In 2019 I started my beginnings of budget tracking at the end of the year. I was getting into the CC game and was curious, how much did I actually spend? Well, fast forward to 2023 and I have graduated college and am living on my own. Not only has my life matured, but so had my obsessiveness with tracking my spending. In this post, I am going to share all of my spending for 2022 with breakdowns for each spending category and cash back totals across all of my spend
Disclaimer: I find being transparent about finances to be valuable so these are my actual metrics. I am not doing this to brag in any way. I just hope that my insights can somehow help other and help myself be smarter about my money
2022 Spending Recap Spreadsheet
If you can read spreadsheets easily, you can just view the above tracker and call it a day. If you want to hear me break down each line item, keep on reading! I am going to break down each of the categories, explain them a bit and add any notes as I see fit. I will also have takeaways and how I created the spreadsheet at the end
2021 Spending Recap Spreadsheet
For comparison, here is my 2021 spending recap. Note I did not track my repayments in this so that number is inflated.
Total: $11,419.88, 14.48% of total spend
Dining includes things like restaurants, fast food, bars and other specialty food restaurants. These purchases are put on my BofA Customized Cash card which is set to Dining for 4.5%. The purchase actually first goes through my Curve card which is still earning an extra 1% back on all purchases (read more here). This is true for most of my cards but as I track that separately I won't keep calling it out. So for the majority of my dining purchases, they go on this card.
My Cardless card earns 4% on Dining so that got some use and my HMB card used to earn 3% on the top category. And when they required CC spend to get 3% APY, I used that (read more about HMB here).
Recently I have been using my Oxygen card for Dining purchases. I have the Fire element card which earns 6% back on some categories, but all of their elements get $1 off any “fast food” purchase, minimum of $1 spend. If the charge is <~$15 I will put it on this card to get increased cash back on it.
Additionally, I used Albert heavily before they moved their cash back offers to behind a paywall. They had occasional 10%-20% cash back offers, up to $5 each.
Total: $6,444.68, 8.17% of total spend
This includes things like sporting events, concert tickets, movie tickets etc. Most of this went on either my BofA Customized Cash set to online shopping for 4.5%, or a rotating category card if that month was for entertainment/tickets. The Citi purchase for Entertainment was fully reimbursed to me and is accounted for in the Net Venmo Transactions (NVTs).
Total: $2,253.31, 2.86% of total
Unsurprisingly most of this spend went on my grandfathered 5% Ducks Unlimited card. Some spend went to Albert because of their occasional 10% off Shell up to $5 off.
Total: $2,194.71, 2.78% of total
This is one of the few categories I do not have a specific card dedicated towards. My BofA cards earn 3% here but I mainly use my 5% rotating cards when they offer it. Again, Albert had 20% off WholeFoods up to $5 which I used often. This is also so low because of all of my mealkits. I have been eating mealkits for every single one of my dinners since around April? And have gotten usually <$5/meal out of it, usually better thanks to intro offers, returning offers, new emails and cash back portals.
Total: $1,025.48, 1.30% of total
These are mainly CVS or doctors visits. I plan on making a post at some point about CVS Care Pass but if you shop there at least once a month, it is a huge savings opportunity
Total: $27,436.72, 34.70% of total
This is by far my largest and most eye opening category. This is also unsurprisingly my most broad category. This includes things like furniture, clothing, electronics, Costco, some subscription services etc. Unfortunately with many of the PDF year end summaries (particularly BofA), this category is just super broad. This is my largest gripe with my tracker as this is not particularly accurate and helpful for tracking. I may look into makin this better for next year but I think it would be a lot of manual effort which I do not want to do.
A lot of this was spent furnishing my new apartment which was not cheap. Although I was able to hit my Venture X SUB because of it so not all that bad. Also of note, Point often did big boosts for Costco purchases which I put on the card.
