Update: December Budget + How Much I Spent in 2014

We’re in the final hours of 2014, and I have to admit: I’m very much looking forward to a new year. It feels cliche to say that December was the most stressful month for my finances this year, but it’s true. From travelling for 22 days of the month, to losing my debit and credit cards in Toronto, to buying last-minute Christmas gifts and then having to pay for some other unexpected costs, money just seemed to fly out of my hands… and my mind was all over the place.

The only good news is that my CPP finally capped, so my paycheques were more than I’d expected them to be; this brought my percentages down, which is always nice to see. Unfortunately, I had to cut back on my savings goals, in order to pay for one big expense mid-month…

Life Expenses – Goal: 48% / Actual: 41% / Difference: -7%

I was under budget in a number of categories here, but one went right down to $0, when the amount for my new life and critical illness insurance policies wasn’t withdrawn from my chequing account. Apparently, until I get the results of my MRI (in January), the insurance company won’t approve my application for coverage. What my hip injury has to do with early death is beyond me… but I now have to wait until next month to know if I can get coverage (and for the same amounts that were quoted). I tell you, this car accident is seriously cramping my style. Anyway, because of my bigger paycheques, I was able to live off 41% of my income… so that’s cool, I guess.

Travel – Goal: 29% / Actual: 28% / Difference -1%

As I said, I spent 22 days away from home this month: 5 in NYC, 5 in Toronto and 12 in Victoria. I spent more in NYC than I’d budgeted for, but was able to stay on track otherwise.

Savings – Goal: 23% / Actual: 10% / Difference: -13%

This makes me sad, but there was no way around it. I put 10% of my income into my RRSPs, then transferred a couple Tangerine referral bonuses into my Shopping Ban account (currently at $900).

Other – Goal: 0% / Actual: 21% / Difference: +21%

Last month, one of my docs told me I needed to get an MRI, so we can figure out what’s really going on inside my hip and see if I need surgery. A few weeks ago, the hospital called with my appointment: October 20, 2015. After dealing with this injury for 17 months already, I wasn’t willing to wait another year (especially because surgery would come with a waitlist of its own). So, it wasn’t cheap, but I booked and paid for a hip arthrogram + private MRI. It cost $900, and I had to pay for it with cash, because my appointment was during the time I’d lost my cards. Anyway, money well spent, I suppose. And I’ll have my results in a few weeks, so we can come up with a game plan soon.

Goals for this month:

  • Read 2 books – FAIL! I started a few and didn’t finish a single one.
  • Workout 12x – FAIL! I only worked out 7x. But I walked a lot in NYC. Does that count? lol
  • Finish a personal writing project – PASS!
  • Map out goals for 2015 – PASS!
  • Soak up all my time in NYC/Toronto/Victoria – PASS!
How Much I Spent in 2014

Now, just for fun, I went through all my budgets and added up how much I spent on various categories this year. For starters, I paid $13,200 in rent (I live alone and pay $1,100/month). To get around town, I spent $1,762.29 on car insurance and $1,095.04 on gas. When I worked at my old co-working space, I spent an average of $104.57/month on gas. I’ve been working from home since August, and now only spend an average of $72.61/month. So, the decision to work from home has saved me 1 tank of gas + $50-75 in parking fees each month.

As for my more variable expenses, I spent $2,502.68 on groceries and $1,366.71 at restaurants (including coffee shops). Here’s some interesting numbers, though. From January-June, I spent an average of $144.56/month at restaurants. Since starting the shopping ban (and takeout coffee ban), that number has gone down to $83.22/month, which means I’ve cut my restaurant spending by 42%! But then my grocery spending went up by 9% (probably so I could buy more delicious homemade coffee ingredients). Between the two, I cut my food budget by 33%, which is great.

As for entertainment, one year of Netflix cost me $95.88, which is just another (more visual) reminder that life is better without cable. I also spent $722.87 for internet. We already know I spent $3,599.08 on weddings, which should be cut in half in 2015, as I’m only in 1 wedding (so far, hehe). Now for the biggest entertainment cost of all… I spent $7,445.76 on travel this year; that number includes all flights, hotels, transportation and food costs, as well as travel insurance and my new 10-year passport. I’m actually surprised it wasn’t more, considering all the places I went!

Fortunately, the final and most important numbers are pretty great: I saved $11,200 between my Emergency Fund and RRSPs, as well as put $1,700 in my Shopping Ban account (nearly $800 of which I used to buy a new bed). I also had my pension transferred into my personal RRSPs, and my small investments made $1,844.12. Not a bad year, overall, I’d say.

One final number I want to mention is about you! More than 180,000 unique visitors came to the site in 2014, which is a 149% increase from 2013. (Not surprisingly, my pageviews also saw a 149% increase.) Two years ago, I seriously considered shutting down the blog after making my final debt repayment, because I didn’t think anyone would want to read about life after debt. As it’s turned out, there’s so much more to do, learn and say… and I just wanted to thank you all for following along with me, and for being part of our community. I love reading your comments, emails and tweets, and can’t wait to see what we chat about in 2015! Happy New Year, friends. xo

If you’re still reading this recap, tell me how December finished up for you! Any crazy numbers you want to share?