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My 2013 expenses, under a microscope

December 26th, 2013 at 09:08 am

I spent a total of $37,807. That's just $2,000 more than 2012, which I consider very good.

Let's take a look at my ranked expenditures up close and personal:

2013 Honda Civic: $19,976. This represents 34.5% of my total spending for the year. (I'm not including it in my total spend referenced above because it's such a large, one-time expense and it would really skew things.)

New roof: $5,800, or 15% of total spending for the year.

Health insurance: $5597, or 14.8% of total spending. This is actually 12% lower than what I spent last year, but only because I skipped paying premiums for 2 months (and took a chance) when I switched from my COBRA, which was expiring, to the state plan of last resort.

Property taxes: $5,368, or 14.1% of total annual spending. I have seen for a while now that, excluding big ticket special expenses like certain home improvements, health insurance and property taxes vie for the #1 and 2 expenses each year.

Food: $3,277, or 8.6% of total spending, This is 13% more than 2012. While I don't eat a lot of meat, I do tend to indulge in certain pricey food items and organic foods.

Sewers: $3,033. This includes both the payoff of the loan as well as usage fees. In 2014, with the loan out of the way, this figure should be way, way down on my ranked list of expenses.

Healthcare out of pocket: $1,739, or 4.5%. This was 32% higher than what I spent last year, all due to spending hundreds on diagnostic tests and doc visits to determine the cause of 2 unexplained (and unrelated) symptoms: a cough and headaches. Never did figure out the cause of either one. Doc thought cough was due to post nasal drip but tried 3 different sprays and they did nothing. As for the headaches, they started in June and finally resolved by end of November, on their own. I chalk it up now to stress.

If i combine my out-of-pocket expenses with premiums, that is a whopping $7,336, or 19.4% of my total annual spending. I sure hope that with my new Obamacare plan, my expenses here moderate in 2014.

Household: $1224. Don't like using this category much as it camouflages what exactly I spent on. It's sort of a catch-all for certain items that don't neatly fit into some other category.

Home maintenance: $1,200. .

Heating oil: $986. This was the first of 2 pleasant surprises. I actually spent 19% less than I did last year. Since I took no special additional conservation measures, I can only attribute the lower spending to lower fuel prices.

Gas: $840. This was down 7% from last year, again due to lower energy costs, not any change in driving.

New computer/monitor: $834

Car insurance: $795

Clothing: $733. This is something I kick myself for. I tend to spend on clothing before starting a new job. Really not needed, and I can't justify this level of spending when my income has been so unstable.

New hot water heater: $723

Cats: $667. A 31% increase over last year! This was mostly food and litter, though it also included one trip to vet when Luther jumped out of a second story window. But I've also gotten into the bad habit of regularly buying expensive, $3 a can cat food as a "treat" for the cats a little too often. Half the time they don't like the new foods anyway, so I have decided to stick with the lower priced cat foods, which are still far and away better for cats' health than dry food, according to vets.

IRS: $665. These are quarterly IRS tax payments for my freelance writing.

Electric: $625. Rates will jump 20% in 2014.

Phone/Internet: $625. I'm hoping that with my switch to AT&T UVerse I'll save money and not need to buy additional cell phone minutes anymore since I'll now have 4 hours of free talk time each month.

Homeowners insurance: $584

New furnace humidifier: $520 Worth the expense. No more static electricity when I pet the cats and it's fairly comfortable indoors at 64 degrees, the highest I set it at.

Car repairs: $496, mostly for my 14-year-old Honda. It should be less next year with the new car.

Car tax/registration/license: $366

Gifts: $296

Dining out: $164, all fast food here and there

Borough taxes: $156

Water: $153

Gardening: $138

Dump sticker: $85

Entertainment: $69 (very frugal here)

Haircuts: $51. Managed to spend less this year than last by using Great Clips coupons, even though each year I got 4 haircuts.

Bird suet: $5

Next up: Tomorrow, I'll analyze my income!

7 Responses to “My 2013 expenses, under a microscope”

  1. ThriftoRama Says:

    How on earth was entertainment $69??? What is your secret?

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    Most of that $69 was movie tickets. I simply do things for entertainment that don't require spending money. I don't require going to a concert, a play, a nightclub, etc for fun. If I do go to some kind of public event, like a craft show or the annual pet show, (where vendors have booths you can browse for free pet food samples) I make sure there's no admission charge. I watch free TV on Hulu and rent the occasional video at the library. I buy lots of books for free using amazon gift cards I earn from participating in online forums. (I usually earn $30 a month this way.) Good conversation, biking, kayaking and long walks are always free! And, finally, as a single person who (at times) is working full-time and trying to take care of an old house, I don't have a whole lot of time to spend on entertainment anyway. There are plenty of weekends I don't do anything that could be construed as "entertainment." Thanks for giving me a chance to explain that.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    What cat food do you buy exactly?

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    Friskies usually. The expensive "treats" are often Nature's Variety.

  5. Dido Says:

    From an accounting perspective, you wouldn't include the car in your expenses because it really is a capital asset that belongs on your balance sheet (Assets/What you Have = Liabilities/What you OwE + Equity/Net Worth/What you actually OwN). The other items belong on your "Profit and Loss" (Income and Expenses) statement. So there's a conceptual as well as practical reason for not including the car.

    As ever, I am amazed at your ability to keep track of things, and to keep costs low.I used to track but the personal ups and downs of the past few years mean that I just do a year end summary based on the info that Mint.com aggregates.



  6. PatientSaver Says:

    Hi, Dido. I understand the car is NOW a (depreciated) asset, but I did have to buy it this year as well. I have to reflect that outlay of money somehow, right?

    I don't think I could track my spending as closely as I do if I didn't also kind of enjoy it as well. I consider it a challenge to try to improve in certain areas and I like creating various spreadsheets that help me stay on track. I am especially excited about my "Countdown to Retirement" Savings Plan for the next 6 years. I doubt I'll hit my targets there because of my shaky job situation, but I'll do the best I can.

  7. Dido Says:

    P.S.....If you were a business, you would reflect the depreciation as your annual cost. Although in the lay world, we think of depreciation as the deterioration of our assets, from a business perspective, depreciation is spreading the cost of the asset over the time you will be using it. So if you spend 20,000 on a car that will last you 10 years, you would in ACCRUAL accounting (the model that corporate businesses use) account for 2000 of expenses per year. (Then you would also have a cash flow statement that details your sources and uses of cash, and the outflow of money goes here in the section on "investments" (which include cash and long-term assets), as opposed to the "operating expenses" (day to day business).

    As a cash basis tax payer, actually (and using a business model), it is still acceptable and typical to spread the cost of durable goods over time using what is called a "modified cash basis" income statement.

    So, yes, you account for the outflow, but in virtually every accounting model, you separate out money spent for durable goods from monies spent for day to day operations.

    From you personal perspective, you have merely transferred the amount from one asset category (cash) to another (car)--and both cash and car are balance sheet, not income statement, accounts.

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