We began the new year in a deserted city. Storefronts were planked over as we walked alone down the streets of Antwerp, the most populous city in Belgium. Most people were sleeping off the night before, quiet calm descending after a night of reflections and hope for the year of 2018.
I spent the first few months of the year in England for work, and I took advantage of my proximity to the rest of Europe to travel. Some of my travel expenses included:
£60 flight to Sweden
£80 flight to Amsterdam
£176 solo trip to Budapest
As early 2018 was marked by travel, when I flew home at the end of March I was ready to keep the adventure going.
We found some beautiful Oregon hikes, drove to spend weekends at the coast, and explored our own city of Portland on the weekends.
With all of this travel, how did my spending stack up to last year?
Spending in 2017
2017 was the year I really started taking a deep dive into my own finances. I signed up for Personal Capital in June to start tracking my spending, which was a real eye-opener for me. Prior to opening that account, I had no idea what my net worth was, let alone how I was spending my money. The figure below shows my spending from June through December in 2017.
If we take my average spending per month and pencil it in for January to May, then the total comes to $25,874 for 2017. It might not be exact, but we can use it as a general benchmark.
Spending in 2018
My expenses in 2018 come out to just under $20k.
Dang, December, why you gotta do me like that? There was a bit of a rent shuffle when my landlord changed PO boxes without telling us, so my expenses in December included a double rent payment, and I also paid a big medical bill.
Overall, I’m pleased with the overall flow of money as shown in the diagram below. A large chunk went straight into retirement investments, and this year I managed to shear down a lot of the smaller expenses so the “Negotiables” category shrank considerably. There are some areas I think I could improve on for 2019, but it’s looking pretty good.
My total spending was slightly lower than $19,438 for the year as some expenses, like groceries, are shared with Mr. Mechanic. I’ll break it down with the actual numbers below.
Let’s dive into the nitty and gritty details of my spending this year!
MONTHLY BILLS (74% Budget): $13,765
- Rent $12,065
We have a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment a 15-minute bike ride from downtown Portland, OR.
- Car Insurance $700
I didn’t use my car much, and recurring expenses like this were one of the influences that led me to sell my car. Now I split insurance costs with Mr. Mechanic on our one vehicle, so hopefully this line item will go down in 2019.
- Electric Bill $300
The electric bill averages $50 total per month, or $25 each. We try not to use the heat and the air conditioning comes on only in rare heat flashes in the summer– maybe twice a year.
- Phone $250
For most of the year, I had a plan with Virgin Mobile. It included Unlimited Talk & Text and 5GB of data for $35.75 (incl. taxes and fees). I also tried out Mint Mobile, ($15 a month for unlimited talk & text and 2GB) but my phone wasn’t compatible. Now I have a company phone, so that monthly cost is $0.
- Fuel $150
I commute via bike or bus, so we only use the car for weekend grocery trips or hiking outings.
FOOD (11% Budget): $2,069
- Groceries $1,569
An average of $130/month. This is down from 2017’s spending of $1,835 or $152/month. This is lower than in the figure above as Mr. Mechanic and I split this cost. We do lots of meal planning, and I’m looking forward to trying out a meat-and-added-sugar limited diet in 2019.
- Eating Out $500
I averaged $42/month (Mr. Mechanic split a few of these meals with me). This is down from 2017’s spending of $850, or $70/month. Most meals out are workday lunches, which I attempted to cut down in 2018 by packing my lunch more often. Apparently August was our big eat-out month, which makes sense because that is the month of the famous $5 Burger Week in Portland. We also took our respective parents out for a meal.
MEDICAL (6% Budget): $1,151
One case of pink eye cost me one visit to Urgent Care ($232), one visit to the eye doctor ($276) and one more visit to an eye specialist ($145). That totals $653 for an ailment that I just needed to wait out. Ouch. Unfortunately, mine lasted way longer than normal and the eye doctor wanted to do a few tests.
I also got two root canals done. Here’s to hoping for a fit and healthy 2019.
TRAVEL (4% Budget): $802
I visited several cities: Antwerp, Brugge, Ghent, Brussels, Amsterdam, Karlstad (Sweden), London, Budapest, Denver, and Vancouver BC. This total counts flights, trains, and hostels. I booked a couple flights (Amsterdam, Karlstad, and Denver) through points I earned using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card so they don’t show up as expenses.
EVERYTHING ELSE (3% Budget): $621.15
- Gifts $217 – This might be a category we could bring down with some extra planning ahead. I think it’s possible to give generously while still being frugal!
- Blog $140 – Includes purchasing this domain name and hosting for two years.
- Service Charges and Fees $110 – Yearly fee for Chase Sapphire card and some transaction fees.
- Personal Care $60 – Shampoos, skin care, sunscreen, etc.
- Clothing $18.75 – I wanted to stop buying clothes completely in 2018, but I ended up buying shorts and a dress for the summer. This is down from $74 in 2017. Next year I want to get this to $0!
- Entertainment $27.40 – Tickets to a Finnish melodic death metal concert. I’m sure we spent more on entertainment, but it was likely food related so it would end up in that category. This is down from $229 in 2017.
- Automotive $23 – A sharp corner ripped the skirt off of my car. I ordered the parts online and fixed it myself.
- Hobbies $25 – I count the dog walking experiment as a hobby. To sign up for Wag! and Rover, you need to pay for a background check. I also went to a software engineering workshop. In 2019 I’d like to do more rock climbing as a hobby. In 2017 I spent $550 on hobbies and $162 on rock climbing.
The total added up is $18,408.