One big question mark for me over the years when I have been doing our own personal budget has been whether what we spend is "normal" compared to the average American. I knew we were cutting back everywhere we could and trying to find alternate sources of income, but were we missing something? It has always felt difficult to make progress financially. "Is it easier or more difficult for others?" I wondered.
I thought it might be helpful to share an example of our own personal budget in case others have the same sorts of questions. I am basing this off of our budget from October of last year as it was a more standard budget for us, as opposed to now with COVID quarantine, everything is different. For example, now our vehicle gas and childcare costs are lower, but our electricity, internet (we upgraded since we are both working from home), food, and so forth are higher.
Keep in mind as well that we have been through a lot of phases with our budget. There was a time when we were broke college students making close to minimum wage and living in campus housing, then we were DINKs (double income no kids), but our salaries were both significantly lower than they are now and we had debt that we were paying off. Then we were down to one full time income + my side-work, but we didn't have childcare costs. So although this is not a representation of what our budget has been for all of time, I still think it is helpful as an example of an average middle class family.
We do our budget in mint.com, but I transferred the numbers to a spreadsheet for this purpose.
We adjust our budget every month to be specific to THAT month. For example, in this example month from last October we took a trip to see family in Canada. We only have travel in our budget a couple of times a year.
I kept the -0- items in since I think it is equally important to see what we had to cut out (like the glaring -0- on house projects....sigh), or some things that may pop up in later times during the year (like the vehicle registrations/inspections).
The income is our NET income, which means it is after taxes, retirement contributions, health insurance, and Drew's life insurance.
Over the years I have spent a lot of time working our bills down in whatever way I can by shopping around, comparing prices, and taking advantage of promotions. So if you see things like our internet and phone costs and think it is low, just know that it took some work to get it there.
What kinds of questions do you have for me? What about you, how does this compare to your family's budget?