2017 Joint Spending Plan

I’ll go into more detail in later posts about how and why exactly my husband and I plan to keep parts of our finances separate, including how we’re handling the condo. For now, let’s look at what our joint spending plan looks like for 2017. We spent about an hour one weekend in mid-December looking at the categories we counted as shared expenses in 2016 and estimating what we would spending 2017 on those categories.

Note that this plan does not cover our personal spending – that is separately tracked for both of us. We’re following a his/hers/ours formula to our assets and spending, based on what we drew out in our postnuptial agreement. My husband plans to follow his non-budgeting formula which works out great for him and I plan to use Cait Flanders’ Mindful Budgeting Planner to track my personal spending in 2017.

Spending Plan

2017-joint-spending-plan

Housing ($16,293.07)

  • $9,559.88 HOA monthly and special assessments (known amounts), property taxes (I estimated based on the assessed value of the condo and the 2016 tax amount)
  • $2,230 Maintenance – this is the average amount I’ve spent annually since buying the condo. If it doesn’t all get spent, it’ll roll forward as float to cover future maintenance or condo assessments. My husband tried to say that we don’t need to budget for condo maintenance each year because everything this year was a one-off expense. I showed him my data for 2012-2016 that showed that 2016 was exactly in line with average and he agreed to put this in.
  • $925.91 Electricity – This is the 2016 spending plus the expected per kWh increase for 2017. Our usage has stayed relatively flat or decreasing over the years and the utility company keeps increasing the cost per kWh each year… I’m not really sure how to budget for heating since I’m home more than I used to be and the heaters are on more instead of being off all day, so I guess we’ll see how this goes!
  • $17.88 VoIP line
  • $2,750 House cleaning – $110 biweekly, assuming 25 visits
  • $809.40 Internet

An astute reader might notice that there is no mortgage payment listed here, which costs about $12,000/year. Did we pay off the mortgage or is it a separate expense? And whose separate expense is it? I’ll answer those questions in a future post.

Food ($8,980)

We generally toss household toiletries like paper towels and toothpaste into here for simplicity.

  • $450/month Groceries – our average spending in 2016
  • $255/month Restaurants – one nice dinner out and 3 takeouts
  • $520/year Costco – we make one trip quarterly

Taxes (unknown)

That glorious marriage tax penalty will hit us for the 2016 tax year. We won’t know exactly how much it’ll be until I’ve collected all of our tax forms and can do our taxes in our beloved TurboTax. I have an estimate though that it will be somewhere between our travel budget for the year ($5,000) and our food budget for the year ($8,980). On the other hand, with our income projections for 2017, I expect getting married to save us a larger sum than our penalty in 2016 and that will be a joint bonus. Thanks to my husband’s income increasing by 33% over his 2015 income, we don’t expect to get hit with any underpayment penalties.

Travel ($5,000)

This covers (for both of us) one trip for a friend’s milestone birthday, a Christmas trip, a relative’s milestone birthday trip, and one weekend getaway. Some of this might get paid for with credit card points, but we still count it as spending and then the credit card points as income, resulting in $0 coming out of our checking account.

Entertainment ($1,512.16)

  • $1,000 theatre tickets and such
  • $10.95/month Adobe Lightroom
  • $10.95/month Netflix
  • $16.41/month Spotify Family, shared with two other family members
  • $4.37/month Pandora

Transportation ($1,570)

  • $25/month: there’s usually reason to take a few Ubers a month
  • $30/month: one gas tank fill-up per month
  • $500: the January car insurance payment will be my separate expense. We plan on paying for it as a family expense in July, though that’s still uncertain at this moment. This is related to the fact that it’s my car and I’m the primary driver of it.
  • $210: annual car registration
  • $200: car maintenance is usually pretty low

Gifts ($880)

We’ll donate out of our Donor Advised Fund balance throughout 2017. We also estimated four wedding presents for a total of $880. We’re still sorting out what we’re doing about combining Christmas present spending as one of us likes to be far more generous than the other person.

Wedding (unknown)

We’re throwing a wedding reception in 2017 at a local restaurant for our friends and family who couldn’t make it to the wedding. Our estimate at the moment is that this will cost somewhere around $10,000-$15,000. It’s really hard to know how much it’ll cost until we know how many people are coming since the largest cost is the reception venue and that is based on consumption, which depends on how many people come. We are really excited to share this joy with our friends and family! We’ve received some wedding gifts already, totaling about $8,500 so far, which will cover most of this cost, which is why I’m not expecting this to be a huge part of our budget in 2017. Any costs of this which can’t be covered with cash wedding gifts will be taken out of our separate accounts in a 50/50 ratio.

Miscellaneous ($1,764.77)

Since we decided to round up the amount we deposit per month to the nearest thousand dollars, I added that extra amount as a Miscellaneous category to cover stuff we haven’t thought of, like when we decide we need a new alarm clock or a new kitchen tool.

Implementation

This plan adds up to $34,235.23 total for 2017 or an average of $2,942.30 per month. We rounded that up to $3,000 and will each deposit $1,500 per month to the joint checking account to cover these costs.

