When I write or talk about our expenses post retirement, many people want to know how I decide which expenses go into which category. Remember, I keep a record of all our expenses and categorize them. I bundle them into monthly and annual expenses. What some people have noticed is the absence of certain categories like spending on eating out or for buying clothes or shoes etc. So I thought I’d do a quick post on where those missing expenses go so there is no confusion. First lets check the categories I have for monthly expenses –

  • Food / Consumables
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Medical expenses
  • Homeowner Association
  • Kid expenses
  • Maid
  • Entertainment
  • Cell phone bills
  • Internet
  • Fitness
  • Petrol
  • Vehicle service
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Travel
  • Misc

The questions raised about missing categories were different from different people. Some asked where I record eating out expenses. Most of our eating out expenses fall under “Entertainment” expenses. Although I have to remind you that we very very rarely eat out. I, for one, don’t like eating out for many reasons. First, because outside food is so unhealthy. Second, I don’t like crowd, and even in an empty restaurant I don’t feel right having some one serve me, the introvert thing etc etc. You get it right? The only time I enjoy a meal out is when I am with friends and the conversation with them drowns everything else. And I don’t mind eating unhealthy in those meet ups. But if you ever ask me to go eat out with family, I’d be like what kind of pleasure does it give you to undo a week’s worth of effort in healthy eating and exercise?

Of course, my better half is different in that she likes eating out. Not crazy about it, but would like to eat out once in a while. While she does not get as many chances, when ever there are friends over or something she gets to eat out. To be clear, I don’t restrict her from eating out. She prefers to avoid on her own terms, so don’t call me out on that :). The same applies to shopping, going to movies, parties etc. I don’t like any of that at all. My better half likes it mildly but not crazy about it. In that sense, I am very lucky. But that is not even the best part. My daughter also is very much like me, so even less pressure.

Next, the question some had was about shopping expenses like buying clothes, shoes, jewelry etc. Again very thankfully, none of us have any interest in dressing up. So there are almost zero expenses there for us adults. Kid’s story is a little different and I will get to it soon. Basically we stopped buying clothes since may be about 7-8 years now. The ones we have still work fine albeit some of them may have small holes and faded quite a bit. The good ones we wear when we have to meet friends or for special occasions etc. The rest work perfectly well as indoor wear and we are mostly indoors anyway. So no one (except for the neighbors I guess) should care how we look.

Well some people mistake us for workers or gardeners sometimes but thats about it. I’d like to relate a couple of stories in this regard. A couple of times when we sat outside on the sidewalk in front of our house, some car would approach and ask us in Kannada about directions to a house or if we saw a missing cat or something. The tone they use is quite obvious that they feel like they are talking to some workers. When we answer in English, things change pretty quickly of course. But there is absolutely no fault of theirs in misreading us based on our appearance :). Another time when I was helping a neighbor jump start his car with my jumper cables, another guy approaches us and tells me in that tone again that I should connect the wires like this and that assuming I am car repair mechanic. That was hilarious until my neighbor quickly responded by saying I was the owner of such and such house.

Anyway, that was a round about way of saying appearances do matter to others, but we feel completely at home looking like the common man. Meanwhile, our parents have a different opinion. They can’t bear to see us in our stupid appearance, so every birthday we get new clothes from them for free. While I don’t believe birthdays are any reason to celebrate, they seem to think otherwise. Think about it, we are growing a year older, a year closer to death, a year of youth lost. Why celebrate? Well, parents right, so for them we are always kids. Sorry for the diversion again. Back to the point, we thus have almost zero expenses in buying clothes.

Same with shoes or rather sandals or flip-flops. We buy when the strap breaks and a dab of super glue or thread and needle won’t do the job. Likewise with jewelry or any other things that change one’s appearance from the outside. All in all, these expenses are rare and so small that I did not feel the need to keep track of them in a separate category. Thus, all these expenses go into the “Misc” expenses in my budget.

Now coming to the kid, she likes buying clothes, when she goes shopping. But going out to shop is the initial hurdle, so that does not happen very frequently. When it does, you can assume she will get a bunch of clothes and shoes. Again, this happens with her grandparents pressure. Anything we buy is added into the “Kid expenses” category of the budget. All expenses related to her including toys, books, classes, clothes, shoes, cycles, etc go there.

Now, some may misread the information shared here thinking I am being a miser or being too careful with money. I want to clarify that it is absolutely not related to money at all. It has more to do with reducing our footprint and wasting resources that we don’t find fruitful. If I feel I can make myself look good with what I wear, then by all means I would gladly spend on clothes. If I enjoy watching a movie in a theater and enjoy eating outside, I would most certainly spend on that too. I wouldn’t mention the word wastage in those situations.

Take travel for instance. A common man should travel in train, but here we are using flights like no tomorrow. Likewise, one should be using a bus, instead of car. Well, to be fair, my better half uses bus when possible. While I feel I am setting a bad precedent for my kid, I do it anyway because of the convenience and saving time. Anyway, I will wrap up here. In summary, we don’t have categories for expenses that are too small and rare. Any such expenses just go in to “Misc”. So if you see some categories of expenses missing, it means we don’t spend much on it.