In terms of my savings rate, this is the best 4-week period I have had since starting this blog.
There is one single, dominating reason I got to an 84.75% savings rate:
- BONUS SEASON, BABY!
The promised bonus I mentioned during the last 4-week period was given, and it has seriously given me confidence, knowing that my hard work pays off. Holding that check made me feel like Ryan Gosling’s character at the end of The Big Short.
Knowing that my numbers would be good this period, I took advantage and performed some accounting voodoo so that the following 4-week periods would be healthy.
Accounting voodoo? Let me explain.
My savings rate this period could have been much, much higher, but I hurried to make capex purchases as well as balancing out my Blow Fund. This way, I wouldn’t have to deal with them later. You’re welcome, future me! One of my mantras is the following:
When times are good, kill debt.
This voodoo is just a microcosm of that mantra.
Another benefit of this move is that this comes on the heels of tax season, where I will have to pay my tax accountants their fat fees (not that they don’t deserve it).
As for the bad (in terms of spending money) during this 4-week period, there were two main culprits:
- The Holidays
- My Australia trip
Now, don’t get me wrong.
The holidays are a great time. I love them for the general goodwill that everyone wears on their sleeves during the Christmas season, as well the insane amount of days off that most employees get. I also love them because they remind us of all the good in the world.
But for people adhering to a budget, it really is tough! American Capitalism has turned the month of December into a spending spree. Actually, it more is like a spending massacre.
As for the other culprit, I went on a trip to Australia! I loved it! It was just a source of many expenditures. No regrets. What. A. Trip.
I mean, just look at this cutie!
My expenses for this period:
- As expected, the holidays and my vacation really ballooned the food expenses during this period. Taking away all the holiday/vacation food, my regular meals would only have totaled to $85.86!
- My trip to Australia predictably emptied the blow fund and then some. As explained above, my accounting voodoo tactics will throw some of this period’s monies towards the blow fund to balance it out. From this point on for the year, my blow fund will be in the black until the next vacation.
- A water heater blew up and needed replacement. It was painful when I saw the price, but then I remembered that the last one had serviced us for more than 15 years. Let’s hope that I won’t have to make another water heater purchase for a long, long time.
Expense Report Conclusions
Looking at the annualization of this period’s expenditures really hurts. If every 4-week period had the biggest holiday of the year as well as a grand vacation, I would be spending $44,220.36 a year.
If it weren’t for my bonus, this would have been a terrible, terrible 4-week period.
I am going to do a little thought experiment to try and make myself feel better.
Let’s say that it was not the holidays, and that I only spent the usual $250/4-week period on food. Let’s also say that my water heater didn’t blow up. In addition, let’s say that I am a hermit and vacation is out of my reality. Assuming all of the above was true, I would have only spent $1,199.67 for the period.
That comes out to $14,396.04 per year!
Yay for warped realities!!
But okay. Seriously, I did terribly on controlling spending this period. This cannot happen regularly! Good thing Christmas only happens once a year.
Let’s get to the fun part:
What a beautiful country. Its people. Its architecture. Its ancient natural backdrop. Its animals. Its Thai food. I could not get enough! Another month to this trip would have been perfect.
Let’s start with one of its icons.
The Sydney Opera House, as one of Australia’s most valuable assets (estimated to be worth over $4.6B in 2013), would lead you to believe that the government had all their ducks in a row during conception and construction.
Nope. Not the case at all.
Here’s the short version of its history:
The New South Wales (NSW) government was looking for a dedicated musical hall for fine music, since the venue in use at the time had been outgrown. A worldwide competition was started to determine the design of this new hall.
Up-and-coming Danish architect Jørn Utzon submitted rudimentary sketches and unexpectedly won.
The NSW Premier at the time, Joseph Cahill, knew that he had to get the ball rolling on the project, due to upcoming budgetary and political road bumps. Cahill pushed for construction to start, even though the Utzon had not yet created finalized architectural drawings!
As someone who works in the construction industry, I can tell you that this is a terrible way to build something. You do not price anything without complete drawings! That is just asking to get change ordered to death.
Anyways, the story is that the architect designed the project as construction was happening. Fights happened, Utzon was fired, and the project finished a decade beyond schedule with the contract price being 14x over the initial budget! Talk about a project management catastrophe.
But hey! Now we have a modern masterpiece of architecture anybody can enjoy!
Australia is also home to an icon that is the polar opposite of the Sydney Opera House in terms of how it was built and how much it cost.
Uluru, a giant rock that fell on its side:
Everywhere I went in Australia, the people were exceptionally hospitable. Every single person I interacted with treated me like I was one of their own. Needless to say, the best part of the country is its people. What came is second was its population of chill animals.
I want to tell you about a new friend I met there. The sweetest, kindest, flooffiest thing alive. The adorable baby camel, Bella:
I learned a bit about them on my trip.
One of the most fascinating things about the Great Oz is that camels are not native there, but have thrived in the land ever since they were imported from the Middle East and India in the 1800s.
When the age of inland exploration into the continent started, it was discovered that horses were not the ideal beast of burden due to Australia’s brutal climate. It was suggested that camels be given a chance, and they turned out to be perfect for the job.
Australian men and camels became inseparable in the outbacks. Except for Harry, who became known as the only camel in history to shoot and kill a man.
Once the mechanization of mankind rendered camels economically infeasible to keep, they were set free into the wild. Now, with no natural predators on the continent, they roam in the desert as an invasive species.
Funnily enough, wild camels nowadays are occasionally exported “back” to the Middle East.
That wraps up my highlights of my trip to Australia!
Let me conclude with something familiar:
As usual, I have fully taken advantage of my A-List subscription. I love movies! Here are my spoiler-free movie reviews for this period:
- The Favourite. This is the first Yorgos Lanthimos movie I have ever seen. I have read that his films are unconventional. I walked into the movie with that mindset, but was not prepared at all. The set design and costumes were perfect. It felt like a period piece with a modern story and eccentric direction. The camera work was not like any I have ever seen. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were perfect in their roles. With all that said, I couldn’t really enjoy my time watching this. It was a beautifully made movie, but not my cup of tea. (2/5)
- If Beale Street Could Talk. I have come to realize that my taste in movies is barbaric. I like explosions and action. This movie is probably perfect for someone with more refined taste, but I simply could not enjoy it. Nobody ever talks like the characters in this movie! I also could not stand the cinematic shots where they just sat around for what felt like minutes. This movie was well done, and you could tell that nothing but love was poured into the making of this, but it was way too self-indulgent. (2/5)
- Replicas. Sorry but this was a turd. The visual effects, acting, story, and direction were terrible. I walked out of this one. You are better than that, Keanu. (1/5)
- Vice. What a fun movie! Christian Bale was incredible in every single scene he was in. He was so easily hateable it was impressive. The makeup in this movie was some of the best I have ever seen. Next time you watch it, focus on Bale’s and Adams’ face pores and age spots. My only gripe is that the movie felt rushed due to the sheer amount of material they were covering in a mere couple of hours. They could have done more with less. Maybe they could have honed in on certain parts instead of trying to cover most of Dick Cheney’s adult life. Nonetheless, it was definitely an enjoyable watch! (3/5)
That was not a strong string of movies. I was expecting much more since we are in full blast Oscar-chasing season. Oh well. You can’t win them all!
That’s it for this period. Cheers to the people of Australia! Thank you! I loved every minute of my vacation and cannot wait to be back. That 15+ hour flight needs to be addressed though.