I usually try to write my big money reckonings around New Year’s Eve, to sum up the year and hopefully inspire anyone who is looking to make some meaningful new year resolutions. So writing this in June means that things have slipped quite badly this year. The reasons are that I have been busy moving house and developing my (small) property portfolio. Apart from the upheaval, it also follows that 2016 was an expensive year. I’ve tried to split out the investment-related money, but it hasn’t been an easy job, if I’m honest.
In spite of this, there are some good numbers here. The sums show that our household spent a total of £2,000 on our car (fuel, maintenance, payments, repairs, and parking). Half of this is fuel, £1065, which is up from £832 last year. The increase is due to lots of ferrying back and forth between various properties – breaking my general rule of thumb that I try to minimise the number of short journeys. I will have lost an amount on depreciation too, of course, but this is all about money that went out of my account over the past twelve months.
We also spent £625 on gas and electricity for the year – in spite of heating two houses for a couple of months over the winter, whilst we moved to a bigger property. This is partly because we got quite a lot of cash refunded from our energy provider when we moved house – our direct debits were set at £50 a month for gas and electricity, but we still didn’t use that much!. Also, the winter weather never really turned up again – average temperatures in February and March were well above the average for my UK location, and sadly the sledges were not required – there wasn’t more than a flake or two of snow on any day over the winter.
Food spend is still catastrophic!
Once again, though, our food spend was really too high. We buy nearly all organic, and with a growing, hungry family the children are starting to eat as much (or more) than an average grown up now. We have done a lot of entertaining over the past year, and there is quite a lot of wine, beer and other treats in the food total too. Food and drink are the mainstay of our entertainment these days. But it’s still too high and once again will be a focus for 2017. I know of course that I could just go to Aldi like everyone else, but I’m looking for the ‘sweet spot’ where organic and top quality local, seasonal food is a similar price as what you can buy in the supermarket. Watch this space…
What about the carbon footprint?
The Home Cost Tracker results are pretty decent. Our total household carbon footprint was around 15 tonnes. So our family of five produces as much as the national UK average for one person. That footprint is just over 3 tonnes each, still a tonne off the safe level and my two tonne target, but not much changed from last year.
Unsurprisingly, food and our car accounted for the biggest chunks of greenhouse gas in 2016, followed by gas and electricity (1).
So, overall, although it’s been an expensive year, it hasn’t really bumped up our carbon footprint by much at all. The challenge for 2017 and beyond will be to keep the costs and carbon low in a larger house.
If you want to cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint, I highly recommend trying the free LiveLight cost and carbon snapshot. It’s free, it takes 5 minutes, and will give you a great starting point to go from.
(1) Greenhouse gas figures relate to April 2016- March 2017, so they don’t read across directly to spend, which is June 2016-June 2017. But there hasn’t been any significant change.