January 2018 Month in Review
|[Image description: A snow-covered path. Very January. Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash]|
I’ve missed a few months, and this one's a little late, but it’s time to get back to being accountable and share my deepest spending secrets with you, dear Reader! Here's my review of January. (February, being in progress, is not up for debate yet.)
The three biggest spending categories in January were medical, food, and clothing (mine). Let’s take a look.
Medical - $3,150
The biggest expenditure this month was $3,000 for my top surgery, which will occur later this month!
I had already put down a $500 deposit; this completes my $3,500 “cosmetic fee.” Like many plastic surgeons, mine has divided his work into a the “medically necessary” part that can be covered by insurance, and the “cosmetic” part that cannot.
Only, it seems weird that part of it can’t be covered by insurance since it’s all part of the same procedure. You would think that chest masculinization should encompass everything, including cosmetic steps taken to make the chest look natural and good and similar to a cis man’s. It’s not like I’m trying to throw teeth whitening in with a root canal or something. And it’s not like this cosmetic steps can be separated out; if you’ve got no cash, want top surgery purely to flatten under clothes, and don’t care how your chest looks topless, it’s not like you can go to a surgeon and be like, “Mangle me, doc!”
I may check with insurance about this, but probably after surgery. Why rock the boat with people who are about to cut me open?
Other costs included labs, OTC meds (mostly cold remedies for my monthlong cold), and prescriptions. For example, my testosterone was $48. I learned that this was much higher than other guys were paying, so I checked with my insurance and they were able to get it to $8 going forward by switching to a generic. It pays to have trans friends!
Food - $910
Our food costs, including groceries and eating out, have been pretty darn high.
We have not really figured out how to be a frugal two-job household. For most of our lives together, one of us has either been unemployed or working from home. Typically, that person was able to eat lunch at home; start cooking dinner while the other person was commuting; and grocery shop (or be home to receive grocery orders).
Now we both work in offices. We have not established a routine of making lunch ahead, so we end up each buying lunch each day. We try to make dinner each night, but sometimes we eat on the run between work and evening events; and sometimes we are both just exhausted and we order a pizza. Neither of us ever has time to do a big shop, so we just pick up random bits and pieces on our way home from work, usually from expensive grocery stores.
I think this is an area where we could improve, but I also think that if this is the cost of both of us working, it’s still better for our bottom line.
Clothing - $420
Clothing is my biggest personal weakness, so it’s an area that I always keep track of. Here’s how I’ve stacked up in the last few months. (This is just my clothing, not my partner’s, but they are never bad on clothing so I don’t track.)
Just a ton of purchases. Establishing men’s fall wardrobe.
Black Friday; full suit; blazer; backpack; Poshmark addiction
Tons of underwear; snow boots; Poshmark addiction
Bunch of shoes
Still unacceptable, but I’m getting better, see??? Kind of??? I no longer have the excuse that I don’t have enough men’s clothes - my wardrobe is in good shape for the current season, and it will continue being winter in Boston for a good three hundred months yet.
This month, I bought a bunch of shoes, partially because my feet have grown slightly and partially because I’m just a maniac. I got a pair of workboots, two (2) pairs of Converse, and a pair of slip-on Vans which are arguably medical in nature since I’ve been advised to wear slip-ons during my surgical recovery, so I won’t need to bend over to do up laces. (Do you buy it?) I’ll probably regret spending $170 on shoes this month when my feet grow yet again and I need an even bigger size up!
The rest was spent on random small purchases. I’m still Poshmarking but I’m trying to keep it to a dull roar.
Financial Goals for February
My goal for February is to spend less than we bring in from our paychecks. In the last few months, we have been cutting it awfully fine, sometimes going over.
Now, this isn’t as bad as you might think. The reason our paychecks are barely enough to cover our spending is mostly our overzealous saving. We save nearly 40% of our income (mostly it’s taken right out of our paychecks before we see it, into retirement accounts.) And I’m on a biweekly pay cycle, so it’s actually okay if I overspend on the 2-paycheck months, as long as it’s made up for by the 3-paycheck months. January was a 3-paycheck months for me, and I’m sitting on a paycheck’s worth of money just ready to sop up overages in February and beyond.
Still, it would make me easier in my mind if I knew that we could cover all our monthly expenses with just two of my biweekly paychecks and one of my partner’s monthly ones. February is a short month, so hopefully it’s one where we can manage this.
Quarterly Goals Update
In January, I set 3 quarterly goals for myself. How am I doing on them?
Exercise 24 times by February 21 (before surgery): Lagging but spirited
According to this schedule, I should have done 16 exercise sessions by now, but I’ve only done 12. I skipped a few exercise sessions because I had a cold, and a few because I was busy. But for the most part, I’m keeping to my Tuesday/Thursday/weekend schedule, and I’m forgiving myself and continuing on even when I miss one.
Learn to play “Heartbreaker” on the bass: Fail
I practiced twice, early in January, and then didn’t. I don’t regret buying the bass exactly, but I sure have proven to be as flighty about practicing as ever. Still, I haven’t been entirely unmusical.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve believed on some level that I “should” be able to sing in a male tenor range, and of course I couldn’t really hit it, but I was surprised every time. (One of those weird “shoulda known I was trans” things.) Well, now my voice is deepening on testosterone, and it’s getting there! I was always too self-conscious to sing in public or take lessons, but it turns out that I enjoy singing when I like my voice, even if I am just imitating audio tracks. I’ve been enjoying belting out the songs of Jean Valjean, Jesus Christ Superstar, Professor Harold Hill, J. Pierpont Finch, Freddie Eynsford-Hill, and other important #heroes. Heck, if my voice goes low enough, I might even end up in Don Quixote/Bobby Baby/Javert territory! I knew memorizing “Stars” when I was 12 would come in handy.
Read 10 Books: Ahead of schedule!
Finally, a goal where I’m doing well! I’ve already read 6 books, and I have longer to complete this goal (until the end of March), since I can read while I’m recovering from surgery. In fact, I’ll barely be able to do anything else. I have a feeling I’m going to blow past my goal here.
How are your resolutions or goals looking as we head into February?