Okay, so let's see how we did. We finished the year under our planned monthly spend, which is always a good position! This was mostly due to an adjustment of our Seattle mortgage (permanent renters, reduced costs) & refinancing our vacation house.
We were also over in LOTS of monthly categories.
-We've reduced the number of hours we're using for childcare, but are now including date night coverage. This also included summer camps, which were extremely expensive. As a result, and because it impacts how we plan our travel/vacation plans in 2017, I'll be creating a separate summer camp budget this year.
-Also, that dining out number. . . is the result not of frequent small meals out, but a few blowout meals out. So, that will clearly need attention in 2017. We spent $1600 more in 2016 than 2015!! This is why I have a goal to find free/reduced date night options for at least a couple of date nights this year.
-I cut our insurance by making policy modifications.
-Lower gas prices allowed us to continue to save in this category.
Our core tax withholdings, health insurance, and charitable donations are not calculated here (taken away before we see the money). However, due to the overall mix of our compensation, we still typically owe given our stock options. That's listed below, in taxes. Health is a combination of things like race entry fees, the occasional massage for me, etc. Charity is above and beyond our fixed monthly budget that's automatically withheld.
If you take out the taxes, we did pretty well on most of our categories. And, again, we've adjusted our withholdings drastically in 2016, so I'm hopeful this number will be much smaller. Eventually, one day, we will own a house as a primary residence & get to deduct some interest. Until then, we continue to pay $$$$$.
There were a few other outliers:
-I decided to ramp up the boys college donations to $200/month, hence the overage.
-The boys are clearly expensive, and had a ton of expensive activities. The majority of this was club soccer, but some of it included swimming lessons & flag football (they start in January, but the fees were due in December).
-We paid $3000 for a one time gift to my dad. M took my dad and a few of his buddies to Las Vegas for an all expenses paid blowout for his 65th birthday. M gets comps at the casino, so this was the overage & own't be repeated next year.
-I've discussed the housing budget in more detail, but I clearly need to start tracking this more carefully.
-Travel. . . more than planned due to my 40th birthday, three unplanned soccer tournament hotel stays (we didn't expect to go this far - for either team!) & a few other unplanned trips. This year needs to be less, so I will be maximizing travel hacking (using points, hotel rewards, miles, & some airline credits).
I've written a full post about our planned 2017 budget, so I won't go over all of the numbers. All told, we came in $8,088 under budget, but that's hiding a lot of sloppiness in some of the actual categories. Now that we have clean accounting for our rental property, I expect that much more scrutiny will be required in 2017 to bring us in on target.
That's it for 2016 spending! How about you? Did you track & review your spending? Were you on target, below or over? Tell us your tips & tricks, & plans for 2017.