Well 2015 was an expensive year, compared to the previous year 2014 where we lived on $34K, and the prior year 2013 where we lived on $32K. I was kind of hoping this year would be the same as the last two years but alas it is time to buckle down and get back to budgeting. My motto is that you can't improve what you don't measure, so even though you don't like the numbers you see they are what they are.
- $8548 The largest expense (20% of spending) we had this year was travel - we went on a couple cruises this year, 5 day and 7 day, a trip to Phoenix, AZ, a trip to Minnesota and our annual timeshare week at Naples, FL. This is probably about normal and we expect to continue to have about five vacations each year, so a budget cut will have to come from another area.
- $6000 The next largest (14%) portion is our allowance. We each get $250/month to spend or save as we like on stuff that is not included in the house. Lunches with coworkers, outings without each other, clothing that is not necessary, electronics, toys, experiences that we don't do together. The house buys if we go out together for dinner, or do a trip or activity together. Sometimes we splurge and each chip in our allowance because the "house" can't afford it right then. This expense is the same every year and we each have sizable individual savings that we occasionally withdraw from to purchase from when we can't justify it coming from the house.
- $3256 The third most expensive (7%) portion is clothing, electronics and misc. This is the culprit for the unknown spending. I did buy a GoPro this year, and some cool Columbia clothing for our BWCA camping trip, but this category needs serious tracking to keep it smaller than it is. This is not a frugal person category.
- $2546 Our cars, motorcycles and home (not counting insurance) maintenance costs were a little high (6%) considering all we fixed on the cars was an alternator this year. I think this is the patio paver project we did in the spring was the bulk of this spending. We also got a new metal roof installed on our home but didn't include that expense ($20K) in our living expenses since it was paid off from savings. Next year we're installing a polyvinyl fence around our yard and expect to pay up to $10K for that. Then our forever home will be solid, well, forever.
- $2207 Home Insurance - we have lived in our home in FL for twenty one years and have always had State Farm insurance. Amazingly, they have never canceled us, but then again we live in a inexpensive home 25 feet above sea level, and we've never filed a claim. So they are glad to take a couple thousand from us. We could probably get cheaper insurance but I don't want to deal with inspections and if we do ever file a claim, the fighting and denials that come with less than reputable insurance company.
- $2117 Food, Household supplies and beverages (not including the keg) - we still coupon, but have started to withdraw $100-200 cash a month for groceries and stuff you get at Publix. We still have large stockpiles and years worth of paper products and shampoo, plus 3 refrigerators and freezers full. Our goal is to move through enough so we don't need to chest freezer. This does not include our monthly keg of beer we purchase with our allowance ($1260).
- $2114 Entertainment, news, gifts - includes concerts, sporting events, season passes to Busch Gardens, newspaper subscriptions (I get 6 sunday papers, plus 1 weekly paper), and gifts mostly for grandchildren, since we don't exchange gifts with each other.
- $1859 Life Insurance - we both have whole life policies that have a sizable cash payout if we don't want to wait til we die to collect. We don't really need the insurance but its a cheap safe investment.
- $1564 Health Insurance, rx, copay, dentist - we are fortunate to only $15/mo each for health insurance through our employer, so the bulk of this was dental, a new crown I got in December.
- $1553 Electricity - this actually is more than 2014, but we have noticed a decrease in monthly costs since our new metal roof was installed. We also installed a new programmable thermostat this year and actually program it to ease off AC during workdays.
- $1550 Cell phones - We have two Galaxy S phones, one unlimited SERO plan on Sprint that I use, and DH uses Ringplus.net on his phone since he doesn't really need or use data. This includes purchase of a new Galaxy S6 phone I got 6 months ago, and the repair cost of $146 from Samsung to fix a cracked glass. I now have an Otterbox case so that won't happen again.
- $1442 Car Insurance - we have a risky state to drive in, so we are fully covered and have high uninsured motorist coverage despite having a 11 year old Camry and 18 year old Explorer. We could cut this back but DH doesn't want to.
- $1413 Dining Out - this doesn't include our weekly dinner out for wings and beer because that is out of allowance. So, I'm pretty sure this category can be cut back.
- $1321 Internet/Cable TV - We could cut expense here and probably will. I have super duper fast internet uploads and downloads and could downsize on that. We don't have a DVR or any extra packages, just HD cable but DH watches live sports every night so there is no way we can get rid of cable. I never watch TV, but I do use the internet so we each have our needs met.
- $1241 Gasoline - for all vehicles. We drove 14000 miles between 2 cars and 2 motorcycles, plus the 1300 miles I rode my bike to work (130 days of the year).
- $1121 Property tax - our home is not really appreciating despite the market conditions, and the property tax is capped due to a "save our homes" law in FL many years ago.
- $1069 Motorcycle Insurance - I know, we spend a lot on insurance. But DH collided with a car 5 years ago and lived to tell about it, we collected our maximum uninsured motorist amount due to injuries received, so now we keep this insurance high.
- $743 Water, Garbage, Recycle pickup - twice a week pickup, not much we can do to decrease this except watch our water usage. We are already frugal in this area so I'm okay with this one.
- $664 Personal care - haircuts. I am growing my hair out so I've only been to my stylist a few times this year, but DH gets a haircut every 3 weeks. I think this should come out of allowance, but alas I do not always get my way. I've tried negotiating this every year, but its not worth drama and resentment.
- $328 Pet - our old lab mix dog is over 15 years old this year. She has vertigo, is totally deaf, has cataracts, and has a huge fatty lump on her body and now her bad hips are very weak and she struggles to stand for more than a minute, but she walks fine. Despite this, she didn't have any medical needs this year other than routine meds. She probably won't make it through the year 2016.
In summary, our expenses are about $12,000 more than last year. Most of our set costs have remained similar, but the misc category and travel can be monitored more closely. We can continue to travel, but we'll be more deal seekers. And we don't need more clothes this year. I would like to have a no clothing spend challenge with DH this year.
Do you have any ideas for us to cut back expenses?