Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Expense Report 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without breaking the bank. "The less money you spend, the less you need to make" is my motto. 🙂 2016 was the first full year that Mark and I lived on land as house and pet sitters, which means there is no rent to pay, wherever we end up. You can find my yearly expense overview of 2016 here. What follows is the break-down of how we spent our money in 2017.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits.

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report. The utility cost refers to fees we paid for Skype, until we changed over to Google voice as our main phone service.

To be quite honest, I am disappointed and somewhat surprised at how much Mark and I spent in 2017. It is similar to our years aboard our sailboat Irie (2007-2015), and we don't even have those expensive boat repairs anymore. But, we bought a camper van this year (its purchase price is the only cost NOT included in this post), and fixing-up, equipping and "feeding" Zesty is not cheap. The car category covers money used for our Prius, which we sold in July, and our camper.

Swapping our Prius for an Airstream Westfalia camper van

All our plane rides from the West Coast to the East Coast and from Massachusetts to Belgium belong in the travel category. Luckily, we have been able to use miles the last half of 2017, which we "pay" for by having expensive credit cards (bank charges). Lots of travel-related expenses last year, but nobody bought a new computer, camera or other device!

I find the dining out and alcohol categories quite high, so we should make a valiant attempt to do better there in 2018. Car expenses should drop as well. Health insurance costs we can't change, unfortunately, unless I give up my greencard again. On the other end of the spectrum, all that being careful with our money means that we rarely pay for fun stuff, as reflected in the entertainment category.  We need to have more fun and laugh more often. $17,389 as a yearly expense boils down to an average of $1450 a month. Let's aim for $1200 a month in 2018!

2017 Overview:

Car (insurance, registration, repairs, fuel...):

Groceries:

Travel (plane tickets. AMTRAK-trip,  campground):

Dining Out:

Health insurance Liesbet (Belgium: $250 + US: $517):

Alcohol:

Gifts:

Household (camper items):

Health and Fitness:

Bank charges (annual credit card fees):

Drinking out:

Entertainment:

Charity (Best Friends):

Clothing:

Medical:

Computer (hosting, Turbo Tax):

Utilities:

Miscellaneous (membership house sitting sites):

Transportation (airport buses):

Postage:

Laundry:

Accommodation:

 

TOTAL:

 

Do you keep track of your expenses?

Any categories you'd like to do better with in 2018?

 

 

$5991

$4100

$2071

$1437

$767

$552

$531

$398

$368

$210

$155

$135

$120

$109

$109

$100

$77

$76

$63

$16

$4

$0

---------

$ 17,389

18 Comments

  1. You never fail to impress me with your frugality. I will be bowled over if you can get this down to $1200 per month in 2018. I track my expenses but lack your talent for frugality

    • Tracking expenses is the best way to reflect on what you spend and then it’s up to you whether to cut some categories down or now. I think you are doing great, Lisa, and you don’t skimp on “entertainment”. 🙂

  2. If you made several flights back East and it only cost you two thousand, that’s not bad. I looked at airfare recently and it is through the roof.

    • The $2000 was spent on two return tickets to the East Coast from the West Coast and two return tickets from Boston to Brussels. All our other plane rides have happened using miles and with minimal extra costs, luckily. We’d rather just hang where we are and tour around with our camper, but sometimes that proves to be impossible. 🙂

  3. www.retirementreflections.com

    January 16, 2018 at 08:25

    Hi, Liesbet – For some reason your Expense Report Posts never make it to my inbox, as all of your other posts do. Not sure why that is. Like Lisa, I bow to your expertise in frugality and your incredible openness about ALL of your expenses. Very admirable!

    • Interesting, Donna. Facebook also doesn’t seem to be happy to post those blogs, even though I have it set up to do so. I think WordPress has a mind of its own once in a while… And, some of it depends on the “theme” one uses, so finding reliable info is difficult.

      Thanks for the compliments. I think it might help some people wanting to pick up a similar lifestyle to have clarity about the possible costs. And, when reporting on those costs, I think transparency is important. Leaving things out complicates things and doesn’t offer a complete and comprehensive overview.

  4. Wow! You need to be in the public schools teaching on frugality, Liesbet!

    • Haha. That’s a good one, but I understand, based on how Americans are big consumers in general. Funny you say this, though, because I am a teacher by profession, although never in regards to managing money.

  5. Wow! You are a lesson in frugality to us all. I keep track of expenses via Quicken software, but they amount to far more than this. Way to go, you two.

    • We use Quicken as well, Marian. My husband does the hard work, entering, categorizing and checking. I just sit down with him once a month and note everything in a little notebook, before copying it on my blog. 🙂 Our biggest savings are on accommodation and utility costs, I think, since none of that exist in our lifestyle. We’d never be able to afford anything if we had to pay rent or a mortgage!

  6. You guys do great keeping your expenses down. I know it’s not as low as you’d like (it never is for us either), but the expense of getting Zesty all tickety-boo sounds like it’s worth it given the freedom that she gives you. Plus, she’s pretty darn cute too. 🙂

    • Oh, I”m glad you think so, Ellen. We initially thought he was very funny looking, but he grew on us. 🙂 If there is anyone understanding all this tracking of expenses and being careful with money, it is you!!

  7. I don’t keep track of my money, but I live a simple life. Not many bills and very little stress–unless it’s of my own doing. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • That’s the way to go, Anna! We don’t budget, but are just very careful with what we spend, living a “basic”, simple life as well. It is very satisfying – or should I say gratifying? – and takes away a lot of stress, for sure!

  8. Wow! We should all learn about frugality from your, Liesbet! Thanks for sharing your expenses with us. 😉

  9. I keep track of my expenses informally. I have a certain amount to live on each month, and that’s it, unless I can make extra.

    Mastercard does a damn good job of keeping track for me. Every time I get my bill, I can see exactly what I spent my money on.

    • So, it looks like you are more of a “budgeter”. I sometimes feel that we should do that as well – assign a certain amount of money to each category and stick to it. Instead, we always try to spend as little as possible, to live comfortable enough. Maybe having a round amount for all of it and not spending anything outside of that would be better, This way, you still have the flexibility with different categories based on what’s going on in your life and what is important at the time, like going out to dinner with friends, when they are around. 🙂

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