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2017 Spending Summary and Analysis
Old 12-29-2017, 02:21 PM   #1
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2017 Spending Summary and Analysis

My guess is that many of us are adding up our spending for 2017 right now and want to tell someone about it. How was your spending compared with last year? Are you happy with the amount you spent? This is a thread for saying as much as you WANT to say and feel comfortable sharing. If you do not feel comfortable even reading this type of thread, please stop now! There are lots of other threads to read.

The purpose of this thread is.... fun.

We have a wide range of income and spending on the board, so I'd suggest you don't compare yourself to others on the forum; no matter how much or how little you spent, there are others just like you. It's more productive to compare your spending to that of your 2016 self, or to your goals. Do you want to report it as all inclusive, or in categories? Either way, here's your thread so have at it.

These are my totals for every category except estimated income tax payments. I am 69 years old, and live alone in a 1500 sf house in an inner/urban suburb of New Orleans.

CategoryTotal for 2017Comments
Groceries$2,323.72Includes toiletries, detergent, etc.
Restaurants$3,396.02lunch every day plus some dinners
Gasoline$438.40Everything is close by.
Car$1,704.42insurance, maintenance, registration
House$7470.62insurance (homeowners', wind-and-hail, and flood), prop. tax, mowing, maint.+upgrades
Utilities$2,848.34internet, nat. gas, electricity, water, trash, sewage, cell
Fitness$504.00gym fees
Clothes$496.42casual "retiree wear", underwear, shoes
Miscellaneous$2,762.29Gifts, iPad, laptop, vacuum, etc
Video Games, apps$27.51may eliminate this category next year
Medical$14,975.32Lots of dental work including two implants, insurance, Medicare, prescriptions, etc
Total$36,947.36 plus income tax
(BTW, here's the forum explanation of how to set up a table like this one for those who might want to).

COMPARISON WITH 2016: This year I had to pay for a couple of dental implants and other dental work, but at least I did not have to buy a new HVAC like I had to buy in 2016. Overall, including medical but not income tax for both years, I spent about $2,000 less this year than I spent in 2016.

AM I HAPPY WITH HOW IT ALL WORKED OUT? Yes, this year I was really lucky because I didn't have a lot of unexpected big expenses, other than dental work. I am happy with what I spent, because I thought it would be more than it was. The excess that I set aside and didn't spend will be enough to pay for that new SUV I'm planning to buy, when the time is right.

AM I SOMEHOW TO BE REGARDED AS ADMIRABLE OR VIRTUOUS FOR SPENDING THIS MUCH OR THIS LITTLE? I don't think that I spent a lot more than, or a lot less than, the rest of our members. And if I did, I don't really give a hoot because that is not where I get my feelings of self worth (and I imagine the same is true for you, too).

OTHER COMMENTS:
1) I may have to merge my Video Games category in with the rest of my miscellaneous expenses sometime in the next few years. It is still my favorite hobby, but I'm happy with the games and consoles that I already have. Perhaps it's not really enough to merit a separate category.

2) Edited on 1/1 to provide the final numbers.

3) Medical: In past years, I did not report medical because I have federal retiree medical insurance, and then Medicare, and I know others have staggering insurance costs. So I felt bad for them and didn't want to tell them how little I was spending. However, with my crummy teeth and other aging issues, my medical costs are going up every single year. By now, they are high enough that I decided to start reporting them.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:39 PM   #2
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W2R --
That is good data. Do you track it monthly in Excel ? I have rough round estimates of spending.....but that is impressive data.

Is it Possible to derive percent of total spending for each category ??
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:45 PM   #3
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For two in St. Louis

Groceries $8400
Restaurants $500
Gasoline $600
Car $700
House $ 3000
Utilities $2400
Fitness 0
Clothes $200
Miscellaneous 0
Video Games, apps 0
Medical $3000 to the ACA
Income taxes $1800
Total $20600

Next year the ACA will be about $1500 but yesterday I found a roof leak. So we will have to wait and see how this turns out.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveDriver View Post
W2R --
That is good data. Do you track it monthly in Excel ? I have rough round estimates of spending.....but that is impressive data.

Is it Possible to derive percent of total spending for each category ??
Yes, actually I track it daily in Excel but the only reason I do that, is that it is fun for me and gives me a sense of control over my financial situation. Most people don't track daily.

