I have been tracking our spending as a daily average for five years. The exercise really helps put our household spending into perspective for me. And it's helped me to better set spending goals over the years. I have lost days and months even during the five years that I've been keeping track but I still have a rough estimate as to how we've spent our money. This year I was very successful keeping up with recording our spending and I only lost track of seven days in June. This means that the total spending and spending categories reflect 358 days this year and are averages based on 358 days.
I just started tracking our household spending by category at the beginning of this year. Before that I was just tracking total spending; not breaking it down. I can honestly say that after a year of watching how much money is going to which category I'm still thoroughly fascinated by the numbers.
2015 Spending Rundown
Groceries $4181.81: that's an average of $11.68 a day for the year
Food out $420.17: that's an average of $1.17 a day
Pets $408.59: that's an average of $1.14 a day
Stuff $273.10: that's an average of 76 cents a day
Toiletries $269.94: that's an average of 76 cents a day
Christmas $243.73: that's an average of 68 cents a day
Clothing $242.94: that's an average of 68 cents a day
Gifts $196.06: that's an average of 55 cents a day
Cleaning $123.40: that's an average of 34 cents a day
Garden $43.25: that's an average of 12 cents a day
School and kiddo crafts $19.47: that's an average of 5 cents a day
Total spent all year: $6422.45
That's an average of $17.94 a day for the year
The things that I do not track in our daily average are automobile expenses and medical expenses. I generally don't include educational outings like admission to a museum or the zoo (except I would include food or souvenirs we purchased there in the spending totals). I don't include lessons for my kiddo, like swimming and horse riding lessons. I don't include any money that my husband spends solely on himself.
On the debt payoff front this is the first year we've paid over $10,000 in total debt off reaching a total of $11,500 of debt paid off this year. This means that we started the year with $130,000 in debt and ended the year under $120,000 in debt. (This is TOTAL debt, house and all) We also no longer owe on either car. Woohoo! Both cars are fully owned by us and NOT a banker.
The total debt payoff should have been higher but we ran into some big expenses at the end of this year. Ahh, such is life! I'll gladly, any day of the week, take the $11,500 without complaining about what could have been. Now that our net worth isn't negative (I think that happened for the first time this year as well) I've started to keep track of that too. I'll probably start posting net worth updates this year too.
And now, onto 2016!
This year, on top of setting an average daily spending goal I'm looking at the categories I tracked in 2015 and I'm working on setting goals/ budgets for each category. I won't be fussy about it but at least the category goals will be something to aim at. It turns out that a lot of highly successful people with money do actually budget in a very similar way (something I learned from the book The Millionaire Next Door).