We live on a pretty tight budget, but a tight budget can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My number one goal when starting this blog was to provide transparency. I feel like there are a lot of fakers out there who try to give advice about budgeting and being frugal, who in reality, either aren’t or don’t have to be. In the name of transparency, I am going to share regular posts this year about our budget and well (or not well) it is working for us.
The only purpose of sharing this information is for my own accountability and transparency. I am in no way trying to solicit financial advice and if you should feel the need to be negative or judgmental over how I choose to make it work, your comments will be deleted without hesitation. Happy reading!
Here’s the plan:
Income Source #1: $1400.00
Income Source #2: $900.00
*Income does not include deductions for medical insurance premiums, child support payments, and 401K contributions. There is a pretty big chunk of our income going towards these things. This working budget is just for the money that we actually see and is not representative of our complete income and expenses.
Total Income Expected: $2300.00
Groceries/Household: $600.00 (this includes every miscellaneous expense, including dining out, entertainment and gas)
Utilities: Electric, Gas, Water: $140.00
Cell Phones: $100.00
Car Loan: $230.00
Student Loans: $165.00
This budget doesn’t give us a lot of wiggle room. In fact, I hope that I was a little conservative on income estimates or we will be cutting our savings target short just to get bills paid. I know that there are things that we could cut or spend less on, but we already feel like we have trimmed out as much of the extra as we can without feeling deprived.
The amount of money that we spend on housing is the lowest end of the scale for the area that we live in. Without sacrificing our safety, we would not be able to cut this expense down any further.
We could save a little money by switching to prepaid phones, but our experience with them wasn’t that effective at saving money. We opted for phones on a family plan that give us unlimited talk/text/data for around $50/mo/line.
We did forego cable television, but we both agreed that we needed some access to entertainment and were therefore keeping the internet.
Theoretically, we could save money by buying a cheaper car. However, neither of us are that handy and we tried that and it failed miserably. I was spending as much or more every month in maintenance on the older car and neither of us felt that we had a reliable vehicle. We were basically just holding our breath all of the time, waiting for the next thing that needed to be fixed. We chose to finance a new car so that we had something that was reliable.
The student loan payments are a fixed debt and we don’t have much wiggle room there. Hopefully we will be able to add some additional income in the coming year to pay down that debt.
Our goals for this year are simple. We want to be able to pay our bills on time, keep credit cards at a zero balance by the end of every month, and add $1500 to our accessible savings.
We are starting out in a pretty good place. We don’t have any credit card debt, and last year we had stopped using them and just tried to make it work, but it didn’t. We do have to stay pretty committed to our budget and there are a lot of things that we do without, but we do have all that we need.