Quarterly review of expenses

In January I carried out a review of my expenses for the first time in my life. I was due. And I have since decided I would like to do this at least a couple times a year. For now, I am thinking even quarterly so I get in the habit.

I also wrote up a budget at the end of January, based on the review of expenses. I will use that budget here, and compare my expenses against it. Actual = the average of the three months ended March 31, and I will also highlight the difference between the budget and actual so I can see where I was off.

category budget actual difference
investments (RRSP, TFSA, RESP)  $      2,625  $                  1,791  $                            834.33
rental property  $      1,562  $                  1,327  $                            235.33
daycare  $      1,500  $                  1,430  $                               70.00
other (entertainment, vacation, eating out)  $      1,850  $                  1,491  $                            359.00
mortgage  $      1,180  $                  1,246  $                            (66.00)
donations  $      1,150  $                  2,277  $                      (1,127.00)
groceries  $      350  $                      413  $                            (62.67)
vehicle  $      321  $                      149  $                            172.33
property taxes  $      300  $                      594  $                          (294.00)
utilities  $      250  $                      258  $                               (8.00)
taxes on rental property income  $     222  $                      222  $                                      –
loan  $     117  $                      117  $                                      –
home and life insurance  $     89  $                      100  $                            (11.00)
alcohol  $     60  $                        31  $                               29.00
cell phone  $     35  $                        35  $                                      –
total monthly expenses  $    11,611  $                11,480  $                            131.23

Bottom line is that I spent $130 less per month than I had planned to in the first quarter. I am going to assume that is a good thing, but it is worth breaking down to see how I got there:

  • Over $800 was ‘saved’ by not saving/investing as much as I had planned. At first I was a little worried about this, but on further investigation I see this is mostly due to the fact I invested less into our RRSPs than I was planning to. For more on that decision see this post.
  • The rental property cost $235 less per month than I was expecting. When I looked to see why, I noted that I haven’t received the property tax bill yet this year.
  • Daycare costs have gone down: I negotiated a discount, and our son in now older than 18 months which means the costs come down (less caregivers per child).
  • We saw a big drop of more than $350/month in the “other” category. I am happy about this, as it’s really the frivolous category: eating out, entertainment, random stuff. We are now planning a significant vacation this summer so that excess will be used up very quickly!
  • Mortgage line in showing an increase as I am including our common elements condo fees in that category, and I wasn’t before.
  • I donated $5500 of stock in January, which put me well ahead of my budget for donations for 2017. Since we aim to give 10% (or more), this just means we are ahead of the game at this point.
  • Groceries cost more than I had planned. I may need to revise that number higher next time I am budgeting. $400 or even $450 may be more realistic.
  • Vehicle expenses came in a lot lower than budget. This is mostly because there were no maintenance expenses in the first quarter, but I have likely over budgeted for the car given the low cost of insurance, litte maintenance, and the fact that we don’t drive very much (which means lower gas costs).
  • Property taxes were paid for half the year, so they appear higher than planned.

All in all, there are no causes for concern. And I am really happy that to be ahead on donations and low on the “other” category.

Have you reviewed expenses at all this year? When and how often do you go through the process?

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