If you want to take a peak into another’s monthly spending, this is the post for you! I was shocked to see that I blew my food budget over the past few months. See how my 2018 expenses compared to the previous two years.
I previously posted on our Q1 and Q2 expenses, and our Q3 expenses. Now that summer is over and school is back in full swing, I anticipate lower electricity costs. I also anticipate spending less on kids’ activities.
During this quarter, we have some irregular expenses, including home owner’s association (HOA) dues, vehicle registration costs, six-month premium on car insurance, and of course Christmas presents.
So here are the numbers for my family of 5’s actual expenses for Q4 of 2018.
Expenses for Family of Five: Oct-Dec 2018
|Cell Phones (2 lines)||$70.00||$70.00||$70.00|
Yearly Expenses 2016-present
|Expense||Avg per month 2016||Avg per month 2017||Avg per month 2018|
|Cell Phones (2 lines)||$70.00||$70.00||$70.00|
*Excluding months in 2018 that we were without Hulu.
Income and Mortgage
Our only source of income is my salary as a clinical psychologist. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. We decided to not disclose my income, our mortgage, or the exact number we contribute to our retirement plans.
But I will say that my mortgage is 18% of my gross income and 23% of my net income (after deductions for taxes and social security, retirement, HSA contributions, and insurance). This is better than the recommended amount that housing be ≤ 25% of income.
Health insurance premium for the family plan through my employer is $136.78 per pay period ($3,556.28 in 2018). This will be increasing in 2019.
October was unusually high because we re-sodded our front lawn and had to water it daily.
November and December were back to our usual usage.
Compared to recent years, our water bill has been higher in 2018.
Electricity (we do not have natural gas)
This is our one bright spot! We averaged $154.11 during this last quarter, which is only a few cents more than our average during Q3. October was a hot month. In December we did not use our air conditioning or heat, but we did fire up the hot tub, which does draw a significant amount of energy.
Compared to the previous two years, our electricity bill has decreased in 2018.
We recently posted about electricity saving tips. While doing our research for that post, we came across a tip that was new to us: washing clothes in cold water. We have continued to use this tip and reap the savings.
We continue to use a pre-paid cell service. It costs $40 per line ($35 each with a family plan) for a total of $70 per month. We’ve used them for years now and I haven’t had any problems. I love that there is no contract or hidden fees.
I wrote more about our cell phones and plan when we disclosed our Q3 expenses.
We have been living without an internet contract since our last company was bought-out. The good part about not having a contract is that you can change providers any time. The bad part is that the company can raise your prices any time.
Our cost increased in November from $71.98 per month to $73.98 per month.
We canceled this in May. You know how I hate recurrent monthly payments! Plus, the cost has been increasing each year.
I aim to spend $100 per person per month for food.
In Q4, we went over our food budget nearly every month, averaging $550.15 per month. Compare this to Q3 when we averaged $428.98 per month for a family of five!
This category includes our groceries, diapers and wipes, laundry and dish detergents, hygiene products, and other household goods. It also includes eating out, which we did a lot in recent months (see our restaurant saving tips).
I recently shared how much we spent eating out this year. We ate at restaurants the most in October (14 times for a total of $179.74) and December (14 times for a total of $252.25), which is why the numbers are so high. As part of my goals to be a better friend and more generous, I also purchased meals for friends, left larger tips than usual, and hosted Christmas dinner for our extended families.
Despite some of this extravagant living, we still managed to average $450.96 per month in groceries and restaurants in 2018.
My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so we only have one commuter. However, he has been driving more since August to take our kids to their activities and attending holiday parties. So, we did spend more on gasoline in 2018.
See our tips for saving money on gas.
Car Insurance – We Got a Newer Vehicle
We pay every six months, which saves over $200 per year compared to paying monthly. December’s bill went up $77.80 for the next six months.
This increase in price is partly because we obtained a newer vehicle. My 15-year-old sedan has become unreliable and my husband’s truck only seats three. We were considering purchasing a minivan, but decided against it. However, I did welcome my father’s old vehicle, which seats five. It is not much younger than our vehicles and has over 100,000 more miles on it, but has been well maintained.
The cost to register both vehicles this year was $150.45. This includes registration fees and transferring the tag from one of our old vehicles to the new car.
Home improvements/repairs/other costs
Our HOA increased for the first time in 20 years. It cost $439 for 2019.
We also replaced our air filter.
$4.95 for a fever reducer for our baby. My family is in relatively good health.
None of us have chronic medical conditions or take medications, which is why I will continue with the high deductible health plan and Health Savings Account in 2019.
In our Q1 and Q2 post, this category included kids’ activities. Because they are doing more this year, I have decided to make kids activities a separate category.
Although we experimented with finding free entertainment this year, we also attended a number of parties (thus spending quite a lot on gifts).
We averaged $232.34 on gifts this quarter. This includes Christmas gifts.
Kids’ Activities – Our Big Dilemma for 2019
We have been spending money each month for a sports team for oldest child ($85 per month) and activity for middle child ($54 per month).
Last week, we received a notice in the mail essentially stating that the cost of the sports team will be increasing to $150 a month starting in 2019. This is a huge increase! We like everything about his current team: the coaches, times, locations. But can we justify paying nearly double each month? My husband and I are still undecided what to do.
Our other spending is way down from previous months. That’s one bright spot!
Our expenses increased in most areas during 2018 (including home maintenance, car registration and insurance, gasoline, gifts and entertainment), but decreased or remained the same in others (including electricity and cell phone).
I am not receiving a cost of living increase in 2019, so I will be looking for ways to cut expenses.
What would you do about the nearly double monthly fee for son’s sports team?