Six ways to save money on medical bills

I’ve been on my share of hospital stay. In the past three years, I had 2 outpatient surgeries and gave birth to wonderful baby boy. Fortunately, the surgeries were simple and I had a normal delivery, even though I gave birth prematurely, just after 28 weeks.

Insurance to the rescue

I’m very grateful that my employer provides insurance and my out of pocket was minimal. The claims that were filed were astronomical. I don’t think I can afford the kind of care I received without it. There are still some out of pocket expense, even with insurance. Here are some things that I learned which save me some money over the course of the year.

1. Research the insurance provided by your employer during open period

This is the key. Make sure you pay attention every year to open period and research the changes to your policy. Make sure that it is still the optimal choice for your life. For example, I fell on my bicycle and broke my ACL during the first week of work. I picked the insurance that will minimize my out of pocket expense. I considered both the monthly share of the premium and the maximum deductible. I also signed up for Flexible Spending Account.

2. Sign up for tax deductible health spending accounts

There are 2 types of tax deductible spending accounts, the Health Savings Account (HSA) and the Flexible Savings Account (FSA). You can only signed up for one for each plan period. If you sign up for HSA, you will also have a higher deductible amount. FSA, on the other hand have a lower deductible. I signed up for FSA during the year that I had an ACL reconstruction and this year, when I gave birth. My maximum deductible was $2k for these years. I then signed up for FSA for the maximum during that plan period. By using FSA, I saved taxes and I was able to use it right away. During the year when I don’t have a plan medical expense, I signed up for HSA, which also means a higher deductible amount. For my plan, this means $3k of maximum deductible. I maxed out by HSA during that year. Fortunately, I didn’t have any big medical expense during the year. I only had a preventative visits which were free.

3. Research doctors for in network coverage

When I had my ACL reconstruction, I researched doctors that were part of my network. Fortunately, he is also affiliated with the hospital where my primary doctor practices. He has a private practice, focusing on orthopedics. Similar when I gave birth, I chose an OB and a hospital that is part of my network.

4. Ask if the providers / hospital provide discounts

Providers and hospitals will typically provide discounts if you pay your out of pocket within 30 days. I received a 5% discount on my bill by paying within 30 days.

5. Use your credit cards and earn rewards and points

I signed up for new rewards cards to pay for medical bills. I was able to maximize the needed amount to received the sign up bonus. If you strategize, you can end up getting money back as a cash back or rewards through airline mileage.

6. Time appointments / planned surgeries on a single plan period

This will require some planning. For me, I will always have my annual physical exam during the end of the plan year or during open period. This will give me a chance to discuss with my doctor any concerns I have. I don’t advocate waiting to do this once a year if you have concerns that are really alarming. For me, I had my breast examine every year. For one year, I felt a small lump. I then had an ultra sound, a biopsy and a surgery for the next plan year.  The ultrasound itself covered most of my dedcutible. This year also happened to be the year I had my ACL reconstruction.

Monthly Spending – August 2017

I’m catching up on this blog and publishing another spending post for August. August was spent mainly in the hospital. During those times, I tried my best to work on nursing baby MMD and learned from the nurses as much as I could. I was spending 6 hours a day in the hospital this month. Baby MMD made it home after spending 74 days in the NICU. We are overjoyed. I welcomed the sleepless nights better than hospital stays.

Lack of Baby Shower

The Mr. and I also took majority of August off in preparation for baby MMD’s arrival. Majority of my spending was in preparation for baby MMD’s arrival. Since I gave birth prematurely, I didn’t have the chance to have a baby shower. I did not missed it at all. In fact, the absence of the shower caused me to focus on essential items. We also received majority of the big ticket items for free. The major items we bought are the swing that baby MMD used in the NICU and a stroller with a bassinet that he uses daily. Those 2 are definitely a luxury. The rest are for feeding. I also found a lot of baby’s clothes, which my sister happily picked up and paid for. It costs $50 for almost 24 months of wardrobe.

