Nope, you didn’t miss the March spending summary. There wasn’t one. Oops. Wow, does life get in the way sometimes! I have not had much time at all to write lately, between work deadlines, family commitments, a toddler birthday party to host, a nice trip to see extended family, etc., etc. etc. Most of you know the feeling! (For more on balancing these priorities, check out the interview I did with Liz at Chief Mom Officer on Being a Primary Breadwinner Mom).

I was going to make this a two-fer post for March and April spending, but I figured why not do something potentially a little more useful (for me anyway!) and do some analysis of our monthly spending year-to-date.

So, first, the numbers:

Monthly Spending
Jan-April 2018
Mortgage & Rent  $          3,526  $        3,526  $        3,694  $        3,526
Childcare  $          2,394  $        2,477  $        2,532  $        3,200
Auto & Transport  $              179  $           153  $           210  $           135
Bills & Utilities  $              363  $           422  $           412  $           317
Entertainment  $                35  $              48  $              72  $              70
Food & Dining  $          1,022  $        1,093  $           802  $           881
Gifts & Donations  $                45  $           183  $           204  $           181
Health & Fitness  $              279  $        1,466  $              49  $              56
Home Supplies  $                83  $              72  $           139  $           114
Kid Supplies  $              369  $           374  $           306  $              78
Personal Care  $                41  $               –  $               –  $               –
Pets  $          1,922  $               –  $               –  $               –
Shopping  $                10  $              64  $               –  $           145
Travel  $              488  $               –  $           320  $           873
Other or Uncategorized  $              232  $               –  $              75  $           110
 $      10,986
 $        9,879
 $        8,815
 $        9,687

Overall, my gut feeling when I post this is still UGH, these number are SO high compared to many others I’ve seen in many the personal finance and financial independence blogs I’ve read. And then, I remember Tanja’s at Our Next Life’s post that I love about the why they’ll never leave California, and I feel a little better for a minute.  I don’t know if we’ll be here forever in SoCal, but we’re here now and we mostly love it now. But geez, is it expensive! Especially housing and childcare! Anyway…

I again realize that the two fixed costs of housing and child care account for about two-thirds of our monthly spending on average. Housing has accounted for an average of 36% of our spending year to date, and child care has accounted for an average of 27%.

So after reacquainting myself with that depressing reality, I always quickly turn my focus to the numbers that are more in our control (more on that in my earlier spending posts). First, the numbers net of fixed housing and child care costs year to date have been as follows:

Net Housing & Childcare  $ 5,066  $ 3,876  $ 2,589  $ 2,960

The first two months are clearly higher than the second two. In January and February, we had pet dental costs and my dental costs to fund. Not fun, and we’re not done yet for this year, sadly. But those emergency savings have come in handy! So, net of the emergency spending, the true discretionary spending numbers look like this:

Discretionary Spending  $ 3,145  $ 2,452  $ 2,589  $ 2,960

Whew, that’s better! An average of $2,786 per month.

This is a big success for us. It represents a 36% reduction in spending over our discretionary total last year! Wow!

Granted, the medical costs this year are going to offset those savings, but we are doing really, really well with what we can control. And our savings there is helping us better absorb unexpected expenses. One day, fingers crossed, we’ll have fewer unexpected emergency expenses and more savings if we can adjust to this reduced discretionary spending level.

That’s the big picture. Here are a few of my more specific take-aways:

– We kept food and dining spending under $1,000/mo on average – yay! Before kids, we spent an average of $1,250/mo on food and dining. Half the people, more money. See, kids really can save you money – no time to go to bars and restaurants!

– We kept kid supplies under $300/mo on average, including diapers for two for part of this time! Still, there goes that “savings” from pre-kid bars and restaurants.

– We had a great trip to Florida to visit extended family, stay at a condo on the beach, and we had a wonderful time. We spent $1,681 on the 11-day trip for 4. That’s $38 per person per day. We had generous help from gracious family hosts and we were happy with this relatively low-cost trip across the country. Plus we saw alligators and manatees, hung out on beautiful beaches that are much emptier than our SoCal home beaches and watched Grandpa build a dribble castle with the grandkids – priceless!

Wondering how to beat the rat race already?  🙂 


That’s all for now! Thoughts, comments, questions? 

4 replies on “January – April Spending Summary

    1. Yeah I debated but I feel like we HCOL folks may benefit from a sense of solidarity that we can still save and control the areas of our spending that are less fixed even though we choose to live in these high cost areas. Yes, the manatees are such gentle giants. They are amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We are in the same boat. Mortgage + daycare are by far our biggest monthly expenses. And I laughed at your comment on bars and restaurants…we used to spend soooo much more in that category pre-kid. Toddlers and fine dining aren’t a particularly appealing combo 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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