Mr. Money Mustache is a bit of a Natural Frugalist. For me, buying anything beyond groceries is like giving birth, where there is great thought, planning, and nine months of physical stretching and pain involved before the actual wallet emerges slowly from the pocket.
Because of this, I find that I spend very little when left to my own devices, and the resulting trail of credit card statements is quite boring, not really worth adding up or reviewing. The real fun is in trying to get the net worth statement and the investment accounts to look better over time.
But now I’m a family man. There is MUCH more money being spent these days, with things like family vacations, doctors and dentists, preschool, charitable donations, special kinds of food for fussy eaters, and who knows what else. THIS type of spending IS worth adding up to see where a new parent’s money is going.
Luckily, Mrs. Money Mustache a bit of a Spreadsheet Ninja. We don’t use a budget for our monthly spending, but when I set her free on the credit card statements, she rapidly parsed a year’s thousand little transactions into a fantastic categorized list to see how much we actually spent last year. Since we put pretty much 100% of our spending on a nice high-cash-back credit card, it makes things quite easy to track.
Ahh, the year 2010. Our most expensive year to date, due to feeling rather relaxed with money. But it’s OK – we had already fully reached our early retirement goals, yet we continued to do some fun part-time work. If we were still fighting to grow the ‘Stash, these numbers would be a bit lower. But regardless, let us now Check-checkitout…
Mortgage Interest $3,625 (in 2010 we still had a mortgage and the $1135 payment reflected a what was originally a balance of $212,500 with a 30-year amortization schedule. Since the mortgage was mostly paid off by 2010, most of this was principal, however, so the interest portion was only $3625.)
Childcare/Preschool/Elementary: $6,665 (this drops to $2,500 next year for full-day kindergarten – hooray!)
Travel: $4,151 (hey, we have a lot of free time and spent almost 3 months visiting family or Sunny Southern destinations last year. But this year also included a trip on a Cruise ship. Educational for one trip, but far too cheesy and commercial so we will not be repeating.)
Groceries: $3,855 (including while traveling since we buy most travel food at grocery stores. Mostly organic when possible, but meat-related stuff is not a big part of the diet)
Property Taxes: $2,292
Miscellaneous: $2,420 (including a digital camera, local art and swimming classes for the kid, clothing, shoes, household products, bike parts, an iPhone, etc.)
Home renovations/repairs/landscaping: $1,819
Utilities: $1,260 (Gas, Water, Electric, Trash+Recycling)
Health & Fitness: $1,080 (the Mrs. is part of a very non-Mustachian fitness gym called Crossfit @ $135/mo. A reward for retirement, I suppose.. sigh. I am still content with my plain old barbell set.)
Gas: $777 (inc. driving trips to Canada and the Gulf of Mexico)
Home and Car Insurance: $707 (home has 5k deductible, car is liability-only)
Restaurants & Bars: $524 (much of these during vacations)
Charitable Donations: $374
Medical/Dental: $366 (2 copays, 1 urgent care visit, 1 pediatric dental visit)
Wine & Beer: $269
Auto Services: $32 (5 quarts oil, a filter, and windshield wipers)
Cell phone: $120 or $10 per month (the Mrs. negotiated a company-paid cell phone so MMM tags along for an extra $10 on a family plan ;-))
Mother’s Day Garden Plants: $77
Coffee Shop: $41
Magazine Subscription (OwlKids): $30
Driver’s License Renewal: $22
Movies: $18 (the Mrs. went to 2 movies with the ladies)
Used books: $8
Internet Service: $0 – again paid for by a part-time employer. Otherwise this figure would be about $400 per year.
Total of Everything: $30,500
Total excluding Mortgage: $26,885
Estimate for next year (no mortgage, child in elementary school, no cruises): $21,695.
We could probably get down to $20,000 with a little extra efficiency. This seems to be happening already this year, as I have become even more anti-consumer since starting to write the MMM blog. Mrs M and I both feel we spent with abandon in 2010
I know some of you are beating us on a cost-per-person basis. And yet another group of the people currently spending $100,000 per year on a family don’t believe numbers like these are possible. If you’d like, share your triumphs and hardships in the comments!
Update: After writing this article, many people asked about health insurance. Right now, Mrs. M. has negotiated some “free” coverage as part of her pay from a part-time employer. Without that coverage, we would get a high-deductible plan for about $240 – $320 per month for the family, as described in a later health insurance article. This is indeed a significant cost at about 15% of our future annual spending – luckily the cashflow from retirement assets is already high enough to cover this expense if we did quit the part-time work eventually.