Hello readers! It’s January so it seems like a good time to air some dirty financial laundry and put up our expenses for the last 6 months of 2014. I only started tracking everything using Money Dashboard in May, which is why I am not putting up the full year, but hopefully by this time in June I will have a much better idea of what a full years worth of expenses are for us. A word of warning… it ain’t pretty 🙂


2014 Q3/4 Spending Overview


June 3114
July 4396
August 3462
September 4373
October 3175
November 2845
December 3370
Total 24735


As you can see we’ve spent quite a lot of money of the last 6 months! In fact this is over double the spending rate that I originally discussed would be possible to spend in a whole year when I first started up the blog. Oh dear. We had some expensive months though, with holidays in August and October, and also a house move in October! God knows what we were playing at in September and July, I guess that is when we paid for said holidays!? Let’s find out and break it down into categories…



6 Months Expenses - Money Dashboard


Please note the exact figure is out by a couple of hundred pounds 1

A few quick notes on this lovely pie chart:

  • The Credit Repayment category is just our mortgage payments, we don’t have any other ongoing debt
  • We spend a lot of money on going out and other 🙂

However this still isn’t all that much help so let’s break it down moFI’s!!!

Breaking it down

Let’s go in order of largest to smallest spending category, with notes on each:


theFIREstarter Expenses Report

  • Supermarket & Groceries – ?! WTF!? That’s over £400 per month!? I was under the impression that our food budget was pretty tight in this area at around £200 per month. Various excuses are that this doesn’t just include food, but alcohol, toiletries, and so on, but really I’d like to get that all in down to £200 if we can. Also we had everyone round ours for Christmas which was mildy more expensive than a usual month, but not massively so. Back to the drawing board on this one for sure.
  • Others – We had a big one off landline bill as needed it installed in the new house but apart from the nothing out of the ordinary here. I’m going to get Mrs TFS to look at using a bill monitor when her contract is due up sometime (mine is currently paid by work) so that should get that down as well.


Going Out

theFIREstarter 6 Months Expenses Breakdown

  • Clearly a lot of fat to be trimmed here!
  • Holiday – 2 x holidays which is the killer. We thought we’d be frugal by having a road trip to Scotland in August for 11 days but probably ended up spending around the same as if we’d gone away for a week somewhere off season. Partially because of this we thought we also “deserved” a weeks holiday to Turkey (which actually turned out to be cheaper… weird huh!). Anyway good times were had by all but it’s something to look at much closer in 2015. We’re already signed up to a holiday abroad for my Mum’s 60th and we have friends in Madrid we promised we’d go over to see, so I am absolutely determined to keep the “big breaks” to just those two, and if we do anything else keep it more local and uber-frugal!
  • Dining and Drinking – You may be shocked to hear that we don’t actually eat out all that much, so unlike my friend Mr Squirrel (still waiting for the y-axis of that graph by the way 😉 ) who admits to eating out 2-3 times a week, most of this is just nights out on the piss (which amounts to the same thing spending wise). In the post just linked I estimated my drunk fund at around £2000 per year which at least is pretty accurate 2, especially considering this period covers December, the silliest of silly seasons. (Remember the £2365.28 covers the two of us for 6 months).
  • Others – The other stuff seems so inconsequential it’s hardly worth thinking about. I’m a big fan of the 80:20 Pareto Principle whereby 20% of your efforts create 80% of the results, and it seems like it holds true here (20% of the categories of spending account for 80% of the budget). So by concentrating my efforts on the big ticket items I am likely to achieve greater results. Focusing on the rest would just seem like pointless fiddling!



