I'm thinking of writing more in here, mainly to practice writing and help with my accountability. In my first post I wrote that I wanted to use this as a way to stop obsessing about money, but that hasn't happened so far.
I love seeing people's actual expenses, so I thought I'd share mine here:
Groceries $337.62 $331.52 I'm proud of my grocery shopping and cooking from scratch skills, but I still want to get this lower!
Home $197.05 $342.55 We have to get this down. We went a little crazy when we moved in '08 with a new couch, futon, and tv. I don't know why
so high in '07, I think I just wasn't paying attention.
Dining $148.21 $81.34 Wow, I can't believe the improvement here! I don't even remember trying so hard to lower it, but we did a good job!
Rent $677.27 $841.78 In 2007 our rent was $675/mo in a low cost town, in August '08 we moved to a $1200/mo apt in one of the most
expensive U.S. cities.
Car-Gas $62.94 $85.05 We don't drive much, so the year of ridiculous gas prices didn't affect us too badly.
Car-maint. $78.43 $318.56 2008 was a bad year for the car… new fuel lines, tires, brakes, etc.
Car-Ins. $59.08 $72.10 In 2007 it was $650 annually, as of Aug '08 it's $1250 annually.
Water $21.45 $15.44 As of Aug. '08, water is included in our rent.
Cell $67.87 $105.19 We upgraded our phones and our plan in '08, but we also went WAY over our minutes for two months without noticing.
Electric $58.76 $70.97 Hope we can get this lower!
Int./Cable $78.94 $100.01 More expensive where we live now.
Heat $0.00 $42.66 Aah, the south…
Clothing $0 $67.21 I didn't track clothing expenses in '07, I worked them into our individual "allowances". But I changed my mind in '08.
Giving $17.58 $22.58 Glad to see this went up, trying to give $25/mo for now.
Travel $433.22 $143.46 We went a little crazy in '07, but mostly because of far away family and weddings (and a cruise, hee hee!)
Health $19.47 $332.78 We had a terrible dental experience in '08. It was the first year I had an FSA, but it was grossly underestimated.
Sallie Mae $72.29 $85.52 Upping our payments here, but not by much!
AMS $117.73 $104.06 I paid off this loan in December '08, yay! Instead of snowballing it into the other, I'm using it for current tuition.
Entertain. $71.51 $82.82 This includes mostly alcohol and movies, museums, etc. I'd like to see it go back down to $70, but in our new area $80 is
more realistic if we want to be social.
Dog $118.54 $351.63 As previously mentioned, our dog had a lot of health problems in '08. We really hope this goes down!
Gifts $95.55 $62.82 I knew we spent too much in '07, and I think we provided the same quality of gifts for less in '08.
Education $160.92 $276.20 In '07 this was for my hubs' books and fees, as his tuition was free. Now he's done and I'm paying in full for everything.
Hub free $ $157.78 $353.08 "Free $" is short for allowance.
I can't briefly explain the '08 amount, but it's going down!
My free $ $196.83 $200.36 I'm surprised at how consistent this is. I would like to come down to $150/mo.
Personal $47.99 $52.00 Mostly drugstore and haircuts. I tried to cut spouse's hair for a little while, but I just got too freaked out!
Transpo $0.00 $56.00 Public transpo (bus) was free in our old town w/ a university ID. The '08 number is only an average from Aug-Dec and it
should go down thanks to employer subsidy.
ATM $0.00 $11.83 This is cash that I just can't account for. I hope this category disappears!
Moving $0 $296.16 This is misleading - we spent a total of $3553 in July/August for our moving expenses, which included security deposit,
realtor fee, last month's rent, truck, gas, and hotels.
Other $157.03 $217.18 This is huge and I hope it goes away. It's mainly a big, overdue IOU in '07, and our ginormous tax bill in '08.Ideally, it
should be things like parking tickets and bank fees.
Total $3,454 $5,122.86 Fortunately, most of this difference was paid for by savings we built up through '07 & early '08. However we still didn't
save as much as we ended up spending after our move.
So it looks like we could drastically improve expenses like our allowances, cell phone bill, home decor/maintenance, and the "other" category. (We fixed our withholding as soon as we got the tax bill). Categories that could always be improved but I'm not worried about are groceries, electricity, dining out, gas, travel, & entertainment. These are the main areas of life that I try so hard to be frugal in, and I know I can always do better, but I think I do a pretty good job. Expenses that I HOPE go down but we have no ]control over are car maintenance, health, and dog. Finally, expenses that have permanently gone up due to our move include rent, car insurance, and heat. Also education, since I chose to go back to school.
I just love seeing these concrete numbers. It took a lot of startup effort to begin tracking my expenses, but I can't imagine not doing it now. It's addictive for me!