Author Topic: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]  (Read 9129 times)

EconDiva

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I love reading the case studies just to see people's budgets.  I often compare them to mine to see ways I can budget better. 

I really would like to be living on $2k/month or less...right now I'm closer to $3k.  Biggest expenses are housing and food and I haven't figured out how to cut those down enough to get under $2k. 

Anyways, I thought it would be interesting to see budgets of those who are living on $2k/month or less for those who'd like to share.  (Maybe if you're $2,500 or less feel free to also share.)

Please also include:

Age
Targeted FIRE age
If you're in a low, medium or high cost of living area
Feel free to speak on areas you cut down on the most since starting your FIRE journey and how you were able to do so/what sacrifices were made (new job, moved to another location, etc. etc.)

TIA

PoutineLover

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2018, 11:04:02 AM »
My current budget is as follows, but will decrease in a month as I'm moving in with my partner.
Right now, single, 26, MCOL Canada, 1 cat. Target fire age 45 (trying to increase income to make this happen sooner)
Rent 725
Electricity incl. Heat 50
Phone 69
Internet 65
Transit (Dec to March) 66
Groceries 200
Other 400 (includes cat food/litter, household supplies, clothes, etc.)
Travel 200 (1 big trip plus a couple little ones per year)
Insurance+professional dues 75

L2

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2018, 11:05:55 AM »
Age:26, single male.
Targeted FIRE Age: 40 is the probably best case scenario.
Low to Med Col. (big city in OH)

Rent +water : $863
Utilities (gas, electric): $55 - sometimes a little higher ,sometimes lower depending on season.
Phone: $0. Reimbursed by employer.
Internet: $43.
Groceries: $140.
Dry Cleaning and laundry: $55
Haircut: $16
Dining Out & "going out" allowance: $225
Gas and car insurance: $84
Health & dental insurance: $62
Student loan: $200.

Total:$1,743

That is sort of my bare bones budget. I don't always follow everything (such as going out) to the T. Not included, but I also allow myself a $300/month allowance for "fun money". Includes entertainment, vacation, etc...but I didn't include it because I don't really HAVE to spend that.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 11:08:39 AM by L2 »

Raenia

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2018, 11:12:33 AM »
Age: 28 (living with partner, but budget is per person)
FIRE Target: 40-45, depending on life events
Medium COL, I guess?  Suburban Philadelphia

Monthly Budget
Rent: 625 (2BR apt, split 2 ways)
Utilities: 100 (phone, internet, gas, and electric)
Groceries: 100 (incl housewares)
Car: 150 (gas, registration, maintenance, insurance)
Recreation: 150 (incl eating out and travel)
Other: 150 (clothes, gifts, hobbies)
Total = 1275

Any given month may be more or less, I don't keep a strict budget but just track expenses so I notice if a category is getting high and can pull back for a few months to balance it out.

The biggest area I've been able to cut down was by moving closer to my work.  Lots of savings on gas as well as not having to use toll roads as much.  I also started walking to certain errands within a mile or two, like the library and post office.  The other thing is ordering takeout less.  That came from when I first started tracking, and realized that we were ordering in way more often that it felt like.  Some good planning on groceries and batch cooking ahead helped combat that.

Zikoris

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2018, 11:46:09 AM »
We're averaging about $2200/month for two people.

Ages: 29 and 31
FIRE target: 35
Live in Vancouver.
We haven't made any kind of sacrifices or done anything particularly notable, we just don't really buy things. I suppose we did stop home grocery delivery service, if that counts. And I get my hair done at a barber nowadays instead of a salon.

Average spending for 2017:
$800 - Housing
$800 - Travel (we went to Thailand, China, Portugal, Spain, France, Vegas, Mexico, and a bunch of little getaways within Canada)
$300 - Food
$75 - Cell phones and internet
$50 - Personal Care
$175 - Everything else
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 11:48:12 AM by Zikoris »

RWD

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 12:02:47 PM »
33, married. I'm assuming you're asking for $2k/month per person (otherwise we don't qualify).
Targeting FIRE age 38-40
Medium-low cost of living

This is our average monthly expenses from last year divided by two:
Food/consumables $183
Auto $171
Entertainment $62
Housing $353
Utilities $105
Other $444

Total: $1,318/month per person

I have a more detailed version in my journal. We don't really budget, I just track what our actual expenses are after the fact.

drachma

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 12:34:17 PM »
Age: 30
Targeted FI: 35
Medium COL
Single

this budget has been roughly unchanged for several years and now runs like a well-oiled machine (almost all deposits/payments are automated). There are areas I could cut down on (used to spend half the amount on groceries... but fresh vegetables and a few more "advanced" ingredients make me happier) but I am at a happy medium that keeps me sane for the lifestyle I am living right now.

