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:
- 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.