Friday, February 20, 2015

Crunching Numbers.....Part Two

Here are my spending categories,  side by side, first 2013 expenses, then 2014 expenses, and my thoughts---

Dental bills                  $1071.00
Dental bills                      $88.20  Spending DOWN $982.80

* Dental--This was what we paid for dental services after our insurance was charged.  It was a low spend on dental in 2014 just cleanings. Lots of crown and filling work done in 2013.  I can't count on a spending total like 2014's in 2015, but I can hope our teeth stay in good shape.  8-)

Eye care                         $172.05
Eye care                         $135.00  Spending DOWN $37.05

* Eye care-We have a "Cadillac Eye Plan".  We all have yearly eye exams and usually get a new pair of glasses each year.  Evidently we selected slightly cheaper frames in 2014.

Long Distance phone     $91.30
Long Distance phone     $87.16  Spending DOWN $4.14

Landline phone           $284.58
Landline phone           $292.19   Spending UP $7.61

Cell phones                   $214.12
Cell phones                   $216.39  Spending UP $2.27

Phone spending UP overall by $5.74

** Phone charges--We have a landline still and pay about $7-$8 additional each month to be able to make long distance or receive long distance calls on it, so the first 2 items are combined for our non-cell phone service. 
In 2013 we had 3 phones(my Pay-As-You Go, hubs PAYG, and hub's business phone).  In 2014 I took over hubs PAYG phone and ditched my PAYG phone and hubs uses his business phone only.  As you can see, we don't use the PAYGs much.
When Hubs does retire and loses his free cell then we'll come up with a new plan for the phone situation.

Home Maintenance  $19452.51
Home Maintenance    $2767.76  Spending DOWN $16,684.75

**Home Maintenance--In 2013 we did major spending on home repair/improvements.  2014, not so much besides having the driveway redone.  The biggest chunk in 2013 was having a new heating/AC system put in.  Then there was the new bamboo flooring, crown molding and interior wall/ceiling repairs in the living/dining room and work on the exterior.

Garbage                       $336.00
Garbage                       $336.00   No change in spending

Sewage                         $407.40
Sewage                         $407.40  No change in spending

*  Garbage and Sewage--These are NOT included in our municipal taxes but I pay each in full at the beginning of the year(since I have the full amounts at the ready)and get a small % discount over stringing the payments out over the year.  Luckily these charges haven't risen the last 2 years.  There is nothing I can do to change/lower these two.....except maybe move. lolz

Water                           $780.52
Water                           $610.93   Spending DOWN $169.59

Water--Usage averages about $50 per month, except is a bit higher when College Boy is home.  Some of the usage in 2013 was due to having the pool.  No more pool and College Boy at school and the water bill is less.

Insurance Home          $612.00
Insurance Home          $634.00   Spending UP $22.00

*  Homeowner's Insurance--It's a good price for the area plus we get discounts for being longtime customers and having our cars insured through the same carrier.  It tends to go up about $20 a year.

Cable/Internet            $1293.84
Cable/Internet            $1269.66   Spending DOWN $24.18

*  Cable/Internet--We ditched cable in Sept. of 2014 otherwise this bill would be more for 2014 than 2013.  I got tired of paying $70+ a month for the privilege of watching the garbage which is on television.  We got a $40 indoor antenna and now get 10 channels from local stations.  We are considering more changes to our internet but are fairly happy with things the way they now stand.
2015, if we stay with internet only the bill will be $479.40, a Savings of $790.26 over 2014.

Car Maintenance       $1726.53
Car Maintenance       $1563.21  Spending DOWN $163.32

Car Maintenance--This includes all repair bills, parts bought, maintenance oil changes, etc. and PA state fees, inspections, driver's license renewals we paid for each year.  Getting rid of 2 cars late in 2014, buying a new car(so now only 1 old car instead of 3 old cars)we figure these charges will go down a little in 2015.  My first 2 years of maintenance services are free for the Sonic and we don't need to renew licenses in 2015.

Insurance Cars          $3080.17
Insurance Cars          $1890.51  Spending DOWN $1,189.66

*  Car Insurance--It was crazy last year keeping track of car insurance since at any given time we owned 2-5 cars.  We are down to 3 cars(one is oldest son's and he pays the insurance on that even though he is still on our plan), so we will pay $1711.72 for our 2 cars in 2015.  There may still be changes in the car situation-hubs is considering buying a new to us vehicle and College Boy will be needing a car for his last year of university(internships were he has to travel).  But for now there are no changes planned for 2015.

