Budget In Review: Where did our money go in 2013?

by Erika Torres

Every year, I like to do a review of our finances. I think it helps to sort of check in and see how you’re doing financially and if you’re meeting your financial goals.

Now that I have a couple of years’ worth of data collected, it made things a bit more interesting.

For example, here is how our take-home income has increased over the past few years. This is after-tax, after 401k-contributions. This is only money that goes into our bank accounts from our day jobs, and does not include side hustle income.

budget reviewCool things to note:

  • In 2013, we made 40% more than in 2011. 
  • In 2014, we expect to make more than double what we were making in 2011.

Where did we spend our money?

For every $100 we earned, this is where most of the money went:

Budget Review 2013

 Cool things to note:

  • Our Rent & Utilities includes rent, utilities (electric, gas, water, cable, internet), cell phone bill and house cleaning.
  • Even though our rent and utilities have increased, our transportation costs have decreased substantially, thanks to not having a car payment and living only 10 minutes from where I work. We’re actually spending a smaller percentage of our income on living costs than in 2011– 37% in 2013 as opposed to 43% in 2011. 
  • Even though we spent $2,000+ more on groceries this year than last year, our total ratio actually went down because our income was up. I definitely plan on working on our grocery budget this next year. We’re committed to eating organically as much as possible, but spending $500, $600, sometimes even $800 (!) a month on groceries is ridiculous in my opinion…
  • I never tracked my own spending in 2011 and 2012– I just knew that I spent substantially less than Eric. This year, I finally started tracking, including my mani-pedis and my hair care. For every $100 we earned, $4 went to me and $5 went to Eric. So Eric spent about 20% more than me in 2013. He spends money on food, food, and food. I spend money on personal grooming, and going out with friends.
  • SAVINGS! WOWZA! I am so impressed with how much we’ve been able to increase our savings this year. This should help with that big audacious goal we have of saving $30,000 in 2014.
  • Travel–Even though we traveled to New York and San Francisco this year, the bulk of our travel budget comes from the Side Hustle, which is why we haven’t spent much of our own day-job money on travel.

In the end, here is what I thought our 2013 budget was going to look like:

And here is what our 2013 budget actually ended up looking like:

2013 Budget


2013 will be remembered as the year I paid off my student loans and Eric got hired as a firefighter. 2014 will be the year we finally start saving for our future rather than paying for our past.


Tonya@Budget and the Beach January 15, 2014 - 6:05 pm

Wow nice job not only how you did (especially on side income) but how well you tracked everything! BTW I also commented on your exercise/fitness blog but I don’t think my comment went through, so congrats on that as well. I track my budget, but I never do a full scale data analysis. This would at least help me examine trends. Hope 2014 is an even better year for you both!

Sally @TinyApartmentDesign January 13, 2014 - 9:25 am

You guys did really well in 2013, and I think 31% for rent and utilities in SoCal is really good!! We’re spending less on rent and utilities but much more on transportation and car expenses. I want to change that in 2014, or by the end of 2014 🙂

Taylor January 7, 2014 - 6:46 pm

Wow this is great! Congrats! 2014 will be my loan pay off year {crossing my fingers} Do you have any advice about your everything else category? Do you break it down for yourself in more detail? I’m having a really tough time reducing that part of my budget and I’m wondering if I should create categories for each little expense to track it.

newlywedsonabudget January 8, 2014 - 8:19 am

I do break it down for myself in more detail. For example, I keep track of how much money we spend eating out, stuff we buy for the house (cleaning supplies, fixer upper stuff, decor, furniture), gifts we purchase for others, and even our gym dues etc.
All of those little things go into the other category. While I know where pretty much every penny goes, it just seems easier to lump everything into one category rather than being like “ok we spend 3% on gifts, 2% on gym, etc”
at this point, it’s not so much that we have a budget that we stick to (ie, we can ONLY spend $350 on groceries) but more so that we like to track where our money goes so we can identify areas to cut. We’ve reached a sweet spot in that we’re living pretty comfortably and we know about how much we can spend month to month, but some months we may spend a lot more on groceries than other months. We don’t freak out about it, we just do better next month. It’s always important to us that we’re saving as much as possible and don’t let ourselves get too crazy with spending.

Taylor January 13, 2014 - 3:25 pm

This is great, I’ll take your advice and not freak! I’m going to try focusing more on the dollar figure I commit to save rather than pressuring myself to meet a certain budget limit each month for every small category. This way I can focus on the progress towards the savings goal rather than obsessively counting pennies. I’ll have to cut back on spending anyway in order to make my savings commitment. I think I’ve had a breakthrough! Thanks again!

