Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2017 Budget - a comparison to 2016

Okay, 2017 is almost upon us! I've reviewed a few budget categories, but thought it would be more helpful to go line by line & see which categories are going up (luckily, just a few), and which ones are going down. (Retirement savings, charitable donations, & healthcare are all handled before we get our checks. The smallish "health" line item you see is actually for things like 5K races, OTC medicine, and my family relay. Not actual health care costs.)

I budget in two different ways - monthly budget expenses (standard expenses that occur every month), and yearly expenses. Things we know we will spend on over the course of the year, but where the spend varies greatly month to month.

Here's our 2017 vs 2016 budget spending for our monthly expenses. The Seattle rental typically is  *exactly* break even (I'll get the final numbers at tax time), but we've been making additional principal payments on one of our loans, and this includes a small buffer in the event something needs to be repaired for that house.

The change in the vacation mortgage is from our refinance earlier in the year. As you can see, we've made a few small tweaks, but the only really significant change was from our mortgage refinance. The rest are small adjustments to better reflect our actual spending. And, of course, my 2017 toiletry challenge! My goal is to spend nothing (use up our stockpile, or make do) for as long as I can in the year!

Monthly Categories20162017Difference
Dining Out150125-25
Vacation mortgage23101425-885
Seattle rental100010000

And, here are our yearly budget categories. A few thoughts on this one. The boys activities actually cost more, so I bumped up to better reflect actual spend. And, sadly, taxes cost WAY more, even with increases on all salaries to withhold more. We do plan to spend less on travel, as we have a bunch of flight credits to use up as well as some hotel points. I'm hoping to spend less on summer camps as well. Once you minus out the tax difference, we are shaving $3,800 off of our yearly budget categories.

I get asked about the "boys - all" category sometimes. I find it helpful to have a budget item for things like: field trips, miscellaneous activities that don't fall into anything else, school supplies, etc. Some example expenses for this year would be: fundraising tshirts, yearbooks, a coach's gift & pizza party for the end of the season, parts for Nick's bike, a new helmet for Sam, etc. . . 

Personal is for hair cuts (all four), the occasional massage for me (helps with the aches & pains of lupus), and a once a quarter or so pedicure.

Yearly Budget Items20162017Difference
Boys activities15002000500
Boys college200020000
Clothes (everyone)180018000
Boys - All10001200200
Summer Camps15001000-500

And, for a nice historical view (again, removing the tax variance, because we grossly miscalculated when setting our budgets in 2015 & 2016), here's our budgets over the past few years:

2015 - $186,320
2016 - $164,340
2017 - $147,770

I'm very happy to see us driving down our expenses each year, as we grow our income. 2017 will be quite an interesting year for us, with potential housing & job changes on the horizon. Because of that, it's difficult to build a full 2017 budget, but this is based on existing expenses & income. I'll readjust once we have firmed up our next steps.

How about you? Are you making any big or small changes to your budget in 2017? Any areas you want to track more closely than others? Please share!


  1. I have a budget for 2017 but haven't finalized it yet. We are increasing our travel budget aswill see plane tickets purchased for our 2018 trip to Italy and we are taking at least 1 adult kid, possibly 2 so need to ramp up the savings. I am tossing around lowering our grocery budget from $550 to $500 a month as I've become a bit lazy on that front although staying on budget, could do so much better. Increased our Medical budget as 2016 saw some larger numbers in that category than expected.

    1. All of your changes make sense! I think I can make some additional adjustments if I plan better, so more on that. I like to review all of the categories with a fine tooth comb. M finds it a bit tedious, so at least I can blog about it. ;-)

  2. That is quite a budget. But it seems you are really on top of reducing expenses. If you move back to Seattle ,will that reduce the rent further by the $5200? That would be huge. I think you do an amazing job of budgeting especially given your income. It's so impressive that even though you guys make a lot of money you are still very frugal.:) ( of course, you live in an expensive area too, so not much you can do about that. We're just trying to focus on reducing some debt from our tree removals and misc( like my sons tuition). I'm going to be super focused in 2017. Of course,a lot depends on my health but right now things are good.:)

    1. We are getting rent for our Seattle house now. The $1000 is either earmarked for additional spending (i.e. we had a large tree fall & had to pay to remove it), or, if nothing comes up that month, we pay extra on the principal. If we moved back to Seattle & took over the full cost of the mortgage, it would be around $4000. So, a big savings of $5200, but not the full amount, of course. A net savings of $2200/month. And, the $5200 is how much we are renting for. Sadly, there are no houses we could buy where our mortgage payment would be $5200/month.

    2. Forgot to mention - it sounds like you are on the right path with the debt reduction. I love the super focused plan for 2017, and am sending healthy thoughts your way. So great that you are doing well!

  3. I posted my savings goals but not overall budget as still working on it. The areas you have control over have seen remarkable savings. Congratulations. One thing, once your child care costs reduce when the kids hit older years, you'll pick up more savings. Of course other expenses rise. Well, we're all in blog land to lend practical and moral encouragement.