I’ve been getting a few messages on this, and I thought it might be useful to show everyone what my year to date (YTD) spending breakdown is like in 2020 so far.
I was working from January to March, and then I got notice that COVID cancelled my project permanently. I haven’t worked at my day job since, and have only been doing side incomes, which have turned out sort of well this year.
I have 11 side incomes, you can read about all of them in detail in my last budget roundup from September 2020.
What my spending has been like in past years
My spending over the years looks like this, just so you are under NO ILLUSIONS that I spend under $30K a year, regularly. I don’t.
In some years (many of them), I have kissed the $60K mark, particularly in the years when I have worked a lot because I find that when I am stressed, I tend to spend more, or at least, with less limits or questions posed to myself of: Should I really be doing / buying this? I give myself a lot of leeway and freedom when I work because I feel flush with money coming in, and I am super generous and spendy in those times (within reason).
Other reasons why I spent more in the years when I work:
- Working itself costs money – I had to pay daily indoor parking at a contract once, to the tune of $240/month
- Socializing at work costs money – I always brought my lunch but when you’re at work, you go out for the occasional lunch/dinner/treat thing and all of that adds up QUICK
- Only in 2019 have I really embraced secondhand designer shopping – HUGE change. See all the years where there are big thick dark pink blocks of spending there? That’s Wardrobe, and those were pieces I bought AT RETAIL. Some I regret, others I do not, but in 2019 and 2020, you can see the pink block is still a relatively big chunk, but it is far smaller than in previous years.
Now for this year, 2020
This year 2020 however, I have been spending like I have been earning nothing, and am in the midst of a recession (2009-2010), so this spending breakdown encompasses ONLY the following NINE months of January to September 2020 and I will go into each category to detail out what I bought:
The highest months of spending were January and February when I was working and there was no COVID-19 major fear happening. It wasn’t until March that I lost my contract, that I truly spend the barebones possible in my budget. It is clear to me that it is POSSIBLE for me to spend around $1500 or even lower, but I don’t enjoy it (it’s a very austere lifestyle), and you can see in June to September how I rebelled against that because my spending started to creep up.
The months, in brief:
In January, my biggest expense was Transportation because I had to replace all of my winter tires on my car, and that cost me over $2500, as you can see with the big blue piece in the middle.
For February, we spend the most on Home because I paid the municipal taxes for the year.
In March, April and May, I kept it cool, and spent the bare minimum – this is what I can spend on a regular basis if I was spending nothing at all and VERY hyper vigilant about extraneous expenses.
By June I let myself go a little, and I bought some toiletries and a bit of clothing.
In July, that little blue block is a NEGATIVE number because I returned a few household items from June, so my household item category went into the negatives. I also had an “Other” purchase when I upgraded all the security on my sites, and that took out a big chunk of money, about $500 to do so, along with a big chunk in Entertainment because I bought a digital piano.
The year breakdown looks like this:
If you ever want a breakdown of each month and what I spent, I post my income, spending and net worth every month under: Budget Roundups including what I bought, etc.
A lot of spending happened from January to March, when there weren’t any restrictions or fears to stay at home and not catch the virus, and then in March everything imploded and things halted. So… the first two months of the year would have continued until now, had it not been for COVID, not to mention that because of COVID I didn’t travel at all this year, which normally jacks up the spending side.
- Condo fees
- Municipal / School Taxes
- Utilities – electricity, internet and cellphone (we do not pay for water, it’s free here in Québec)
- Home insurance
I pay an average of $600/month for all of the above. We manage this low housing cost because I paid my half of the condo in cash, as did my partner. We never took a mortgage so we all have to pay is just fees.
We also don’t pay for water, and the electricity that we use, is pretty low every month because we turn off every electronic device (including the microwave and oven) at night when we go to sleep. This sounds pretty crazy to so many people, but we have saved about 80% of our bill by turning off all of this vampire electricity.
Our general rule is: Every blinky light, has electricity being used to power it and should be turned off, and when it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, it adds all adds up, just like how tiny expenses all add up to a big chunk at the end of the year.
Our main electricity usage is during winter for heat, and very hot summer days.
Any food in a grocery store, not something prepared like takeout.
My partner does all the shopping for this, and we eat meat very sparingly, about twice a week or less. Most of the time, we eat vegetarian, and we buy the best that we can in sense of what we think makes the most health sense.
