Home > My 2019 Breakdown of Income and Expenses

My 2019 Breakdown of Income and Expenses

December 27th, 2019 at 07:37 pm

It's that time of year when Patient Saver likes to analyze her total spending for the year, which of course couldn't be possible without her careful expense tracking all year long!

The big picture: My total spending for the year was $39,530. Of my 30 or so expense categories, expenses increased from last year in 12 categories, including my top 3 biggest expenses, unfortunately. Expenses stayed about even with last year in another 6 categories, and expenses actually decreased in 9 categories.

Here are my ranked expenses, from greatest to least, along with a little commentary thrown in.

Property taxes: $6,738. My #1 biggest expense, representing 17% of my total expenses. Not much I can do about this until I turn age 65, when I can take advantage of a pretty generous town senior tax credit and a less generous state tax credit for seniors with more stringent criteria I may or may not meet.

Food: A whopping $4,982, or 22% MORE than I spent last year. Much of this increase is due to my decision to buy a half-share at the organic farm, which cost me $585 for the season. I won't do that again, but will continue to shop there more selectively.

This category vexes me more than any other; try as I have in the past, I have yet to contain my costs, and in some ways, I don't try to since I believe that eating healthy, organic produce is conducive to good health. For much of the year, I would hit Aldi's first for the basics and then supplement as needed by going elsewhere for things Aldi's didn't have. This obviously didn't have much impact.

Health insurance: I'm on the healthcare exchange and premiums cost me $4,330 this year. I feel grateful to have seen just a 5% increase from last year. (I treat out of pocket copays and other medical bills separately below.)

Greenhouse window, $3,000: I budget for up to $10,000 in home improvement expenses each year, or vacations. In other words, I have $10K I can spend on either category, or both, up to a max of $10k. I didn't vacation this year so I spent about $8,250 on various home improvements.

I wanted the greenhouse window to brighten up a dark corner at the end of a short hallway, a place where I could bathe some of my cacti and succulents in more winter sunlight. They seem to like it, although I have noticed the temperature in that corner is now 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. The window juts out from the side of the house and while there is insulation underneath and around it, I guess it's not enough. I may consider calling the builder back in spring to see if he can beef it up somehow.

Another home improvement, beefing up and essentially redoing my attic insulation, was my #5 expense this year, at $2,674. I'm glad I did it. I think it's more airtight up there. It's hard to say for sure since how much I spend on heating oil has more to do with oil prices than insulation.

I know that the blown-in cellulose seals things up better than fiberglass batts, which is what I had, plus they used a lot of sealers and added insulating foam sheets on all the knee-wall doors and the main door.

Next on my list was the cost of taking down a massive locust tree and a somewhat smaller, but dead, ash tree, another victim of ash borer. The takedown of these 2 trees cost $2,576.

My #7 expense comes under the general "Household" expenses, my only real catch-all for certain expenses I can't put elsewhere. This came to $1,668.

My #8 expense was my cat, at $1,442, and this was up 71% from last year, due to some dental work he needed.

My #9 expense was "Lawn & garden," at $1,261, which was actually 18% lower than last year because I tried to do a few mowings myself early in the spring and toward the end of the season, to save money. As it is, I only have the mower guy come every other week.

I mostly dislike mowing in the heat and humidity of July and August. It sure is nice to have someone else do it, but it really is a big expense, so I will try again to do some mowings myself (while I still can).

My #10 expense was car upkeep ($981), up 68% from last year due to the need for front brakes (the 1st time needed for my 2013 Honda) and some other stuff. This is another of those categories it would be hard to lower unless I wanted to unwisely ignore needed maintenance. I go to the dealer, but the private places around here are just as expensive, honestly.

Electricity: $960,up 5% from last year.

Gasoline for car: $881, down 14% from last year, not because I'm driving any less but due to lower gas prices.

Heating oil/furnace cleaning: $809, down 35% from last year for the same reason as gas for my car was down: Texan crude prices were just down generally.

Maintenance: $764, down 41% from last year. This includes general repairs, the servicing of my furnace humidifier, AC and stuff like that.

Homeowners insurance: $699, which was about the same last year.

