I am a cost conscious person. I dislike unnecessary expenditure and review my spending behavior on an adhoc basis.
That being said, I have never tracked my spending using tools or analyzed it in a structured manner. Instead, my “tracking” has been based on my monthly savings ratio, which indirectly defines spending. I have not really had any reason to look further into my spending because my savings ratio has been stable. Nevertheless, I have been planning for some time to look into my monthly costs to understand what I actually spend money on and see if I should tweak it improve my savings ratio.
Mrs. Money introduced me to an app, Money Lover. I didn’t compare it to any other apps since my requirements were quite basic to do this evaluation – I just needed to be able to log my expenditure and segregate the items over the period. My first expense was a F&B item on the 20th of October. The period would ideally only cover my spending in Malaysia but I happened to be in Europe from the 24th to the 30th of October. Initially, I wanted to do two posts covering a two-month period with one including the trip and the other only Malaysian costs. But I realized that unexpected costs do always come up, and the Europe trip could attribute to an unexpected cost in a “normal” month.
Therefore, the period I will share is the expenditure from the 20th of October until the 20th of November.
My total expenditure was RM4,416.82. (This does not include the flight ticket since it was booked the month before).
My spending pattern doesn’t really come as a surprise. There is one item that contributes to 69% to my total expenditure – food & beverage. I do not cook, eating all my meals out. This has been the case for most of the past 13 years. I would say that convenience has been a big factor, plus that eating out is very affordable in Malaysia. My total F&B spending ended up at RM3,013.23, which I felt was quite low considering that it includes my dining in Europe.
The remaining are items I can’t really avoid. Bills and utilities expenses relates to my housing arrangements, as well as electricity and water bills. Since my office is within walking distance from my home and I do not drive, transportation is usually a very small expense. The transportation expense this month is mostly related to the trip.
My take away from this exercise is that I do in fact live a very cost efficient lifestyle. However, I would like to balance my F&B expenses so that it moves from 100% dining out, to around 60%. There is a strong negative health aspect to consider when eating out frequently, which is something Mrs Money mentions to me often. It also just doesn’t feel right to indulge with dining out every day. I am planning to try out a 60% dining out ratio for a month in 2020 (possibly January) to evaluate the cost benefits of this.
How does your spending habits look? Do you keep track of your monthly expenditures? What have you noticed?