Total: $2,101.47, 6.47% of total
These are purchases that did not fall under any other category. This includes things like bank account funding (included to track cash back but removed via NVT*), rent payments and some other odd stuff
*Quick side note, I got lazy and didn't want to make a new entry in the totals to negate the bank funds so I just put it in NVT. I did not get it via Venmo but it was not real spend so I just put it in there
Total: $5,101.70, 6.47% of total
This includes tax payments, another large bank funding (again subtracted in NVTs*) etc. I accidentally did not pay state income tax for 2021 so my tax bill was thick
Total: $9,193.22, 11.66% of total
This year I went to New Orleans and Milwaukee on vacation and flew to my parents place a few times. Most of it was purchased on my Venture X and a lot of it was negated from NVTs since I was paid back for our hotel, which earned 10% cash back. I also used Juno to buy a few Airbnbs to get 10% cash back and was reimbursed for much of it. Some travel was also on my AFCU and Oxygen cards as they earn 5% and 6% respectively for round transportation aka public transit. My Cardless card earns 7% on rideshare which is nice too
Total: $1,574.50, 2.00% of total
The apartment I live in is in an old mill building with atrocious insulation and a very frequently and high changing energy cost per KW, sometimes costing $0.33 per KW. Needless to say I keep my heat at 60 and AC at 76 :) I also cook almost all of my meals on my electric range
Total: $128.75, 0.16% of total
My brother purchased a course and paid me back, nothing to see here
Total: $3,076.91, 3.90% of total
I am driving a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk with >120k miles on it. This year the battery and starter needed to be replaced (and needed a tow) and the rear diff was replaced. Gonna have to keep an eye on these costs as the car continues to age
Total: $1,248.45, 1.58% of total
This is a carve out from entertainment as these are solely gym memberships. I am an avid rock climber and have a membership to both a climbing gym and a normal gym. It is not a cheap hobby (which I fund with churning I guess)
Total: $5,100.13, 6.47% of total
Again not an ideal category, but some of the manual calculation was too much so I just did the totals for them. Like for my AFCU card, I always hit my max of $200 spend for 5% back per month and I didn't bother getting the categorical breakdown for it
Wow is living alone expensive. My main takeaways here are to spend less money on merchandise and that the hoops I go through to earn cash back are worth it! I earned almost $5.5k in cash back throughout the year with only one SUB and a blended cash back rate of 5.36% or 6.89% with my SUB!
My spending went up ~38% which makes sense considering I started living in my own apartment and had to completely furnish it
It is interesting to see which cards I use the most, which no surprise are the cards I earn the most cash back for. Ranked by total spend on the card, the top 5 are
- Venture X (to hit SUB of $10k)
- BofA Online
- BofA Dining
- HMB (before they changed to 1.5% on everything, catch all card with Curve 1%)
- BofA Premium (my catch all card and taxes)
In 2021 it was
- BofA Premium (SUB)
- BofA Online
- BofA Dining
- Discover (SUB)
I am curious as to how this will compare to next year
What exactly is that bottom line? That is Total Spend with Rent – Total Cash Back – Sign up Bonuses – Rent Cash Back – Net Venmo Transactions – Shopping Portal Cash Back. This gives us our Non-Manufactured Spend (NonMST) total, which is how much I actually spent out of pocket for 2022: $81,811.95
The blended cash back is my total cash back divided by total spend which is 5.36%. Blended Cash Back + Sign up Bonuses gives me my total cash back with SUBs which is 6.89%.
This is my third edition of the tracker. The first one was much more rudimentary. The second one was very similar to this years but had estimates for CC rewards tracking. For 2022 I went through each card and calculated the cash back I earned for each of the categories.
Getting Spend Totals
To populate the tracker, some of it is done by hand but most of it is pulled from the CC companies. In my experience, banks handle end of year spend summaries in three different ways
Downloadable Transactions Spreadsheet: Banks like Chase, Citi and Elan allow you to download csv's of your transactions for the entire year. These are the easiest and most manipulatable as they are already in a spreadsheet and contain merchant categories on each entry. This way I can do some sheets magic to group by matching category and add up my spend for that category
PDF Year End Summary: Banks like Bank of America, Capital One, FNBO and Discover issue a Year End Summary in the form of a PDF. This is the second best way for me to get this data. I can't just copy-paste it into my spreadsheet but I can copy over how they divided up my spend into categories and try to match it to the other banks categories
Manual Aggregation: Smaller banks like Albert, Venmo (P2P not card), Oxygen, Cardless and Atlantic Federal Credit Union (AFCU) do not offer either of the above two options. This requires me to go through all of my statements for them and manually account for all of my spend, what category it was in and how much cash back I earned on them. This is mostly a labor of love
After completing all of the CC tracking, the total spend number was honestly surprising. I then went into thinking of how this number could artificially inflated. This is why I added my Net Venmo Transactions (NVTs). This is the total amount of money I received from friends and family repaying me for things I purchased for/with them on my cards. I have additional money I got via Zelle but I could not find an easy way to gather that data so I just left it
Rent cash back is from Enzo's $20/m on my rent payments. I also got into cashback portals, mainly MealKit purchase, which you can read a bit more about here
I hope you find this interesting! If you have any advice on how I can make this better or want more info on my spreadsheets just reach out! I plan on doing a churning recap at some point but for now here is a sneak peek