Daily Life | 2017 Spending Report

Yes, it’s my favorite time of the year! The number nerd in me likes to talk about finances and it’s time to recap our financial year 2017. I’ve started these recap a couple of years ago when I saw some of my blog friends do the same. If you’re interested in these kinds of posts, my friend Lisa, Kyria, and Suki have shared their money pies as well. (And also, here’s what we spent in 2015 and 2016.)

A few notes about our spending. This pie chart was created from my data in YNAB* (You Need A Budget), the budgeting software I have been using for over 3 years (and which I previously reviewed here). I just love it.  It’s a now web-based (paid) version which goes hand in hand with a very handy app on your smartphone, which makes tracking ‘on-the-go’ super-easy. (I’ll share an updated review soon, so keep an eye out.)

I know that technically there is no right or wrong way to budget. If I have learned one thing over the years is that my budget and spending will look different than yours, and that is totally ok.

It’s still good to talk about these things. These percentages are based on our actually spent money, not income. Not included are contributions to retirement funds (around 15% of my paycheck right now) and personal savings. Let’s break it down.

Home (39%) This category includes all home-related expenses, including maintenance, utilities, taxes, and all household items. It’s a smaller chunk than last year, mainly because we had only a couple of smaller repairs/home projects and purchases than the previous year.

Groceries (11%) The percentage from last year didn’t change, but we actually brought down our grocery budget by 6%. We still average $650/month. I’ve lamented the fact before that our grocery bill is fairly high, but what can I say, we do like to cook real food. Our dinners are usually full dinners, often with many ingredients. Rarely do we do simple meals like sandwiches or very simple dishes (spaghetti with marinara sauce, ha!).  I like to cook with a wide variety of produce and yes, we do eat meat. Not every day, but multiple days per week. It adds up. I meal plan every week and we eat everything we buy (so there is not a whole lot of food waste going on either.)

Eating out (6%) I always bring my own lunch to work (or 99% of the time, unless we go out for group lunch), but we get take-out once a week and eat out 2-3 times per month. If it was my decision alone, we would probably eat out less, but J enjoys going out and since he basically doesn’t spend any money (or very little) on himself otherwise, I compromise and we eat out more often. (Hey, I spend money on running, he likes to spend it on restaurants.)

Personal Care (1%) This category includes all toiletry items, makeup, and haircuts.

Entertainment (3%) This category includes the Internet, cable, and our Netflix and MLB TV subscription. This is also a category I would probably shrink if it was only up to me, but J values the cable and MLB subscriptions.

Cellphone (3%) I am glad this category was smaller in 2017 (which was mainly due to the fact that we didn’t have to buy new phones last year).

Shopping (6%) This includes all expenses that didn’t really belong in any other category, e.g. impulse purchases, annual membership fees, running-related expenses (except for the gym membership), clothing, and other shopping.

Transportation (10%) This category includes car insurance, registration, AAA membership, gas, tolls, and repairs. My commute is short, so our day-to-day expenses didn’t change, but the total expense doubled last year percentage-wise because we had to get the hydraulic pump of our car replaced (which was not a cheap thing to have done. Don’t recommend it, if you can avoid it. Ugh!).

Fitness and Health (12%) This category includes our healthcare premiums, my gym membership, and our medical and dental co-payments. My premiums went up last year and we had a few more doctor’s visits and it’s reflected in the 30% increase in health and fitness spending for 2017.

Gifts (2%) This is a pretty straight-forward category and it includes birthday gifts, Christmas gifts and ‘just because’-gifts for family and friends.

Donations (1%) We still make regular donations every month, but the percentage hasn’t changed. I am still hoping to make this a larger percentage in the future.

Travel (5%) I was lucky to be able to travel to Germany (for my niece’s first communion), go on a roadtrip with my cousin and his girlfriend, and meet up with my Australian bff last for a weekend in Vegas last year.

Life Insurance (1%) I added this in as part of my spending report, as it is a voluntary expense.

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The bottom line: In 2017, we spent 11% less overall than the previous year, which I feel good about. I made bigger contributions to retirement and savings, too.

Our home expenses went down by almost 30%. Grocery spending and dining out spending went down too (dollarwise), although the percentages for both categories stayed the same.

We saw a big increase in health-related spending (I blame it on premiums and a few more doctor’s visits, including a dental procedure I needed to get done last year). Transportation/car-related expenses were up (because of a costly car repair), but general shopping was down by about 30%. We also spent a little bit more on travel, which I am not mad about.

What could we do differently? I’m still thinking about doing a bit more work on better categorizing our expenses to get an even better understanding on where our money goes. Overall, I think I am doing a good job in YNAB categorizing and splitting combined purchases that include items from different categories (e.g. food and personal care items when I shop at Target). I’d still like to try to decrease our food spending (groceries/dining out) a little and also hope we don’t have any major car or home expenses this year (although that is always hard to predict).

