February 2018 update and more

It has been a while since my last financial update (November 2017).

With that in mind, this update will cover a bit about December and January as well. All of them have been quiet months, but then again, most months are nice and quiet around here, it’s how we like it.

The biggest takeaways from February was that after two months of sub 50% monthly savings, February was firmly back in the 50 %! I received a tiny raise of about $50 per month which is being marched into savings along with all the other surplus after rent, electricity, phones and food has been paid.

Want to know more of the details? Read on!

Why didn’t we save more in December?

Surprising to some perhaps, it was not actually the gifts that did it in for us. Sure, gifts did add a few extra $100 to our expenses that month, but a lot of our gifts were homemade, and some had been sourced months before.

No, what actually did my savings rate in that month was actually paying more towards my student loan as a gift to myself. Which pulled me just shy of that 50 % mark. Could be worse, right?

Well, yes. Except I did that and more in January as well. After receiving my annual student loan repayment statement, I got so fired up that I paid twice my regular payment in January before even doing the math. Ops.

So without further delay, here were my expenses for the last three months, Mr. E’s finances not included.


I am sorry for all US and UK readers, these numbers are in NOK, not USD or pounds. If you want to get a relative image of what these expenses equate, removing a zero won’t leave you too far off.

Rent, etc

Represents my part of the rent, half the electric bill and my monthly phone bill. We both have one of the cheapest phone deals on the market, and heating included in our apartment, so no complaints there! I pay the bigger share of the rent since Mr. E. is a student.

Student loan

I mentioned this above, but in December I gave myself the holiday gift of another 500 NOK on the student loan. It helps ease my desire to pay more NOW.

That didn’t help in January though, when I received my annual statement and… well… went off plan by paying twice what I usually do. Of course, it is never bad to pay off debt, but my student loan is currently at measly 2 % interest, while our special mortgage savings account returns 3.2 % interest.

I had promised myself I would not get aggressive about my loans, at the very least not until I earned more interest than I pay, but emotions got the better of me. It seems like I really do need to write down one of those financial investment statements. At least by February I was back on track. Saving extra cash instead of throwing it at my loan until my emergency fund is sufficiently fattened up.


This is a bouncy one. We try to keep it under 2000 NOK per person per month, which obviously we failed at in January and February. We’ve both felt exhausted mentally and physically lately, so relaxing our frugal tightrope and indulging in a couple more tasty treats is to blame for this. We’re working on it.


Neither of us uses the bus enough to defend a monthly bus pass (400 NOK for the student Mr. E, and almost 800 NOK for me), so we use a pay-as-you-go app instead. So far, we have clearly spent less than if we invested in a monthly bus pass.


I know many people try to keep this down, but I am actually proud of this one. I am a terrible introvert and will often stay home without other incentives. December included a couple holiday lunches with friends, while February was all about Mr. E’s sister visiting, and us going out to eat and even sharing a beer with a few friends. It was great, and money well spent!


Mostly investments and materials for my little Etsy soap business. In December, I was very surprisingly invited to a Christmas market, which required some sudden expenses like wrapping paper and gift bags, but there were also a few sales. Not net-zero yet, but I am happy for any improvement.


This is the one I am most embarrassed about, and it is certainly bigger than I would like. It includes such things as holiday gifts, and 8 meters of black linen on sale that I bought in January (a rare splurge for me). This also includes my at-work food, such as nuts, bananas and crackerbread. In February, it included the amazing purchase of three new bras.

No regrets, but I do expect and aim for this category to be lower on average for the rest of the year, with some spikes for things like birthdays, travel and holidays.

How did the blog do?

If you are curious about my modest little slice of the internet, the blog is doing better and better. I had to take a step back after my initial new-blog excitement faded, and work got really intense with regular 10 hour days and a couple 14 hour days thrown into the mix.

Stepping back from a self-imposed schedule was seriously the best thing I did. From feeling like I had to post more often than I had ideas for things to write, I now write when I have ideas, and I personally think that makes for better, albeit fewer posts.

In December, there were  2022 views, almost twice the views in November!

January was slightly better at 2063 views, and in February views fell slightly along with my less frequent posting schedule, though not as much as I might have thought at 1418 posts.

I know, it’s not as exciting as those “10k Views In Your First Month!” posts, but this is not that kind of blog. The blog is primarily a creative outlet, accountability platform and source of joy for me. It is not even half-way to paying for itself yet, and that is ok. Not all sidehustles have to be cash cows.

In Summary

It is strange to think that I have been tracking every penny in and out of my checking account for over four months now. It feels good, and has become one of those automatic habits.

After a grocery run, I whip out my tracking app to log the sum (banks are forbidden to give away information about spending habits in Norway). When I get paid, I log what I take out of the checking account and put into savings, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see the savings part of the cake diagram grow accordingly.

Nailed it in February!

How has your quarter been so far? Did you nail it with an uber frugal month? Beat your previous no-spend record? Or did your expenses pile up more than expected? We’re all friends here, and no judgement!

4 Comments on “February 2018 update and more

  1. I would normally consider debt repayment as part of your savings rate, since it will go away at some point (and not be replaced by another expense).
    I too don’t stress too much when I spend money on time out with friends. At the peak of my frugality I lean towards closing myself off. I was nervous starting the blog that it would be an excuse to stay home more, but I have found (for the most part), the opposite of that to be true.

    • I have considered including the principal payment in my savings somehow, because it increases my net worth same as saving. I don’t know, it just felt strange since I didn’t actually put any money in my accounts. ?

      I hope that will be true for me too. I know I run the risk of leaning towards the cheap side, and I’d like to avoid that when socialising with friends!

  2. I agree that although paying down your loans might not be the same thing as banking money in an emergency fund, it’s certainly not the same thing as spending money in the normal sense. You’re increasing your net worth, as you said, and freeing Future You of restrictive debt obligations. I think you’re right to take the interest rates into account, though! At one point we had a car financed at 0.9% and even though it drove me nuts to have an outstanding car loan, I couldn’t argue with the math that it was better to let the loan run its course and leave my money in an investment where it was making over 3% rather than pay off the car. Took a lot of willpower, as I am very uncomfortable with debt.

    I think money spent on enjoying time with friends and family is one of the best ways to spend money, as long as it’s money spent intentionally – a favourite restaurant, or an art exhibit people really want to see, etc. Frugality for me isn’t about spending as little as possible. Rather, it’s about cutting wasteful or mindless spending to be able to afford, without guilt or stress, the things that really matter.

    I get a little frustrated sometimes with friends who believe that spending time together automatically means going out for dinner, though. My guideline is that if I’m paying because I really want to eat and drink at that place, that’s great. But I don’t want to be at a restaurant paying money simply because we’re looking for a place to sit and chat.

    I have some good friends who are more cost-conscious and outdoorsy, and we usually hang out by going for a hike in a nearby conservation area or just spending time at each other’s houses baking, playing board games, drinking tea, and talking. I have to say, those second sorts of interactions are usually my preference, and not just for cost reasons.

    • Oh my gosh, yes. The debt is aggravating me to no end. Especially knowing that I finally have the finances to attack it in earnest! I had to start writing down my placement strategy for my surplus money to ensure I hit priority a to e before I am allowing myself to do anything to my student loans.

      I think your frugal friends sound like the best of friends! And our friends are very similar. There are times when we’ll meet up at a café or restaurant, but much more often it’s in either of our homes doing enormously more cost efficient things. It is their time I want to share, after all. Not their money.

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