 2016 is a better year for you.
That's how I've been feeling, except it's more like a down year (or two years probably). We decided to put our youngest into specialized education, which costs an average of 1650 a month (32% of our usual income). And we also had a number of large expenses (15K roof replacement 4.4K car repair, 1K termite treatment, etc), it's been financially crazy. So, any month where we get to close to a 0 net loss is a good one for us this year. 

galliver

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2015, 03:01:53 PM »
When unexpected or irregular and unpleasant expenses sneak up, I like to appreciate the fact that they aren't a problem. Earlier this year bf was traveling and locked his keys in the car on his way to the airport. Obviously he kicked himself for it...but it happens! But he didn't have to worry about money on the bank or room on his credit card to handle it. It was there. We also had about a month-long period when we were both just crazy busy and stressed, so a lot of takeout and convenience food passed through our doors. Wasn't worried about it. That month passed, and we're back to normal. Or at least getting there.

I guess part of what I'm saying is don't set your "goal" bar at your lowest month ever because chances are something conspired to make that month super cheap. Maybe you were traveling for work so your utilities and groceries/food were 25%  lower. Maybe life was calmer than usual so you never skipped breakfast at home or forgot your lunch and you got enough sleep so you never needed a coffee. On the flip side, in a "bad" month you  might have houseguests you're entertaining and a couple late nights before a deadline and you replace all your bras and find a pair of jeans that fits just right in the process and you splurge. These aren't bad things, really.

Life will have its ups and downs. Breathe a sigh of relief at how easy you're weathering it (look at you, a bad month and still almost 50% saving rate!) and wait for things to settle down.


Retire-Canada

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2015, 03:18:59 PM »
This month's consumer expenses were really de-motivating for me. What do you do when you hit a hard patch and spend more than you hope? How do you stay motivated?

I tell myself shit happens and I move on. If I notice a pattern of not meeting my goals I'll sit down and study the situation to look for a fix, but one month not hitting an arbitrary target is not important to me and doesn't get me down.

Pro_Amateur

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2015, 04:20:37 AM »
Sounds familiar, I've had some expensive car maintenance, my boiler and dishwasher breaking down and needing replacement, plus the tax man hitting me with an unexpected bill.

Anyhow, good post: good to notice that I'm not the only one who has had a few bad months.
Most important is not to fret too much over it. In the big picture, these bad months mean next to nothing. Good luck everyone!


Davids

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2015, 04:27:16 AM »
There are going to be some months where an unexpected expense or emergency arise. As long as you keep doing what you do and realize that occasionally there may be a dip then it's all good.

gReed Smith

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2015, 05:11:36 AM »
When I'm feeling down, I make a humble-brag post on a forum to point out how awesome I really am, even in my off-months.

MOD NOTE: Rude.  Please read forum rule #1.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 03:27:32 PM by arebelspy »

MishMash

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2015, 11:07:11 AM »
When I'm feeling down, I make a humble-brag post on a forum to point out how awesome I really am, even in my off-months.

Not seeing anything on this post that's a humblebrag, everything on here is a genuine concern.  When you have a goal, and you miss it, it is natural to feel dejected, even if that goal is light years above what most people would consider "normal".  Perspective is sometimes needed to say "hey yea, you missed your goal, but look at the broader picture, get back on track, and don't sweat it because shit happens sometimes"

I don't really expect you to get that though, based on your other postings I'm not particularly sure why you are even on these forums as you take a very contrarian stance to pretty much all the things this forum believes in and works towards.


monstermonster

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2015, 12:13:01 PM »
When I'm feeling down, I make a humble-brag post on a forum to point out how awesome I really am, even in my off-months.

Not seeing anything on this post that's a humblebrag, everything on here is a genuine concern.  When you have a goal, and you miss it, it is natural to feel dejected, even if that goal is light years above what most people would consider "normal".  Perspective is sometimes needed to say "hey yea, you missed your goal, but look at the broader picture, get back on track, and don't sweat it because shit happens sometimes"

I don't really expect you to get that though, based on your other postings I'm not particularly sure why you are even on these forums as you take a very contrarian stance to pretty much all the things this forum believes in and works towards.

Thanks for the defense Mishmash (I'm OP). I was still digesting that post and trying to figure out if it was a "humblebrag"- I was genuinely down about last month. You all helped a bunch though especially helping put it in perspective.

gReed Smith

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2015, 12:22:03 PM »
When I'm feeling down, I make a humble-brag post on a forum to point out how awesome I really am, even in my off-months.

Not seeing anything on this post that's a humblebrag, everything on here is a genuine concern.  When you have a goal, and you miss it, it is natural to feel dejected, even if that goal is light years above what most people would consider "normal".  Perspective is sometimes needed to say "hey yea, you missed your goal, but look at the broader picture, get back on track, and don't sweat it because shit happens sometimes"

I don't really expect you to get that though, based on your other postings I'm not particularly sure why you are even on these forums as you take a very contrarian stance to pretty much all the things this forum believes in and works towards.

