Take the Money and Run

It's that time of year again! Money pie time! This year was fun because a coworker loved that I did this last year and decided to join in the fun. We have been presenting each other with our "pie" each quarter to see where things have gone over time. 

Here's the breakdown! But first, a couple of notes. First, I did not include any savings in this chart. I do put aside money for retirement as well as an emergency fund and a fun money fund. However, as this money is not technically an expense, it is not included. Also, I excluded my down payment, as it would have inflated the "home" category to over 90 percent. 

Home: Like last year, this includes rent and utilities but this year, as well as taxes and insurance, this category was also furnishings heavy. As I said, I did not include my down payment. However, there were still a lot of things, such as blinds, appliances and other misc items, that I will not have to buy every year, but that were a big expense this  year. I was a bit aghast at the high percentage, but if I just had rent/utilities only, it would be closer to 33%, which is about right, according to articles like this

Travel: I hope I never have to make this category smaller. I have mentioned this before, but I will skimp on most everything before I give this one up! As you can see I forwent shopping for travel this year. I have a great trip to Europe, as well as several other trips around the US to visit with friends, and several road trips to do active things around California. 

Transportation: This category is mostly commuting, but I also rent a car approximately one weekend per month in order to visit family or friends or to go to a running event. I did not try to separate the costs for running related things into the entertainment category, as they are often all intertwined. 

Groceries/Eating Out: Funny that these are almost the same! I probably only eat out about once a month, so this shows that when I do eat out, it is a major event! Eating out also includes coffee shops and beer, which is probably the majority of my expense in that category! I also put all Costco trips in the grocery category, even though there were some other odds and ends in the basket usually.

Misc: This includes haircuts, gifts and donations, credit card fees.. things like that. The bulk of it is gifts and donations. I think I got my hair cut twice last year!

Health: This includes pre-tax deductions and any copay or charge for contact lenses etc.

Entertainment: This includes movies, baseball games, and running related (or other hobbies) expenses. Truly this year I did not spend a lot on running gear, only race fees. Also, like I said before, my transportation to running events was either carpooling or it went into the transportation or travel category. It may be better to try to separate those out this year to get a more accurate idea of where the money is going.

Shopping: If it's not food, I don't buy it! This category included clothing, toiletries and items from Target that were not home or running related. I literally bought maybe 4 (Banana Republic) shirts for myself this year from a thrift store, and that was about it! k

So, what did I learn from this? I am pretty happy about where I spent my money in 2015. If needed, I could definitely spend less on travel. Currently it is not necessary, but it would have to be the first thing to get a haircut if I needed some extra money. As you can see, I don't really spend a lot on unnecessary things, except for travel. I am also happy about how much I am putting aside and am trying to increase my savings amounts if I get a raise this year, instead of just spending more.

What is the biggest piece of your spending pie? Do you keep track of where your money goes? What are your financial goals this year? 


  1. As you know, I find these posts fascinating. I am impressed by how little you spend on clothes and things like that. That's definitely an area of opportunity for me this year as I could cut back on clothing purchases. My biggest piece of the pie is housing, which also includes my condo I own (which I did not quite break even on last year but will this year as I increased the rent). I should probably split that out into its own piece of the piece but it's easier to just keep it under the home category for now. My housing expense is a big % of my spending, and definitely higher than 33% but I think it's better to look at it as a % of income because I could make it look smaller if I spent more money, you know? As a percentage of my income it's well below 33% so I feel good about how much I am spending.

    My financial goal for the year is to increase my savings by a certain amount. And I am really hoping that my condo value rises enough to allow me to sell it in the spring but that's out of my control. I know I could pay it down more aggressively over the next year but from a tax standpoint it's better for me to put the extra money I would put towards the mortgage payment in a separate account to use when I come to the closing table. Otherwise if I pay it down too much it limits the tax loss on it or creates a gain that would be taxable... All that said I am just sooo ready to be done with owning that place.

  2. This is very interesting and I want to do a breakdown like this for my own spending in 2015. What software do you use to track your spending (and make this pie chart)?
    I am impressed how little you spend on food (I am guessing that this will a larger percentage for me, even though we don't really eat out this much). It'll be interesting to see how my percentages fall.

  3. I was super into budgeting at the beginning of last year and totally fell out of the habit. I need to get back into it and start tracking these things. I know I'd be shocked by what I find.

  4. We use Mint to keep track of our spending, but there is some bleed between categories. Some of our biggest categories are the home, our cars (we have a car payment and insurance on two vehicles), and travel. Between traveling to see both our families about once a year, me usually paying for one or two conference trips out of my own pocket, and a vacation trip or two things add up pretty quickly, especially when you factor in the extra expense of going places from Alaska.

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