When you tweak your budget to perfection, sometimes your bad behavior just goes underground

Ah, just when you thought the entire reflection was about to be a KGT Victory Lap…think again!

No, when it comes to the things I actually had control over (read: my spending), the grade was decidedly less glowing. We spent a total of $157,190 in 2023. I know! I already know what you’re thinking. What?! $150 big ones? But hear me out. Your honor, in my defense, I was having a good time.

And by having a good time, I mean…

  • Moving our entire life 1,000 miles west to California. 

  • Paying for multiple surgeries and procedures for a dog with bone cancer.

  • Going to see Taylor Swift…and the Taylor Swift movie…and then seeing the movie again…(I better have my own slide on her financial annual review.) 

  • Oh, yeah, and buying a Porsche Macan—understandably, the biggest item. 

We also traveled to…

  • Vail, Colorado

  • Dallas, Texas

  • London, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California

  • New York City (five times for work, though the Brew paid for this—I’m still including for travel street cred)

…and, I’m sure, approximately six other places I can’t remember right now. Point is, we were living, baby!

Despite all the above hoopla, the majority of our spending plans actually went…well, according to plan. As in, we intended to spend that much (okay, not quite that much, but it wasn’t an order of magnitude above our goal). 

It’s funny—as the year progressed and I lived the spending, Travel was the category that I expected would be heinously over-budget. But it was only 8% over. Not bad.

On another note, I’ve mentioned it no less than six times this year, but we were really focused on wrangling our food spending in 2023. And we did! I learned to cook, and our food budget and health are happier for it. We ended up 7% under our planned spend for that category.

Where things really went off the rails was the lawless wasteland of the Miscellaneous budget, which encapsulates our respective “Guilt-Free” categories and Gifts. Turns out, we both need to feel a little more guilt. 

*Insert drop of Thomas going, “Wait, why are we spending so much money?” here.*

This category represented 16% of our total spent for the year—we spent more than double (closer to three times) what we had intended (see also: Taylor Swift, moving cross-country, buying a car, etc.). 

This, of course, presents a pickle for me, because unlike a food or gas budget gone awry, “Guilt-Free Spending” requires a little bit of deeper digging. It’s a category that, when you really get down to it, can only be shrunk by having a little more self-control. To quote that twenty-something in a TikTok I shared recently… “I need to (re)learn how to tell myself ‘no.’”

Takeaway: The best types of budget breakthroughs are the kind that leave you staring at yourself in the mirror, going, “It’s time to find some cheaper hobbies.” 

*Crosses “Porsche collector” off list….for now.*


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