Do you look at your finances once a year (or more often)? Where do you spend the most, and where the least?

*The post contains a referral link. Download the fully functioning YNAB trial version for 34 days and if you like it, you can use this link to activate the software and we’ll both get a month free!

  1. LOL my husband would love this! He made us a chart this year too, but his was a line graph instead of a pie chart. Too funny! But yes, we definitely look at our finances and we spend the most on food and the least on charitable giving. We obviously need to eat but we could do it a little better and maybe have room to donate a little here and there. Something we’re working on.

    1. Love to hear how other couples manage their finances together. Can I ask how much you spend on groceries?

  2. I need to go over my finances from last year. I love a good pie chart :)

    1. I love a good pie chart, too :)

  3. This post really intrigues me because I just did such calculation for myself. I’m on the verge of retirement and need to know how much money I normally spend so I can determine how much money I’ll need to maintain that lifestyle purely from savings. One thing I learned is that most of us spend more than we believe. A lot of cash gets spent on discretionary items that don’t register in our heads. Your spending seems very sensible; most people waste money on dumb things.

    1. Oh, I can see how being on the verge on retirement really makes it necesary to look at one’s spending habit. I actually enjoy the process of tracking spending and it really tells you where all this ‘discretionary spending’ goes.

  4. I don’t track mine, but I am pretty sure we spend about the same % on our house as you do. Basically one of my two paychecks a month covers the mortgage/property and school taxes. I think one thing Paul and I do differently from others is that we do not eat out a lot unless we are on vacation, but then I would file that under vacation! I am impressed at how well you track all this.

    1. You don’t eat out at all? That’s impressive. As I mentioned, I would probably eat out less if it was up to me, but my husband loves to go out (and if it’s only to go out and “do something” with me…), so I compromise.

      1. We eat out once a month or less. Except for vacation or like a special day trip or something you know? It’s just so expensive till you both get drink and a meal… we used to eat out more because it’s something to do but now we just like staying home.

  5. I love reading these posts as it’s so interesting to see how different people’s spending is! You already know what my spending looks like. I can see why your food spending is more since you cook more meals per week. We get by with less cooking since the leftovers from meals can last several days and I usually make salads for lunches which are pretty inexpensive. I am sure this will change when we have a child as we’ll likely need to cook more meals each week!

    I don’t do a good job of splitting out spending at places like Target because it just seems like more of a pain than it’s worth! So some of my Target piece of the pie should go into the groceries category.

    It’s great that your overall spending decreased in 2017, though! I hope that is the case for us in 2018 since we won’t have a wedding to pay for!!

    1. I loved that you decided to share your spending from last year, even though you’re now sharing expenses with Phil. (Phil sounds a lot like J…. J is not a spender at all (except for food, he likes good food), so most of the other expenses are incurred by me (although I’d like to think that most of it is necessary spending for home. I am not a big shopper.)

  6. I have loved reading your recap and Lisa’s recap, so I’m going to try to do a better job at tracking my expenses in 2018. Plus, I should be tracking my expenses anyway and seeing where I could tighten up my budget! I definitely spend the most in food – being a single lady means I don’t like to cook very often (I only cook once a week, which yields 3-4 days of leftovers), so I eat out a few times a week. I’d like to change that, but ugh, I also really love eating out!

    1. I can see how cooking for yourself can get a little bit boring and that therefore you eat out a lot more … but yeah, you should try and track it, so you can really see where your money goes. It’s eye-opening (and once you’re in the habit and if you can use an app to track-on-the-go, it really is not a lot of work).

  7. Thanks for sharing! That’s great that you can look back at previous years now and see where things have changed. It’s great that you cook most of your food, but you’re right! It can get so expensive!


    1. I love looking back at our expenses. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.

  8. I’m trying really hard to stick to a budget this year and so far, so good. I do enjoy looking at my spending at the end of a year and after reviewing the way I spent money last year, there’s some definite room for improvement. Also, I love posts like these people I feel like money is such a taboo thing that people don’t talk about, but I love seeing how different people prioritize their spending.

  9. Trying to figure out how we could do something like this…we discuss budgets, bank accounts, money, etc, frequently, but we have two different credit cards – I do the food shopping, he pays the bills from our checking, so easy to calculate those, but not sure how to go about deciding his spending…how do you do it?

    Also, planning to add up all my grocery receipts this year for the first time ever. I have a guesstimate on what we spend based off my weekly averages, but don’t know the true total!

    1. We track everything in YNAB (we have both our accounts connected, so everything we pay via card shows up automatically) and cash I put in through the app manually and categorize as I go. I also split purchases right away when they happen (e.g. if I buy food and household items at Target). Using the app makes it really easy, so by the end of the year, it spits out a detailed report about all our spending in each category.

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