Currently, we are using two credit cards to pay for joint expenses:

  1. American Express Blue Cash Preferred ($95 annual fee, though we only paid $75 at our most recent renewal) for 6% cashback on groceries, 3% cashback on gas stations, and 1% cashback elsewhere. This one is in my husband’s name. This will earn us $239.80 per year in cash back rewards versus $169.20 with the no annual fee version of the card.
  2. Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee with a 100,000 point bonus) with 3 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere, with the ability to redeem the points at 1.5x on travel with Chase’s portal. This is our primary everything else card at the moment and has a pretty high limit. It has a $75 additional annual fee per authorized user though so this card is just in my name. With the wedding reception counting as a Restaurant in Visa’s books, this card should earn us about $630.08 in rewards in 2017 while keeping things simple.

We will keep a one month buffer in the joint checking account, so the two credit cards are on auto pay and I don’t have to make sure to pay them each month, which is a welcome change from the last few months during the transition.

If we have any future large expenses that come up during the year that our joint accounts can’t cover (like the living room remodel in 2016), then we’ll come up with a budget for the expense and transfer that amount from our separate accounts into a joint account. For example, when we found out the designer’s cost (~$3,000), we each put half of it in a joint account. We didn’t do that with the living room furniture parts since it was going to be spread out over a longer period of time, but had we been married when we decided to take on the expenditure, we would have each put half of the $12,000 budget into a joint account once we had the budget in hand.

The evolution of managing shared spending in a dating relationship

I started working on this post after my husband and I had been dating for about a year. I’m publishing it now as a snapshot of how our financial management evolved during our dating relationship. I’ll have plenty more to say about how we will manage money going forward in our marriage, don’t worry!

Friends and Early Dating

My husband and I have been friends since college. We occasionally went out for food together prior to beginning to date and we just split the bill by what food we ordered. That’s what most friends do, right? When we were first casually dating, we continued to do the same. I remember one occasion when we were trying to figure out how to split the bill, he put his card down, and poof the server took off with it! I turned out to have some cash and gave him some for my share. Since that instance, we’ve always made sure to figure out what we’re doing before either of us put our cards down on the bill. I still remember the first time we went out for dinner after we had The Relationship Talk and we looked at the bill and went “What do we do?”, realizing that maybe there was a new process to this paying for eating out madness. He also asked me how much I was going to tip, which I found quite amusing at the time. (He later explained that he didn’t want to tip vastly different amounts on similar bills.) Until we moved in together, we had several approaches:

  1. If the amounts were way off, sometimes the person who ordered more $ of food pays the whole bill
  2. Sometimes one person randomly pays for both of us
  3. If we split all the food or ordered within $1 of the same amount of food, we split the bill 50/50
  4. If the amounts we each ordered are off by less than the amount we would tip, then we adjust the amount with the tip

For any costs in cash, usually whoever has the most convenient denomination of cash pays.

For expenses that we couldn’t split at the source, we set up our checking accounts so we could transfer money to each other without seeing the other’s balances after we’d been dating for about six months, which made random things so easy to split. It did drive me a bit nuts with the number of transfers going back and forth, but it was a great system. (Square Cash made this pretty easy when I moved my money to a different bank.)

Travel

In 2014, we took a few trips and they were relatively easy to share the costs:

  1. In March, we went on a trip to an all-inclusive resort. Pretty much everything was paid for upfront, so one of us paid with a credit card and the other transferred half the cost. Super easy. If you’re ever traveling with friends, these are great trips to take! One of us took out some $ from an ATM to have some spending cash and the other transferred them half of that. We ended up spending none of it though so we both had enough cash to last us several months of normal cash spending.
  2. In June, we went on a trip to another city, a short-ish flight away. One person booked the flights on a credit card, the other booked and paid upfront for the hotel, and the person who paid less for those two transferred the other the difference. We did one activity that one person paid for in advance and the other transferred them half. Once we were there, we followed our normal pattern for splitting costs.
  3. In July, we went on a driving weekend away. One person booked the hotel and activities and the other paid them back once we had the final amounts. My husband filled up the gas tank. We followed our normal restaurant pattern.

As of early 2015, our trip to New Zealand was our biggest shared cost so far, the first one being our shared checking account for groceries. At home, we split every expense except groceries at the source. This sounds tedious to everyone else, but it works for us. When we go out to eat, we either pay for what we ordered or we split the bill evenly if our separate amounts are within a dollar of each other’s. We agreed as we were booking this trip on about how much it would cost, how long we wanted to go for, where we wanted to go, and the type of trip that we wanted to have: hotels not hostels, renting a car instead of tour buses, not a big group experience. We also decided to put most of the expenses on one credit card (and agreed to use a recent card that my husband got) and then deal with things when we got back. We both had separate credit cards that we used for non-shared expenses. This system worked out pretty well!

Living Together

It took us a few months of living together before we found a good routine with our financial management systems. The system I described in that post isn’t exactly what we ended up doing over the last two years. We did, however, stick to our plan of splitting the outgoing shared expenses other than the mortgage payment 50/50. Our incomes when he moved in were pretty similar and so that seemed like a fair system. Our incomes eventually diverged quite a bit, but we’ve still kept to the 50/50 system as we don’t want to create a financial dependence on the other person’s income.

We determined who would pay what with the question “If we were renting, would the landlord or the renter pay for X?” In order to keep my condo equity safe and clearly separate, I paid for everything related to the condo. I paid the mortgage payments, monthly HOA dues and special assessments, property taxes, and any maintenance or improvements. He paid for most everything else: groceries, travel, restaurants, utilities, new towels, etc.

