My chart for expenses year to date is not very pretty. Consistently higher throughout the year is not a very nice looking chart on the cost side. I break down my expenses the same way as last year, mainly between food, transportation, and other expenses (which I call personal and includes stuff like clothes, gifts, amenities, etc). This gives a little more insight into where my money goes each month and lets me think about where I should cut back or where I can afford to spend more.
This is probably the most important expense item for me. I try to avoid spending too much money on luxurious activities. The most I do is usually go out to each once in a while. If this chart increases steadily year to year, then I know I should probably cut back on the restaurants and try to eat more at home. For the most part, I was in line with the previous year. I went out a bit more than I did last year in August before going back to school in the fall which is the reason for that spike. But I did spend less in December when I came back home compared to last year.
For most of the months, my transportation expenses have been in line with 2011. The big spike in March was from a plane ticket to Hong Kong for the summer and in December it was for another trip out of the country. Other than that, it is good to keep an eye out for overall rising costs. For example, if I all of a sudden have a higher level of expenses each month, it may indicate that I am spending too much on transportation. Then I can see if taking so many taxis is affordable or not compared to my other categories.
I generally keep personal expenses to a minimum (meaning anything outside of my bare necessities which is in food and transportation). The few spikes were mainly due to some gifts I bought and other miscellaneous expenses. Other than the charts below, my chart for bills (which wasn't very interesting) was essentially the same, spiking in the summer with my internship rent and higher this past year than the year before.