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Monthly budget, am I a Scrooge, careful or living it up IYHO?
Old 11-01-2011, 11:40 AM   #1
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Monthly budget, am I a Scrooge, careful or living it up IYHO?

Here are my average monthly costs for the last year. What do you think?

Item Monthly payment
Electricity 60
iPhone 65
Cable & internet 125
Gas 25
Oil 95
Water 67
Misc 200
Auto Ins 75
Health Ins 400
House tax and ins 550
Food 400
Car and Travel 80
Tax 320
Monthly total 2462
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:47 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nun View Post
Here are my average monthly costs for the last year. What do you think?

Item Monthly payment
Electricity 60
iPhone 65
Cable & internet 125
Gas 25
Oil 95
Water 67
Misc 200
Auto Ins 75
Health Ins 400
House tax and ins 550
Food 400
Car and Travel 80
Tax 320
Monthly total 2462
Individual, couple, family?
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:07 PM   #3
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Individual, couple, family?
Single, white, male.......
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:19 PM   #4
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Yes, I'm afraid you are a Scrooge. Terribly sorry to break it to you like this, but there it is.

The average American spent $4,009.08 per month in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You spend less than 62% of that amount, and it's a year later. Please correct your miserly ways and start trying to live up to the American lifestyle.

More seriously, this seems like kind of a meaningless question without knowing exactly where you live and what your lifestyle is like.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:30 PM   #5
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Switch from the iphone to a Virgin pay as you go or Straight Talk pay as you go. Cut that 65 to 32.

Cut the cable and internet to DSL. Go from 125 to 35.

100 / week for food is a lot. Cut that to 50 or 200 per month.

Health insurance could be high at 400 / month. Switch to a high deductible plan and an HSA. Let's say that gets you 200 per month.

Misc can't be that important since it isn't itemized, so let's drop half of it. 100 more freed up.

Congratulations, now you have an extra $623 a month or $7476 a year. Maybe you can spend it on an iphone, cable, better food, premium health insurance, and other misc. expenses

The cuts I described would align your budget with mine. I am happy with the lifestyle I lead, but my peers certainly spend much more. Probably double what you do, in fact.

It all depends what you want to use the money for.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:38 PM   #6
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If you are happy go with it!

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Old 11-01-2011, 12:40 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Here are my average monthly costs for the last year. What do you think?

Item Monthly payment
Electricity 60
iPhone 65
Cable & internet 125
Gas 25
Oil 95
Water 67
Misc 200
Auto Ins 75
Health Ins 400
House tax and ins 550
Food 400
Car and Travel 80
Tax 320
Monthly total 2462
To me it looks just about right, neither Scrooge-like nor living it up, although I'm surprised at how much your water and your house tax and insurance are.
Here, my water (+trash, sewer, recycling, park fees) in 2010 came to $21/month.
My house tax + insurance in 2010 totaled $247/month.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:40 PM   #8
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To me, the first priority is how much are you saving towards retirement? Once that is set, spend the rest.

iPhone and cable/internet stands out as more than I would spend for my family, so you are placing extra emphasis there I would say.

I have areas of higher spending as well. Just realize where your spending is likely higher than average and consider if that makes you happier or if you are just overspending.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:46 PM   #9
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To me, the first priority is how much are you saving towards retirement? Once that is set, spend the rest.
Good point - - I didn't spend anywhere near this much when I was saving towards retirement. I'm not doing that any more.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:46 PM   #10
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The state you are in nun would also be helpful. A Scrooge in NJ would be living it up in AR on the same amount.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:05 PM   #11
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There's definitely room to cut back but it seems reasonable. I spend less than half as much but that's not for everyone. Even at my peak, with just 10% going to 401K, my take-home was only $2400/mo so that seems like a lot to me. If you can afford it and you're happy then go for it.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:13 PM   #12
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My house tax + insurance in 2010 totaled $247/month.
Wow, insurance must be crazy expensive near the coast because I know your taxes are relatively cheap. My house tax + insurance totaled $83.17/mo
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Here are my average monthly costs for the last year. What do you think?

Item Monthly payment
Electricity 60
iPhone 65
Cable & internet 125
Gas 25
Oil 95
Water 67
Misc 200
Auto Ins 75
Health Ins 400
House tax and ins 550
Food 400
Car and Travel 80
Tax 320
Monthly total 2462
what immediately sticks out is TAXES AND INSURANCE.
the 2 expenses which tend to go up no matter what is going on in the economy.
You live on a lot less than most people. I do not think you are a scrooge it
just your choice on how you budget your money.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
To me it looks just about right, neither Scrooge-like nor living it up, although I'm surprised at how much your water and your house tax and insurance are.
Here, my water (+trash, sewer, recycling, park fees) in 2010 came to $21/month.
My house tax + insurance in 2010 totaled $247/month.
I live in Boston so costs are relatively high. The house tax, water and insurance are high because I own a 2 family house, but I get $1200 by renting the ground floor flat.

Quote:
Switch from the iphone to a Virgin pay as you go or Straight Talk pay as you go. Cut that 65 to 32.

Cut the cable and internet to DSL. Go from 125 to 35.

100 / week for food is a lot. Cut that to 50 or 200 per month.

Health insurance could be high at 400 / month. Switch to a high deductible plan and an HSA. Let's say that gets you 200 per month.

Misc can't be that important since it isn't itemized, so let's drop half of it. 100 more freed up.

