Our 2016 Expenses with 2 Kids in Germany

As you might know, I’m a bit of a numbers guy and I’ve been keeping track of my expenses for the last 12 years or so.

I find it quite interesting to see what friends and people around us with a similar setup (i.e. families with kids) spend each month. It’s good to compare. It’s also a good way to see what expenses we could potentially have down the road as the kids get older. It’s important to have a realistic estimation of your future expenses if you plan to retire early. You can’t just assume things…

I keep finding interesting numbers on other blogs that lead me to get in touch and ask questions about specific spending categories to help us optimise our own situation.

After last year’s expenses edition, here are the 2016 numbers:

17.4% Kids: €5040/year (€420/month)
16.7% Food: €4820 (€401)
16.5% Entertainment: €4790 (€400)
15.2% Insurance (incl. health): €4400 (€370)
14.3% Housing* (utilities, heating etc.): €4150 (€350)
4.8% Gifts: €1400 (€120)
3.8% Healthcare: €1100 (€90)
2.5% Transport: €720 (€60)
2.2% Clothes: €650 (€50)
2.1% Phone, Internet: €610 (€50)
1.8% Accountant’s fees: €510 (€40)
1,7% Household: €490 (€40)
0.7% Memberships: €220 (€20)
0.2% Bureaucracy: €50 (€0)
0% Bank charges: €10 (€0)

Total 2016: €28,950 (€2412 per month)

Context (2015 vs 2016)

Our expenses went down from 30,374€ in 2015 to 28,950€ in 2016, but actually the difference is very minimal within the individual catagories:

Some random insights and toughts

Constant numbers: The difference between the 2015 and 2016 expenses was pretty much the (completely wasted) education expenses of approx 1000€ that Mrs. W racked up for her fitness instructor course, which were replaced by 0€ in 2016. “We don’t need no [expensive] e-du-ca-tion!” (Mrs. W. edit: I was going through a crisis, I was trying to reinvent myself. Turns out the new me isn’t a fitness instructor. Mr. W. should be happy I agreed to give it up so we could continue to be location independent!)

Apart from that, it’s pretty surprising for us how little difference in overall cost there is. Look at food: no difference at all, even though we had a completely different diet: low carb in 2015 and normal in 2016. Hmmm…

That food wasn’t only food though… no-no…because we sneaked alcoholic beverages in there too. Mostly nice wines and gin. Oh yes. Do you want to know how much alcohol we drank in 2016? Here you go: 356€ worth! Is that a lot? I don’t think we overdid it even though we like to sip away at a nice glass of wine or so every evening. That’s about 50 cents worth of quality alcoholic beverage each and every day. I don’t want to give that up… Every drop of that red wine made us a drop happier or at least helped us to recover from the daily “putting-those-monsters-to-bed” circus!

I don’t have concrete numbers, but I suspect that since we’ve had kids our expenses for alcohol probably went up. I don’t know how other parents can cope without a nice G&T or the like after those energy-sucking humanlets finally bugger off to sleep….

And restaurants? We spent 664€ all year. That’s about 13€ per week. Most of that money didn’t make us happier. I have to admit, we simply got lazier with cooking…

Kids. The expensive part of having children is not all the stuff we buy them or feeding them but the childcare. We spent about 3500€ on that which is about 70% of all our kid-related expenses!

But hey. Let’s not forget about the fact that we got at least 4560€ of family allowance which covered 90% of all our kid-related expenses (including childcare!). So our net kid-related costs were at most 480€. Why “at most”? Because in Germany you either get family allowance of 190€ per month per kid or you get a tax benefit. If your income is high (>60K for a couple), the tax benefit is higher than 190€ per month per kid.

Anyway, thank you German Tax Authority for paying for our kids! We really (honestly) appreciate that! (Hey Americans…do you actually believe that the US is the greatest country in the world?).

I guess an average German family spends a tiny bit more on their children. But if you buy used furniture, clothes, toys etc., other parents virtually pay you to take stuff off them. We loooove jumble sales!

I didn’t do the calculations yet (but we will), but I suspect the kids don’t cost anything… Well…what hurts financially is all the income you lose when one of the parents doesn’t work…but that’s a different story. (*UPDATE: I did the calculations and during the first 4.5 years of parenting our kids actually made us some profit. Read here about our kids expenses in Germany…)

While I see many ridiculous financial decisions around us, we’re not free of stupid spending habits either. It is reaaaalllly frustrating to see how money goes towards things that are not necessary and don’t make us any happier (like: overpriced low quality restaurant food and beverages or that stupid TV tax [GEZ]).

We’ll keep on fighting this war though until we reach expense-optimisation nirvana. Promise!

Also, I’m very excited to write the expense report for 2017. After moving to Romania this month, we’ll cut our expenses in half at least…

So. Are we spendypants? Do you think we spend too much or too little on things? What do your expenses look like?