Every dollar I spent in 2020 | Yearly Spending | Teachers Talk Money

Hey reader,

There are 4 days left in 2020, a year marked by upheaval and transition. While I know that nothing’s magically changing on January 1st, I still love having an arbitrary moment where I feel like I can start fresh in some ways. That being said, reflecting on the past year is just as important.

Today I’m going to take you through every single dollar I spent in 2020. This is the first time I’ve done such a deep dive into the big picture of my finances– you guys are used to seeing monthly snapshots, which can feel a little out of context. So I tallied up everything and made a spreadsheet showing all of my spending in each category for 2020, trying to be as specific as possible. Here are the numbers:

Let’s dive in, category by category, and chat about my spending.

HOUSING – This is one of few stable categories, and the most costly expense. I spent $900 on rent each month for a total spending of $10,800 for the year. My lease is up in August, so this will remain steady into 2021 and possibly after, depending on whether or not we renegotiate or move.

INSURANCE – My car & renters insurance has been mostly steady, with one small drop of $4/month, for a total of $1,012. This does not include my long-term disability insurance through work, which I didn’t count as it’s automatically withdrawn from my paycheck.

MIDTERM SAVINGS – This includes all of my deposits for car replacement, travel, gifts, and grad school. You may be wondering why I added this category, since this is money I saved instead of spending. However, all of this money has been or will be spent on something in the near future. It totals $4,520

UTILITIES – These remained more steady than I expected, and never went over $50/month. The total I spent on utilities was $523.

GROCERIES – This category seemed to vary the most, and in recent months I’ve been spending much more. The $200 in December is an estimate. My total spending on groceries is $2,399, making it the third largest category after rent and midterm savings. It’s also one dollar under what I had budgeted for the year.

EATING OUT – I’m proud, and slightly surprised, that I’ve only gone over budget in this category one month this year. I budgeted $2,400, but my total spending on dining was $1,983.

OTHER – This is, of course, a very broad category, and has therefore varied quite a lot all year. The total amount I spent on miscellaneous things was $1,745.

GAS – What a year it’s been for my gas expenses! I usually budget about $110/month on gas, meaning that any other year, I’d probably spend about $1,320 for the year. Because of quar, I spent a total of $310, saving $1,000.

PHONE – This is the same every month at $45, and so I spent $540 on my phone service for the year.

SUBSCRIPTIONS – This has also varied quite a bit. I spent a lot on my Amazon Prime membership in the beginning of the year, and got Audible for a few months. Since then, I’ve made a commitment to avoid Amazon, not use Audible, and not renew my Prime membership once it ends in January. This year I spent $289 on subscriptions, which should decrease to $120 next year, unless I add any new subscriptions.

HATTIE – Early on, I used money from my other category to cover monthly costs for Hattie until I got a clear estimate of how much her needs cost monthly. At $70/month, I spent $424 dollars on Hattie’s regular needs. Anything irregular (like vet appointments) came out of the savings we made for her.


All months included, I spent about $24,545 for the entire year of 2020. That’s a huge number to look at, but I don’t think I have any major regrets or things I want to shift around. My rent is highly expensive compared to all of my other expenses, but it’s also one of the most important things in my budget. Also, while I may have spent almost $25,000 this year, my net worth is still estimated to grow by over $20,000 for 2020 (check in next week to see if I meet that goal). This means that, while I’m a little in the red for this year, I’m on track to have more money saved and invested next year than what I spend, and that feels amazing. If you’re ready to track your own spending to able to see where you stand each year, get my free budget template.

🙂 Rachel

P.S. Don’t forget that I made a resource for working on your money mindset as you walk through this journey.

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