Exposed – The Money Flamingo Household’s 2020 spending!

We are back! It has been over 3 months since our last post and I can report that we survived our first few months as a family of four. 

After we reached Flamingo FI and welcomed Baby Flamingo number 2 to the family over the course of just a few weeks we took the summer off to enjoy some family time, get through the newborn phase and think about our next steps. I will share some details about our plans soon.

Side note: Apologies to those who sent me messages and emails and are still waiting for a reply, I will get back to you, it’s just taking a long time at the moment!

Today’s post is our overdue 2020 spending report (how is it March already??).

As you are probably aware we don’t usually share our numbers (I wrote about our reasoning here). We make an exception for our annual living expenses because I feel that others in a similar situation (or readers who are thinking about having kids but don’t really know how much it will cost) might benefit from seeing how much we spend each year. We are definitely not super frugal, we spend money on things that add value to our lives and that we enjoy. We are also happy to pay extra for quality. Some of you will probably find our spending extravagant, others might find it reasonable or even low.

For some context: In 2020 we lived in a rather expensive beachside suburb of Sydney as a family of 3 (and later 4). We rented a 1 bedroom apartment for the first half of the year and then upgraded to a 3 bedroom apartment. Baby Flamingo number 1 goes to childcare 3 days per week. We have one car and use public transport most of the time.

A few notes:

  • Rent: We love where we live and really make the most of the awesome location and everything it has to offer (beaches, nature, walkability, etc.), so we feel the high cost is worth it for us.
  • Groceries / Supermarket: This category includes everything we buy from the supermarket, including most baby supplies. Like last year I am not happy with our spending in this category but also don’t see much potential for quick and easy improvements. Ever since we had kids our supermarket spending has gone up steadily. Our toddler now eats pretty much everything we eat plus some extra snacks. Having a third person to cater for has definitely increased our spending noticeably over the last year. We usually do our main shop for the week online (Woolies) and then supplement with a few smaller shops at Coles and Aldi. We really value the convenience of having most of our groceries delivered (anyone who has tried to do a full shop with a toddler and newborn in tow will understand). If you have any tips on how we could decrease our spending without spending more time and energy (which we don’t have at the moment) on shopping or compromising on quality, please let us know!
  • Eating out: We don’t eat at restaurants often, but we enjoy getting coffees and breakfast on the weekends.
  • Transport, mobile phones, private health insurance: These are subsidised by our employers which is great, so the cost is probably lower than you’d expect.
  • Money Flamingo (hosting and website expenses): Money Flamingo is almost three years old now and I’ve never bothered monetising the blog. In fact, it has cost us about $1,500 over the years to run the site. Don’t get me wrong, although I am running it at a loss, the blog is one of the best investments I’ve ever made because it kept us accountable. I’m not sure if we would have stayed so focused on our goal without the pressure of publishing monthly updates. I enjoy helping readers and writing articles and will continue to do so anyway as long as I can. I am hoping to offset some of the hosting costs moving forward. So if you get value from the blog and our articles, the option is now there to support Money Flamingo with a coffee donation (and let’s be honest, coffee is what this sleep-deprived mummy runs on at the moment…). You can find the “buy me a coffee” button on the sidebar (or the bottom of this post if you are on a mobile).
  • Taxes, donations, etc.: This breakdown shows our actual household spending (investment-related costs, charitable donations, taxes, etc. are not included)
Category2020 spendingComments
Rent$35,971.95$590 per week January-June, $850 per week July-December
Groceries / Supermarket$12,671.64See note above
Household goods$1,193.54 
Personal care$208.32 
Utilities (electricity)$1,494.55 
Personal insurance$1,464.80 
Mobile phone$160.00 
Medical expenses$1,925.09 
Entertaining visitors$1,112.12Extra costs when we have family visiting (eating out, excursions, etc.)
Work expenses$217.32 Coffees with colleagues, etc.
Bank fees$24.87 
Kids – equipment, medical expenses, clothes, toys, etc.$5,901.16 
Eating out$4,012.57 
Alcohol$49.68We buy most of our alcohol from Aldi, so it is included in our grocery spend.
Netflix, Spotify etc.$72.97 
Electronics / Software$59.62 
Sports gear−$646.00We sold our paddleboards as we were not using them enough since we had kids.
Shows / Sports tickets etc.$88.00 
Misc. Discretionary spending$0.00 
Holidays$0.00No trips in 2020
Mr. Flamingo – Discretionary spending$1,073.28 
Mrs. Flamingo – Discretionary spending$904.56 
Money Flamingo$164.71Hosting and other website expenses
Misc. expenses$1,313.35 
Expenses excl. rent$47,534.61 