Electric                       $2437.36
Electric                       $2890.02   Spending UP $452.66

*  Electric bills--In 2014, $2134.31 of that bill was actual energy usage, $755.71 was transmission charges and basic fees everyone has to pay no matter their usage.  I don't have a breakdown of actual energy usage/transmission charges for 2013.
We used 24,381 KW Hours in 2014.   We used 26,235 KW Hours in 2013 so obviously fees and actual energy costs went up in 2014.
The cost of electricity varied between 2.16100000¢ and 2.04542300¢ in 2014.
The cost of electricity at the end of 2013 was only 1.98300000¢.

We cook and heat with electric plus all the other things you run off the energy grid. It sounds high but every month when we check what we are spending on electricity compared to comparable sized houses in our area, we are always at the very bottom of the scale.
I can account for some of the increase in the cost of energy rising in 2014 and we didn't have A/C in the Summer of 2013 but did in 2014.(New system was installed in the Fall of 2013.)

Local Taxes                $3148.24
Local Taxes                $3272.12  Spending UP $123.88

*  Local taxes--These include the municipal and school taxes.  This doesn't include state taxes or another local tax we are charged each year(which comes out of the paychecks before we get the money).  Can't really do anything here to save money besides paying it up front(small discount for paying that way)and applying for and receiving a Homestead Rebate(which was done)....except move. ;-)

Gasoline                      $3197.15
Gasoline                      $4393.81  Spending UP $1,196.66

*  Gasoline/Fuel Charges--Granted there was a LOT of travel for pleasure last year and not just fuel expenses to get Hubs to and from his job and me to run errands, so a good portion of the gasoline bills were not "necessary" and if pushed we can choose not to incur them.  

Gas bought for trips in 2013 came to $551.33, so the "necessary" gas we bought in 2013 came to $2,645.82. 
Gas bought for trips in 2014 came to $898.87, so the "necessary" gas we bought in 2014 came to $3,849.02
Overall, the per gallon price for gas was more in 2014 than in 2013.

Depending on how much gas prices bounce around in 2015 & how many trips we take, we could have lower spending on this item.  Or not.....

Medical Bills  OOP    $2442.99
Medical Bills  OOP    $4652.97  Spending UP $2,209.98

Medical Bills--This is what we paid out of pocket but not including prescription drugs.  The 2014 figure also includes $1097.00 in medical bills for our son we agreed to help him pay for(He wasn't on our medical plan.)  In 2013 we were in an HMO.  In 2014 we had to change to a high deductible plan because our Daughter(who we covered)doesn't live within the region served by this HMO.
In 2013 we used our coverage much more(I was in the hospital for 5 days and had a few procedures that year).
No hospital stays in 2014.
Basically we pay more than we have to for comparable coverage now being on a high deductible plan for 2015.  Next year when Daughter isn't on our plan, we can go back to the HMO once we weigh the advantages/disadvantages for 2016.

Food/HBA                   $4560.82
Food/HBA                   $4989.49   Spending UP $4278.67

*  Food and Consumables Spending--I cover these in my monthly post.  It's the highest spending category for us each year but I keep my eye on it ALWAYS and compared to many others(especially in our income bracket)our spending is quite low on this line item.
Some of the increase is due to rising food costs and some of it is due to buying a bit more fresh foods than processed ones.  I still try to buy in season to keep that expense reasonable.

SUBTOTAL THESE ITEMS.............$45,271.53
SUBTOTAL THESE ITEMS.............$30,533.87  Spending DOWN $14,737.66

Non-essential categories-

Car Rentals                $392.17
Car Rentals                $895.79   Spending UP $503.62

In 2013 we rented a car to take on our 10 day Midwest adventure.  In 2014 we rented a car to take on our  2 week trip to Louisiana(before we bought the new car), to move College Boy into his dorm and to go visit #1 Son in Pittsburgh for 4 days.  We don't trust Hubs old car on trips anymore and my car was too small for some of those trips.