775   rent (includes H/HW)
80   internet & entertainment subscriptions
35   electric
40   cell phone

250   groceries

60   gym
125   vacation savings
350   discretionary spending

125   gas
40   car ins
50   auto repair savings
85   auto replacement savings
20   auto maintenance costs

40   healthcare premiums (direct out of paycheck)

2075 TOTAL

so I'm a little over 2k but my discretionary spending is sometimes less or more. Often I do not spend my entire vacation savings as I take cheap camping vacations, but I keep the money there so I can feel 0 guilt and even a little bit proud of myself when I'm able to splurge a little bit while on vacation and still know that I'm "under budget." Also i keep healthcare premiums in there as a little reminder that that part of my budget will likely increase during RE, even though the majority of it is paid by my employer right now and most people aren't including that line item in their budgets.

I expect that most mustachians don't have car payments, but I have a specific line item in my budget that allocates some $$$ every month to go towards a NEW car when this one eventually dies. I arrived at this number by taking my desired price for a new(to me) car and dividing by the expected lifespan of this car. $1000/year * 5-10 years = 5-10k to spend on a replacement vehicle + trade-in/scrap value. It's probably not completely accurate but better than not counting it. Similar strategy for car repairs - I've been setting aside $50/month since I bought the thing. don't use it every month but eventually I expect I will use it. similarly, regular maintenance (oil changes, scheduled service) registration fees etc work out to about $20/month.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 08:31:56 AM by drachma »

Radagast

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2018, 12:40:16 PM »
28 & 34
target FI at 45/39 (ouch)
Medium COL

House   800 (but is a duplex bringing in 700, so it is actually 100)
Food   500 (minimal effort at constraint)
Tuition   400 (DW earning BSN at community college)
Travel   300 (overseas, every year, expect future reductions with improved credit card hacking)
Money to PIL   300 (DW from country where expected to give money to parents with successful career)
Utilities/i'net   300
Life/Disab Insurance   200
Home Maintenence   200
Gifts/Shopping   200
Car   100
Phones   60 (technically employer fully covers this and then some)
TOTAL   3360

Accounting for rental income, subtracting tuition and money to PIL, and employer phone reimbursement, that is
House   100
Food   500
Tuition   0
Travel   300
Money to PIL   0
Utilities/i'net   300
Life/Disab Insurance   200
Home Maintenence   200
Gifts/Shopping   200
Car   100
Phones 0
TOTAL   1900
For an extravagant life for two people, eating out often and eating well at home, maxing out annual vacation time with overseas travel, very well insured, copious phone plans, etc.

fell-like-rain

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2018, 03:06:14 PM »
SINK, HCOL area

740 rent (sharing a small 4br apartment)
50 utilities (gas, internet, electric)

130 groceries
230 eating/drinking out
140 entertainment/shopping
60 misc

1350 total

I also budget around $300/month for travel and other large expenses, but haven't really been spending most of that. Call it $1500, $1550 with that thrown in. (If you're wondering, I'm still on my parents' work-provided phone and insurance plan, as it costs them nothing extra)

As to the 'how' of my budget, which seems to be what you're really asking, a lot of it's just living in a small place with roommates and not having a car. I actually like having roommates, as I feel you get a more 'home-y' situation that way, and it doesn't hurt that I'm paying 1/2 to 1/3 the price of a local 1 bedroom. No car is just a function of dense urban area + layering well for 4 months of the year.

Other than that, most of my hobbies are pretty cheap- writing, drawing, etc. I do pottery as well, which is expensive on a cash flow basis but is generally revenue neutral (I may start doing more marketing and actually turn a profit, but that's a ways away). I shop at the local discount grocery (Market Basket for the win!) and meal prep dinners, more out of weeknight laziness than anything else. I actually buy lunch out every day at work, which is probably my one real extravagance. I buy thrifted clothes and used books, and I generally don't have much of a drive to shop, so that keeps that spending low. My friends have pretty similar habits, so it's not like I'm being pressured to go to $15-a-drink places all the time. It seems kinda simple from my perspective, though I think that's more a function of temperament than anything else.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 09:37:09 AM by fell-like-rain »

neophyte

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2018, 03:42:19 PM »
I aim for $2000 a month.  I blow it every month, but that's usually my fault.  I used to try for closer to $1000.  The biggest difference was in housing.  Medium-high COL area, but housing varies a lot by neighborhood here. $1200 /month could be a studio apt or a mortgage on a 5 bedroom house.

