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The story of my 2010 (and a few confessions), as told by the numbers...

December 24th, 2010 at 09:29 am

I've tallied up my 2010 income and expenses, down to the penny.

I spent a total of $34,712 in 2010. I consider that a big accomplishment (necessitated by unemployment), since my annual spending has been:

2009: $40,500
2008: $44,100
2007: $43,000
2006: $44,100
2005: $44,900
2004: $43,000

Of my 31 expense categories, I saw price increases in 6 areas, including 2 of this year's top 7 expenses (clothing and fuel oil). Ten expenses stayed about the same, while 4, including one expense in my top 7 expenses (my 2 cats), fell.

Here's the raw data and ranked expenses (highest to lowest), along with pertinent side notes.

(Keep in mind I was unemployed except for part-time Census work April - early August, and full-time work mid-Sept. through Dec. 31, 2010, and a small amount of freelance writing.)

Mortgage/property taxes: $15,626 / 45% of total spending
This figure includes an extra $2,000 in prepayments. This one expense represents 45% of total spending, by far the single biggest expense I have.

Food: $2,642 / 8% of total spending
First, I want to correct something I said in reply to someone's comment on my expenses in another post. My cat food is NOT included in my food bill; it's kept in a separate category for cat expenses. So this comes out to an average of $220 a month, which is higher than I'd like. This is an area I still need to work on. I spent about the same amount last year.

Health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket: $2,435 / 7% of my total spending
Interestingly, this is about the same amount as what I spent in 2009, but the difference is that in 2009 I worked the 1st 9 months of the year and was out of work the last 3 months, while this year, I was out of work (for the most part) the 1st 9 months of the year and only worked full-time the last 3 months. I managed this by paying for health care but not using it! I expect to see a big increase in my healthcare costs for 2011 becus my COBRA will increase by 57%.

Clothing: $1,678 / 5% of total spending
OK, guilty as charged. This represents a whopping 900% increase over my 2009 clothing spending ($170). What happened? When I got my temporary job in September, they didn't have a business casual dress code, plus I have gained a good 15 pounds since my layoff. I really needed an entire new wardrobe to look presentable. So yes, i got slacks, blouses, sweaters, undergarments, boots, shoes, coats, the whole 9 yards. I do hereby pledge not to spend .01 on clothing of any sort while I remain out of work. Absolutely no need to.

Household: $1,664 / 5% of total spending
This is really the only expense category I have that sort of ends up being a dumping ground for expenses that don't neatly fit into other categories. I try to limit using this category because the effect is that it "hides" spending. For the most part, it's stuff for the house that does not include maintenance. Like, the $200 air purifier I bought would end up in this category.

Cats: $1,405 / 4% of total spending
As you can see, routine costs for two cats is pretty expensive. This includes 3 things primarily: 1. cat food: Fancy Feast. They go thru 5 cans a day which, at .50 a can from Wal-Mart, totals $2.50 daily, or $75 a month. I supplement with some dry food, which is cheaper. 2. Cat litter: I get a 40-lb. box at Costco for $6.99, and this alone is a good reason to keep my $40 annual membership there, I think. 3. Vet bills. Veterinary care around here is RIDICULOUS. A recent ear infection that Waldo had ended up costing me over $400.

Fuel oil & cleaning: $1,399 / 4% of total spending
The annual furnace cleaning costs about $100 and since I skipped it last year, I figured I really should do it this year, since it supposedly keeps things running "efficiently." This expense was 34% higher than last year,mainly due to higher heating oil prices and the fact that I'm keeping the house noticeably warmer this season (67 when I'm home, 64 at night and when I'm gone) just to keep my sanity.

Those are my top 7 expenses for this year.

My remaining expenses are as follows. I think you'll find most of them quite spartan:

Gas: $825 / 2% of total spending
This is 16% higher than last year, but that's because I had a commute during the 4th quarter.