Compared to 2019, the composition of our spending has changed quite a bit. Overall we spent about $7,300 more than in 2019. I actually thought our spending would be a lot higher because Baby Flamingo 1 started childcare, we moved into a bigger apartment and had lots of baby-related expenses. Some of these costs were offset by COVID (no travel in 2020, free childcare for part of the year).

Is our spending higher or lower than you expected?

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11 thoughts on “Exposed – The Money Flamingo Household’s 2020 spending!”

  1. I pulled up my annual spending sheet and compared it with yours as I scrolled down.
    My family is very different to yours – I have 2 adult children living with me – but I was interested to see that even with feeding 2 adult men, our supermarket/food spend was lower than yours, at just under 9K.
    My big budget blowouts over the last couple of years have been renovations. These were comparable to the amount you spent on rent. Hopefully now that I’ve finished (touch wood!) and retired, that my bills will be smaller.
    It’s an interesting exercise, isn’t it?

    • Yes, definitely an interesting exercise! $170 per week for 3 adults is quite impressive! This will have to be a focus area for us this year, I was pretty shocked to see how much we spend on food. I’m experimenting with market veg and fruit boxes at the moment, hoping that will bring the cost down a bit.

  2. Hey Flamingos, Congrats on the new addition and thanks for sharing this! We are a family of three, our daughter just turned 3. We are in the Eastern suburbs and can relate to the high spend on rent. Your numbers seem pretty reasonable to me. Did you leave out the clothes spend? Would be good to see how much of the grocery spend is for baby stuff too. All the best! Sam

    • Thanks Samuel! Our clothes spend is included in the discretionary spending categories for Mr. Falmingo and I and the kids line item for the kids. We don’t actually spend that much on clothes every year so we didn’t create a separate category.
      Yes, it would be nice to see how much of the supermarket spend is for baby stuff, I am to lazy to go through all our receipts though. It also varies, it would be a lot at the moment with a new baby. I think it is probably around $200 a month on average over the past year.

  3. Congrats Flamingos!

    We are in a similar position – a toddler and a baby – and our expenses (excluding PPOR mortgage) are pretty similar to yours. I think you are doing well. Keep living your life and enjoying yourself. No need to live off rice and beans every night (though it can be a yummy meal sometimes) when you are already at Flamingo FI.

    I’m really really excited about the direction of your blog – there aren’t many mums of young kids doing finance blogs so its really exciting to have someone out there representing! Well done getting any blogs posted after having bub #2!

    All the best

    • Hi Cwisteenor, thanks for your comment! I agree, I actually think our overall expenses (excluding rent) are quite reasonable (except the food category) at under $50,000 per year. Life with a baby and a toddler definitely isn’t cheap and I have to admit we pay extra for convenience at the moment to make things a little easier.
      Glad you are looking forward to some more family focused posts. I can see why there are not many mum finance bloggers. It’s so hard to find the time! I’m sure you can relate!

  4. Bit taken aback by the cost of your rent (classic Sydney though lol). I’m glad you guys see value in living there and I’m sure the walkability offsets a fair bit, not including the benefits your little ones would have being near nature and the ocean! Do you plan on moving somewhere cheaper in the future?

    • I know, the rents around her are crazy! Whenever I tell friends and family who don’t live in Sydney how much we pay I get this “are you insane” look from them! 😉 We definitely see value in it for now, but a move is on the cards soon.

  5. Hello, I found out about you when I heard you on Aussie Firebug. Great concept which we are doing – it’s much harder to do FIRE with two kids like us. I wanted to know if the childcare fees you have there are after Gov rebates? I assume so, but just thought I’d check.

    • Hi AT, I hear you, reaching FIRE with kids is definitely more challenging! Yes, the childcare fees are after the government rebate, so just the gap fees we paid. Not for a full year either as childcare was free for a few months during Covid (April-July? not sure). We only had one child in childcare in 2020. Hope this helps.


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