theFIREstarter 6 Months Expenses Breakdown


  • Woah, this is one mother of a category! I’ll break it down into it’s sub categories:
  • Clothes – Total £1,191.75 – As you can probably tell someone seems to have a bit of a problem with this, and I will give you a clue, it is not the male of the TFS household ;). We’ve discussed this and Mrs TFS has decided to cut down on this category this year, which is great!
  • Gifts, Charity and Religion – Total £694.64 – Birthdays seems a bit high here. I am sure there aren’t that many peoples birthdays I know! Conversely I am sure we spent more than that on Christmas presents, so it probably balances out :). Must remember to tag things better next year! We could have probably given a bit more money to charity as well.
  • Financial – Total £72.73 – Not much to report, it’s just the monthly charge for the Santander 123 account and two lot’s of credit reports which were necessary when we were having trouble getting our mortgage pushed through.
  • Hobbies and Sports – Total £981.23 – This basically means golfsquash, and race entry fees for me, and Gym membership for MTFS. Out of that lot I would say around £700 is for the golf, so as you can see this is my own version of the “clothes” category :). (The £700 includes a 3 day trip to Portugal which is a rather ostentatious for someone supposedly saving for early FI!). I’m going to sit down and budget out my yearly golf this year and make sure I won’t go over £100 per month. Eye care (glasses/contacts) and dental care is non negotiable really and no I didn’t indulge in any Physiotherapy, that is just the category that I put my own personal care purchases under to keep them separate (Barber pole, blades, and a few other shaving sundries).
  • Personal Care – Total £916.07 – This is pretty much an “all pink” category as well. Mrs TFS is going to look into personal hair care this year as she agreed the price of women’s hair dressing is getting extortionate, so I am happy with that outcome and will let you know how she gets on (maybe she’ll even write a post for me on it for the ladies out there!)
  • Admin – Total £235.56 – most of this is postage for stuff we sold on eBay when decluttering and making a bit of money in the process, so can’t really argue with this! Plus hosting fees for this blog, which again I would not want to cut out 🙂
  • Overall summary of Other – Plenty of fat to trim here mainly from the clothing, sports and personal care categories. We could probably cut down on gifts as well by buying more thoughtful or hand made things, rather than assuming you need to spend £25+ on each and every gift for every person.


Credit Repayment

Expenses Report - Credit Repayment

  • I noticed after checking all categories that 3 of our mortgage payments went under “Insurance” for some reason, so this category should really be £3555.14. It’s a pain but there isn’t much we can do in this category right now, and at least some of the payments are working to reduce the capital we owe.



theFIREstarter 6 Months Expenses Breakdown - Lifestyle

  • That’s a lot of cash untagged and unaccounted for! I am guessing most went in the “Going Out – Dining and Drinking” category! Going forward we are treating Cash as untagged, and retagging it into a more suitable category, but I only thought of doing this recently, and cannot remember what we spent cash on 6 months ago, so it will have to remain there foreveeerrrrrrmwa ha hahaaaa. 3
  • I should have probably removed gambling as I won some money back on those bets, but that will have appeared on the income side of things, so it roughly balances out when working out my savings percentage.
  • The rest seems fairly inconsequential. Maybe mobile app seems a bit high (I think this is purely Mrs TFS’ itunes stuff).


Home and Garden

Expenses Report - Home and Garden

  • While I realise that there is always a bit of DIY and home maintenance to do, a large number of these transactions I would view as a one off.
  • We bought a new Fridge when we moved (£396.23) as had to leave the built in fridge at the old flat. We bought some new wardrobes, and 2 second hand tables (Furniture). That’s a grand already!
  • Unfortunately we have a lot coming up in the next 6 months in this category as well as I am looking to invest in either replacing our boiler for a new more efficient one, or an Air Source Heat Pump. Either option should result in lower monthly bills so I think it is money well spent.
  • We also plan on a bathroom refit, which I am going to attempt to do most if not all of the plumbing, tiling and so on myself, so hoping to keep the costs of this down to maybe £1,500.
  • Luckily apart from that the house doesn’t need much doing, a lick of paint here and there, so ongoing yearly maintenance costs I cannot see being anywhere near this much, I would maybe budget £500 a year tops.



