My husband and I checked our credit card spending now that the year is nearly half over and I was shocked at what we found. We broke down our spending from January 1 – June 22, 2014 by category so we could clearly see WHERE our money is going. Our goal is to find our spending holes so we can begin plugging them.
Where was our money going? NOT where I thought it was.
I was confident our biggest expense was daycare or groceries. Turns out I was totally wrong.
What is not included
This tally does NOT include our automatic monthly retirement savings contributions, life insurance, the girls’ automatic monthly 529 college savings contribution, business expenses, and our mortgage. It DOES include every purchase made with our credit card, which is the vast majority of our everyday spending. These percentages come after I reviewed our list of “uncategorized” expenses and correctly categorized them. I aso reviewed the transactions in every single category.
A breakdown of where our money goes
1. Travel – 16%
This year we’ve already purchased airfares to Florida, New Orleans, Chicago, and California, all to see family.
2. Groceries – 15%
We eat mostly organic food…but it’s still hard to pay organic meat prices!
3. Daycare – 14%
And that is very PT care for two youngsters. I can’t believe this is already such a huge part of our budget – they are not even going full time!
(Our top three spending categories – travel, groceries, and daycare – consume a whopping 45% of our monthly credit card spending!!!!)
4. Automotive – 9%
My car has needed two trips to the shop so far this year, and our other car needed new tires so this category is much higher than usual. My husband usually does the car repairs, but with two little ones it’s very hard to find the time. I hope we will return to him doing the car repairs soon.
5. Gas/Fuel – 8%
My husband fills up weekly for his long commute. I fill up roughly every other week because my car only gets 21 mpg. I hate that!
6. Insurance – 6%
Home and car insurance is included in this tally. Our life insurance payment comes directly out of our bank account.
7. Gifts – 5%
This is much higher than usual, but my husband gave me a beautiful tourmaline ring after our second daughter was born. I love his family’s generous tradition of giving “baby rings.”
8. General merchandise – 5%
Amazon, Target purchases and the like. Some of these purchases may be gifts, but unless I log into Amazon to check each purchase, there’s no way of telling.
9. Restaurant/dining – 4%
This is low because many of our eating out expenses are business related, and so they go on our business card.
10. Entertainment – 4%
11. Home maintenance – 3%
12. Clothing/Shoes – 2%
13. Cable/Satellite – 2%
14. Utilities – 2%
15. The following categories all were less than 2%: Home improvement, Hobbies, Charitable giving (we mostly give in kind and cash donations), Personal care, Healthcare/medical (those expenses go on our HSA card), Telephone services (we only use cell phones), ATM/Cash withdrawals (our banks reimburse us for any ATM fees).
So how much are we spending each month?
- We are spending $622 per month on travel. EGADS! That is slightly more than how much money we put into the 529s each month.
- We are spending $574 per month on groceries, or about $137 per week on groceries, which is pretty close to my goal of $100 per week on groceries.
- We spend $558 per month on daycare. This does not include babysitters for date nights because we don’t put those on our credit card.
- For the past several months, we’ve broken our goal of spending only $2,000 on our credit card each cycle. However, we are saving more than 26% of our income, so it’s not as if we’re spending ourselves into debt.
How to lower our credit card spending each month
1. Reduce travel to two or three trips a year (nearly all our travel involves airfares because our families live so far apart). And when we do travel, maybe some of us will stay home.
2. Cut our grocery bill by making more food from scratch on the weekends when we have time to cook. And avoid pricey snack foods that are so tasty, but incredibly over priced.
3. Consider switching the girls to a cheaper daycare. I am so torn on this one because they both really like their daycare and the caregivers are experienced and loving. When I drop in, the kids are happy (crying is surprisingly rare), they never run for the door when they see a parent (unlike other daycares I’ve been to), and everything is under control. But we do pay more than other daycares.
What is your biggest monthly expense?