State of CT: I owed them $658 last year and i guess I'm under-withholding on my pay. I need to adjust this on a W-4.

Car insurance: $655, which was up 10% from last year. I take advantage of every conceivable discount available and still it goes up each year, which is hugely irritating to me as I've never filed any kind of claim for home or auto in 25 years.

Internet/phone: $633, down 30% from last year, mainly because my dear cousin gifted me an iPhone and included the monthly service as part of the gift. I still maintain a landline, but the cost ($45) is nominal as it's Magic Jack. I hate AT&T, which hiked the cost of my Internet service after I dropped landline service with them, so now I pay them $10 more a month for the Internet. If I could switch Internet service for a lower price, I would.

Out of pocket medical/dental: $589, down 66% from last year, mainly because I had a less-than-ideal plan and made a concerted effort to avoid going to the doctor, although I did see my neurologist and ophthalmologist along with my dentist, who is kind of pricey since I have no dental insurance.

Entertainment: $527, which is about what I spent last year. In this category I include things like my Hulu subscription, my Ancestry subscription in the past, the occasional movie out and so on.

Coworker's car scratch: $500. I hugely regret scratching my coworker's car, especially since this guy is an absolute car nut and treats his Audi better than anything else in his world. I scratched the black paint on it backing out of a dark parking lot when he was unexpectedly parked behind me. I knew I couldn't file a claim with my car insurance because I long ago hiked my deductible to $5k to save money on the premiums. So I had to pay it out of pocket.

The rest of my categories are, in descending order, gifts, dining out, clothing, car taxes/registration/license fees, my umbrella policy, water, borough taxes, sewage, dump sticker and haircuts.

So total expenses came to $39,530. My total NET income came to $35,158, so I had a smallish shortfall of $4,300. Put another way, I was able to pay 89% of my expenses in 2019 with my little part-time job.

My income came primarily from my part-time copy editing job, but for the 2nd year in a row, dad gave each of his 4 children a very nice $5,000 Christmas check. I made another $850 in Facebook sales selling stuff I don't need, I earned another $600 from some random freelance work, $426 from credit card rewards, and that's about it.

What's missing from this list is housing expenses. As you may know, I paid off my mortgage early, in 2012.

Until next year!

4 Responses to “My 2019 Breakdown of Income and Expenses”

  1. Carol Says:

    I think food went up this year. I don't track as carefully as you do, but I have upped our vegetable intake and the grocery bills reflect it.They are now in the $200. a week range... (When I was first married in 1967, I fed us very nicely on $15. a week.Those days are long gone. I feel I should now say something profound about inflation, but the numbers speak for themselves.)

  2. Jenn Says:

    I think that when you strive to eat healthfully, groceries become an investment in health like a health club membership or a massage. And like vacation expenses, the goal isn't to minimize it.

    Thanks for sharing your expenses. I find it so interesting to look at actual budgets.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    I often struggle when I see my grocery bill. Like you, we do Aldi first and then get stuff we couldn't get there at another store, but like Carol commented, I think the price of food has gone up. Just think if you had bought cheap junk food how much more you would have spent on health costs.

    Our retired pastor went to seminary as a 40 year old in St. Louis. He related this story when I commented on how much we spend on food: he said there were other seminary students who were not from the United States, but other countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa who were enthralled with our grocery stores. They said they could not believe how we in American could go to the store and pick up what we need when we needed it because there was an ample supply. I started looking at my food costs differently after that because I realized how fortunate I am to live in America where I can go to the store and get what I want, even if it costs a little more than I think it should.

  4. Dido Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Always so interesting to see how budgets break out--especially when people are comparable (single, no kids). I spend way more on my pets and much less on my house than you do--plus I have categories for professional expenses (my work pays my minimum required expenses but I take more professional education than required, though I am spending a bit less here than previously) and books. Can't forget books! The library doesn't help--I'm on their finance committee so of course I frequent it, but I need to be able to scribble all over my books, bend page corners, etc. My mother the librarian hated it! THese days most of the books are kindle, at least, so the paper accumulation has stopped, but the library continues to grow. Pets and books will always be my two biggest discretionary categories.

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