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What’s Your Biggest Expense Category Lately?

by J. Money on Monday, June 25, 2012

Bob cat strongSo as I was tracking all those baby expenses last week, I kept noticing these other charges hitting our account over and over again too over the same months.

I tried to ignore ‘em at first cuz they kept popping up and bothering me every time I searched for all our baby stuff, but after about month #3 I finally gave up and started making a separate list for that stuff too ;) I was already deep into the numbers anyways, so figured I might as well pull out whatever I could while there, right?

But unlike the happy baby stuff we’re excited about right now, this new category was a lot more dark and dealt with our poor old Bob cat who recently passed away :(  (We miss you, buddy!) It’s been well over a month now since our little guy has ventured into Pet Heaven, but unfortunately he left quite a wake of expenses in his path before taking off. And these vet visits & medication (all 5 of them, I wanna say?) started adding up as I sorted through the months.

Before I tell you how much we spent on him though, do you wanna take a guess as to whether it was higher or lower than the total baby costs?  I hadn’t really thought about it before I started tracking them both at the same time, but MAN was I shocked with the resulting number. Are you ready for this? In the same amount of time we’ve been spending on baby stuff, for a grand total of $2,748.29 so far, we’ve spent almost $1,000 MORE on Bob!  For a whopping $3,737.75!

Pretty crazy stuff… And again, that was only the past 9 months leading up to his passing – he had been sick for quite a while before that too :( Not that we would have changed anything going back in time anyways, of course, but still – it’s no fun on the wallet either way you look at it.

After all these years of tracking my money and spending time with this stuff day in and day out, it’s funny how things still surprise me and sneak into our budgets like that. I of course KNEW we were spending a lot on him throughout the whole ordeal, but I just didn’t realize how MUCH really. Which is pretty bad for a finance blogger. Just goes to show we get lazy too!! And maybe that I need to start paying attention a bit more strictly too like I used to? I don’t think our expenses are going to be “normal” anymore in the future, that’s for sure :)

Either way, it just goes to show that this stuff adds up fast. And if you’re not paying attention, it can suck you dry in no time. Which leads us to the question of the day: What’s an area of YOUR budget that’s been adding up a lot faster than you originally thought?  And more importantly, can it be slowed down if you really want it to be?

I Hope so!  It’s one thing to pay for one-off expenses here and there, but a totally different one that takes a life of its own over time – we all gotta be careful out there. These debts are sneaky devils! :)

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PS: That urn that we ordered for Bob so we could keep his ashes?  IT’S BEAUTIFUL!  We got it two weeks ago in this awesome cherry wood box, and it even came with an imprint of his little paw on it :) So cute! And as crazy as it sounds, we feel like he’s still here! (We were also right about that $200+ price tag – it was for cremating him separately from the other guys, which was well worth it in the end.)


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance@MoneyLife&More June 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

Pet expenses definitely add up a lot faster than most people think. My girlfriend has a dog now and turns out she has allergies and needs allergy pills! They’re part of the family though just like a kid so it is a necessary expense for us.

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2 Yardwork June 25, 2012 at 9:56 am

I think I would have to say my apartment (Rent and utilities). I’ve been becoming a bit of a minimalist lately and don’t consume much past what’s needed for the necessities.

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3 graduate.living June 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

I’m always really bad about sticking to my dining out budget, but recently my transit costs have skyrocketed. There are a few different ways to do transit in the city I live in, so I’m trying to figure out which format is best for me, financially and time-wise.

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4 Mr. Everyday Dollar June 25, 2012 at 10:26 am

Sorry to hear about your loss. I have a cat and while the recurring costs for food and litter average around $20/mo it’s when I get slapped with a big vet bill when I cringe. Granted I like having pet(s), and there are factual health benefits like lowering blood pressure, so I consider it a health cost!

Mr. Everyday Dollar

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5 KitchenPenguin June 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

School. I’m doing this for fun and personal enrichment so I’m self funding, I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid student loans and I’m not starting now, and higher education costs have gone up a lot since I completed my BA nine years ago. I have a savings plan so I have a year’s worth of projected costs in a separate account that gets replenished every pay period but the initial outlay was more than expected. Tuition, fees, textbooks, knife kit, uniforms…but it’s worth it because at the end I’ll be an ACF Certified Culinarian with mad knife skills and I’ll save money by being able to cook gourmet meals at home. And who knows, I might be able to get a side hustle with a catering company or restaurant.

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6 Hannah June 25, 2012 at 10:32 am

Our food expenses have definitely been creeping up. I’ve been trying to stick to more of a “whole foods” diet and man that stuff is expensive! We are eating form the pantry/freezer this week and that should help.

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7 Poor to Rich a Day at a Time June 25, 2012 at 10:52 am

For me it is rent, where it is 45% of our income……….we have LOW rent and that is the cheapest rent in our area so we are not living in a high rise apartment here and everything else I look at is way higher a month. So yeah need to increase income but Rent takes the cake for spending the most a month on at $475 a month! We make it do though and it is a cute little place! :)

We have a dog and cat but keep it as frugal as possible beyond needed vet bills like getting spayed, rabies and such. I will always most likely have 1 dog……..they bring so much more into the home than what goes out financially for them.

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8 Matthew Doyle June 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

Ever since we had the baby we didn’t change our spending habits much, but it finally caught up to us a few weeks ago. Now we are going out to eat less often and not stopping at the coffee shop as much. We didn’t realize how bad daycare would pinch us financially, but now we know. I am just glad we caught it in time.

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9 John Gordon June 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

So sorry for your lose but I can definitely relate as I paid around $1,500 for a procedure and misc. vet visits about 2 years ago for my cat. I know this is going to sound alittle strange but since I knew the name of the procedure I was able to actually switch vets to get the procedure done cheaper. The new vet was very reputable and was about $400 less for the actual procedure; that was a phone call that saved me some very serious cash. Since then, I have stayed with the new vet and we are very happy with the overall service we are getting. Recently I had to install a new hot water heater ($1,100 counting install) and the darn thing was only 7 years old and now I’m having to replace my pool sand filter which is only 6 years old for another $400. Why doesn’t anything last past 10 years anymore ??? So I guess you could put these expenses into the unexpected household repair category; just another reason to have an emergency fund that I am just now working on growing. I have also just started tracking my net worth using an Excel spreadsheet like you do so that I can better track how I am doing each month. I may not do the exercise each month but instead do once every two months as this is more realistic for me. Keep up the good work !!!

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10 Jen June 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

So sorry to hear about kitty. Mine is 16 years old and just went deaf this year, but he’s still active so I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to save up enough when he does need serious medical attention.

It seems frivolous to post about my recent overblown expenses, which were on clothing/shoes. However — I rarely, if ever, go shopping. I recently cleaned out my closets, trying on EVERYTHING and chucking those items that didn’t fit or I didn’t like into the “going to Goodwill/yardsale” pile. Four large bags of clothes and a few pair of still-good shoes, all going away. My closet looked practically threadbare, but now I can actually SEE what I have, and what I was short on (which isn’t much), rather than whining I have nothing to wear as I stare at an overflowing closet. So, I splurged on 4 new dresses, a few blouses, and five pair of shoes. The shoes were birthday presents paid for by a relative – lovely woman that she is. But the unexpected expense was over $200, but since I’m so cheap with clothes I felt I deserved it and I truly did need better work clothes. My bank account didn’t like me much, but I’m back on track with a vengeance now.

I’ve drastically cut back on eating out (used to be 2x a day, every day), and that’s helped tremendously with keeping $$ in the bank. Since I like seeing my bank account creep upwards, it’s motivation to keep on track.

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11 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager June 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I feel the same way about Bullet, my puppy or as I joke “The most expensive free puppy the world has ever known.” De-worming, vaccinations, and getting fixed as definitely added up. Plus food and toys. He’s totally worth it though!

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12 FBIV June 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Child Care is #1. Fortunately, I am married to a Vet assistant who gets darn near free pet care. Though I expect the post pet therapy fees to make up for some of that :)

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13 Brittany June 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Aw, I’m so sorry to hear about Bob! It does make me happy, though, to hear that you put such a great amount of love and care into his last months. Some people would put their pets down if they needed any sort of huge amount of intervention. :o( Our cat Halo died in November and she was 23! During her last few years she had thyroid problems, had to get most of her teeth extracted, dabbled with having diabetes for a bit and then decided it wasn’t for her, etc. Those costs definitely added up, but she was our kitty baby and when someone’s been around since you were 8, you definitely don’t just kick ‘em to the curb when they get sick! We, too, paid to have her cremated separately and have her ashes in the living room, next to the ashes of our cat Jeff, who died from IBS and diabetes problems.

Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but just wanted to say how happy it made me to hear that Bob was cared for so well and so loved!

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14 C The Writer June 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I’d rather have a kitty than a baby, so I would spend $0 on a child and plenty on a cat.
Having kids SUCKS.
: )

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15 Tara June 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Currently pet stuff – we feed our dogs (we have three) the good organic stuff which is a chunk every month of money but it seems like all their shots, medication for flea/heartworm prevention all came due this past month. We also have taken in a foster dog and are needing to feed her the good canned food (which makes the dry food cost seem like a pittance) till she gains weight. We are soooooo incredibly frugal in every aspect of our lives – that frugality doesn’t extend to our pets really though.

Next month the hubs and I are going on vacation, I have a feeling blowing that particular budget will be the painful expense for July.

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16 Squeezer @Personal Finance Success June 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

My wife and I put everything we can on our credit cards for cashback points. So in a way you could say that is our largest expense, but it is made of little charges throughout the month (gas, groceries, etc). Other then that, the mortgage is the single largest payment.

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17 Edward Antrobus III June 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

OUr biggest expense right now is our lot rent, at $425/month.

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18 Country Girl June 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Sorry to hear about Bob. :( A big expense for me of late has been my own cat. Nothing about my barn cat has been cheap. I like to say that she loves to spend my money. I ended up having to pay more for her spay because she was in heat during the procedure, then she had some sort of screwy eye thing going on. That only took multiple trips and tests to get sorted out, of course. Like they say, nothing is every really free :P

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19 Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley June 25, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Sorry to hear about your cat; it is so hard when they are sick. We got two cats two years apart, and they died two years apart after each had been sick (one with cancer). We bought little kitty caskets for them. Everyone thought we were crazy, but I couldn’t stand to think of just burying them (even though it would have been the more eco-friendly option).

Do you plan to get another cat?

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20 Diane June 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Cat – for the same reason. After 16 years of holding steady at around $80/month on him (food, sand, vet, etc), I have spent $3300 this year so far. Poor little guy, it’s been a rough time and I hope he hangs in there a while longer, but it’s been expensive.

But I figure – this is why I save, and why I have money – to spend on things that matter to me. And my dear little fuzzy friend matters a great deal.

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21 Mac June 26, 2012 at 12:01 am

The comparison here was pretty shocking because of the value of a son or daughter next to a pet. I’m sure J Junior has been on your minds a lot more than Bob even though you have a special place in your heart for pets.

We spend so much time thinking about one expense (and usually as in this case one that matters immensely personally) that we get blindsided by another expense. Similarly, the internet is exploding with articles about preparing for babies financially because they rightly matter to people who want to be responsible, but pets don’t get as much attention. The ugly or annoying parts of a budget can easily receive less attention than the things we focus on all the time, but the annoying things will never go away and many times end up costing more than what we would rather focus on!

For me, it’s house or car maintenance. You know ignoring needed repairs will not make it go away, but dealing with it has a strong negative psychological effect because I don’t plan ahead in a budget for them. maintenance can get worse and cause worse repairs or debt overtime, becoming a major expense. I think the best thing to do for these expenses is face them head on and plan ahead of time for the unexpected with an emergency fund. There are other unconventional ways rather than an emergency fund to make room for these expenses when they come, but I just don’t think most people are ready for the weddings savings ideas you came up with just yet! :)

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22 J. Money June 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

These were interesting to read :) Although most of everyone’s costs are frustrating! Haha… just a part of live though, eh? Thanks so much for sharing with us today.

@Lance@MoneyLife&More – Yup! Sure does add up… and lots of people consider their pets their kids too :)
@Yardwork – Well that’s pretty good! I try REAL hard to be minimalist but man it’s hard…. I am a lot better than I used to be though which is nice.
@graduate.living – Oh jeez I can imagine… I used to spend around $400 on commuting in to work every month, it blew. Esp since things always RISE over time! I wish you luck finding a great rhythm though! :)
@Mr. Everyday Dollar – Hey, there you go! Never even thought of those kinds of benefits, haha… good one :)
@KitchenPenguin – Yeah!! There you go!! You almost stumped me with throwing in “knife kit” there, haha… but then you continued on and talked about the cooking stuff ;) I find what you’re doing incredibly rewarding, you can use those skills forever! And one day cook me up something tasty too! :)
@Hannah – I bet! Eating healthy isn’t always so healthy on the wallet ;) But keep on working at it! You’re bound to find a good plan there.
@Poor to Rich a Day at a Time – I hear yeah – the roof over our heads usually do cost the most. I think $475 would only get you a bathroom here in the DC area though, haha… so it’s great you’re in an area with a low cost of living! It could always be worse :)
@Matthew Doyle – Oh wow, yeah – that stuff is CRAZY expensive!! We took a tour of a place 2 weeks ago and I about had a heart attack, haha… but you gotta do what you gotta do. Esp for the wee one! :)
@John Gordon – Awesome man! I’m glad you’re starting to track it all now – that’s great :) If you’re anything like me, you’ll find out a LOT about yourself and where you excel and where you need more work on. And it’s a great motivational tool to watch it grow and change over time too – esp as you look back over all the previous months! So def. rock it out yo!
@Jen – Good for you! That takes a LOT of time to sort through and figure out, so I give you mad credit for that ;) I do my best to do it once a year or so, but man I hate it usually, haha… unless I catch myself in a good mood and blaring music in the background – that usually makes the process better ;) Although last week I went to put on a pair of shoes I don’t wear much, and realized I had donated them away the year before!! I was pretty pissed at myself! Haha.. the ONE TIME I got excited to wear them, haha… oh well. Prob. best they’re gone anyway…
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Haha yup! “Free” puppies/kittens always cost a bit in the beginning :) Glad he makes you happy though!! Would love to meet him one day.
@FBIV – I am NOT looking forward to child care in the future, that’s for sure… but hopefully we’ve got a good 6 or 12 months until we start going down that route of thinking… I can’t tell if it’s going to be a GOOD thing or a BAD thing I work from home until then! Haha… hopefully good ;)
@Brittany – Awww, well I’m glad! Thanks so much for the positive words :) Your furry one seemed wonderful too! I can’t believe your baby lasted until 23 – that’s AMAZING! Wow. At least we both have their awesome memories in our heads today and forever! :)
@C The Writer – Oh jeez, haha…
@Tara – I bet! But I’m always glad when I hear people going on vacation because sometimes we forget how IMPORTANT they are in our lives. Not only to go and have some fun, but to decompress a bit and clear our heads of our work or stress/etc/etc. And I know how hard it is sometimes to step back and remember to take them too! I always need a few reminders myself ;)
@Squeezer @Personal Finance Success – Nice. We do the same thing – put everything on a credit card to reap the rewards (and only have to manage ONE bill there intead of like 10).
@Edward Antrobus III – That’s usually the case I think… wanna switch to a $2,000+ mortgage? ;)
@Country Girl – Awww, well I hope your barn cat is nice and happy again! Does she really hang out in a barn? Cuz if so, that is HOT! I’m loving me some country goodness these days – I’d love to live on an old house w/ barn one day… maybe open up an antiques shop in it or something :)
@Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley – Awww, I bet the caskets were so cute though! I hadn’t even thought of that idea :) And yeah, I think we will end up getting another one soon, once our baby comes and we get settled. We have one other one too right now, but we want to make sure she’s settled with the baby first too, and then once everything’s good we’ll start looking again. Or maybe even get a dog, not sure yet :)
@Diane – YES! Exactly!! That’s what money is for :) To be used whatever’s super important to you, so I’m glad your wee one is getting a lot of care and attention! And hopefully the costs go down for a bit too so you can catch your breath :(
@Mac – HAH! You got that straight… I’m right there with you on home and car maintenance too – I HATE HATE HATE paying for stuff just to be fixed, it’s no fun at all :( But you’re totally right – we have to take them on head first and make sure we don’t make the situation worse! Which will then cost even MORE money! Always good to just keep saving MORE money than you initially think will cover something as these unexpected costs just creep up on ya every time. Better to be safe than sorry any day.

