First Look at Our Family’s Expenses: September 2016

In order to get serious about retirement planning, having a clear picture of the range of our monthly living expenses is a must. We knew that the only way to determine where the money was going is to actually keep track of all our expenses. Genius, right? It is definitely a necessity if we want to reach financial independence. Even though it sounds simple it will require attention to detail and discipline on our part.

We, currently, use EXCEL to track our expenses. But we may switch to mint.com down the road if the need arises.

September is the first time we tracked our expenses. All we did was make sure we recorded everytime we spend money on something. Simple, so far.

 

So where did the money go in September?

I think we did OK by our standards. So here’s how it all broke down:

 

House & Home Improvement: This month we didn’t spend much on Home Improvement. But that number will increase in the upcoming months since we will be spending a bit to get our house ready to sell. Some of the items below are calculated for this month. E.g. we pay home insurance once a year.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
1,048.75 Home Insurance 106.00
Yard Maintenance 33.00
Sprinkler Maintenance 14.00
Trash & Recycling 14.00
Property Taxes 495.00
Mortgage Interest 137.57
Utilities – Heating 34.24
Utilities – Cooling 212.41
Home Improvement 2.53

 

Work/Job Related Items: This section includes union dues, parking and pension payments. They all will go away when we retire from work.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
498.80 Work related expenses 498.80

 

Vehicles [2]: Our car insurance is high due to having a part-time teenage driver included in our policy. Also, it looks like we kept our driving to minimum this month. I have been carpooling to work.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
246.85 Car Insurance 130.00
Registrations & Permits 20.00
Gasoline 96.85

 

Health Care & Life Insurance: I am thinking about dropping my life insurance. With what is accumulated and additional spousal benefits, I am not sure whether or not this life insurance is necessary.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
425.71 Life Insurance 74.86
Health Insurance [Family] 344.50
Allergy Medicine 6.35

 

Phone & Internet & Subscriptions: Since we don’t have cable, dish or direct TV we use Netflix regularly. What we pay for internet stinks though. We could get slower package. But household members wouldn’t be happy with it due to all that streaming and gaming.?

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
302.33 Netflix 9.99
Cell Phone 212.39
Internet 79.95

 

Household & Personal Items: I don’t think that we should be fooled by these numbers. They are awfully low. We will continue to do our best.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
148.22 Household Items 80.08
Personal Items 68.14

 

Groceries: I would like to keep this number below $600 every single month. We will see how we do in the future.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
533.88 Groceries 533.88

 

Dining Out & Entertainment: This section includes dinners, lunches, coffee shops (we love our coffee in this household), movies, games etc…

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
233.00 Dining Out & Entertainment 233.00

 

Gifts: I didn’t know which section to include this one so it had its own. Money well spend on a birthday gift card.

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
15.00 Gift Card 15.00

 

Alcohol: This has its own section because we love our wine and beer. I know I know. This should probably be one of the first things to cut to save more and use the money to invest. But everyone has their weaknesses. May be some day, not today though. ?

Monthly Sub Total Expense Entry Amount
87.71 Beer, Wine etc… 87.71

 

So total comes down to $3540.25. Not a bad number at all. This is, currently, well below our income. Rest will go to investments.

So do you budget? If you do how did you do last month?

 

4 thoughts on “First Look at Our Family’s Expenses: September 2016

  1. Good for you for starting a blog to track your progress. I was always a good saver by normal people standards but I’m trying to kick it into overdrive after reading MMM. I started tracking things about 4 months ago and I am very happy with the results, granted I made a lot of changes and some things may be added back over time. I split my expenses into fixed expenses and variable expenses. The fixed expenses are things I exercise very little control over (rent, kid’s activities/school expenses, household contents insurance etc.). The variable spending includes all the stuff you have listed (gas, car maintenance, alcohol, groceries etc.). I then figured out a goal for a savings rate. For me I think I can get to 50% with some pretty serious effort. So, then I figured out where my variable expenses can be every month to hit that goal. I found an app called “spending” in the app store (free) and I started tracking every single expense in the variable category. I am right on track, in fact I dropped the target to save and additional $1000 per year. By tracking my expenses I find it really helps to change my behaviour. Good luck!

    1. @Andrew – Tracking everything in detail makes the picture clearer for us. I am, currently, trying to figure out how much we will need when we are FI. We still have kids’ expenses included. Once they are by themselves our expenses will be even lower. MMM is a great resource for us early retirement chasers.
      Thanks for the encouragement. Also, good luck on your journey to financial independence.

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