Do you have any idea how much money you spent on groceries last year? How about gas or clothing? That’s not something I used to keep track of, but since we have been meticulous with budgeting and tracking our spending while on this journey to dump $130K of student loans, we’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on all things finance. Maybe you noticed. 🙂
Since I made a 2014 annual spending report, I thought it would be fun to compare from one year to the next. Fellow number nerds will understand the fun in compiling the data from a year’s worth of spending. The rest of you can just take it for what it’s worth.
If you are familiar with our monthly reports, you’ll recognize these categories. I tried not to be too long-winded in my description of each category. On the other hand, if you’re dying for more details you can, of course, see all the details of what we earned, spent, and paid in debt on our monthly debt repayment progress reports. Or you can ask in the comments. After all, this is “Personal Finance Made Public!”
Before I share the numbers, I want to add the same disclaimer I did last year. I share these details for information and curiosity’s sake. I don’t share them to boast or, on the other hand, to have people feel sorry for us. In no way am I suggesting that these numbers are the right target numbers for anyone else. It’s not a competition to spend the most or the least in a certain category. Since we all have different priorities, goals, and resources, our budgets and our spending will look completely different. And that’s just fine!
Totals for 2015
The number immediately following the category is the spending from 2015. The number in parenthesis is the total from 2014. I’ll start with a pretty little graph from YNAB showing what we spent, then I’ll break each of those master categories down into what they cover and how much we spent in each sub-category.
Debt Payoff- $32,360 (2014– $19,073)
During 2015, we paid $32,360 toward our student loan debt! Wowee! Considering my husband’s annual salary was $39K until he got a new job, we are thrilled with this number. Like I mentioned last week, side income has been a major factor in our debt payoff. Averaged over 12 months, that is $2,696 per month put toward debt.
Everyday Expenses- $9,595 (2014– $9,655)
Gas– $4,841 (2014– $5,429)
Hooray for spending less than 2014! If our gas spending looks ridiculous, it’s because my husband commutes an hour and a half each way, plus we live in the boonies, so going to the grocery store, the library or church means 40+ minutes in the car. Paying a lot in gas is the trade-off for living in my in-laws’ unfinished basement for free.
Groceries– $3,214 (2014– $3,187)
Our goal is $300 per month, but we had a no-spend month in September, so it brought the average down a bit. Our average was $267 per month. There are lots of ways we save on groceries (without using coupons), including cooking from scratch, eating at home, stocking up, and growing a garden.
Household Goods– $700 (2014– $477)
Looking through the purchases, there isn’t one that really stands out, just a bunch of small purchases that add up. The most notable (highest price transactions) were a birth certificate for the baby and two toner cartridges for the printer. Other than that, it’s essentially toothpaste, toilet paper, and other fun stuff like that.
Clothing– $479 (2014– $395)
A portion of our clothing budget goes to dry cleaning. I don’t spend much on clothes for myself and the kids. I usually get great deals at the thrift store or use referral credit at ThredUp or Schoola. My husband’s clothes are much more expensive, as they are all dress clothes and purchased new (I put some of them under the gifts budget since I gave him clothes for Christmas and his birthday).
Fun– $287 (2014– $167)
This includes family activities, date nights, and eating out. Just like last year, the amount we spent on fun is no reflection on how much fun we had. We do lots of free family activities and also use Groupon and Living Social when we go out. We don’t typically go to movies or concerts and we don’t drink alcohol.
Kids Activities– $75 (2014– $0)
My daughter participated in cross country, which was the only organized activity that had a fee.
Giving– $7,088 (2014– $4,979)
Tithing– $6,782 (2014– $4,809)
We pay a 10% tithe on our income each month. If you’re curious why in the world we would give up so much money, I wrote a post explaining why we continue to pay tithing even though we are deeply in debt.
Other Giving– $305 (2014– $170)
Periodic Expenses– $10,820 (2014– $3,797)
Car Repairs– $1,981 (2014– $932)
It was an expensive car year. I’ll leave it at that!
New Vehicles– $3,943 (2014– $0)
Did I mention it was an expensive car year? We bought not one, but two vans this year. Here’s the story of our three vans for anyone who missed it.
Dental– $0 (2014– $927)
We didn’t pay anything in dental in 2015. I’m pretty sure 2016 will bring some bills though!
Gifts– $729 (2014– $816)
The gifts total always seems kind of skewed, since lots of it is work clothing that I get my husband for gifts. Some people think that’s lame, but he is excited about it since he never goes out to buy clothes for himself.
Life Insurance– $678 (2014– $667)
Mr. SixFiguresUnder just wrote all about what we pay in insurance.
Car Registration– $645 (2014– $243)
Includes registration and smog (emissions test) for our crazy vehicle situation.
Medical– $2,768 (2014– $212)
Most of this was related to having a cute baby girl in April of 2015.
Monthly Bills– $5,318 (2014– $3,376)
Health Insurance– $2,197 (2014– $1,366)
For the majority of the year, we were on an ACA exchange plan. When my husband switched jobs, we got insurance through his work’s plan. Though we received a subsidy for our ACA plan based on our previous year’s income, we will probably have to pay some of that back at tax time because our annual income was higher than we had estimated. Tax time will be interesting.
Car Insurance– $1,493 (2014– $1,075)
In 2014 we had two vehicles insured. In 2015, we had three (and even four at one point).
Cell Phones– $323 (2014– $588)
For the first part of the year, we had Republic Wireless‘s $10/month plan. Later, we switched to the Republic Refund plan where you get refunded for data that you don’t use. We started out on the $17.50/month per phone plan, but so far we get a refund every month, making it around $12-15 per month. It’s really nice to have cell data those random times when we need it. Last year’s total included the cost of our phones.
