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Eight Months of Spending

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At last, here is our monthly spending from June through January. I put it all on one snapshot.

Here are my comments about the report.

Income – Our income category represents net income. It also includes any money received from selling stuff or any money received as a gift. One thing to note is that December included an extra paycheck so it was a very nice month. January was nice as well due to increased income from our business.

There have been questions about our income and how things have changed since my husband started working outside of our home, I went to part-time and our business started growing again. I have a post about that coming this week since I have a few thoughts about that.

Automobile – This category includes everything related to car ownership – gas, insurance, repair, registration, etc. Our repair costs were up, and some were due to routine things needed for an older car. One interesting thing to note – we only spent $27 dollars total for gas in December and January. With our snowy winters, we don’t travel very far.

Cigarettes – Cigarette spending was up June – Oct. It dropped in November. Coincidentally, that’s when I reduced my hours to part-time and it gets cold to smoke outside (I don’t smoke indoors). I have been working on quitting…I almost was ready to do it mentally one day but then couldn’t do it due to stress. I no longer smoke full cigarettes though. Since I roll my own, I just put in less tobacco and make a “mini cigarette.” That probably has helped with the cost.

Clothing – I was a bit surprised to see the clothing numbers. I knew I was picking up socks, undies, etc. here and there and it all added up. January’s spending is actually for winter coats for my husband and I. I usually get a cheap $25 or $30 coat that either gets a hole or the zipper breaks within a month of purchase. We spotted some name brand coats on sale and decided to get them. We knew it was a good brand since my husband had one that lasted 8 years before it got too ragged. The price was right (25% off) so we went for it. This was a big step for me since I tend to fall on the “cheap” side of the fence. I’m trying to be more mindful of paying a little bit more for quality since you save money in the long run.

Entertainment – Our entertainment category includes DVD rentals, DVD/video games purchased as well as board games. We’ve purchased a few learning-oriented board games and in November we bought the Star Wars trilogy. That brings our DVD collection to nine movies.

Finance Charges – While doing a balance transfer to get our credit card debt at 0%, we had to pay $240. Yuk. We do not want to pay any more finance charges from our credit cards. We won’t have to if we pay it off by May 2009 (our goal date).

Food – This category includes dining out and groceries. I haven’t mentioned this, but we have had an intermittent house guest for the last part of 2008. A friend needed us, and we were there. It did hit our pocketbook a little in the grocery department. As for the June grocery bill, I don’t recall what happened there. It was pretty darn high. I have a hunch of what it might be, but I’d have to look into it. January does show quite the difference – much of it thanks to my husband and I giving up caffeine.

Grooming – I’d like to think our grooming costs are pretty low. I’m pretty low maintenance and my husband is too except for dandruff shampoo. It won’t show up until February, but I did treat myself to an exfoliant cream. Oh my gosh. My skin was so soft. So we may be spending a little bit more for that treat unless I can make my own.

Holiday – Holiday spending is for any decorations or holiday related items. Usually I purchase things after a holiday for the deals πŸ˜‰

Household – This category includes a lot of different things that involve the running of the household. It even includes things for outside maintenance. After having to pay attention more to our diets, we purchased more things for the kitchen like a scale and a slicer. We also decided to buy a “steam” cleaner for our carpets. Toilet paper, sandwich bags and sponges to wash our dishes with all go in this category. And repairs go into this category. We’ve had a few of those pop up recently. The spending here will actually increase once our credit card debt is paid off since duct tape can only go so far. There are quite a few things needing attention but they aren’t serious so we have been able to “band-aid” them for now.

Insurance – This is our life insurance. I have so much more peace of mind now that we have that.

Interest Expense – This is what we are paying in interest for our mortgage and student loans – a necessary evil at this point. *shudder*

Medical – Wow. Medical sure went up (this also includes dental). We do not have employer sponsored health insurance so we have an individual plan. It costs us $400/month and doesn’t cover everything. We’ve had some health issues, which lead to office visits and test and prescriptions. It all adds up quickly. This is a depressing category to review. I knew it was high, but I didn’t think it was that high. Hopefully everything we are doing now with modifying our diets will help bring that spending back down.

Pets – This category includes everything pet-related – vet visits, food, litter. Our pets are still fairly young and healthy. In a few years our pet spending will probably increase as they age.

Recreation – This category pretty much includes anything outdoor related like camping or fishing. December had some big spending. We found a great deal on snowshoes for our son. My husband and I already had pairs, but our son didn’t. Now we all can go out as a family. Unfortunately we haven’t yet since the days we all have off haven’t been very nice days. I’ll discuss that more later. We also purchased sleeping bags for everyone after finding a great deal on those. Our son uses his to sleep in every night which is great since he likes to kick off his blankets. I also like having them for emergency use (they are 30 degree bags) as extra blankets during a power outage. Since they are normally purchased for camping, I put them here.