I don't save 45% of my after tax income, but overall I give your critic of me an F+.

And monstermonster, it was a humble-brag, but I was only pointing it out for my own entertainment.  You're not a bad person for pointing out that you're good at saving, and you have high expectations of yourself.  I often just flat-out brag because I know that I'm awesome!  You are too!  Good job.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2015, 12:30:36 PM »
I was only pointing it out for my own entertainment. 

Not a great way to go through life, right there. I would request you try to be more positive on these forums- this is a place of support, growth, and goals. You're not doing anyone else any favors by being cruel, and frankly, I bet if you introspect you're not doing yourself any favors either.

MishMash

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2015, 01:01:30 PM »
When I'm feeling down, I make a humble-brag post on a forum to point out how awesome I really am, even in my off-months.

Not seeing anything on this post that's a humblebrag, everything on here is a genuine concern.  When you have a goal, and you miss it, it is natural to feel dejected, even if that goal is light years above what most people would consider "normal".  Perspective is sometimes needed to say "hey yea, you missed your goal, but look at the broader picture, get back on track, and don't sweat it because shit happens sometimes"

I don't really expect you to get that though, based on your other postings I'm not particularly sure why you are even on these forums as you take a very contrarian stance to pretty much all the things this forum believes in and works towards.

Thanks for the defense Mishmash (I'm OP). I was still digesting that post and trying to figure out if it was a "humblebrag"- I was genuinely down about last month. You all helped a bunch though especially helping put it in perspective.

Don't worry, it's not, these forums exist for a LARGE part because some people like gReed can't seem to believe that it's possible for people to be frugal, with decent incomes, save, and retire early.  Anything you say, whether it be sharing a success or voicing a concern, will be viewed as a humblebrag by people who don't think it's possible because they don't want to admit that they may be doing something wrong or that others may be higher earners then they.

Most people on this forum can relate EXACTLY to what you are going through, and birds of a feather won't try to kill the other for sharing their experiences, just chalk him up to a forum troll and from what I've seen for every one of him, there are a dozen on here that can relate to and support you in your journey.

gReed Smith

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2015, 01:19:26 PM »
If you think my hilarious and extremely mild comment was "cruel" or demonstrates that I can't believe people can make a lot of money and retire early, then you're taking the internet too seriously.  I do, in fact, believe that Double M saves 58% of her income, and I think that's freaking great.  And saving 45% of your income is great too.  And if I didn't think so, I wouldn't have bothered making a joke about it.  You see the joke, right?  That she's down on herself for being awesome?  Do I really have to explain it?

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2015, 03:16:20 PM »
If you think my hilarious and extremely mild comment was "cruel" or demonstrates that I can't believe people can make a lot of money and retire early, then you're taking the internet too seriously.  I do, in fact, believe that Double M saves 58% of her income, and I think that's freaking great.  And saving 45% of your income is great too.  And if I didn't think so, I wouldn't have bothered making a joke about it.  You see the joke, right?  That she's down on herself for being awesome?  Do I really have to explain it?

We get the comment. We just don't think it's funny. And are you really shocked that people don't enjoy you taking pleasure in putting others down?

Perhaps I do take the internet too seriously, but I refuse to let anonymity cloud my perception that everyone behind a screen name is a person, with their own interests and goals and challenges. I will continue my humorless quest to make this forum more hospitable to people who come here earnestly for self improvement.

neo von retorch

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2015, 03:26:25 PM »
Do you still possess the skills and knowledge you require to continue your path to F.I.R.E.?

seemsright

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2015, 03:53:56 PM »
I have 2 months every year that kill our bank account. And they are never the same months year after year.

We have figured out our pattern. But it usually things breaking that we use every day. Or something goes wrong with our car. This year it DH's bike...man that thing had issue after issue. Or a pet needs extra vet care. It is never anything that breaks the bank..rather a bunch of little things all at once.

 

spokey doke

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2015, 07:58:05 AM »
The OP's situation is one of the observed downsides of MMM...raising expectations for FIRE when even the most diligent will take quite some time to get there.  In the meantime, we visit this forum, which keeps our expectations high and makes the reality of slow progress, with plenty of ups and downs, rather frustrating for many.  One possibility that might help, besides the obvious longer term mindset, is to go live your life and spend less time here...

Inkedup

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Re: Staying motivated in a "down month"
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2015, 08:25:45 AM »

I'm not going to care much for the rest of the year, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the car accident that killed my dad, and there may be huge lawyers fees in the future to cover my mom but you know what, we made it out the other side, bruised, financially a little worse off then we could be...but we made it.  I can't imagine how much worse this year could have been if we didn't have cash on hand to deal with these things.

2016 though...we're back to game on!

So sorry about your dad. Hang in there.