Take Out Lunch

[DISCLAIMER: This is a catch-up post, documenting our spending from the first quarter of 2022. It’s 2023, but I’m going back and trying to document our financials so that I can have this record to look back on.]

The above picture was one of many take-out lunches purchased in the first quarter. I started eating out a lot more.  I was stress eating from starting over at someplace new. On the one hand, I was feeling good about working again. I felt empowered and useful. On the other hand, I was also very unsure. “Can I really do this?” is something I wondered about daily. I also cracked my tooth around this time, which was not a pleasant experience, and it was made worse by the fact that I didn’t have a regular dentist at the time.

In any case, here’s how we looked financially at the end of Q1 (March) 2022.

Monthly Spending and Income

March 2022 Spending

Primary Residence – Property Tax+Assoc. Fees $300
Rental – Property Tax+Assoc. Fees $245
Internet $40
Cell Phone $11
Gas + Electric $232
Water/Sewer $82
Food (Groceries/Household) $952
Food (Eating Out) $522
Transportation [Gas/Registration] $122
Car Insurance $0
Life/Home/Umbrella Insurance $90
Health/Dental $0
Misc/Buffer [TurboTax/ Clothes/ Netflix/ HBOMax/ Hulu/ School/ Donation] $321
Total Monthly Spending $2,916

Our spending on groceries/household items and eating out were roughly where they should be. [Reminder: We were expecting $1,100/month for groceries + household expenses and $500 for eating out — 2022 Expectations.] We were eating more also because we had less time for cooking every night, with myself and Mr. FD both working now.  This was in addition to the increase in take-out lunches. Even though I was remote, I still went out from time to time to get some fresh air and yummy food.

Now for the non-food expenses. We paid no property tax this month.  I can’t remember how we paid $11 for our cell phones exactly. We probably used a target gift card to help purchase an AT&T refill card, which brought down the amount this month. Health insurance and dental are $0 because I got free coverage for our family through my contract work. (Otherwise, it’d have been around $1k through the NJ Marketplace for our family of four. ) I used my dental insurance for the first time since before the pandemic. I cracked my tooth and made an appointment at a new dentist that another mom in our neighborhood recommended. Yay for dental insurance! 

Netflix and Hulu are our staples in terms of streaming entertainment, but we added HBO Max because I discovered this lovely period drama called The Gilded Age. We purchased TurboTax software and filed our taxes in March.  We had some after-school expenses, and we purchased some additional clothes for our kids. Finally, we made a small donation in support of refugees from Ukraine. Overall, our expenses this month were on the lower side. 

March 2022 InCOME

Tax Return $4821
Rent $1400
Hobby Site $565
Mr. FD Freelance ($217)
Mrs. FD Contract $3,453
Total Monthly Income $10,022

Mr. FD actually had negative income from his freelance work this month because of prepaid state and federal taxes and contributions to his 401k. However, his hobby site bumped it out of the red. Rent came in as expected. I got my paycheck. (Yay!) The biggest income coming in this month was from our tax return. 


Mr. FD’s Solo 401k Mrs. FD’s 401k (w/ company match) HSA
$3,417 $6,143 $640

Mr. FD contributed to his Solo 401k this month (both from the employee and employer side). I contributed to my 401k.  My contribution is high because I’m trying to get as close as possible to the annual limit during my short-term contract. There’s a bit of employer matching as well. Finally, the health insurance plan we’re on is a high-deductible plan that allows for HSA contributions.  That’s $10,199 in total for tax-sheltered pay if you add everything up from this month. That’s really great.

By subtracting our expenses from our income and retirement/HSA contributions, we saved $17,306 this month. I’m really happy with that.

March Savings: $10,022 –  $2,916 + $10,199 = $17,306 in total

Spending and Savings Summary for the year

Here’s a table of our spending and savings for this year.

  Spending Saving
January 2022 -$6,110 $4,193
February 2022 -$4,444 $15,524
March 2022 -$2,916 $17,306
TOTAL -$13,470 $37,022

Net Worth for the year

For net worth, here’s how we did. I calculate net worth near the end of the month, but not always on the final day of the month. Most of our net worth changes are heavily dependent on the stock market. I’m also including our total FIRE assets, which are invested and expected to grow in our retirement.

Our net worth went up by over $30k this month, and our FIRE assets went up by about the same. Our dual income helped us temper the large losses due to the stock market earlier in the quarter. I honestly feel good financially during months like these.

  Net Worth FIRE Assets
December 2021 $2.53 M $1.92 M
January 2022 $2.44 M $1.83 M
February 2022 $2.45 M $1.84 M
March 2022 $2.48 M $1.88 M

FIRE Failure Indicators

Here’s our sanity check for the month.  

  1. Is our spending on track? So far, yes. We projected in a previous post that we’re expecting to spend about $73,000 this year. Because one of our biggest expenses (health care) is covered for 4 months,  we were fine. We’d spent less than $14k by this time. If we projected that spending rate until the end of the year, we’d have been on track to spend a little less than $54k. We’re really good here.
  2. Is our withdrawal rate okay? We’re not doing our Roth Ladder yet. If we were, our projected spending for this year would have been about 4%. Currently, we’re on track to spend about $54k, which is under to 3.0%. Ultimately,  we want our spending to be at or below 3%.  We’re doing even better than I’d expected at this point.

    Withdrawal Rate Withdrawal Amount
    4.00% $73,600
    3.75% $69,000
    3.50% $64,400
    3.25% $59,800
    3.00% $55,200
    2.75% $50,600

Happiness Indicators

On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate my happiness?


I remember being really tired and stressed out.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVED being back at work. I loved the opportunity to feel useful again. I liked that my life had purpose outside of my kids. Mr. FD and I had often talked about my going back to work one day. He would be the stay-at-home dad, and I would go into work and try to rebuild my career. I felt lucky that I had this chance to do non-trivial work and receive decent pay for it. Mr. FD went freelance to help me have time to try.

I was desperately trying to do a good job because there was this carrot being dangled in front of me. My manager let me know that there was a possibility of turning my 4-month contract into a full time job, but I had to show my worth. That was honestly great news, but it came at a price.

I wasn’t sleeping well. I was overeating. I was working weekends. I was feeling behind and feeling a bit of guilt from not spending more time with my kids. Most of my co-workers were only a few years out of school, with no spouses and definitely no kids. I didn’t have too many people that understood my personal struggles.

In addition to all this, I was taking one grad course related to AI for gaming. It was fun and interesting, but it was eating into the time I already felt I didn’t have.

So, this quarter was tough and exciting at the same time. I loved that I had opportunities to grow again, but my health was definitely taking a beating. The funny thing is, I knew I didn’t need this job financially. Being Financial Independent gave us options. However, I realized that I wanted to keep going with this beyond the contract. More than money, I wanted to work more and be part of something bigger, for myself.

Okay, I’ll stop here for now. It’s tough writing these updates after the fact. I’m not sure how much I’m remembering correctly about my mindset. The financials should be accurate, though. I kept up with some of my spreadsheets throughout 2022. This blog just has them formatted and aggregated in a different way.