Where did $59,000 Go To In 2014?

This post is probably at least 3 months late.  😳

But well, better late than never?

Earlier in the year, I promised to produce a summary of what the 15HWW household spent on for 2014 and even though it’s already late March, I still remember it and feel that this would be a useful post. Especially for the both of us.

In fact, I actually “tested” Mrs 15HWW on this.  😆

I asked her to rank the 8 broad categories below in descending order with regards to the amount we spent on each category. To be honest, I was surprised that she did pretty well (a couple of mistakes) as after tallying everything up, I was quite “shocked” that we spent this much on certain categories.

Here’s 2014’s breakdown.

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Mortgage – $11,000

Every month, about $920 ($460 each) will be transferred from our CPF OA accounts to DBS Bank. This ensures that we can continue to call this 5-room HDB flat in central Punggol our home.

With ready access to electricity, gas and water, we feel that $11,000 a year isn’t excessive for this 110 square metres of space. If you divide it by 4 (the number of people staying in this flat currently), that works out to only about $230 per person. One would be hard pressed to find a rental as comfortable as our place at that price.

Nonetheless, we are open to downgrading if the situation changes. After all, larger spaces simply requires more time and effort to maintain and clean. Duh. 😥

Travel – $11,000

This is a category that shocked me, honestly. But when you rationalise it, it really was about there when you add everything up

We embarked on three trips last year. Taiwan in May, Australia in August and Vietnam in October. That’s really quite a few places and considering that we spent $3,500 for the Taiwan trip, $7,000 in Australia and just a mere $500 for the short Ho Chi Minh stay, we weren’t really that extravagant, eh?  😆

Eating Out – $9,000

An average of about $750 each month with more than half spent on restaurant visits. I have to be honest and admit that we do find great utility when we dine at value-for-money restaurants like Din Tai Fung. But no doubt that we are willing to cut back on this indulgence if money becomes tight one day.

Clothes, Gifts & Jewellery – $8,000

We spent about $200 per month on clothes and personal items and gift expenses like weddings, birthdays, baby showers average about $250 a month. The anti-materialist in me hopes that this year is indeed a special year and that the almost $3,000 spent on a piece of jewellery would unlikely be replicated in subsequent years.  😉

Parents Allowance – $5,000

Between $400 to $450 each month for my in-laws. Sometimes when we compare our expenses against some international bloggers like MMM, we tend to be a little harsh on ourselves and forget about these expenses. Afterall, these allowances are very much an Asian concept.

Utilities & Transport – $5,000

Conservancy charges, internet and phone bills, electricity/gas/water charges and public transport expenses with the few taxi rides in between. This is one category which I find very hard to continue chipping away.

Taxes & Insurance – $4,000

Taxes are a function of income and there’s little doubt that I would like to increase my income tax.  😎

Our insurance expenses are already very lean and the bulk of it goes to our hospitalisation plans and some basic term insurances. The amount channelled to insurance is also kept artificially low as we have excluded the insurance premiums deducted from our CPF accounts.

Others: $6,000

This literally includes items like groceries, snacks & beverages, entertainment, medical expenses and other items that do not belong in the broad categories or above categories. The main bulk are “luxury” items like salon packages and massage packages.

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So there you have it, the 15HWW’s first annual expense summary ever!

If you think we are a frugal couple from our monthly updates, you might be surprised to find out that we still spent a not insignificant $59k last year.

I personally feel that more than 90% of the population underestimates the amount they spend every month and this adds up over a year. Why not find out how much you spend on each category every year?

It really isn’t difficult and one just needs to start recording daily expenses (less than 10 mins per day) and summarising them every month.

And then maybe, just maybe, you will realise that you shouldn’t be spending so much on certain stuff, cut back, and save more for a potentially early semi-retirement.

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    4 thoughts on “Where did $59,000 Go To In 2014?

    1. Mickey J

      Thanks for posting this. While I have not been tracking my expenses as long as you are, I hope to do the same at the end of 2015.

      I don’t agree in your article about “Taxes are a function of income and there’s little doubt that I would like to increase my income tax.” While we all strive to increase our income, we should still make use of tax deductions to reduce our income tax.

      One of the things I did last year was a maximum contribution to my SRS account. That helped to reduce my taxable income significantly so this year I won’t have to pay any income tax for YA2015.

      For this year, I’m starting to do half the amount of allowance I have been giving my mother in cash and do a CPF top up for the rest to her Retirement Account. This is because we discussed about this and found that she has more than she needs each month and topping up her RA allows her to extend the number of years she receives the monthly payout (she’s still under the Minimum Sum scheme).

      Sorry for the wordy comment. 🙂

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Mickey J,

        It’s been some time since I popped by at your blog. Will do that soon!

        I think ceteris paribus, it’s hard to argue that taxes will not rise with an increase in income. But I get what you mean and SRS can be a good tool to reduce taxes paid.

        Topping up the RA amount and allowing it to be streamed out can be a good strategy since she gets to enjoy a good 4% interest rate. I guess she probably belongs to the cohort that is still on the Minimum Sum Scheme (MSS) instead of CPF Life?

    2. LH

      I came across your blog just recently, and thought that we have many things in common (similar age, married and socioeconomic background…)
      Me and wifey also track our spending diligently, and coming across this post, we decided to also sum up our spending for 2014…and coincidentally, it came up to about 62k!! Definitely higher than what we expected!

      Thanks for spending the effort to share and hope you will keep this blog alive!

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi LH,

        Thanks for your encouraging comments!

        I would be lying if I said I have never wanted to give up on this blog during the past 2 years. But it has been an enriching experience so far and I am so glad that I have inspired you and your wife to sum up your annual spending. Hopefully, a closer scrutiny can lead to a more meaningful expenditure for 2015.

        All the best in your financial journey!