Eating Out                $2182.54
Eating Out                $1890.99   Spending DOWN $291.55

*  I felt like we ate out/got take-out less in 2014 compared to 2013 and the numbers seem to bear this out, slightly.

Lodging                     $1158.07
Lodging                     $1923.20   Spending UP $765.13

*  In 2013 we stayed in motels for 13 nights, in 2014 25 nights.  Totally non-essential except for 1 night to take College Boy for his audition to university.
Average price per night in 2013--$89.08
Average price per night in 2014--$76.93

Alcohol                      $1129.98
Alcohol                      $2284.81   Spending UP $1,154.83

*  Yikes!  What can I say?  Hubs discovered whiskey with a vengeance in 2014 and I over estimated my adult beverage consumption.  We did some traveling to states where the good stuff can be bought at a better price than in PA so we stocked up.  Add in that hubs started brewing his own beer too and it added up once you consider he needed bottles, bottle caps, sanitizer, a bottle capping device, etc.  Making your own is hardly a cheap enterprise!

In 2015 I'll be working on drinking what is here mostly so I'll be holding down the spending on my end.  Hubs however will do what Hubs will do, but I don't see it going into the two THOUSANDS in 2015.

SUBTOTAL.............$6,994.79  Spending UP $2,132.03

Obviously we had a better time in 2014 than in 2013 since we spent more on non-essentials.

GRAND TOTAL......$50,134.29
GRAND TOTAL......$37,528.66  Spending DOWN $12,605.63


* Spending was down overall in 2014 from 2013's totals.   The only category with a really large difference was Home Maintenance, due to installing a new heating/ac system($12,000)plus home repairs($5793).  Most categories were within $10-$500 between the two years.
* Spending was down overall about the cost of the new heating/ac system in 2014 from 2013.

Spending increased overall in 2014 on the non-essential categories.  This is all due to "lifestyle inflation".  I'll confess it bordered on getting "out of hand".  But we had fun and made many good memories for it all. 8-)

LOOKING AHEAD into 2015--

* Spending on water and electric should decrease(as long as the rates don't rise too much)with the current arrangement of only 1 child left at home and being off at college for 7 months of the year.

* Spending on food, though a variable expense, CAN go down if A-child doesn't eat home much when he is home, and B-I keep a better eye on the price/amount of food I buy.

* Internet will only be $479.40 in 2015(as long as they don't jack up the rate before the year is out).  Ditching cable will save us $840+/- in 2015, or $560 less than we spent in 2014 on the cable/internet category.

* It's clear from the figures that we need to revisit the phone arrangement/spending.  Cell phone spending will be $216.39 in 2015.(Unless I use all my minutes up and need to buy more.)  The only reason we keep the long distance component on our landline is so when someone calls us long distance we don't pay-incoming ld is free, outgoing ld is charged at .25¢/minute.  If we drop the ld component it would save approx. $87 a year on the landline.  But then we'd have to use up cell minutes on incoming ld calls.
If we drop our landline(savings of $295+/-a year) I'd have to upgrade to a cell plan which would increase that component of the spending.  The question is-would spending on phone increase overall or go down if we make that switch?  This requires more discussion to decide.

* Take out the heating/ac system bought in  2013 and we spent approximately the same in 2014 as in 2013.  The amounts per category shifted but the total yearly spending was about the same.
For 2015 I'll try to do better in the variable categories.  Here are the categories I can potentially impact---

* Electricity-use less, shop for better rate
* Water-use less
* Food/HBA-spend less/find better deals
* Non-essential categories-spend less on all these
* Gas-lower prices, use less
* Phone-find a cheaper solution/drop services
* Home/Car Insurance-shop for a better rate

Is everyone thoroughly tired of hearing about my spending?!  ;-)

Now tell me, do you ever analyze your yearly spending? 
When you did were there any categories of spending/amounts that you were surprised at?
If you have tired, how have you lowered your yearly spending on specific categories and did it make a large impact?




  1. I am impressed at how organized you are with all your figures. I am no where near as organized. You put me to shame!!!

    1. I guess I am more of a geek than you Gill! lolz

  2. I look at our liquor bill as entertainment :) but it was higher than I thought, last year was the first year I kept track of that. Our electric bill was higher but overall electricity costs went up here. Hopefully I can bring it down this year as we are back to only 2 in the household (heat/light).