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23 Erin S June 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I’m late to the party, but I thought I would join in…

You would think that we spent the most on our house (which is kind of true), but on the month-to-month outlook, we have been spending the most money on kids for the last 4 years starting with being pregnant and most recently with the penny incident! I had no idea how much they actually charge you to have a baby between the doctor and the hospital(although I knew it would be a lot) and we wound up having an emergency c-section on top of things. Then pregnancy caused my gall bladder to go blewy and emergency surgery to have that out, then along came baby #2 (and another c-section). Just when I thought we were finally done paying off the medical bills, baby #2 swallows a penny that gets lodged in her throat and we wind up at Children’s in DC having emergency surgery to remove it. Our only healthcare options are an HMO or a high deductible and we like the options of high deductible plan (like choosing your own doctors and specialists) so we have met our deductible for the last four years! Hopefully we are done with meeting our deductible for awhile, but you never can tell with kids!

Our second biggest expense categors is Dunkin Donuts now that we are back East. After living so far away from them for the last 7 years, I can’t drive past one without getting a coffee. I don’t even want to add up the last month’s charges! LOL

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24 Felicity @ Waist & Wallet June 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I’m sorry to hear about your pet. Our eating out budget has been creeping up all year long, but we got it back under control this month… it’s back down to just $100 a month (that’s small for us).

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25 Mikayla June 27, 2012 at 3:10 am

@Erin S DUNKIN!!! We have none in my area but we grew up with one, and I was meandering around the Dallas airport and TADA $5 later i have a boston creme and DD coffee – It was like Christmas! The worst thing is – our Fox network plays their commercials all the time, it’s like torture!, Glad you and the kiddos are ok in the end :)

Mine is this monkey fighting car in the monkey fighting garage once again. I have an extended warranty but this year it has all been “normal wear and tear”. With the new tires next month we’ll be knocking on $2k this year… no fun

BTW J, food costs may come bite you in the backside when the baby comes… you’re both tired and it’s just easier to pick something up and that first month it can add up… SO… I recommend cooking double till baby gets here and freezing it, or if you have a relative that’s a wiz in the kitchen ask them to stock it up for you -saved us soooo much money and trouble when we had ours, it was so sad when the last lasagna was thawed/cooked haha… just a thought ;)

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26 brooklyn money June 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm

17K in closing costs for the new apartment is my biggest expense lately.Yikes.

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27 J. Money June 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

@Erin S – Oh no!!! That’s scary!! So glad they’re all (and you!) are okay now, jeez… if you were tracking your baby money like I am, it would blow mine completely out of the water! Haha… here’s to things calming down a bit for ya :)
@Felicity @ Waist & Wallet – Well that’s good! Keep on rockin’ it :)
@Mikayla – If only we cooked! Haha… I mean, we do – a little – but def. not enough to stock goodies for the future :( It is times like these that I wish we had a personal chef ;) I’d eat soooooo much more and healthier! I love food!! haha… (but yes, good idea for sure – thx, friend! And I’ll buy you DD next time you’re in the DC area ;))
@brooklyn money – Well congratulations home owner!! That’s exciting :)

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28 Mikayla June 29, 2012 at 1:58 am

Bahahahaha Wait, don’t we all get a personal chef!?! Isn’t that what the millionaire club is essentially about, here’s your million–here’s your chef… no? dang it, I need to join that club…

I really love food as well so i enjoy cooking and experimenting with all the different ways to get it in my face… i even stock up the ex’s freezer with stuff when he’s inbetween gf’s (he can only cook toast and I don’t want our kid to turn into a chicken Mcnugget)…..OMG that’s it!! you guys spring for the DD and I’ll stock yo’ fridge up! omnomnom…LOL

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29 J. Money June 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Ahahahaha… I LOVE chicken nuggetts!!!

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