What an interesting experiment! At the beginning of the month, I set out to track every cent we spent, and that’s just what I’ve been doing. Donning my snappy green visor and attacking the project with an all-out Excel spreadsheet, I’ve tallied and categorized and summed up our expenditures. And you know what?
It’s kind of exactly what I expected!
Here’s the breakdown -
- Mortgage: 46%
- Bills: 11% (cell phones, gas, electric, trash, internet, and this month we paid our yearly co-op dues)
- Groceries: 19%
- Eating Out: 12%
- Coffee Etc: 2%
- Sups and Meds: 1%
- Dog food + Chicken food: 1% (hello! homemade dog food for the win!)
- Baby: 1% (who says having a kid is expensive?!)
- Transportation: 3% (gas + bus)
- Miscellaneous Fun: 6%
- Savings: 3%
There are some things that really jump out at me. Firstly, holy hell our mortgage is huge. Almost 50% of our entire income, it’s no wonder times are tough around here! But we always knew that and for us, it’s worth it to be where we are and to own our home. We heart HQ!
Now, about that food . . .
So groceries account for about 20% of our expenses, which sounds much less appalling than the actual dollar amount (I *for reals* gasped out loud when I tallied it up). Add to that the additional 12% that we spent on eating out (which, to be fair, includes Damian’s lunches – most often at Whole Foods and I support that because it’s the healthiest choice), and we’re spending over a quarter of our income on food!
So that may sound sort of crazy, but here’s the thing. Look at what we spent on “miscellaneous fun”. While most people go out to movies, live music, bars, buy clothes, buy gizmos, treat themselves to any number of small pleasures, we sorta . . . don’t. We live a really simple life and with a toddler, we just don’t “get out” much (actually, we go out a lot, but it’s to parks and to FarMar and other things like that). Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not knocking anybody’s choices. We love movies and we miss them so, especially our beloved pub theaters, but our life as it is right now just isn’t conducive to that.
But everyone deserves a little escapism. And for us, that means . . . the Whole Foods hot bar on a hectic Wednesday night. Ha! Or our favorite Lebanese takeout for a Friday evening picnic. Or a grocery bag full of fancy foods – all local, biodynamic, and hippie-approved. We’re food geeks, plain and simple. Some people buy cashmere. Some people buy stereo equipment. We buy wild-harvested fiddlehead ferns and organic raw macadamias. We eat the healthiest and tastiest foods and for 31% of our income, I say “Hells yeah!” Totally worth it, and I’m glad that now I know the numbers.
Some other interesting points, to me, were the “Coffee Etc” and the “Transportation”. Both of these were super low, and I’m happy to see that. I expected coffee to be higher (so yay!) and transportation is right where it should be. I’m proud of that.
Over all, I think our budget makes a lot of sense for our current lifestyle. I’m sure that it will change as our lives do – as Waits grows and his needs change, as Damian excels in his career and our income increases, and as I gain more freedom and am able to contribute more to our finances. 6% is pretty low for “Miscellaneous Fun”. I’d like to see that number go up. MORE FUN!
I’m curious to hear from you guys. How does your budget break down? Where have you placed your priorities, and how does that affect your spending?