Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Budgeting 101 : My REAL budget, with REAL numbers

Okay, so this is a scary one to type out. I'm going to share with you today my real budget, my real life spending numbers. I'll have a separate post soon about where my money is going, essentially a budget check in, a broken down version of where my "miscellaneous" expenses are going.

HINT : Target & wine (if Target ever starts to sell wine near me I am in serious trouble)



A few notes before I get started. This is where MY money goes. It goes there because I tell it to. I choose the aspects of my life that I can control carefully, so I can put my money towards things that matter to me. Travel matters to me, and it's evidenced by my spending. Clothes do not particularly matter to me, and you'll see that below too.

I get it, not everyone can have a budget like this, whether you live in an expensive city (NYC, I'm looking at you) or want to prioritize buying all organic (you go girl!). I am showing you what I spend each month, give or take, in the hopes that it might inspire you to cut some of your excess spending so you can spend that money in a way that's meaningful to you. Trim Starbucks spending to buy a new purse, or trim your grocery budget to go on a weekend getaway, rent a cheaper apartment so you can pay off your student loans faster. It is all up to you.

| side note | Haterz will not be tolerated, "This is impossible" - umm nope, here I am over here, living my life & this is my budget. Since I'm not starving or dead I'd say it's going well. Any more stupid statements?

You may see a few things "missing" from my budget below. Debt repayment - student loans or a car payment. I don't have one. I busted my butt from August of 2012 - December of 2014 paying more than quadruple my monthly student loan payment each month. I threw every extra dollar I had at making additional payments. I even spent March - June of 2013 unemployed, but my budget saved me. I've paid off over $40,000 of debt and while unemployed, avoided moving back to KY and back in with my parents.

A few more notes - no decimals, math is hard enough as is. And finally, these are budgeted numbers, I'll be back to show you how well I hit that each week // month next week. So, without further adieu, my monthly budget - WITH REAL NUMBERS.

Quick facts : Single female, living in Pittsburgh, PA, no debt, doesn't care about designer purses anything.

Monthly Pay : $2,965 (take home only - I put about 15% of my pre-tax monies into my 401K)
Rent : $350 (this includes my water, sewage, trash & interwebs)
Gas // Electric : $50
Car Insurance : $80
Groceries : $120
Gas : $120
Gym : $30
Race Entries : $50
Health Insurance : $40
Clothing : $250 // quarter = $83 // month (this includes running shoes)
Dining Out : $120
Misc : $100
Savings : $1550 (Monthly recurring withdrawals mean I don't even miss the money)

Now, if you're good at math you already noticed this, but my spending + savings adds up to less than my monthly take home pay. Why yes, yes it does. I like to keep a buffer of a few hundred dollars around in case I need something like emergency car maintenance, or quick cash from my checking account. Monday I paid for new front brakes for my car, and while not something that's fun to spend money on, it will have zero impact on my monthly budget. I monitor my accounts carefully, if my buffer gets above $500 or so, I transfer the remainder to my savings account.

But, wait, I said above I like to travel. And I do. I budget $5000-ish annually to travel. If I come in under that, okay, if I go over that by a little, that's okay too. Where does it come from? My "savings". Even if I only put $1550 away monthly, I save $18,600 annually. But, in 2015, I managed to "save" an extra $3000, just by transferring additional money to my savings account when my buffer went over $500. And this year, I've saved an additional $6K - which, if you think about it, covers my travel for the year, while leaving my net savings at $18,600. Is this confusing yet? Hope not.

I use my "savings" for things like stock market investment, Roth IRA contributions & just straight up as an emergency fund. I keep a certain amount of $$$ as liquid cash, and the rest funnels through my savings account to other things, like stocks, and adult-ness.

Like I said (probably 4 times already) I'll be back next week with real numbers - in case you were curious what I spent at Target last month. And considering doing a weekly or bi-weekly little post about my grocery shopping haul + meal plan. 'Cause cooking for 1 ain't always easy. Would that interest you?

What budget questions do you have?
Where do you prioritize your spending?

Linking up with Amanda to share + FunMoneyMom + Dare to Share + Best of the Blogosphere LovePastaToolBelt + SewCraftyAngel

41 comments:

  1. budgeting is such a valuable skill to have and it's important to learn how to do this early on...which is why i'm trying to get my 8yr old to be more money conscious...you can never learn the value of money too early.

    i'm a saver at heart; always have been. i splurge when i need to (vacations and skin care mainly) and everything else goes into investments and/or high interest savings accounts.

