Frugal 2017// January - June

We're over halfway through July already, but more importantly, we're halfway through 2017.  We have focused on living a more frugal lifestyle all year, and you can read our monthly budget reports here. We have been comparing our spending against the year previous with the broad goal of just spending less than last year. I know this isn't a very specific goal, and this approach wouldn't work for everyone because of its lack of specificity, but there have definitely been improvements. Take a look at the chart below to see how 2017 (gray) spending compares to 2016 (blue).
Auto & Transport: Our spending was 15% less this year. We finished paying off my car in April, but we also had some one-time expenses hit, including the renewal of our drivers licenses and the deductible from my car accident.

Bills & Utilities: 19% higher this year, but this is likely just due to the the timing of expenses. It looks like we only had 5 Internet and Utilities bills paid in the first 6 months last year, but we've had 6 this year. I've adjusted our Duke Energy pay dates to have some consistency in the future.

Entertainment: 6% lower this year. We had a lot more expenses for movies last year, while this year's entertainment budget all went to a single visit to The Rook. I mentioned previously that it would also be appropriate to put this single expense in Food & Dining, so no big deal.

Fees & Charges: None for last year, but a stupid mistake this year.

Food & Dining: We spent 30% less this year. I expected this figure to be greater, but this still equates to spending over $1,000 less. Specifially, in restaurants, we spent 65% less. For how much we enjoy going out to eat, that is incredible. Not sure how sustainable it is, but I haven't really been feeling deprived.

Gifts & Donations: We spent 88% less this year. We've all but stopped buying gifts for each other, recognizing that we value experiences more.

Health & Fitness: 44% less this year.  Pharmacy expenses are up by 42% though due to Francisco's persistent allergies.

Home: No change.

Pets: 38% less - not even sure why this is so much lower since we only switched from cat litter to pellets recently. We probably bought extra stuff to leave with my parents while they watched the cats while we were on vacation last year.

Shopping: Holy cow, we spent 76% less on shopping this year.  I don't know how many times we've remarked on how different our time looks these days. There were so many weekends we would spend browsing Nordstrom Rack/Macy's/Target, etc. last year. I haven't bought a single item of clothing this year (excepting shoes), so that means we've spent 83% less. Ok, we bought a new mattress last year, so that will also be skewing the numbers, but still....

Travel: Again, not the most fair comparison because we had already traveled to the UK and Ireland by this point in 2016. We've only paid for our flights and one AirBNB for this year's trip, so spending for this category will probably look more fair in a few months. As it stands now, we've spent 78% less.        

Summary: We've spent 38% this year as compared to last year, which is still really good.

I'd say my biggest frugal wins are:

  • Making breakfast and lunch for work instead of having Chobani yogurt and Amy's frozen lunches every day.
  • I've basically stopped drinking bottled water and have just been drinking tap water.
  • We've adjusted the thermostat...we're generally keeping it around 60 degrees in the winter and 79 degrees in the summer.   
I'm interested to see how the comparison ends up looking for the year. I'd really like to fine-tune our finances so we're only spending money on the things that matter to us, like travel, family, good foods, etc.  Honestly, I think we've gotten a good start on this this year, and I'm so eager to put a long-term plan in motion so we can work toward financial independence. 


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