My $2000 / month budget

Mortgage PITI: $1200 - but my roommates pay me rent and I come out ahead here. Not sure how to factor that into the budget, so I'm only counting the "money out" side of the equation. If we count both, my housing expense is -$375 /month.
Electric: $50 -split with roommates
Gas: $50 -split with roommates
Internet: $60 -I pay total
Water: $75 -I pay total
Groceries: $215 -  possible to go lower, but I don't want to change how I eat.
Home improvement: $100 - automatically withdrawn to a different account every month, then I dip into that account when needed
Classes: $100 - automatically withdrawn to a different account every month to encourage me to get out of the house and do various extracurriculars that I would otherwise balk at. So far it isn't working.
transportation: $10 - mostly I walk everywhere, usually take public transit a couple time a month
entertainment: $115 - this is mostly clothes and eating out. It's also where I regularly go over budget. Vacations usually come from churning and out of what would otherwise be savings.
Pets: $10 - I used to share a cat with my roommate, but I adopted a dog last month. My budget needs a reshuffle cause he's expensive.
Healthcare:  $15 - The optimistic version where I get two dental cleanings a year and nothing else. I blew my annual budget in January this year!

Average actual spending:  $2100-2300 /month

My old $1000 /month budget:

Rent:  $475 - shared 2 bedroom with 1 roommate and countless mice and cockroaches. The cat resents the new luxury digs.
Utilities: $50 - split gas and electric, landlord paid internet and water.
Groceries: $215
Transportation: $10
Entertainment: $70 - I always blew it
Cat: $10
Healthcare: $15
Other/buffer: $155

Actual average spending over two years was $1025-$1115 /month


Clearly I view my budget as more of a suggestion than written in stone. My savings rate is pretty high, so that works for me.




« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 03:50:31 PM by neophyte »

Orvell

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2018, 03:54:17 PM »
Not so much a budget as a rounded idea of what my expenses are.

Rent: 600 (shared house owned by my roommate)
Food: 200
Utilities: 60-100 (depending on time of year)
Phone/Tech: 30
Eating out: 60-70
Insurance (car, health, etc.): 180
Medical: 50
Art supplies/etc.: 50-100
Gas: 15
Donations: 45
Pet: 50
Other/Personal: 20
Entertainment: 30
Misc./Clothes/Household: 50

Usually averages to about 1.5K/month in expenses, excluding tax burden.

Age: 29
Targeted FIRE age: ??? Depends on a lot. I recently went down to 32 hours at work and took a paycut by choice in order to reduce stress and spend more time on art.
If you're in a low, medium or high cost of living area: Medium COL

:)
I have things pretty well stabilized at this point-- I've lived around this range of spending for several years.
It has enough cushion to save up for trips within, as well as live a plenty lush life (hello massive food budget and art spending flex!).
I got a bit more breathing room when we moved into the house my roommate now owns and my rent went down 200$.
I don't make a ton of money but it's enough to sustain this plus a 30-40% savings rate. :)

Radagast

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2018, 08:30:12 PM »
It seems the common factor for people actually living below the 2k/month limit is controlled housing costs, especially through shared living arrangements.

Carrie

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2018, 09:19:40 PM »
Housing: $300 for prop tax, ins, hoa
Food/household goods $600
Auto ins + gas + maintenance (2 cars) $150
Utilities  $175
Phones/internet/cable $300
Life ins $80
Pest control, pool membership, other/amazon/Sam's  $70
Kid activities, misc school stuff $85
Clothing/hair cuts/ shoes $50

Total about $1810, so $2k is about right when figuring in christmas/birthday gifts/random stuff

Family of 5,
col index 88/100, house paid off
Early 40's, probably FIRE-able in 3-4 years, or for sure in 7 years when oldest kid goes off to college.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 09:21:43 PM by Carrie »

Zikoris

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2018, 09:45:44 PM »
It seems the common factor for people actually living below the 2k/month limit is controlled housing costs, especially through shared living arrangements.

