Back in July, I wrote about everything I made and spent in the first half of 2017. Now that the year is over, I thought it would be worthwhile to complete the exercise. Wading through a full year’s worth of financial transactions was a little overwhelming, but it only took a few hours, thanks to the program that keeps track of my accounts.
I’ve used Quicken since 2004 to manage my finances. While you can connect it to your checking/savings/credit card/investment accounts and download transactions that way, I prefer to enter everything manually. The program allows you to split a single transaction into multiple categories — for example, if I go to the grocery store and buy food, toilet paper, and lotion, I can divvy up the money spent on that entry into the groceries, home supplies, and personal care categories. This allows me to know precisely where every penny is going.
Useful Notes: I had five income sources in 2017: salary ($48,453.43), bonuses ($4,200.00), a one-time settlement for a car accident ($3,000.00), freelance income ($662.83), and interest earned ($135.06). That’s a total of $56,451.32 for me to account for, minus a scattering of birthday cash/gift cards that I didn’t keep a record of.
I live in a one-bedroom apartment in a mid-cost-of-living suburban area (<50,000 people in this city). I have no debt.
- Home: $12,177.20. This summer, I will be searching for a more affordable apartment. We’ll see if I can find one without resorting to a roommate. Five subcategories: rent ($10,508.00), furnishings ($706.46), supplies ($440.74), insurance ($262.00), and one deep-clean service ($260.00).
- Taxes: $10,721.09. Payroll taxes, essentially. Two subcategories: state/federal taxes ($10,601.09) and property taxes ($120.00).
- 401(k): $6,569.11. That’s just my contribution. Until my employer match vests in its entirety, I’m pretending that money doesn’t exist.
- Travel: $3,052.61. The vast majority of this was spent on an amazing international vacation with one of my best friends. Credit card reward points paid for the bulk of two roundtrip tickets to see a different best friend in California. Six subcategories: spending money for everything else ($997.00), airfare and insurance ($960.77), accommodations ($660.50), tour guides ($264.04), road trip ($97.81), and gear/supplies ($72.49).
- Food & Dining: $3,006.36. I made an effort this year to keep my restaurant spending under control, and it clearly paid off. Five subcategories: groceries ($2,250.59), restaurants ($516.63), alcohol and bars ($110.89), coffee shops ($65.07), and fast food ($63.18).
- Bills & Utilities: $2,989.14. My best investment this winter was buying an electric throw to put on my bed so I wouldn’t have to keep the heat so high. Four subcategories: utilities ($1,134.09), cell phone ($1,025.05), internet ($563.38), and website hosting ($266.62).
- Medical/Dental/Etc.: $2,652.36. Still in decent health, and my employer pays the bulk of my insurance costs. Four subcategories: medical insurance ($2,476.70), dental insurance ($129.36), copays ($25.00), and prescriptions ($21.30).
- Auto & Transport: $1,713.43. I had to get a new battery this year, among other routine maintenance. My car is going strong otherwise, and I continue to use the free commuter pass my employer provides to get to work. Seven subcategories: insurance ($804.60), service and parts ($365.95), gas ($270.13), parking ($124.00), registration ($111.75), car wash ($34.00), and public transportation ($3.00).
- Gifts & Donations: $1,713.29. Basically, if I like you, I will give you presents. Three subcategories: gifts ($1,356.11), charity ($322.00), and wrapping paper/shipping/etc. ($35.18).
- Shopping: $1,526.66. I spent the second half of this year upgrading and expanding my wardrobe. Five subcategories: clothing ($744.60), electronics and software ($557.35), books ($114.42), Amazon Prime membership ($99.00), and hobbies ($11.29).
- Roth IRA: $1,400.00. My goal is to put even more money into this in 2018.
- Personal Care: $1,395.30. Having good hair and skin is important to me. Three subcategories: hair ($690.00), makeup/hygiene/etc. ($665.30), and spa/massage ($40.00).
- Entertainment: $285.17. It really doesn’t take much to keep me occupied. Four subcategories: streaming sites ($122.79), video games ($64.22), movies/DVDs ($50.16), and event tickets ($48.00).
- Fees & Charges: $220.18. AKA, the small annoyances fee. Three subcategories: membership fee ($95.00), Costco membership ($64.23), and service fees ($60.95).
- Cash: $170.00. I’m not sure why I needed to withdraw cash. It was probably either used to repay friends, to pay for entrance fees to my siblings’ school events, or to spend at the farmers’ market.
- Miscellaneous: $3.00. Your guess is as good as mine.
All in all, that means $49,594.90 passed through my hands in 2017. The remaining $6,856.42 is in my savings or checking accounts. I’m fairly happy with how last year turned out financially. I managed to save a significant amount of money for retirement and short-term goals while still taking an indulgent vacation. In fact, I enjoyed traveling so much that I’m in the early planning stages for a second international trip later this year. This vacation also taught me what I actually valued spending money on vs. what I wouldn’t mind cutting back on, so I’m hoping to reduce my travel expenses significantly on the next trip.
The best dollar per hour of entertainment value I got was from video games. In just three weeks, I spent well over 100 hours playing Persona 5, and I loved it so much I’m planning on replaying it this year, too. (I need to max out all of the relationships!) Books and streaming sites were a close second. The rest of my socializing and entertainment needs were fulfilled by low-cost activities like movie nights in or potluck dinners with friends or family.
The most surprising thing to me was that I spent over $2,000 on clothes, hair, and makeup/hygiene. I made a deliberate decision to add to and upgrade my wardrobe this year, which involved stalking my favorite retailer for sales with a list of items I wanted to acquire. Overall, I think I spent my money well (and nearly doubled the amount of clothing in my closet), but it still was a shock to tally it all up. There were a few items that I wasn’t completely happy with, but most of those have been rehomed or will be donated soon.
Looking back over a year’s worth of numbers made me realize that there are some categories I’d like to see split down further. I just added new categories to Quicken so I can separate hygiene (soap/conditioner/tampons/etc.) from skincare and makeup, split out kitchen items (pots/pans/gadgets/etc.) from the broader home furnishings category, and differentiate between clothes and accessories. I also want to put more money into my Roth IRA this year and cut back a little on my gift-giving budget.
I feel that the more information I have about my spending habits, the better decisions I can make. Looking at my monthly, quarterly, and yearly expenditures helps me figure out if I’m on track with my financial goals. Whenever I find that my finances aren’t reflecting my priorities, I can go through my transactions to figure out where I’m going astray and take steps to correct it. If you haven’t already gone through your 2017 finances, I’d encourage you to do it so you can use that information to set helpful financial goals for 2018.
Manuela prefers to write under a pen name.
Image via Unsplash