Congratulations, now you have an extra $623 a month or $7476 a year. Maybe you can spend it on an iphone, cable, better food, premium health insurance, and other misc. expenses

The cuts I described would align your budget with mine. I am happy with the lifestyle I lead, but my peers certainly spend much more. Probably double what you do, in fact.

It all depends what you want to use the money for.
These are all good LBYM suggestions. I'm still working and didn't include saving in the costs, just what I spent.

The iPhone is non-negotiable, I'm hooked. The cable bill can definitely be reduced. I have a digital receiver already so I can get 25 basic channels for free and just a good internet connection will cost $50. Food can be reduced as it includes meals bought at work and $100 on weekend beer and food and also it's mostly Wholefoods. The health insurance is a 2000/4000 policy and is one of the cheaper options mandated by MA so there's no wiggle room there
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:44 PM   #15
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Wow, insurance must be crazy expensive near the coast because I know your taxes are relatively cheap. My house tax + insurance totaled $83.17/mo
That's wonderful! Yes, insurance is a lot in states affected by hurricanes. I think Florida is probably even worse. Here is what I am paying for property tax, homeowners' insurance, and flood insurance:

2010 Property tax: $873
2011 Property tax: (bill comes in December)

2010 homeowner and flood insurance: $1507 + $588 = $2095
2011 homeowner and flood insurance: $1603 + $638 = $2241

So, in 2010 I paid a total of $2968, which is $247/month. However, I have noticed that in states with lower insurance rates, often property taxes are higher.

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Originally Posted by nun View Post
I live in Boston so costs are relatively high. The house tax, water and insurance are high because I own a 2 family house, but I get $1200 by renting the ground floor flat.
In that case, I think your expenses are not excessive. Sure, you could cut back if you need to in order to retire earlier, but if you are proceeding according to schedule then I think you are doing just fine. I wouldn't look at those expenses with shock, blurting out "LBYM, my a##!!!" , in other words. Likewise, I wouldn't worry about your lifestyle being so ascetic as to be twisted and sick.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:45 PM   #16
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nun,

Instead of placing you in a category, I would say you fit comfortably on the nice bell-shaped curve of spending represented on this forum.

I know that, one way or another, we have discussed this subject many times before. It is always interesting to see what others spend, save, "have", etc. Any feedback is probably worth about what we all pay for it. Still it can be fun. I would rarely criticize what someone else spends or doesn't spend. Still, the budget differences on this forum probably represent at least the 99% we all hear about. (Haven't heard many claims to be too far up into the 1%, but if you count assets rather than income, many of us actually are in the 1%!)

I've mentioned many times that part of my retirement "strategy" is to be able to cut back if need be. So, currently, we (2) spend more than 3X your budget. Don't know if I even have a handle on some of the "ponderable" questions like opportunity cost of owning a condo, depreciation costs of our 2 beaters, keeping a "foot" on the mainland by owning a business and apartment and car there, ($9k so far this year), etc., etc. So, if I were to comment on your current spending, it would be to suggest you dno't have a lot of room to cut back. Perhaps I am wrong. I was once.

Looking over what we spend for the various categories, I'm certain we could cut most things by half or more (we eat out a lot and buy ready-to-eat foods.) We live in Paradise instead of on the frozen tundra of the midwest. We are giving our kids their inheritance while we are still living by funding their Roth IRAs and insurance policies. We give significant amounts to several charities since we feel that we have been abundantly blessed. None of this is to imply that anyone else should do what we do. It's just our thing. We've become comfortable with the prospect, that if it all goes south (make that north in our case) we have options to help us survive on a budget almost as tight as yours. I wouldn't want to, but I've done it before and could do it again. YMMV.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:26 PM   #17
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Here is what we do in MO
Item Monthly payment
Utilities 250
Health Ins 110
House tax and ins with auto ins 275
Car gas 70
Food 400
Taxes 50
Monthly total 1155


No Iphone or cable.
Your numbers sound high but that is coming from a MO guy. I am sure Boston is not cheap. Do you want to move out to the Midwest? http://frugalzeitgeist.com/cheapest-...r-840-a-month/
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:13 PM   #18
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I live in Boston so costs are relatively high. The house tax, water and insurance are high because I own a 2 family house, but I get $1200 by renting the ground floor flat.



For Boston you are doing great !
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by rec7
Here is what we do in MO
Item Monthly payment
Utilities 250
Health Ins 110
House tax and ins with auto ins 275
Car gas 70
Food 400
Taxes 50
Monthly total 1155

No Iphone or cable.
Your numbers sound high but that is coming from a MO guy. I am sure Boston is not cheap. Do you want to move out to the Midwest? http://frugalzeitgeist.com/cheapest-...r-840-a-month/
I enjoy reading the various budget and cost of living prices different people quote from where they live. Like you Rec, I live in MO. Midwest is so much cheaper than almost anywhere else, especially outside the 2 main city areas in MO. I'm not saying it's better than any place, but when you've been here your whole life it's what your used to. My total annual costs of the necessary evils of car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, personal and property taxes are way under $4,000 year, combined.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:25 AM   #20
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I agree with braumeister. We all have different lifestyles, hence different financial needs. However, about $2,400 / month sounds like average. I would not change a thing as long as you are happy.
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More seriously, this seems like kind of a meaningless question without knowing exactly where you live and what your lifestyle is like.
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