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    1. Yes yes yes. Sounds to me like you've got a good handle on it, and your kiddo probably will too. I think seeing responsible spending from a parent is such an invaluable asset.

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  2. I'm terrible at budgeting. It's actually really helpful to see how others do it though. I'm currently trying to think of ways to introduce money handling to my 3 yr old. I hope I can teach her to be better with money than I am.

    #twinklytuesday

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    1. I think my parents didn't talk about it around me enough growing up. I got an allowance but didn't really have to save up to buy things I wanted, so the budgeting concept was sort of lost on me.

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  3. I love, love, love this. And good for you for being able to save that much! I have astronomical expenses (student loans, rent, internet, etc.) and I'm barely getting by every month. Even though I enjoy my job, I've been doing side projects and looking into getting a new job because the pay is so low! Honestly, I just got a *ding* from my checking account this morning that I only have $8 in there. Woooo, girl. =/

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    1. I definitely couldn't save like this if I had student loans still. I stalked Craigslist for a much cheaper apartment because I didn't spend much time in it anyways, I figured it was worth more to me so put the $ elsewhere.

      But good for you for doing side projects & looking for a new job. It's definitely a tough balance between finding a job you love (I previously left one that owned my soul) & one that pays enough.

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  4. Can I say, I seriously hit my head on the desk reading your health insurance expense. I have to pay over $400 a month to have the WORST FREAKING HEALTH INSURANCE IN THE WORLDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
    ... can you feel my anger?

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    1. I can. That sucks big time, because if I had to guess I would say you're subject to whatever plans your work decides to offer, but they probably all suck. But you probably make too much money to find any good deals on the insurance exchange. They're probably even more expensive than your work plan. Which, if you ask me is all kind of a crock of BS. Especially since you're probably paying for coverage you'll NEVER USE. I'll stop my rant here before I get too carried away.

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  5. Do you have roommates? I am stunned that you pay $350 (including water, sewer, internet).... we pay $50 for internet alone.

    I must say you have some mad budgeting skills though. I realize I have a husband with a big apptetite at home, but I have no idea how you only spend $120 on groceries. We spent more than that in a week. And don't get me started on health insurance .... like Rebecca, I pay close to $400 a month.

    I know, I know, it's hard to compare. We also live in CA where EVERYTHING seems to be more expensive.

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    1. I have one roommate, which I'll be sure to highlight in my more detailed post next week. Honestly, I'm very lucky, my landlord provides internet as part of our rent. Since my apartment is the upper floor of her house it works well.

      I definitely think having a husbands appetite would change my budget. I'll start working on a post or two on what my grocery list looks like & how I use the things I buy!

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  6. I've been running my budget the same way for 15 years. I had to make a few adjustments to more saving etc. Anyway I like to see what other people do.

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    1. WOW. That's great that you've been able to just make minor adjustments. I'm hoping that's what I'll be able to do going forward as my life changes.

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  7. I'm liking it! And I'm always curious about other people's budgets because frankly - I don't have one & I am careless with my finances. I'm getting too old to continue doing that so seeing other's budgets really help!

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    1. Girl! Get yourself a budget! It's so easy, and so comforting knowing you have money. Let me know if you want help, I'm a nerd about this kind of stuff!

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  8. What a great budget! It's amazing that you paid off all your debt and are able to save so much. I got really into finances last year and am working on the debt repayment part right now. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Steph. So great that you're working on debt repayment. It can be tough going, but once you're done you'll feel so relieved!

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  9. I am always so impressed by those of you who can budget things and stick to them! You are doing fantastic!

    I'm with you, I don't care for expensive bags, I have a few from a previous life, but have no interest in them anymore.

    I find my biggest money vacuum is eating out for lunch. It's my biggest meal of the day, and I have the hardest time packing lunch! maybe i'll sit down and come up with a real menu for the next three weeks.

    My bank has an automatic savings account, as in everytime I use my debit card, $1 gets transferred to my savings. and I have a certain amount of my paycheck transferred to my savings automatically each month. This is my in case of emergency fund.

