I realize I’ve mostly been posting random thoughts about how strange it is to be pregnant and not much useful information on the topic of frugality.
I guess this is because we’re sort of naturally frugal and have never done any specific downsizing projects or adhering to a strict budget.
We actually don’t have a “budget” at all. Our method of budgeting is: Charge everything on the credit card (we have one joint card), try not to spend too much, pay it off at the end of the month, put any extra money towards our massive student debt.
We have one checking account that both our paychecks go into, and all payments go out of. We have a savings account for our emergency funds, and 7% of our paychecks go into 401k accounts through our employers.
At the end of the month I go through the credit card statement and itemize everything in an Excel spreadsheet (takes about 20 minutes) just to keep track of our average expenses and make sure nothing unusual is showing up on the statement or with our checking account. Maybe it’ll be useful if we ever do have to find specific places to cut our expenses, which most likely will happen after the baby’s born, depending on my work situation.
Here’s how I break it down, the numbers are a rounded average of expenses for the last six months:
Water & Trash: $56
Gas (House): $46 (This is misleading because it excludes the coldest months. Jan. was $130 and Feb. was $168. Our house is only about 900 sq. ft. but it’s really old and obviously not well insulated! We’re going to an energy workshop next month though so maybe will get some help with that.)
Gas (Car): $189
Liquor: $181 (In MN, liquor stores are separate from grocery stores so it’s easy to keep track of this. Most of the months in this average were when I was still drinking, so it’s gone down since then!)
Misc: $275 (This is one of the categories that bugs me most. One month I tried to keep track of what all this “misc” expense was, but that lasted for about one trip to Target. Some of this could be put into groceries and maybe clothes, because we occasionally buy food at Target and maybe a shirt every once in awhile that gets counted with all things Target under “misc”.)
Going Out (Restaurants, Bars, Entertainment, etc.): $221
Gym: $163 (This is the category I try not to let bug me. Nathan’s gym membership for his jiu jitsu classes is $120/month. Mine at L.A. Fitness is $30/month. But, he absolutely loves it and I try not to be our financial dictator, so…. There you go.)
Car Payment: $200
Cell Phones: $60
Car Insurance: $66 (For a 2006 Toyota Corolla and 1995 Honda Civic)
Homeowners Insurance: $63
Cash: $110 (What I take out of the ATM every month. We try to just use the credit card, for tracking purposes and to get rewards points.)
Savings: $250 (Into emergency fund)
And the whopper….Minimum Monthly Student Loan Payment: $1,016
So, that’s where our money goes each month. Anyone have suggestions for better budgeting or controlling expenses? I don’t know how we’d ever be organized enough to track as we go during the month to make sure we’re not spending over a certain limit.
Do any of the numbers in these categories seem out of the ordinary? I’m especially interested in how much people with small houses around the country have to pay for utilities, or if I could be getting better insurance rates!