Here's a look at where our money went in 2011.
Food - groceries: 3,150.04
Food - eating out: 4,461.57
Rent: 15,425.23 (includes two months of double rent)
Travel: 4,202.16 (includes multiple trips back and forth to visit while we were living apart, several trips to see my family, and a few weddings)
Hobbies, misc: 48.34
Grand total: $57,433.12
401(k) contributions: $1,292.85 (plus 3% of employer matching, which isn't counted here)
Roth IRA contributions: $10,000
Total Retirement Contributions: $11,292.85
Student loan payments: 13,539.74
Student loan interest charged: 4,155.74
Difference in debt load: $9,395.70
You can compare these numbers to last year's numbers here.
Things of Note:
We seem to be experiencing some lifestyle creep with our spending! Luckily, some of these numbers are one-time expenses, such as buying the car and moving cross-country. We also did a lot of traveling compared to last year, and it was nice to see family and friends so frequently. Still, we've spent a lot more than we need to on non-necessities like eating out, entertainment, and clothes. And frankly, our charitable giving is abysmal. I'm trying to tell myself I also donated a LOT of goods when we moved - stuff in great condition - but I still feel that we should do more with giving money, too.
Retirement contributions are way down this year, because I was the only one with access to a 401(k), and then for less than half the year. We signed up immediately for 401(k)s with matching at our current employers, but we have been in the waiting period for them to start. We maxed out our Roths early in the year and have been trying not to pay too much attention to the losses and gains of the stock market.
It's a little demoralizing to see the difference in what we pay on our student loans versus how much the principal actually goes down. I'd like to be more aggressive about paying them down, but the payments are manageable and we've had a lot of big ticket things to save up for. At the rate we're going, we'd be able to pay off the balance within five years, and although I think we can do it faster than that, I can also live with that timeframe.
In short, 2011 was a year of saving like mad and then spending much of that savings on big-ticket items. I can't say that 2012 will be different, since all of our savings (except for the emergency fund!) will be spent on a house. We'll then be saving for more big-ticket items like furniture and a second car, as well as building a larger emergency fund thanks to our larger capacity for emergencies and high deductible health insurance plan.