Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 discretionary spending categories - how did we do?

I wanted to look at our discretionary spending across a few categories & see how we've been doing year over year. There are  a few categories where we hit all time lows. (And, by all time, I mean since we've been tracking in a dedication fashion, which was 2013).

I've highlighted the five year lows in green. There are a few where we were close to the all time lows, but didn't quite achieve it. And, one where we were close to the all time high. *Travel*. :-)

I track all of our budget categories, but feel we can most easily control the categories below, so specifics for those below.

Some thoughts one each of the categories:

  • Boys all - we cut back on one activity, so that made the difference in the downward trend. This doesn't include college savings.
  • Dining out - Super pleased by this number! It's taken quite a bit of dedicated effort to get this so low. We are just to a place where we try to replace meals out with easy at home options. I've also gotten better about prepping & planning meals during travel days, to avoid eating at the airport.
  • Groceries - this one was at a five year low, but entertaining at the beach pushed us just over ($75) our five year low. I'm still very pleased, given we now have much bigger eaters & the price of groceries have gone up.
  • Clothing - We're doing okay on this one, but I'm going to cut my own clothing expenses for 2019 way back to $250 for the year. This will include a new pair of running shoes, which will be the bulk of the spending.  
  • Travel. We added two unplanned trips to the budget. Our trip to Hawaii was an agreement when I decided to keep working - an extra "motivation", so to speak. That's what pushed us way over. It wasn't, however, a 5 year high, as we apparently spent more in 2014!
  • Toiletries. I did well, although we didn't track in 2013, so I'm not 100% sure it was a five year low. 
  • Personal. These are hair cuts for the kids & M, primarily. I also got my hair cut once. You can see that my changes to spending in hair cuts have led to a huge tick down from prior years. 
  • Gas. We bought an electric car, so we've been able to keep our gas spending much lower. 
  • Utilities. Like gas, we invested in solar, so this was a planned investment to reduce our utilities over time. 
  • Gifts. M & I greatly reduced what we bought each other for the year, so we could continue to by for others. We don't need anything at this phase of life, and can buy what we need. It's more fun to treat others. 

What about you? How are you doing with your discretionary categories? Any all time lows? Or highs? 

Budget categories over time
Boys all (no college)693178847143559772402760
Dining out267737174590314341333012


  1. I started reading this at my daughters and can't remember if I commented or not! I admire your discipline. Raising two active boys, having the travel schedule you do, and still manage to bet your own spending targets-just amazing. I didn't put in my goals specifically, but other than under clothing's and socks, I hope to spend nothing for myself on clothing. I have plenty and even if I am successful at losing weight, it won't be enough to currant a new wardrobe and I'll just be happy my current ones look better on me. This includes shoes as well-so between underwear, bras, socks, and maybe nylons, I'm going to aim for a max of $60. Obviously I'll ne4ed to really get those item so sale!

    1. That's a great plan for 2019! I'm similarly hoping to get my own clothing spending much more under control next year.

  2. Nice reduction in your utilities and gifts! Our travel is at it's highest too - but in our case we intend on spending more on travelling the next 5 years then slowly it likely will go down and down after that. This is the first year that I don't want to go to Europe, after 4 years in a row. Tired, I think. We are going to Mexico in a few weeks on air points but still have to pay for hotels and meals. Our hair cuts have increased unfortunately based on our hairstyles. I still shop 90% at thrift stores for clothing except undergarments and shoes (find shoes rarely that are almost unused and in perfect condition and comfortable - my shoe standards have gone up lol)

    1. I'm hoping to not buy much at all, clothing wise. Running shoes need to be new and I'm quite particular, so I can wear them for six to nine months comfortably. They are quite an investment, price wise. I haven't started shopping at thrift stores, but I worry I'd buy more than I need because things are a "good deal". My plan is to just generally buy less. Let's see how I do. :-)

  3. Lowering your expense in 4 different categories is great. Your gas bill is good even more now that you have the electric car. We spend approximately 1,800 per year on gas. If we lived closer to town it would definitely be less.

    1. The electric car has been a huge win. We also get free charging at work, and received multiple rebates when we purchased the car. We're also about 6-8 miles from our offices, so really close. I'd like to also bike commute a few days/week, but I end up taking calls at home in the afternoon due to childcare commitments, so that's fallen a bit by the wayside. If I take a sabbatical at work (in the plans for 2019), I'll plan to bike for errands some days & then let my husband take the electric car.