Friday, January 5, 2018

Finance Friday: 2017 Spending

Happy Friday! I'm back with another finance post - this time focused on my 2017 spending (see my 2016 post here and 2015 post here). I debated whether to do a spending post this year since it's no longer 'my money' and is instead 'our money' as we combined all of our accounts. But it's still mostly my money since Phil spends very, very, very little! I consider myself to be pretty frugal but he just takes it to a whole new level! This doesn't show a 100% complete picture of our spending as there are a few credit/debit cards of Phil's that aren't on my Mint account. But it comes pretty close to showing our total spending.

I can't really do a 2016 to 2017 comparison, though, because 2016 was only my expenses, so didn't include the mortgage for our house and other miscellaneous spending by Phil. But I can still make some general comments about what categories increased. And I can say for certain that we spent more money in 2017 than 2016 thanks to our wedding. But I'll get more into that below!

Here's how our 2017 spending broke out! I won't talk about every spending category, just the ones that are noteworthy. Also this only includes spending - not savings.

Wedding (23%):  It's kind of sad that this was our biggest spending category for the year, but weddings are expensive. We tried to keep the cost down as much as possible by DIY'ing the decor, but the cost of the reception venue/food was sort of a set amount. And since we had so many out of town guests that flew in for the wedding, we wanted to provide a nice meal and we hosted beer and wine. We did receive money from both of our parents, but I didn't adjust the amount we spent on the wedding to account for their contributions so that this would be a true reflection of how much the wedding cost. I'm really glad we will only be getting married once as I would not want to pay for it again!!

Auto and Transport (17%):  This was another big spending category for us as Phil payed off his car loan since the 0% interest on his loan was expiring. We both have cars that are fully paid off now, so this category should be very small in the years to come hopefully!

Home (16%):  This category includes our mortgage, miscellaneous house expenses, like getting some walls of our house painted, and utilities. We spend very little on the house category right now but we are planning to buy a house in 2018 so this category will go up. This category has gone down SO MUCH since I moved in with Phil, though, as his mortgage is quite a bit less than the rent was for my downtown condo. We don't have cable so that keeps this spending category lower than it could be. I can't believe how expensive cable is and we really don't miss having it.

Condo Rental (8%): This category depresses me because it goes to show how not economical it is to rent out my condo. I had some expenses related to the condo and my rent didn't quite cover the mortgage, HOA dues, taxes, and insurance, so posted a loss for the year. However, I am putting my condo on the market in February so fingers are crossed that I can sell it and break even. Buying that condo was the worst financial decision I have ever made as the value steeply declined during the great recession. It's depressing that I have to cross my fingers and hope to break even after owning it for almost 13 years! But oh well - soon it will be behind me! I can't wait to have it off our balance sheet!

Donations (7%):  I'm proud of the fact that this category is as high as it is. It's actually understated as it doesn't include the United Way contributions that come out of each paycheck. But it's too much of a pain for me to add in those deductions. We feel very fortunate to be able to afford to give back to others who are in need of help.

Financial (6%):  This category mostly represents investments we made in 2017.

Miscellaneous (6%):  This is a catch-all category that represents lots of things like haircuts/hair products, amazon purchases, gifts, postage, entertainment and pregnancy/baby-related items. I put anything that was too small to break out on its own in this category.

Groceries (5%):  I'm happy with the amount in this category as it ends up being less than $100/week which is a reasonable budget for 2 people who value eating lots of fresh produce and locally-raised meat (well, I mostly value it, Phil is 'along for the ride' when it comes to grocery decisions because I do all the cooking/meal planning).

Travel (2%):  I'm actually really surprised how low this category is. We went on 3 vacations this year - San Diego, Maui and Asheville. But we used miles for the Maui trip and used companion fares for the San Diego and Asheville trips, so we only had to buy 1 tickets for each of those trips. I also took solo trips to NYC and St. Louis but I used miles for both of those trips so didn't pay out of pocket for my flights and my accommodations in NYC were very inexpensive. I have a feeling that the apartment rentals for our San Diego trip and honeymoon aren't included in this total as Phil might have put it on a credit card that isn't on my mint account. So it might be understating our travel expenses - I would guestimate that travel should have been more like 5-6% of our spending. But all in all, we did not spend all that much on travel and I highly doubt we'll spend much in 2018 since we'll become parents!

