Expenses from the last 12 months

A promise is a promise. I had planned to expose here all my expenses of the last twelve months. Here they are!

As you already know, I have a rather frugal lifestyle and I’m quite happy with it. You’ve probably noticed just how frugal when I break down all my expenses in every monthly review. However, it still fluctuates from one month to the next. So, what does it look like on a yearly basis? I was really looking forward to having a full 12 months of expense tracking to assess, see trends and have a better overview.

So let’s get to it! I’m going to go from the biggest expense item to the smallest. The first positions should not surprise you! Then I’ll follow up with some findings and what’s next.

I remind you that all these figures represent expenses for a single person with a single salary.

Car: $12,468.66

So, let’s start big! Of course, you probably expected this. I’ve been talking about my worst financial decision for a long time now! In addition to getting a new financed car in 2016 (for the second time, dare I add), I also maxed out my car payments to pay it off faster. Add to that the other related costs and this expense item obviously take the top spot.

How did I arrive at this total? First of all, there was $10,263.55 in payments on my loan. That’s a big chunk right there. Then I paid $787.40 for maintenance (including new brakes), $542.54 for my car insurance with Intact, $477.80 for gas (a cost I almost always share with my pedestrian sister), $230.43 for registration, $87.94 for my licence and finally $79.00 for a speeding ticket.

So, obviously, the biggest chunk goes to loan repayment. If it wasn’t for that, I’d only have $2,205.11 in expenses related to my car. That’s a much more respectable amount, but still quite significant. It goes to show that even a paid car is still expensive.

Housing: $6,494.38

Not surprisingly, housing is my second most expensive item. For many people, the total amount spent may still seem quite low. This is mostly due to the fact that I rent and have a roommate. I paid 5,975.00 for rent, $345.40 for my share of Hydro-Quebec and $173.98 for home insurance.

So, it’s not difficult to add up all related expenses compared to a homeowner. There would necessarily be more related costs. Nevertheless, it still takes the second spot.

Vision Correction: $2,990.00

Technically, it’s not all paid off yet, since I’m stretching the balance on my credit card with a 2% promotional rate, but it’s easier to calculate like that. The real price was actually $3,790.00, but I got an $800.00 refund from my insurance.

And thankfully, this expense will not show up every year. So that’s a big exception for this year!

Food: $2,796.93

If it weren’t for my vision correction surgery, food would be in third place, despite all the optimization in the world. The majority of this expense item comes from groceries with $2,525.62. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I don’t go to restaurants very often, since I only spent a grand total of $146.95 in the last twelve months! And that includes my many Starbucks coffees. 🙂 Finally, I also include my SAQ alcohol purchases for a grand total of $124.36.

My observation: I am not an alcoholic. No kidding, I mostly see that no matter how careful we can be with groceries and avoid restaurants, this expense item will always remain a big chunk of the budget.

Vacation & Travel: $2,029.39

I was a little surprised at this figure, considering I haven’t really travelled in the past year. However, after reviewing each expense, it makes sense.

First of all, I include in the total the different credit card annual fees that I paid to accumulate travel miles and points. That’s $360.00 here (for three different American Express cards). I also spent $400.00 on an Air Canada gift card and $68.99 on Aeroplan points to earn even more points. I still haven’t used said card. So, in a way, I paid in advance a future travel expense.

Other than that, I also booked a small Airbnb cottage last January ($206.55), I took a small frugal trip to Gaspésie in June with Mr. Slap ($159.74) and I already paid some expenses related to my trip to Hawaii ($834.11) which will take place in September.

Still, it’s interesting to see the total amount. It’s more than I thought it would be, but fortunately it’s a lot less than it could have been, considering all the points accumulated and already used. For example, just for Hawaii, I’ve already saved over $1,000 with my miles and points. Hooray!

Memberships: $698.00

For many, this is a category worth optimizing. How many people say they don’t know where to cut expenses? In my opinion, this is a great place to start.

Fortunately, I think I’ve narrowed this category down quite a bit. My share of our home internet only cost me $365.43 for the whole year with Fizz. My cell phone cost me only $134.82, mostly thanks to the dear readers of this blog who used my Fizz referral code (N5MMB).

Finally, Netflix cost me $117.70 and Spotify cost me $80.05. I share both subscriptions with my sister.

By the way, thanks to my Cobalt American Express card, I got a free one-year Spotify Premium subscription recently. It’s funny, since I was thinking of switching to the free subscription soon. Now I have the best of both worlds: free and no ads. However, after this promotion ends, I’ll definitely make the switch to the free subscription. 🙂

Donations & Gifts: $799.98

Here is another category that surprised me. I made $170.00 in donations (not including those deducted at source by my employer) and made $629.98 worth of gifts to different people. I may be more generous than I thought. And I don’t see a need to optimize here. It’s important to know how to give back, too, in life. 🙂

Cats: $466.22

I want to clarify that this is for two cats, not fifteen. I am not (entirely) a cat lady.