  3. My largest bill used to be to Rogers: home phone, internet and cable. It was up over $200 so I got rid of the landline and cable and now that bill is $80 per month just for internet. My monthly bills only come to $868 excluding savings, gas, food and misc. I give myself so much a week for the variable categories so that I don't run out of $$ by the end of the month. So far it's working well.

  4. Get MagicJack! It is about $65/year. Check it out to make sure you understand what it entails. My home phone went from $27/month to something like $2.33/month. You won't need to increase cell minutes. You can keep your home phone number.

    Please tell me what kind of indoor antenna you got for your tv.

    My internet is something like $45/month and I can drop it anytime. However, I am going to get a booster so I can receive the library signal and the city signal in the park. Both are three blocks from me.

  5. Have you ever shown your notebook/ budgeting system? I am sure I could learn a lot!

  6. I never add it up - too many flashbacks to mom when I was growing up.

  7. Dens been drinking Dragons milk. WAY EXPENSIVE!!!! So we should keep out drunk husbands apart or our bills would go way up!

  8. I make mental notes about how our expenses change from month to month. We pay most everything through our credit card. We pay it off every month AND get points for our purchases. I can compare a years worth of expense using one of the website's features. One thing we have done to lower our grocery bill was to cut out soda. I did for about a month, then I rethought that, and now I allow myself one a day for a treat, usually in the evening while watching TV. One thing we are doing right now is eating from the freezer. There is so much stuff in there and in the pantry. We will be purchasing fresh fruit, milk and other staples as we run out, but meat will come from the freezer. We won't be taking advantage of any sales for the most part. We don't want to stock up on anything right now. We need to use what we have. Water started out at about $20/month. It inched up to about $28, then $37. The price of water didn't go up, and we had two issues fixed. If it isn't back down by the next bill, we have to investigate further. One variable we have is that we have cats, and most of them are around 15 years old. Sometimes, they need to go to the vet, and one had to have (surprise!) dental work to the tune of $350. Another has an allergy to flea dirt, so we have to treat everyone for fleas year around (including the neighbors 3 outdoor kitties that we bring in when the temperatures are extreme). We are using a CareCredit credit card for that. It is so-many-months/same-as-cash, so it will be paid in full before we incur interest or finance charges. It is a handy card for us. We also use it for eye and dental expenses for ourselves. We pay it off in full before incurring charges. Credit cards are great for us because, A) we get points, and B) we use someone else's money for free (because we pay them off). As far as health insurance goes, we have opted to pay the penalty if necessary. It is less than paying for the insurance and the few doctor visits. Luckily, my wife and I are healthy. I have Medicare, so I don't qualify anyway. We don't have renter's insurance, which bothers me slightly. It's expensive, and it has tripled in the last year or two. We have so many things in the house that we will be getting rid of, so it doesn't make sense to insure them. We think we could probably start again for about $10,000 if there were a total loss, and we have that amount in the bank. When it comes to cable/telephone/internet, we aren't lucky enough to have a choice as to a provider. Recently, the cable was acting up, and by the time the problem was fixed, we had full-blown cable! It originally just made the signal better for about 10 channels. We won't be telling them, and it would probably be a blessing when they cut us off! My wife has a PAYG cell phone which she doesn't use often, so the expense there is negligible. The propane bill is huge chunks at a time, but we pay it and get it over with. Electric bounces around with the weather. It surprised us when it went below $70 and wish we knew what we did to deserve that! Air conditioning is necessary in southeastern NC, but we hold out as long as we can. I didn't realize there was a character limit. To be continued...

  9. See previous... Gasoline consumption isn't very high. I hardly go anywhere, but my wife travels quite a bit to get from one job to another. Luckily, we live at the half-way point between them in a very rural area, but right on the highway. We do maintain two cars. We call one of them a spare. They are both around 15 years old, and I think they have quite a bit of life left in them. They are only insured for liability, and we both have excellent driving records. I shop around for a lower rate practically every time the policy comes up for renewal. We think we are doing well, and I can't think of anything that we need to change right now. I hope you meant it when you asked! There's probably more that I analyze, but this is all I can think of right now. I enjoy your blog and watching how you save money, even if we don't have the same expenses or shop for the same things as you do. There is a little thread, though.


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