2015 expenses

NOTE: This page may be outdated and is being preserved purely for the historical record. Please reference https://finances.vipulnaik.com/ for a better presentation of similar information, that is more likely to be updated and improved over time.

This page currently contains expense projections, along with information on how close they were to being met. You can compare this with my 2014 expenses.

  • Rent is $1729 per month for two people. This is a relatively good deal for the Bay Area, and is partly explained by our living in the relatively less sexy backwater that is South Berkeley. Estimated annual cost: $10374. Status: Precisely met.
  • Health insurance costs about $226 per month. This was the cheapest plan I could find. I would have preferred to find a cheaper plan, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outlaws lower-cost plans. Estimated annual cost: $2712. Status: Precisely met.
  • Internet, inclusive of taxes, costs about $56 per month for our household. Our Internet provider is sonic.net. Estimated annual cost: $672. Status: Overshot somewhat, with a total cost of about $700.
  • Electricity and gas cost about $25-40 per month for the household, with some seasonal variation. Estimated annual cost: $300-500. Status: Actual annual cost was $420.
  • Web hosting on Linode costs $100/month. Estimated annual cost: $1200. Status: Actual annual cost about $1205, with some extra costs due to temporarily activated additional services to debug spam traffic patterns.
  • Transportation: a $7.80 BART round-trip from Ashby BART to 16th Street/Mission BART every weekday, plus a $2 bus ride back from downtown Berkeley on weekends, so about $41 per week. Estimated annual cost: $2130. Status: Around April 2015 I transitioned to HVD tickets, which save about 6.25% on costs. Since that transition, my BART costs have totaled $1215. Assuming that the BART costs till then were as originally projected, I get a total cost of $(1215 + 710 + 60) = $1955, a little less than projected.
  • Expenses on some Facebook promotions and other experimental altruism. Estimated annual cost: $1500. Status: Expenses on Facebook were around $(175 + 15) = $190. I spent $100 on two experimental SurveyMonkey surveys. Total of $290.
  • Phone expenses: $40/month on my smartphone, plus two or three $50 recharges of my regular phone. Estimated annual cost: $580-630. Status: I spent $480 on my smartphone and $220 on my regular phone, so a total of $700.
  • Internet-based subscription services, including Pandora ($4/month), Eros Now ($6/month), OKCupid ($10/month) and SurveyMonkey ($200/year). I may not renew the OKCupid and SurveyMonkey subscriptions, but assuming I keep them all and the price goes up a bit for them, estimated annual cost: $430. Status: I canceled my SurveyMonkey and OKCupid subscriptions, so only paid the Pandora and Eros Now subscriptions, and also started a Viki subscription in December costing me a total of $(71.88 + 47.88 + 3.99) = 123.75.
  • Entertainment purchases: I plan to cut down on this relative to previous years. In 2014, I spent about $200 getting the Gilmore Girls series (and even more in terms of opportunity cost of time viewed). I think that was worthwhile, but I don’t intend on purchasing new TV series. I expect to buy less than 30 songs and less than ten books. Estimated annual cost: $100-200. Status: I spent $22.78 on MP3 purchases.
  • Restaurant dining: I hope to limit this cost to about two outside meals (excluding company-sponsored team lunches) on average, with costs $6-10 per meal. Estimated annual cost: $700-1300. Status: This is the budget item I blew most significantly, with an average of about $30 a week on restaurant meals, costing about $1500 in total.
  • My one original sin is hot chocolate. I get a daily hot chocolate from Take 5 Cafe. At $2, it’s pretty cheap, but it still comes to almost $700 a year (they are closed sometimes, which is why it doesn’t go all the way to $730). I also sometimes get a hot chocolate from a place near my job. That costs $3 but I only do it one or two times a week, and only started in August. In addition, I have hot chocolate powder at home that I sometimes use for additional replenishment. Estimated annual cost: $1000. Status: I blew this item somewhat too, with costs reaching something like $1200-1300.
  • Groceries and toiletries: Hard to keep track of these, but I spend about $40 on food in my weekly shopping at Trader Joe’s, plus about $50 a month shopping at WalGreens. Estimated annual cost: $2000-3500. Status: $1742.46 on Trader Joe’s and $1070.46 on Walgreen’s, total of $2812.92.

My main expense categories where I saw a significant and unexpected increase were:

  • Clothes: I was hoping to not have to spend any money on clothes, but had to spend a considerable amount (about $300 in total) on buying some new clothes.
  • Business-related expenses: About $2,000.
  • Paying people to create content, such as discussed on my sponsored Wikipedia editing page: This totaled to a little under $10,000.
  • Loans: The net of these (i.e., excluding what was already paid back) totaled to about $7,600, though one of the loans will be paid back in 2016.

My overall income in 2015 was $94,166.70 (excluding interest income, some of which was in India and not directly accessible to me). My withheld taxes (federal + state + social security) total about $31,170, and my EFTPS payments were $10,000. In other words, my net income for the year after accounting for taxation was about $53,000. I expect a refund of about $9,000, but that refund isn’t yet with me, and I will most likely opt to have it applied to next year so as to avoid any late payment penalties on next year’s taxes. My total expenses for the year were about $44,000, as you can see by summing up the above. The discrepancy of $9,000 is my net savings for the year.

Basic information