It's that time of year when Patient Saver tallies up all the spending she's done throughout the year to see where she stands.
Here, then, are my ranked expenses with commentary:
Property taxes, $6,792. No surprise here. My property taxes have always been my #1 expense. This won't change til I turn 65 and can take advantage of discounted senior property taxes which will make a big difference.
Garage stone veneer, $5,900. This was the most expensive home improvement I did this year, but even though it was strictly cosmetic, I have no regrets. I love the look of the stone, and the stone veneer and paver driveway now have the look of a side courtyard.
Food, $4,754. This represent a small, 4.5% decrease from 2019, so it's a small victory in a multi-year battle to contain my food expenses.
Health Insurance, $3,524. This was actually 18% less than what I spent in 2019, when my monthly premiums were higher.
New Water Tank, $1,276: My old water tank, which strictly services my 2 outdoor water faucets, began to leak unexpectedly late this year, so I had no choice but to replace it.
Cat, $1,171. I felt like I was bringing Luther to the vet a lot, for various reasons, but his problems were nothing too serious, which kept the bills down. This was actually 18% less than 2019.
Stairway Railing, $1,100. Pretty pricey. I wanted to get the railing years ago, so I'm glad I got it.
Heating Oil/Cleanings, $1,087. So while my top 5 expenses, not including the one-time home improvements, were all down compared to 2019, this expense was higher than in 2019, by 25%! It's somewhat surprising since oil prices on a per-gallon basis are way down, due to the pandemic, but since I've been working from home most of the year, I keep the heat at 67 all day long.
Electricity, $970. This is about what I spent last year. I go to some effort to shop around for electricity whenever I can achieve some savings, but evidently it doesn't really make much difference.
Lawn & Garden, $970. This cost was down by 23%, which surprised me since I wound up having to pay someone to mow my lawn for most of the season after injuring my knee. I do plan to do my own mowing in 2020 to save money and get good exercise. (I have more time than ever to do this as I don't expect to be returning to the office, even when the pandemic is over. I think the co-owners of the company have discovered they really CAN rely on their loyal staff to get the job doneeven working remotely, and so they're doing fabulously since they're not paying for office lease, phone/Internet, electrictity, etc.)
New Computer, $912. I bought an "all-in-one" computer that doesn't have the tower or a lot of wires. I like it.
Out of Pocket Medical/Dental, $910. This is a 35% increase over last year. I didn't get all my usual checkups due to COVID, but I did have some unexpected issues with my menescus tear, floaters in my eye that had to be repeatedly checked, along with a physical, lab work for that, eyeglasses purchased very cheaply at Zenni's, and a DEXA scan which told me I have osteopenia. (The reason why I plan to mow next year.)
Car Upkeep, $824. This is down 16% from last year, a pleasant surprise for a 7-year-old car, but I still have well under 100,000 miles on it.
Raised beds, $747. My neighbor built them for me at no cost as part of a barter deal, but I did have to pay for materials, and I opted for the more expensive cedar wood, plus the fencing. I got plenty of great produce from the garden, inlcuding my last butternut squash which I just cooked up a few days ago, oodles of tomatoes, eggplant, kale, etc.
Homeowners Insurance, $691. It didn't rise too much from last year.
Entertainment, $652, a bit more than last year. The bulk of this is due to several subscriptions, including Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, cronometer.com, a bus trip to Hudson Yards in NYC that was cancelled due to COVID and rescheduled, along with some free weights since I couldn't go to the gym and of course my monthly Hulu.
Car Insurance: $619, no big changes there.
My remaining expenses don't add up to a whole lot. Of note, I spent just $487 on gas for the car, a 45% drop from 2019 since I'm not commuting. This past month, I really felt I was getting a little out of control on clothing spending, but it turns out I spent about the same as in 2019, at just $376. I bought a lot of comfy fleece pullovers.
In total, my expenses came to $41,276, which is in keeping with the past 5 or 6 years at least. I never feel deprived, and I never try to "budget," other than to have a general idea of how much I should be spending on stuff. I'm pleased that my top 5 expenses all either stayed the same as last year or dropped. And I eked out a small decrease in my food spending.
And, just like last year, aside from home improvements, my Top 3 Expenses were: Property taxes, Food and Health Insurance, in that order.
On the subject of Home Improvements and looking ahead to 2021, I would love to replace the decrepit cabinet in my upstairs bathroom. And replace my small refrigerator which periodically malfunctions with something bigger, which would require some carpentry work. Don't know if that will happen due to COVID manufacturing slowdowns, but these are the only 2 home improvements I'm really keen on at the moment.
I wish all my friends at Savings Advice and safe and healthy New Year. Tonight will be a quiet New Year's. I enjoyed a glass of Reisling just now, and next plan to rewatch the trilogy of Lord of the Rings, which I discovered is on Hulu. I don't think i ever saw the 3rd movie, so will be a treat.