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    1. That's a neat feature, the $1 to savings. Especially since it's an amount you won't miss but can really add up.

      Honestly, maybe instead of going straight to meal prepping you could buy some prepared frozen meals? It will save money, but won't require as much prep. Or even just making enough at dinner to have 1 extra lunch a week could be an easy $5-15 savings. :)

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  10. Dang girl - you've got this down to a science! Write a book :)

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    1. Haha I definitely want to make this budget bit into a longer series, so I hope others find it interesting!

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  11. My biggest money vacuum is eating out. I'm not proud of it, but I absolutely loathe cooking and meal prep. I think I just made a subconscious decision that the time spent preparing something that's going to be scarfed down in 10 minutes is worth more than the few extra dollars it costs to eat out. Good decision? Probably not. But hey, we can't all be perfect.

    Other than that I'm really not a big spender. I don't travel much and I'm not a huge shopper. I do occasionally splurge on running clothes but I've cut back on that and it's usually only once every few months anyway. Racing less has also cut down on exorbitant registration fees.

    Good for your for being so smart with your money. It will pay dividends (see what I did there?) down the road!

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    1. Honestly, I'm not sure if I would do all the meal prep I do if I didn't want the money for other stuff. And I definitely make time & money comparisons all the time. Sometimes it IS worth buying or paying for something you could do yourself, we all value our time differently, and we all enjoy different things. I enjoy cooking AND grocery shopping, so the prep doesn't bother me.

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  12. I am so jealous of your rent figure as here in Australia we're looking at paying $600-700 minimum a WEEK :(

    This is such a helpful post for those looking to start budgeting! My spending tends to be focused on rent + bills + health. I have acupuncture once a fortnight which is pretty pricey but a must for me so we always have that as a mandatory part of our budget.

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    1. A WEEK!? I just about fell out of my chair. Even for just like a standard little apartment!?

      That's the great thing about budgets - if acupuncture is a must, then just slide that right on into the budget!

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  13. You know I love reading about money posts :) we have similar life styles I think- spending on travel and running instead of designer things. Auto transferring to savings helps so much. Also- when I get my annual raise this automatically gets added to my savings amount (like this year I got an extra $50 in each paycheck so I just added $50 to my normal saving).

    Also- Im so curious how your rent is so low! Do you have a few roommates? Maybe I only lived in expensive areas of town but my rent was always close to 1k a month. I should have looked elsewhere to save more :-/

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    1. Oops I saw you answered my question above- ignore that!! Smart girl :)

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    2. I definitely need to start adding my yearly wage increase to my savings. I've been stagnant at $1550 a month for a few years now. I auto increase my 401K withholding every year, but I can do better than that.

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  14. EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO MAKE A BIG GIRL BUDGET BECAUSE YOU'VE INSPIRE ME. Girl, you're killin it. We put a lot of emphasis on travel as well - even though we haven't done much big travel in the past 2 years (babies.). But I think because we put to little emphasis on 'stuff' it has enabled us to save more than people our age. We bought our house when I was 23 and Alex was 25, knowing I wouldn't be going back to work. BUT lived with my MIL for 9 (long) months to save on rent and get the down payment, and only bought what we could afford. Friends come to my house and talk about how tiny it is (600 sq ft for 2 adults, a toddler, a baby, a dog and a cat.) but it's ours, we own it. While my friends are wasting money in an apartment or living with their parents, we own property that we got very cheap in a growing location. Rent at our old apartment was $1200/month, not including electric, internet or cable (ugh, NJ) and our mortgage is 950ish. So we're saving 250 a month plus about a third of that is going towards our principal.
    Like you, I get really frustrated when people say the way I live is impossible - I'm 'lucky' that I am able to stay home, own a house, and even have just bought a new car (the true reason we got it is to make road trips easier with the boys) but we've had to make sacrifices to make it work. My one girlfriend literally spends $500 on clothes and make up each month and then a week later complains that she doesn't have the down payment for a $400,000 house because she insists on it being perfect and turn key. I think a big issue people have is they refuse to get real with their money instead of just acting like it's monopoly.

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    1. Wow - good for you for saving for that down payment. It's crazy how different prices can be in different areas. One of the reasons I continued to rent was how much cheaper it was than buying a place.

