2013 Financial Review of Expenses

It's always interesting to figure where your money goes. Even if you track receipts and sync up all your investments with Mint.com, its still a little blurry and murky to pin point the exact amount of money you take in and put out. Really our finances are one big game of offense and defense, with the goal being to gain in the end. That means if your offense is weak (you don't take in a lot of money), you have to be really good at defense by minimizing spending and getting the most of the money you do spend. If you have strong offense and make a lot of money, its really tempting to spend a lot and then you really aren't any better off than the household that has a weak offense.

In my opinion my DH and I don't have much offense, since we are state employees and of course the State of Florida has not been generous with wages - ever. We get paid in sunshine. So, we have a strong defense and minimize what we spend in most areas, but we get what we want in other areas. We are fortunate to have already paid our dues working in corporate America and made decent wages years ago, where we paid off all our debts - student loans, mortgage, vehicles and credit cards. I'm going to say that even though we are frugal, we are not scrooges. There are certain luxuries, pleasures and conveniences that we "want" and are willing to pay the price for. With that being said, even though there are some discretionary expenses in our budget we try to get them as inexpensive as possible. There are many things we do in our life that are absolutely free - like gather firewood from curbsides when a tree is chopped down, split it with our hydraulic splitter and enjoy backyard fires in the chiminea every weekend.


Our household expenses for 2013 were $32,177. Here is a breakdown:

  • Travel (7,037) - this was our largest categorical spending. In the past few years we've had to remodel our home, so we traveled less. This was 21% of our budget and I see this staying the same whether its for a big household project (next year is a new roof) I would like to have about 20% discretionary budget to either travel or make a big purchase.
  • Allowance (6,000) - we each get $250/month to do as we want that doesn't come out of household budget. DH buys cigarettes and goes racing. I buy electronics and victoria secret. This is also where beer kegs come out of budget. Allowance also includes dining out at our favorite pub for wings and beer on Fridays and Saturdays. This is one area we could try to cut back since most of my allowance just goes into my allowance account and is more than I need.
  • Maintenance (car/mc/home 2,876) - this is kind of large this year because we had our 15 yr old Ford Explorer painted at Maaco, and we also had brakes replaced on both cars, plus motorcycle maintenance is a rip off. Motorcycles are not frugal when you consider the maintenance and insurance costs.
  • Home Insurance (1,960) - a necessary evil, but luckily we're not in a flood zone and we're lucky State Farm still finds us worthy of insuring in Florida.
  • Life Insurance (1,860) - these whole life insurance policies are not really necessary now in our life, but we keep them because cash value is worth more than we've paid in premiums. Actually, we have pretty risky lifestyles with our daily commuting by bicycle and motorcycle, and if one of us die, it means a loss of future pension and social security income for the household. So maybe we do need these policies.
  • Electricity (1,702) - we spend way to much on electricity but with our pool pump, hot tub, chest freezer, 2 refrigerators, kegerator and electronics its to be expected. We try to unplug when we can, empty the hot tub in the summer and I'm trying to get us back to just one refrigerator if we can get rid of all our food.
  • Internet/Cable TV (1,539) - This is an expense we should work on lowering. DH will not give up live sports broadcasts, and I like good fast internet and wifi. But we should threaten Verizon FIOS and try to get them to lower our rates or something - maybe they want to sponsor me?
  • Cell phones (1,409) - this category was expensive because I upgraded to a new Samsung S4 and my plan increased to $56/month. I passed on my old Samsung Epic to DH and his plan through Ting is only $20/month. So next year we'll spend $500 less in this category.
  • Car Insurance (1,212) - our 10 yr old car and 15 yr old truck should be a lot less expensive to insure, but this is Tampa where over 40% of drivers are uninsured. The majority of our policy expense is uninsured motorist coverage which we have at 100/300. Next year we plan to lower this to 50/100 since we don't drive much. It should save us a few hundred dollars.
  • Groceries/HH Supplies (1,248) - We purchased $21,529 worth of product using cash and gift cards this year. This involved 355 trips to stores. I save every receipt and log in the spending and saving, which I have done for years. We saved 88%, which averaged out to $104 per month spent. This is significantly less than we have bought in years past because couponing is getting harder to do with stricter usage policies, increased competition for goods and smaller value coupons. I expect to continue to coupon to save, but plan to continue to budget $100 per month for groceries and HH supplies.
  • Motorcycle Insurance (1,088) - again we have maximum coverage since the probability of needing it are good since riding is risky and most drivers will hit and run if they can, its best to have your own insurance because many drivers do not, and more than likely an accident will be the fault of the other party. 
  • Property Tax (1,088) - we are protected by the save our homes legislation that prevents tax increases in homes that people have lived in for many years.
  • Shopping misc (1,064) - This includes gifts, electronics accessories, clothing, and other weird stuff that doesn't fit in any other category. There is probably some room to cut expenses here. 
  • Water/garbage (725) - provided by the city so we don't have a choice in vendors. We do have an irrigation line so all outdoor water usage is charged at a tenth of the city water cost. We use less than 3000/gal water per month which is the threshold for the surcharge.
  • Newspapers/coupons (441) - this is large because I bought Winn Dixie $5 off $30 coupons, and I also get 8 Sunday papers for coupons. I might cut the newspapers back to 4 per week since I use a lot of printables now.
  • Health Insurance (450) - includes visit co pays and rx. Just trying to stay healthy to keep this cost low.
  • Pet (435) - includes dog food, meds and vet visits. The 13 yr old dog has been healthy this year except she has gone deaf. We also have a vet surgery scheduled to remove a cyst on her eyelid that will cost a bunch in early 2014.
  • Gasoline (291) - this includes cash we have used to buy gas cards at Publix, and the occasional time we have purchased gas while traveling by car.

So that's it for 2013. We want to spend less next year than this year, a simple goal. If we could keep our expenses under 30K that would be good. Looking forward to a prosperous 2014 with hopes of increasing our networth so that retirement is a little bit closer to reality.

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and stress free life.

Happy New Year to You! 

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