Expenses Report - Insurance


  • As mentioned above the “Other” is mainly 2 mortgage payments that got misplaced, so the total here should really be £382.32, which seems pretty reasonable.



Expenses Report - Transport

  • We’ve had quite an unlucky time with the TFS Mobile so far in terms of repairs needed, but I guess it’s par for the course when owning any vehicle.
  • I am quite surprised we’ve spent that much on petrol in 6 months, maybe I need to re-read my post on cutting down the petrol bills! We did have a road trip to and around Scotland though, in which we drove over 1500 miles, so that was around 3 extra tanks of petrol over and above normal use.
  • “Flights” was just some add-ons to our flights for the holiday to Turkey in October (seat booking?! Can’t remember!), the rest of the flights cost is all under the holidays category.
  • You might be wondering how I pay to get myself to work considering I moan about commuting so much. No, I don’t bunk the train, before anyone asks! It comes automatically out of my pay each month so doesn’t show up on my expenses, however if I reach FI then this won’t be an expense category, so I am happy to leave it out of my expenses report.

Summary and plan for 2015

Let’s not sugar coat things, even with factoring in a house move, it seems like we’ve spent like drunken sailors on shore leave (hat tip to SLS for that one). The three key areas we can cut down on (barring one off costs) are clearly:

  • Food/Supermarket shopping
  • Holidays & Going out
  • Clothes/Personal Care (Mrs TFS) and Hobbies (Golf – Me)

A lot of these things such as the holidays and nights/weekends out were things that we deliberately signed up to ourselves, without really thinking about our overall spending patterns, and what else we had already committed to doing.

This year I am going to write down all the things we have planned, estimate the cost of each, take this along with estimated business as usual expenses (using the last 6 months as template) away from expected income, and work out exactly what that would leave us with, savings wise. We can then see easily how an extra holiday or going out to an expensive place will impact our savings rate. I think having it there in black and white in front of us will really help with making sensible decisions. On another note, I have no idea why I didn’t do this already!!!! Ah the amazing, chuck-ice-cold-water-in-your-face-ing, eye-opening benefit of hindsight.


A new yearly budget for FI

It turns out that the £10,000 per year budget was a bit pie in the sky, it seems I got caught up in the theory of FI, the 4% rule and expense reduction without really actually following through. One thing which seems pretty obvious though is that many of these transactions are “one off” expenses, such as buying furniture. Of course, there is nothing stopping me from chucking out my old furniture in a few years time and buying new stuff just like a good consumer should do, but you’ll just have to take my word that I will not be doing that 😉

On the other hand, there are some glaringly obvious categories that can be attacked to get spending down, as already mentioned.

I’ll be removing the one off’s, seeing where we can realistically cut from other categories, and having a look at what might constitute a new, more realistic, yearly budget, in the next post 4. Stay tuned!

Savings Percentage

Finally, I guess you want to hear what my actual savings percentage is right!? 🙂

I’m not going to concentrate any time on our income side of the sheet because it’s overly complicated and I don’t think anyone will learn anything from looking at it and me explaining it in length, suffice to say even with some high expenses we still managed a 37.63% savings rate as calculated using my calculation here. This is not great but I’ll take it for now 5. Our goal in 2015 should be 50%, I think any higher and I am going back into la la land, but if we do go significantly above, then happy days.



How did you get on in 2014? Did you hit your savings goals? Are there any horror shows with overspending in any areas? Let us know in the comments! Thanks!


  1. This is because we often paid for things and got the money back later, and at the time MoneyDashboard was going through a revamp and the “Split transaction” function was not available. It is now back again and working better than ever, but I can’t be bothered to go back and find those transactions and split them for the sake of a 0.8% difference 🙂
  2. Clutching at straws, anyone? 🙂
  3. Not really sure why but that seemed like it needed to turn into an evil laugh! 🙂
  4. I would have done it here but this post is way too long already, even I am thinking tl;dr
  5. We basically got saved because my bonus gets paid in the last half of the year, otherwise it might have been a lot lower!