To keep things simple, all of the shared expenses that he paid for were put on one credit card and I have an Authorized User card on the account. We also set up a financial aggregator account with it so that I could see the data without him sharing the online banking password. Every few months, I would enter my part of the data and his part of the data into a spreadsheet and make sure that things were relatively even since we weren’t splitting at the source.

When we did a living room furniture remodel this year, we agreed to split every item purchased at the source so that we fully owned all of the items together. I ended up getting a couple of credit cards (including the Chase Sapphire Reserve!) for credit card bonus points with the large purchases and then he paid me back for his half of the furniture pieces.

After we got married, we moved to a slightly different system (which I will talk more about next year), though I continued to pay for everything related to the condo until the postnuptial agreement was signed. I am so excited to retire the haphazardly updated spreadsheet of shared spending!! I’m really glad I kept that spreadsheet though as it made creating our 2017 joint budget much, much easier.

Happy holidays, everyone! This is my last post for 2016.

How I Use Stylebook to Manage My Closet

iPhone Screenshot 1 I’ve been using Stylebook since January to track and manage my closet. Last fall, I did an analysis of what I had in my closet and what I would like to have and identified where the gaps were. Not long after that, I got an iPhone and discovered the wonder of iOS apps, including Stylebook. I’m a huge believer of having data on your life and data gives you the power to make informed decisions, so I’m surprised I never really tracked my closet before. I probably had the mistaken impression that that was for “fashion snobs”, which I felt was not me.

Closet Organizing

The key data piece in Stylebook is importing your entire closet. This sounds like a lot of work and it definitely takes some amount of time, though I had recently done a huge closet purge when I started using the app, which made the import go much faster.

Categories

Their categories didn’t quite work for me, but you can really define your own categories. I’ve eventually shifted my categories to the following:

  1. Tops
    1. Three-quarter sleeved
    2. Long-sleeved
    3. Short-sleeved
    4. Cardigans/Hoodies
    5. Sweaters
    6. Sleeveless
  2. Bottoms
    1. Pants
    2. Shorts
    3. Tights
    4. Skirts (though I currently have none)
  3. Shoes
    1. Flats
    2. Boots
    3. Sandals
  4. Bags
    1. Cross-Body Bags
    2. Totes
    3. Clutches
  5. Outerwear – three subcategories to match the different types of jackets I wear in my region
  6. Dresses
    1. Fall/winter Casual
    2. Formal Dresses
    3. Spring/summer Casual
  7. Other
    1. Scarves
    2. Belts
    3. Hats
    4. Necklaces
    5. Swimsuits
  8. Athletic clothing
    1. Tops
    2. Pants
    3. Footwear
  9. Items that don’t currently fit – subcategories for each size
  10. Gone Items
    1. Tops

As you can see, I track pretty much all items of clothing in Stylebook except for pyjamas.

Importing Items

I add an item to Stylebook when I decide that it has a place in my closet. Many websites have pictures of their clothing on them and I use those pictures to use as the item’s picture where possible. When that’s not possible, I either take my own picture quickly and take a new picture later when I have some more time or I search for a similar item in Google images and try to find one without a person in it. The background is much easier to clear in Stylebook with its tools when it’s a distinct color from the clothing item and there are no pieces in the background layered over top of the item.

You can add a variety of fields on your items: colors, fabric, size, season, brand, status, price, and notes.

I didn’t use the Season field at first, until I learned how useful it is when I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I had nothing to wear in the summer. I went and added the Season field to all of my clothes and then realized I had about 2 items I would wear in the summer. That helped me be comfortable with going out and buying some new summer clothes.

The Notes field is completely freeform and I use it for a few purposes:

  1. I note when I added the item to my closet, i.e. “January 2016”. (This allows me to then search for “2016”to find all items added in 2016 or for “February 2016” to find all items added in that month – super useful.)
  2. I include the description of the item from the brand’s website.
  3. I include general notes about the item. For outerwear, I indicate a temperature range where I wear the piece. (This has really helped me to think consciously about when I would wear a piece of outerwear before adding it to my closet! One piece I bought this past spring was for a very specific temperature range that I realized I didn’t have a piece for and then it turned out that is a very common temperature range where I live as I have worn it 72 times since I bought it in April.)
  4. If I have multiple of the same item in the same color, I write “Multiple x3” to indicate how many I have.

Style Stats

I love the style stats in the app! You can see:

25 Most Recently Added

This screen shows the items you most recently added to the closet. I like to look at how aged these items are. The least recently added item in this list currently is from August 2016. I didn’t add anything to my closet in October 2016.

Never Used in an Outfit

This screen I don’t really care about. For me, it shows bags and jackets because I don’t usually include those in my outfits.

Never Logged on Calendar

This screen is pretty useful to see what items you added to your closet, but then never worn. If you’re someone who tends to buy items, leave the tags until you wear it, but then never actually wear it, checking in on those items here is really useful.

