ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB – Expenses

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I love seeing how other people budget, getting down to the nitty-gritty of their categories and numbers, but I don’t feel it is fair to gain value out of what others are contributing without contributing something ourselves. As promised, here is the fourth Budget Breakdown for the Enough Time Machine. This represents how much we budget per month, not necessarily how much we spend. This week we are looking at Expenses.

YNAB Expenses Category
YNAB Expenses Category

The three categories (bills, insurance, transport) we have investigated so far have all been known expenses. We know what they are, how much they will cost to a fair degree of accuracy, and when they come out of our account (whether monthly, quarterly or annually). This is the first category where we have expenses we know will happen, but we don’t know how much they are likely to cost, nor when they will be needed (our known unknowns…)

Unlike the fixed expense categories which will cycle between full and empty as we save and pay, save and pay, the balance of these categories will fluctuate. To this end, I keep some of the balances open-ended (we continue adding to them regardless of how large the balance grows) and cap some others. Let’s explore so you can see what I mean.

House Maintenance LogoHouse

$100; Open-ended. We own our house, and along with home ownership comes upkeep. We have been fairly neglectful over the years, having neither the knowledge nor desire to perform those routine annual maintenance tasks that responsible adults usually do. We’ve finally grown up, but now have 2 decades worth of improvements to make. At the moment we keep this for fairly small expenses, such as light bulbs, batteries, kitchen utensils or small furniture.

Lawn Mower LogoLawns

$100; Capped at $1,000. I had mowed the lawns for years and years, and while I didn’t hate it, it certainly wasn’t something I was interested in. I would often prioritise anything else over doing the yards. The consequences of this were that often, we were “that” house. As for gardening, if a plant survived on its own, then it is still there, otherwise RIP. We now have very hardy plants! In the past couple of years however, I developed asthma caused by an allergy to grass pollen. I wasn’t allowed to mow the lawn any more, doctor’s orders. We have now found someone to do it for us, and it is wonderful. He can do it in half the time it used to take me, with twice the quality (who knew that pushing a mower could result in such different results?!) I have never enjoyed our back yard so much. It is a haven I can sit outside in, enjoying the sun and scenery. Also, now it isn’t such a scary-to-face jungle, I actually don’t mind keeping the weeds down. This is one expense we could drop if we were fully focused on FI, but for me, it is totally worth it. The cap is for larger garden related expenses, such as if we ever want to get trees removed, or top up the mulch etc.

Stethoscope Logo Doctor GPGP/Specialist/Allied Health

$150; Open-ended. I am lucky that my GP still bulk bills, but Mr. ETT’s charges. We are also getting older, so have had the need for physiotherapists, and I can see a podiatrist in my future. On top of that, we all know how expensive it is to see a specialist! Hopefully this category can just keep growing and growing. It will cover health insurance excess and co-payments, anything not covered by our health insurance, and depending on how large it grows, over the years it may act like a mini-emergency fund for health.

Undies Logo UnderwearClothing

$50/month; Capped at $200. This is just for essentials like underwear, or repairs/alterations. Mr. ETT and I have very different ideas about what constitutes reasonable prices for clothes, so anything outside of this comes from our individual spending money. This category covers my haircuts as well, but at the moment I can stretch that to $10 every 3 months for my fringe, and a simpler cut once a year, so it isn’t too expensive.

Capsule Medicine Pharmacy LogoPharmacy

$30; Open-ended. In Australia, we are lucky that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises many medications, which keeps medicine prices fairly reasonable. Not everything is covered, though, and in a world with reprobates such as Martin Shkreli, Heather Bresch, and likely others, essential treatment may suddenly become unaffordable.

Dentist LogoDental

$20; Open-ended. I hadn’t been to the dentist for at least a decade (I do look after my teeth very well), but my boss was horrified to hear that, so she encouraged me to finally visit one and get back into the habit of going. This should be the approximate cost for one visit each year. Mr. ETT has expressed interest as well, so this will probably double next year.

Glasses LogoOptical

$100; Capped at $1,500. We both have glasses, so this is covers annual checkups, repair and replacement. We will need to lift the cap if either of us decides to investigate laser eye surgery.

