December spending: record high spending

Since there is really just one update for the entire month of December we’ll try something different with the summary.  Instead of itemizing separate trips to the grocer, we’ll total our grocery spending and then describe what that bought us.

We spent $243.39 on groceries in December over the course of 16 trips to the store, 15 of which were to Wegmans.  That sum bought us the following:

Cream cheese (2), half & half (pint), gallon milk (4), organic milk (1), butter (3), cottage cheese (2 lbs), sharp cheddar (4 lbs), heavy cream (pint), Eggs (2 doz), powdered sugar, ginger snaps, lemon snaps, Brown sugar (2), Italian bread (4 loaves), Corn meal,  Baked beans (3), Fels Naptha Soap, Chili powder, Organic carrots (2 lbs), bananas (14 lbs), papaya spears, wheat bran, Whole wheat bread (2 loaves), Toilet paper (32 rolls), Paper towels (16 rolls), Raisins (1.5 lbs), Aluminum foil, Shampoo,  Raspberry jam, almond extract, thin mints (6 packages), cranberry sauce (2 cans), walnuts (1.5 lbs), broccoli crowns (3 lbs), cucumbers (3 lbs), green leaf lettuce (1 head), tomatoes, green peppers, red plastic plates, frozen peas (2 lbs), frozen spinach, frozen corn, instant pudding (4) flour, evaporated milk, yellow cake mix, tomato sauce (3), boneless chicken breast (6), clementines, sweet potatoes (4 lbs), apple cider gallon, cream of mushroom soup, french fried onions, English muffins, frozen beans, peppermint bark (2), navel oranges (8 lbs), lime, Scandanavian soda (4 bottles), goat cheese, gouda with bacon, olives, baguette.

So much for the groceries.

There's a new sheriff in town

A U.S. Capital Police officer deputizes Josiah to keep our family spending in check.

For the rest of the month, we tried to limit our non-Christmas gift spending because of the huge expenses we were incurring from the home we are about to buy near the condo we are renting.  The expenses are many and substantial. First, we had to make an deposit of $2,500 (1% of the purchase price.  Then we paid $425 for home and radon inspections (which will ultimately net us $3,500 in cash as closing).

Finally, we had to pay $850 for two appraisals and the flood and credit checks.   Why two appraisals?  In order to get approved for the loan, our house in Virginia had to appraise at a certain value, hence the second appraisal.  It’s a long story.  If you want to know the whole thing, call Barney Frank.  If all goes well we should own the house in a couple of weeks, and incur all the closing expenses that go along with such a deal.  That will make for a spendy post.

So we tried to keep spending in check in December.


However, we did spend $346.63 on gifts.  If you add in pre-December shopping I estimate we spent between $400 and $500 on Christmas gifts this year.  That is about half of the $850 that experts say the average American family spent on Christmas in 2012.   This could mean one of two things: either I’m twice the Scrooge of the average schlub or our shopping skills are double those of the average American.  I’m afraid it’s a cocktail of the two.


With a Christmas trip to NJ and back we spent much of our fuel budget on road-tripping last month.  I filled the scotter once for $3.81 and we stopped for gas in the car five times for a grand total of $136.72 in gas for the trusty Corolla.


At the US Botanical Garden Christmas/train exhibit.  Josiah was in awe.  If you have small children, you should take them next December.

At the US Botanical Garden Christmas/train exhibit. Josiah was in awe. If you have small children, you should take them next December.

Dining out was mostly a matter of Andy Nelson’s.  We made two stops, one on December 1 for $24.98 and another on December 7 that cost $70.16 (that was for feeding a crowd of nine).  I also spent $10 at Denny’s for a church men ‘s breakfast. Plus, we stopped at Chick-fil-a for breakfast on the way to NJ on the 22nd: $4.29 (cheap because we had coupons) and Alyssa took a mental health break there for lunch on that 18th and turned Josiah loose on the indoor playground: $3.81 (another coupon).  On the 16th we spent $14.73 at Pat’s Pizza for dinner with some folks from church.  Finally, Alyssa and her mom ate lunch at Ikea with the kids after a shopping trip, since kids ate free that day.  A meal for two adults and the kids was only $12.69 (including two jars of baby food for Eliza that she can’t eat yet).

At Ikea, Alyssa spent $6.50 on non-gift purchases, which may or may not have included at bag of Swedish fish.   We also bought a couple of pair of pants for me at Old Navy last month for $29.09.  I confess to a dreadful weakness for the insulated jeans and khakis they sell.


Grandma holds Eliza in early December.

Grandma holds Eliza in early December.

In the automotive and travel category, we spent $100 to rent a car during a visit from my parents so that we could all go places together.  Perhaps driving a Corolla does have some major drawbacks, especially once you have two kids and don’t live in a major metro area with useable mass transit.  We also paid EZPass $35 to top up our transponder, thanks to the tolls we’ve tallied up over the past 3-4 months.

This last auto expense hurts: $383.06 for brake work on the Corolla (not so trusty after all, are you, Corolla?).  It mostly amounted to replacing the master cylinder.  I’m still walking that one off, but since we are strictly forbidden from doing any sort of automotive maintenance at the condo where we live, doing it myself was not an option (plus, who wants to work on a car outdoors in December?).

Grandpa hold Eliza in early December.

Grandpa hold Eliza.


Our electric bill last month was rather shocking: $163.59.  That must be the result of the condo’s 25-year-old super inefficient all-electric heat and hot water.  Guess we’ll be turning down the thermostat and cutting Josiah back to one hot bath a week.

There’s a few more odds and ends (a package mailed for $10.85, a couple of Redbox rentals for $2.54), but we’ll save it for the monthly summary below.

Here are the monthly totals.  Bold means we spent more than last month:

December 2012
Medical: $-190.12 (thanks to a $259.15 refund from the birth center)
Groceries: $243.39
Dining out: $149.15 (missed a few Wegmans pizzas above)
Gas: $140.50
Entertainment: $2.54
Household: $3,815.19 (I lumped $3,775 in homebuying expenses in here)
Babysitter: $0
Gifts: $346.63
Postage: $10.85
Rent: $1,200.00
Cell phone: $70.00
Fines: $0
Travel: $100
Utilities: $163.18
Auto: $612.06 (forgot to mention $229 for taxes, title, tags and insurance for the scooter)
Internet: $34.99
Clothes: $29.09
Kids: $7.00
Health Insurance: $514
Student Loan: $77.97
Total: $7,337.86

A new record! Christmas gifts, home buying expenses and car repairs all conspired to drive us up to record high spending (at least since we started disclosing this stuff).  I’m not too down about it though because I know January will be worse.


2 thoughts on “December spending: record high spending

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