Restaurants (2%): I'm also proud of how little we spend on dining out. We really view dining out as a special treat and do not do it very often. And when we do dine out, we usually go to inexpensive places that we love. This is one of those 'you do you' categories, though. Some people really value eating out but we just aren't those people, especially because of my gluten intolerance as it kind of takes some of the fun out of dining out.


Looking ahead to 2018:  We won't have a wedding so our total spending *should* decline. We will have a new baby but I am hopeful that we'll spend far less on him/her than we did on our wedding.  However, we'll start paying for daycare when I go back to work full-time, which is not cheap! But we will see how it all shakes out. Luckily we still have a lot of amazon gift cards from our wedding so we can use those to pay for the various things we'll need for a new baby. And we will save money by cloth diapering!

Our housing expense will go up in 2018, but we won't spend much in the auto and transportation category. It will be interesting to see what happens as the result of selling my condo. I'm hopeful that I can sell it for enough to cover my mortgage + some of the things I need to do to prepare to list it (new carpeting, paint, and a new light fixture).


Overall, I'm pretty happy with how our spending broke out. There's always opportunities for us (well, mostly me) to tighten the belt on spending. But in general, I think we make wise spending decisions and we are also big savers so I'm happy with how we are managing our money. I think we've found a good balance of saving aggressively, living below our means, and spending money on things that matter to us.

Do you review your spending on an annual or more regular basis? I use and keep track of my spending throughout the year. It does require some work as you need to make sure that expenses are categorized properly, but it's worth the effort to have a clear view of where your money is going!


Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Yessss I love when you do your finance post!!! I am seriously impressed by your grocery bill considering I know you eat healthy and you don't eat out much. I feed more people than you now but my bill was always a bit higher than that and we eat out a bit more than you (it seems like we eat out a lot but I guess considering we never ever eat lunch out it's probably not as much as others) do you do a lot of meals with no meat? That could be a factor

Gracie said...

Actually, compared to national averages, I bet your wedding spending is low. It blows my mind to see people spending at or above $100,000 for a wedding, but it's pretty common here. Your grocery bill is lower than ours - groceries are expensive here because very little fresh produce grows locally. Not only are we in a city, but it's too hot for most crops, so a lot of what I eat had to be shipped in. But then, you also grow your own food, and do not drink...I think our wine habit adds a good $50 a month!

Charbelle said...

okay, honest time, we combined our accounts the Monday after Thanksgiving and I'm still trying to adjust. I have noticed that I am NOT good at money accountability to someone else. Since we got married Michael has had an "ours" viewpoint. Unfortunately, I'm apparently way more selfish or something because I am having a hard time grasping "ours" in my head it's still his and mine. He uses Quicken (I think) and I still use my register that I write in. I do check the account every day online. We agreed to combine to my BOA account and move his into mine. He pays bills when they are due. I pay when my check comes since I'm only paid once a month. Which actually is probably good for me as it requires me to be WAY more conscious about setting what I need back. He doesn't "set money back" but I do because that way I know that I have what I need when I need it. I only just sold my condo at the end of October so I've now taken over a few of the bills like gas, water and electric. The thing is when we were dating he had no issues with covering all the bills. Once my condo was sold I think the amount of boxes that started arriving might have been part of what triggered me be asked to cover some of the bills, and that's fair and I was planning to pick up sharing them anyways. I am the one who eats out most often since he works from home. I also go out with friends, he doesn't. We're planning to start looking for a house in 2019 so the goal for 2018 is to focus on paying off and saving. We will see how that goes, you know how stuff can come up unexpectedly but that is the plan.

Jeanie said...

I'm impressed by your comprehensive analysis (not surprised, given your profession). I hope you can unload the condo quickly -- that will help with the baby and a new house, and great that the car is paid off. I have four years on my mortgage, maybe three as I'm trying to pay down principal and that will save a good $700/month. And every penny was worth it -- I'm pretty sure your spending was low on the wedding and yet from every photo it looked just magnificent!

Nora said...

We track our spending by spreadsheet - D loves doing it - and I let him :) He's the one who spends more than I do which a lot of people find surprising.

We are going to do a no-spend February and then probably another month later this year of no-spend. It always helps us to re-focus on what we are doing, spending on, etc.

Thanks for sharing all of this with us! Fingers crossed the condo sells quickly!

Marlys said...

