Our Budget Under $1700
I have finally written the long planned post of our personal budget where I lay it all out there!
I share this for a few reasons:
- I want people to know I walk the talk.
- I want people to know it can be done and how we do it.
- I want people to know you don't have to make bank in order to live a good life.
- I want people to know you don't have to make bank in order to build a savings. And Finally...
- I feel that some people are embarrassed about the money they make or have in their account and think that it holds value to who you are as a person. I share our finances to show that it doesn't have to be like that. We are all at different spots in our life and that is separate from our identity and is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about! If you are working towards bettering yourself, you should be proud to share where you at, for when you get to where you going they'll know how far you've come!
So I'm breaking down our budget under $1700, how we spend our money, and a little bit about our actual income! Let's get to it!
Our Budget Under $1700
We downsized to a one bedroom last year for what we thought would only be six months. Our old apartment was a two bedroom for $750, so we thought we would save a little extra money before we bought our first house. We have now been here for a little over a year and although we wish we had a house, (and it can be pretty cramped with Greg's music equipment equaling a whole room) we still are so happy we moved. This apartment is so much more cozier and makes waiting for a house a little easier, plus we are able to save a little bit each month for when we do buy a house!
Cell Phone $100
Greg and I had non-smart phones up until the beginning of 2015. I got my iPhone 4 as a present Christmas 2014 and I gave him the same phone on his birthday that April. Until then Greg and I had the same phone on different plans. I was paying $50 a month for my phone and Greg wasn't paying anything as it was lumped with his Dad's plan. We wanted to get him off that and be responsible adults and pay for his too, but we also wanted to get new phones and weren't sure if we would get a plan right away. We ended up finding a pay as you go plan for a little under $50 each. So we both have iPhones like we wanted/needed and only pay $100 for both.
We have high speed internet through Century Link. I have heard quite a few complaints about this company and we have had some trouble in the past, but overall our internet is fast and stable.
Car Insurance $76.90
When you have cars that aren't worth that much, (which in your twenties you most likely do/should have) you don't need to get all of the coverage that protects your car. We use the principle that if you save money every month by not having that extra coverage (and actually SAVE it) then IF anything happens you'll have the money to fix or even replace the car, but if it doesn't then you are saving money every month. (I'll go into this in more depth in another post as it is a principle we apply in our finances a lot.) Greg's and my car are probably worth about $3000 all together, so any amount of real damage would most likely total the car. If something like that were to happen that is what we build up our savings for! So we basically pay for liability and that's it.
This varies per season obviously, and usually how much we care about being comfortable in our house. We budget for $100 all year round so that we are prepared always for the expense. It definitely has gone over $100 some months (usually in the beginning of winter when we forget it costs money to turn our heat on, ha!) but then we usually just become more aware after that and keep it down.
This amount actually just got upped and will probably be the next thing we up again in our budget when we start making a little bit more money. I'd say it's the most annoying category in building a budget and where we go over the most. Greg hates having to think about money with food. He is a man who loves his food and doesn't like any restrictions on it! But we lived with a budget of $170 for the last year and did fine. We just moved it to $200 last month as we were cooking at home more and wanted to be able to buy more ingredients (and we could afford to up it).
When we upped our food budget we upped our eating out as well, as we kind of lump them together a lot. Greg and I usually never spend more than $15 when we go out. In the past it was $30 which could get us usually at least two dinners out a month, sometimes three. Now we have put it at $50 to give us a little more leeway when friends invite us out! Also Greg has been going out for some of his lunches at work as a treat, so we've built it into the budget. :)
Basically the only reason this was put into the budget was so that when we went out to a movie that wasn't with each other (aka it wouldn't come out of the date fund) or did any other activity without the other, we would have a place to take it out of. It doesn't usually get used up every month as we do a lot of things together. :)
Our dates didn't need to be a very high amount because we rarely go to movies that aren't on Tuesdays, which where we live means $5 for a movie. Other "dates" we use this fund on is if we go get ice cream or frozen yogurt, but again that doesn't cost much. This one doesn't get used up every month because our "dates" usually just end up being in eating out budget. But it is nice to have it as an option and a budget for it!
This fund came out of one month where there was three, one year old birthday parties we had to buy gifts for and Greg said, "Where's the limit?". haha! We created a gifts budget. This one is the hardest to gage. Some months there are three birthday's, some there are none. Or if you are an awesome person like me you forget it is someone's birthday until Facebook notifies you and so you have to run out an grab a gift card! We've talked about upping it but some months we don't spend any! So far we've kept it and just tried to be more aware and plan better! I do a lot of DIY gifts, or more thoughtful rather that expensive gifts, but I've been told I'm a great gift giver so I can tell you the dollar amount doesn't matter!
This usually consists of toilet paper, cleaning products, and occasionally if we haven't already spent it all, some fun decorating items. Usually though we spend all of this every month. I'm still working out a way to find the household items I need for a better price. I'm kind of sick of spending $4 on tooth paste, but I have yet to find a cheaper one that whitens like the name brands. If I ever do find a better solution for budgeting household items (or if you have any suggestions!) I'll be sure to share it here on the blog.
One thing I talk about in my post about buying a car in your twenties is to get one with good gas mileage. Why you may ask? So that when you budget gas, you don't have to budget as much. Greg and I live in town which makes driving places a little easier on gas, but we also both have cars that get pretty good gas mileage. Because of this we only usually budget about $100 a month for it and rarely go over that!
Greg's Whatever Fund $25
We knew we wouldn't be able to keep a budget for very long if we couldn't spend any money on fun things just for us. So we decided on an amount that we could afford and that we thought was reasonable. It was probably the best decision, my favorite part of our budget and definitely the main reason we've kept our budget under $1700 for so long. When you still are allowed to purchase things you like and that bring you joy, you are much more likely to stick to the other "rules" of the budget.
Lydia's Whatever Fund $25
This used to be called "Lydia/Clothes fund" and Greg's was called "Greg/Magic fund" because that was all we really spent our individual funds on. But Greg has recently stopped playing magic regularly and I have started slowing down how many clothes I buy in order to get reorganized and clean out what I already own. So since then I've been buying more makeup products, journals, books, etc. I love thrifting so a $25 budget is perfect. You walk into those stores like millionaire!
When we originally made this budget our income was extremely unreliable. I had steady hours but not enough that would pay all our bills. Greg usually had work but how much or how little was never known until sometimes the week of. I made about $1500 a month so we set our "budgeted" giving at $200 knowing he would make at least enough to get our total income to $2000 (giving equalling 10% of what we make). Nowadays we plan on $200 and at the end of the month when I do our budget I figure out what we actually made, then give 10% of that (usually a little bit more since we sponsor a child and such, but we make sure at least exactly 10% is being given to keep it consistent.) I don't know if giving is part of your budgeting routine but it should be. I realize it can feel like you are barely surviving and can't possibly give but that's when you need to learn how to manage your money more (and where I want to help you!). I grew up without a lot of money, but I also grew up with a mom who always gave to others and her church no matter what amount she had in the bank. She knew what I've learned and a lot of people don't know, when you give you are putting an investment in your money. It's an investment in people and trusting God with your finances. That's an investment that will pay you back in ten fold, I promise!
All Other Money
Any and all money we make that is not budgeted out goes straight into savings. We put it all away and don't touch it so that when unexpected things come up we have money to take care of them. If nothing comes up it stays in our account! Like I said, we are currently saving for a house which is why we initially started this "tight" budget so that's what our savings is focused on right now. I say tight with quotations because it doesn't actually feel tight.
As I mentioned Greg's income was pretty fickle up until a couple months ago. Some months we made just a little more than enough but other months we were putting a few hundreds into the savings account at the end of the month.
Living well within your means, means that you don't have to worry if you have enough money for that flat tire, or to help someone else out. You've already prepared for that. I truly believe it is the key in building a savings without a lot of money.
We've stuck with this budget for a little over a year now and even though we are making double our old income some months, we still live like we don't. We still keep our mindset at "we can't afford that" because the truth is, we can't, we are still saving for a house. We still live with our budget under $1700 because, living within our means, even when our income grew, meant we could put hundreds of dollars away in a savings account each month.
I don't say this to brag or anything! I say this to tell you to do it too! I'm telling you, don't depend on money! Don't work for it, make it work for you! As it is we just had to drop $2000 on my car and it's not even fully fixed yet! You can't plan these things, but you can prepare for them! We are able to fix the car because we had taken the precautions previously in building an emergency fund!
Now I want to address the fact that I totally understand that this budget is not for everyone. I don't post it thinking, "If you just did this you'd be doing it right!" I share more so you have an idea of what living on less (but still having a full life) looks like!
Also, I know that where you live might not have exact prices of things or bills I described here. It's all about finding, what I like to call "loop holes". Find that cheap activity to do that you love or a way to make it cheap. Ask businesses about any deals like ladies night, or student discounts. Cover all your bases and figure out what your town offers and how to get the most bang for your buck!
Okay, that is my diary entry/soap box post for the day! I hope you enjoyed getting a little peek into our finances. If you have any questions ask! I'm pretty open as you can see. ;) Stick around for the How To Build Your Savings post coming up, as well as How To Eat Out Under $20 For Two.