25 Least Worn

This screen is really motivational to me to make sure I’m wearing the items in my closet! If things stay in here for too long, I like to think about why they’re still here. Why am I not wearing the item? Did I buy it off-season and that’s why it’s staying in here for a long time of low usage? (I am not a fan of off-season buying.) Right now, here’s a selection of my list:

  • 1 day: A pair of hiking shorts that I bought because I was too warm hiking in pants. We didn’t have a lot of time to hike this summer, so I only wore them once.
  • 1 day: A dress I bought in September. The tights I would wear it with ripped, which has been a deterrent to wearing it again. I am replacing those tights though and then I’ll be able to wear the dress again.
  • 2 days: A gorgeous summer formal dress that I for some reason bought last fall that I had no reason to wear or buy and then it didn’t fit when it was summer! I’ll slowly get some wear out of it.
  • 2 days: A top I bought last December that is really cute and looks great on me that simply doesn’t fit into my lifestyle and weather. Plus it’s handwashable and I’m a tad lazy with those.
  • 2 days: Colored tights that are a little too out there in color for my more classic, subdued colored dressing.
  • 2 days: Colored tights that went perfectly with exactly one item in my closet that I sold on Poshmark because I never wore it. Thankfully they also go with something I bought in September, so I will get some wear out of them after all.
  • 2 days: A dress I bought for the many summer weddings we went to this year, but I only wore it to two of them because the other two were in the fall and I wore a different dress.

And so forth. If I can’t come up with a good explanation for when I’ll wear an item again, I add “Poshmark” to its description and try to sell it eventually.

25 Most Worn

This one is super fun. For me, it is full of bags, shoes, outerwear, cardigans, and scarves, since those are the items that are mixed and matched more often with multiple other pieces.

25 Worst Cost-per-Wear

I take a similar approach to the “25 Least Worn” items here. I have an ongoing project of wearing the items in this screen to get them out of here! It is really rewarding when they get out of here. Adding new items to my closet is horrible for this screen’s progress, which helps to not shop when I don’t need something.

25 Best Cost-per-Wear

This screen is so helpful for showing me just how much those expensive shoes, bags, or jackets really cost on a per use basis. I acquired a purse for $217 about two years ago now and despite not tracking its usage in Stylebook for most of its first year, it’s just about down to $1/wear, which is pretty good. It doesn’t show any signs of use and I will have it for a long time. It’s also shown me that the flats that I thought were “expensive” turned out to have far better cost per use statistics than some of the tops I bought that were way cheaper.

Archiving Items

Stylebook unfortunately doesn’t allow you to “archive” items, so I’ve developed a way to do this manually. When I think I should sell an item, but haven’t quite gotten around to doing so yet, I add “Poshmark” to the Notes field. I have three strategies here:

An item no longer fits

I have a category for when items no longer fit and I move the item there. I also update its status to “In Storage” and move the price from the Price field to the Notes field. (So that I still have the data easily accessible if it turns out to fit again.) This means that the “Value of my closet” field Stylebook tells me is the sum value of all of the items that currently fit in my closet. If I would wear the item if it fit again, then I keep it. Otherwise, I consider donating it or selling it and follow the other two strategies described below. This section is really helpful for when an item then fits again later and I can reverse the steps I described here to bring it back into my closet! It’s great for tracking items that are in storage somewhere else in your house/apartment too.

Deleting entirely

If an item that I’ve removed from my closet by donating or selling shows up in the Most Worn or Least Worn stats screens, then I delete the item entirely from the app. Before deleting it, I save its info into the iOS Notes app. I save the item’s picture, the picture of any looks, the price, brand, and notes fields, and indicate which days I wore it. I also delete the item from the looks that it was in, so that the other items will still show that they were worn that day.

Moving to another clothing category, e.g. “Gone items”

If the item doesn’t show up in the Most Worn or Least Worn stats screens, then I leave it in Stylebook and simply move it to another clothing category labelled “Gone items”. Like for when the item no longer fits, I mark the item’s status as “In Storage” and move the price to the Notes field.

Outfits Organizing

iPhone Screenshot 2

This is where you store all of the possible ways that you have worn or could wear the items in your closet! It is so useful to be able to see all of the different ways that you have worn an item before and then how often you wore it that way.

My lifestyle is so different from the default way the app was set up that it took me a while to figure out how to use this section. Initially I didn’t use it and just logged each item on the calendar every day I wore it. That was a lot of work so eventually I organized things into outfits. My categories here are always evolving and I rearrange them depending on the current season. This feature is really neat because then I can go back to an item’s page in the app and see all of the outfits I’ve made with it.

Categories

At the moment, the list looks like:

  1. Long-sleeved
  2. T-shirts
  3. Athletic
  4. Dresses, Fall
  5. Dresses, winter/dressy
  6. [Jeans] Size X
  7. Long-sleeved Cords
  8. T-shirt Cords
  9. Looks with Missing Items
  10. Dresses, summer
  11. [Jeans] Size Y
  12. Sleeveless
  13. Shorts

The [Jeans] Size X/Y categories are because I have the same pair of jeans in two different sizes and that’s my way of keeping the looks separate.

What goes in an outfit?

In my individual outfits, I include: dresses, tops, cardigans/hoodies, pants/shorts/tights/skirts, shoes, and scarves. I include vests in outfits and outerwear in athletic outfits, but otherwise, I don’t include outerwear in an outfit because it isn’t key to the outfit for me. Everyone is different on that. For me, outerwear is more dependent on weather than on the other items I’m wearing.

