This year has been a pretty good year for me. I managed to save up a good chunk of money, got a raise, bought an engagement ring and am on the right track financially. So I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Then I decided to do a bit of a comparison on my expenses in Mint. Oh man, was I wrong. In virtually every major category, I spent more money. Every one of them!
Don’t get me wrong, I track my expenses. I track every movement of my checking account, savings, etc. What happened was lifestyle creep. I just let things get away from me that really took a lot more out of me than I should’ve allowed. Since we’re moving towards the end of the year and getting into goal setting mode, I think it’s time to take a look at the biggest problems with the budget last year, where we busted it the most and how this is going to change in 2014.
1. Food and Dining
The year isn’t even over yet and I surpassed the amount spent in 2012 by over $2K already. Dammit. Almost $1500 of this was an increase in just going out to eat, despite trying hard to reign in that sort of spending. The remaining $500 was all in groceries, likely due to my proximity to Whole Foods and all the awesome meats in the butcher there. I guess there is a reason they call it Whole Paycheck after all.
I spent almost $3K more on travel in 2013 than 2012. This is another super frustrating area. Even though I know that I got good discounts on rental cars, flights and hotels, it pains me to see how much money I spent here. One of the things I’m vowing to do going forward is to never pay for a flight if I don’t have to. I’ve been following an amazing website, milevalue.com, for a while now and it’s absolutely incredible. This guy basically figures out the best way to get miles for airlines without having to actually pay too much for them. I’ll write more about this someday but yeah, I’m never paying for a flight again. In fact, the Fiance and I are traveling to Dallas next month and, lo and behold, we used miles for our trip. I had to do a bit of finagling to make it work but our flights ended up costing us $10 total. Since we’re saving for the wedding, I’m hoping I can keep this category down a couple grand next year.
So it turns out that, without having bought all my Christmas gifts yet, I have spent $2k more out shopping. Normally, I would think this is deplorable BUT $1500 of this came from the purchase of my new laptop after leaving my old job. You see, I only had one laptop (a work laptop) and had to give it back. I really enjoyed the Macbook Pro and decided to get one for myself. I know it will last a while and I can amortize the cost over a great while. Additionally, the money for it came out of the vacation time I was paid out. I know these are just excuses but, still, I did need a computer. Wouldn’t be able to do any of my consulting or other online work without it! The other areas that grew, well, no justification. It may be time to turn off one click purchase at Amazon. That’s all I’m going to say about that!
These three areas all blew their budgets big time in 2013. Next year, I will have to be even more diligent about how I spend my money. No more trips to Hawaii, no rental cars if I can borrow one, no new laptops. By just by cutting out the excess spent this year I can save almost $7k next year. If I can attack the base, from 2012, I could maybe save a total of $10K next year. That’s half of the budget of the wedding! While this isn’t a new year’s resolution, this is definitely in the mix for being one. Until next time!