Daily Life | 2018 Spending Report

I apologize, I skipped the spending report for the last quarter of 2018, but since we’re already well into the first quarter of 2019, I decided to just do my annual spending report and call it a day. I hope that’s ok with you guys.

Some of my friends, who have done spending reports in previous years, have already published their money pies (at least Lisa did). (And also, here’s what we spent in 20152016, and 2017.)

A few notes again 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.  

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 (41% — 39% in 2017) This category includes all home-related expenses, including maintenance, utilities, taxes, and all household items. We had some extra repairs and project expenses last year when we got our house ready for sale, so that’s why the number went slightly up.

Groceries (14% — 11% in 2017) The percentage from last year went up, and so did our average spending. Woomp.

Car Maintenance (8% — listed under Transportation last year). I broke this out into its own category this year, because we got new tires at the beginning of 2018 and then had our car serviced in March which triggered another (minor, but costly) repair.

Shopping & Misc. (8% — 6% in 2017) This went up from last year. We’re not big shoppers in general, but we did get a new laptop at the end of the year which caused the spike, I think.

Eating out (7% — 6% in 2017) We get take-out once a week and then eat out 2-3 times a month. This seems like a lot, even though it feels like I am also cooking all the time.

Fitness and Health (7% — 12% in 2017) This category includes our healthcare premiums, and our medical and dental co-payments. Nothing out of the ordinary last year.

Travel (3% — 5%in 2017) I didn’t travel as much as I had planned or wanted to last year. I did get to go to Washington, D.C. in the spring, I went to a women’s retreat and spent a weekend in San Francisco to run the half marathon.

Cable & Internet (3%) This category includes the Internet and cable. (Yes, we still pay for cable.)

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

Subscriptions (2%) I didn’t have that as a separate category last year, but thought I’d break it out. This included my gym membership, Identity Guard, Netflix, MLBTV, Flickr, Webhosting for my blog, YNAB, and Amazon Prime.

Cellphone (2% — 3% in 2017 ) I am glad this category was smaller in 2017.

Transportation (1% — 10% in 2017) This category is just gas, parking, and toll fees. Everything else is covered under car maintenance.

Clothing (1%) I think that was part of shopping & misc. in 2017. We do not spend a whole lot of money on clothing. J even less than I.

Personal Care (<1% — 1% in 2017) This category includes all toiletry items, makeup, and haircuts.

Donations (<1% — 1% in 2017) 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.

 *  *  *

The bottom line: In 2018, we spent 9% less money (as in, actual dollars)  than the previous year (and remember, this pie chart only reflects solely on spending in percentage of ALL spending, not percentage of income).

I switched around some of the categories (again) and I am contemplating how I can update the format of these finance posts to be a little bit more transparent (without putting dollar amounts on everything), because I myself get a little confused sometimes when I looked at the pie chart and know that a percentage of total spending doesn’t necessarily give me a feel of where my “problem spending” is. It just tells me how I split the lump sum of money that we actually spent.

What could we do differently? I’m still playing around with the categories (and I should keep better track of what kind of spending I put in which category).

I am curious to see how renting this year compares to the expenses of home ownership last year.

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

If you have any suggestions on making these kinds of posts more meaningful, I am all ears!

*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. I love reading finance posts like these! And I enjoy putting ours together each year. I watch things very often in Mint. Although I will say I look closer now that I’m back at work because when I was on maternity leave I rarely sat down at my computer and I didn’t use the ap much, even though it’s user friendly.

    I wasn’t too surprised about our expense categories for 2018. Our spending also went down. I didn’t calculate by how much but not having to pay for a wedding was nice! ;) Although now we have the new expense of daycare. We only paid for about 5 months of daycare last year but this year it will be a hefty expense item! I think that and housing will always be our highest expense categories. Other than that, there weren’t any huge changes besides our charitable contributions dropping as I stopped an automatic contribution during mat leave and never re-started it. As far as the categories go, I only call out ones on our recap that are significant enough to bear mentioning. Some are just too small and too insignificant to discuss. Overall I feel like we are doing a good job with managing our money. We save a lot and contribute a lot to retirement accounts. But we save a lot because we both work in a volatile industry so the changes of one or both of us losing our job at some point is pretty high. And if we are wrong about that then at least we’ll have a nice nest egg saved up!

  2. Great job!!! :-) I still have a ton of catching up to do – I started getting my 2018 numbers in order and then just fell off the boat completely. We have some big goals for 2019 when it comes to $. It’s already mid Feb!

  3. I love reading these recaps and I also like the way they’re laid out. It’s easy to read and understand. But I get wanting a better way to track your “problem areas.” Hopefully you can find something that works best for you!

  4. It is so fascinating to see ones spending in a pie chart and I like the layout because it is so easy to read. I always find these posts interesting :)

  5. I just started using YNAB in November and so far I’ve been delighted with it. I can’t wait to have a full year of data to review. And I always love these posts – it’s very, very cool to me to see how people spend their money and how the prioritize their spending.

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