Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Breaking down some of our budget categories a little further

I've been working on refining some of our budget categories. Although I find it easiest to have a smaller set of categories for year over year comparisons, and general monthly tracking, there are categories where I want to know more. . .how are we spending, how could we consider cutting back further, etc.

So, in 2016, I'll be tracking a few categories in more detail then just at the highest level. (We track all of our spending anyway, so this should just take a few additional minutes when reconciling our receipts).

  • Groceries. I'm particularly interested in understand how we're spending the money, so I can determine if there are areas we might cut back. 
  • Clothing. We need to cut our clothing budget in 2016, and I'm also interested in moving towards a more minimalistic/capsule wardrobe. As a result, I'm giving myself a $500 clothing budget for the year. There are a few things I'd like to buy - namely, more comfortable flats, so I can stand at my desk more than sit. I also know that my wedges (which I adore from a looks perspective) hurt my back by the end of the day, & throw my posture off. The challenge is on!
  • Travel. I have a master category, but I also buy/pay for things not in the year of travel (i.e. I buy airfare early), which makes it hard to know/understand how much we're actually spending in any given year. I'm a total pre-planner, so I've probably pre-paid for much of our 2016 travel already. Going forward, I'll record our expenses in our correct monthly category, but will also work to understand which year the travel will actually occur in. I'm also keen to understand more about which travel category is costing us the most. This will heavily influence our plans for 2017, as we plan for a further reduction based on my employment. 
I find that budgeting is a blend between ease & enough details to make decisions, so I like to tweak things & give myself better insight for the months ahead.

What about you? Do you track any categories more closely than others? Any major changes in 2016?


  1. I go through my lists over and over. My problem is we overspend during the week on little things. Fight the good fight, my frugal friend.

  2. I tend to really micromanage our grocery budget, because after doing this for a month in 2014, I was shocked at how much we spent on crap food. Now produce and meat/protein sources tend to be most of our grocery budget, but we also buy some convenience foods and junk as well.

  3. Some days, I am shocked by what I buy to eat. Then, I start putting things back on the shelves. Not only should I not be eating some of these choices, they are expensive.

    In the past I made all my clothing, even panties and bras. Bought clothes do not last as long as items I made. Not having access to my machines and not being able to sit for long is hindering my ability to dress inexpensively.

    Since I know I cannot afford to travel, I just don't think about it!!!

  4. I track everything (every single cent) spent in Excel. I will tend to review the various categories throughout the year looking at patterns. (I can distinctly recognize stressful work times based on when I buy junk food!) Travel is a biggie for me and like you I tend to buy early when I see good deals. I'm less concerned about allocating the travel to specific months as I am with just staying within my annual budgeted amount. Food spending is probably the biggest category I focus on since it is both a $ issue and a health issue ~ Pru