Calendar

iPhone Screenshot 3This is the meat and butter of the app really as it powers all of the statistics. This is where you log what you actually wore every day. I log everything that I wear outside of the house, with the first item being the primary outfit I wore. You can log clothing items or looks/outfits.

It’s really fun looking back on a previous month – you can really tell what the overall weather theme just by looking at my Stylebook calendar! It does show you your Most Worn and Best Value for each month. Most Worn is usually a bag or a piece of outerwear for me, so those are not particularly interesting. Best Value is usually the cheapest item I wore that month, so also not particularly interesting. I’m more interested in the long-term patterns.

You can add notes for each item you add to the calendar. I use this for a few purposes:

  1. I indicate if I wore an outfit to the gym so that I can easily search for all outfits I wore to the gym
  2. I indicate the names of the bride and groom for the wedding I wore an outfit to. This makes it easy to search “wedding” and find all outfits I wore to a wedding in my Stylebook history.
  3. I occasionally use other indicators like “dinner”, “hiking”, “walk” etc.

I occasionally will plan my entire week of outfits at once by consulting the weather and what clean items I have in my closet.

Packing

My system for packing clothes on trips used to be pretty lazy for how great I am at organizing so many other things. Now I use Stylebook to manage my clothing packing. I make a new packing list for a trip and add the expected weather, how many flights, and anything else to note (e.g. wedding(s)) in the notes field. You can add multiple outfits at once to your packing list and then once you’re done selecting outfits, it asks you if you want to add the missing items to the clothing section of the packing list. They have a packing list of all the items once you’re ready to pack that is organized by subcategory! I especially love being able to use Stylebook to figure out what is in my suitcase because I can never find anything. We’ll see if it manages to solve my overpacking problem though…

What is it missing for me?

  • Goals of number of items across the following categories: (1) summer dresses/tops and (2) fall dresses/tops.
  • Dates an item left and entered my closet so that I can search on these more easily.
  • Closet holes in list form – the app has an “inspiration” section, but I tend to make lists of things and then search later for “black flats” for example.

What have I learned?

  1. How to buy clothes that fit into my closet, rather than buying clothes that seem interesting
  2. I will never be the person who buys ten items of the same shirt in the same color and is happy wearing those every day.
  3. I do, however, like finding a shirt or dress I love and then buying it in multiple colors.
  4. 1-2 pairs of jeans really are sufficient. There is no reason to have any more. 1 pair of athletic pants per style and size is sufficient too (hiking shorts, hiking pants, and yoga crops).
  5. It’s okay to only use a particular bag in the summer or another in the fall – the long-term view is useful.
  6. There is a huge range between “being a fashionista” and “not caring about fashion at all” and I fall somewhere in the middle.
  7. If I don’t have enough clothes to wear in a particular season between laundry days, life is very stressful for me.
  8. I like clothes.
  9. I like having enough clothes to be able to not worry about whether I have clothes to wear that day.
  10. By being more conscious about my closet, my closet is much smaller than it used to be, while wearing a far higher percentage of the items in it.
  11. Stylebook is so great at helping me shop my closet and organize things in a way I never could by just staring at my closet.
  12. I really don’t need that cute dress unless it will fill a closet hole.
  13. Unless I have key accessories to wear an item (re: tights that I would wear with a particular dress), I simply won’t wear it.
  14. Based on my lifestyle, I really only need one formal dress per season and if I wanted more, I should use Rent the Runway over buying dresses because my cost per wear would be better that way.
  15. Women should stop making excuses for why they buy more clothes and instead, use the Stylebook app to manage their closet.
  16. More expensive clothes don’t always have a better Cost Per Wear than cheaper clothes and vice versa.
  17. Clothing is something I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of my discretionary income on, so long as it is conscious.

The high cost of attending weddings

Inspired by a post I saw recently, I thought I’d tally up how much I’ve spent attending weddings.

2009

  • Friend Wedding: I learned the night before the wedding that you’re supposed to give presents. I clearly did not get them one and I found a friend as my plus one who had a car, lol.
  • Friend Wedding: Managed to swing it as a layover on a paid for flight. Stayed with friends. Looks like a $100 contribution to a present, $2 card, and $30 on food that weekend.

2011

  • Cousin’s wedding: my parents paid my way.

2012

  • Friend Wedding: Local-ish – they had a shuttle running, so I took that, which was pretty convenient. $75 cash gift.

2013

  • Friend Wedding: $427.65 travel (bought flights with points, saving ~$600-800), $50 cash gift; $1 card (there was a dollar store right by where I was staying)

2014

  • BF’s Friend Wedding: $978.87 travel (food/flights/rental car/one night lodging), no gift (BF paid for it and the card)
  • Mutual Friend Wedding: $75 cash gift (we couldn’t attend due to a conflict)
  • My Friend Wedding: $967.10 bachelorette party; $4 card x2 (one for bridal shower and one for wedding); $45 wedding gift; $50 bridal shower gift. It was local, so we took the bus there and a cab home that BF paid for. I think BF tipped someone too.
  • Total spent attending weddings: $2,123.97

2015

  • My Friend Wedding: $1,099.59 travel (I paid for my flights, my half of the Airbnb, my half of the rental car, and BF covered most of the food and apparently the gas); $100 cash gift
  • $5 wedding cards (one for a reception we couldn’t attend)
  • Total spent attending weddings: $1,104.59

