It might not look like much, but that 10 foot vinyl fence gate cost about a thousand dollars. It was one of the few remaining costs to prepare our forever home for retirement. It will last longer than we will, barring a hurricane. The fence was the big project this year. If you remember we put on a metal roof in 2015. So the only thing left to buy big is a new vehicle before we retire. Actually, our 2004 Camry would probably last the rest of our life, but we feel like we deserve to have a new vehicle to travel around the country. It will be our last vehicle and we expect it to last over 20 years.
Some of you may wonder why or how we bother to track our expenses. Actually, it is critical for anyone who is frugal and wishes to spend less than they earn. And if you are retired, you don't earn much from pensions and social security and your investments, so awareness is essential. As an Analyst by trade, I know you can't improve what you don't measure. If you can't even bother yourself to measure where you're at; you have little hope to improve. This philosophy applies to finances, health, exercise and diet.
If you monitor your expenses, there is immense peace and lack of anxiety about money if you have a good idea what goes in and out of your household moneywise. We use two different applications - both are free. Mint to monitor our spending and calculate our year end expenses. Personal Capital has some really nice retirement calculators and you can add in different income streams and expenses for certain amounts of time to really get a good idea of your readiness for retirement. Both can be accessed from your computer on their websites, or thru apps on your tablet or smartphone.
2016 was an expensive year, very expensive with the fence and shed purchase over $11,000. I'm not adding this to the budget because the projects were paid with our savings account. Even so we spent a lot on miscellaneous stuff. Way to much was spent on clothing. And our stockpiles are getting depleted so more was spent on household supplies and groceries. And of course we spend way too much on beer, it is over half of our grocery spending. We eat out two times a week on Friday and Saturday at our favorite little pub (The Firehouse) where we enjoy the best Buffalo chicken wings and a pitcher of Bud - this expense is from our allowance. We each pay for one night, its $21 including tip for 20 wings and a pitcher. Quite the bargain, its hard to go out anywhere else. Anyway, it turns out we spent more this year than last, about $45,000 for our household.
The biggest category that needs to come under control is the Cash and ATM category in miscellaneous spending. We like to use cash to stay off the grid, but it doesn't show up in any of my apps (like mint, or personal capital). We also spend quite a bit on haircuts for DH, but I'm afraid he is too vain to let me cut his hair every 3 weeks (@$19 a pop). He is going bald so maybe in a few years this expense will diminish. We did cut back on our auto insurance coverage level, going from 300/100 to 100/50 since we drive so little (opting to walk, ride MC or ride bicycles to work).
We are already very frugal and generally do not employ home services, instead electing to take care of our own lawn, pool, house cleaning, tree maintenance, obtaining and splitting of firewood, home maintenance jobs such as plumbing, electric, carpentry and painting. With the excellent videos available on Youtube, one can really do almost any task with some basic training. I figure if a person who doesn't even have a college degree or HS degree can do a job, I certainly should be able to figure it out. The one exception is when special equipment is needed that is too expensive to rent. We did hire a tree guy to remove a 40 ft tall tree that was too dangerous for us to do ourselves.
Anyway, our expenses every year have been trending higher, but just barely, I'm going to attribute this to higher prices of goods and services. But we must remain vigilant these last few years before we retire to keep our spending in check, I would actually like to keep it below 40K per year.
2013 we spent 32K
2014 we spent 34K
2015 we spent 43K
2016 we spent 45K
Our plan for this next year 2017 is to start adding cash payments into mint.com as a manual payment. I also want to be better at always assigning and splitting ATM transactions so they are all accounted for before we forget and move on. I'm going to try to not buy any clothes or shoes this year, because I have plenty to last for years. We have a decent deal on cable/internet at $124/month but that contract will end in March of 2018 and it will be time to shop. DH will not give up his live sports channels, so until live streaming is "easy" on the big TV, its an expense we'll have to keep.
Well, that's about it for 2016, another year on the books.