December 2017 Spending and New Habits

After our expensive year in 2016, we set ourselves a goal to reduce our spending by 10% in 2017. We want to do this because it has a double effect. Firstly, it frees up more money to invest for our future. Secondly, if we can live on less, then it brings that future much closer. In 2016, we spent $80,000. To generate that using passive income and the 4% rule, we would need $2,000,000 invested!

Happy New Year!

December is the party month and the holiday month and the spending-on-gifts month. Surprisingly, this didn’t lead to as big a blow-out as I was expecting. This is partially because we managed to pay some of our car bills early so they wouldn’t fall into this month. December is also the month in which we find out whether we managed to reach our 2017 goal, so without further ado…

Daily Spending Rate


WE DID IT! See the red line? It’s below the green line! Those lines make me so happy!

Graph of Cumulative 2017 Daily Spending Rate.

Of course, as with all statistics, this doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Remember way, way back at the beginning of the year, the actual goal was:

2017 Financial Goal for Enough Time To
Hmm. Seems I need to spend some time learning to create graphics…

Now based on these parameters, we not only met our goal, we absolutely killed it. We reduced our spending by 19.7%, nearly double what we were aiming for. But see that line about “excluding a planned holiday to Japan”? While Japan didn’t eventuate, New Zealand did. I’m so pleased to report that even including our holiday, we STILL BEAT OUR GOAL. That’s right, we managed to reduce our spending by 11.8%, meeting our stretch goal.

This gives us a lot to think about, and of course there’ll be an upcoming post on what our 2018 goal might be. At the time of writing this, we’re still trying to absorb our success. I really thought we’d be down to the wire.

Our Budget

As I reflected after one year of blogging, I want to be more transparent in reporting our numbers. This is the first step – everything we budgeted and everything we spent via our top-level YNAB categories.

Top-level YNAB Categories - Budgeted and Spent.

Food $1003.98

YNAB Food Categories - 3 out of 4 are overspent.
Yes, there’s red… but it’s not in the Eating Out category! Hooray!

I’m not too concerned about this spending. Food and multiple Christmas parties are a huge feature of our December, so I expected this result. What has surprised me is that we are still green on the eating out category! I managed to decline 5 of the 9 Christmas parties on my agenda, leaving me with two “home” parties that we contributed food to, and two parties at restaurants. Mr. ETT attended the same, except we each went to our own respective work parties individually. I have absolutely no regrets at declining the other invitations I had received. Not only did it save us money, quite frankly, the downtime was precious to me.


Groceries Need and Groceries Want were both over budget, but we did some entertaining, catering, and contributing. If there is one time of the year I don’t begrudge overspending on junk food, this is it. Although, my body is now begging me to return to at least a small measure of decent eating!


Over, but not as much as I thought it would be. Mr. ETT received a lot of alcohol as gifts this year, so 2018 should be a lot less costly for us in this category. Also, I’ve decided not to drink alcohol in 2018.

Eating Out

Another month where our Eating Out spending correlated with how we want to be spending the money – on eating experiences together. Back in November Strong Money Australia asked “Does Mr ETT know you have the pie chart which highlights ‘his’ spending? lol that seems like a recipe for an argument“. I concede that it’s passive-aggressive on my part, but he assures me he reads every post! We have talked about it IRL, but by posting the graph, it’s easier to digest than me always pointing out how much it all adds up. Also, compared to the graphs at the beginning of the year, it’s a huge improvement.

Of course we maintain our independence and we have experiences separate from each other, so we are never going to have 100% in “both” spending, but as long as the largest percentage is on experiences together, that matches our values.

Graph of Eating Out Spending based on who spent what.

Gifts and Giving $764.81 Each

I confess, when I looked at how much we spent on gifts and I realised how much I had to donate to charity, I felt hesitant. What was this going to do to our daily spending rate? Could that final donation be the thing that stopped us from reaching our goal? Then, mum voice came out: “Well, toughen up, princess. Firstly, you made a commitment, so your daily spending rate be damned. Secondly, no, it’s not donating to charity that stuffed up your daily spending rate – it’s all the junk and other unnecessary choices you’ve made throughout the year that contributed.”

*Hangs head in silent shame, donates an amazing amount to WIRES and feels great!

What $310 donation to WIRES can pay for.
Our donation will feed all animals in care for an entire day, with change!

After the WIRES donation, I realised there was a gift I’d forgotten to account for, so we pulled another charity out of our box, and donated $25 to Barnardos Australia. There are still 3 charities waiting to be drawn from 2017, because Mr. ETT ended up going on some charity rides and participating in Movember, while I did Dry July. We’ll sit down and pick another 4 charities each to place back in for 2018.

Charity names drawn from a hat.



I lost 10% of December to migraines. OK, it’s only 3 days, but that’s three whole days where I was completely unable to function. Most disappointingly, I was to have attended Sleepmakeswaves at the Oxford Art Factory with friends, and I couldn’t go. It’s so frustrating, because that one was a shocker, lasted 2 full days, and came out of nowhere. Go to bed fine, wake up with a migraine. Not only is it incredibly painful and horrible to feel nauseous at the same time, it costs money! Medication, price of the concert, lost time where all plans have to be put aside and caught up with later.

Sleepmakeswaves ticket for Oxford Art Factory.
Not happy that I had to miss out.

