December Spending for a family of two plus two dogs. See their line by line budget and spending

December Spending Report – Lots of Travel

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It’s the start of a new month, which means I get to review our spending!

When I first started tracking spending using Personal Capital (sign up for free today), I was not excited to see where my money was going. However, taking the time to truly dig into our budget helped us slash our annual spending by $15,000. Three years of tracking later, I now love reviewing our spending, it helps me connect with our values and goals.

December spending for this family of two plus two dogs - frugal simple living
A walk in the snow after a basketball game! Frugal trick – park 1 mile away to get free parking and a nice walk.

December, was cold and snowy, so I did not get outside as much as I would have liked! But we loaded up the car and went on a one week road trip around Lake Erie! Mr. Kiwi and I needed a vacation and some time away from the to do lists before he starts his new job (today 🙂 )! I’ll share all the spending details for our frugal road trip later this week!

We were offered free tickets to a local basketball game! So we enjoyed a nice night out with my parents!

We celebrated Christmas many times over with family and friends! Bought a few Christmas gifts for my hubby’s family, since they still exchange gifts. I even bought a Groupon for an Escape room to try out in the next few months! I of course purchased it through the Ebates shopping portal (sign up today and get $10 after you make your first $25 purchase), to get an additional 6% off the groupon price!

We also reviewed our financial goals for 2017 and some of our favorite beers.

Taking time for your passions can help you be more frugal, december spending
Reading and wine to wind down the evening

I love how in winter people escape into more quiet. I’ve found time to read more books, and really enjoyed Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. It’s a different take on the American Dream, from the perspective of an immigrant family living in NYC during the financial crash.

I would like to thank all you readers for keeping me motivated and joining us on our journey!

If you want to know more of what we do, follow us on Twitter and Instagram! I’m also on Pinterest.

Somewhere in there we found time to rescue some treasures (this month an extension cord and ridiculous decorative light) and  work our standard 8-5 jobs. I’m looking forward to FI when I won’t need to interrupt my day with going to the office!

December Expense Report Intro

A monthly feature on the blog is a detailed breakdown of our monthly expenses AKA monthly spending. The intro will be the same each week, if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, skip to the table below.

For those of you who are not aware we are a pack of two adults and two dogs. The puppies really don’t cost too much (except in September when they are due for their annual vet visit), so you can blame the humans for being spendy. (Get to know us a little better by reading this post or checking out the About Us page.)

Why Track Spending?

After the life changing conversation at my friends’ joint birthday party, our pack decided to get serious about how we manage our finances. This meant endeavoring to track every dollar (or Tanzanian Shilling) on our balance sheet. We started tracking our spending using Personal Capital in December 2014. (Check out our review of Personal Capital here! And let me know if you have any questions!)

Taking time for your passions can help you be more frugal, december spending
Avocado toast and blackberries for our #Millennial lunch 🙂

This has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of our seeking FIRE. Second only to reading the Stock Series and following the Simple Path to Wealth. We use our very own categorized spreadsheet to track our spending, but primarily use personal capital. Now that I’ve been on the FIRE path for a couple of years I’ve relaxed my net worth obsession. It was awesome growing that first 100k!

We also don’t use a monthly budget. By tracking our expenses using Personal Capital we have a record of what we spend and quickly realize if things are getting out of whack. We spend based on our values, and a budget would probably lead to us spending more. But if a budget works best for you, go for it!

In the 3 years of tracking our spending we have recognized that not all of our spending practices align with our values, and have cut our spending significantly. Just seeing where all the money was seeping out the sieve was so EYE OPENING!

Lifestyle creep had started to set in, and we were falling victims to the rat race. Frugality took up its sword and slashed the waste and negligent expenses. Now, we are a lean, mean, and saving the green pack (DINKs FTW).

See all of our expense reports here. And if you haven’t signed up for Personal Capital get started today! It is free and organizes all of your accounts in one place!

What’s Missing?

You may have noticed that a couple of typical spending categories were missing in this December expense report breakdown. I’ve done my best to explain them here, but if you have any questions or notice any gaps let me know!

DIY gifts helped us spend less money in December, see our full spending for December
A homemade quilt for our nephew was a frugal and fun gift to make!
  • Car Insurance for our two (cringe) cars: We pay our auto insurance once per year to take advantage of a discount
  • Water bill: We have a well and a water filter/softener, which helps us save money in the long run!
  • Garbage service: we compost and recycle most of our waste. Instead of paying for a monthly service we pay $3 per bag, but have the buy the bag tags in bulk. We pay about $20/year going this route!
  • PMI: We put 20% down on our house, so no PMI for us!
  • Car payments: both cars are paid in full (2006 Chevy Cobalt and 2010 Chevy HHR)
  • Gym memberships: We seek out free (or super cheap exercise). We walk, have an exercise bike, elliptical, adjustable weight dumbbells, do body weight exercises, ride our road bikes sometimes, and practice free yoga using

How do we Spend so Little?

