FinCon, Furniture, and other August 2019 Expenses

In August, we moved in.

Furnishing Our New Home

If you recall, I was uprooted for the last couple of months because of a housing snafu. Two months after our expected move-in date we finally got the e-mail that our place was ready. We only brought one car-load worth of stuff, which meant we had to furnish the apartment from scratch.

Luckily, Mr. Mechanic started collecting furniture that he found on the side of the road while still living in a temporary house. He bought a desk for $10, a coffee table for $5, and picked up a $1 toaster oven from a yard sale. He carried home a free sofa (although I insisted on buying a cover for it, so it ended up being a $50 sofa).

One of the first things I did after moving was joining the local “Mom’s Group” on Facebook. Despite my lack of children, I’ve noticed that mom groups have a wide network of community involvement, and we scored a free microwave!

Going Remote

I have started working remotely full-time, which has been a bit of an adjustment. Usually, I would praise the lack of a commute, but my commute was a 20-minute bike ride into the city, which was a great way to start the day.

To establish a routine, I have started walking every morning, and in the afternoon I sometimes take advantage of the community kayaks that are stashed away in the trees next to the river.

Otherwise, I have found that it is incredibly helpful to have a room dedicated solely to work, and I am definitely more productive compared to working in my old open-office space.

I love the fact that there are free kayaks for community-use by the river!

A Finance & Media Conference

I have also been preparing to go to FinCon, a financial media conference in DC. I wasn’t going to go at first. It seemed like a lot of money to go to a conference for a blog I had just started.

However, I went to a meet-up in Portland with author Tanja Hester of Work Optional, and I told her about my doubts. I expected her to nod and say something about how you get what you put into it, and if I wasn’t interested maybe I shouldn’t go (yes, I might have been projecting). Instead, she told me that she is so grateful she went to FinCon before she felt ready. She said it was a game-changer for her blog. Convinced, I bought a ticket.

This month, I was nominated for several awards:

Best New Personal Finance Blog


Best FI/RE Blog


And I’m on the leaderboard for the People’s Choice award. By the way, votes are still being taken for People’s Choice! Vote here.

It is a huge honor to be up for these awards, especially considering my low expectations when I started, and the high quality of the other blogs on the leaderboard.

Anyway, it is the end of the month, so you know what that means! It’s time to dig into August expenses.

I expect that this month’s expense report will be higher than most because of everything we bought to furnish the place. You don’t realize how much you need until you don’t have it anymore! Trash cans, bath mats, lamps, appliances, you name it, we had to procure it.

Let’s Find Out

Note: these are the expenses for just me.

ItemAmountMechanic Musings
Rent$500I am very excited about this new line item! We have a nice place with big windows, light from all sides, even a little nook for me to write the blog in, and it is almost half the cost of our place in Portland.
Travel$379I used some Chase Sapphire Points and booked my ticket to FinCon. My flight was $184. I’m staying with a group for the five nights I’m there, for a total cost of $195, or $39 per night, for the Airbnb.
Groceries$263Wow, looks like we spent a lot restocking our shelves with food! Some of this also went into household items like carpets, paper towels, aluminum foil, toilet paper, etc. The rest is food from our first month moving in.
Insurance$240We paid a 6-month lump sum for car insurance ($177 each) and a year of renter’s insurance ($63 each) upfront.
General Merchandise$227We ordered in furniture from IKEA and stopped by Home Depot, Walmart, JCPenney, and TJ Maxx to pick up household items.
Charity$150$100 to ACLU and $50 towards a friend’s Facebook charity request to Mother Africa. I wrote more about my new method of giving here: I Am Not A Generous Person (and The Case Against A Donor Advised Fund)
Furniture$80Our dining room table, chairs, and lamp from the Salvation Army.
Fuel$41It will be interesting to see if fuel costs rise since we have to drive farther to get to stores and restaurants and go on weekend trips, or if they go down because day-to-day we don’t use the car at all.
Restaurant$39Visited the local brewery and went out for Thai food when we went into the nearby town.
Internet$28The new service in our area is at least 5x faster than what we had in Portland, for nearly the same price.
Postage & Shipping$19I amended my 2017 taxes and paid for tracking. I also designed some business cards for FinCon.



This was an extremely high spending month. Partly because we had to furnish our new place, partly because of the lump-sum insurance payments, and partly because of the travel for the conference. The high amount is helpfully offset by last month when my spending totaled only $255.
A nearby brewery

How were your August expenses?

What do you think it would cost to furnish a new apartment?

Have you ever gone to a non-work related conference?

Share in the comments below!

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  1. You’ve done well, especially considering the potential costs of ‘starting up’ somewhere new.. It definitely balances out the cost of last month though.

    Congratulations on the nominations again! I really hope you enjoy FinCon – it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun!

    1. Yes our moving costs were incredibly low overall considering we did it all ourselves. However it was a big effort!

      Thank you so much! I’m sad you won’t be there. Maybe next year!

    1. I’m still new to all of these business shenanigans! Don’t you have to earn money to count something as a business? 😛 Will have to check out Schedule C!

  2. You encountered a lot of change over the past month or so! Good job on navigating everything and as you pointed out the higher costs were balanced by low costs last month.
    I was impressed to see you met Tanja Hester as I am currently reading her book.
    I am not sure what I think it should cost to furnish a new apartment but there are so many options to look (such as FB marketplace) these days to repurpose and recycle that I would think that with patience one could do it quite cheaply. Twenty five years ago we found our dining room table at the road side. Then last year after a generation of use we sold it for $60!
    Near us, in a higher end neighborhood there is a “large item pick up” day when people put out all kinds of large objects that they are throwing away. It is a great time for thrifty furniture finds.
    Good luck with the People’s Choice award and also on this new chapter of your life!

    1. I am excited to hear what you think about her book!
      Making money after a generation of use is quite impressive. I am similarly hoping that we can resell some of these items when we leave next year.
      Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

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