An Exacting Cost of Living Report

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

It is once again time for my annual cost of living report! I am always curious how my expenses compare year-over-year, especially for essentials. For the past two years, I have been trying to reduce my grocery bills and utility use. Here’s how I did:

Heating costs (heating oil) – used 2304 litres of fuel in 2011, versus 1698 litres in 2012, a reduction of 32%! I feel this was entirely due to its being a warmer year, what with climate change and all. Wouldn’t you know, my savings were only 26%, because of rate increases. I do have programmable thermostats, which are the bees’ knees, but I keep the house warm when I’m in it!

photo credit:

photo credit:

Electricity – used 4963 kilowatt/hours in 2011, versus 4514 in 2012, a reduction of 9%. Of course, the total cost (for less electricity!) was up by a fraction of a percent, so once again, rate creepage prevailed.

Water – used 184 cubic metres in 2011, versus 159 in 2012, a reduction of 13%, but the cost was exactly the same. I spot a trend here!

Groceries – This one was hard to calculate because we were a household of 3 (meat-eaters) for part of 2011, then Rom and I became vegetarians part-way through 2012. So I took a sample 4 months when just the two of us were home and eating meat in 2011, versus the same 4 month period in 2012 when just the two of us were eating vegetarian. The cost saving was 13.5%.

Property tax – My property value went up by 4% but my property tax stayed the same, so that was a win. The city has capped its assessments, so maybe one day they’ll revert back and we’ll all take a big hit. But hey, my taxes pay for libraries (among other things), so how can I complain?

Home insurance – The bill went up by a shocking 17%. The insurer added some additional coverage which wasn’t optional, and charged more for it. I will be shopping around at renewal time.

Car insurance – Long story. I had my old car for part of the year, and dropped collision coverage on it, giving me a credit. My new car cost more to insure, but I cancelled coverage for our kid, Link, who is no longer living at home. The net change was -13%.

Gas for car – I spent 13% less for gas in 2012. I had my new (smaller, lighter) car for 7 months of this year.

All of the above I consider to be essentials, if one considers having a car to be essential 😦 If you add all the costs together and calculate the total difference year-to-year, it was 16% less in 2012. That is not because costs went down, but because I was extra-thrifty!

Last year I spent far less on discretionary stuff than I had the previous year; this time I only spent 3.6% less on optional stuff (in a long list that includes cable, Internet, entertainment, dining out, vacations, charity, pet care and gifts).

Finally, if you looked at my total expenditures for 2012 compared to 2011, I spent 12.4% less.

That is a lot of numbers, but the real bottom line is that rates went up, I saved money anyway, and my quality of life did not suffer one bit. I bet you agree that frugality “pays”!

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

My report from last year is here!


  1. Frugality does pay. Too bad rates rose or you would have seen an even better return on your efforts.

  2. EcoCatLady

    Congratulations on a great year! It’s so satisfying to see the fruits of your labors in real numbers, isn’t it?

  3. Yay for a decrease! A reduction, especially in the current climate, is fantastic.

  4. I am so impressed by your record keeping! This is incredibly inspirational!

  5. Fiona

    I am also so impressed with your record-keeping!
    Love your blurb at the top, “for those of us who like to list, track and count things”…guilty as charged!

  6. Go you good thing – wins in all areas. I collected all December grocery receipts last night – so channeling you now – I did discard Nov’s cause I couldn’t be sure they were ‘complete’ (they probably were). A blog post may be a-coming!

  7. Just doing the same thing – looking a the annual accounts but have yet to do a percentage breakdown. I am not sure it will be as good reading as yours as we had daughter and partner here for 10 months and that did cost a lot – much more than I charged them ! But hey what are moms for? Glad you have come out on top despite all the raises. I have never known what it would cost us to eat meat as we have always been veggie so your figures comparing the two are interesting. I suspect that because we eat mainly organic foods that anyone eating cheaper cuts of meat might well end up spending less than our veggie diet!


    Wow! I should take a lesson and get better at tracking all of this. Congrats on a fine year!

  9. Congratulations on reducing your spending so much 🙂 I’m planning on doing some posts in the near future about how my 2012 and 2011 spending compare. We don’t pay for as many utilities as you do, only electricity and internet (no gas unfortunately, and our water bills are paid by our landlord), but I just received the power bill for the quarter and it had gone down by almost $100. Since we were pretty good at saving power before, I’m guessing it’s due to getting a new oven with a door that actually closes. This was a real wake-up call for me, since I didn’t realise one appliance could cost that much!

  10. it’s flipping annoying when you use less oil/gas/electricity but your costs end up the same. It’s happening all over and it sucks….


  11. Wow the hubby would be green with envy over your exceptional record keeping. He keeps track of our electricity usage but I am afraid to show him this post for fear that he would start tracking EVERYTHING! Great job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: