Expenses Exposed – A Shocking Look at Our First Year of Marriage

First YearAfter we got married, Vanessa and I would make guesstimates about how much money we would spend in our first year of marriage. As many long time readers know, we publicly set a goal to spend less than $12,000 in that first year.

Somehow, a year has already passed (are we still newlyweds?), and it’s time to share our total expenses. We weren’t sure if we wanted to post it all online, completely bare for the world to see, but we’ve decided to do so.

Just as a forewarning, we did pretty well. Yet, when I break it all down, (like Vanessa did in the spreadsheet below) I can still see places where we could cut back. Not because we’re frugal crazies who want to live a deprived life, but because we sometimes feel as if we have too much stuff.

We enjoyed many of the finer pleasures in life during our first year of marriage. In fact, we splurged on a number of unnecessary expenditures. To kick things off, we took a few days off work and school to honeymoon (We’ll be taking another bigger one this year). We added an enormous library of books to our growing collection, upgraded laptop computers, bought wine in BULK, watched too many movies, and even did a few mobile home renovations.

If you consider those expenses as necessities, don’t worry, there’s more. We also bought a deep fryer (Coconut oil makes heavenly fried foods). Still aren’t convinced? Fine, this one should do it. We even bought a solid white 6 foot Christmas tree.

But realize that we didn’t pay full price for any of it. In fact, all of those purchases listed above set us back less than $300 in total (Yes, including laptops. I actually made good money flipping computers this year). It’s not magic, it’s just intentional spending. We’re always aware of pricing and we don’t buy something unless 1) it’s a good deal, and 2) we’ll use it.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again and again.

This country is exploding with wastefulness. If all you do is learn how to take advantage of that fact, you’ll accumulate wealth.

But more importantly, we are content. We live a privileged life and we know it.

Our mindset just goes to show the magic of frugality. Frugality makes you happy, content, satisfied, and safe. It’s a paradoxical concept really. The less you spend, the less you covet material possessions, and the more you count your blessings. On the other hand, those that choose consumerism tend to never be satisfied despite having so many toys and gadgets, and as a result, they continue to spend even more money in a futile attempt to purchase happiness.

We hope that in choosing to reveal our expenses, we inspire someone out there to change their own lifestyle. Living this way is extremely rewarding on multiple levels. Even if you don’t buy into our argument that a simple lifestyle is more fulfilling than consumerism, you can surely appreciate the financial rewards of living such a life.

As a result of living this way, we paid of almost $20,000 in debt, purchased a mobile home with cash, and saved/invested a considerable amount of money in our first year of marriage. You can do the same thing if you’ll embrace frugality.

So check out the numbers, and let us know if you’ve got specific questions.

ExpenseMonthly CostAnnual CostComments
Housing$3,971
Rent and utilities in April, and May, 2013. $330$660Before we moved to Texas, we were renting an old apartment with a roommate! (Gasp!) All inclusive with utilities.
Mortgage Payments from June, 2013 - March, 2014$0$0We don't have a mortgage because we bought our mobile home with cash.
Home Insurance$0$0We are self insured, which means that we could withstand the loss of our mobile home.
Mobile Home Taxes$10$30In Texas, personal property taxes are paid yearly by whoever owns the property on January 1. Therefore, we only paid January - March, 2014
Land cost$220$2,200We own our mobile home, but we rent the land it sits on. We paid 10 months of rent from June, 2013 - March, 2014.
Water/Sewer$31$310Mobile home utilities began in June as well.
Electricity$41$410Air Conditioning. Or lack thereof...
Natural Gas$9$90Furnace and water heater
Trash Service$10$100Nickel and Diming us!
Household maintenance$0$171Replaced the window blinds and curtains inside our home. Caulked the windows and repaired a few things.
Transportation$1,407
Public Transportation$0$0Jacob's Ph.D program pays for unlimited bus usage
Car Insurance$26$312Basic liability only, low miles driven.
Registration and Taxes$0$105Inspection, license plate renewal, personal property taxes
Maintenance$0$93Two oil changes, and Jacob replaced the brake pads
Gasoline$41$492Jacob rides the bus. Vanessa short commutes.
Travel Expenses$0$405We took 3 small vacations to stay with family. Each trip costing us $135**
Living Expenses$4,958
Internet$0$0Internet is free of charge in our mobile home park.
Cell Phones$20$240We both have flip phones with only talk and text.
Groceries$220$2640We eat a lot of healthy fats, fresh produce, meats
Restaurants $52$624We don't often go out to eat. Averaged 1 meal per week at $6 per person = $12/week
Clothing$0$205We're not big shoppers. We have closets full of clothes, and we haven't changed sizes for years. But, we usually can't pass up a great clothing deal at the local thrift store.
Health Insurance$0$0This is a bit unfair, as we are both still on our parents insurances for free.
Dental Expenses$0$40One filling
Education$0$0They pay Jacob to attend his PhD program and teach a few classes
Honeymoon$0$168A short trip in between classes and work.
Gifts$0$417This category includes birthday, Christmas, wedding, and baby shower gifts for family and close friends.
Miscellaneous $0$624This category includes books, kitchen gadgets like a fryer and a set of pyrex dishes, our first Christmas Tree, and online purchases.
Total$10,336

** Because of Travel Hacking, we actually profited thousands of dollars in cash back, airline miles, and hotel points. These travel rewards more than covered the $435 that we spent, but we decided to include that amount anyway.

A Few Pointers

Curious as to how we managed to spend just $10,336? Well that’s pretty much the point of the blog, so it’s difficult to summarize in a few lines. However, here are a few tips.

1) Housing and Land – We live in a mobile home, which is just one of several minimal housing options available to you.

2) Water – Use several water saving strategies. For example, buy a low flow shower head and learn how to shower properly.

3) Electricity – We almost never heat or cool our entire house, and neither should you. In the spring and fall, the air is not on. If we get hot, we plug in a fan. If we’re cold, we put on a sweatshirt. In the summer and winter we only control the temperature in one room in our house by using a window unit air conditioner or single room space heater. By acclimating to our home’s natural temperature fluctuations, we’re nearing that magical $0 electric bill.

4) Groceries – Want to eat like a king and pay like a pauper? That’s how we roll. We often eat tender cuts of meat, piles of fresh vegetables, excessive amounts of coconut and olive oil, plus the occasional wine and dessert. To do so, you should buy items on sale and master the art of price matching. You can read more on how to save money on groceries.

5) Dining out – Don’t eat out very often. But when you do, never pay full price.  And if there is any food leftover, please make sure to take it home to eliminate wastefulness.

6) Cars- We have been rocking a 1996 Saturn SL1 for years. I owned it before we got married, and we have no plans on upgrading. Of course, a better option would involve riding a bicycle and selling the car, but our Texas roads (and drivers) are absolutely terrible for biking.

7) Gas – We are avid hypermilers and it pays off. Don’t know what that is? That’s ok. We’ve written about it once before. We always attempt to limit our total miles driven because gas prices are so high.

8) Clothing – We have way too many clothes, so we try not to buy any more. But I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for second hand outfits from the thrift store/garage sale. Please stop buying so many new clothes if you want to accumulate wealth.

9) Pets – If you’ll notice, we spent a total of $0 on pets last year. The reason being, we don’t have any pets because we can’t afford a dog.

10) Cell phones – We actually still have flip phones. If you can’t handle that, choose the $10/month plan from Republic Wireless.

11) TV – Stop paying those outrageous cable bills. Watch TV for free online.

Thank you for supporting us. We’re hoping for more success in year two!

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