Phewww, I just managed to get our 2017 annual spending report out on the last day of January. A bit overdue, but at least I can say I posted this just after New Years!
Financially, the year 2017 was good to us. We spent little but lived well. We took two vacations overseas (well.. one vacation and one IVF trip), DIY’ed some things in and around the house that I’m sure we’ll share in upcoming posts, ate plenty of good food, and went on fun outdoor adventures. We even managed to keep our IVF budget in check by making the decision to seek treatment abroad. Although that still accounted for almost 15% of our annual spending, it could have been a lot worse. Overall, our spending was pretty uneventful. Just the way we like it!
So how much does our frugal yet fancy lifestyle actually cost on an annual basis?
We keep track of it all with Mint, a website that pretty much does it all for you. Add your credit cards and bank accounts (it’s perfectly safe! owned by the same company that does TurboTax), and it’ll categorize all your spending.
Without further ado, these are all of our 2017 expenses:
The largest portion of our annual spending went to housing. We spent $829/month ($9,948/year) in home-related expenses. This includes our mortgage payments (including $1,128 in extra principal payments), $162/month ($1,948/year) in property taxes and $106/month ($1,315/year) for maintenance and home improvement.
For just over $800 a month, we get to live near the beach in an awesome city in sunny Florida. What more can you ask for?!
The majority of our $124/month ($1,483/year) utility spending went to electricity and water (about $100/month). Our home is awfully energy inefficient with a lot of huge single pane windows letting in the sunlight and heat. The (uninsulated) vaulted ceilings don’t help either. We’d love to update our windows to something more energy efficient at some point though, but at least we don’t mind keeping the A/C far above arctic temperatures in the summer (looking at you Cracker Barrel… why is it always so damn cold in there?).
Internet made up the rest of the utility spending category ($19.99/mo). We keep our rates this low by calling every 12-month to get the latest introductory rates. They sometimes need a little convincing but we haven’t paid full price so far. There’s no cable TV or landline phone service in this household. Comcast can suck it!
And finally, we paid $0.50/month for cell phone service. You read that right, just $6 for the whole year. This includes the purchase of a $5 sim card from FreedomPop. For that, we’re both getting 200 minutes, 500 texts and 700 Mb of data each. Coverage is great in our neck of the woods (AT&T network) and for $0 a month, we’re not complaining about the sometimes-iffy call quality (it’s VoIP based).
$381/month ($4,573/year) went to a variety of insurances. The biggest chunk, a little over $2,000 a year, went to health insurance coverage. This is after taking into account a premium tax credit.
Our homeowner’s insurance came in at about $75/month ($897/year), which isn’t all that bad considering we live in hurricane country. We had to shop around a bit to get this rate though, most companies wanted to charge us over $2,000/year for home and hurricane insurance!
Car insurance is surprisingly expensive down here. Although, maybe it’s not that surprising? Combine all the old people with the tourists, and everyone on the road seems hell-bent on hitting you! Car insurance is about $75/month ($894/year) for one car, although with all of the aforementioned geriatrics and out-of-staters we feel obliged to have liability, comprehensive and collision coverage (I know… not very frugal of us). Switching to a liability only plan would save us about $200 a year.
A few years ago we decided it was a good idea to get term life insurance policies for the both of us. We paid $44/month ($525/year), an amount that should remain the same for the next few decades. We see this as a worst-case scenario kind of thing, in order to take care of the mortgage and some years of living expenses.
We also spent a grand total of $56 ($5/month) on (medical) travel insurance. We only purchase this when we actually go abroad. It’s probably overkill but I like the peace of mind it gives, and it’s not that expensive anyway.
Another big expense was health care itself (excluding insurance cost), which averaged out to $407/month ($4,883/year). The vast majority of this was due to IVF treatment in Prague and the meds that were needed (all in, $3,981). The rest is made up of doctor’s visits and pharmacy costs back here in the US, but that’s all part of the joy of having a high deductible health insurance plan: you get to pay for everything yourself.
Food & Dining
Finally, a fun category. I’m pretty proud of this, and I know Mrs. Frugalcrib is too: we only spent about $400 on eating out. That’s just $33/month! Don’t get us wrong, we love a nice dinner as much as the next guy/gal, but we’d like it to be special. So instead of visiting a restaurant out of convenience, we go out on special occasions and see it as a treat. And when we do go out, we have no qualms about using coupons or trying out that new Korean BBQ food truck everyone is raving about.
Besides, nothing beats home-cooking!
Our average grocery bill was $267/month ($3,203/year). Not bad either, if I may say so. And some of the things we love aren’t cheap per se: avocados, salmon, and imported cheeses are almost always on our shopping list. We keep our grocery expenses low by trying to minimize food waste and planning ahead.
We’re lucky that we have some amazing and cheap farmers markets and health supermarkets around. I’ve started to despise Walmart not only for all of the obvious reasons, but also because it’s so expensive!
We spent $124/month ($1,490/year) on travel in 2017. $678 went to hotels and Airbnb, most of which was during our trip to Prague this past December. Gotta sleep somewhere, right? Plane tickets totaled $599, mostly due to using many miles and points to travel thanks to credit card sign-up bonuses instead of paying out of pocket for flights. We still have a couple hundred thousand miles left for future (IVF tourism) travel. Really happy we can keep cost down this way! Also, we spent just over $200 on Uber and taxi services.
Gas and car
We own just one car and don’t drive it that much. The one car we own is a Toyota Prius. As you can imagine, our gas bills (and maintenance bills!) are very low. We average around 50mpg year round, which all adds up to about 1 tank of gas per month. That’s about $22/month ($261/year). Service and parts totaled $67, all DIY.
Other costs, such as entertainment and random shopping, is thrown into this category which added up being $140/month ($1,678/year).
Adding all categories together brings us to a grand total of $2,332/month ($27,986/year) for all of 2017. About 15% was fertility treatment spending. Sure, that’s is a lot, but can you imagine if we’d chosen to do IVF in the US? Ouch!
All things considered, we had a successfully frugal year! And after all, the best things in life are free anyway!