School – This category is for anything school-related. I don’t anticipate much spending here for the rest of the year unless I find some great deals on school supplies (specifically for my son or donated to the school).

Toys – Any time we spend money on our son for toys it goes here. We have been using a reward system for our son for completing certain home therapy for his disability. The spending for that is included here as well, since he earn a bigger prize at the end.

Travel – We do not travel often – maybe once a year. The costs here include a pet sitter, food and lodging. It comes out to a little more than $100/day. It’s worth it, though, to see family.

Utilities – December looks like an awesome month, but that is misleading. We were ahead with paying our gas bill the month before it was due. In December, we didn’t pay the payment due until January until January. So our December numbers do not have the gas bill. January looks pretty big on the other hand, but it only has one gas payment. It was just an expensive month!

Thoughts: I really should have done this earlier since there are a few areas of spending that surprised me. I knew that we were spending more money in certain areas, but it never seemed like that much. I do plan on keeping up with this on a more regular basis. However, I plan on modifying it a little and will no longer track some minor details. I don’t think it’s necessary to track toilet paper, for instance. We are still using a price book to get the best deals so we’ll just put that expense under household. That will save time when going through receipts.

We’ll see what February brings. Our gas bill already has come down (thank goodness) and our grocery spending is still on track to be lower than our 2008 spending. February is a hard month, though. I’ve already bought a few things we didn’t need related to the weather. A post about that is coming up too.


11 Comments

  • Reply danielle |

    I think no matter what you are doing, you are doing it right, because your debt has reduced so much. However, sometimes I think that you think you are already done paying off the debt, and you are not. You are in the final stretch, but it’s still a ways to go. Have you done your taxes yet?

  • Reply Tricia |

    No, we are not done paying it off yet. But we are very near to the point where it could be paid off if we pulled from our savings. I guess that is the next big milestone. The plan right now is to not pull from savings, but it feels good that we could do it.

    As for the taxes, they have been done but now it’s a matter of going through them to make sure nothing was missed. So far there is a refund. Not as big of one as I hoped, but a refund that will more than likely go towards paying off debt.

  • Reply MrPlasectomy |

    Wow, nice job on having everything detailed out for such a long stretch of time. It definitely identifies areas that can be reduced or recognized as overspending.

  • Reply Margot |

    Buying a decent winter coat sounds like a good use of money. Just as an FYI, it seems like you can do a ton better than 25% off, especially in this economy. Every item of nice, name brand clothing that I’ve bought in the last year has been 40-90% off. Once I find something I like, I wait for it to go on a further sale even if it’s already marked down. If I live or work near the store, I stick my head in every couple of days to check on the inventory and the price. If the item is available online, I just check online every day until the price goes way down (and sometimes I call the toll free number to check in inventory quantities).

    Danielle also makes an interesting point. I know that for the purposes of this blog, you are defining “debt” as credit card debt. But, I hope you keep up your same habits as you work to pay off student loans and your mortgage.

  • Reply Tabitha |

    Yahoo Tricia! I have a question – I know you keep your receipts to categorize everything. Where exactly do you put them – do you have a special spot in your purse or your entry? I just seem to put my receipts in different spots and then I can’t find them. Any advice on this would be appreciated. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Ness |

    Hey, I highly recommend Allen carr’s Easy way to Quit Smoking books. A small investment in these two books will save you a lot of money!! I personally used them and they really worked for me, I thank god every day I don’t smoke anymore.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Hi Shoshana – a mortgage has a few parts to it. There’s the principal payment. In my reports, that is reflected in my Net Worth. Then there is the interest paid. That is reflected in the above report under Interest.

  • Reply snocon |

    Great job on tracking all of your spending for such a long time. I really want to do the same now. I don’t know if I want to know how much I excessively spend on food and stuff I don’t need. I think seeing all of my spending on a single data sheet like that would impact my habits a lot more than my current mentality on spending a couple bucks here and there when I don’t need to. Great blog!

  • Reply Toni |

    Top three fastest ways to cut your outgoings. Create your own energy and get off the grid. o slashing utilities and Grow and rear your own food, and change your eating habits and menu where necessary to accomodate what you are growing and preserving. Forage for food, fish for food. Massive savings. In Victorian times in UK, people could only eat what was readibly available from the recent harvets – we need to get back to basics and have what there is , instead of paying extra for imports, and out of season and out of area produce. For your household products and repairs. DIY, swap skills with other people who need things done, share labour, make your own. Reduce , reuse, recycle. Even when youthink you have shaved all your costs as low as they can go, look at them again, and you can still shave them further. It just requires a bit more lateral thinking. Top tip for anyone – get skype and get everyone you call to get skype and make your calls that way! Skype to skype via your internet is free.

So, what do you think ?