Despite all the traveling we did, and taking into account the holidays, we escaped December relatively unscathed. Our spending was above average for sure, but it was not our highest spending month.
Our net worth jumped another $60K during the quarter. This was mostly due to stock market highs. Ohh, and Zillow decided our house was worth an extra $20K since last quarter. There was also some liability pay down attributing to this (i.e student loans) . We track our net worth on a quarterly basis using a simple spreadsheet.
I use Personal Capital to keep track of our spending. Given how many different cards we use to manage our household finances, I find that this is the best free online tool available to help me keep track.
Top 3 Spending Categories (Housing, Transportation, Food)
Sorry (not sorry) to report that in December, our spending in the big 3 categories came in on budget without any outliers.
As you would typically expect, there were no major changes to our mortgage payments. We did get a slight escrow account refund back in September. This reduced our mortgage payments a bit by about $25. I’ll out that one in the win column!
Our transportation expenses doubled since November, but was still well below our projection. An EZ pass renewal hit our account, AAA renewal fee was due, etc… For 2019 as a whole, we came in right in line with our projection.
Since we spent some time traveling this month, our food expenses were well below the average this month. In the middle of 2019 I noticed that we could not stay within budget for food so we increased our projection by 20%. So for the year, the average amount spent on groceries was right between our the old and new projections.
Housing, transportation and food represent the bulk of the average household’s expenses. For our family, this trio represented 41% of expenses in 2019. I’m not expecting this to change a ton in 2020.
In December we celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary in New Orleans and we spent New Year’s Eve in Orlando with family. The bulk of the spending in this category can be attributed to our trip to New Orleans. In addition, our IHG and Marriott Bonvoy credit card fees hit this month which I code as travel.
We averaged right around $400 a month in travel for the year. And with no firm plans to travel in the future, we set our projection right around that mark for 2020.
Possible trips in 2020 include:
- Boston in the summer
- Jamaica for a friend’s birthday party
- Europe??? for our 5 year anniversary
In real life, Im much more meticulous about our budget. But for your sake, rather than bore you with details, I like to lump every category outside of the top five or six and label it as “Other Bills”. Because the pie chart looks much prettier this way.
Christmas shopping is represented in here, cable and phone bills, our amazon and Costco subscriptions were paid this month. It’s a rather boring category.
Progress Toward Financial Independence (FIRE)
We did not make any deliberate progress towards FI this month, outside of contributing to our 401K plans.
Upcoming Changes in 2020
First, I will start publishing our family budget on a quarterly basis rather than monthly. (I hope I don’t lose my two readers over this.) This will allow me to focus on other areas of this blog that I can approve. Don’t worry! I’m very in-tune with our day to day spending. It’s a passion for me to log into my Personal Capital account and see the inflows and outflows on a day to day basis. It even helps me recall some events that I may have forgotten.
Secondly, Im going to track anything we spend that is directly related to kids, outside of daycare costs. Why? Frankly, I find that kids are not as expensive as our culture would lead you to believe. I mean, they can be as expensive as you want. But we throw money at these kids with no apparent intention. Just because something looks cute. It’s sickening to me. There will be challenges with this, no doubt. For example, my wife will often buy something for the kids with her own credit card so that it doesn’t show up on our family spending plan. She’s well within her rights to do that (it’s her money) or to charge it to the family account as well (whether the kids actually need these items or not). Nonetheless, I want to see how this plays out in 2020.
What changes are you making in 2020?