7: Real Life | Spending Summary 2019 – Q3

I had hoped to post this in October, but that didn’t happen, so I am squeezing in our spending summary for Q3. Here are our spending reports for Q1 and Q2.

One thing I learned this quarter is that your FSA (Flexible Spending Account) is your friend. The jury is still out if – or how much – the FSA account is actually saving us on taxes (I’ll let you know next spring when I file my tax return), but it helped me realize that I was charged a copayment at the doctor’s office that, according to my health insurance benefits, I didn’t owe.

When the automatic reimbursement from my FSA didn’t come through, I investigated why. I called our insurance just to find out that we didn’t owe the copayment, and then I called the doctor’s office to get the money reimbursed. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been waiting on the FSA reimbursement.

I am sure I’d have gotten the reimbursement eventually, but it could have been months before the billing office reconciled their records. (I know this, because we did get one reimbursement this year that was from doctor’s visits back in 2017 and 2018, before we had an FSA).

So,let’s dive into our spending for Q3. I pulled this handy pie-chart out of YNAB* (well, actually the pie-chart was done in Excel, but the report came out of YNAB.) Our overall spending was actually up over the last three months compared to Q2 of this year.

I have more subcategories that I track separately in my budgeting software, but I consolidated them a bit for the purpose of easier visualization.

As a reminder: these are percentages based on money spent, not based on my (take-home) income.

Home (36% was 44% in Q2) – The spending for our (rental) home now includes rent, utilities, household items, and rental insurance. We actually spent a little less in actual dollars on this category over the last few months, which is reflected in the percentage.

Groceries (16% was 15% in Q2) and Dining Out (11% was 8% in Q2) – Although the percentages have only slightly increased, we did spend significantly more on groceries and eating out in Q3 of this year, eek. This needs some work.

Travel (15% was 8% in Q2) – We paid for the tickets to Germany. ‘nough said. Don’t regret this spending at all.

Shopping and Miscellaneous (4% was 9% in Q2) – We cut our discretionary spending in Q3 by almost 50%.

Health & Fitness (4% was 4% in Q2) – This category includes my gym membership, and our medical and dental co-payments. This didn’t change much in Q3.

Cable/Internet (4% was 4% in Q2) – Slightly higher spending (because we ordered some movies), same percentage.

Personal Care (3% was 2% in Q2) – This category includes all toiletry items, makeup, J’s beard trims, and haircuts. We both got haircuts this quarter (and I lamented about the fact that as a long-haired lady it’s ridiculous what they charge for trimming the ends these days).

Cellphone (2% was 1% in Q2) – Expenses were almost the same, percentage went slightly up because of a plan change.

Transportation (2% was 2% in Q2) – Gas and parking fees. Even though I’ve been using the bus and bike more to get to work, our spending on gas hasn’t changed much (which could be due to fluctuating gas prices, and gas here is expensive in general).

Clothing (1% was 2% in Q2) – we’re not big spenders when it comes to clothes and we cut expenses by 50% this quarter. We just replaced what needed replacing.

Subscriptions (1% was 1% Q2) – This includes Netflix and Identity Guard Fraud protection.

Car Maintenance (1% was <1% in Q2) – Went up, because our AAA subscription was due in September.

Gifts (<1% was 1% in Q2) – Birthdays, mainly, but not too much going on between July and September.

How did you spend your money in Q3 of this year?

I am doing NaBloPoMo this month. 30 blog posts in 30 days. Come join me. #nablopomo2019

* This is not a sponsored post. I have not been compensated by YNAB for mentioning their product. I just share it for transparency’s sake. However, the post does contain an affiliate link. If you feel like you need a budget software in your life, download the fully functioning trial version and give it a shot! If you like it, you can use this link to activate the software and we’ll both get a month free!


  1. Hi San! I discovered your blog through the Tuesday Topics link-up. Congrats on tracking your spending! We have been doing that for many years and it really helped to increase our savings rate. I track in the old-fashioned way: manually entering the expenses on a spreadsheet – but I love doing it. Currently, we spend most on travel, health insurance and food.

    1. Hi Catrina, so nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. Happy to hear you also have a successful budgeting system in place. It makes such a difference!

  2. What software do you use? I have my checkbook register in Excel and that works fine for me. I really want something that I can enter my expenses and it tracks that monthly into categories so I can see if I’m on budget or not. I have a budget in Excel but if I have 3 expenses in one category, I have to manually add them up and type a new number in the cell. I’d (ideally) like to make this entire process easier because we HAVE to get our finances on track and pay down debt. It’s CRUCIAL.

    1. I’ve been using YNAB (You Need A Budget) for the last 5 years and I highly recommend it. It’s a zero-based budgeting system and it works great for us. It’s a paid subscription, but they have a 34-day trial. You can also use my referal link if you decide that you wanna sign up.

  3. Looks like you and your family are doing it right! I am still trying to get my spending where it needs to be so that I can start enjoying my hard work a little bit more. I may have to look into your YNAB link.

    One thing I don’t have is a FSA. I only need it for my health insurance, really, but just didn’t have enough extra in my paycheck to put money in and get reimbursed later. I tried it years ago with childcare, but ultimately found it frustrating. I know things have changed a LOT in the twenty or so years since I used it before, but still….just can’t bring myself to do it again. Maybe someday!

    1. I was skeptical to use an FSA for years. The FSA through my work ‘reimburses’, which means you have a monthly deduction AND still have to pay up front, which only works if you have the extra cash to do that. I’ll assess if it was really worth it when taxes come around.

  4. You can also review your EOB (explanation of benefits) that you get from your insurance company. My insurance emails me as soon as it’s available and I compare what they’re saying I should have paid to what I actually paid. I’m an accountant so I personally don’t trust others to reconcile correctly (it’s an occupational hazard…haha).

    1. True. But my EOB says that I owe a $30 co-pay for office visits. This was a recent change in their policy (apparently), where you don’t pay a copay if the doctor’s office is part of a hospital setting (which my PCP is). Complicated, but I am glad I investigated. I don’t trust others to reconcile correctly either LOL

  5. I love your spending reports. Even though I tried to get back into tracking ours I am just not accurate enough. But I would love to see those pie charts. Maybe one of those days I give it another try.

    1. It’s really a habit you have to get into. I know many people find it hard. If you don’t spend beyond your means, then maybe it’s not that imperative to track everything! (I do love my pie charts though :))

  6. I have an FSA and an HSA. Since I have contacts/glasses, the FSA is definitely worth it for me since those expenses aren’t eligible for your HSA, nor is dental and I always tend to owe something at the dentist even though I just have the standard cleanings. It’s way better to use pre-tax dollar than post-tax. The FSA is only a bad thing if you don’t use up your dollars since it’s a use it or lose it system!

    There wasn’t much notable during the 3rd quarter for us. The 4th quarter is going to be very expensive between buying a house and all the expenses associated with us as well as selling a house. We also booked a vacation for February and paid 1/2 the housing expense for that. Luckily we were able to use miles for our flights so at least those were free! I usually do an annual spending report in January but I don’t have a lot of Phil’s accounts in mint so it’s not really a full picture. Plus the housing stuff would overwhelm everything between our downpayment + applying the proceeds of our sale towards our mortgage (we are trying to pay down our mortgage as quickly as possible). But maybe I will still do it and just say that it’s not apples to apples since some expenses are on his card instead of mine (like groceries – I used to buy our groceries but now he does so it looks like our spending went down year over year but it’s just missing from the 2019 spending summary since I don’t have his credit card in mint).

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