Chronicles Of A Father With Cents

Simple Life. Personal Finance. Family

Expense Chronicles – December 2017 Holiday Shopping and Using Gift Cards

Expense Chronicles

The last month of the year and it was a busy one for us.  With the holidays, we approached like we do every year.  We made holiday cards from Costco and bought a few gifts for our nieces and our parents.  To see how we spend our holiday spending, check my post about a few weeks back.

If you haven’t seen my past expense chronicles you can look at them here.

This is a monthly check up of my expenses and it is broken up into categories.  Few things to note:

  • We are a one car family so our gas and car insurance charges are all for our Toyota Prius C
  • We both drive to work at different times of the day which is why we are able to own just one car and eliminate monthly public transit costs.  And fortunately both of our parking spaces are free which eliminates parking costs.
  • I do have complimentary breakfast and lunch at my work. If the food is really good that day I usually take a box to go for dinner.  But on some occasions I bring my own lunch if I don’t feel like eating the food from work
  • We mainly use credit cards for our purchases and pay it in full each month.
  • I received two $100 gift cards in December.  The first one from Google for doing asurvey on one of their potential products they may release.  The other is a Christmas gift from my boss.  I went ahead and maxed out on both of them in December.  It will show on this expense chronicle.


    These came in handy in December

With that said, here is how our expenses went in December

Rent  $  1,000.00
Electricity  $        34.96
Internet  $        50.00
Car Insurance  $        91.03
Gas  $        43.50
Groceries  $      336.44
Restaurants/Fast Food  $        91.02
Retail Shopping  $      192.55
Mobile Phone  $        85.00
Total  $  1,924.50
Minus Gift Card Expenses     ($199.28)
Out of Pocket Expenses  $  1,725.22

Here is a breakdown of each category:

Rent: $1000.00

Mobile Phone: $85.00

Internet: $50.00

Gas: $43.50

These four categories are fixed costs for every month (our gas averages $40 a month).  If you want a breakdown of these categories you can check out my July Expense Report

Electricity – $34.96

It’s been cold here by our standards and we used our space heater practically every morning and sometimes at night before we head to bed.  So the bill is about $10 higher than usual because of this.  Hopefully the weather gets a bit warmer in January so our bill can come back down to the mid $20s

Car Insurance – $91.03

We made another trip to the Tilden Park Steam Train across the bay in Berkley and with Metromile increasing our rate this month adds up to a monthly bill just above $90.  I will look into adjusting our deductibles so we can have a lower bill for our car insurance

Groceries – $336.44

Since I took a holiday vacation at the end of the month so I could stay home and babysit Baby with Cents, we stock up on food in particular some Indian food from Trader Joe’s.  We bought multiple boxes of Palak Paneer(Spinach with Paneer cheese) and garlic naan to dip it into the Paneer.  If you’re into Indian food, you should know about Palak Paneer and since Trader Joe’s has it, it should be popular food item.  We also bought from TJs some mini chocolate chip cookies and we can’t stop eating them.

Fast Food/Restaurants – $91.02

Yet another trip to In N Out but that’s not the only place we went out to eat.  We also got the veggie burrito bowl from Chiptole. We usually buy the burrito bowl whenever we order from there.  We craved so much that we ordered it in four different occasions in a span of two weeks.  Yes four burrito bowls! The great thing about ordering the veggie option is that you can put guacamole as a free topping.  If you order the meat or chicken burrito bowl you have to pay extra for the guacamole.  It costs about $9 for a bowl and fortunately I used one my gift cards to pay for it on the last two occasions.  After this series of orders from Chiptole, we probably won’t come back for another six months.  Our cravings for the burrito bowl are topped off right now.

I also received an email from Sizzler for a complementary chicken melt since I am part of their email list.  In order to get the free meal, I had to dine-in to Sizzler.  So this gave us a chance to take Baby with Cents to a restaurant, something that we rarely do.  He behaved pretty well at the restaurant since he likes people watching.  We only paid for the salad bar for Mother with Cents while I got my free chicken melt.

Retail Shopping – $192.55

Some of this spending was for Christmas gifts for friends and family.  Highlights include a digital picture frame for both of our parents so they can have a slideshow of pictures on the frame.  We also got some crafty gifts from Michaels and a couple of recorders for our nieces.

We bought  a few items for Baby with Cents as well including a crib mattress cover, more clothes from the Gymboree that is closing down next month and safety knob covers for our stove since he is able to reach and turn the stove knobs now.

I bought for myself a beard and mustache trimmer since my old one has stopped working.  It lasted about five years so hopefully my new one will last just as long.

What did you think of our expenses during the holiday season? How was your spending during the last month of the year? Feel free to comment below


  1. Hey that’s kinda how much we spent too!!! Twins! I love major chain coupons, it gives me a chance to eat food I don’t regularly partake for a better price.

    • I know right! I only go to Sizzler once a year because of the free coupon they email me. I’ve been doing this routine for the last three years and hopefully they continue this. Hehe!!

  2. Wow Chris! You guys did really well here especially when it’s Christmas season — ya know, it’s one of the most expensive time during the year!!

    Soo bravo to you!

    Looks like you guys love in n out burger. I totally love it too and wish they had one here. I love chipotle as well and yes with GUACAMOLE!! 🥑 Hehe

    Anyway, awesome job here!

    • Thanks Panda!! We were lucky that we received those two $100 gift cards so we could spend a good amount of it on our Christmas gifts so it wasn’t an out of pocket expense.
      I think we had too much Chipotle in December, we won’t comeback for another few months!

  3. Geez you guys really are amazing at the low spending! Keep up the good work for 2018.

    I bought my mom a digital picture frame one year and she never used it- she said it costs electricity to run it haha!!

    • Thanks GYM!! Lol, your mom should use that picture frame, it’s kinda cool. I set up my parents’ frame with their pictures from past vacations and they seem to really like it. Now I have to create one with pictures with them and Baby with Cents.

  4. Great job! That is a tough month to keep expenses down. Really low rent too!

    • Thanks DM!! Yeah December is the hardest month to keep expenses low and fortunately with the help of a couple of $100 gift cards it really made it low.

  5. That is an impressively low utility bill – I’m guessing you live in an apartment or condo? They absolutely lowest for us (gas and electricity) is ~$60 in the summer for our house.

    • Yeah its an in-law so our bill is in the $25-30 range which is descent for a place like ours. Once we move in to a home we will expect the monthly bill to double or even more.

  6. Annnnnd now I’m craving In’n’Out! 🙂

    Our monthly gas/electric bill quadrupled when we moved from a small place to a slightly larger place that shared no walls 🙁 I’m usually good at projecting increased expenses but that one was a surprise and not fun at all.

    Did you get any particularly good deals at Gymboree? I might pick up next year’s Christmas presents for the kids there 🙂

    • In N Out can be addicting so we try to limit our trips to once a month and if we can help ourselves once every other month.
      I’m anticipating our electric bill to triple or even quadruple like in your case whenever we move in to our own home.
      The Gymboree by our place in SF(Laurel Heights) is closing down this month so they have most of their stock at deep discounts right now. We got mainly shirts and accessories at low prices. We’ll make another trip before they shut down for good.

  7. What phone company are you with? That’s so awesome to see your payment under $100! I overspent in December and I’m still recovering. My savings took a hit with a bunch of unexpected expenses and it didn’t help that my son’s birthday was a few week after. I’m happy that I can finally recover lol. I also love gift cards! That’s the best present I can receive lol.

    • I signed up with Boost Mobile early last year, they’ll pretty good. Got unlimited talk and text and 2 GBs for $30 a month. We also pay for both my MIL and FIL so that’s $85 a month(minus $5 for enrolling in their auto-boost plan). You should look into it, Idk if they have service in Hawaii!
      Gift cards are awesome!! I get one from my boss every Christmas. 🙂

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