You definitely need to find some method to get a handle on housing costs if you want to be under 2K, particularly if you live in an expensive area. Mathematically, you're not going to be able to keep costs under 2K if you pay standard market rates for housing in pretty much any major city. If we paid standard rental rates in our city and wanted to stay under 2K, we'd have maybe $300/month to pay for everything non-housing - food, bills, transit, cat food, personal care, the works, for two people. And if you're badass enough to figure out how to do everything not-housing for $10/person, you're badass enough to figure out cheap housing.

Radagast

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2018, 10:28:53 PM »
It seems the common factor for people actually living below the 2k/month limit is controlled housing costs, especially through shared living arrangements.
yes and no. If you own a place or rent a place with low enough mortgage or rent I think it's very doable alone - even easier as with an SO. Getting roommates or sharing allows you to live in a nicer or bigger place or better area then you might be able to if living alone for the same amount. As a single person (or even if SO moved in) I don't need a nice 2/2 house with a 2 car garage and a fenced yard. I could have gotten a one bedroom or studio apt for around $800/month maybe less and lived alone well under $2k/month. However with a roommate or SO I not only pay less but have a nicer place with privacy and a yard for the pup.

Of course if I wanted to live in a HCOL area where rents for a one bedroom are near $2k/month then its impossible unless you share.

Same with the paid off mortgage. Once I paid my house off (and paid off the exDH for his share of the house) and built up my stash a bit I got rid of the roommates and lived alone in a HCOL area. It was cheaper for me then doing the shared rental because my prop taxes and other housing expensesbwete so low. However some people with paid off houses still have huge tax bills or maintenance costs so they might be better off renting. Or sharing. Or both.
It looks like 4 of 12 responses mentioned roommates or tenants.
5 of 12 mention having a SO
3 of 12 seemed to be single, and one of those was over 2k/person
2 mentioned paid off mortgages
They are not exclusive, and I think I counted some of them wrong.
Costs for the shared-living-type people seem to be lower than the (few) single ones. Deliberate lowering of housing costs seemed to me like the stand-out trait of people with low monthly expenses on this thread. The sample size is small, but the rate of shared housing looks to be higher than what I guess is the US/Ca average.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 10:05:37 PM by Radagast »

Hirondelle

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2018, 11:26:15 PM »
Copied from another thread:
24 yo, single, frequent mover so many different COL areas.
I've been single in all of the living arrangements I've been part of so far. Here's my budget for the last 3 places where I lived, ranging from HCOL to ELCOL. I lived in two more cities, but expenses were similar to current MCOL situation except that my healthcare and public transport was still subsidised by the government as I was a student.
No targeted FIRE date yet, current savings rate about 50%. Haven't cut any costs, trying to increase income without increasing expenses. I always prioritize living in a central area of town to minimize commuting. I hate driving and never had a car so I avoid that at all cost, except that I loved my moped in Asia.

My monthly budget in a HCOL city in the USA (Boston). Lived here for 8 months:
- Rent: $800 (basement apartment, 1 flatmate, utilities included, 30 min biking from center but 5 min biking from work)
- Food: $100 (Stop & Shop mostly, farmers market for veggies)
- Gym: $60
- Public transport: $10
- Restaurants/Bars: $40
- Bike: $3
- Travel: $200 (this was high as I was an exchange student and tried so see as much as possible now I was "close")
- Clothes: $7.50
- Laundry: $5 (couldn't get over the fact I had to pay for laundry seperately. Washed as little as humanely possible)
- Phone: $7.50
- Banking: $7 (transferred money from home)
That makes a grand total of $1250/month including tons of travel and a fancy dancing gym.

Current budget MCOL in Netherlands. Currently been here 6 months, left Misc. category high as it will take a bit longer to see how some one-offs average out over time:
- Rent: €385 (130 sqft, utilities included, 2 flatmates, city center - will drop to €290 starting next month)
- Food: €100
- Health insurance: €75
- Restaurants/Bars: €50
- Sports: €16
- Travel: €100-150
- Public transport: €40-50
- Medical costs: €20
- Phone: €2.50
- Presents: €15-20
- Charity: €20-50
- Clothes/Furniture/Other shopping: €30
- Misc: €100
Total just under €1050/month using the higher end of the estimated ranges and not factoring in soon-to-be-lowered rent.

