March 2018 Progress Report: 1896 Fire-Boxes, Trade Wars, Income Reveal, and a Bunch of Other Nonsense

Easter is now behind us and I hope you all had an enjoyable day. We had some family over and I spent the day cooking a frugally delicious feast. We had orange glazed ham, honey glazed carrots, and a mixed green salad with goat cheese, fresh raspberries and glazed pecans.

I also made Mr. FE’s favorite Mac n’ Cheese. The recipe was derived from a Fannie Farmer Cookbook originally published in 1896. I own a more current edition from 1985, but the original cookbook is a really cool read and it gives useful instructions on how to build fires.

Before starting to build a fire, free the grate from ashes. To do this, put on covers, close front and back dampers, and open oven-damper; turn grate, and ashes will fall into the ash receiver. If these rules are not followed, ashes will fly over the room. – The Original Fannie Farmer 1896 Cookbook

“Ashes will fly over the room”

What fun!

Then it advises you do insane things like twist papers, add sticks or pine wood, and add shovelfuls of coal.

Maybe THIS is the real reason why we are revitalizing coal mines?! It’s for when the trade war picks up steam and none of us can afford a new stove. We can SHOVEL COAL INTO OUR FIREBOXES to cook dinner.

A cheerful and casual Easter table setting! I didn’t get to take pics of our meal because I was being a good host. ;

Whatever the reason, let’s just say that my days of whining about my 15-year old gas oven are now over.


Time for an update on our financial progress. In this report we have decided to add our gross income, investment contributions and our savings rate. We are also bringing back our expense reports to help keep us accountable. It’s a lot of information but it’s all in the name of being more transparent.

March 2018 Financial Report

Mr. FE’s Gross Income (includes his annual bonus, normally our gross monthly income sits around $6,465) $14,616.00
Mrs. FE’s Gross Income $0.00
Mr. FE’s 401(k) Pre Tax Contributions (high from the annual bonus) $9,548.00
OFE’s Taxable Contributions $5,000.00
Market Gains / Losses -$9,831.00
Savings Rate
Savings Rate (includes investments)  99% (I’ll explain)
Remaining Mortgage Balance $143,627.15
March Expenses
Mortgage, Property Taxes, HOA $1,895.50
Internet, Phone, Cable $194.22
Electricity $83.00
Natural Gas $77.00
Water $101.00
Life Insurance $276.77
Auto Insurance $487.66
Cell Phones $61.04
iTunes $1.00
Medical $1,359.01
Food $530.00
Gas $101.86
Household $60.73
Funeral Flowers $79.68
Flat Tire $69.99
Total Expenses $5,378.46


Mr. FE’s gross income was higher this month because he finally received his annual sales bonus from 2017. Woot! Woot! His mega corp divides up the bonus by issuing some in cash and puts the rest towards his profit-sharing.

My gross income is zero where I’m still out of work. To be honest, I don’t feel like getting my career started up again, only to find out that I’m going to have to leave to undergo medical treatments. For the time being we are doing just fine on one income thanks to our frugal lifestyle. Maybe down the road I’ll take on some contract work to help out.

A lovely flat tire! And by all means, behold the sand and dirt coating on the car as well. 😉


We decided to share how much we contribute monthly towards both Mr. FE’s 401(k) and OFE’s separate taxable account. This months 401(k) contribution was higher because it includes the annual bonus. We also moved some cash out of our checking and made a deposit to our taxable account. We get too much anxiety leaving cash in the bank just sitting idle.

Our investments took a dive thanks to all of this trade war speculation and some pressure on the tech stocks. We currently hold 90% in VFIAX and 10% in a bond fund in Mr. FE’s 401(k). In OFE’s taxable account we hold VTSAX along with some cash. Some of our losses were offset by the addition of Mr. FE’s annual bonus however. Hopefully April will be a better month for stocks.

Savings Rate

We know that there are a few different formulas used to calculate a savings rate, but at OFE we like to include our investments because that’s where the majority of our savings is directed. We don’t hold much cash and keep only the minimum required to pay bills in our checking.

We use a simple savings rate formula: Amount saved divided by gross income multiplied by 100.

Here is the calculation for March:

$14,548.00 (total amount saved) divided by $14,616.00 (gross income) = .99 Multiplied by 100 = 99%

It’s important to mention that our savings rate is out of whack for March because of Mr. FE’s annual bonus, but we believe the bonus amount still counts towards our savings. We also took a chunk of cash out of our checking and moved it over to our taxable account. Normally, we see our savings percentage fall between 20% and 30% where I’m currently unemployed.


Still chipping away at our 15-year mortgage which sits on 3.6%. We have 11 years, 7 months remaining. This is the ONLY DEBT we hold in the OFE household.

March Expenses

March was a doozy for the OFE’s. We had life and auto insurance premiums, high medical expenses, a fun Easter get together, Mr. FE’s birthday, a funeral and a flat tire. Overall, it was a VERY EXPENSIVE MONTH!

Here is an explanation of our epic spending:


We had our quarterly life insurance payment due. The amount of $276.77 represents two term life insurance policies, one for each. Mr. FE’s policy is a bargain, but my policy is ridiculously high because I have pre-existing condition and could barely get approved.

The yearly premium for our 2012 Toyota Camry was due. We prefer to make the payment yearly so we can avoid those STUPID MONTHLY INSTALLMENT FEES the auto insurers like to charge. Not cool!


The amount of $1359.01 represents my yearly health insurance deductible, copays, CT Scans, X-rays, lab work, and meetings with specialists. You really don’t appreciate having health insurance until AN EVIL DEMON HAS DECIDED TO TAKE UP RESIDENCE INSIDE YOUR BODY AND YOU NEED AN EXORCISM!!!  In any case, we are almost maxed out on my side of the health insurance and shouldn’t have to pay out that much more.

Other notable expenses-

Our food expense was higher than normal because we celebrated Mr. FE’s birthday at a local pizzeria, and we also hosted Easter dinner. We have no regrets because we had a blast! An out-of-state relative lost a loved one so we sent some funeral flowers. And on my way to a doctor’s appointment I got a flat tire and had to call a tow truck to change out the flat.

Let’s hope April is A LOT CHEAPER!


2 thoughts on “March 2018 Progress Report: 1896 Fire-Boxes, Trade Wars, Income Reveal, and a Bunch of Other Nonsense

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