Frugal December

I will be doing two reports this month - one comparing this December's spending with last December's and the one we've all been waiting for: the final year-end report. [OK, I know; it's just me who's super excited to run the numbers for that one.]
Auto & Transport:We spent 56% less this year. Of course, there was last year's car payment, and we also got 2 new tires for the Mazda 6 in 2016.  Surprisingly, we spent 81% more on gas this December then we did last. Francisco does work much further away now, so I guess that makes sense.

Bills & Utilities: Sigh, artificially 56% lower. There were 2 Internet payments that processed last year and NONE processed this year. I emailed Francisco to ask if he can adjust the auto-payment date for the Internet so this can be more consistent.  I was thrilled to see that our utilities bill was ~$88, so that was a $20 savings compared to last year. We ran the heat a lot more later in the month of December since we were home a lot more, plus it's been rull cold lately! 

Entertainment: This one is also a little weird. It's showing up as 75% lower. The expenses last year were for movie tickets that Francisco purchased for his friends, while this year, our only expense was for the Coney Island Christmas Nights of Lights.  He actually had a movie date with his friends again this December, but he charged this to his 'Fran Misc.' budget. That budget actually shows up in the Shopping numbers and gives him some flexibility in spending without having to be as accountable and detailed as I am in expense tracking lol.

Food & Dining: 48% lower this year. Interestingly, both years we spent around $50 in alcohol, but last year that was related to the hosting we were doing at home for the holiday. This year, it was all for an expensive a$$ bottle of Don Julio.  Not too surprised to see that restaurant spending was down -58%, but definitely liked to see that grocery spending was nearly half of what we spent last year. TBH, that would have a lot to do with the Target gift cards I cashed out from my survey sites that we've been able to put towards food expenses.

Gifts & Donations: Um, yeah, I'm a little surprised to see that this is reporting that we spent +4% more this year.  Wow, yeah, that's disappointing. I think this is definitely an area we need to continue to work on. There are also some items that still need to be returned, so I penciled in their return value for now.  Oh! I just remembered that there were some gift expenses in the November 2016 report, so ok, I feel a little bit better about not spending too much on gifts.

Health & Fitness: Just the HSA account fee this year, but last year Francisco went to see a GP and an Allergist and those visits were hella expensive. We paid for both visits on our credit cards although we could've paid from our HSA accounts. Our plan is to keep records of HSA-reimbursable expenses so that one day we could potentially tap into these accounts and reimburse ourselves. I send Francisco reminder emails about this multiple times a month, so setting up some kind of tracking system for this is likely going to just fall on my shoulders if I want to see this done. 

Home: Rent.

Pets: 74% less this year.  The only expense this month was the Tractor Supply "cat litter".

Shopping: Due to some returns last year, we actually spent -$49.00 in that November. This year, we spent over $200. Let's see what was going on.

Clothes// Fueled by some post-Christmas feelings, I decided to browse Nordstrom's website and ended up buying a cart full of stuff. I don't know what happened. So much frugal living all year and suddenly I drop $200 on clothes?!? OK, let's be fair; I already know I'm returning half the stuff. I basically only shop at places with liberal return policies because I know what a chronic returner I am.

Electronics & Software// $32.25 this December to have childhood Christmas videos converted to DVD files.

Fran Misc.// Francisco paid $42.92 to pre-purchase tickets to see Star Wars with his friends. I'm not entirely sure of his arrangement for how he gets reimbursed from them since he fronts the whole cost, but it's his pot of money to do with as he pleases.

Personal/Health// You may have noticed that I haven't posted any beauty subscription box reviews in a while. I'm currently not receiving any...I kinda miss them. I'm not sure how long I'll last lol.

Taxes: There's been a bit of a tax saga this year. I went into this in detail in the March budget report (linked here), but this again came back to haunt us when Francisco received an overdue notice from the IRS in the last couple of months. After much lost time on the phone with them, we did get it straightened out, and they mailed us a check for $1.02 so we would be even. Apparently, after we'd sent in the amended return, they hadn't updated Francisco's account. Have I mentioned how much I hate trying to figure out taxes in this country? Sheesh. 

Summary: OK, so in total we spent 1/3 less this December! I included estimated return values for items that will almost certainly be returned, but it is definitely worth noting that there may be more items returned than is currently taken into consideration. I know we're thinking of returning the L.L.Bean sweater I got Francisco cuz' it hits a little shorter than we'd like. In either case, the numbers should only get more positive, so I'm going to move forward and consider this a conservative end of the year summary.

Next up is the ANNUAL 2017 spending report vs. 2016, so get excited!  


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