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april spending report

I'm reading "the year of less" and the author starts out by saying she'd report out on her spending by posting to her blog every month. So I'm trying it. I tend to download a YEAR of credit card stuff, once a year. in between I just always look at the "purchases" totals on the statements to make sure I'm on track, but taking a monthly breakdown and writing about the totals might help me too.

Before I get into it, I want to acknowledge that I am coming from a privileged place when it comes to finances. steady office job that I really enjoy, healthy enough to work, my family is healthy, debt-free, we have no huge expenses outside of our control. If you see how much I spend and can't relate to me or just feel frustrated, then don't read these posts. I just don't want to be so afraid of alienating people that I avoid talking about money. we do that too much in our world, and silence means we miss out on good advice.

Groceries: $1320.42
According to my budgeting guideline, the "moderate" column of the USDA cost of food reports, it should cost $1112 a month to feed a family of four. So we are $208 over. I wouldn't feel too bad about this except for...

Restaurants: $455.07
27 transactions! Good night. We only got takeout twice, but bought a lunch or breakfast about every day. Mostly Marc, which means mostly not good for him... I'll see how he feels about this. I know a few of those are drive-through breakfasts for the kids as a treat and they love it once a week, but could we reduce it?

Home improvement: $911.11
This should go down. Well, I always say "should". Most of it was big landscaping projects that we had planned for. Rocks delivered to extend the front yard landscaping was almost $400, rocks to border the back yard for our flagstone project was $90. Then there was the whole porch staining fiasco that kind of blew up on us. But I digress. It is done. The rocks aren't going anywhere and will not need any ongoing repairs because they're rocks.

We haven't bought the flagstone or gravel for the back yard yet, that's the next big thing.

Shopping: $408.88
I use this category as a catch all. Two trips to Target, three trips to wal-mart, one Amazon order for Olive's birthday party decorations, I bought a new sport bra, we bought school photos, my annual livejournal bill and nintendo memberships went in. I know $400 is a lot but I don't see anything totally stupid and frivolous in it. 20 transactions, and 15 of them were under $30.

Monthly bills: $655.41
This is what we spent now on gas, water, electricity, car/homeowner's insurance. I'm not going to include paycheck junk in these report outs - health/dental/life insurance. Oh dammit now I just got curious. Okay, it's $318 a month. I'm still not including those, I'm in no mood and it's not going to change.

Phone and internet: $261.89
Website hosting: $42
Streaming services: $41.99
All monthly expenses. We're paying for three phones plus home internet - but I changed our plan so we are going down a little next month!

Gas: $218.76
One road trip to Topeka.

Tax prep: $100
I never know where to put random stuff like this. It's not really "shopping", it's not a recurring bill, it had to happen, it's part of life.

Charities: $515
Mostly recurring, I did also help out the company's big brother big sister's fundraiser.

Alcohol: $90.01
We stopped drinking, but are still in a wine club and bring the occasional bottle over to friends houses. It does kind of look like a lot for a house that's stopped drinking. Well, there are other entries about that so I won't go into it here, at least it's not $300 like we used to spend. I will keep tabs on it. Maybe this is why it's good to report out every month.

Gym membership: $46

Grand total: $5066.54

This was an above average month.

x12 for yearly expenses, if I do this every month: $61,000

x25 what it would take to be Financially Independent if I want to do this every month forever: $1.5 million

Average household income for Wichita Kansas: $52,620 or $4,385 per month. That's another goal I have... I earn more than average, I want to KNOW how to LIVE on the average. If I am lucky enough to earn more but just spend it all without caring, that makes me feel like an over-consuming asshole.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 26th, 2021 05:20 pm (UTC)
Do you count stuff like detergent and toothpaste and paper goods and such as groceries or other shopping? When I used to budget more carefully, I found it helpful to sort out household items and drugstore items separately as there were (and, I guess, are) a big part of what I spend at the supermarket.
Apr. 26th, 2021 06:44 pm (UTC)
I haven't looked that close. I used the stores to track here... I bet 90% of what we bought at kroger is groceries, and 90% of what we bought at target is shopping, and there might be some exceptions but it's gotta be pretty close.

technically I'd count toothpaste as shopping because it is not part of the USDA food cost budget, but I know it's a "need". I don't have shopping broken down into "needs" vs "wants", if I was really worried I probably would do that but it involves going into receipts and that's really above my patience now.
Apr. 26th, 2021 05:54 pm (UTC)
Do you own your home outright? I noticed there was no mortgage...
Apr. 26th, 2021 06:38 pm (UTC)
yes we paid the house off last year.

that may be WHY my home improvement costs are a bit high... I bought an 80 year house I was pretty sure I could afford. luckily most of this month's home improvements were semi-optional. the porch would have eventually rotted off if we didn't seal it, but it wasn't rotted off yet. landscaping is definitely optional. I've thought about separating these in the budget but it's a fuzzy line sometimes.

last year I wasn't so lucky, it was raining inside. those are the months when I look around and think maybe I should have taken out a bigger mortgage, gone for a house with a working roof.
Apr. 26th, 2021 05:55 pm (UTC)
I really need to follow your example. I've been meaning to do this since February, when I met with my 401k guy, who said I spend more than I make each month. At the time I said no way, but I need to get control of things.