Electric: $778 / 2% of total spending
Despite my having switched electrical suppliers in January, this bill was about the same as last year. I just switched suppliers again last week. Let's see if, this time, the lower price doesn't creep up.

Sewers (loan and usage): $738 / 2% of total spending
There's not much getting around this big bill. The loan portion of it was a mandatory loan that homeowners in different parts of my town had to take out 15 years ago to pay for a sewer treatment plant. I have 5 more years left on payments at 2% interest.

Homeowners insurance: $726 / 2% of total spending
This bill, very irritatingly, rises every year by about 9% despite the fact I've never filed a claim. So i raised my deductible a 2nd time, from $2,500 to $5,000.

Home maintenance: $717 / 2% of total spending
ACJ#$$%!! This represents a 76% over what I spent last year. I looked up my monthly expense statements to see how I incurred this and saw it was because I had to have a plumber over here twice to fix a leaking well water pump and clogged kitchen sink.

Major purchases over $500: $700 / 2% of total spending
I like to keep a separate category for what I consider "major" purchases, and I arbitrarily decided that anything over $500 I would consider "major." This was for the purchase of a new computer, badly needed, in August.

Phone/Internet: $651 / 2% of total spending
About the same as I paid last year.

Car insurance $434 / 1% of total spending
Here's another one, same insurer, MetLife, that keeps raising my rates despite a lack of any claims by me. I know it's a good price, but it makes me crazy they keep raising it. This is 13% higher than what I paid last year.

Gardening: $319

IRS: $250
I don't include various taxes that are deducted from my paycheck since I figure my budget using net income,not gross, but this was additional federal taxes I paid on account of my freelance writing, which amounted to about $1,700 in extra income.

Cable TV: $239
I am prepared once again to cancel this entirely. It was $25 a month for a long time, then when I went to cancel they said they'd make it $14/month for a year, but after just 3 months, they raised rates again and it's up to $18.

Dining out: $230
I love eating out but it adds up so quickly I try to avoid it when I can't afford it, like now.

Gifts: $228
This was mostly Xmas gifts.

Water: $172

Town taxes: $165
I hate these extra taxes becus it's really an extra layer of government we don't need. We don't get anything extra for this.

Car: $164
This was the best budget surprise of the year. My spending here, essentially oil and filter changes, represents a 88% decrease in spending from last year! It just seems that every year I spend about $1000 due to one thing or another needing replacement. This year, I got lucky.

Jewelery: $133
What business do I have buying myself jewelry when I'm out of work? None. This was 4 rings I bought when I was working f/t as a treat for myself. Sort of like a release valve, I needed to splurge, what can I say.

Haircuts: $110

Car tax/registration/license: $90

Dump sticker: $80

Subscriptions: $36
I let all my various subscriptions lapse when I wasn't working, but when I got the full-time job, I renewed my beloved weekly paper subscription, $36 for the year.

Entertainment: $33
Some people spend thousands in this category, but I can find ways to have fun without spending oodles. This was mostly Netflix and $2 movies at the town hall theater.

Birds: $23
This was for birdseed and suet.

Vacations: $22
I haven't had a real vacation of at least a week for about 4 years now. This figure represents what it cost me to go down to see my dad in NJ for an overnight visit.

And there you have it...how to spend nearly $35,000 without really trying!

6 Responses to “The story of my 2010 (and a few confessions), as told by the numbers...”

  1. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Very impressive tracking! You have inspired me to up my accounting of expenses.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    i am impressed too!!

  3. Tightwad Kitty Says:

    An interesting way of looking at your budget, I am very impressed too!!

  4. Ima saver Says:

    I missed your last blog. I am so sorry to hear about your job.

  5. PNW Mom Says:

    I am in absolute awe at your tracking! You are an inspiration!

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    I like your "major purchases" category. I will take that idea! I have "misc." but I have so much small stuff in there, that it's hard to sort out. Thanks for the idea. Wink

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