How I spent my paycheck (January 2020)

For 2020, I decided to track 4 things to meet my overall financial goals for the year.

  1. How I spent my paycheck
  2. Progress to maxing out my 401(k)
  3. Pre-Tax Savings Rate
  4. No Spend Days for the month (using my FREE daily tracker, and my Monthly tracker)

As a single mom, the focus on growing my income by learning new skills, while reducing spending, is as important as ever. I’ve always been a saver but by tracking my spending habits I’ve been able to pin point a few areas of excess spend (eating and drinking out, shopping) that can be trimmed. Areas I don’t trim are reading and learning (current fave here).

This first post will cover 1. How I Spent my Paycheck

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This is how i’ll track how my paycheck is spent. This summary is after-tax (since my taxes are taken out before it hits my account) and so it doesn’t count the 401k contributions which occur pre tax. I like this pie chart because I get to focus on the three main categories of spend.

  • NEEDS:
    • Mortgage
    • Utilities
    • Transportation
    • Groceries
    • Donation
    • (new this month) Medicine
  • WANTS:
    • Health & Fitness = Gym
    • School Tutoring
    • Shopping
    • Extra to my mortgage
    • Travel
    • Eating Out
    • Entertainment
    • Misc. Household
    • (new) cell phone
    • Roth IRA
    • Brokerage(doesn’t include pre tax money taken for my 401k)

January was an interesting month. I expected to have Needs/Wants/Savings of 48%, 24% and 28%, respectively. But as it happens, a few expenses popped up that increased the Fixed to 57%. 

I changed my 401(k) contribution to front load the deductions so my paycheck was lower than I anticipated. I’m hoping to max out my 401(k) as fast as possible.


No mortgage this month because I had prepaid it with the refinance in November. That $3k was offset by medicine copay of that same amount. ouch.

My utility bills were higher than I thought and I went over on groceries and Entertainment… but I didn’t put extra to my mortgage, use any of the travel budget or spend much on eating out (hence the groceries) or shop this month so it offset those balances significantly, reducing my wants in half. 

My Savings % increased because my wants were so small but in actual numbers i saved $45 less than budgeted. i’ll take it! Open publish panel

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