Although I preach conscious spending over budgeting, tracking my expenses is a good way for me to scrutinize my expenses after the fact. I don’t claim to be a perfect conscious spender, so this is the time to make sure I’m not letting discretionary spending get out of hand. In the spirit of personal finance and transparency, I present my expenses for the first quarter (January through March) of 2013. After all, what would a personal finance blog be without some financial figures?
Gifts & Charity: 786
I know some people like to do these expense summaries each month, so just divide my numbers by 3 to get the estimated monthly spending. Tracking my spending every quarter instead of every month helped ease my fixation on money. Although I’ve eased off my money obsession, these summaries will continue to come out quarterly unless it makes more sense to do them monthly. Now for the details…
Housing – $2113
This amount accounts for half of three months worth of mortgage + escrow payments. The “wife” pays for the other half. Additionally, escrow payments are designed to have excess amounts to cover future tax and home insurance payments. We’ve received escrow reimbursements every year, so I expect some of this amount to eventually come back to our pockets.
Utilities/Internet/Phone – $364
Similarly, we go halfsies on the electricity, gas, water, alarm system, and internet. Right now, we each have our own cellphone plan. I share a family plan with my parents, and the monthly charges averages to about $23 for me. The plan doesn’t include a data plan because we’re
stuck in the dark ages late adopters. With the temperatures staying cool here in Texas, the A/C hasn’t been turned on much, and that kept the electric bill relatively low. In a few months, the electric bill will jump up by 50-75% as outside temperatures rise.
Food – $2024
Man, oh, man. This quarter, we spent $1195 on groceries, $637 dining out, and $192 on alcohol alone. At least this fed two mouths instead of just mine. Other times, we fed over 25+ mouths when we had a graduation party for the “wife”. Two trips (one to Austin for SXSW and the other to Colorado for a snowboarding trip) encouraged us to dine out often as well. The alcohol was consumed during the graduation party and the Austin trip. We’re not alcoholics…promise. Regardless, we need to trim this down a bit. We started taking weekly meal planning more seriously, so that should help with the grocery bill.
Transportation – $477
Nothing much to say here other than my commute to and from work costs about $150 per month even while averaging 32 mpg. I have three options to lower this expense: 1) move closer to work, 2) find employment closer to home, or 3) telecommute some or all of the time. Currently, I am pursuing option #2.
Travel – $2430
The snowboarding trip makes up 85% of this quarter’s travel expenses. It sure is an expensive hobby, but oh so fun! With flights, lodging, rental car, and lift tickets for two, expenses add up quickly. This is most likely the one big trip for the year, so I don’t expect travel expenses to be this high for the remainder of the year. The remaining $367 is from buying miles and points for airline and hotel loyalty programs…part of my travel hacking hobby to subsidize all my travel aspirations. Hopefully, I’ll get to redeem them for an epic trip.
Gifts & Charity – $786
The bulk of these gifts were snowboarding gear for the “wife”. Clothes that are breathable, waterproof, and insulating all at the same time tend to be expensive. Since we plan on partaking in this hobby in the future, we are better off paying a little more for quality this time around. The charity portion includes the $100 registration fee for an upcoming bike ride to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research.
Other – $1095
All other expenses such as entertainment, gym membership, medical, sporting goods, haircuts, and business expenses got lumped into this category for simplicity.
- Entertainment consisted of Netflix, paintball, and the movie theater (once).
- With all my training on the bike, I haven’t had the chance to really make use of the gym pool. I cancelled the gym membership at least until I finish the MS 150 bike ride in April. There is a free gym at work to help me with my weightlifting goals, but I need a pool for lap swimming. Once it starts to get hot and humid here in Houston, the pool will be a nice treat.
- I haven’t had the confidence to cut my own hair, and I’m not sure if the buzz cut suits me (can you even DIY other hairstyles?). For now, my $12 haircuts once a month will do.
- Business expenses include hosting for this website and adding a privacy filter on the domain registration.
Total – $9289
I definitely think this quarter’s expenses were higher than normal. Given this total, the annualized expenses would be just over $37k. The total without mortgage payments comes to $7917 this quarter; just over $31k annualized. I should probably be alarmed at these totals since I’m targeting expenses to be under 30k, but other metrics like net worth growth and savings rate tell me I am in a healthy position. Regardless, I’ll work on getting these numbers down this quarter.
One thing to note is the mix of combined and separate spending for me and the “wife”. We’ve kept our finances quasi-separate. We go halfsies on simple expenses like the mortgage and utilities. When it comes to discretionary purchases, we mostly pay separately. Don’t ask me when we will combine our financial houses. For now, this seems to work just fine.
How did you guys do this quarter/month with your expenses? Do you prefer quarterly or monthly expense reports?