Please feel free to compute percent of total spending for each of your categories! I thought of reporting that instead of dollars but decided on $$.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W2R View Post
These are my totals for every category except estimated income tax payments.
Taxes are always the largest single component of our annual expenses. Do you not consider taxes as part of your spending?
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by 523HRR View Post
Taxes are always the largest component for our annual expenses. Do you not consider taxes as part of your spending?
Income taxes are DEFINITELY part of everyone's spending, of course! If you do not budget for income taxes, you will be in a world of hurt. All my taxes were included except income tax.

My 2016 federal income tax was 7.61% of my AGI, if that helps. My 2016 estimated income tax was higher, naturally, but even they were not my highest budget category.

I am sure my 2017 estimated income taxes have been higher than my actual 2017 income taxes, too. However I do not yet know what my actual 2017 income taxes were, because I haven't done my taxes yet. If you find out before the IRS and I do, please let me know...

Do you have any spending summary or analysis of your own that you wish to post about on this thread, anything at all? Please feel free to post YOUR OWN income taxes since that apparently floats your boat.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:08 PM   #7
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Here's ours, highest spend in FIRE so far, way too much on Travel, Food, Restaurants and Booze! but if not now, when??

CategoryYTD
Allowance each get 100 per week
-12183.09
Bike
-2757.90
Boat
-4006.54
Booze just at local liquor not grocery
-2447.09
Car
-559.09
Clothes
-3118.97
Dog $1k in the last month -ailing
-1798.50
Donation
-900.81
Entertainment
-768.00
Food and booze from HEB
-12252.92
Fuel - Car
-1720.92
Healthcare ACA
-1161.96
HOA
-600.00
House
-3032.32
Insurance House and Car
-2828.31
Internet and phone
-2455.98
Misc
-3171.14
Newspaper
-566.00
Property Taxes
-4500.00
Race Fees (Runners)
-506.29
Restaurant
-7014.81
Travel including $7.5 for 2018 trips
-17684.16
Utilities
-2378.04
YMCA
-936.00
Taxes not withheld last year
-779.53
Total
-90128.37
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:12 PM   #8
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I wait until after the end of each month to track my outflow, uncategorized. I'll be under last year, and under what my VPW plan would allow, by quite a bit on the latter. I attribute it to have no irregular big expenses. I took a couple of trips, but nothing exotic. A bit more medical that I'd have hoped for but only about halfway to my deductible.


In fact, my last 4 years have been declining. Seems like I had something fairly big in a couple of those years.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:16 PM   #9
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I track our total spending and have a good idea of where it goes, but leave it at that. Our spending had been flat for a few years, this year went up due to increased travel.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 523HRR View Post
Taxes are always the largest single component of our annual expenses. Do you not consider taxes as part of your spending?
I only consider taxes on dividend and CG distributions, because I don't want to skew my numbers for a year like this where I wound up taking a large capital gain to position myself better for the ACA subsidy next year. I also did a larger Roth conversion since I was giving up the subsidy this year. I'll calculate both with and without taxes, but I pay more attention to the "without" number.

For my allowable withdrawal amount, I use an after-tax estimate of my investible assets, rather than the full amount. This effectively accounts for the tax expense, even if it is unorthodox.

Someday, after my tIRA is fully converted, and I start collecting SS and pension, I may switch over to the way most of you all seem to do.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
I wait until after the end of each month to track my outflow, uncategorized. I'll be under last year, and under what my VPW plan would allow, by quite a bit on the latter. I attribute it to have no irregular big expenses. I took a couple of trips, but nothing exotic. A bit more medical that I'd have hoped for but only about halfway to my deductible.

In fact, my last 4 years have been declining. Seems like I had something fairly big in a couple of those years.
That's great! It's nice to have a break from those irregular big expenses. I thought I would be spending more due to my new-to-me house, but that seems to be settling down and I spent a little less this year too.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:25 PM   #12
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In 2017 I spent $3,000 less than in 2016. Note, however, I did not include the purchase of a new vehicle (paid cash) in the 2017 figure as I consider this outside normal annual expenses/purchases.

Utilities...........................: $2,130
House (Taxes, Insurance)..: $5,037
Health............................: $3,981
Groceries..........................: $302
Restaurants....................: $1,218
Gasoline.............................: $576
Car....................................: $666
Clothes...............................: $220
Bowling,Golf....................: $1,344
Travel..............................: $4,500
Snowblower......................: $1,070
Crafts................................: $400
Misc................................: $2,887

TOTAL: $24,331
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:26 PM   #13
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W2R--
You're right.....this is fun
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I am going to start a spreadsheet and track monthly. Like you, our Restaurant Tab is going to be big. Our House is paid off, right now our Housing Expenses are minimal and includes all Utilities and Insurances.