I like your idea of living on what the average income is in your area. Moving from Chicago to Wisconsin makes me feel like I have a lot of money to throw around, but I don't want to do that.
Apr. 26th, 2021 06:41 pm (UTC)
of everything you just wrote, my financial groups' first question would be how much you're spending on a 401K guy!

but yes it never hurts to do a quick assessment, you don't have to break everything down like me but look at the last statement "purchases" totals on your cc statements (or debit, or whatever you use to spend) and make sure it is less than your take-home pay. otherwise you're going the wrong way. track down and total up all the ways that money goes out, it's usually fast and easy.
Apr. 26th, 2021 10:30 pm (UTC)
how much you're spending on a 401K guy!

LOL, big fat zero! His services are through my employer, and he comes to the office every February for anyone who wants to meet with him. The funny thing is he moved here from very close to where I lived in Chicagoland, and we spend more time gabbing about the old stomping grounds than finances.

We still use Quicken for the checking account, so that'll be easy to organize, and try to use the Capital One card for everything we can (rewards). Hm... I wonder if Cap One has a way I could download a few months' worth of statements into a csv. Anyway, you have inspired me!
Apr. 26th, 2021 11:42 pm (UTC)

I also have a capital one card and yes it does! Have fun!

Apr. 26th, 2021 07:40 pm (UTC)
I admire your charitable giving. That’s an area I’d like to do better in.
Apr. 26th, 2021 07:47 pm (UTC)
Automate it, that's the only way I can make it happen. I'm using a credit card now but I'm thinking of switching to auto bill pay with my bank.

The Lord says to give 10%. I'm not religious anymore, nor am I making it up to 10%, but I think that's a really excellent goal.
Apr. 26th, 2021 09:18 pm (UTC)
Automating would be the only way I'd be able to do it, too, but so far I am not even doing that.
Apr. 27th, 2021 11:19 am (UTC)

Just do it! Pick an easy one... sign up for $10 a month recurring to your local food bank, you’ll never miss it and they almost all have a system for this.

Apr. 27th, 2021 02:42 pm (UTC)
That is an excellent point.
Apr. 27th, 2021 03:48 pm (UTC)
That reminds me, I need to call UMCOR, because we were giving them a monthly donation, then hubby recently decided to increase it, but he says that the only way he could do that was by adding another donation instead of increasing the existing one, so now we're getting double receipts and that's just silly.
Apr. 26th, 2021 08:15 pm (UTC)
I have been trying to keep better track of my finances.

We tend to eat out a lot, and that is where the great suck is.
Apr. 27th, 2021 11:20 am (UTC)

Been there. Solidarity.

But you’re supporting restaurants, at least!

Apr. 27th, 2021 04:29 am (UTC)
I'm so torn on restaurants. We typically order food one night a week (got into that bad habit living overseas with Talabat), so in the past year the focus has been on helping smaller local restaurants stay afloat by patronizing them, but yikes. We usually spend close to $100 a week, unless it's pizza. But it really adds up.

Your cars are paid off as well as the house, I guess.
Apr. 27th, 2021 11:17 am (UTC)

Restaurants are tough! Before kids we lived downtown and ate out literally every night. We knew where the weekly specials were for sure lol but I cringe thinking of what we probably spent!

Maybe having kids was good for us in that way because we finally learned to cook at home?

Anyway yes also I paid the mortgage off last year and haven’t had a car payment in who knows how long. I like used little hatchbacks. Last one I bought a few years ago was about $8K and I just paid for it there.

Apr. 28th, 2021 12:59 am (UTC)
aah, you're brave for doing this! I'm afraid to look at my spending, haha.

The fact that you're even taking the time to gather and consider this information means you're NOT an over-consuming a$$hole!

If you died tomorrow, would it matter how thrifty you were?

Sometimes it's good to buy the thing you want. Because life is short, and enjoyment sometimes needs to be applied rather than anticipated. I think so, anyway.

I gotta do this too, though. Sigh.
Apr. 29th, 2021 09:54 pm (UTC)
Really interesting reflections, as always. I track every penny but had never thought about how my spending compares with the average for My city. I turns out I can find average income and spending data too. It doesn’t quite work for my family configuration, but I can make some reasonable guesses about where my average spending “should” be. My weakness is obscure books.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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