2016

  • My Friend Wedding #1: ~$100 gift. Local-ish, but we may taxi there and back.
  • Mutual Friend Wedding #1: $75 cash gift. Local-ish, but it’s looking like we’ll drive there and back.
  • Mutual Friend Wedding #2 and My Friend Wedding #2: ~$1,300 travel combined for the two weddings (haven’t booked yet), $75 cash gift for each.
  • Total spent attending weddings: $1,625

Usually we can either make an adventure of a wedding location or we can visit with other friends and family (or both!), so the annual travel for weddings hasn’t been so bad. So far, I’m at $5,539.21 spent attending weddings and I’m only 28. Keep in mind that all of these are my costs – BF has contributed to some of the presents and paid his way on all of our wedding travels. All of our friends that are planning 2017 weddings are planning local ones, so maybe we’ll have a year off from summer wedding travel. (Hah, I shouldn’t jinx it.) We have three siblings remaining between the two of us who are unmarried and all of those weddings will be out of town, so each of those will probably have a minimum $1,000 price tag for each of us to attend. I would guess that the next five years will probably see about $1,000/year in average wedding spending. We do have enough miles built up that we could probably pay for some of these flights with miles, but we’d have to book the flights much further in advance for that to be useful.

Readers, how much have you spent attending friends’ and family members’ weddings?

February 2016 update (+10.1%)

In February, I:

  1. contributed ~45% of the pre-tax 401(k) limit.
  2. updated the value of my condo to reflect current comparable sales, which contributed to the vast majority of my net worth increase this month. It’s now up about 40% from my purchase price.
  3. sold some more stuff on Craiglist!
  4. transferred some funds from my work HSA to my credit union HSA and only afterwards figured out a way to possibly do it without any transfer fees.
  5. enjoyed the auto transfer from savings to checking.
  6. finally saw enough earned income to contribute to my Roth IRA for the year, but I’m still going to wait a bit longer to make sure I have enough cash on hand.
  7. saved 71% of my net income for a savings rate so far this year of 69%. March and April should also be in the 70% range and then I’ll drop down to the 60% range for the remainder of the year except when I pay tuition.
  8. saw my net worth go up by $61,000 or about 10.1% to $665,000.

Expenses: I spent $2,946 in February including the mortgage or $1,919 without it, with no charitable donations this month. That breaks down to:

  • $1,676 in fixed/unavoidable expenses: cell phone, condo misc costs, HOA dues, mortgage payment, health, and transportation
  • $1,270 in discretionary expenses: clothing, entertainment, financial fees, food, eyebrows, shopping

Some of my controllable expenses broke down as follows:

  • $850 Clothing [$531 total so far this year; $829 at this point last year] – rightsized one of my jackets ($186 on sale), a long-sleeved running shirt ($75), a running vest ($150), a hoodie instead of stealing my boyfriends ($64), rightsizing my one pair of jeans that currently fits ($71), rightsizing my spring khakis from 2014 ($60) and shorts ($52), rightsizing my summer pyjama shorts from 2015 ($31) and my summer pyjama pants from 2013 ($36), and two summer dresses because I have zero that fit ($63)
  • ($5) Entertainment/Social [average so far this year: $16, average last year: $116] – Refund of some cash I had withdrawn previously.
  • $15 Financials: oops fee for transferring my HSA the non-free way (sigh)
  • $63 Food [average so far this year: $50, average last year: $51] – this covers eating out by myself, work lunches, and schoolwork-related food. I’m rolling these all into one category since it’s under $100.
  • $3 Housing miscellaneous – battery for the garage door opener
  • $35 Cell phone – monthly Cricket bill
  • $200 Health
  • $20 Eyebrows
  • $0 Toiletries [average so far this year: $17, average last year: $48]
  • $328 Shopping – noise-canceling headphones (an amazing purchase I should have made years ago!)
  • $88 Transportation: tolls replenishment (x2) and one tank of gas

I did another clothing inventory and bought some of the missing items this month. The remaining items on my clothing wants list are: a pair of sandals (I have none that fit) and a second pair of shorts and spring khakis if the ones I bought in February fit for more than a few months.

After accounting for March’s mortgage payment and HOA dues and the property taxes for the year, I have about $3,541 in available funds for discretionary spending. That also leaves about $2,646 in discretionary spending per month, which is pretty exciting! I’m curious to see whether I end up with money leftover at the end of the year or what the result is. This exercise also shows me how much of my spending is really discretionary and it’s kind of fun figuring out to how to allocate some of it.

Readers, how was your money in February?

January 2016 update (+0.5%)

I’m experimenting with a new format this year in which I only fill in the net worth table here quarterly. I want to focus more on my spending and my money actions each month.

