My 2018 Living Expenses

Not Spending more than you make is a basic principal of achieving financial independence.  Duh! If you spend more than you make, then you won’t have any cash left over to invest.  Not having any money left over to invest, means you don’t have investments earning you a rate of return, which in turn means you’re not taking advantage of compounding.  And like Einstein says…

And if you don’t find compounding to be fascinating, that means you probably won’t be able to do this…

So without further adieu, I give to you my 2018 living expenses (I was waiting on my utilities for December, but will make a hard cut off on 12/31 this year)

I should first point out, this is not a budget.  That’s not how I live.  I simply track what I spend, because it can help me know when I am wasting money.  I’m also a numbers guy, so I just like making excel spreadsheets.

For 2018, I spent a total of $13,246.45.  That includes everything: housing, food, car, health, and discretionary spending.  This probably sounds low for a bachelor, but keep in mind, some of the most popular personal finance bloggers live a $25,000 for a family of 4.  $13,000 for a bachelor with no debt is absolute luxury.  If you want to think about it from the traditional withdrawal percentage, I’m spending just over 1% of my assets.

Compared to 2017, my spending increased a whopping 51% from $8748.20.

Lets take a look at my categories for spending.

Housing

Total housing cost amounted to $3787.39 for a 5% increase over 2017.  The biggest increases for me were in my home internet cost and getting a prepaid cell phone plan that I pay each month as opposed to my old prepaid by the minute plan.  Utilities actually went down for the year.

It’s funny, I finally get a sort of normal cell phone plan, but really I find I can basically do without it and just use my old prepaid plan.  It has a convenience, but I largely don’t find it worth the $300 and change in expenses.  I can’t understand how people would spend way more that that for a cell phone in a year.  Housing cost represent about 29% of my spending or about $315 per month

Food

My food expense slightly increased over 2017, by about $18.  This expense is basically my grocery store trips, so it’s just for food I prepare at home, other things like toothpaste, and household cleaning products.  Looking back the last few years, this expense has stayed relatively the same at about $100 a month.  What about going out to eat…I throw that in my discretionary spending.  I’m not one of those types that HAS to go out to restaurants.  I can easily stop that if I want.  Cooking at home is a great way to save on wasteful spending of eating out each meal.  Food cost represent about 9% of my spending at about $97 per month.

Car

Car expenses topped out $1568.62, an increase of 37%.  This can be directly correlated to my discretionary expenses going out.  I was going out more, trying to date, and unfortunately that involves driving across town.  When I stop working, these expenses will sort of drop, except for months where I have a road trip here and there.  My car is now 16 years old and going strong.  I’d like to keep the car for about 9 more years and have been lucky to not have any repairs.  I need to do a tune up this year, but the shop wants $500 to do that.  I have the parts and will pick up a 6 pack and do that one afternoon after I stop working.  Really, whenever I need a new car, I’ll just pick up a Honda Fit or Nissan Versa.  Just don’t give a fuck about showing off with a fancy car.  Auto expenses represented about 12% of my spending at $130 a month.

Misc/Health

I spent $35.  The dentist office flashed a blacklight in my mouth and called it cancer screening.  I was upset they charged me and did that after I said no.  Looking for a new dentist office.

Discretionary Spending

This is by far my biggest expense each year.  And I’m fine with that.  Most people imagine a frugal lifestyle as someone being a hermit and never going out.  I’m a bachelor, not a hermit.  My biggest fear is to be like a renter I once had, a 50 something year old guy that never left the place and didn’t do anything.  This is kind of a catch all for me.  It includes eating out, dating, traveling, and crap that I don’t really need to buy, but do.  With the exception of a couple “big ticket” items, this could largely be considered the dating category. I spent $6694.95 in discretionary spending, more than double 2017.  I wish that was spent with one woman for the year, but once again my relationships failed.  Part of that is largely my fault.  I’m still not over her yet.  It’s bad when you’re with someone, but you’re thinking of someone else.  I have a date with a new girl coming up soon, fingers crossed.  Discretionary spending was 50% of my expenses at about $550 per month.  This will probably drop in 2019 as I try to focus back on my triathlon training.

Overall, I spent about $1103 per month.  While this certainly increased from 2017, I don’t worry or think about it.  Why?   Check out the green line.  This is my dividend income…it’s all passive income I earn from my stocks.  It increases every year without any effort on my part.  And the stupid thing is…I hardly pay any taxes on it.  I had just over $26,000 in dividend income.  That far surpasses my loose spending I had in 2018.

Something I am working on with respect to spending is picturing my life in 10 and 15 years.  Imagining what my life will be like and what I would want.  There is a high probability, I am single then.  I’m trying to picture what life will be like and work towards what I want.  When I think about where I want to be, I’m picturing living in a trailer and having a truck (hopefully they make a hybrid truck then).  Basically, I’m picturing selling most everything and downsizing to a small trailer and living on the road, going across state and national parks.  When I think about this, it makes me think twice before I purchase something.  Will this item actually serve a purpose.  Will it end up in the trash or just be unused and donated.

Overall, I’m done with living within a budget and just trying to live a more purposeful life.  Gone are the days of trying to race to the lowest amount spent in a year like some are trying to do.

For a look at my 2017 spending, check this out.

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