Year in Review: 2018 Expenses

2018 was the year I took my money goals seriously – they shifted a bit but it in they end I made huge financial strides.

It was the first full year of tracking my expenses – something I started in mid-2017 – so it’ll provide major insights for every year moving forward.

This year I spent $16,361.93, funded my emergency fund with $10,000, and paid $11,017.18 towards my student loans.

Below is a breakdown of how much I spent for every category.

2018 Expenses (2).png


This does not include my monthly bus tickets since most of it comes out pretax and the remainder is taken out of my check before it hits my debit card.

I live in the suburbs, but work in the city so for two days out of the week, owning a car is not a priority. Therefore, these transportation costs are for Lyft rides, subway, and gas money for when I’m borrowing cars.

EATING OUT – $2,618.68

Chipotle was probably the most popular lunch spot for me in the first half of 2018. Maybe because I had a work buddy to go with or maybe because in NYC $9.60 is a steal for a filling meal.

Since Ari and I don’t live together, we find it hard to cook at our homes together so we opted for eating out on the weekends. This is the large part of why my eating out expenses are so high. Eating out is also another form of entertainment in the suburbs.

GROCERIES – $1,419.41

Clearly I was eating out more than I was meal prepping in 2018. I want to say this category is low because as a vegetarian, I’m save a lot by not buying meat. Non-dairy options or meat substitute are pretty pricey, but I very rarely buy those (high in sodium) and simply choose to make meals with heavy vegetables and grains.


Yay! Board game nights have really paid off in this category, as well as my decreased drinking. Living in the suburbs means that weekend nights we stay local and there isn’t much of a nightlife. The bar scene around here doesn’t really entice us anymore — crowded by recent graduates or people I went to high school with who I have zero interest in engaging with. I’m interested to see how this category changes when Ari and I have our apartment. I’m sure we’ll have more house gatherings and potlucks, maybe we’ll go to bars here and there but only for dancing purposes since I’m not drinking in 2019.

PERSONAL CARE – $1,787.92

This is a pretty broad category but includes everything from clothing to CVS runs. I spent $363.79 on clothes last year, which doesn’t seem like a large amount when comparing it to the total. But since I still feel like I don’t have any clothes to wear, these purchases were probably a mistake. The one purchase I’m proud are black Sam Edelman booties that I wear almost everyday and cost me less than $20!


Everything from toilet paper to Fabuloso to duct tape. I buy the household items for my family of six. By the middle of 2018, I was trying to DIY dish soap and all-purpose cleaner, but my mom loves the artificial smell of Fabuloso so this didn’t last long. Living on my own will significantly reduce this category.

TRAVEL – $2,199.85

In 2018, I went to Woodstock, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, Orlando, Iceland and three trips to my friend’s home in Upstate NY. Honestly, I do not understand how people use points to keep their travel expenses super low.

BILLS & UTILITIES – $2,407.21

For the larger part of 2018, I was on a no data prepaid phone plan paying only $25 a month. I switched the plan in August for my upcoming trips since I knew I’d need data to order Lyft rides and to navigate.

I don’t pay my parents for rent, but I support in other ways — aka paying for the water, gas, and internet bills.

GIFTS & DONATIONS – $1,379.73

A large chunk ($482.80) of this came from holiday expenses, you can read through my breakdown here. The rest of this category is for birthday gifts, nonprofit donations and GoFundMe campaigns.

MISC. – $487.54

This is my “doesn’t fit into anything else” category from checks to stamps to my birthday cake.

PET EXPENSES – $561.44

My three year-old German Shepherd’s anxiety is costly, she requires sedation for veterinary visits, adding $70 every time. This category includes all expenses associated with her; health insurance, pampering, etc. Food is tricky since I only buy it at Target and don’t itemize those spendings in my tracker.

BUSINESS – $417.66

I attended my first FinCon and purchased tickets for 2019’s in 2018. My company reimbursed me for my 2019 ticket in January since it counts toward my Learning and Development stipend — all I had to do was make a case for how it relates to my job. This also includes anything associated to having a website — domain, WordPress, etc.


Travel hacking is something I want to improve in 2019, whether it’s through credit card points or taking advantage of my dad’s airline employee benefits, which I lose after I turn 26 in November. I have been hesitant to travel standby because I don’t want to miss work days, but if I’m being strategic about when I travel it shouldn’t be an issue.

Moving out in 2019 will really change how this expense report looks next year, but I’m SO ready for the challenge. I do know that living in the city will provide me with FREE alternative methods of entertainment. My transportation costs will decrease, since there’ll be no need for my expensive bus or weekend Lyft rides.

I’m most excited to explore and improve on my cooking skills. While not a good excuse, my two-hour commute drains me so much that Sunday is the only time I am free to prepare meals and sometimes I don’t feel like it.

2019 Financial Goals

  • Max my Roth IRA ($6,000)
  • Pay off student loans ($6,661.37)
  • Invest in my 401k ($10,000)
  • Start saving for my first place (??)
  • Increase my income by 20% (ask for a raise)

Were you tracking your expenses in 2018 (get the tracker I use here)? What money changes are you making for 2019? 

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