The Ridinkulous 2016 Annual Expense Report

Boston Museum of Science Van der Graaff generator

Another year has wrapped up here at Ridinkulous HQ, and despite the best laid plans of mice and men, this year looks extremely similar to last year in terms of spending. Not that that’s a bad thing. When the average savings rate in the U.S. hovers between 5-10%, hitting more than 50% year after year is a good thing.

You see, frugality is a lot like this Van de Graaff generator at the Boston Museum of Science. It’s loud and bright and it takes a guy in an oversized bird cage to operate it. And there are gigantic belts inside that generate static electricity. And it kind of looks like a butt.

Or maybe I’m just stretching for a reason to post that picture.

Total Expenses: $51,122.91
Avg Per Month: $4,260.24

Excluding Debt Payments
Total Expenses: $35,851.62
Avg Per Month: $2,987.64

Savings Rate: 52%


2016 2015
Serious Stuff $24,396 28,847
Food $7,226 6,445
Transportation $3,433 3,339
Utilities $2,686 2,836
Fun Stuff $4,650 5,881
Pets $2,018 2,671
Miscellaneous $6,312 4,018


Serious Stuff :

Annual Total Monthly Average
Mortgage $8,334.96 $694.58
Car Payments $993.12 $82.76
Student Loans $5,943.21 $495.27
Home Insurance $960.00 $80.00
Property Taxes $4,769.95 $397.50
Medical $545.24 $45.44
Home Maintenance – DIY $172.55 $14.38
Home Maintenance – Contractors $3,076.80 $256.4
Total Serious Stuff $24,795.83 $2,066.32

Yup, those are the last of our student loans and car loan. The only loan left is our mortgage (and ones associated with our rental property), and we made no extra payments to that this year.
Property Taxes look especially high because we prepaid the second half of our school taxes just for the heck of it. Next year should be $1,000 or so lower.
We hired contractors for two things this quarter. One was to plant a garden in our backyard. When we originally had our garage demolished two years ago, we got a quote from this landscaper, and he was the guy to give us the idea of putting in a stone patio of reclaimed Belgian block. We stole took that idea and did it ourselves. But we hired him to do the gardening bit, because 1) we are terrible at plants, and 2) as thanks for the patio idea because I was planning on using dumb old concrete pavers until he suggested the reclaimed stone.

Garden around the edges. The rest done by us

The other contractor we hired was a plumber to install a new hot water heater. We previously had two hot water heaters because our house used to be two apartments. In November, one started leaking, and since that meant it was just a matter of time before the other one broke, we took the opportunity to replace both heaters, re-plumb, and replace them both with one hot water heater. That way we only pay for one 40-gallon tank of water to be kept hot, instead of 80 gallons of water.

It cost $1,400 for the whole job. Not a pretty number, but it feels good to be able to pull it out of our money market mutual fund stress-free. We keep at least eight months of expenses, plus security deposits and a $5,000 replacement fund for the rental apartment. We are always adding to the fund for another possible future real estate buy (or stock market fire sale), so the $1,400 was quickly replenished.



Annual Total Monthly Average
Groceries $5,175.30 $431.28
Wine & Beer $352.75 $29.40
Dining Out $1,032.23 $86.02
Takeout Food $669.06 $55.76
Total Food $7,226.34 $602.20

In all, we spent about $800 more on food this year over last year. Mostly that was on groceries. We somehow spent the same amount on Dining and Takeout this year, despite not taking fancy trips to Peru or Japan.

We did host Thanksgiving for the first time. Everything came out well. Even the turkey, and the homemade rolls I made. It’s a marvel of modern food economics that the 18 pound turkey cost the same as the 6 ounces of Gruyere (about $8.50).


Annual Total Month Average
Auto Maintenance/Other $877.51 $73.13
Gas $831.40 $69.28
Car Insurance $1,164.00 $97.00
Parking $205.40 $17.12
Bus Tickets $355.00 $29.58
Total Transportation $3,433.31 $286.11

Almost the same as last year. We spent less on parking and gas, and more on maintenance. I’m proud to say that I gave up my parking pass earlier this year, and since then I’ve only paid $6 to park one day. I took the bus or biked the other days.



Annual Total Monthly Average
Cable $444.86 $37.07
Electric $734.67 $61.22
Gas $853.72 $71.14
Telephone $152.70 $12.73
Water  & Sewer $500.33 $41.69
Total Utilities $2,686.28 $223.86

Overall, about $150 less spent on utilities this year. Mostly this is thanks to our drastically lower Time Warner cable bill, which is so low that it might be a mistake. $40 a month? Uh, okay!
Gas – We’ve hit another new low in heating cost! It’s $20 lower than last year.
Water & Sewer – Our last water bill was about $40 higher than normal. I was really shocked, and it took me about ten minutes to remember, “Oh right, the old hot water heater was leaking for a few days probably…”
Telephone is our monthly Ooma bill and our Tracfone payments.