Monthly budget in an extremely LCOL Vietnam. Lived here for 4-5 months:
- Housing: $160 (apartment in wealthy, central neighborhood with 2 flatmates, 30 min walk from downtown/tourist area)
- Restaurants/Bars: $150-180 (eating out every.single.meal + many coffees + many beers)
- Transport: $60 (motorbike, repairs, gas. I commuted 1-2h daily on the motorbike as I had 5 different jobs all over town)
- Insurance: $20 (travel insurance covering medical expenses)
- Clothes: $5-10
- Health: $10
- Presents: $10
- Visa: $30 (visa run every 3 months)
- Misc: $20 (phone, fines, laundry)
Grand total of $500 a month living a super fancypants consumerist lifestyle. I didn't travel in this period as I'd been traveling full-time the 5 months prior to settling down. If I'd stayed longer term, I'd have taken a nicer apartment though ($200-250 range) and the motorbike expenses would've dropped due to cutting back to 1-2 jobs and the purchase price of the bike would be divided by more months.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 01:34:11 AM by Hirondelle »

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2018, 01:28:41 AM »
32
FIRE'd at 31
Lived in HCOL NYC, now in HCOL NoVa/DC

Most of my cuts in spending made my life better, and I don't see them as sacrifices. I stopped drinking alcohol, stopped eating at restaurants as often, learned some tasty, healthy batch cooking methods, doubled down on free entertainment, stopped buying home decor, cut cable, and took trips through work and volunteer organizations. I started getting my clothing through free swaps, inviting friends over for dinner, and meeting dates for coffee or walks in the park. I don't have a car and don't want one. Same with kids. :p

The cut that has negatively impacted my life and still does: my cheap cell phone. It drops texts and has unreliable service outside of NYC. Since I have been traveling and no longer live in NYC, this is an issue. I've managed, and it's a first-world problem, but I will likely spend a bit to get something fancier.

This was my 2015 breakdown, from when I lived in a fancy, too-big apartment in NYC. 2016 was very similar.

2015 Financial Summary, Part I

Spending

Rent: $15,600
Food: $1,895 ($158 monthly average)
Health insurance (pretax): $785 ($450 if you consider taxes avoided)
Utilities: $547
Internet: $549
Transit (Metrocard, almost all pretax): $1,413 ($918 if you consider taxes avoided)
Transit (Other): $466
Travel: $668
Health/home supplies: $249
Entertainment: $234
Manufactured Spend: $22
Gifts: $18

Total Spending in 2015: $22,446 ($1,870/mo)

Total Spending with Tax Savings Factored In: $21,616 ($1,801/mo)


2017 was much less expensive. My boyfriend and I broke up, and since he has much higher living standards than I do, I was able to drop my fixed monthly expenses by almost $1,000. I had higher medical spending (approx. $1,500) and a lot more donations.

Estimated 2017 breakdown (monthly):

Rent & utilities: $500 (lived in what was technically a living room - not ideal long-term, but fine for a year)
Food: $200 (WAG - I became a little looser on restaurants in my last months in NYC)
Health insurance (pretax): $70
Medical: $125
Transit (Metrocard): $125
Transit (other): $10
Travel: $100
Health/home supplies: $20
Entertainment: $20
Cell phone: $20
Donations: $300

Total: $1,490
Total without donations: $1,190

Since Dec 2017, I haven't had rent or medical premiums. I've done a mix of couch-surfing, house-sitting, and campaign housing. I'm not tracking anymore, but this is a wild educated guess. This is making me curious, though. I may go through my accounts to figure out more exact numbers and see how far off my guesses are.

Dec 2017 - present:

Food: $100-200 (varies a lot by where I'm staying and how much I eat out)
Travel: $200
Entertainment: $75
Cell phone: $20
Misc: $30

Total: $425-525
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 01:32:25 AM by MonkeyJenga »

Khaetra

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2018, 07:06:12 AM »
I own my home, so no mortgage:

Insurance/taxes (taxes are lower than ins): $300
Water:$70
Electric (can vary) $200
Health ins: $200
Car insurance: $100
DirecTV/internet/phone: $360
Car maintenance: $50
Food: $400
Entertainment/travel/things hired out (varies): $350

Total: $2030/month.  Some months it's much lower, like when the temps aren't scorching hot and I can open the windows and not have to pay my yard guy every two weeks.  Other months I go over.