My Pencil & Paper budget includes a big round number for Entertainment that we don't track all that closely.....any unspent monthly goes into the Emergency Fund.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by LauAnn View Post
In 2017 I spent $3,000 less than in 2016. Note, however, I did not include the purchase of a new vehicle (paid cash) in the 2017 figure as I consider this outside normal annual expenses/purchases.

Utilities...........................: $2,130
House (Taxes, Insurance)..: $5,037
Health............................: $3,981
Groceries..........................: $302
Restaurants....................: $1,218
Gasoline.............................: $576
Car....................................: $666
Clothes...............................: $220
Bowling,Golf....................: $1,344
Travel..............................: $4,500
Snowblower......................: $1,070
Crafts................................: $400
Misc................................: $2,887

TOTAL: $24,331
I love how low your yearly food spending is! Do you grow your own food? That's outstanding.

Like you, I did not include the money for the SUV I am planning to buy probably in 2018. I set aside 2/3 of that money, and that plus my spending still keeps me within a safe withdrawal rate for 2017. I'll set aside the other 1/3 in 2018.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
That's great! It's nice to have a break from those irregular big expenses. I thought I would be spending more due to my new-to-me house, but that seems to be settling down and I spent a little less this year too.
It is nice! In my first 2 or 3 years of retirement, I was over-budget but knew it was due to those things. It was still a little unsettling, that I might have something big every year. Feeling better now that it's all settled down, plus the market has done well. Not really changing much spending wise, other than flying first class at least some of the time (like this Christmas trip), and buying nicer cuts of meat more often.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:37 PM   #16
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The year is not over so I'm not done this month.

I use a phone app to track expenses each day, as I have it with me and it's always on.
Then after the month is over, I enter the category totals for that month in a spreadsheet on the computer (so I can compare years, etc).

I tried doing the spreadsheet directly thing, but too often I had to turn on the computer, or if I was at the computer, get up and go find the receipts, it was too awkward due to my lack of consistency
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:37 PM   #17
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I track our total spending and have a good idea of where it goes, but leave it at that. Our spending had been flat for a few years, this year went up due to increased travel.
That's really all that is absolutely necessary to do. Some of us just enjoy diving into the numbers more than we probably have to, for fun. I can imagine that travel probably does add a bit to one's spending.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:40 PM   #18
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I did include buying a new car in my outflow. Along with a yearly total, I do a 12 month rolling total, and I'm probably going to start doing a 5 or 10 year average, so it'll smooth out with that multi-year average. I definitely consider it an expense. I guess more technically the depreciation on it is an expense, but that's more complicated than I'd like it to be. I do make a note in my spreadsheet for such things so I can go back to past years and see why some where higher.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:51 PM   #19
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The year is not over so I'm not done this month.

I use a phone app to track expenses each day, as I have it with me and it's always on.
Then after the month is over, I enter the category totals for that month in a spreadsheet on the computer (so I can compare years, etc).

I tried doing the spreadsheet directly thing, but too often I had to turn on the computer, or if I was at the computer, get up and go find the receipts, it was too awkward due to my lack of consistency
Well, it's perfectly fine if you'd rather post on Monday or afterwards. I estimated my spending for tomorrow and Sunday, but I don't know if it will be right. Probably it is within a couple of dollars, but we'll see.

As for the phone vs spreadsheet, I used to use my phone and then copy from there onto the spreadsheet. That was too much work! I keep the receipts in my purse (right next to my computer as soon as I get home) until I enter them into Excel.

Every few nights I balance the cash in my wallet with what I had the last time I balanced it, minus what I spent. I have been doing this for years, and after a couple of years somehow I just became more aware of what cash I spent and my memory for cash spending is better. I think it is good for memory training. Other spending, like credit card spending for example, is accessible online.

I know, I know, this sounds really OCD but it is a harmless way to have fun, for those that enjoy doing this sort of thing. Frank does this too, and he got me interested in doing it in detail like this about 5-10 years ago; before that I just kept track of my total spending and not the details.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:04 PM   #20
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Our analysis has changed the last few years. Disciplined tracking in categories did have a big part in us becoming Fire. We still keep a dedicated laptop for financials but focus switched in a different way. Come year end now it is a question of: are we living life like we want to? The $ is pretty dang fine. So if not, why not? We will see how the the analysis goes this year. I wonder if anyone else has had that shift in thought/behavior.
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