In January, I:

  1. contributed ~45% of the pre-tax 401(k) limit
  2. paid the remainder of my costs for this period of school
  3. sold my 2015 Q4 ESPP shares and transferred their value to my general savings account
  4. kicked off my first month using Alliant Credit Union for my primary checking and savings accounts. I’m really stoked about this because they pay a reasonable-ish rate on checking without having to count debit card transactions (0.65%) AND they pay the same interest rate on savings as Ally Bank (1.00%). It also made the monthly auto-transfers from savings to checking much smoother being at the same place. Some people are tempted to spend their savings if it is in the same place as their checking account, but I’m not.
  5. opened up two NetSpend prepaid cards for the sweet 5% interest on the first $5,000. I’m all about finding ways to earn a better return on my cash since I decided to keep more cash around. My plan is that later, higher interest chunks will form part of the fixed income portion of my investment portfolio and the lower interest chunks will be my savings buffer.
  6. got really stressed out when the auto-payment on one of my credit cards didn’t go through in the switching of checking accounts. I assumed it would go through on one of them and nope, neither. I got hit with a late fee AND interest, all on a really low (for me) statement balance of ~$300. That was super stressful, but the credit card company was great and reversed all of the fees, even before I made the corrected payment!
  7. made my annual January donation that is ~6 months of budgeted charitable donations
  8. sold my first item on Craigslist! I was super stoked about that – it sold in under 24 hours. Eventually, we’ll get things looking like we don’t have a mash up of two apartments in here… We’re actively trying to sell a set of other items on Craigslist too and that one is taking longer. It took a bit to figure out what price I should list at.
  9. got hit with a maintenance fee on a credit card I hadn’t used all year, oops! Looks like I need to remember to use that one at least once a year.
  10. did not contribute to my Roth IRA. My current plan is to do this in April / after I have sufficient earned income.
  11. lost about $9,000 on paper in my investment portfolio. Despite that and selling my ESPP shares, I managed to have my investments “only” be down ~$300 thanks to my large contributions this month.
  12. saw my net worth go up by $3,000 or about 0.5% to $604,000. (Note that now that it’s larger, I’m going to be rounding to the nearest $1,000 here.)

Expenses: I spent $2,301 in January including the mortgage or $1,273 without it, excluding charitable donations. That breaks down to:

  • $2,081 in fixed/unavoidable expenses: financials, cell phone, HOA dues, mortgage payment, NEXUS card, medical, and car insurance
  • $222 in discretionary expenses: clothing, entertainment, food, eyebrows, toiletries, recreation, shopping, parking and tolls

Some of my controllable expenses broke down as follows:

  • ($319) Clothing: returned two of the four dresses I bought at the end of December ($363) and bought a long-sleeved running top ($44)
  • $37 Entertainment/Social [average so far this year: $37, average last year: $116] – A book (<$1 somehow), dinner with a friend ($24), and another photo album for picture printing ($13) – I’ll get my boyfriend’s half of that back later. This will be low for this period of school, in fact I’m surprised it was this “high” this month.
  • <$1 Financials: inactivity fee on that credit card I mentioned above. It should have been more like $10, so this was actually pretty pleasant.
  • $37 Food
    • $0 Eating out by myself [average so far this year: $0, average last year: $6]
    • $6 Schoolwork-related food [average so far this year: $6] – met up with a classmate in a coffee shop
    • $31 Work lunches [average so far this year: $31, average last year: $39] – this was 7 days of lunches
  • $26 Cell phone – monthly Cricket bill. It’s lower this month because I had raised my plan just before the plan renewal date last month and lowered it again shortly after.
  • $50 Nexus card – renewal time!
  • $160 Medical – a December appointment
  • $20 Eyebrows
  • $29 Toiletries [average so far this year: $33, average last year: $48] – cleanser and wipes for my menstrual cup and toner
  • $172 Recreation – Bah, so I did a ton of research and decided to get a Jawbone Up2 ($68) instead of a Fitbit Charge, but then it being on my wrist and not having the time on it drove me crazy, plus it was annoying to get on/off, so I bought a Fitbit One ($95). I like it much better! I should have just done that in the first place. My plan was to try to re-sell the Up2 for ~$50 or so.
  • $204 Shopping – the last of the parts for my new desktop computer ($200) and the Stylebook app ($4)
  • $530 Transportation: tolls replenishment (x1), parking at school one day, and six months of car insurance (up about 8% from the six month premium)

I didn’t even look into how my spending was going until about 2/3 of the way through the month, so I’m pretty happy with how things went! I also didn’t pay attention to how often I was buying lunch at work versus bringing it.

This month was pretty frugal. I’m curious to see how the year turns out! I’m guessing February will be similarly frugal since there are no big expenses due in February, nor are we planning any trips for the year yet. We’re debating re-painting a bunch of the condo finally, so that may happen, depending on cost. If the quotes are higher than we want to pay, we may end up doing it in the spring ourselves.

HOA dues did not go up this year and there is no special assessment, which is cool. I don’t know what the property taxes look like, but my tax value went up about 5%, so I assume they will go up about 5%.

In an attempt to rein in my clothing spending this year, I bought the Stylebook app to show me the cost-per-wear metrics of my clothing and how often I’m wearing items I have. My first goal is to get the CPW for each item in my closet down to $5. I’ll make a new goal once I get there. So far, it’s fun organizing my clothing in the app and is totally transferring the time I spent shopping to organizing my closet in the app. Only three items meet that $5 CPW goal at the moment: a $46 pair of jeans is at $3/wear, a $217 purse is at $4.25/use and a $20 summer top is at $4.95/wear. I’ve added in any clothes/purses I bought in 2015 to the app and tried to add past data where I could, but some of the stuff is going to take a while to get down to a reasonable cost per wear.

