Wednesday, 5 February 2014

January 2014 Expenditure Tracker

Changing the way you report and track things is always a rather big decision because you no longer have the benefit of going back and comparing what you did in previous years.  My expenditure tracker posts have been running for exactly 2 years now and they have largely been in the same format - i.e. how much am I saving towards my home loan, how much am I investing in shares and how much am I spending on personal expenses.

In my 2014 financial goals, however, I mentioned that this year will be a 'no savings' year where I am going to try and achieve all those things which I have been putting off for a very long time.  Given that I am typically an over-saver rather than an over-spender this is not a bad thing, however it does make my previous expenditure trackers quite pointless.

So why continue with the expenditure tracker at all?

Quite simply because I have a budget.  Actually it is a rather tight budget.  Even though I am not saving much this year (for the long term) I am trying to get a lot done.  Have a look at my 2014 financial goals and you'll see that to achieve some of them I actually need to sell some of my automatic share investments.  This means I am tracking what I am spending much more closely than in the past.

How am I tracking my expenses now?

Although I'm not going to provide the details (because it would bore everyone) I have set up a spreadsheet where I track every dollar I spend.  I update this daily (takes about 2 minutes) and there are 7 top level categories and 38 sub categories which I can fill the details into.

For the purpose of this post every month I will provide details on the top level categories.  Some expenses (such as home set up costs for my new apartment) are very lumpy.  The new expenditure tracker sheet that I have allows me to see when I'm actually behind (according to my goals) and when it is just a lumpy month.

January 2014 Expenditure Tracker - Updated Version

Item Jan 2014 Monthly Target Perf. vs Target
Accommodation / Living expenses $4,297 $2,246 +$2,052
Car expenses $1368.9 $692 +$677
Health / Well being expenses $399 $566 -$167
Entertainment / Personal expenses $1,452 $1,230 +$222
Travel expenses $429 $675 -$246
Other 'big' expenses $1,900 $3,508 -$1,608
Savings / Investments -$2,840 $1,051 -$3,891

The sea of red may look terrible above but
I'm actually not disappointed at all with this month.  Some very quick comments by category

  • Accommodation / Living expenses were much higher due to my apartment set up cost.  I had budgeted for this and currently have more than $900 left of my budget to set up the apartment.  I also had to pay contents insurance this month.  My grocery bill was far less than expected because I was using free gift cards from my credit card points
  • Car expenses were higher because my insurance was due this month
  • Health and well being benefited because I pre-paid some bills (related to hobbies)
  • Entertainment / Personal expenses were the one area I was unhappy with.  Nights out are still really busting the budget (+$300 this month)
  • Travel was well below budget - this will reverse as soon as I start having to book things for my big overseas trip later this year
  • 'Other' is a strange category - it is big things I am saving for like my car and an engagement ring among others.  I want this to be as 'high' as possible because it is technically a savings category.  I was lower than expected on this because of the high expenses in other categories
  • Savings / Investments like 'other' I would like to be as high as possible.  It is a negative number because I sold down some stock and used this to fund some of my expenses.  I had budgeted and planned for this so it is not concerning to me.
Although this month looks terrible, I am actually not unhappy with it at all.  The one thing I am trying to rein in is my entertainment expenses. 

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