I’m positive that 2020 will be a bookmark year, one that we can flip to easily in our minds and remember exactly what we were doing when the whole world shut down.
For me personally, 2020 brought on lots of change and forced flexibility. I moved from New York to California, worked from home the entire year, and did my best to enjoy the little things.
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Highlights of 2020
Small town living
I’m a Colorado native who moved to the Pacific Northwest after college. Half of this year I spent living in a small town in upstate NY, fulfilling one of my curiosities: I always wondered if I would like living in a small town. I really did enjoy it. I made local friends and we hiked all over the area, had parties around bonfires, and had elaborate potlucks (pre-pandemic).
When the pandemic hit, I was nervous about being in New York and also on lockdown in an already tiny town with not much going on. However, there were many opportunities to take long walks along the meandering countryside. I hit up the local bakeries often and took a treat to the lake while listening to podcasts. The simple life was made even simpler in the pandemic, and I decided to enjoy it.
Moving to California
I have always wanted to move to California. In high school I applied to a ton of universities and made it into a few, but in the end I went to college in Colorado. In June, moving to California became a reality. The reliable sunshine and weekends at the beach have been a welcome change for me as a usually-landlocked-lady.
How Much I Spent in 2020
Every year I tally up how much I spent and do a breakdown of where every penny went.
In 2017, I spent $25,874.
I’m curious to see the total for 2020 given the fact that we both hunkered down during the pandemic but also moved to a very high cost of living city.
This total is much higher than last year, when I spent just $15,000, but seems well within the range of my average spending overall.
Spending by Month
There is a clear jump when I moved to California in June, no surprise there. My rent went from $500 per month to $1,320!
Spending by Category
The largest expense is rent by far, and the cost of moving put a dent in my savings this year. Travel costs decreased and food costs increased, probably from hoarding a ton of Trader Joe’s goodies.
Here is the breakdown of where every penny went.
(Last year: $7,413)
With the year split between New York and California, my average rent cost per month was $909. That’s not bad! However, looking forward to next year, if I want to stay in California I will have to budget for the higher rent.
(Last year: $167)
Our utilities were included in the cost of rent for the first half of the year.
(Last year: $464)
We updated both our homeowner’s and car insurance plans and switched companies when we moved.
(Last year: $200)
We pay an average of $20 each to our internet plans per month.
(Last year: $2,010)
I spent an average of $159 per month on groceries. This is no-coupon, pick-what-you-want, plan-meals-in-advance budget, and feels very true to my average shopping trip. We restocked our kitchen when we moved, which was a significant expense, and spent a lot on cooking meals at home.
Eating Out $518
(Last year: $1,144)
I spent less than half on restaurants compared to last year, mostly due to the lockdown (and because I was on a mission to eat at most of Portland’s famous eateries before I left). My energy went towards cooking meals at home instead.
Flights, Airbnbs, etc. $546
(Last year: $1,295)
We cancelled our plans to go to Cuba in March, so instead most travel plans have been small local trips.
(Last year: $278)
This year I only spent $10 a month on gas, that’s pretty good! I counted fuel during our move as moving expenses, but the rest of the time we only drove to the grocery store every week or so, and overall didn’t drive much.
General Moving Expenses $1,226
This includes car shipment across the country, a U-Haul, fuel, packing supplies, etc. More information in this post: How Much It Cost To Move Across the Country
Home Improvement and Furniture $479
(Last year: $414)
There is not a single piece of new furniture in our new apartment– everything came used from a previous owner or thrift store. Read more here: Decorating Our New Home With Thrift Store Finds
(Last year: $181)
I burned myself while cooking, which unfortunately got infected and needed treatment. I also had regular wellness checkups.
(Last year: $0)
This year I introduced therapy into my self-care regimen and have benefitted from it enormously! It’s a big expense, but mental wellness is priceless.
All The Fun Stuff
(Last year: $400)
I’d like to increase this category in 2021. Currently I try to pick a charity each month, but it would be better to either automate giving or pick all the charities in advance.
Business i.e. This Blog $198
(Last year: $239)
I paid for hosting and renewed the domain for this website. Last year I went to FinCon, but unfortunately the conference went virtual this year and I decided not to attend.
(Last year: $202).
I’m actually glad to see an increase in this category, as I’ve enjoyed prioritizing gift giving this year.
Personal Care $208
(Last year: $77)
A few gym classes, a haircut, etc.
Clothes & Shoes $280
(Last year: $61)
I nearly went the entire year without buying clothes, but went shopping at the end of the year for some new pieces.
(Last year: $52)
I paid for a professional photography session for $100 and went to a comedy show with a friend pre-pandemic. I had planned to head to NYC and see a Broadway play but due to lockdown that never happened.
Pet care $150
This is just vet bills, MechaniCat’s food is included in my grocery total.
A decidedly un-fun expense, this includes a yearly credit card fee, an “inactive HSA fee”, and an unfortunate speeding ticket.
2021 Money Resolution
After spending most of my life with my head in the sand when it comes to money, it’s been really enjoyable to check out my yearly expenses the last 4 years and actually see where my money goes.
It’s also nice to see consistency over the years. In the last four years, my average yearly spending was $20,000. This feels like a comfortable benchmark. I’m relieved that even living in expensive areas I have been able to reliably keep my living expenses at the same general level.
However, as I look into the future, I don’t want to spend less. At this point, I have a comfortable amount of savings (I’ll get into the nitty gritty details in a future post) and a high salary. My goal for next year is to spend more. Pick things that will add value, focus on self-care, and don’t let cost be as much of a factor when making decisions.