Internet– $960 (2014– $140)
The internet was the only utility we paid. Even though it’s expensive, it’s nice to have unlimited internet and not have to budget our bandwidth like we did before.
Dental Insurance– $0 (2014– $138)
We didn’t have dental insurance for most of the year. Now it is included in my husband’s benefit package.
Renter’s Insurance $171 (2014– $69)
The 2014 total is low because the first half of the year was pre-paid for. After that we started paying monthly.
Parking $497 (2014– $0)
One of the downsides of working downtown is paying for parking (this is only 3.5 months of parking).
Business– $3,189 (2014– $4,552)
I won’t go through the breakdown of this income. It’s a combination of my husband’s law practice expenses from before he went out on his own, my Etsy espenses, and my blog expenses.
I only started recording tax details when my husband started his job with the state, so this is just a small portion of the year’s taxes.
529s for the kids– $875
Part way through 2015, we started putting a small amount into a 529 education savings account for each of our four kids each month.
Whew! Well that pretty much covers everywhere our money went in 2015. That’s a lot of numbers. If it weren’t for YNAB, those numbers would have been a lot harder to put together. Thankfully we had the entire year’s-worth of data recorded there, otherwise a post like this would have been overwhelming to write.
How about you?
- Does anyone else out there keep annual totals like this?
- How did 2015 turn out for you?
Note: This post contains a few affiliate links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.
I don’t keep annual totals but, you’ve convinced me to start. I think it’s encouraging to see the difference from year to year.
The two-year debt repayment is SO impressive! Congrats.
Loved seeing the numbers all laid out.
Thanks Libby! It is fun to see it all together. 🙂
One of my goals this year is to pay closer attention to our annual totals. In the past, we paid attention to debt payoff, medical expenses, day care, and grocery expenses. I know last year we spend about $3000 in medical expenses, $4800 in food (not including meals out which we consider entertainment), and paid $23K to get rid of my last student loan and our van loan. We paid about 10K in day care before I left my full time job in mid-May. Everything is different now that I am at home and we are doing public school. I am only spending $30/month in gas for my van!
It is fun to look at the annual totals. I usually don’t look at them much throughout the year, but focus on the monthly totals instead. If I can keep the spending in check each month, then the year should turn out to be what I expect. Throwing a no-spend month in the year at some point, is a nice way to keep the averages (and total) down.
Nichole @Budget Loving Military Wife says
Wow! What an incredible year your family had with debt pay-off, very impressive! Congrats!
I’m a die hard numbers nerd so I find the annual totals fascinating. I have never added up our totals for the year, except for our debt pay off. It would be interesting and probably a bit eye opening. Perhaps I will shoot for 2017 because our 2016 numbers will be all out of whack and not portray an accurate representation with our baby’s arrival next month (YAY!) and an overseas (back to the states) move mid-year. We would have crazy numbers! LOL. I just found out last week how much a birth certificate costs! I couldn’t believe it!!! I was thinking $20 or $30. Boy, was I wrong!!! 😛
Best wishes to you and your family in 2016 🙂
We’ve only done annual totals for the past two years and it really has been fun to see. I have been out of the loop and didn’t realize you were expecting. Congrats!! It’s going to be an exciting 2017 for you!! 🙂 Best wishes to you too! 🙂
Can I officially call myself a numbers geek? This from the girl who had to sit the mathematics paper for entry into teacher training 3 times! I finally got a hang of it when a tutor told me – you can only do 4 things with numbers, add, subtract, multiply and divide. If in doubt try all 4 in turn and see if the answer makes sense.
I love spread sheets too now. Every Sunday after church we update the grocery spending sheet, the gas, electricity and water usage sheet, the savings sheet and the amount of car fuel used.
We also keep a household “management” sheet which shows what we paid for insurances etc.
That’s an awesome math tip! 🙂 I love that you’re a spreadsheet lover now! 🙂
[email protected] says
Ooh, I am a numbers geek too – my husband jokes about how much time I spend with my spreadsheets, but I like analyzing our spending, thinking about how we could save, etc. I love reading your analyses and updates – this encourages me to try and track for the year in all categories.
I have always had a hard time tracking. I try. We are using Everydollar now and I am just trying to enter in our expenses like groceries, etc. I think it is eye-opening how much those trips to the thrift store, Dollar Tree, etc. can add up for things that I don’t always need.
As for last year, the major expenses we had were our back yard (almost $1000 to put in a new French drain and have sump pumps on hand after our basement windows started to flood), and almost $3,000 of medical expenses. I am hoping that this year will be better, though now it looks like dental bills are on the horizon. . .
Aside from the expenses, I was also excited to see our utilities drop significantly and was able to lower some of our regular expenses like our Internet and home security bills.
Yes! It really is amazing how the little spending and trips to the store add up! That’s great that you are able to lower some of your regular expenses!
I love seeing it all laid out. I’m a numbers person so I love seeing the breakdown of other people’s budgets and spending. I am so so impressed by your debt pay off numbers, but also by your frugality in other areas. Your food budget and spending is amazing and really inspiriting. Keep up the good work!
Stephanie @ SixFiguresUnder says
Thanks Elise! I’m a numbers person too (maybe you noticed), so I love seeing it all laid out too. 🙂
Kathryn K. says
Great job on your debt payoff (and your meticulous tracking)! One of my goals for this year is to do a better job on tracking our spending.
2015 was an expensive year for us between our DIY gut bathroom remodel and my husband starting to farm on the side. We were able to cover all the remodeling and farm equipment expenses (including a tractor, combine, and grain truck) without any debt by smart purchases (let’s just say all of equipment is older than we are) and using savings.
Stephanie @ SixFiguresUnder says
Great plan Kathryn! Tracking spending has made a huge difference for us!