So here’s the month of August, clocking in under $5k

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Mortgage & Rent
Baby Supplies1481.32The cost of the stroller is the majority of this
Doctor838.02More medical bills
Gift300Gift for my father
Utilities242.46Water, Sewer and Garbage which is on a high side since I'm using the water more to wash the pump parts every after use
Student Loan200Almost done here!
Internet66.22Internet
Mobile Phone34.03Phone bill
Entertainment16.5HBO Now for GOT. I will cancel this next month
Shopping10.55I got a selfie stick so I can be on a photo with baby MMD
Parking9.9Parking for work during the first week
Grand Total4999

 

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

 

Monthly Spending – July 2017

Hello, medical bills

This is a very late post regarding my spending for July. Time is limited once you have a baby. I went back to work in July after giving birth in June. Baby MMD stayed in the hospital for that month. Juggling work, pumping and hospital visit were challenging. My mood to write was also affected by baby MMD’s progress in the hospital. It is hard to take my mind off the NICU. Because of that, this blog was essentially abandoned for the month of July and August.

Financial Independence have a new meaning now. I am thankful for the frugal lifestyle I had. Because of this, the unexpected expenses caused by the medical bills did not affected our family. Fast forward to this month, most of the bills were already paid. I am not expecting more copay for baby MMD. I am also very thankful for insurance. I can not imagine being in a situation without it. Overall, despite of all the roller coaster emotions that happened / happening, I am thankful that I don’t have to think of finances. I can focus on this tiny human, our family and our health.

I don’t have additional spending aside from the medical bills. Note that the grocery there is small because Mr. MMD purchased the grocery while I pay for the utilities and internet. My grocery was a snack here and there that I purchased on my own.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Health & Fitness1489.53Medical expenses including doctor and hospital stay copays
Student Loan200
Internet66.21I've been paying this amount since I can remember. I really like this deal
Restaurants52.17A couple of brunch with friends
Parking45.44
Mobile Phone34.03My very low unlimited text and data from T-mobile
Clothing31.65I got a nursing bra
Baby Supplies27.04These are the pump parts
Entertainment16.5HBO subscription because we need to watch GOT
Groceries14.24Some snacks
Grand Total3776.81

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

Monthly Spending – June 2017

Oh Baby, Baby, Baby

June was full of events. I had a preterm delivery and welcomed baby MMD. He was 28 weeks at that time. It was very surreal. I don’t have enough words to describe the feelings I have. It’s full of emotions. We’re trying to take this day by day. It’s been more than a month and I’m trying to get some sense of normalcy back in my life. It’s hard navigating parenting in the NICU. My life is now centered on pumping and NICU visit. At some point, I would like to be able to write about his birth, but not this time. This time, I’ll give you an update of my spending for June.

Cost I didn’t pay for

You’ll not see a spike on my spending for this month. The medical bills will not kick in until the next couple of months – and maybe even more, depending on the date of the claim. Mr. MMD also purchased most of the items we need. For June, we bought a freezer, meal preparation items and a lot of groceries. Mr. MMD has been cooking every weekend for us. These are not necessarily unexpected expense. We plan to buy a freezer so we can prepare meals in advance, just not on the month of June. Just like we didn’t plan for baby MMD’s arrival until August. The expense came early, but it is ok. I also purchased a breast pump which was not included below since I filed a claim from my insurance to get it reimbursed. Breast pump is consider preventative and I’m lucky enough that insurance covers the cost of it.

What I paid for

We bought a vacuum cleaner this June. I think its time for us to actually have a decent one instead of using our Roomba. This came from my account so you’ll see it as an expense.