      Out of curiosity - how many bedrooms, do O & Ryan share?

      I was so impressed that you all got that van - so I knew you guys must handle your money well.

      I think the big problem is money is virtual now. You don't fork over legit cash, you swipe your credit card. You don't have to think about it. Websites save your payment info, there is no pain in it. I think if you had to hand over $20's people might give it more thought.

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    2. Yeah I mean, living with my MIL for my entire pregnancy was... interesting to say the least, BUT totally worth it.
      It's a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. There is a kitchen and living room, plus a back room that holds our washer/dryer/fridge. Both rooms are exactly the same size (12x12) but our mentality is we would rather have the boys OUTSIDE than in their room. Plus, I cannot wait for bunk beds because I'm really weird. I think if we had an extra room I would still try and push them together, at least until they hit puberty and things got weird. We have almost a half acre of fenced in property, which when we were house hunting was our big priority, so that definitely helps with maintaining sanity.

      I also just think that money management isn't really a concern/emphasized enough with millennials. I will be very (very, very, very) interested to see how the statistics for debt and things like home ownership look for our generation 10 or 20 years down the road.
      (Though, I did read an article about how "all" millennials have houses because their parents bought them for them. Let's just say the author got a very angry 2AM email from a particularly exhausted mom in New Jersey. Sorry I'm not sorry. )

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    3. I definitely agree with the better out than in mentality. Didn't know if this newborn stage of Owen's caused issues with Ryan sleeping.

      A half acre that's all yours?! And fenced? That really is awesome. And I'm super jealous.

      UGH, I'm scared to know what the debt statistics will be like. College, owning a home, buying a car, even just credit card debt! I feel like you grow up in a country where there is trillions of dollars in debt, and no one seems to be worried about it, so why would some personal debt be all that bad?

      Ooh man, I'm with you, parents buying kids houses? Those kiddos need to grow up and fend for themselves.

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  15. These are some of my new favorite posts to read. I love the money diaries posts on Refinery 29. I just find it really interesting to see how others save! I'm pretty frugal but I admittedly don't pay as much attention as I should when spending money. And living in Boston, my rent is exorbitant. But I do think it's important to start paying more attention now that I'm getting a little older.

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    1. Yes, I just found those as well and totally stalked them all. So I have a similar post I'll have up next week.

      Definitely a highest cost of living city for sure. But I think knowing where you money is going makes you more conscious before you spend it!

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  16. I'll be completely honest, and I'm not great at saving, but I don't like spending money on myself. How would you budget for things like giving/gifts?

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    1. Hey Emily,
      I don't have a large gift budget, because I don't do tons of gifts, usually I can make it work in my MISC budget, or through my buffer.

      If I were spending a bigger part of my money there I think I would make it a separate category. Let's say $100 a month, and I would roll over any money I didn't use. So, if in January I only spend $50, I would have $150 to spend in February. This would be a great way to save for bigger events too like Christmas if you planned to spend lots of money then, you could sock away a little bit all year long so it wasn't a big deal during the holidays.

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  17. I love this post! It looks like you have an awesome grasp at your budget and I think that's awesome! Mine could definitely be improved but I do use a manual Excel spreadsheet and I've totally found that I cringe when I enter bigger numbers for silly purchases. So whenever I'm like "hmm should I buy this?" I think about the feeling of entering that number into my spreadsheet and how I would feel. It's weird but it works for me!

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    1. Whatever works! I do that too, I cringe when I think about seeing the # pop up on my credit card statement. I try to think to about how much joy or use I think I might extract from a purchase.

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  18. THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE.

    just kidding. i am jealous of your rent lol. even with a roommate lol.

    i love seeing how people spend their money. the last couple of years i have really focused on watching where my money is going and all that, but i don't have a strict budget i don't think.. i pay my bills and try to save a certain amount, and everything else is loosey goosey or goes into savings. it doesn't help that i am always planning or paying for travel so we rarely have loosey goosey money. plus then we had a few unexpected boring adulty expenses that ruined our savings, but you know, what can you do.

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    1. I definitely think my savings rate will drop once I'm paying for things like home repair. Or even when I live with the BF. It's almost easier to save money living alone because a lot of things I just don't care about. I eat a certain way, I buy what's on sale. Etc. So, I'll have to do an update once we live together.

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