December expense totals and 2014 review

december totals

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope you all had a wonderful time bringing in the new year.  We spent our new year dodging fireworks that the citizens and visitors of Budapest set off right in the middle of the street.  Exciting yes.  Dangerous, also yes.

Anyway, with not only December coming to an end, but 2014 as well, I decided to include not only the December totals in this post, but a comparative chart of all 2014 expenses.  This chart includes some interesting extra information like monthly averages.

In December we saw 6 countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, and Hungary.

December expense totals:

December Total$3,126.57
Tourist Attraction Total$0
Food & Beverage Total$927.72
Land Transit Total$438.25
Air Transit Total$166.95
Accommodation total$1,591.2135,000 IHG points
115,000 Club Carlson points
Credit Card we focused on for the majority of our spending:Hilton Reserve Card, because we need to reach the spend requirement.
Credit Cards applied for this month:None


Comparative Chart of All 2014 Monthly Stats:

Jan. '14$743.52$488.17$0$0Average Monthly Total: $2,006
Feb. '14$3,071.89$924.67$527.14$493.04Average Daily Total: $65.96
March '14$2,186.40$363.33$147.88$1,059.75Average Monthly Food Budget: $589.98
April '14$1,785$407.26$675.79$377.92Average Monthly Airfare: $280.73
May '14$2,859 $374.20$972.17$1,156.68Average Monthly Hotel Costs: $589.82
June '14$1,130.49$118.80$357.21$272.59
July '14$1,633.03$837.58$0$126
Aug. '14$934.46$600.27$0$150
Sept. '14$2,303.65$835.79$11.20$642.77
Oct. '14$1,206.43$538.96$27.20$374.39
Nov. '14$2,431.54$662.95$483.18$833.50
Dec. '14$3,126.57$927.72$166.95$1,591.21
Random annual charges (such as credit card annual fees and accidental boingo charges):$622.40

Our total for 2014 was $24,074.38

So one thing this chart shows us is that if we are to attain our goal of just $20,000 in expenses for the 2015 year, we need to spend $4,074.38 less, or an average of $11.16 less per day.  When translated into a daily goal, this sounds totally do-able!  We could achieve this simply by tackling just one category and being more frugal in that category.  Food for example.  Or accommodations.  Either of those categories have room for more frugality.  If we aim to be more frugal in both categories, we should be able to minimize that $4,074.38.


More fun facts about 2014!

Cheapest month: January (staying with family)

Most expensive month: December (touring Europe AND making paid stays for Into the Nights promotion using IHG Winter Sale)

Number of hotel mistake fares used: 1

Number of airfare mistake fares used: 2 (both to Milan, Italy as a matter of fact…)

Number of IHG hotels visited: 46

Number of Club Carlson hotels visited: 14

Number of Hyatt hotels visited: 10

Number of SPG hotels visited: 4

Number of Hilton hotels visited: 3

Number of Marriott hotels visited: 2

Number of countries visited in 2014: 20 including ItalySwitzerlandHong KongIndonesiaMalaysiaSingaporeIndiaThailandPanamaColombiaCosta RicaGuatemalaMexicoAustriaSloveniaBelgiumNetherlandsCzech RepublicPoland and Hungary.



18 Comments on “December expense totals and 2014 review

  1. Great summary of your data Carrie. It’s interesting info.

    Would you be interested in writing a post about how you think your experience and data would translate into a family of say four (we’re five but that most likely involves two rooms in most places).

    For instance, food budget for dining out would cost more and all transportation costs would double. Would the suites you stayed in accommodate two kids?

    You’ve run into many traveling families… What strategies do they use and what things would you do if you had kids?

    • What a great post idea! If you haven’t yet heard of Points with a Crew, you should definitely check him out. Perhaps I could pick his brain for thoughts on such a post. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Having kids, I will say that when visiting expensive-to-stay-and-eat places (eg, Europe) I’d look into apartment rental. Often a third (or less) than the cost of hotel rooms and includes a kitchen so you can shop at local markets and cook many of your meals at home.

      • Drew and I were actually just talking today about how apartment or house-sitting type gigs might be a good option for us too, just to stay put in places longer than a few nights! Thanks for adding this thought.

      • For sure. That wins hands dow. Thanks for the recommendation LARRYINNYC.

        Though we have a ton of hotel points and I don’t want to use them inefficiently. We are close to departing for a year travel sabbatical and are using miles and points to supplement short and longer term rentals.

  2. Thanks for the reading recommendation. It’s new to me. Yikes… Six kids!

    Happy New Year! I wish you 2015 the best year yet.

