I was going to do an annual report tallying everything I spent all year compared to how much I earned.
But once I got finished messing with my spreadsheets, I realized that I didn't keep the most pristine records.
So, my annual report might not be so accurate.
Instead, I'll use the numbers as a guide -- am I on the wrong track or am I going in the right direction.
Thankfully, it seems I'm definitely going the right way.
According to my numbers, I made $1,300 more than I spent. It may actually be a little more, since I included my savings (401k, automatic savings and money into my emergency fund) in my spending.
I paid down more than $5,600 of debt on my MasterCard.
I saved more than $3,000... just over 6 percent of my income. That's not 10% off the top, like we all know we should be doing, but it's getting close.
The most interesting thingsto me was how little I spent on some things that I thought were killing me and how much I spent on things I thought weren't costing me so much.
Rent was my biggest expense, obviously, followed by my car loan. Together they accounted for just less than a third of my take home pay.
Food came in a close third. I spent about $4,000 on eating out and buying groceries. I spent more eating out (but only by $100). Frankly, I don't see that changing or being dramatically reduced. I mean, I gotta eat.
But you know what was the next biggest expense? Personal travel! Huh?
Yeah, I hardly went anywhere last year, but the few flights, cabs, hotels and whatnot I did pay for cost more than $2,000. I think the Disney trip is included in that too, and I saved for that, but still -- that's a big chunk of money and I should plan better for it. Especially since I plan to do a lot more traveling this year!
I spent about $600 on the gym, including several months when I didn't even go.
I spent over $1,000 on miscellaneous personal expenses. Again, not real sure what all of that was. Some of it was as lame as postage stamps. Others might have been various parking tickets (I feel like the ticket queen lately... it's because I just want to park my car where I want and leave it without anyone or anything touching it... guess it doesn't work that way!).
I spent $150 on snacks. Yes. Whatever I get out of vending machines, random candy bars at the checkout counter and the occasional stops at the Cheesecake Factory for a slice. I include snacks in my dining out category. But there's no vending machine at my current job, so that should help!
I know what you all want to know. What did I spend on clothes, shoes and accessories? I know you want to know, because it's usually the category that gets me. I'll be good for months and then go nuts for a month or two.
All right, I spent a little over $2,000. Is that good or bad? I don't know, but it's almost twice what I budgeted for myself! So I guess that's bad!
The only thing that bothers me is that I can't point to my wardrobe and say, "See what I did with my two grand!" It pretty much looks like it did before I spent the money... so, if I'm going to buy clothes 1) replace things that need to go 2) don't buy so many same-looking clothes (if you have 5 cable knit sweaters, it's going to feel like you don't have anything to wear!) 3) be more discerning -- some things it's worth spending more on than getting cheap, while others absolutely should be bought cheap.
My task is to tell them apart. Is there a shopper's serenity prayer? I'll write one!
Bottom line, I can also use these numbers to adjust my budget -- actually budgeting for things I spent a lot on, but had no budget for; reduce my allotments to items that didn't cost me as much as I thought; and figure out where I can make adjustments in categories where I'm probably spending too much anyway.
I've already created a new spreadsheet to keep track of my spending for this year. At some point, I may switch to an automated system such as MS Money or Quicken. Remember, I tried Quicken a long time ago and hated it, but I may be ready for something like that now... we'll see.