2017 has come to a close and it’s time to tally up our spending over the past year!
Back in April, we laid out our planned budget for the year and predicted an average monthly expenditure of $5,615 (excluding health insurance and recurring charitable donations which are withdrawn directly from our paychecks). In July, we revisited our budget, posted a mid-year update and adjusted it upwards by $140/month to account for vehicle repairs and maintenance, which had inadvertently been left off our original budget.
Now that the year has come to a close, we are thrilled to announce that we came in below our original budget! Summary chart and budget tracking courtesy of Personal Capital.
Actual 2017 Average Monthly Spending: $5,346
Note that the spending above does not take paycheck deductions into account: taxes, 401k contributions, health insurance premiums, and recurring charitable donations. To ensure we are accounting for all expenses, insurance premiums and charitable donations are added into our final spending analysis below.
Health Insurance (4.7% of Total Spending): Both of our employers provide subsidized health care options and our insurance premiums are reflected above. Beyond our insurance premiums, we did not incur any additional medical expenses this year – we are both very fortunate to be young and healthy. Our employers both provide some life insurance coverage, but we do opt to purchase long-term disability insurance for a few hundred dollars each year.
Housing (39.8% of Total Spending): Clocking in at $75/day, expenses related to living in our home (mortgage, utilities, home repairs and home insurance) are by far our biggest expense. And 2017 didn’t even have any major home repairs required! All of our housing expenses were expected, but it’s still a bit harrowing to see how much it costs for housing.
Automotive (12.1% of Total Spending): This category was our downfall this year. We did not expect to spend nearly this much on our vehicles. We have older vehicles and spent almost $3k on major, unplanned repairs. Ouch. Combined with a long work commute with tolls… We can only hope for the best next year.
Food and Beverage (9.6% of Total Spending): $500/month for groceries (including alcohol) and only $60/month for restaurants. Not bad! Our restaurant budget is so low because we cook almost all meals at home and save our dining out occasions for when we are on vacation or traveling, which is accounted for in our vacation budget.
Vacations/Travel (16.8% of Total Spending): My favorite category 🙂 Believe it or not, we actually came in under budget this year. We had planned on $1,200/month and actual spending tallied to just under $1,000/month. 2017 consisted of several long-weekend ski trips in New England, a fantastic diving trip to Belize, a long-weekend at Acadia National Park and a 9-day trip to Iceland. This is an area where we prioritize our spending and plan to expand upon during early retirement.
Entertainment (0.4% of Total Spending): We cut the cable cord 4 years ago and haven’t looked back since. Our recurring entertainment expenses are $8/month for Hulu and $10/month for a NY Times digital subscription. Entertainment highlights this year included a free Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert and a few museum trips. Our next category is really where the bulk of our “entertainment” comes into play.
Hobbies (5.7% of Total Spending): If the weather’s nice, you’ll find us hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, skiing, scuba diving… you get the idea. We own more outdoor gear than a small sporting goods shop! Mr. Saverdink is also an avid photographer and over a quarter of our 2017 hobbies spending supported that habit. Again, this is an area where we choose to prioritize spending, although we always keep an eye out for deals on gear and skiing lift tickets.
Pet Care (1.0% of Total Spending): Basic supplies for two cats and some fish. Luckily, no unexpected vet bills this year. Our kitties are approaching 10-years-old, so we expect this category will rise in future years.
Clothing/Shoes (0.6% of Total Spending): We’re both engineers and looking fashionable is not one of our strengths. Luckily, we blend in with our coworkers 🙂 We have fairly basic professional wardrobes and only update as items wear out.
General Merchandise (5.8% of Total Spending): This is our slush fund of randomness. Personal care items, household accessories, gifts, who knows what else…
Charitable Giving (3.5% of Total Spending): We have a few charities we donate to monthly and several one-time donations each year, as requests are made. We’d like to contribute more in future years and just opened a Donor Advised Fund for 2018.
All in all, 2017 was a pretty good year and our overall spending was in alignment with our expectations. We’re looking forward to 2018, but expect it to be a more expensive year with 1-2 major home repairs on the horizon and the possibility of purchasing a newer car to offsite the never-ending stream of car repairs that plagued us last year.