Gift LogoGifts

$300; Open-ended. We have a medium-sized extended family, which just seems to keep on growing, and encompasses some of the “big” celebrations like 1, 16, 18, 21, 40, 50, 60, 70… of course, there is also Christmas for the same group, so it becomes expensive.

Charity LogoGiving

$10; Open-ended. I am so ashamed to put this out on the Internet, particularly in light of the sub-category above. It’s terrible that we are putting aside 30 times more for people who have everything they need than for people that don’t have enough. I do make regular donations from my spending money, but this category must change next year. At an absolute minimum we need to match whatever we spend on gifts, or even increase over and above. In the immortal words of Derryn Hinch, “…shame, shame, shame.”

Forget LogoStuff I Forgot to Budget For

$200; Capped at $200. Another holding sub-category for one-off things that don’t fit anywhere else, like The Entertainment Book, extra donations to charity (phew, there have been some!), software and subscriptions, even envelopes and stamps (I like my local Post Office).

All up, expenses represent 14.8% of our total budget. Watch and see how this graph changes as we investigate other Budget Categories.

ETT Budget Breakdown Tableau Bubble Graph Expenses
ETT Budget Breakdown Tableau Bubble Graph Expenses

10 thoughts on “ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB – Expenses

  1. Charity seems to be popping up everywhere this week. I don’t know if you read Mr Money Mustache but he posted this week about giving $100k to charity and it made me feel like I wasn’t giving enough! So I can commiserate.

    I’m interested to hear what kind of work you have to do on your home. As new homeowners, I would like to be on the lookout of what to do so it’s not a big expense all at once. I have previously owned property but didn’t have to do too much as it was also reasonably new.

    • I don’t actually read MMM, but that post has made a stir – lots of other blogs are commenting on it too. We will definitely lift our game, but I doubt we will ever lift it to his level.

      As for the property, I am in the middle of trying to organise an inspection to give us an idea of everything that needs to be done. I’ll be able to let you know what it comes back with (I know it needs to be done, but I keep envisioning one of those scrolls in the cartoons that keeps unrolling…)

  2. Wait.. you guys budget $300 a month for gifts? I’m a bit confused, some of these seem like annual numbers – whereas others look like monthly ones! (I couldn’t imagine you spend $100 a month on getting the lawn mowed? those lawn mowers must rake it in).

    Jasmin

    • You are right, Jasmine. Looking at $300/month, it is a over the top, but it’s far from a yearly figure for us. At the moment, we have 18 people x $50/present x 2 (birthday and Christmas) = $1,800 annually just for family. On top of that, we have engagement parties, weddings, house warmings, baby showers and christenings, not to mention friend’s birthdays. We will be able to reduce this figure next year, but probably not as much as you would expect.

      We definitely spend an average of $100/month on the lawns (obviously less in winter, more in summer). It’s funny, I feel we get great value out of having both lawns mowed, edges done, and cleaned up afterwards for $50. By the time I got the mower out, petrol etc. it would take me 2 hours, and I hated whipper-snippering (it was too heavy and the vibrations hurt my hands).

    • Thanks MSM! Your comment about what we align to is interesting – this is definitely something we need to address. I think of this as budget 1.0, which I am running for a year. Next year we will have a better idea of what our goals and values are, and can hopefully begin to morph the budget to better reflect those.

  3. MrsETT, Thanks for your honesty. I want to join your family for all those gifts! Gifts communicate love, not the same to all though. Personally, gifts don’t do much for me, no diff whether $5 or $100. But for others it’s how they give or receive love. I spend more on those who will be loved by it. Sounds like you do too!

  4. I like that you have a spot specifically for “stuff you forgot to budget for”. That is one of the downfalls I have had when budgeting in the past as I’d always get discouraged when I forgot to budget for something and then would have to count it as going over budget since I didn’t budget for it at all.

    • I can’t actually take credit for that 😬- YNAB gives you a template to get you started, and this was one of the categories I decided to keep. It does get more of a workout for the first few (6?) months when you are constantly changing/building the budget, but even after 12 months, we do have things that still slip in.

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