So here’s my expenses. A tad late from posting, but then again, I just had a baby.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Student Loan200This is going to be paid off this year
Utilities186.99
Home Supplies158.33We bought a vacuum cleaner
Gifts & Donations122.82This is a gift to a relative and my god daughter
Internet66.21
Shopping65.94Subscription to Le Tote and some batteries
Pharmacy63.84We got an equipment to check my blood pressure at home after giving birth
Shoes59.44My shoes is tearing apart after 1.5 years use everyday (seriously, everyday)
Restaurants37.36I like to eat out once in a while
Mobile Phone34.03Cheap unlimited text and data with 100 minutes from t-mobile
Groceries11.48Very small mainly because the Mr is the one paying and doing the groceries
Baby Supplies10.98A very cute hat that I got for baby MMD
Grand Total2817.42

 

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

 

 

 

Monthly Spending – May 2017

We welcome May with a lot of warm weather. I mean A LOT. For a pregnant women living in the northwest, this can be very uncomfortable. I needed 2 fans on me for a couple of nights to sleep. We also talk about buying an AC for the room. Usually, I won’t consider this, but I’m giving myself a break here. C’mon, I am going on my third trimester during the hottest months of the year.

Name Change, Furry baby and the Mr’s birthday

I changed my name this month. There were interesting trips to Social Security and DMV, but I managed to do it in 1 afternoon. I’ll call that a win. It took almost the full month to change it for everything else (I’m sure I’m not done yet).

The furry baby also needs to get her heartworm medication. We are walking distance to a pet store that host the Good Neighbor Vet 2 Saturdays of the month. I bought a full year’s worth of medicine which included a free heartworm test all for $46. I really like this clinic. They only perform preventative care at extremely affordable price, including preventative medications. The Furry baby still has a different doctor when she get sick.

And of course, this month, we also celebrated the Mr’s birthday. We had a simple celebration at home and invited our close friends. I definitely enjoyed hosting people at home instead of going out. It is easier to plan than calling a restaurant for reservation, it’s more relax and of course cost way less.

Here’s my expenses for May.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Hotel785.54Our trip to LA in April
Student Loan200
Rental Car & Taxi126.22LA trip
Groceries77.94Cheap since the Mr is usually paying for the grocery while I pay for the utilities
Internet66.21
Lab Exams56.17Deductible for lab exams
Restaurants55.361 lunch, 1 brunch and cupcakes
Veterinary46Furry Baby's year's supply of heartworm medication
Gas & Fuel45.27
Mobile Phone34.03Cheap unlimited text and data with 100 minutes from t-mobile
Food & Dining30.83The Mr's birthday dinner
Name Change12DMV fee for my new license
Blog11.88Annual renewal of the website
Baby preparation10.33Elastics for the cloth diaper
Grand Total3357.78

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

Monthly Spending – April 2017

I finally start feeling the change of weather this April. This is very much welcomed in my part of the world where it can feel that the gloomy weather is year round. This is also the time where I usually get anxious and go on a trip just to see the sun. At any given time, I would have taken my backpack and travel. It’s different this time. I’m unsure of what I feel. I feel normal for the most part but with the weight gain and fatigue, I’m hesitant to travel the same way as I did last year. Last year, I went to Portugal by myself, traversing the narrow streets, walking almost everywhere or taking the tram.

A little bit of sunshine

I gave in on my anxiety and agreed to go on a long weekend with the Mr to sunny Los Angeles. LA is a great choice because 1) there is sun 2) we have friends that live there 3) I’ve been there many times and I will not be on the “I need to see everything” phase. This was a pretty luxurious trip for our end. Instead of a hostel which I stayed at when I was in Lisbon, I booked a hotel overlooking the marina and yes it was pricey. I think that’s the reason that my friends and coworkers are calling it a “babymoon”. Let’s just say that I was not frugal for that weekend. Since the hotel trip was not charged till May, I didn’t see this spending for April.

Hobbies, etc

I also signed up for beginner sewing classes last month. After using my sewing machine and looking at you tubes, I decided to cancel my classes and received a refund from it. I felt that it is really easy to teach myself as long as I practice. My first project was a simple disposable baby wipes. My fur baby chewed on my 10 year old bed sheet and I used the cotton fabric to make a simple disposable baby wipes. We’re going to try to use a cloth diaper for the baby and we might as well use a disposable baby wipes. I was able to make about 30 pieces from the sheet and practice a simple sewing technique. At the same time, I received some scrap fabric from my local buy nothing group and I was able to make a table cloth out of it. I don’t intend to make complicated clothing out of the sewing machine, so at this point, I think I already know the “beginner”. I might sign up for an intermediate if I decide to continue on this hobby.

We also celebrated my mother’s birthday and it’s been somewhat of a tradition to go to Olive Garden’s. Of course, my sister and I split the bill. I think for next year, I need to plan for this more and check if I can get some discounts. I also finally got a double shower curtain rod from Amazon. This has been on my list for a while and it was installed yesterday.

And here’s my expenses for April. I closed with a little bit more than 3K.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent 1,800Monthly mortgage payment
Gift 300Gift for my mother
Kids 300Birth classes fee
Student Loan 200This should be done this year
Restaurants 185A little high for the month with my Mom's celebration
Utilities 169WSG, lower than previous months
Groceries 80Really low since we stop going to Costco
Internet 56Internet less the overcharge last month
Rental Car & Taxi 34LA trip cab from the airport
Mobile Phone 34Super cheap from T-mobile
Business Services 25Office supplies
Shopping 24Double rod curtain from Amazon
Coffee Shops 9Trip to Starbucks at the airport
Parking 6
Snacks 42 chocolate bars when I got hungry
Auto Insurance (13)Refund from Geico
Education (119)Refund from the sewing classes
Grand Total3093.46

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

 

Monthly Spending – March 2017

Continuing on my goal to keep myself accountable on tracking my expenses, I give you my spending for March. There were few big expenses this month that I pay once once a year. I pay auto insurance every 6 months. This year, before my renewal, my husband and I decided to combine our insurance. I took the same opportunity to get a different quote for our home insurance since it is also up for renewal this year. I don’t think I will ever understand the algorithm behind insurance rates. We haven’t been in an accident or had a ticket for the past 5+ years and we drive an older car, but the insurance rate just keep increasing. We saved $260.49 by combining this expenses.

Oh hello baby!!

I also have some medical bills related to my pregnancy. Yup, I am pregnant and expecting our first child. We’re definitely very excited about this. The medical bill is my deductible. I am on a high deductible plan but our plan period ends in March and I had the opportunity to change my insurance and move from HSA to FSA. Both are tax deductible but with FSA, you can use the entire contribution for the entire year. My deductible is also lower. I haven’t touch my HSA since it’s invested. I have enough to cover the expenses and I plan to use my HSA as form of retirement fund. I am really lucky and very grateful for the insurance provided by my company. I know that for some other people, medical expenses can break a bank.

Oh Winter

I also paid to refill our oil this year. Last year, we have to refill it around February so it’s about that time. We’re thinking of ways to decrease the use of central heating. We have 4 rooms, the living room and the kitchen. In total, we’re really only in our living room, kitchen and our bedroom. I’m experimenting and bought a this heater for our living room. I need to watch out for electric bill to see the effect for the month. We’re also using less heat now, since we’ve been getting some sun – hello spring!

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Utilities734.42Oil
Doctor426.73Medical bill
Auto Insurance399.666 month auto for 2 cars
Student Loan200
Education125I signed up for sewing class
Electric Heater117.18
Internet75.51They overcharge me this month. I called and got a refund for the next month.
Groceries74.24
Hobby - Blog63.2I purchased a theme for this blog
Gas & Fuel45.98
Restaurants40.96
Mobile Phone33.88
Tolls30Refill of toll pass
Pet Food & Supplies21.53The furry baby got some poop bags and toys from Amazon
Wedding Expenses20.73The shipping and the ad that I paid for to sell my wedding dress
Movies & DVDs5.91Rented a DVD for a date night -- oops
Parking1.5street parking when I visited the doctor
Grand Total4216.43

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

4 ways to file taxes for free

I recently completed filing 4 returns for my family (parents, 2 sisters) and myself. I remembered the time when my parents filed their first taxes barely a year after we moved to US. They didn’t know anything about taxes and consulted a tax preparer to file . They received a refund from the government and pay $200 to prepare their taxes. For them, it was worth it since they didn’t know any other way. This continued on for 3 years until I started the business school and took my first accounting class. First, I found out about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). I attended the training and took the certification. I learned how to file my family’s taxes and realized that the tax preparer were really making a lot of money from us and families that earned very little, just like my parents. So if you find yourself in a situation where you need help filing your taxes, but can’t afford to hire an accountant here are 4 ways to do it for free.

