2018 Spending & Investments Review

The past year was quite busy for our little family, as briefly described in our last article celebrating 2 years of blogging on ModestMillionaires. Let’s get into the financial side of 2018 with a detailed review of our spending and investments for that year.

Overview of our spending

This year we also celebrated the first year in which my salary (Ms Mod) surpassed Mr. Mod’s salary :).

We spent $55,100 on our regular annual spending and also did a major renovation which cost $22,400.

I’ve separated spending related to the renovation from our annual expenses since this type of renovation is in fact a non-essential improvement of our home and does not consist of regular maintenance that would reoccur in the future.

Furthermore, this renovation increased the value of our home by more than what we spent to complete the renovation in a DIY fashion, however, as we have no plans to sell our house any time soon, we do not count the value of this asset in our investments.

Obviously, this important expense limited our capacity to invest this year, but it was a deliberate choice which we felt would increase our comfort on our journey towards financial independence that would also not negatively impact our goal to reach FI by 2025.  

Now without further ado, here is the overview of our spending for 2018.

As a quick reminder, our objective, as described in our 2025 plan, is to spend a yearly average of $45 000.

Category Yearly 2016 Yearly 2017 Yearly 2018 Monthly 2018
Recurring fixed expenses $10,728 $11,457 $11,228 $936
Electricity $2,673 $2,264 $2,294 $191
Home insurance $963 $1,105 $1,221 $102
Car insurance $463 $565 $636 $53
Phone/Internet/Netflix $1,997 $1,795 $1,656 $138
Municipal and school taxes $2,929 $3,138 $2,803 $234
Public Transport $1,016 $1,901 $1,921 $160
Car registration/licences $687 $689 $698 $58
Health $1,681 $2,498 $2,407 $201
Pharmacy $1,471 $1,565 $1,430 $119
Health/Fitness $210 $933 $977 $81
Food $18,492 $18,690 $20,772 $1,731
Grocery $11,770 $10,418 $11,810 $984
Restaurant/Fastfood $2,007 $2,730 $2,596 $216
Lunches $2,202 $1,195 $1,018 $85
Wine/Beer $2,512 $4,347 $5,348 $446
Entertainment $4,840 $9,822 $3,159 $263
Cinema $162 $129 $75 $6
Shopping (clothing/Books) $1,373 $1,384 $1,199 $100
Travel $671 $5,417 $95 $8
Sport $2,150 $2,835 $1,402 $117
Other entertainment $484 $57 $388 $32
Kids $4,356 $5,589 $6,033 $503
Baby supplies $1,417 $573 $14 $1
Kids activities/Toys/Clothing $1,052 $1,026 $1,756 $146
Daycare $1,887 $3,990 $4,263 $355
Variable expenses $9,367 $7,904 $11,520 $960
Gifts/Donations $1,842 $1,182 $2,230 $186
Gas $636 $360 $496 $41
Home Improvement $1,703 $1,072 $1,159 $97
Home supplies/services $1,779 $1,578 $5,861 $488
Car repair/Parking $1,701 $1,534 $571 $48
Financial costs $223 $177 $182 $15
Pet food $544 $395 $722 $60
Pet health $92 $816 $134 $11
Other $846 $788 $165 $14
TOTAL $49,463 $55,959 $55,119 $4,593

10,000$ over our predicted budget!

Between managing the busy life with two young children, a big renovation project and health problems for two of our parents, we had a little less attention to focus on our expenses, however we maintained a level similar to last year’s spending.

In our 2017 spending review post, we detailed why our spending was close to $11,000 over our $45,000 budget. This year we are in a similar position, however I am very pleased with the efforts we have made to get out spending back on track at the end of 2018 thanks to our mission to reduce our grocery spending.

Here are some events that marked 2018 in terms of higher expenses:

  • About $5,000 was allocated to the purchase of a new bed for Mr. Mod and I, as well as a single bed for baby #2 who is now 3 years old and finally for the purchase of lightly used couches (purchased on kijiji) to replace our old couch.
  • We also had a lot of help with our renovation projects so we thanked and fed our friends/family with pizza, beer, wine, etc., which contributed to maintaining our high spending on restaurant, wine and beer.  

In conclusion, some of these expenses will not be recurrent, at least not before several years from now such as when our new to us couches also need to be replaced.

