Have you ever stepped back at the end of the year to look at your spending totals for the year? Of course, this is only really practical and possible if you’ve been tracking your spending throughout the year.
We started tracking (and minimizing) our spending back when we decided to pay off over $100K of student loan debt. That was the same time we started using YNAB (You Need a Budget) for our budgeting.
With YNAB’s report features, we pulled together our annual analytics and made a report of our annual spending. It’s been three years since I posted a report like this.
Now that we’ve been debt-free (besides the mortgage) for a couple of years, I thought it would be fun to do another annual spending report.
Even though I break everything down and share all of our details each month in our monthly budget updates, it is still eye-opening to see those totals of each of our spending categories.
Before I share the numbers, I want to add the same disclaimer I have used in the past. I share these details for information and because I’ve found that many people are curious. 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 2018
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.
Of course without knowing what is categorized within each of these master categories, the graph itself doesn’t tell you very much. Let me break it down for you and show you graphs of the subcategories in each of these master categories.
Monthly Bills- $38,647
Our largest spending master category is our monthly bills. These are expenses that are planned and nearly the same every month.
Morgage (Principal, Interest, Homeowners Insurance, PMI)- $31,550
This includes our regular monthly mortgage payment. A few month’s into the year we refinanced from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, which means we had two different payments during the year, and no payment at all in the month we refinanced. 2018’s monthly average of $2,629 is much less than our 2019 monthly payment of $3,200.
It really is crazy how much we spend on electricity, even though we are very careful. Everything in our house is electric so there’s no gas or propane. We only use our central air a few days a month in the summer. We avoid using our dryer for 8 months out of the year thanks to our clothesline. Our monthly average in 2018 was $262. This includes electricity for the 1-bedroom rental unit on our property.
Car Insurance- $1,990
We both drive older, paid-for vehicles. We have great auto insurance through USAA, which averages out to $165 per month.
We pay $60 per month for internet.
This averages to $51 per month for water.
We pay about $33 per month for curbside trash, recycle, and yard waste pick-up.
Cell Phone- $188
This is just for my cell phone, as Mike pays for his through his business. We both use Republic Wireless. We love how much money it saves us! $188 over a year averages out to just $16 per month.
Home Phone- $53
We have an internet-based home phone through Ooma rather than a traditional landline. It’s about $4.50 per month.
Everyday Expenses- $15,147
We aim for $400, which is just about what this averages out to ($403/month). Eating out is very rare for us, but we usually cover it in this category, though sometimes we put it in “Fun” depending on the situation and budget. If you’re curious how we keep food spending for a family of 7 so reasonable, I have a free email course with all the how-to details.
Gas has been a big chunk of our spending since we moved to California 7 years ago. Not only is gas more expensive than in many other states, but my husband commutes. We would love for him to work closer, but right now the commute is worth it. Thankfully he can work from home once or twice a week.
Household Misc– $2,615
Averaged out over the year, is about $218 per month. This category includes anything we use at home that isn’t food, everything from regular toiletries and diapers to a new printer and Instant Pot.
We never pay full price for clothes. Even when I buy dress clothes for my husband (he wears a tie six days a week) I’m careful to stock up when I find a great deal. I bought two new Jos A Bank suits on eBay this year. As for kids clothes, I either get them at the thrift store or on clearance. If you saw this recent IG post, you know that kid clothes spending for 2019 should be low!
We find lots of fun things to do for free, especially outdoors, and attend lots of activities put on by our church. Sometimes we use this money to grab pizza. The “Fun” category averages out to $52 per month.
Kids Activities– $664
In 2018, this included sports and other activities (and gear/shoes/costumes, etc). I also included school supplies and other school fees/activities in this category.
We have 4 outdoor cats patroling our 5+ acres and 14 chickens.
I am homeschooling my 5th grader this year (the other kids are in public school) and although California allows us $2,700 per school year to spend for curriculum and activities, there were some curriculum items and activity registrations that weren’t covered.
Savings Goals- $14,025
IRA for Stephanie- $10,100
One of our savings goals for 2018 was to max out my IRA for both 2017 (finished before April) and 2018 (finished in December). Mike has income withheld for the state employee pension and isn’t currently contributing to his IRAs.
Extra on Mortgage- $2,602
We started our new BIG goal at the end of 2018 because we were already excited and didn’t have any reason to wait for a new year before jumping in.
Kids’ 529s- $1,425
We have 529s set up for each of our 5 children and have automatically funded with $25 for each account each month. It’s definitely not much, but it’s something. We started one for our littlest part way through 2018.
Sinking Funds- $11,206
The amount shown here is money SPENT from our sinking funds, not how much we put in during the year. The money that we put in to sinking funds and have not spend is STILL in our sinking funds.
Home Projects- $4,093
Half of this spending was for a new garage door. We also replaced some ceiling fans, fixed sprinklers, got garage shelving, bought a chainsaw, replaced some windows and sliding glass doors, and a few other things. These costs are separate from the business expense we had to update the rental unit we’re offering through Airbnb.
Car Repairs- $1,956
We drive older cars, so they require some maintenance. Besides oil changes and new brakes, we had a tune-up and a new water pump.
This category shocked me. I was sure there was no way we spent this much on trips in 2018! It was true through. We took three road trips: to Washington state via Lavabeds Nat’l Monument (spring break), to Las Vegas for a family reunion (summer), and to Arizona via Grand Canyon National Park (Thanksgiving). Each trip was to see family, but we visited other fun places en route. The costs include fuel, food, hotels/Airbnbs, and activities. I guess with all that thrown in, the amount doesn’t seem that crazy, but it was sure surprising.
This includes much more than just gifts for the family. It includes Christmas decorations, events we hosted, Christmas charitable giving, cards, stamps, and anything else Christmas related.
Life Insurance- $756
This covers the premium for life insurance for both of us.
This is what we spent on birthday gifts for our family and others, as well as what we spent hosting birthday parties for our kids.
We started paying our kids a weekly allowance totalling $0.50 per year of their age. I’ll be sharing how and why in a few weeks.
Car Registration & Smog- $301
In 2018 we had two car registrations and one car that needed smog testing.
This includes copays and prescriptions, but not health insurance premiums, which were deducted from Mike’s paycheck. We are very blessed to have all been very healthy.
We pay a full 10% tithe on the money that we earn. We pay it at the first of the month based on what we earned the previous month.
Fast Offering- $720
In addition to our tithe, we make other donations that help with food and basic necessities for people in our area.
Other various giving- $238
We had a few other donations in 2018. Because we use this category for income tax reporting, this only includes donations to qualified charities, not personal giving.
With our new BIG goal, we plan to cut back our spending in 2018. We’ll be sharing a new, updated budget soon!
Among other changes, we’re also moving from YNAB 4, which we’ve used since around 2013 to the (not so) new YNAB. I’ll be sharing all about why and how we’re making that change next week!
How about you?
- What categories surprised you about OUR spending?
- Do you track your spending each month or annually?
- What categories surprised you about YOUR spending?