After writing the Basic Financial Tenets article, I decided to dig a little deeper into our own expenses. Fortunately, Mrs. DTG has been tracking our spending the last few years so, with a little reformatting and some clarifications, I was able to get what I was looking for. The results were eye opening and not in a good way. I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a Mustachian. If MMM saw our 2014 spending, he’d surely punch me square in the face!
I won’t share all the specifics right now. I’m saving that for January 2016 when I’ll compare our 2014 and 2015 spending levels. In the meantime, we’re seeking to reduce spending by at least 25% through the end of the year. As daunting as it may sound, we’re up for the challenge.
Even though we’re a naturally frugal family, it’s amazing how the costs can add up. Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights.
- Childcare: $16,744 (for others with multiple children, this may also be your largest expense)
- Mortgage interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance: $12,919 (payments towards the loan’s principal were not included since those are really a form of savings)
- Groceries: $9,084
- Car payments: $6,761 (2012 Honda Odyssey paid off in December 2014!)
- Landscaping projects: $4,500
- Furniture/home décor: $4,500
- DTG corporate costumes: $500 (I had almost no “nice” clothes for my new job after separating from active duty)
This is not all-inclusive, but it gives you an idea of some of our larger expenses. Thankfully, many of these costs have been eliminated or were one-time purchases. Both our vehicles are now paid in full, so no more car payments ever! We are actually looking at selling our second car (2007 Honda CR-V) for something smaller and more fuel efficient.
The top expense by a large margin was childcare, as it will be again this year. Our kids are 3, 5, and 7 so this is almost unavoidable with both Mrs. DTG and I working full time. By the time our youngest starts going to school, I’m hoping to be working remotely part time and this cost should be gone.
Housing-related expenses were next. We moved into our current house in November 2013. It was a new construction and larger than our previous house. We ended up purchasing a few pieces of furniture and some decorative items to help fill it up. Never again will we live in a house this big! Not to mention, two of our kids needed new bedroom sets. With proper care, the beds and dressers should last 15+ years until the kids move out.
Lastly, we had several landscaping/outdoor projects that will hopefully add value to the house so we may get that money back when we sell. We kept costs down by salvaging leftover materials from construction sites throughout our neighborhood (with the builder’s approval). I also did nearly half the work myself. For the rest, we got multiple quotes and went with the best value.
On a positive note, we’re spending a little over $100 less per month on eating out compared to last year. This includes an expensive meal at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas in February and a very nice anniversary dinner a few weeks ago. Aside from that, we eat out maybe once a month. If we keep this trend up, we’ll save about $1,500 this year on restaurants!
By really taking a hard look at our spending, we were able to find several areas we could trim back without much effort or drop in quality of life. It’s easy to get caught up spending more than you’d like, especially when you’re not living paycheck to paycheck and/or strictly monitoring every purchase. We’re looking to cut back by at least 25% this year and 50% in the next three years! Join the challenge. How much can you save?