M does this strange thing some of you may be familiar with–he saves his receipts. I save mine now, too, having married a saver, but I just drop them on his desk. Sometimes they're still legible.
He, on the other hand, actually does something with them. I think it's called reverse budgeting but I'm not really sure I didn't make that up.
About February or March of every year, he starts organizing the previous year's receipts into months and then he makes a spreadsheet detailing expenditures, and files said sheets in plastic protectors.
I kid you not.
This comes in very handy, especially when I'm doing taxes, but I can also authoritatively tell you that in 1993 we spent $17.30 on chewing gum and $92.70 on chocolate. For some reason chocolate had its own category that year.
Some other interesting tidbits I gleaned today:
- In 2008 we spent almost $1000 dollars on milk. This is up 300% from the previous year. It is also equal to expenditures for clothing, gasoline and electricity. One begins to suspect the USDA requirements that I serve a full 8 oz of milk to every child at the start of every meal (whether or not the child ever, ever has taken a sip in his entire life) might be linked to some sort of government/dairy lobbying group conspiracy.
- In every year except one, expenditures on junk food–defined since 1994 as any food item not strictly necessary–held steady through fat years and lean at about $400 dollars per anum. Except 1999 when it inexplicably rose to $716. I can only surmise that the son born that year was so colicky and so clingy that snacking was our primary strategy to avoiding the nuthouse.
- It really is cheaper to go digital. My leap to a DSLR at the beginning of 2007 has already paid for itself in savings on film and developing.
- No matter how much we made–and over fifteen years it has varied widely–we spent all of it. Like my children's feet in shoes–no matter how much I plan, they are always needing something just a liiiiiiitle bit bigger.
- In the grand scheme of things, we don't spend very much on shoes. I think the year 2007 holds the record at about $120 for the family and that was because son #2 had to have these bizarre marshmallow looking things and quite honestly they–fifty dollars or not–were the only ones in the store that fit him.