Visualization of our cash flows

I was inspired by this post on how Americans spend their money, using data from the BLS consumer expenditure surveys. I thought that they were really cool graphics and was curious as to how the Smith family spending would look.

I have pretty comprehensive data going back years, but thought I’d focus firstly on last years cashflow.

Cash flow explanation

The cash inflows (in blue to the left) are mostly self explanatory. Other includes amounts from the government and other odds and sods of income. STI was the sale of company stock I received in prior years that vested during 2018. Investment sales was the liquidation of a share portfolio.

Interestingly, you could argue that the STI and investment sales should equal the savings amount in green. You’re probably right – these capital amounts should have gotten close to each other. However, there is one proviso on that. The money we used for investment sales was spent on doing things around the house. We had some electrical work performed and other items of a capital nature. This investment money had always been set aside for this work. Still, I know that it doesn’t completely add up.

Also, the loan repayment amount also includes “extra” repayments on the mortgage. This again is capital in nature and what I consider to be a form of savings.

The last piece that is missing in the above is our superannuation contributions. These amounts are never paid to us directly. Instead our employers pay the amounts directly to our fund and we can only access it once we retire at the ripe old age of 67 (or there abouts). That added about $18,000 to our savings in 2018. So the savings situation isn’t as grim as it might seem.

In terms of expenses, after loan repayments our next biggest expense is food and groceries. We are making a concerted effort to reduce spending in this category over the next 12 months. So far, we are tracking ok on this metric.

The next 3 biggest categories are school fees, household and health. We can’t do a lot about school fees, as its an agreement with the former Mrs Smith. Household is mostly spending on capital items and includes household repairs. For example, we had to spend $1,800 on plumbing repairs and $3,000 having lighting and other electrical work done. Finally, health was an expensive year, with cost center #1 getting braces, cost center #3 having an operation for his broken nose and cost center #4 coming into the world. I wouldn’t expect our medical bills to be that high again this year. Finger crossed!

I reckon this diagram looks pretty good – being modest of course! Next time I think I will re-do it but using all our income and expenses. That is, not cash flows by a P&L view of the world.

James Scott

James Scott is a personal finance expert with over 20 years experience. He believe that money should not be stressful. By using the Stress Free Money pyramid it helps everyone achieve their financial dreams.

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2 Responses

  1. I really like this visualization approach. I have been tracking our expenses for the past 10 years and publishing it, but it is not as sleek as this one.
    What software did you use to do it?

    Why Children and Childcare are different color from the School Fees? Is it because the kids are with the former Mrs. Smith?

    • Jim Smith says:

      Hi – I use a free site called – its not pretty but it works well.
      Children expenses are costs such as music lessons, equipment (e.g we bought a new car seat recently) etc
      Childcare is just costs for childcare, while school fees is my portion for fees for the older 2. Probably don’t need to split them, but its been a habit for years to do so.

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