The Ridinkulous 2015 Annual Expense Report

Holy guacamole! Happy 2016! Can you believe a whole year has passed?

Osaka Intercontinental (8)

Fancy Japanese hotel!

It’s been a ridinkulous year here at Ridinkulous Headquarters. We bought a rental property in order to hasten our early retirement goals. We spent almost three weeks on vacations in Peru and Japan. And we DIY built a stone patio, wood fence, and an 8’x10′ shed in the backyard.

Surely all of this fancy living will show in our expenses, right? Wrong! Because while compiling our expenses for the entire year, I found we spent less this year than ever before! Well, as long as you eliminate money spent on that rental property… I count that as a separate business and its own income statement is forthcoming.

In the next few weeks, I’ll compare this year to past years and see exactly how we made 2015 our most frugal year ever. But today, let’s just look at the numbers.

Total Expenses: $54,038.23
Avg Per Month: $4,503.19

Excluding Debt Payments
Total Expenses: $35,373.10
Avg Per Month: $2,947.76

The Necessary Evils :

Annual Total Monthly Average
Mortgage $10,834.96 $902.91
Student Loans $3,018.27 $251.52
Car payments $4,811.90 $400.99
Home Insurance $940.00 $78.33
Property Taxes $3,757.32 $313.11
Medical $759.53 $63.29

Pretty self explanatory. For more details on those loans, check out our Debt Progress page.
Property Taxes – People in the blogosphere are often astounded at how little we paid for our house and rental property in upstate NY. The flipside of our low housing prices is our high property taxes. And as any debt paydown aficionado will tell you, you can pay off your mortgage, but those property taxes will follow you to the grave.
Medical – Much of this is our hepatitus A shots for visiting Peru.

Finished Fence (2)

DIY all the way

Home Maintenance and Improvements

Yearly Total Monthly Average
Contractors $1,950.84 $162.57
DIY $2,773.83 $231.15

Contractors – This is the cost to eradicate bats from our house, and also the cost of re-wiring the electrical to our house after the neighbor’s tree fell in our yard.
 – The DIY cost is basically the entire cost of our backyard patio and shed project. We paved our backyard with real granite stones and built a 8’x10′ shed with plans found on the internet. You can see the work in progress above. It’s all done now, and photos are forthcoming

Kyoto Sushi


Yearly Total Monthly Average
Groceries $4,554.81 $379.57
Wine & Beer $283.05 $23.59
Dining Out $913.80 $76.15
Takeout Food $693.02 $57.75
Total Food $6,444.68  $537.06

This is our lowest total food expense since 2007! Incredible. I chalk it up to making lots of big batches of food for lunches and dinners, and nearly eliminating Takeout Fridays.
Dining & Takeout Food – Despite restricting our eating out expenses, we still had many amazing meals. Not a dollar was wasted. The only things I eat outside the house are things I just can’t get or make at home. See the fresh maguro bowl at Tuskiji fish market or the ceviche or the chocolate con churros in Lima. The key to not spending a lot dining out is to never go to a chain or a place that makes everyday food. (I lift this rule for the occasional breakfast diner, a guilty pleasure)


Yearly Total Monthly Average
Auto Maintenance/Other $607.34 $50.61
Gas $918.48 $76.54
Car Insurance $1,169.39 $97.45
Parking $331.96 $27.66
Bus Tickets $312.00 $26.00
Total Transportation $3,339.17  $278.26

Auto Maintenance & Other – Includes the obvious, along with registrations, EZ Pass tolls, and the charge to take a defensive driving course which lowers our insurance.
 – Speaking of lowest totals ever, this is our lowest gas expense since merging bank accounts over ten years ago! And seeing as how I only put about 2,000 miles on my car this year, it might be time to sell it.
Car Insurance – We just switched companies, which should take $400 off our annual bill next year. Even more if I sell my car.
Bus Tickets – I commuted to work mostly on the bus this year, but the cost was still less than maintaining a parking spot at work. I continue to keep that parking spot because it comes in really handy when heading to NYC for a flight.


Annual Total Monthly Average
Cable $654.53 $54.54
Gas $875.31 $72.94
Electric $716.18 $59.68
Water  & Sewer $445.70 $37.14
Telephone $144.13 $12.01

Cable – We brought our cable expense from $75.12 down to $34.99 a month by first switching out Time Warner’s rental modem for one we purchased, cancelling our basic cable, and getting a frustration discount for having to deal with Time Warner customer service reps.
Gas – Incredible! Our heating bill has never been lower. This is partly because natural gas prices are lower than ever, and because we bought an electric blanket to keep us warm at night. Consequently, we keep our thermostats between 59 and 64, or 66 if we’re feeling radical. For those interested, that is the heating bill for a 2,000 square foot house.
Electric – Our electric bill has also never been lower! Although I couldn’t tell you why this is. Possibly just because of the lower prices.
Telephone – We are almost five years into using Ooma as our home phone, and it still costs under $4.00 a month. I also bought an Ooma Linx for $40.00 so we can finally have a phone on the 2nd floor of our gigantic house. We also paid $64.95 for my annual cell phone bill. So yup, that’s $12/month for all the phones.

