Looking Back: 2021 Money Pie

It's money pie time again! This year I spent 10% more than I did last year, mostly due to home expenses, travel and dining out as I will detail more below. Once again this year, I spent the time to itemize my Amazon, Costco and Target trips so that the categories were more accurate (at the beginning I used to just call the whole expense "groceries" or "shopping"). 

Home: This category includes mortgage, insurance, property tax, utilities, internet & phone. As you can see, it makes up a large chunk of my spending. Why is this? Well, I decided to refinance late in 2019, which lowered my monthly payment. Instead of spending that on something else, I decided to keep paying the same monthly amount and in 2021, I decided to add a little extra. Why do this when interest rates are so low, you ask? This could be a post in itself, but the short answer is that I am diversifying. To top it off, I had some tree work done, which is not cheap, and also had to buy a couple of other unexpected items. 

Travel: This category includes airfare, car rental, lodging and any groceries, dining out or transportation incurred while traveling. In 2021, not surprisingly, I spent 110% more than I did in 2020 on travel. Of course, in 2020, I spent practically nothing, so the numbers are a bit misleading. It was still my second highest expense of the year. As I have said in years past, I am a pretty good saver, but I find travel to be one thing that is worth spending money on. I never consider it a waste of money.

Groceries & Dining Out: Although groceries was my third highest category, I actually spend 11% less on groceries in 2021 than I did in 2020. However, I made up for that in spades by spending a lot more in dining out. In fact, I was so glad to go back to eating in restaurants that I overdid myself by taking several different friends out to fancy dinners. My favorite? Monsieur Benjamin. Oui, oui! 

Transportation: This includes Lyft/Uber, public transportation, car insurance, maintenance and registration, gas, tolls & parking. It was really high because I am still driving to work, which not only entails a daily toll but the gas cost really adds up, especially in California where gas is currently over $5.00 in some places! 

Health: This category includes health insurance, out of pocket costs, massages, medicines and vitamins etc. Health insurance costs went up last year (again) but I spent less in out of pocket costs. At the end of 2020, I finally canceled my gym membership, which saved me about $300 in 2021. 

Entertainment: This category includes music, theater, and running & camping expenses. This year I did not spend much on this as I did not go to many events and I  had a lot of camping stuff left over from last year that I could use. 

Shopping: This category includes toiletries, clothing, misc. home items & appliances, pet stuff, electronics and books. The main cost in this category was office supplies, more specifically a new printer. I spent $0 on clothing. 

Misc.: This category includes gifts, haircuts, fees for credit cards, taxes and education expenses. Mostly, this category was gifts, as I spent nothing on haircuts this year (I used YouTube and cut my own hair once and had a friend do it another time) and was reimbursed for my education expenses. 

Well, there you have it. 2021 in a nutshell. 

What did you spend the most on in 2021?


Best of 2021: Travel

In 2021 I took more time to do things that were closer to home, as well as doing a few short trips within the US. I also finally bit the bullet late in the year once COVID started dying down and things started opening up (of course, that did not last long!) and I went on one international trip (my first in over two years!!) Here were a few of my favorites, in no particular order. 

Oregon: I went to Sisters and Portland where I did some hiking, running, eating and snowshoeing! 

Deschutes National Forest - Snowshoeing

Deschutes River (near Bend)

The High Sierras: Multi-day backpacking trips. 

(1) Mammoth + The North South Lake Loop: I took this with JG at the beginning of July like we usually do. This year was not too snowy, so were were able to cross over to the Eastern Sierras and get pretty high without encountering snow (we have not always been so lucky). In fact, JG got a bit of sunstroke or the like, as it was blisteringly hot! My favorite parts were the off trail sections. Although difficult, the views are amazing. Two of my favorites were the Darwin Bench and the hike up to Puppet Lake. Of course, Evolution Basin was beautiful too, if you want to stay on trail. 

Minaret Lakes

Cross Country - somewhere near the Palisades

(2) The SEKI Loop: This was planned with four other people, but two of them left the trail early, so it just ended up being JG, PEB and me. We all hike at different speeds, so we spent the days hiking on our own mostly, checking in from time to time and then making camp together at night. Much of it was on the JMT, but it had a nice variety of wooded vs. high granite vs. creek paths vs. long vistas. My favorite part of this trip was jumping in every lake or creek I could find along the way. 

Palisade Lake - yes, I swam here.

Other Sierras

(1) Desolation Wilderness: Our first trip was in winter, where we did a bit of snowshoeing and camping on (wet) snow. The second was done as a weekend trip; unfortunately it was right when the Dixie and Tamarack fires started, so we were glad to get out on Sunday and check the status of both of them. However, we had a good time exploring a couple of lakes we had not seen before, as well as camping at one we had gone to last year and had wanted to spend more time at. 

Winter at Echo Lake

Leland Lakes

(2) Emigrant Wilderness: Another great trip, this time to show my brother some of the cool stuff I had found with JG in years past. Once again, we stayed in a place I had not been to, and it was beautiful (see photo below)! 

Camping at Rososco Lake

My brother's first major cross country experience (can you see him in this photo?)

(3) Yosemite: After my exam, I hightailed it to the Sierras and was one of the first to get a permit after the roads opened! I really enjoyed the Grand Canyon of the Sierras (Tuolumne River) as well as many of the sweeping views I found both while hiking and in my camp spots. 

Tuolumne River

Colorado: I decided that instead of doing an international trip in September like I usually would, I would do something fun and domestic, so I went and hiked the Colorado Trail from Durango to Twin Lakes. My friend KH joined me for the latter half, and it was fun to see some new scenery and to spend time with her. My favorite part was the San Juans. 

San Juans

High point of the trail + my worst day on the trail (due to weather) 

Europe: At the very end of the year I decided to sneak out of the country for a few days and finally got to see Prague, a city I had been wanting to go to for years. There were still a lot of COVID related restrictions, but it did not put a damper on my experience at all. 

The Palace - South Tower

The Vltava

Well there you have it. This year was a lot more travel than last year, that is for sure. I hope next year I will finally get to take the trip back to Nepal to finish Everest Base Camp trek (it has been planned for the last two years) but in the meantime, I am having fun improvising! 

Where did you travel this year? If you did not travel, what fun things did you do close to home?