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?