Have you ever wondered where all of your money went last year?
Thankfully, my wife and I track our finances so we can answer that question precisely.
I thought it’d be fun to share what our top 10 expenses were for 2015.
Before We Get Started
A few quick notes before I reveal our 2015 spending.
If you’re not tracking your finances, you should start today by using software such as Personal Capital, Quicken or even just a simple Excel spreadsheet.
Our expenses are listed in order of percentage of our total spending, not percentage of our income, and do not count items such as taxes paid or paycheck deductions such as health insurance.
We included our whole mortgage payments in these figures even though part of the money went toward paying down principal on our loans.
Finally, you can compare this year’s spending to our report from last year, if you wish.
1) Our Primary Residence – 27.4%
We spent more money than usual this year on our home, and 2016 spending will probably be higher than usual as well.
This category was high this year because it includes a 50% down payment on our new wood flooring we’re putting in the majority of our home. We also bought all new kitchen appliances this year which was an abnormally large housing expense.
Other than those unusual items, we spent money on our monthly mortgage payments including insurance and taxes, a couple new light fixtures, a new door for our air conditioning closet, landscaping, maintenance and homeowners association fees.
2) Our Rental House – 12.3%
This was a fairly typical year for our rental house. We paid the monthly mortgage payments which include insurance and taxes as well as some typical maintenance costs.
Luckily our rental income exceeded these expenses. We’re currently deciding whether we want to continue renting out this house or if we want to sell it in the near future.
3) Groceries and Household Items – 9.0%
Eating and living are important, but this category is pretty high up on our list. This category includes our normal grocery spending and spending on household goods that we normally buy at the grocery store such as cleaning products and paper towels.
I don’t think this is outrageous, but I’m sure we could improve in this category with a bit of effort. We don’t eat organic foods and aren’t super picky with what we buy, but we could cut down on our food waste.
4) Utilities – 7.7%
Utilities are normally pretty high up on our list. While I’m sure most people don’t like paying utility bills, I don’t mind because I’m more than happy to pay for air conditioning, cable and internet.
This category includes our monthly electric bill, water bill, cell phone bills and our cable bill. Our cell phone bills should be much lower next year because I finally escaped AT&T and joined my wife on Republic Wireless which will save us a ton of money.
We still have one year left on our contracted rate with Comcast but I’m anticipating a major battle at the end of 2016 to keep costs down for our internet and cable bills.
5) Furniture – 5.3%
A new category on this year’s list is furniture. We’ve been putting off buying new furniture for a long time, but now that we’re student loan debt free, we decided to buy our very first living room and dining room set!
We got a great deal on the two couches, table and four chairs we bought and they should last a very long time. Hopefully this category doesn’t pop up again as a large expense in the coming years as I think we’re close to finished furnishing our home.
6) Our Cars – 4.3%
I think our auto spending for 2015 was exceptional. This isn’t one of our top categories because we own both of our cars outright and don’t have any auto loan payments.
Included in these figures is insurance, which is sadly about half of our auto expense, fuel, registration fees, services such as oil changes and a very small amount of tolls from toll roads.
I hope we can continue to keep these costs low for another couple years as neither one of our cars has hit 100,000 miles yet.
7) Vacations – 4.2%
2015 was a fun year as far as vacations go. We were able to spend four days in Disney World while visiting a friend in Orlando, take a quick weekend getaway to a beachfront resort in Pensacola Beach, take a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean and head to St Augustine for a family camping trip!
If you’re thinking that it should cost way more than 4.2% of our income to have all of that fun, you’re right. We used a good chunk of credit card rewards to help us pay for these vacations, which is a pretty awesome feeling.
8) Medical Expenses – 3.0%
Medical expenses are never fun, but thankfully they’re down slightly from last year. This only includes things like doctor visits and prescriptions. It doesn’t include health insurance payments, which as everyone knows are not not cheap.
I always hope this category is as low as possible in the coming years because hopefully that means we’re healthy. Unfortunately, I only see our medical category increasing as costs continue to rise and health insurance gets worse.
9) Dining Out – 2.9%
Dining out is a guilty pleasure we indulge in as far as our spending goes. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad that it took up 2.9% of our spending in 2015, since that is up slightly from 2014.
Either way, we enjoy dining out occasionally and will continue to do so as long as we can afford it. If something else requires our money, we’ll stop eating out as often.
10) Daphne, Our Dog – 1.8%
Daphne was more expensive than usual this year. She had an unfortunate accident and required attention by an emergency vet on Easter Sunday as well as a follow up vet visit.
We’re happy we had the money to spend, because Daphne is part of our family and we wouldn’t want it any other way, but we wish we didn’t have those vet bills. Hopefully 2016 is a better year as far as pet spending goes.
So why does any of this matter to you? None of the particulars of my situation above should matter. Instead, you should know what your top categories for spending were last year or at least have data you can look at that will tell you. If you don’t have data, start tracking your finances today!
Overall I think we had a great year in 2015. We took care of some big ticket purchases and hopefully we’ll be spending less money in 2016. Our spending roughly lined up with our priorities in life and we’re happy with that!
Here’s to a great 2016!
What were your top spending categories for 2015? Were you surprised by any of our top spending categories? Share your thoughts or opinions in the comments below!
Photo by: evilsarah Text added by: Lance Cothern