Objectives to reduce our spending for 2019:

For 2019, based on the last two years as well as the current trajectory of our spending for January and February 2019, I’m comfortable with a target level of annual spending of $48,000. An additional expense of about $8,000 related to the major renovation project from last year will also need to be added on top of this.

Here is where we are focusing our efforts this year:

Grocery/lunches/fast-food/restaurants :

  • Continue tracking our grocery expenses based on our mission to reduce our grocery spending. Our goal is to spend $150 per week in groceries and less than $215 per month for lunches/ fast-food/ restaurant.
  • We are being proactive with our budget for restaurant/ fast-food expenses and have set an alarm in Mint to alert us when we are approaching our maximum budget per month.

Less expenses in wine/beer :

  • We are continuing to ban alcohol during weekdays (except really special occasions).
  • We will put in extra effort to maintain this habit during the summer as it proved to be more challenging for us to resist a cold beer or delicious cocktail during a beautiful summer evening. Let’s mention that the renovations also contributed to increase our spending in that area since every accomplished step was celebrated with a nice beer (or more) shared among friends.


  • I tend to spend a lot when celebrating holidays or special events with our kids (Christmas, Easter, their birthdays, etc.) therefore this year I am choosing to track all the purchases I make for these occasions. This tracking technique has been helpful with regards to our grocery spending so I’m adopting it for this category of expenses as well to be more conscious of our spending in that area.

Value of Investments in January 2019 and end of March 2019:

According to our 2025 plan, in January 2019 we should have a total investment of 49% of our target FI# (does not include the value and asset we own of our home), however, that amount accounted for our plan to only pay off our mortgage in 2021 or later but, in February 2017, we decided to take out a portion of our investment to pay off our entire mortgage.  

Here is a brief history of the value or our investment and where we stand in comparison to our 2025 plan:

Month/Year Objective 2025 Plan in % of our FI# Actual Total Value of Investment in % of our FI# Note
January 2015 19% 21%
January 2016 24% 23%
January 2017 36% 34% We decide to pay off our mortgage at that moment
July 2017 39% 28% With a house fully paid as well 🙂
January 2018 42% 36%
January 2019 49% 39%

In January 2019, the markets were quite down. Indeed, back in August 2018, our total investment value exceeded 40% of our FI#. This milestone is very encouraging to us and although the market declines don’t stress us much, since we are investing for the long run, we are still very happy to see that our investments are now (end of March 2019) back at a total of more than $ 44% of our FI #.

Looking forward to seeing how the rest of 2019 shapes up for our spending and investments!

How’s your spending looking now that 3 months have already passed by for 2019? Are things looking good in terms of your target budget for this year?

6 thoughts on “2018 Spending & Investments Review

  1. Woohoo! You’re doing great! If you like we can be accountability partners to lower alcohol spending. My budget is doing ok, but I’m a little over in basically all the categories I can control lol. I need to reign it in!

    1. Yes please! We’ve been pretty good with the weeknight ban this month, but I am sure I will need accountability especially over the warmer months. You’ve been quite a good mentor on the grocery front so I will absolutely take you up on this offer hehe. Looking forward to reading your quarterly update! You got this :).

  2. we spent your booze allotment AND your daycare allotment on wine. what can i say? we like good wine and we’re near the end of this accumulation phase. we paid off our house about 4-5 years ago and it was life changing. do all the math you want about putting it into the markets instead but it wouldn’t feel the same.

    1. Hmmmm good wine :P! I have a great bottle waiting for tomorrow evening lol. Maybe that’s why the weeknight alcohol ban is not doing that much of a difference for our budget since I tend to buy a more expensive wine now that we only drink it on weekends? Congrats on the house, I can only imagine that it still feels wonderful 4-5 year later. I personally have kept the “mortgage payment” and “additional mortgage payment” line items in my budget even though we’ve paid it off over 2 years ago just because I love to put nice big zeroes in there every month lol!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Cheers ;)!

  3. Great job paying off the mortgage! I’m jealous. I plan on completely paying off mine next year.

    1. Thanks 😊! I’m not going to lie… It is pretty awesome and keeps filling me with joy anytime I think about it!
      Glad you’ll be able to get that feeling soon enough as next year is closer than you think! Congrats on being almost there!

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