Thursday, December 28, 2023

2023 Budget Recap

I always track & review our spending at the end of the year, to bring awareness to what we're spending, make adjustments & go deeper into categories we are surprised by. 

Similar to previous years, our spend is dominated by our top four categories. All in all, this makes sense, as we try hard to spend aligned with our values, track our spending, & minimize spend for things we don't think we need. That said, we are in an expensive season!

Reminder: we paid off our house, so that's why you don't see a mortgage as one of our top spend categories! This is also capturing only our post paycheck spending (e.g. doesn't count for pre paycheck tax deductions, 401k savings, charity & the like.) It's probably a bit confusing, but since that money is automatically removed, we pretend like it doesn't exist. Our paychecks (as well as bonus & stock compensation) are what's left over to spend. 

Top four spend categories include:

  • Taxes. This includes federal, state, & very, very expensive property taxes. This is our #1 budget category, & double the size of our next biggest category. A few thoughts. Our property taxes are not changeable while we live in this house. Our income taxes are highly variable due to our compensation plan at work. This makes it near impossible to have the right amount deducted throughout the year.
  • Travel. This was a year with LOTS of travel spending. No regrets. :-) Second biggest budget category.
  • Boys. This was our biggest increase in year on year spending. We had: SAT prep, Sam's executive functioning tutoring (ramped up at the end of last year), college counseling, college application fees, club soccer & tennis, school sports, other random miscellany. We expect this line item to drop quite a bit in 2024, as Sam is done with college counseling, SAT prep, & club sports. We will be paying for his first year of college out of his 529 account. 
  • Boys college investment accounts. We intentionally maxed these out, to prep for the years ahead.
All told, the top four categories constitute 74% of our total spend for the year. 

The rest of our categories looked pretty much as expected. We spent less on food (groceries & dining out), but more on clothing (all of us got new stuff ahead of Dubai, the teens have grown a lot & now have very specific clothing requests, etc). Clothing is a category we'll keep a tighter eye on in 2024. 

On the savings side, we met/exceeded our savings goals across all of our categories (retirement, boys college, investment accounts) & increased our net worth by 10%, despite a rather sizable drop in our house value (according to Zillow). 

While there are plenty of areas we can do better in & want to focus on in 2024, I feel good about our financial progress in 2023 (helped greatly by me continuing to work beyond what I'd planned)!

How about you? Have you tracked your spending for 2023? Any surprises, areas that went well, or areas you plan to trim in 2024? 

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