Breakneck Ridge (16)

Fun Stuff:

Annual Total Monthly Average
Entertainment $1,292.00 $107.66
Recreation $272.01 $22.67
Travel $4,317.05 $359.75

Entertainment – $462 of that was spent on concerts and shows like They Might Be Giants, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and Hamilton on Broadway. There’s $248 on movies in the theater, and $324 on in-home entertainment like Netflix and Hulu. Overall, this was an average year.
Recreation – This was mostly Marge getting a flute part fixed for $178, and some sights around Peru and Japan. Hiking doesn’t cost anything, even popular hikes like Breakneck Ridge in Cold Spring, NY, as seen above!
Travel – Obviously was a big expense, what with two trips to Peru and Japan. Mostly this is transportation expense ($1,301.21) and hotels ($1,768.02). We actually only spent $161 on flights this year. Thanks, frequent flyer miles!

Maeby Frear Park (10)


Annual Total Monthly Average
Boarding $815.00 $67.92
Food $689.37 $57.45
Medical $940.35 $78.36
Other $226.72 $18.89
Total Pet  $2,671.44 $222.62

Maeby the greyhound and the two bunnies continue to generate a ton of expense. Mostly this is due to Maeby getting her teeth cleaned this year, and having to board her during those long trips.

Bunnies Chill


Annual Total Monthly Average
Charity $454.00 $37.83
Clothing $853.01 $71.08
Computer / Web $313.97 $26.16
Gifts Given $844.83 $70.40
Home Furnishings $223.37 $18.61
Home Supplies $547.78 $45.65
Personal Care $719.14 $59.93
Postage $63.28 $5.27

Charity – When I started my first job out of college, I started donating to charities through our payroll deduction program. I promised myself I would raise the amount every year, and I have. This coming year, the lucky charities are Doctors Without Borders, Water For People, our local community center, a pet fostering group, and our local Planned Parenthood.
Clothing – See below!
Computer / Web – This includes our used Asus tablet, a used iPod Touch for me, a used 5th gen iPod Nano for Marge, and our web hosting. So that’s a lot of computer fun for $315!
Gifts Given -We save a lot of money on Christmas gifts by making them, like these cans of apple butter last year, and homemade soap this year!
Home Furnishings -This is mostly our incredible heated blanket, so handy for lowering heating bills in the winter, and some odds and ends like ice cube trays and kitchen stuff. It also includes our real Christmas tree.
Home Supplies – Toilet paper, paper towels, sponges, light bulbs, garbage bags… you get the picture.
Personal Care – This is mostly Marge’s 18-month gym membership at $468, and other odds and ends the Marge buys that I don’t know what it is.
Postage – Mostly from selling stuff on eBay and sending Christmas gifts and cards.


Back in January, I made up some goals for the year on the fly. Here’s how we did.

Yearly Goals Progress:


  • Goal: Under $1,000.
  • Spent: $875.31

Lowest gas expense ever!

Dining Out: 

  • Goal: Under $1,000.
  • Spent: $913.80

Phew! I was worried about this one. With every dinner out with friends, I could see the numbers adding up. We managed to keep this down by not going out to eat by ourselves at all except while on vacation.

Takeout Food: 

  • Goal: Under $1,000.
  • Spent: $693.42

We came in way under the $1,000 here. Like I said, this is simply due to us hardly ever getting Friday takeouts now.


  • Goal: Under $1,000.
  • Spent: $853.01

Personally, I spent a grand total of $161.54 on clothes this year.  A chunk of that was at the Banana Republic outlet, where I also spent a large gift card, and another $41 was on a new pair of fancy brown shoes since the last ones got holes in ’em.  The remaining $691.47 is Marge.


Years of Savings:

This magical calculation demonstrates how far we could get if we kept living every month like this ones listed above.  We take our investable assets and divide them by our monthly expenses above. The number to shoot for is 25, because at that level of savings, you could afford to live forever on your money stash. According to our monthly average expenses of $4,503.19 and our investable assets, we have…

3.67 years of savings

But if you take out the all of the debt expenses and consider only what we would have been paying had all of the loans been paid off (as we’re planning in retirement), $2,947.76, then we have….

5.6 years of savings.

Retirement Location Possibility!

If we take that number of years of savings above, and divide by 25, we can figure out where in the world we could afford to retire right now by dividing another country’s cost of living  price index by our own cost of living. I used Rochester, NY, for our own cost of living since it is the closest city to us on Expatistan’s index and is very comparable price-wise.

Our International Retirement Cost of Living Number is….


According to Expatistan’s index, that means we can retire… nowhere!

How do your expenses for the year measure up? Show ’em if you got ’em!


  1. Quite impressive! I haven’t done a tally yet – not sure if I’ll get around to it or not this year. But I’m feeling very blessed to have no mortgage, no car payment, no student loans and property taxes that are under $1K annually! I’m willing to bet that I made up at least some of the savings by spending ridiculous amounts on both food and cats though!

    And I totally want that Japanese bathtub!!! Seriously, I’m looking at a bathroom remodel in the next few years and I’m absolutely drooling!

    • Norm

      January 1, 2016 at 9:15 am

      You have to do an annual expense report! Then you can really see your progress! It’s so fun! AHHH!

      That’s an incredibly luxurious bathtub for Japan. The ones we had in apartments were just as tall, but half as long. I’m not a bath person, but I dream about one of those 10-inch wide rain showerheads.

  2. I’ve done a preliminary tally and looks like I spent around $32k, excluding student loan pay down. Maybe I’ll be able to get this under $30k this year! Great job this year guys.

    • Norm

      January 3, 2016 at 1:08 am

      That’s pretty good for NYC! I think being publicly accountable has really encouraged me to go the extra mile to keep expenses low. I’m pretty sure next year will be much lower for us too, since we’re not planning any big vacations or home improvement projects.

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