Camping spot

Fun Stuff:

Annual Total Monthly Average
Entertainment $1,035.51 $86.29
Recreation $759.16 $63.26
Travel $2,855.77 $237.98
Total Fun Stuff $4,650.44 $387.54

Entertainment – In addition to our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, we saw some good live entertainment his year like our second Postmodern Jukebox show, a world premiere of the Magnetic Fields’ new 50 song memoir show, but the best show was actually seeing Julian Koster of the Music Tapes at The Hangar in Troy. It tied into his podcast The Orbiting Human Circus and was totally, and literally, magical.
 – We didn’t take a huge trip this year, but we did take our annual camping trip to the Thousand Islands. The weather was unusually perfect, and since we stayed after Labor Day, the campground was nearly empty. It was such a perfect trip that Marge got a tattoo to commemorate it. (Really!)
Travel – Mostly this is a cottage on Cape Cod for Memorial Day, a hotel for Marge in Las Vegas, credit card fees to earn frequent flyer miles, and some hotels for our trip to Thailand later this month!

I know you’re already looking forward to our Thailand Trip Expenses, so… Spoiler Alert: The Thailand hotels range from $40 to $105 a night, and our round-trip business class tickets on Cathay Pacific cost $111 each, out of pocket, after using frequent flyer miles. That’s a 16 hour flight. I mean, that’s insane, right?

Maeby Channing


Annual Total Monthly Average
Boarding $213.00 $17.75
Food $716.79 $59.73
Medical $901.71 $75.14
Other $186.98 $15.58
Total Pet $2,018.48 $168.21

About $650 less than last year on the whole. Which is pretty surprising, considering that Maeby had her accident this year which necessitated an emergency trip to the vet. Since we didn’t take any big trip in 2016, we had almost no boarding costs, so that helped.

Cornelius and Klaus require very little to keep them happy and healthy


Annual Total Monthly Average
Cash Expense $329.00 $27.42
Charity $506.00 $42.17
Clothing $1,204.25 $100.35
Gifts Given $1,828.40 $152.37
Home $1,379.67 $114.97
Personal Care $999.47 $83.29
Postage $65.44 $5.45
Total Miscellaneous $6,312.23 $526.02

Much more spent on gifts this year. This is actually due to Christmas 2015 because those credit card bills hit in 2016. Next year should not be as much. As usual, we did a homemade gift for most people: jars of zucchini relish.


Goal Progress

Back in January, I made up some goals for 2016. Here’s how we’re doing with them.

Total 2016 Spending of $30,000 (excluding debt payments): 

  • Spent: $35,852

Shockingly close to what we spent last year, $35,373. The major changes from last year include Property Taxes ($1,000 more, because we pre-paid), Home Maintenance ($1,500 less), Travel ($1,500 less), Food ($800 more), and Pets ($600 less).


Savings Rate of 65%: 

  • Actual Savings Rate: 52%

Nowhere near enough! I’m setting our goal at 65% again for 2017. Personally, I’m annoyed that our savings rate still hovers in the 50% range when I see many financial bloggers doing better, but then I remember MMM’s shockingly simple math entry, and the fact that the national average hardly ever cracks 6%. I guess we’re doing pretty well. Our method for calculating our savings rate is shown here.


Pay off Student Loans: 

  • Balance at January 1: $5,916.51
  • Balance Today: $0

Yup, these were paid off back in May.


Max Out 457 Plan and Roth IRAs

  • Goals: $18,000 in 457 Plan / $5,500 in each Roth IRA
  • Saved: $18,000 in 457 Plan / $5,500 in each Roth IRA

Totally done. I’ll list this goal again next year, although it should be easily accomplished.


Contribute to Marge’s 401(k)

The company never changed their awful 401(k) provider, so this never happened. The real question is, where do we put our surplus savings when all the good tax-deferred accounts (457 and Roths) are maxed out? Seriously, can someone answer this?


Read 24 Books

  • Read: 26 Books

I did pretty good with the reading this year, reading about two books every month instead of falling behind and catching up like I do some years. Here’s my top five in no particular order: The Man In The Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, The Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey, and What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Also, of course, How To Sharpen Pencils by David Rees.

Next year’s goal is 25 books.


Watch 36 Movies

  • Watched: More than 36

OK, I know I watched more than 36 movies this year, but I don’t feel like counting them all up. I’ll give you my top five out of everything I saw in a theater or at home: In no particular order: Tickled, The Big Short, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Whitewash, and The Witch.

I’m eliminating this goal next year mostly because it’s hard to keep track. There should be a GoodReads for movies.


Write 52 Blog Entries

  • Written: 33, not including this one.

Way, way off on this one! I feel like I came into 2016 with a load of almost-finished posts, and since early in the year, I’ve struggled to finish new ones consistently. Maybe not setting a goal next year. I’ll write when I feel like it, damnit.


Years of Savings:

This calculation demonstrates how far we could get if we kept living every year like this.  We take our investable assets and divide them by our monthly expenses, without debt payments, above. The number to shoot for is 25, because at that level of savings, you could afford to live forever on your money stash. This year’s number is…

7.5 years


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. They eliminated Rochester from Expatistan’s index, so I had to use Hartford, CT for our own cost of living.

Our International Retirement Cost of Living Number is….


According to Expatistan’s index, that means we can retire… nowhere! Not even Tbilisi, Georgia!


  1. This year our savings percentage was 14%, and that was all in retirement savings because we had large medical expenses that caused us to have a negative savings rate in cash accounts this year. I’m looking forward to getting back to hopefully 40% again in 2017.

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