  1. VITA (Volunteer Income Assistance) – In my county, this is run by United Way. They have sites in the library and have hours from the morning till evening. If you do go, please bear in mind that this is run by volunteers and there will be wait times, especially when you come after 5PM or on weekends. Typically, the peak starts at end of January when companies start sending W2s. Also, VITA will only accept returns for families or individuals with income less than $54K.
  2. IRS Free file – If you’re income is below $64K, there are software that will let you file for free. You have many options from the IRS website. If you don’t feel confident, go to the library and check to see if they provide assistance in preparing or reviewing tax returns. Check the hours of volunteers and go when they are there. The managers will be more than happy to assist you with question. From my county, they even let you use their software to file.
  3. IRS Free fillable forms – If you earn more than $64K, IRS have a free fillable forms which you can use to e-file. Think of this as the electronic version of the tax return. Take it slowly and read through the instructions, you’ll find valuable lessons from doing your taxes this way. This is what I’m doing from the past 6 years now, until this year when I brought a tax software with my siblings.
  4. Old paper version – You can still get 1040 forms from the library and the paper version. I don’t recommend filing on paper. Instead, use this as a guide. If you don’t have a computer, check out your local library.

I highly recommend learning to file your taxes. I don’t have anything against professional tax preparer. I am a CPA myself and knows the value that we bring. But if you don’t own a business, don’t own properties and don’t have a lot of investment, you might be able to avail some of the free resources above. Or better yet, try to do it yourself. If you have time, volunteer for VITA and take the training. This program don’t just help you prepare your taxes but lead you to other programs in the community that can help you form some financial stability. If you know about it , please help spread the word.

Happy filing!

Spending Report – Jan and Feb 2017

I am very late on publishing this spending report. I even thought about discontinuing it, but listening to Liz from Frugalwoods yesterday on choosefi podcast inspired me to keep tracking my expenses. Before listening to the podcast and completing my last year’s spending, I told myself that I don’t need to track my expenses every month. I know what I’m spending on. At the same time, listening to Liz gave me this boost of energy and self realization that I need some accountability in order to achieve my goal of financial independence. Publishing this keeps me accountable. Perhaps, I will discontinue this at some point, but this year is not the year to do so.

My goal is to publish this once a month in 2017. I will decide after that if I want to continue.

January was the uber frugal challenge month

January was very light. This is the month that I joined the uber frugal challenge. I definitely noticed a dip on my spending. For example, I didn’t spend anything on restaurants. I also took my lunches to work for all of January. Drove less and entertained our friends at home. My goal is to spend about $3K per month but now I know that I can spend even less. 

February and lifestyle creep

February was a bit more.  The shopping line is very unusual. I bought a sewing machine. This machine has been on my wish list for more than a year now. I’ve been tracking the price on Amazon and I bought it after it hit less than $300. I’m excited to get to know this sewing machine. I also renewed my CPA license. The license is valid for 3 years until another renewal. My grandmother celebrated her birthday at her favorite restaurant and my sister and I split the bill. I bought lunches three times this month. I also filed taxes for my parents, 2 sisters and our taxes. I purchased an HRblock software this time that is downloadable and can e-file 5 returns for free. I used to do it by hand since I’m the only one who is not qualify for free e-filing, but this time, my sister didn’t qualify either. My brother who is self employed is also chipping in, so it is cheaper for the 3 of us to purchase the bundle and it only took me half a day to file 4 tax returns (1) parents (2) sisters (3) us, and I’m still waiting for my brother’s information. You’re welcome, family!

I started the year right, but I realized that it is pretty easy to throw away the habit that you formed throughout the years. For example, I’ve been taking my lunches to work ever since I started working. If I don’t, it’s because I innocently forgot my lunch at home. This time around, I was aware that I didn’t prepare it and justify the lunch purchase as a one time cost. That one time cost became 3 times in one month. That’s 300 percent more than I used to do.

