how much we spend

How Much We Spent and Saved in 2016

The numbers are in!

Let’s start with how much we spent:

First off, if you want detailed breakdowns of previous years, check out our first “How Much We Spend” post. To summarize:

  • In 2013, we spent $53,218
  • In 2014, we spent $53,344
  • In 2015, we spent $55,810 ($63,581 before subtracting the Alaska State Energy Rebate)

In 2016 we spent…. drum roll please…. $59,392! 

Yes… more than last year, but still under $60k. So, how did this year break down? Here’s a lovely graph:

2016 expenses

Spending Commentary:

  • Housing is still our highest expense. This calculation just includes our minimum mortgage payment and our escrow. Any extra payments will be included down in the savings section.
  • Tithing/Other Donations is our second largest expense. No regrets there.
  • Travel was $6,057 – $1,600 more than last year, but that’s pretty good for including a 3-week trip to the UK and Paris in my opinion (as well as trips to Portland, Seattle, Sacramento/San Francisco and this also includes our plane tickets to Portland, Seattle, Disneyland, Omaha, and Dallas for next year!). This is a budget line-item I actually meaningfully increased this year. Travel is important to us and we need to prioritize it while our kids are still young.
  • Telecommunications are so high – $2,555. I wish I could say that we just haven’t gotten around to switching to cheaper providers… but there aren’t any. We don’t have the benefit of Republic Wireless or Project FI up here and internet services can charge a fortune (there are 2 options, and one charges for bandwidth!).
  • Food was high this year – $7,270 – but considering $1,490 of that was eating out (primarily on our Europe trip), I think we’re doing alright in this category as well. (If you’re interested, you can compare this number to our historic grocery costs.)
  • This is the first year that I divided up “Stuff” and “Experiences” in the budget. “Stuff” = toilet paper, haircuts, Christmas presents, etc. “Experiences” = tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (I’m sorry, was I bragging about that again?!), museum passes, etc.  Because this is the first year I’ve broken them out like that, I don’t know how it compares to previous years, but we spent $2700 on experiences and $2800 on stuff for a total of $5500 for both – an $1,170 increase from last year… but again, Harry Potter. 🙂
  • $2,173 on House Updates – most of this was our new carpet (which is still plushy and clean and glorious and I love it so much). Our home is finally completely decluttered and organized and updated. Mr. T can’t help himself, so I’m sure he’ll come up with little things to do here and there, but unless there is a disaster, all of our expensive fixes are DONE!
  • We spent $130 less on utilities this year than last year (yay for being energy efficient!).
  • Kid education expenses were similar to last year – we had the end of the 2015/2016 school year for Florin to go to preschool. We’ll get to avoid preschool fees all of 2017… but probably have to pay in 2018 for Lui. The girls both did two rounds of swimming lessons (Penny graduated… Florin probably needs a year before she’s ready to do it again) and now that we have a piano, we’ll probably start them in lessons sometime in 2017.
  • Medical expenses were the highest this year ever ($2,432) even higher than the year Lui was born! The cost of being iron woman is high. I’m not sure these costs will go down in 2017… since my goal is to figure out my health once and for all… I’m guessing that will probably involve several expensive tests.

Overall spending: $59,392 – nearly all categories were higher this year than last, but for meaningful reasons. Hopefully 2017 will see us back in the $53-55,000 range of spending. No big house updates planned, no big purchases planned, and no big international trips planned. Obviously unexpected things happen, but that’s the goal for 2017.


Now that we’ve covered how much money we spent… let’s get back to focusing on the good progress we’re making. 🙂

  • We put an extra $18,200 toward our mortgage this year. Again, I’m counting that as savings because it’s one of our main savings goals and once we pay off the mortgage, we can reroute all of this money into actual savings.
  • Mr. T saved $15,250 in his 401k (set to max out in 2017!).
  • We saved $5,500 in a Roth IRA

2016 savings amounts

TOTAL SAVED IN 2016: $38,950! I realize we’re not hitting huge savings percentages like many people, but we’re really seeking to find a good balance of living now and preparing for later. I’m really happy with our progress this year. And now let’s see if we can get this number over $40,000 for 2017!