For instance, we try to avoid plastic, so we buy all of our milk in glass reusable bottles that are consigned back. We will pay a premium for this, just to avoid plastic (for health and for eco-friendly waste reasons), and it’s about $250 a month in our budget as Little Bun drinks a lot, and I have a latte every morning.
Anything to do with the home, such as pots and pans, paint, new poles for curtain rods or in a closet. Also includes common toiletries or household items such as toilet paper and soap.
My partner hunts for deals every week, and plans all the food purchases to coincide with sales, tracking statistics of things like how much toilet paper we use, and therefore, how much we should buy, and so on. He gets a baseline of what we use, and then keeps us stocked up when sales hit so we save big when it happens. He enjoys doing this, being a big coupon clipper so to speak as he is super organized and likes being efficient.
It takes a lot of work, a spreadsheet, and noting sales each time they happen, when, at what price, etc. He has data going back years I suspect, as he has done this long before we met.
Anything to do with Little Bun, includes things like:
- Daycare fees
- Supplies (crayons, etc)
Daycare fees have been the craziest part of the cost of having Little Bun, the rest of it was thankfully, quite low. I also have a penchant to go overboard in the books department, here is Little Bun’s entire library and his favourite books for STEM.
Anything to do with things we need on a regular basis but are office related and not ‘household’, such as:
- Printer paper
- Printer / Scanner / Ink cartridges
- Pens (or in my case, ink for my pens)
- Electronics – laptop, tablets, phones
We don’t spend much in this category, and I have been working on trying to do things like switch out my pens for fountain pens instead.
If it goes into a car or is for a car, it goes in here. Includes:
- Car mats
- Supplies for the car (e.g. boxes for organization)
- Car washes
It’s pretty self-explanatory. For 2020, the most expensive singular expense were my winter tires (Pirelli Scorpion because I live in Montreal and I want to feel SAFE on these roads), and they were well over $2000.
Anything medical is in here, including:
- Cold and sinus pills
- Birth control pills
- Dentist visits
Anything in a restaurant, or taken to-go. I haven’t been doing much of this in 2020 because of COVID, and have lost a bit of weight as a result, which I guess is the silver lining in all of this misery.
This category is just for personal toiletries that no one else in the house uses. I include in here my shampoo, conditioner, body cream, makeup, beauty anything. I am working on finishing my stash of items before buying anything new, and have also decided to go minimalist on the skincare products.
This is just for my style spending, on clothing, shoes and accessories. Style/fashion is my hobby, basically. I enjoy it, and only around 2019 have I gotten very serious about buying items secondhand which have SIGNIFICANTLY cut down on what I spend. I am also working on trying to upcycle why I have in my closet already rather than buying new, check out my 5 latest upcycling projects.
2020 has been a seriously low spend year for me. I don’t recall the last time I spent so little on here, but it’s all good, honestly. Considering it is only a little over $2000, I am surprised and pleased. Some years it has skyrocketed to $10K, no joke. But I suspect those days may be over by now.
My style spending is my wardrobe, but I also have other things I like to do like read. I tend to take most of my books from the library, but from time to time, I find books that are not available in the library or I want in a hardcopy such as style or photography books. Other examples would be:
- The digital piano I bought (as we are moving, I didn’t want something heavy to move, so I got an interim instrument)
- Music purchases of any kind
- Anything I consider ‘non-essential’ in the other categories and simply for pleasure
My biggest purchase in 2020 was my digital piano for a little over $500.
Any THINGS I buy go in here, that are meant as gifts, which can include (from the past), a Canada Goose coat for my mother, and so on. They are actual items, rather than cash, which go here.
Anything travel-related, which includes:
- Travel accessories (suitcases, luggage tags, neck pillows)
- Train tickets
- Plane tickets
Obviously we haven’t done any of this for 2020, I normally go to Toronto every summer to have Little Bun spend time with his grandmother, but this didn’t happen this year. I am hoping for 2021. I also normally go to NYC yearly with my friend, for a solid long weekend of shopping and eating, and that was out this year.
- Driver’s registration fees
- Car registration fees
- Tax software costs
- Website hosting
- Anything that doesn’t fit above
What is not included in the above
- Donations – I do 10% of my gross income every month, and random donations that are one-off as the situation arises
- Cash gifts – When I give the money, it goes. I don’t know when I will give it, and it isn’t usually recurring but I just transfer the cash. I don’t plan on this, normally.