Michelle's Finance Journal January 7, 2014 - 12:52 pm

This is awesome. Debt went down, spending went down, savings went up. That’s what we’re aiming at. Good luck again in 2014~

Dear Debt January 6, 2014 - 10:19 pm

Your income and savings have gone through the roof! Congrats, that is so inspiring. Glad you are rid of those pesky student loans 🙂

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:05 am

Thank you! It’s taken us a while to get here but so glad we’re finally moving on!

Catherine January 6, 2014 - 6:02 pm

I love that quote! Saving for our future rather than paying for past. I also cannot wait for this!

Mrs. Snarkfinance January 6, 2014 - 3:21 pm

Wow it’s great to see changes over the years. I look forward to being able to look back on savings with Mitch a few years from now,… (once a huge chunk of my student loans has been paid off). Mitch and I do pretty good saving when it comes to groceries. We buy our canned goods at inexpensive dept stores like Walmart, meats we buy in bulk at BJ’s and then we only purchase our fresh produce at the reg. grocery stores. We are usually able to come in under $50 a week and I do a lot of cooking at home.

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:07 am

wow, $50 a week is AMAZING! Even when we were really broke, we still spent around $300-350 a month. Now that we try and eat more organic produce and meat, it’s even more expensive. Ugh! Will have to mix in some pasta dishes for sure : )

Megan January 6, 2014 - 3:18 pm

I really need to get some of your excitement with paying off loans. It’s easy to think “well they’re just student loans and low interest” and not worry. But it’s still interest! I need to get that crap paid off! lol

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:08 am

you’ll get so excited seeing the balance go down!

Raquel@Practical Cents January 6, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Nice job! We are also trying to reduce our grocery bill this year! We also spend between $500 to $700 per month. That’s just too much for two people.

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:09 am

I agree! Right now, we’re trying to stick to $500 a month–and it is REALLY hard. Although this month I have some leeway since my husband is taking lunch every day, which means I’m saving the $200-300 he spends on buying food at work!

eemusings January 6, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Haha T also spends all his allowance on food and drinks.

Are those $ signs in the table meant to be %s?

“2014 will be the year we finally start saving for our future rather than paying for our past.” That’s freaking awesome – congrats – and such a succinct way to put it.

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:11 am

They could be $ or %, since I mentioned that for every $100 we make, that’s how much money goes toward those things. So for every $100 we made, $22.50 went into savings (or 22.5%)

anna January 6, 2014 - 12:19 pm

Love the increase in savings, as well as this idea of how to gauge one year from the previous one! I’ll have to start this year since we’re starting to combine finances. Great job, Erika, can’t wait to see when you hit your $30k savings goal! 🙂

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:12 am

It’s definitely fun to see the progress now! It wasn’t so fun at the beginning :/ And now that I’m three years in, my budget looks fantastic! I love my excel spreadsheet

Liz January 6, 2014 - 11:06 am

Wow you are saving an amazing amount of your income! We aren’t near that figure yet, but once we pay off our student loans I sure hope to be!

newlywedsonabudget January 7, 2014 - 9:13 am

well, as you can see, we weren’t saving nearly as much in previous years! IT has taken us 3 years to get to this savings rate. We’re hoping 2014 will be the financially best year yet

CeCe @Pink Sunshine January 6, 2014 - 8:09 am

You are so organized! Wow. It’s really good to take stock of where the money is going. $800 bucks on groceries does seem a lot. Food is so expensive. Our budget is $350. I think we do go over sometimes depending on what’s going on.

Tanner January 6, 2014 - 8:09 am

That last line is perfect. Half of 2014 will be just like that for me as well. Very interesting way to put it, by percentage of income.

Jolene January 6, 2014 - 7:41 am

Wow, you have made huge strides my friend! I think ‘my’ spending vs M’s would be equally on personal grooming for sure, I am kind of glad I don’t track it though, I think I would outnumber him much more than 4-5 bucks hehe. oops 😉 I love your savings goal, pretty much ours too 🙂

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies January 6, 2014 - 7:10 am

The last sentence says it all. Your focus is changing and that’s a wonderful thing to be able to do! Best of luck with the new year and hopefully with Eric’s new job your income growth will have another solid step upwards, too.

SavvyFinancialLatina January 6, 2014 - 6:46 am

Great job Erika!


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