So this amount basically includes food and litter. I very rarely buy them treats, and even less often toys. They’ll play with just about anything, anyway.

My observation in this category is that inflation is undeniable. Prices have gone up a lot in just twelve months. I buy mostly the same brands all the time, so it was easy for me to see the glaring difference of over 10%. Otherwise, I manage to keep costs at a respectable price for quality products by buying the largest sizes available and load up whenever it’s on sale. 🙂

Blog: $96.62

Yes, this blog is not free. Notably, I had expenses related to the logo, the beautiful Trek drawing on my About page and various fees related to hosting this website.

However, now that I calculate the total amount of money I put in, I realize that I made a profit with this blog, mainly due to bonuses. Also, the recently integrated ads alone should now cover the costs alone.

However, let’s not talk about the total time put into the blog. That’s just embarrassing. 😉

Other: $1,001.21

Finally, here’s the category that includes several small amounts of no real consequence, at the time anyway. However, when added up, it’s still a good amount. A category like this can be treacherous! Beware. 😉

Total Expenses: $29,841.39

So, what’s the bottom line? I spent $29,841.39 in twelve months. I’m way off target, aren’t I? Yes, I am. But that’s not exactly a realistic picture either. My car loan will be ending soon and I certainly won’t be getting eye surgery every year. So if you deduct these expenses, it comes down to a total of $16,587.84 for a year. Now that’s the frugal lifestyle I aspire to.

Now, considering that my net income for the last twelve months was about $54,000, which means I spent about 55% of my disposable income. That left room for 45% savings on average.

Let’s also look at the proportion of each expense on total expenses with a graph:

We didn’t need a graph to know where the problem lies, but still. It’s striking.

Hopefully, there’s optimization on the horizon and all of these conclusions will come to change for the better 🙂

What’s next

Of course, the best way to dramatically lower expenses and therefore achieve financial independence faster is to tackle the biggest expense items. So, once my car is paid off, my biggest expense item will be housing. While many could say I already have it optimized, I know I can do even better. Since working remotely is going to be commonplace in my future, I will be able to optimize this expense item in the not too distant future.

I broached the subject in previous posts about the hypothetical purchase of my mother’s house. Well, things are slowly but surely becoming official. I should go to the notary in October to finalize everything. In fact, I will buy the house with my sister. As we both aim for financial independence, it seemed the best strategy.

Ideally, I would like to have a house paid once I quit the 9 to 5. Since it’s a not too expensive house in the countryside ($80,000), it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. After that, if I only have to pay other related costs with my sister, my annual housing expenses should be less than what I currently spend on rent.

Of course, since interest rates are very low right now, I’ll still put the amortization of the house over 25 years and a minimal down payment to concentrate the maximum of my current cash flow in the stock market. In addition, I will use the HBP at its maximum ($35,000) to use the majority of it to reinvest in my TFSA. This will bring me closer to maximizing my TFSA contributions much earlier. After all, a dollar in an RRSP is not the same as a dollar in a TFSA. I’ll sure take advantage of that.

When FI will be at my doors, I could simply pay off the mortgage in full before I pull the plug. Whether I follow this plan remains to be seen. I know it’s an eternal dilemma. Invest or pay the mortgage? We’ll see when we get there, depending on the state of the markets and, of course, interest rates.

Anyway, I got off track a bit here, although it’s still essential to understand how my expenses will change in the next few years before and after achieving FI.

Conclusion

So there you have it, I was looking forward to having a full year of expenses to assess. Now that I have, I’m happy to see that I didn’t stray too far from my projections. Now it remains to be seen what the next few years will look like. One thing is for sure, I am very happy with my frugal lifestyle and I love to optimize. So I plan to continue on this path.

Do you have a realistic idea of how much you spend in a year? Do you keep track as closely as I do? Don’t hesitate to let me know.

See you next time!

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2 Comments

  1. Do you feel like the vision correction was worth it? Do you expect the correction to last for decades to come?

    I’ve been thinking about correcting my vision as well but I remember one psychology class when the professor talked about eyes and he said to wait until your eyes are fully developed, preferably until 40. And then my eye doctor says something else so I am so confused on what to think.

    • So far, so very good. I paid an extra $150 per eye to have the free revision, if ever my vision goes down again. Better than pay $3K again! I sure hope it’ll last for decades, but better safe than sorry.

      I was a bit confused too, since I was hearing contradictory things too. Mostly, I heard it was better to wait until 30. I had it done at 29 and my vision had been stable for a while. Lasik had me do all kinds of test and told me I was eligible. Now, fingers crossed it’ll hold, but so far: totally worth it.

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