Note to newer readers: my boyfriend and I live together in the condo that I own and as part of him not paying rent, he pays for things like groceries, internet, electricity, eating out together, Ubers, and miscellaneous costs on trips, while I pay for everything related to the condo and to the car that I own. For now, he is also paying for the cleaning person that we hired to ease that burden a bit, but we’ll check in on that later this year. I may end up chipping in towards that later. My mom has commented that we shouldn’t “split” groceries 50/50 because he eats more than I do, but I take lunches to work out of the grocery budget and eat more breakfasts and snack food, while he eats more when we do share meals, so it actually evens out. In 2015, we averaged $538/month on shared groceries and restaurants, so the $509 we spent in January on groceries was a bit higher than usual, but still under last year’s shared food spending considering that there are no restaurants in there.

Readers, how was your money in January?

2015 In Review: Spending

A sidenote before we get into things: I decided to no longer report specific numbers on my charitable donations on this site. I removed those amounts from the Financial Stats page, they’re not in this pie chart below, and I won’t talk about them on my monthly reports going forward either.

According to this spreadsheet, I spent $48,288.04 in 2015. (I say according to this spreadsheet because each spreadsheet’s total seems to vary slightly…)

2015 Spending

In my 2014 year in review, I talked about what I thought my 2015 spending/savings might look like. Let’s check in with that:

1) I will spend $3,035 less on housing with my boyfriend moving in. I don’t know what the property tax bill will look like yet, but I’ve estimated for a 20% increase. There’s also a small special assessment due. I justify not caring about this by how much cheaper owning is than renting (~$14k to own my two bedroom condo last year versus ~$39k to rent a similar place).

We ended up rearranging how we split costs pretty quickly after he moved in and I did not spend $3,035 less on housing – in fact, I spent about $3,300 more thanks to some projects.

2) I am planning to spend less on clothing, but who knows how that’ll actually end up going.

We all know this failed miserably! But that’s perfectly all right. My clothing spending in 2015 was about half of the sum of my clothing spending in 2010-2014.

3) I think I’ll spend about the same on entertainment, dining out, and personal care.

I actually spent about half as much on entertainment ($1,400 versus $2,500), a third of the amount on dining out ($67.92 versus $211.58), and 25% more on personal care ($1,060.82 versus $829.54).

4) We’ve each set up automatic transfers for $200/month to the joint account to cover groceries. I’m reasonably sure this will be sufficient, but it may be more than we need.

Well that was about what we spent on groceries per month for the year, but we switched up our system later on.

5) I’ve estimated to spend about the same in 2015 on work lunches, but I’m going to see how the new job goes, how much the cafeteria costs, and then see if I can reduce this at all.

I seriously reduced this! Woo! I spent $1,817.05 in 2014 and $462.27 in 2015, just under $40/month in 2015. I did pretty well with bringing my lunch many days and occasionally buying it. Food is reasonably cheap here.

6) I estimated in my budget that I’ll spend less on recreation. My new employer will cover a certain amount of fitness related expenses. I haven’t decided whether I’ll count the funds as income or a reduction in spending. If it’s taxable income, I’ll probably count it is a income. That’ll affect what this category looks like this year.

I ended up categorizing the spending as spending and the reimbursements as income since they were taxed and all. I spent a tiny bit more on recreation.

7) I’ve estimated only $500 for shopping compared to 2014’s $3,400.

Hahahaha. I spent $5,266.16 on shopping. This covered: a new laptop, a new desktop computer, a new fancy office chair, a fancy new computer desk, a new iPhone and case, a new Kindle, a speaker for the kitchen, three new purses, a sunglasses case, some kitchen tools, and a new pillow. So lots of things!

8) I estimate spending about $400 more on transportation. Hopefully that’s not the case and car insurance will go down!

I actually spent a lot less! Car insurance went down AND I only paid for six months, not twelve. I also surprisingly spent less on fuel and the commuting costs weren’t too bad.

9) I’ll spend about $500 less on travel.

I actually spent about 2/3 of my 2014 travel spending. A decent chunk of New Zealand was paid for in 2014 and my boyfriend bought our Christmas flights per our expense sharing agreement.

10) Overall, I plan to spend about $9,200 less in 2015 than in 2014: 33% of that is housing, 10% clothing, 13% health, and 31% shopping.

Hah.

Some interesting spending items in 2015 to note:

  • $15.20 unaccounted for cash withdrawals
  • $15.25 books
  • $146.05 cell phone (two SIM cards, one activation fee, and ~3 months of service)
  • $44.22 spent per month on average on food (this includes work lunches and lazy eating out by myself)

How do I think my 2016 spending will be different than in 2015?

  1. I will spend less money on clothing. Other than 2015, I’ve averaged about $2,200/year post-college. I bought the Stylebook app early this month and now I have the game of driving down my cost per wear on items and buying new items is counterproductive to that.
  2. I’ll spend less on shopping – I don’t need to replace all of those things I replaced in 2015 yet.
  3. I’ll probably spend less on travel too.

Those three categories added up to about $16,000 in 2015 or about one third of my expenses, which is a good chunk considering that housing was half. We are planning on possibly getting a new couch in the next few years though and possibly some other living room furniture, though we don’t have a timeline on those yet. The rest of the categories I expect will be pretty similar year over year, so I may end up underspending my estimate for 2016 for the first time in a while…

Readers, how was your 2015 spending?