Each month, I'll be posting our budget as well as the income we receive from our investments. Investment income includes dividends, interest, and rent payments(if any). This has to be one of the toughest aspects of being financially transparent. It shows whether we really practice what we preach about being faithful stewards or if we are squandering the resources God has given us. It's a little frightening to be honest, and can be a little disheartening. Being put under a microscope is never easy, especially if you think you're the one holding the microscope. The truth is, God already knows whether we have been good stewards or haven't, and His grace can even forgive our lack of stewardship. It also helps to keep us in check, as far as keeping our expenses low since we will be posting how much we spend each month, but it also helps us remember a couple of things:
1. Everything we have is the Lord's, and he has graciously given us the abilities we have to earn and be good stewards.
2. Our identity isn't found in our possessions or lack of possessions, so we shouldn't be afraid of posting either.
3. Our motivation isn't to boast, and yes, it is possible to boast about not having or shunning possessions. Since everything we posses is only "ours" for a time, the stewardship of what we have is what's most important. Our faithful stewardship is still attributed to God, because He is the one molding us, strengthening us, and our faithfulness is a gift from him anyway! All the glory belongs to him from start to finish.
Ok let's get started:
As you can see, we were over budget by $290 (when we exclude the amounts we put towards saving and investments)!! There were plenty of categories that we were over our budget, but there were also categories that we didn't even plan for. One thing I'm learning is that you have to make a new budget every month, and stick to it. Just because the money is in the account doesn't mean it should be spent. Imagine if we could of held fast to our budget? That $800 could have allowed us to give more generously, paid down some debt and even invest a little more. Granted, we did give an extra towards our investments, but it doesn't help that we were over for almost everything else.
Certain categories like eating out could definitely be cut down, especially those pesky $10 lunches that seem harmless at first. They truly do add up! Our giving definitely took a hit because of our lack of stewardship. Moving forward, we definitely need to cut back on our variable expenses like eating out, groceries, vet visits(if possible) and our car usage.
Now that we've got the painful and hard part out of the way, let's look at our investment income as well as our savings rate. Our long term goal is to have enough income from our investments so that we can both quit our jobs and use our time more wisely and with more purpose than simply collecting a paycheck. Not saying that work is wrong, or that being an employee is unfruitful, we would just rather use our time in other ways. In order to get to that point, we need to save. Increasing our savings rate will increase the amount we can use to invest which will increase our investment income.
Which isn't much now, but since this portion of our portfolio is $2,626, our annualized return is 18.5%, which is really good. 92% of the income came from interest in our lending club account, so we will definitely keep adding to that account as well as our dividend portfolio. The price of the stocks in our dividend portfolio declined, resulting in a 4.17% decline, but we don't plan on selling these stocks so this isn't too big of a deal as long as we can keep collecting the dividend checks.
Our savings rate this month was very low at 8.3%. This amount is divided between our retirement, emergency fund, savings, and investment accounts. Debt has been a major hindrance to our ability to save, as well as poor budget management and stewardship. This was such a difficult task, but I do think it can be very fruitful. Hopefully next month we can be better stewards of what God has given us. I hope that you'll be challenged to do the same!