Oh, I hope you can sell your condo quickly as I know it will be a big load off of your shoulders, in more ways than one! But you shouldn't blame yourself because at the time, it seemed the right thing to do! I hope you break even or even make a smidgen of profit!
I used to use Quicken to categorize our spending but it got messed up, and I just deleted the program and planned to start over but haven't done that yet. I did like seeing how our spending was broken down, so may have to get back on track someday.
Yes, things will change when you become parents, but all for the good!

missris said...

It still makes me feel a little ill to think about how much money we spent on our wedding (I'll email you if you're curious) but I'm really glad it's over and we never have to pay for another wedding again! We spent a lot of money on travel this year, but 2/3 of our international trips were at least partly paid for by Sergio's work so I felt like those were opportunities that were too good to pass up! This year we're concentrating on building a down payment fund since hopefully in the next 1-3 years we'll be in a position to buy a house. Fingers crossed!

Carolina John said...

As the father of daughters, my worst nightmare is that they will both want to get married in the same year before I finish paying off my house. Our wedding (19 years ago) only cost around $6000 from what I remember. We used a small town in SC and since that was before the internet was a thing, nobody from out of SC came but we still had about 200 people. Her dad paid for it all. However other members of my family have dropped $50,000 on their wedding, and that seems completely absurd. Actually, that one had the reception at the Governor's Mansion and there were state senators & judges in attendance, so 50k sounds about right and still completely insane.

I can't believe after 13 years you are hoping to break even selling that condo. The market must have really taken a bad hit for the value not to have appreciated by now. Surely at least the mortgage is paid down enough to render some cash out at closing?

katielookingforward said...

I'm proud of you for owning for 13 years, and more than likely in terms of credit score it helps you. My mom and I had a discussion about me buying a condo/townhouse. but I'm not sure if I'm quite ready. maybe this year. Maybe next. I need a new job so I know what neighborhoods would work best.

Stephany said...

One of my best friends is getting married next year and we have the kind of relationship where we can be 100% honest with each other, so I've asked her point-blank how much she's spending and it was a mind-boggling number! She is going all-out (mostly because that's what her mom wants!), but whoa. Weddings are expensive!

I love seeing these spending reports and I think it's AMAZING how frugal you and Phil are. $100 a week for two people for groceries is astounding to me. I try to keep my grocery budget under $75 and that's with eating out a few times a week! I need to figure out how to get it under control but it's hard.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

We really don't keep track of our spending at all, but this looks fun! I think travel and groceries would be our highest categories. We don't eat at restaurants when in our own city very often (only a special treat), as we are in Saskatoon every 3-4 weeks, and have to eat in restaurants there, and also eat at restaurants when on other trips. We spend very little on objects, and our mortgage and bills are quite a small percentage of our income, so that helps us to be able to invest and save a lot.

Amber said...

I tried using this year but it didn't really give an accurate picture of our spending because Eric has his own credit card that he puts some spending on and our truck payment comes out of a separate bank account. Plus with buying our house this year it looked like we spent and absurd amount of money on housing! I should really go into mint and try to clean up our transactions, if I'd been better about doing that every month it might have worked better in the first place!

You guys are so great with money though! That's amazing you spent SO little on eating out but you are really good and intentional about cooking healthy meals at home for you guys!

San said...

I am super-excited that you decided to do your spending report again this year (even though you said you might not do it after combining finances), but it's so interesting to me to see how other couples handle it!

I am so impressed that you spend less than $100 on groceries. I think we talked about it before, I guess you guys make less complicated/elaborate meals than we do (and it seems you eat "less" in general), but I am happy when I can keep our spending under $130/week.

I am working on our own spending report, so that will come out soon.)

I understand it 'bothers' you that the wedding was your biggest expense category last year, but hey, hopefully that will be a once-in-a-lifetime expense... :) (you can replace that category with "kid's stuff"this year).

San said...

P.S. I was going to ask: would you share how much you put away for retirement/investment (percentage-wise)?

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I track my expenses in my planner, but I'd like to try Mint again.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

My husband tracks ours somewhat but not to the breakdown extent. :) I can just guess that the majority of what we spend is on groceries, eating out, and cars/gas. We do put a ton into savings, retirement, and stepped up donations this year. One thing we do well is also live below our means but we also blow money on food and booze a lot ha. To think of what we could also save on does make me at least happy that if we ever do need to cut back there are places we can cut back!