Wonderful Indonesia

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I feel that I have always been a pretty frugal spender. However, I do not skimp when it comes to certain things. Interesting though, is how my “actual” spending list stacks up to my perceived spending list. In this post from 2012, I thought that the heavy expenses would be: travel, gifts for other people, and running related items.

In all actuality, I was not too far off. Check out the pie chart** below:


Let’s break it down, shall we?

Rent— This includes rent and utilities. This is a category I didn’t really consider as something that I “splurge” on, as it is a necessity. However, this is clearly my biggest expense, at over 2x the cost of the next category.

Travel— I was right when I said I would spend the most on travel. In 2014, I did not skimp on the trips. I went to Charlotte to visit Lisa, central Oregon for an annual summer trip, Mt. Whitney, New York City, Europe and Phoenix. In addition there were several weekend trips to Tahoe, Sacramento and Marin for running excursions as well as many trips to Sonoma county to hang with Broski, and home to see my parents. Looking at the numbers, the dollar amount I spent on travel was a bit outrageous. However, I will bring a bag lunch every day if it means spending that money on traveling!

Dining Out — This category is pretty self explanatory, and includes dining at all restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Transportation — This includes mostly public transportation / commuting costs. However, a couple of times a year I rent a car to get to races or to holiday functions, so car rental and gas are also included in this category. Really, about half of it could also be added into the “travel” category.

All Other –There were a lot of categories, and I had to get rid of some of the smaller ones. However, some of the other categories that were higher on the list but didn’t make the cut were: taxes (2.4%), insurance (2.2%), gym (1.1%), credit card fees (0.89%), and entertainment (0.61%). Apparently my main “entertainment” is Running or Dining Out.  

Shopping — This category is pretty broad, but basically includes the following: gifts, toiletries & household items (non food), clothing & shoes, electronics and books. The bulk of this category went to the gift subtotal. This distant second runner up was toiletries/household items. Funny enough, this year I only spent $4.00 on books, as I am getting most of them from the library these days.

Running — This includes the cost of races and shopping for running related items. I found it interesting (and proving my theory) that it was high enough to warrant it’s own piece of the pie and to not get lumped into the “all other” category.  If transportation costs were also added in, this category would probably be closer to 9%.

Groceries — Although this is 6% of my spending pie, when it all boils down to it, I spend less than $40 per week on groceries. To note, I very rarely buy meat or alcohol, which are two of the more expensive things. However, I make up for this by buying lots of fancy nuts and cheeses. Of course my food cost is also supplemented with dining out, but even added together, total food costs equal about $80 per week, including booze, coffee and fancy nuts. This also includes food eaten while traveling. This cost could have been a lot higher, but my brother is a wine (and beer) maker and so I can’t remember the last time I bought a bottle of wine in the store.

Health — This mostly includes my premium, but also includes co-pays and contact lenses, which are minimal.

**Not included in the pie was any money set aside for retirement, savings or investments.

The Verdict? I was pretty much spot on regarding where I spend most of my money. I love budgeting how to spend, as well as looking back to see where it all went. I feel that being aware really makes a difference in your spending, just as logging your calories makes you think twice about reaching for that second piece of pie. In order to keep track, I use my bank’s “Portfolio” tool, which lets you upload/link all of your accounts so that you can look at them all at the same place. I have also heard good things about Mint, and have just started to try in out recently. So far it seems to have good budgeting tools.

What will I watch next year? I could spend more on groceries and less on eating out, but I really do not eat out that much unless friends are in town or I am traveling. I could save a lot of money by not traveling, but that is one of my rewards to myself and I am not really willing to give that up. However, the Europe trip I took was not really a “budget” trip, so I could have saved by staying in cheaper lodging and/or buying my plane ticket earlier (it was over $1000!). I could also save by buying less gifts or less expensive gifts for people, as well as not buying so much running related stuff.

All in all, I was pretty happy with my spending this year. If you check out Mr. Money Mustache, he writes a post every year about how much he spent the last year, and I am about on par with him. Of course, his is for two people, but on the other hand, he does not have to pay rent (especially rent in the Bay Area).How about you: Do you spend more, less or about the same amount as Mr. Money Mustache?

Do you keep track of your spending? Where do you spend the most? What costs do you feel that you need to minimize and/or cut in 2015?