I may have mentioned this before on the blog: I am a very nosy person. I enjoy seeing a peek into other people's lives- especially when it comes to finances ;) My brother sent me an article about a girl paying off her student loans, and the article included a breakdown of her budget and I LOVED looking at it and seeing how I compare. So I thought I would share my current monthly budget* here and go into a little bit of detail about the money saving habits I use in each category of my spending.

 

*I don't usually budget, per se-- I am very used to keeping my spending at this low-ish level that I don't check throughout the month to see how much I have left in each of my budget categories to make sure I haven't overspent. Usually if I go over in one category, I make up for it by spending less in another. So this isn't really a "budget", it's just a breakdown of how I usually spend my money!

 

Note: this post is NOT here to make you feel bad about your spending! I really, truly, hope that opening up about my monthly spending will be helpful for you. Not enough people talk openly about their finances, and I want to change that! My monthly spending might look really low to you, or it might look high. This level works for me but it almost certainly will not work for you. You and I have different priorities in life, we live in different areas, have different bills, family situations, jobs, etc- but I just want to throw this out there for a point of reference!


My Monthly Budget

Rent - $1,055

Groceries - $175

Health & Fitness - $75

Auto & Transportation - $275

Bills & Utilities - $120

Restaurants - $75

Home Furnishings - $20

Personal Care - $200

Gifts & Donations - $50

Entertainment - $200

Total Spending - $2,245

 

Total Savings - $2,300

(savings category includes my 401k, Roth IRA, HSA account, and investments. Savings used to include the money I put into my emergency fund but now that I've funded it up to the amount I want, I switched and started putting money into investments)

 

 

A Breakdown by Category:


Rent - $1,055

Rent is a big expense since I live in the Washington DC area. I miss the days of $390/mo rent in Rochester :) Luckily, I share an apartment with Mike which significantly decreases our rent payments. I don't have many tips for this category other than live with roommates if possible! (although if I wasn't living with Mike, I would have a hard time taking that advice. I realllllly like living by myself, so I know the roommate thing can be hard, especially if it's random people you have to live with!)


Groceries - $175

The grocery category is MAJORLY important to pay attention to in your spending. People spend an insane amount of money on food and groceries. Here are the ways I keep my grocery bill down:

  • I use cheap-ish (but still delicious) recipes. Any recipe with an absurd amount of specialty ingredients is not for me. A list of my favorite recipes is HERE! I really like the Budget Bytes website for cheap recipes.
  • Lame but true: make a grocery list every time you shop and STICK TO IT.
  • Meal planning. It annoys me every week (I hate planning out the meals) but saves a LOT of money and wasted food.
  • You can freeze many things (including coffee creamer! that's one of my favorite tips) so buy in bulk and freeze what you don't use.

Health & Fitness - $75

I am very lucky to work for a company that pays 90% of my health insurance, so that helps to keep this category low! I also don't pay for a gym membership; I workout by running or walking outside, doing bodyweight workouts (this is the one I have been doing recently), and doing workout videos on youtube (I love Tone it Up and Yoga with Adrienne). I do sometimes miss having a real gym, but I like saving money :)


Auto & Transportation - $275

This category includes $200/mo that I put into my Auto Sinking Fund, and then ~$75 for gas or public transportation.


Bills & Utilities - $120

One major way I keep my bills down is by using a super cheap phone plan. I used to have Republic Wireless, where I paid $10/mo for my phone plan (yep, it was a smartphone, and yep, it really was $10 a month). I switched to Ting in December 2015, because I am obnoxious and MUST have an iPhone and Republic Wireless doesn't support iPhones. I spend about $25/mo on my Ting plan. I would strongly recommend looking into Republic Wireless or Ting (or any other non-major phone provider) to cut your phone bill down by a LOT! Bonus: both of those providers are no contract, which is nice.

Also, we just started using Sling TV for our cable (we still pay for internet though) and that's a nice money saver too!


Restaurants - $75

We don't really go out to eat at restaurants much. If we do, it's somewhere cheapish like Chipotle. Also we are a big fan of finding coupons for Chipotle/Baja Fresh (sign up for Baja Fresh's email list, they give out $5 off $15 coupons ALL.THE.TIME). Sometimes we do "splurge" (I define splurge as anything above like, $10 per person for a meal haha) and go to a good local bbq place too!


Home Furnishings - $20

I don't buy many home furnishings. It probably helps that I'm in an apartment and move around a lot (so it's no use to buy things to decorate when I know I'm just gonna have to move them somewhere else in less than a year), and it also probably helps that I try reeeeeeally hard to stay away from the home furnishings department of Target, TJ Maxx, and Homegoods. Honestly, I do have moments where I really want to buy a cute throw pillow or blanket, but I can usually talk myself out of it.


Personal Care - $200

This is always a hard place to keep spending down :) Lately, I've gotten big into minimalism which helps me to not want to buy a million new articles of clothing. I also try to unsubscribe from retailer's email lists (it's never good to be bombarded by ads that make you want to buy things) and unfollow people on social media who make me want to buy things.


Gifts & Donations - $50

This category includes birthday gifts, christmas gifts (my family and I do Secret Santa, so we only buy a gift for 1 other adult in the family [we still get gifts for my nieces] which saves a LOT of money), donations, etc. The $50/mo evens out across the year- some months I don't really use this category, and other months (before Christmas, usually) I spend more than $50.


Entertainment - $200

I have worked hard on this category over the past... 8 years? I can honestly say that I have cut my entertainment spending WAY down in that time. It wasn't a quick process, but I gradually switched over to more free activities rather than entertaining myself with paid activities. Instead of going out to bars, I much prefer buying a 6-pack and going to a friend's house. I NEVER go to the movies (redbox all the way) and am totally happy just spending time walking around our neighborhood. I also have a big obsession with the public library... I cannot handle how many people in our generation BUY books. So unnecessary. I have found the free/cheap activities that I love and try to fill my days with those activities.


Savings - $2,300

I put about 50% of my income into savings, which is SWEET. I'm really proud that I've gotten my spending down this low and am always trying to cut my spending even MORE so I can increase my savings amount. Mike and I really like the idea of early retirement, so we're saving a bunch of money now in order to retire early :)