2016 Expenses and Tweaks for 2017

In the category of “late but better than never” I present to you my expenses for 2016 and what I plan to tweak going forward for further savings.  I use Personal Capital to track all my expenses as well as my investments.  It provides a great overview of my entire financial picture in one place and some great tools for insight.  If you end up signing up with them and have a significant amount of assets, I am told they will give you a call and encourage you to have them manage your money for a fee.  If you opt out, they won’t bug you and you still have full functionality with the tools to track things yourself.

2016 was the year of the new (to me) MINI Cooper.  Like most things in my life, when I have a goal to reach I’m extremely focused and driven to meet that goal.  Sometimes my short term goals don’t play well with my long term ones (becoming financially independent) and the purchase of a used 2015 MINI Cooper F56 JCW this past year was one such time.  I had an old beat up 2007 MINI Cooper R56 S that was working less than optimally and definitely had become rough around the edges.  When a deal came along I went all in quickly.  True to form in getting the “best” for whatever problem I’m trying to solve, this MINI was the bespoke model to the tune of ~$29,000 (and then there were all the purchases associated with it like new wheels and car care products for a few more grand *rolleyes*).  I don’t want to sugar coat this, but at least the previous owner suffered the massive depreciation from owning the car for such a short time.  It  still hurt my long term goals A LOT, and I’ll break it down below.  Other than the car expenditure, I did more traveling than I normally would.  I participated in MINI TAKES THE STATES 2016 and that certainly inflated my budget, but MINIs are a good portion of my social scene and the spending was a conscious decision to strengthen the bond with my friends at the cost of my savings rate.  Each single dollar spent now, can be seen as lost future dollars in retirement…or as I see it, each dollar spent now is seen as a finite amount of time I’ll have to work longer before I become financially independent.  So let’s get to the numbers….


Now that you’ve seen the madness and I’ve owned up to my sins, let’s look at everything again sans car purchase and related items….

Let’s breakdown some of these categories and see how I can bring my saving A game for 2017 and reach Financial Independence sooner:
Automotive. The biggest expense category is of course the purchase of the car.  Granted the car is in great shape and will likely be the last car I purchase until I reach FI, but it’s safe to say this category will go down next year.
Home Maintenance.  This is what I spend each month on my HOA or common charges.  I paid $327 a month and this included heat, water, and property taxes on my 450 sq. ft. studio Co-Op.  The charges are calculated as a percentage of my unit’s square footage to all the units, and this is definitely a benefit of living small (so is not having a mortgage!).  Also, common charges are kept low by sharing resources (mainly heat) in this Co-Op, though the fees have ticked up in 2017.  It’s worth every penny for less stress and time spent on maintaining my home….a place I spend so little time during my waking hours.  You’ll notice I make no mention of other expenditures for the home in 2016.  I have all the things I need and folks like my Mom are craving for gift ideas for this minimalist, so consumables like toilet paper were all taken care off (thanks Mom!).  I also have purchased products previously that simplify my time and costs in maintaining the home, like Kaboom Toilet Cleaner System (I love it read the reviews!).  I just pop in a few tablets every once in awhile that I bought in bulk when I bought the system, and no scrubbing or cleaners to buy on the regular. This category will go up slightly next year, but it is not something I can control.
Travel.  This category had some hefty usage in 2016 as well.  I had business trips to Bermuda and Chicago where I spent some personal time/money leveraging the free airfare.  I also participated in MINI TAKES THE STATES 2016 traveling from the East Coast to as far West as South Dakota traveling 4,000 miles, and I took another trip down South to the Smoky Mountains.  This of course was all discretionary spending, and I’ll probably spend less here in 2017.  There were also a few out of pocket items I neglected to expense from work that I need to be more mindful of.
Gasoline.  This is directly related to the long MINI trips I took this year.  What can I say, I enjoy a good road trip.  I think I put roughly 20,000 miles on the car since March. 😮  I’ll spend less here in 2017 and when I’m driving alone, I have a renewed interest in hypermiling:

Restaurants.  This one didn’t see so bad until I broke it down to $/week.  In this case $32.  If I saw that hitting my expenses every week in Personal Capital I’d get upset at myself…and I am.  But a lot of this was costs during my 2 week trip for  MINI TAKES THE STATES 2016.  It was kind of hard not to have a good time eating out with friends while on the road.  I’ll do better this year for sure.  When I go to a restaurant, the food is certainly nice but the primary benefit is the time with friends.  I can easily spend time with them with a good walk, a cup of coffee, or meeting at one of our homes for a potluck dinner.  For you, is it really about the expensive food or the time with your friends?
Healthcare/Medical.  I had some costs this past year I could not avoid.  Here’s to a happier and healthier 2017.
Groceries.  How the heck did I live off $30 a week?!  Well, I’m fortunate that my work gives me $8 towards lunch everyday.  I also switched to completely engineered food at home by using Soylent and then later Joylent.  I love how quick it is to make a meal and cleanup and all my food is delivered right to my door.  Quick, easy, nutritious, and economical!  I expect this category to be about the same in 2017, and you’ll see down below how this category helps out with my utilities. 😉
Insurance.  For the first half of the year I had 2 cars, and then for a short time 3 cars!  I dragged my feet in downsizing my fleet, and I paid for it.  They were costing me $178/month and now I’m down to $68/month, and that doesn’t even account for my state’s tax on personal property!  I still could do myself a favor and shop around a bit for a better rate, but this cost with go down in 2017 for sure!
Charitable Giving.  This category may go up or down this year, not sure.  I tend to give to individuals I know who are in need.
ATM/Cash.  5% of my entire yearly budget I have no idea what I spent it on.  Not good… I can account for things better here folks.
Automotive.  Well the car is still under warranty a bit here, and save for the costs related to the new car, I expect costs to be about the same.  Sticky summer tires (and getting them mounted and balanced.) cost some dough.  The price for fun will most likely be the same in 2017.
Entertainment.  I expect these costs to be about the same this year.  We shall see.
Cable/Satellite.  I only have a cable modem for internet, no cable TV service or phone line, heck I don’t even have a TV!  I spend most of my time on the internet streaming entertainment and reading articles on stuff like personal finance, plus exercising.  Unfortunately my introductory rate for the cable modem expired in the middle of the year and costs will be higher in 2017.  I have a cable modem I purchased that I may be able to use and eliminate the “leasing” fee the cable company charges for their hardware.  I tried it before and they said they didn’t accept my model, but I should try again.
Utilities. <$23/month.  Not bad, right?!  Chalk it up to a living in a Co-Op where the heating bill is shared through our common charges and living in such a small apartment that I can run my single, ancient, air conditioner whenever I like without worry of a high electric bill.  Now that I am eating engineered foods that are stable at ambient temperature, I unplugged the big refrigerator trying to cool down mostly air 24/7, and I also unplugged the microwave for kicks.  I don’t think I can do much better when the delivery charges are over $20, haha:

Gym Membership.  I spent $275 in 2016.  Though this was only 0.5% or 1.5% of total expenditures depending on if you include the car purchase or not, it can be filed under the “every little bit counts” category.  I purchased a set of Bodylastics resistance bands that will pay off in <6 months.  First and foremost they allow me to save money on the gym as well as save time and gas getting to/from the gym.  I also don’t enjoy waiting for equipment or having defined hours for when I can workout.  They arrive soon, I’m excited!

So there you have what I spent in 2016 folks.  $54,106 with the car purchase and $22,679 without for the year.  Being mindful of my Big 3 for expenses allows me to splurge in other categories while still keeping costs relatively low, but I definitely can do better.  Having Personal Capital to provide a constant reminder of my financial picture helps keep my long term goals front and center, plus posts like these certainly renew my dedication!

Ok…fine.  A picture of my MINI (center):

6 thoughts on “2016 Expenses and Tweaks for 2017

  1. Good to see you can keep detailed figures on your expenses.

    I don’t think it so bad to splurge occasionally, especially if it is something that is going last a while, provide long term return on your investment.
    And in your case, you’ll get good gas mileage and fairly low maintenance costs.

    A good example of the opposite is the person who has to drive the newest model car and trades it in every couple years for a newer model. Or just as bad, leases a car.

    On a side note, I also wanted to mention, before buying any kind of what some might consider a luxury item, do some research on ebay and/or other used markets. It will help you think about and delay the purchase enough to avoid the consumer compulsions that often happens when shopping.

    1. I bought A LOT of items for my house when I was married thinking I’d use them forever… well that didn’t work out as I got divorced, sold the house, and fire saled everything in the basement. But yes, at times there are some purchases that may cost a bit that are worthwhile over the long haul. Though the MINI gets great MPG, there certainly are more economical choices out there that will get just a good MPG, last as long or longer, and have cheaper running costs. Good thing it’s so much fun!

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