2017 Non-Financial Life Goals


Roth IRA Challenge: Mostly Mindful


  1. This has been great motivation to step up my charitable giving game! Just when I think I’m doing OK with it 😉 I love this break down. And I think you saved a ton, especially for having a family. Kudos, Maggie!

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh please… you can’t compare tithing to charitable giving. We have some charitable giving thrown in there, but the VAST majority of that is a tithing. You’re doing great!

  2. The Green Swan

    Sounds like a good year. Spending a little more on travel I’m sure was well worth it. I’m in the same mindset as you and look forward to traveling a bit more when kids are of age.

    We came in just shy of $60k this year as well but am afraid that won’t be the case in 2017. We’re expecting another kiddo in April and that means labor and delivery costs as well as added daycare expenses.

    Thanks for the update, Maggie!

    • MaggieBanks

      Congrats again on the addition! Medical expenses are a beast. Grrr. I’m still mad my iron infusions cost more than having a baby!

  3. we actually added in a charity/tihing column for this years monthly spending. it used to just go into the general spending column, but then we were like, “You know we’d probably add more to it if we’re held accountable each month.

    I laughed when I opened my email after hitting publish on my 2016 spending post this morning and then saw yours. Haha, great minds think alike. 🙂

    I try to not think about comparisons to other people because I just get stressed by it, regardless of where we land. You’ll always find people doing better, and there’s no shortage of people doing worse. You find your balance and go for what works for you and your family and call it good. It is hard to not compare though, especially reading so many other blogs. Good luck with that, I still have trouble with it, even trying to avoid it. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Comparisons are always tricky… but all of our situations are SOOO different! So, it’s pretty easy for me to be like: 1.25 incomes, 3 kids, living in AK… I feel like we’re doing alright. 🙂

  4. TJ

    The Alaska State Energy Rebate sounds pretty cool. Also mad props to you for essentially maxing out a Roth IRA after all! I was at about $36k for just myself which seems comparatively high but I can’t complain.

    • MaggieBanks

      Our Roth IRA was a 2015 plan year Roth IRA… so we did hit 1/3 for the year, but none for 2016.

  5. Great numbers you got. I have to say I really enjoy looking at other bloggers’ annual spending reports and compare ours.

  6. It’s always interesting to read these posts. The total number may seem high to some people, but you really fit a lot of meaningful spending into 2016. Between the experiences of international travel and so much giving, you did pretty well in focusing on meaningful expenditures. The numbers become really impressive when you consider this post together with the one about how much you saved. Keep up the great work!!!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thank you, Harmony! I agree that we packed a lot in and I’m pretty happy we STILL came in under 60k! Hopefully this year will go as planned as well (much less eventful, but still awesome!).

  7. DEEP Respect on the Tithe! Many of us do not know the valuable lessons in tithing correctly and what that does for our life and how to budget money.

    • MaggieBanks

      It also helps us realize that the funds are not for just us. I think it helps with mindset it so many ways.

  8. That’s a great year – nice job, Maggie!! Sounds like you’re on a roll! Maxing out that 401(k) next year will be another nice feeling of accomplishment.


    — Jim

  9. Thanks for sharing your numbers, always really interesting to see what other bloggers spend/save. Almost a 40% savings rate with a family seems very impressive to me! Awesome job on a great year, best wishes for 2017 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Matt. I think using real numbers help people see what’s possible. It was real numbers of others that started my journey.

  10. Wow – that’s some expensive telecommunications. But it makes a lot of sense too. Where you live can have such an effect on certain areas of your budget (and those kiddo’s do too!) Ours are both off to college next fall – we’ve planned for it, but there are a lot of extra expenses you don’t always think of. Looks like you have done well and you’ve found a great balance of enjoying life and preparing for the future.

    • MaggieBanks

      Ugh. Telecommunications are THE WORST! I would love to hear your take on how much you’re helping your kids with college!

  11. Very impressive… seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I mean. Although the spending and savings is pretty good too 😉

  12. Chris @ KeepThrifty

    Awesome job on the savings this year! So cool to see the numbers!

  13. Great job and thanks for sharing. I bet you hit $40k in 2017 for sure!

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