Money Makes the World Go Around: A Budget

I’m going to keep this short and practical. I realize budgets will vary from city to city and based on circumstances, but I think we can have a fairly frank talk about the amount of money we are spending. I’m not saying we’ll settle on a ‘Jesus says you should live by this budget’, but we will hopefully have a honest discussion about things. I’ll just throw this out off the top of my head to get the discussion going:

Monthly Budget 

  • Rent/Utilities/etc- $500
  • Food- $100 (per person)
  • Car (insurance/gas)- $100
  • Miscellaneous- $100
  • Emergency- $100
  • Fun Money- $100

That’s a $1000 budget per month. Now let me try and explain each category in my own opinions.

  • Rent/Utilities/etc- Some might say this can’t be done, but I strongly believe that if your renting you can find a place (you might need to share it!) that will cost you no more then $500 a month, including the utilities. Sharing is usually the way to go, studios are an option, and being a little flexible with the neighborhood might be a good thing. (Mortgages fit in differently in my opinion, more on that another time).
  • Food- I think you can probably do it for less then this (especially if you know how to score free food), but $100 per person ($200 for a couple, I guess) is more then reasonable. Of course, if your eating fair trade, CSA, organic, etc. It might creep above this number, but not much.
  • Car- Obviously there might be a circumstance where you travel for work and must drive your car, on your own, all over the place, and rack up many miles. I understand that, but most of us, if we put in some effort, could reduce our trips, car pool, and find other ways to keep well within this budget.
  • Miscellaneous- This category covers the occasional expenses that come up unexpectedly. If you need more hand soap or detergent, maybe a new pair of slacks for work, or other similar things.
  •  Emergency- This is money I would save up, putting $100 a month in an account somewhere, not exhausting it each month. Then, when you have a medical bill, appointment, car maintenance, etc. This money is there to cover it. That’s $1200 a year for emergency medical and car, is that enough?
  • Fun Money- This is my favorite category for married couples. My wife and I don’t agree on everything we should spend out money on. So, each month we get an ‘allowance’ of fun money that we can each individual spend however we want. We usually get cash, so it doesn’t show up on our bank statement, for the other to scrutinize and agonize over.

And that’s basically our budget. Now there are a few discrepancies I should point out. School tuition was not on there, nor was school loan repayment, it doesn’t account mortgages, nor large medical expenses or vehicle purchases. I think these fit into a different category other than the regular monthly budget, and rather then complicate things we’ll discuss those in another post.

6 thoughts on “Money Makes the World Go Around: A Budget”

  1. I go under that on the rent, under on the food, under on the fun money, under on the miscellaneous, but I definitely go over on the car. My insurance is kinda high right now, plus gas, and the repairs I’ve had to be doing lately.

  2. You make it look so easy! We try to pay our car insurance up front so I’m not sure how much it is for us per month. Our living expenses are higher at the moment, but we have cut back on our gas because our location is within walking distance of many things we like to do. Thanks for putting this out there!

  3. I can’t imagine what you eat to live on 3 dollars a day for food? Can you do a few posts on just how to eat cheaply and affordably? I am clueless on how to get that cost down and very curious as to how you can do that. It usually costs me about $350 dollars a month for groceries, eating out a few times, household supplies and toiletries. And I thought I was choosing the cheap options for things…I guess not!

  4. Carrie –

    try this: http://www.slashfood.com/2007/05/06/how-to-eat-healthily-on-the-cheap/

    if you learn some basic kitchen techniques and are willing to prep some food yourself, you can find bargains and get that grocery budget down under the $2 a day mark. Put your restaurant budget in a different place and don’t count toiletries – really look at how much you are spending on food alone.

    Great stuff, Ariah. I like the basic guidelines here – we can all work to get closer to this budget every day.

  5. do you guys have health insurance, or do you op out of that? jake gets health insurance with his job, but since i work for a ministry where I raise my own support, I get mine and will be getting Asante’s through jake’s work. problem is that mine is $350 per month, and Asante’s will be $150 per month. I go back and forth on whether i really need it…this past year has been good because we were trying to get pregnant, and after the hospital bills in a month, we’ll have saved money. However, we’re thinking about cancelling it for me after the first of the year. What are ya’lls opinions on that?

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