  3. Thanks for the link Carrie. I’d be happy to do a guest post or collaboration.

    A few things off the top of my head is 1) it’s a mindset. That I think applies to whether you have kids or not. For example, instead of looking for ways to cut your costs, instead start from zero and try to justify your expenses. There are a lot of free things out there that are also quite fun.
    2) specifically for larger families, you’re obviously going to want to look for things that pay “by the family” or “by the car”. For instance we’re about to head to our local museum center. Tickets are like $15 / person. But you can buy a family pass for something like $119 that is good for an entire family for a whole year. Guess which one we did 🙂

    • Thanks for adding these helpful thoughts Points with a Crew! That is such an interesting thought- start from $0 and justify your expenses from there. I like that. Also I bet a post collaboration would be really helpful for my readers.

  4. I’d love to read a post collaboration between Carrie and PWAC!
    We have two kids and often do the thing where we book a room and say 2 adults, but then show up with 2 kids as well hoping that it will work. This leads to some anxiety, almost always unnecessary, but sometimes means we end up in a king sized bed with 4 people in it. do-able, since the kids are still sort of small, but not ideal. I like hotels, especially for shorter stays and am wondering what different families do. Obviously a family of 8 is going to be too big for just about any hotel room (except perhaps a hyatt place with a 2 queen + pullout couch as a standard room, if some of the kids are little).

    • Occasionally when we travel with friends we have done that sort of thing too. I’m sure PWAC has lots of cool tricks up his sleeve!

  5. Great breakdown, and I am jealous/impressed by all of the places you have visited:) We have 2 adults and 2 kids, and school/work schedules to contend with, but we are able to travel about 6-7 weeks out of the year, mostly because of miles/points too. It’s still a huge part of our budget and our financial priorities, but we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the use of miles/points.

    Colleen – we had thought about taking a travel sabbatical at one point years ago, but our jobs no longer allow that (educational only). Sounds like a great opportunity! We were going to get an RV and just travel the USA for the year. That’s still in our retirement plan:)

    We are still OK with sharing one hotel room, but I know that is going to change in the next few years as the kids get older. We like to stretch our points by doing a combination of luxury hotel stays and cheap stays/camping. We also try to get hotel status whenever we can because free breakfast and/or lounge access is a huge perk for a family. We also often get upgraded to larger rooms or will use suite upgrade certificates.

    • 6-7 weeks is quite good! Thanks for adding your insight on travel with children.

  6. You guys are so inspiring, and seem so organized. I have folders and all kinds of things to try to keep track of everything. How do you do it from the road? Also, i had a few other questions for you too…what do you carry with you? Are you toting suitcases and backpacks everywhere? And do you guys have any other sorts of “expenses” like cell phone, health insurance, travel insurance, medical bills, etc? If you’ve already talked about that just point me to the link please! Thanks! OH…also…what was your favorite place you visited in 2014?

    • Hi Carol, thanks for your comment! Glad you find us inspiring and amazed that we are coming across as organized! haha! Trying to be more organized anyway, so that’s good to hear!

      We try to stay organized with spreadsheets and apps and the like (digitally organized) but sometimes we mess up. As for what we pack with us, we stick to a strictly carry-on-only strategy which you can read about here.

      So far we have not had a cell phone bill because we use Skype, Magic Jack and other free/very cheap options for phone alternatives, though that will probably change here in the near future. (We’re trying to do the t-mobile thing which will be around $50 a month or so.) Other than that we don’t really have other bills aside form my school loans, but that is essentially an expense from years ago so we don’t count it as a current expense in our stats.

      As for my favorite destination in 2014? Amazingly enough…probably India even though it is a kick-in-the-face kind of place in terms of very challenging. So rewarding though. Then second to that would be Slovenia I think.

  7. I’d be really interested in a more comprehensive “Food” breakdown too. Some of your monthly budgets show really low amounts (say $300-$500) for food for two people who probably aren’t cooking due to living in hotels, in comparatively expensive places. How do you guys do it? Are you able to eat on rewards? Is anyone else here interested in hearing more about this?

    • I do find quite a few people curious about this! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about it so some of the strategies may have changed, but the old post about it is here:

      To be honest, we probably eat less than some vacationers do but that’s largely because we’re not vacationing. We eat twice a day for the most part. Some of those meals are in restaurants but many of them are in diners, sandwhich shops, or grocery stores. In Europe we ate a lot of kebabs and sandwiches lol. And when we find a place that works- offers cheap but filling food – we make that our place and we become regulars for the time we’re there.

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