I’m glad that it didn’t creep in and I’m out of the rut. Perhaps, I will experience the same feeling again, but for now, I’m celebrating this new found energy.

CategoryJanuary 2017February 2017Comments
Mortgage & Rent18001800Same month over month
Student Loan200200
Shopping15.39297.98My sewing machine, mostly
Groceries299.691.99January was a Costco run
CPA License Renewal230
Water, Sewer, Garbage204.59
Doctor171.85
Internet66.0666.01
Restaurants115.43Mostly for my grandma's birthday
Clothing82.09I bought 2 jeans
Mobile Phone33.8833.88
Tax Software49.6
Gas & Fuel39.28
Veterinary29.5
Car2Go / Lyft13.43
Coffee Shops8.74
Gift7.13My friend's son birthday party gift
Parking5.51.5
Christmas Cards6.57This was on sale on Ikea
Snacks1.99Chocolate cravings
Grand Total2646.033136.05

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

2016 Spending Recap

I started tracking my monthly expenses on this blog, but stopped after September. As I mentioned here, there were days where I lose sight of the goal. This is why it is surprising to me that I actually spent less than the previous year. This included my wedding expenses that I paid for.

In 2016, I spent a total of $44,162.13. Housing is 48% of my spending followed by wedding expenses. Without these, my spending is about $15K.

My spending decrease by $3k from $47K to $44k. I didn’t start tracking my monthly spending since the beginning of 2016 and stopped in October of 2016. Even with this mishaps, I still managed to decrease my spending. This is a great example that forming a habit of frugality works.

I doubt that this spending will decrease this year. There are big changes coming up in 2017 that warrant another post. I am very happy and quite surprise when I saw this. I feel that I reached the optimum. This year, I would like to focus on more on increasing my income. A few things to keep in mind about my spending:

  • The spending doesn’t include taxes and health insurance that are taken from my paycheck.
  • The housing is 50% of our monthly mortgage. My husband and I split this evenly. This financial agreement warrants another post for more explanation.
  • Housing expense includes home insurance and property taxes that are paid through escrow. Property tax increased from 2015 – 2016 and again in 2017. I manage to appeal my 2015 given that we just bought the property. I find the 2017 appraisal reasonable and didn’t appeal it. If you own a home and believe that the appraisal was higher than it should be, you should always try to appeal it. I will write a post more on this.
  • The wedding expenses are what I paid for. We spent about $18K in total on this. I will elaborate more on this on another post.
  • The gifts are for my family and friends. This do not include any donation I made through another fund.
Category20152016Comments
Home$26,398.05$21,383.14First year of living in our house. I was on a 15 year loan from my previous condo. I sold the condo after buying a house on a 30 year loan at a lower rate. This is where I choose to spend my money
Wedding Expenses$1,957.39$6,952.46Wedding expenses that I paid for my part.
Food & Dining$3,487.38$2,599.96Having a nice kitchen have it perks and I started cooking more
Education$2,518.25$2,499.00
Bills & Utilities$2,659.78$2,244.01
Gifts & Donations$4,315.77$1,955.49The gift was unusual in 2015. My parents helped me prep the condo for sale and it's my way of saying thank you. 2016 is more normal
Travel$1,658.77$1,662.342015 trip was a trip to India. 2016 trip was a trip to Portugal and Asia
Auto & Transport$1,681.62$1,562.53This includes gas, registration, parking and occasional cab rides through lyft
Shopping$407.10$1,448.74I bought a new laptop in 2016
Pets$1,975.49$1,109.15Remember the vet emergency visit
Business Services$0.00$354.27CPE fees for my CPA
Entertainment$78.42$174.27
Health & Fitness$141.48$158.48Doctor's visit
Personal Care$0.00$55.25Haircut
Fees & Charges$30.65$3.04Fees from investments
Total$47,310.15$44,162.13

 

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.