Spending – April 2016

April was another interesting month as far as spending went:

Where the money went: April 2016
Where the money went: April 2016

All told, I spent $4,538 while earning $2,624. Of course, I pulled nearly $3,000 out of my emergency fund to pay off the remainder of the car loan, so that number isn’t nearly as bad as it seems. Being debt free means my spending updates should look very different from here on out: I’ll no longer have the vast majority of my money going to “Car Payment” and “Extra Car Payment”, and I’m not likely to have months where I spend more than I earn.

How big of a difference will it make? Well, without those two categories in April, I would have only spent $1,076. That’s less than half my earnings! Spending for the remainder of 2016 should be drastically different than what I’ve become used to.

Gas was surprisingly high this month. Then again, I had $0 in gas spending in March. The way it fell, I fueled up the last day of February, didn’t drive for 9 days in March, and then fueled up the first day of April. So, in a sense, March’s gas costs leaked over into other months.

I was shocked by how low our grocery spending was this month. Since I’ve been tracking, we typically come in between $350 and $450. Spending only $234 seems ridiculously low. But, we are getting better about what we buy. And the $62 in “Personal Care” somewhat offsets that amount. I don’t break out our grocery expenses. If it’s bought at the grocery store, it goes into “Groceries / Household”. If it’s bought at the drug store, or I remember only buying personal care items (like trips to Target), it goes under “Personal Care”. I’m really a convenience shopper, and try to make as few trips as possible. So, if I need something, and can get it at the grocery store, I do that. But, the drug store is closer, so if I have to make a special trip, I’ll usually swing by there on my way home.

Things admittedly got out of hand this month with restaurant spending. It started off innocently enough: I paid off my car loan, and got Starbucks to celebrate. Have I mentioned how much I love Starbucks? A gesture of celebration quickly turned into a coping mechanism: I hate my job, I’m feeling lost about where I focus now that my loans are gone, so I’ll deal by treating myself to Starbucks. EVERY.SINGLE.AFTERNOON. Bad from a financial perspective. And bad for my waistline (although I did count the drinks as “lunch”, avoiding a few extra calories). Bryan of course doesn’t understand my Starbucks inclination, so I only did this during the week.

I’m hoping to get that under control this month. I’m just struggling with fighting my entitled attitude. And honestly, my day goes better, and I go home in a much better mood, when I have Starbucks in the afternoon. I know that getting a Frappuccino every day is a bad thing. I just need to figure out if there’s a healthier (and cheaper!) way to replicate the effects.

I also finally decided to renew my Passport. It definitely cost more than $21, but the $140 check I wrote hasn’t cleared yet. I used my debit card to pay for the photo and postage fees, so those cleared in April. The rest will be a May expense.

Overall, I’m happy with my spending during April. There are places where I could have done better, but all in all, I don’t feel like anything was completely out of line. And I’m really excited to see what May looks like, now that two of my biggest categories are gone!

  • Cindy

* Lottery savings is the $16 that I put away each week, in cash, for NOT playing the lottery. This is equal to the amount Bryan spends each week playing the lottery. If he wins, the money is “ours”. My “spending” the same amount every week makes things seem more fair. At the end of the year, we’ll probably use that money to take a vacation. It’s like a guaranteed win!

** Insurance covers two term life insurance policies: One insuring me, and one insuring my younger sister. I pay my car insurance every 6 months, and renters insurance once a year. Health insurance is taken out of my weekly paycheck; To make things easier to track, I only list items that come out of my net pay, or what gets deposited into my checking account. My 401(k), health insurance, Flexible Spending Account, and other expenses that are taken directly from my weekly paycheck by my employer are not included here.


  1. Wow that pie chart just shows you are smashing that loan! As you say, the future will be bright when you redirect that money. Very impressive.

    1. I am super excited to have it gone! Looking back, the car payment plus extra payment amounted to anywhere between 26% and 77% of my spending each month. Over the 11 months I’ve been tracking, it averages out to 44% each month. That’s a pretty big piece of the pie! My spending will be considerably less now that the car payment is gone. It will also change the perspective on the rest of my spending: I have a lot of things that show up as “0%”, because they’re so small compared to the car payment and extra payment. But, with those two categories gone, things like entertainment will make up a bigger portion of my spending, even without the amount changing. I’m wondering if my feelings on certain spending categories will change once that shift occurs?

  2. I really love the pie chart! Can I ask what you used to make it? It seems really good to have it all laid out like that.

    What is it you have at Starbucks – could you re-create it at home? Just an idea – it’s nice to treat yourself though 🙂

    1. I make the pie chart in Excel. It’s actually really easy. My online banking allows me to export my account information into Excel. I then condense everything into two columns: One has the labels that appear to the right, and the other column is the amounts. I select both columns, click on the “Insert” tab, and add a pie chart. From there I make adjustments to sizing, appearance, etc. I like having the added visual of how much of my money is going where.

      I keep thinking about trying to make something similar at home. I’ve been getting the caramel frappuccino. It wouldn’t be impossible to make at home, but there would be the added mess of a blender, etc. The biggest problem is that I like to get them midway through my work day, to kind of break things up.Trying to figure out how to make them at work seems like more hassle than it’s worth!

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