I had a second migraine on my last day at work, so instead of being able to finalise everything properly and leave my desk orderly for when I return, I had to catch a train home with a ziplock bag in case I vomited. Thankfully I made it home, but it’s an awful, awful experience. I will acknowledge my colleagues here, more than one of which offered to drive me home.

We (including my doctor) thought that my migraines are related to seasonal allergies, but I have them under control. In 2018 I need to begin recording when I get them to try and identify other possible causes.

Pay Rise

Mr. ETT received his yearly pay rise of 3% or inflation rate, whichever is higher. This year it was the 3%, of which we will put the entirety into investments. His work also pays out all leave loading as a lump sum, so that was a nice bonus as well. I absorbed that into budgeting for the future.

Personal Goals

Well, it’s that time of year. I will re-assess my goals for 2018, but it might take a while. Aside from exercise, I’m still not sure what I want to achieve!


We’ll pick this back up in 2018.

Grow Fresh Herbs

Look, they’ve got pretty flowers! I think that we can all agree I am no longer a black thumb. I can grow plants if I put my mind to it and actually learn how to look after them. Unless something extraordinary occurs, this will probably be the last update. I was able to use my thyme in a dish I cooked for the family for Christmas, which was exciting to me. I’m putting this down as a delicious win.

Flowers on Oregano plant.

Maintain Friendships

This is another goal I don’t think I need to continue to report on. I have had no issues in sticking to this, and I’ll be expanding the circle of friends that I catch up with in 2018. If you have friends you haven’t spoken to in quite some time, I highly recommend setting this as a goal. It’s so much fun that once you begin, it’s easily sustained. Now I just need to find the same level of sustainability for my exercise!

Affiliate plug!

I use, and totally love, YNAB to track my spends and budget. Mr. ETT doesn’t exactly love it, but he does use it – super important when more than one person spends money. YNAB offers a 34 day free trial period. If you try YNAB and love it as much as I do, then by signing up through this link, both of us will get a free month in our subscriptions!

Thanks for all of your support on these posts throughout the year. It really helps to have accountability, encouragement and the sensible advice that you offer. I’m not sure yet what format these posts will take in 2018, but I will continue reporting in some manner.

10 thoughts on “December 2017 Spending and New Habits

  1. Miss Balance says:

    First of all a massive congratulations to you both for not only achieving but smashing your goal!! To cut everyday spending by a whopping 19.7% is fantastic.

    It is good to see the charts for eating out are looking more even as well. Maybe passive aggressive works for some things, and as you say it is less nagging 😉

    Yay for your thyme plant, how pretty. So far I’ve managed not to kill, lemongrass, rosemary (just) and some succulents! It is the most green I’ve kept alive for this long, and probably only because it has rained a fair bit lately, but I’ll take it. I’ll have to learn from you some more green thumb tricks.

    Best of luck for 2018. I look forward to hearing more about your goals and seeing you start the year in a high 😊

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Yay! Thanks Miss B. Ah, I walk a fine line between encouraging Mr. ETT and pushing him away. As much as I want to make ALL THE CHANGES immediately, people operate on a different timeline, and I have to recognise he holds different values.

      I should add to my collection now; coriander is a herb I’m using a lot of at the moment. The difference is that I can usually use the whole lot so it isn’t a waste. Rosemary would be good, and I’d like to try some basil. I’ll have to get myself down to Bunnings again and see what I come up with.

  2. Erin says:

    Awesome job! It sounds like you have everything on track for this year from your progress last year. =) Sorry that you’ve been suffering from migraines. Being sick and unable to function is frustrating. I hope you’re able to figure out the cause so you can treat it, although I also hope you don’t get any more migraines to begin with! (Also, allergies suck.)

    I like that maintaining friendships was a goal of yours. One of my biggest goals for this year is to build on friendships and find new friends. As an introvert, that can be difficult, but I value those closest to me, so it’s time I act on those values!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thanks Erin! The pain is intense, but the loss of time ends up hurting me almost as much. I can’t believe some people have chronic migraines; I’m so thankful this isn’t the case for me. It turns out that I need to be more aware of my triggers, and jump on the medication more quickly – if I have even a whisper of a hint I might be getting one, I should take the drugs. Even if it might not have turned into one after all. Behaviour change for me, because like a lot of people I’d rather not take anything.

      Maintaining friendships has been such an enjoyable goal. I think as a fellow introvert, I tend to forget that friends are fun and I need to make the effort to not just hunker down in the house. Although, I do also consider online friends “friends”, so it doesn’t always need to be about face to face. I would be interesting to hear how you enact your friendship values, because it can be difficult!

  3. eemusings says:

    Graphs galore! Congrats on killing it this year.

    The herbs I love, I can’t keep alive (basil, coriander) while the ones I dislike (mint, rosemary) grow like blimmin weeds.

    And I hear you about forgetting how much fun my friends are – even if it’s easier (and often cheaper) to cozy down at home.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Good to hear about the rosemary; someone has offered to give me a cutting. I said I’d be really pleased to take it as long as they understand if it accidentally dies while under my care! And mint – ugh. Love peppermint and spearmint, can’t stand real mint. Mint sauce is a travesty! Thanks for the congrats.

  4. Dividends Down Under says:

    Well done Team ETT! Reducing your savings by such a huge amount is a great achievement. I’m really proud of your donating as well, that’s good of you. Overall a great month and a great year for you 🙂

    Mr DDU

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thanks Mr DDU. I like how you called us a team. Sometimes I forget this, and if we focused on that more, we might go even further. Go us! Go Team ETT!

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