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2016 Spending Summary

January 15, 2017


Our total spending in 2016 came out to be $105,025, compared to $104,900 in 2015 and above my 2016 target of $100k.  Spending included $10k in auto spending that wasn’t initially slated for 2016 (due to Volkswagen scandal our timeline was accelerated) – the target excluded this.  I was nominally successful at reducing our spending in other areas by almost $10k, even though I missed our goal.


Reductions in spending compared to 2015 – Home Maintenance, Pets, Food/Drink

The biggest reductions were in Home Maintenance (which is a fluctuating category) and Pets/Pet Care (which I expected).  We also spent slightly less on groceries, $900 less on restaurants, and purchased less wine. Although I like the wine club we are a member of, I’m thinking we may quit this year.  We haven’t had the time/desire to go to Napa anymore, and we don’t really need any more wine for our “collection”.

Increases in spending compared to 2015 – Clothes, “Home/Misc”, and Travel

The biggest increase was in Transportation, which was due to the new car.

We spent more in the clothing category, with big ticket items including some boots that I wear to work almost every day, two high quality raincoats, a Lo&Sons OMG bag, and replacement hiking boots for T.

Electronics spending increased and included an iPhone SE to replace my busted iPhone 5 and Bose Noise Canceling headphones.  Home spending increased and included some more blinds, some dining chairs, and lots of miscellaneous stuff.  I suspect a detailed look into this category would reveal several mis-categorized charges, but it isn’t critical to me to dig into it.  The “other” category includes a used bike for me ($400).

Our insurance costs went up, but this is mostly due to paying insurance for the new car in December when our regular car insurance bill wouldn’t have been due until 2017.

We did the minimum traveling in 2015 (visiting family), but in 2016 we added on to a conference and went to Portugal and Barcelona.  It was a frugal trip, but still cost money.  We also bought flights to visit our families and did some other very small weekend trips.

Spending Plans for 2017

1) Better Tracking.  I didn’t do a good of a job of tracking spending as we went, so I took dumps of all of our transactions and categorized them after-the-fact (often 2+ months later).  This year, I think I will go back to manually entering transactions as they occur, and using electronic logs to double check.  This should give us better categorization.  I have a big category of “other” and “home” and such, and I know what kinds of things that might include but I don’t have insight into the details.  I know we spent more on Gifts than indicated, but they were categorized as purchases for ourselves.

2) Reduce Home/Other spending.  This goes with the item above, but I want to reduce that category in general.  Tracking it more closely should help out a lot.

3) Reduce Food/Drink spending further.  As I said, I’d like to cut out the wine club and also reduce restaurant / grocery spending some small amount.  Although going out to eat and buying whatever we want at the grocery store are both things that we really enjoy, there is some room for improvement that shouldn’t impact our lives too much.

4) Monitor the rest.  The other categories are not too concerning to me.  Clothing is higher than I’d like but in family with previous years.  I’ll monitor it. I expect pet spending will drop, although we’ve been talking about some private training lessons again early this year.  We will likely spend a bit more on home maintenance, but the plans aren’t settled and major projects aren’t anticipated.  I refinanced my student loan with Earnest to an even lower rate this year.  When I think about it, I’m tempted to simply pay it off with cash on hand.  Yet it is a lower rate than my mortgage, so it doesn’t make sense I keep holding onto it. I allow myself to pay $100 extra each month as a compromise.  We’re still paying for earthquake insurance, which is very expensive and probably not the best use of funds – but it gives me peace of mind.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2017 8:19 am

    Being able to buy whatever we wants at the grocery store keeps our restaurant costs lower. It’s pretty difficult to do too much damage at the grocery store when you’re high income. If we worked at it, we could probably cut a couple/few thousand off our grocery spending but it just isn’t worth it to us (especially when that tends to result in adding a couple/few thousand to our restaurant spending). As a family of 4, we spend somewhere between 6 and 11K on groceries (we spent $100-$200 each week, so…)

    Here you’re spending less than 6K on groceries– how much could that realistically be cut and how much effort would it take to cut? Back when we were in the closer to 5K-range on grocery spending, running the numbers I got something like $500 if we made a moderate effort and it just was not worth it. Going full grad student was just too depressing and would only save a couple thousand dollars over the course of a year (based on a February challenge a couple of years ago). We could cut these things, but for what purpose and at what mental/emotional cost?

    • January 16, 2017 5:38 pm

      That’s totally a fair point. I think the overall food/drink should drop – but we should focus more on the restaurant / wine portion and let groceries be what they are. I’d also like to be more intentional about restaurant spending and do less of our “regular” favorites and try more of the delicious options here.

      Also worth noting – food expenses this year were a bit of a cheat since I traveled quite a bit for work, and my food was totally paid for while on business travel.

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