We’ve spent our years seeking FIRE ruthlessly cutting our spending to align it with our values. This really helped us eliminate most of our consumer tendencies. We’ve always loved getting good deals, but then we ended up filling our home with a bunch of stuff. Things don’t bring us joy, and once we realized that it was easier to say no, and save our money instead of spend it!

We spend our time participating in frugal activities with friends, cooking, gardening, and have built up hobbies that support our frugal values!

But now on to what you are really interested in…the December Spending Report!

December Spending Report

Here’s all the December expense report details for our pack:

Category Total Spent Notes
Mortgage $950 Includes property taxes on home insurance
Restaurants $76
We went out a few times this month with friends, and even went out on a date lunch to celebrate Mr. Kiwi’s new job!
Gas $90
This doesn’t include the gas for our one week road trip, but it does include gas to visit family and friends for Christmas and New Years!
Car Maintenance $30 Wiper fluid and an oil change that we (gasp!) outsourced!
Cell Phone $20 One cell phone on the parents family plan
Entertainment $197
We hit up a few breweries to celebrate the holidays with friends in town, went ice skating, and stocked up on our favorite beers.
Internet $59 Gotta have Internet
Travel $637 We took a one week roadtrip! This spending includes gas, hotels, food, beer, and all trip related purchases. I also organize a weekend wine trip with friends, this includes the $150 deposit for the party bus.
Gift $154 Our Christmas spending on the few people we still exchange gifts with. Including a Groupon to an escape room.
Home Improvement $168
Air filter for our furnace, expanding foam to weatherize our house better, salt for our water softener, and other fun things like that.
Grocery $152 A low month since we were on vacation and visiting family for lots of the month! We did splurge on some good vegan cheese and sausage using a gift card we received!
Medical $25
Prescriptions, and Doctor Copays. I’m grateful we have good insurance.
Utility $112 Gas, electric, and sewer bills!
Rewards -$234
We sold some dining chairs and an old dresser on craigslist. We cashed in some credit card rewards, earned interest from our bank, and our Ebates (get $10 for signing up through this link) arrived.
Total $2,436 This was a higher month than normal, but with Christmas, New Years’ Eve, and a week long vacation, I’ll take it!
Total Minus the Mortgage $1,486

December Spending Summary

The December expense report includes aligns well with our values! We took a frugal vacation and enjoyed another week off together over the Christmas holiday.

DIY gifts helped us spend less money in December, see our full spending for December
We did splurge on some fun vegan groceries in December!

Mr. Kiwi enjoyed a month long mini-retirement to recharge before starting his new job this month. One of the best parts of having a high savings rate is being able to take some time off between jobs to recharge. We didn’t set any massive to do lists, so he was able to enjoy a couple of weeks tinkering on projects he cares about and relaxing.

I’ve been toying around with a couple of career moves for me, but we’ll see where that lands in the next few months. I’m slow to embrace change and appreciate a lot of the security we have now. But having all that time off helped affirm my values.

Every month we evaluate our spending to compare, engineer, optimize, and track using Personal Capital. (Join us on the adventure to financial independence!)

What exciting things did you do this month? How’d your spending go?

10 comments on “December Spending Report – Lots of Travel”

  1. Adding that book to my Goodreads list! That’s actually really awesome he got a month off between jobs rather than the crazymaking last day Friday new job starts Monday. How’s he feeling about early retirement after a month off?

    1. Reply

      Yes, we are firm believers in taking at least one week off between jobs. A whole month was pretty awesome!

      He’s one of those work forever people, but he loves the idea of part time work for as many years as possible. And this month helped solidify that!

  2. Reply

    I thought your beer bill would be higher…. I’ve seen your twitter feed 🙂

    1. Reply

      Haha, well check the blog out later this week when I report on our vacation spending. Beer was the most expensive category 🙂 We love beer, but try to not drink large volumes!

  3. I like seeing monthly reports – it’s such a good value to reflect on the previous month! Congrats as Dec can be such a brutal month with the extra families and friends around for the holidays!

    1. Reply

      Thanks! Yes, December can be brutal and we definitely went out to eat/drink more than normal. But one of us typically serves as the DD to get everyone home safe and we save more money. We love beer, but we don’t have to drink to have fun!

  4. Reply

    Wow! We spend so much, in comparison!

    1. Reply

      We don’t have kids and live in a LCOL area, so that helps a bunch. Everyone has different spending levels!

  5. You should brew your own beer and sell it! FI by beer brewing!

    1. Reply

      That would be fun and some of our friends just opened a brewery!

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