NotJen

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2018, 08:05:30 AM »
38, single in terms of expenses
FIRE goal: Dunno - 40s?
LCOL

I don't budget, but I do track expenses.  My expenses vary wildly from month-to-month.  So far this year, they have been $3000, $1000, $3200, $2000.  Last year, I averaged $2,300/month.  I paid off my house several years ago (from income/savings, not a windfall or anything).  My living costs are pretty extravagant, considering.  I spent a lot on food, but have cut down somewhat over the last few years - I'm not trying to control this area too much right now (I eat out a lot as part of social activities, and also buy fancy local food through CSA and farmer's markets, these are NOT a cheap alternative to the grocery store around here).

Monthly-average ordered expenses (after savings and taxes)

$  796   Food - Groceries and dining out, includes alcohol
$  328   Home - Includes prop tax, insurance, utilities
$  243   Miscellaneous - Misc, household, leisure categories
$  205   Vacation
$  150   Pet Care
$  145   Healthcare
$  130   Auto - Insurance, gas, maintenance, tax, registration
$    83   Donations
$    69   Cell/Internet
$    53   Personal Care + Gym
$    50   Gifts
$    35   Clothing

tarheeldan

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2018, 08:23:31 AM »
Single, 33yo in New England:
Target FIRE 40 the latest
low/medium COL

Rent   $9,987.84 (2br, includes heat, hot water, and internet, so-so part of town)
Electricity   $505.00
Natural Gas   $110.00
Auto/Rent/Umb Insurance   $913.12
Auto Registration   $164.20
Auto Service & Parts   $800.00
Netflix   $131.88
Amazon Prime   $99.00
Pet Registration   $8.00
Mobile Phone   $400.00   
Charitable Contributions   $375.00
Groceries   $1,925.00
Gas   $850.00
Clothing   $150.00
Home Supplies   $150.00
Pet Food & Supplies   $150.00
Vet   $250.00
Medical   $50.00
Dental   $350.00
Personal Care   $50.00
Coffee Shops   $100.00
Restaurants   $250.00
Pet Boarding   $700.00
Home Improvement   $150.00
Movie Theater   $45.00
Gifts    $150.00
Tax Preparation   $15.00
Parking   $15.00
Tolls   $40.00
Music   $25.00
Car Wash   $20.00
Travel   $1,100.00
   
Total Spending   $20,029.04
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 10:02:55 AM by tarheeldan »

drachma

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2018, 08:53:13 AM »
It looks like 4 of 12 responses mentioned roommates or tenants.
5 of 12 mention having a SO
3 of 12 seemed to be single, and one of those was over 2k/person
2 mentioned paid off mortgages
They are not exclusive, and I think I counted some of them wrong.
Costs for the shared-living-type people seem to be lower than the (few) single ones. Deliberate lowering of housing costs seemed to me like the stand-out trait of people with low monthly expenses on this thread. The sample size is small, but the rate of shared housing looks to be higher than what I guess is the US/Ca average.

I was attempting to make the point that I believe many of these budgets are not true representations of long term costs. And that people might be fooling themselves if they are using this budget as a guideline for their retirement spending. Then again, I could be mistaken, projecting, or overly conservative.

I could be wrong, if it's true that people's "misc" and "spending" categories really do include the amortized cost of their vehicle / next vehicle, expected maintenance costs, or things like home repair (did you amortize your 20-year roof in there at $20k/20years? I only saw one other person include this item in their budget). But I doubt most posters are doing this especially if not already FI.

I agree that housing costs seem like the most likely way to keep your budget low. I have done the roommate thing for years and it's easy to get half the cost of the cheapest cheap-ass apartment I could possibly find in my city - being able to split monopolized utility costs (80/mo internet WTF) is a big saver in addition to just less rent. If you can go without a vehicle that's likely the 2nd biggest thing but in most cases where you can go without a vehicle, housing costs are higher.

PoutineLover

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2018, 09:21:20 AM »
It looks like 4 of 12 responses mentioned roommates or tenants.
5 of 12 mention having a SO
3 of 12 seemed to be single, and one of those was over 2k/person
2 mentioned paid off mortgages
They are not exclusive, and I think I counted some of them wrong.
Costs for the shared-living-type people seem to be lower than the (few) single ones. Deliberate lowering of housing costs seemed to me like the stand-out trait of people with low monthly expenses on this thread. The sample size is small, but the rate of shared housing looks to be higher than what I guess is the US/Ca average.

I was attempting to make the point that I believe many of these budgets are not true representations of long term costs. And that people might be fooling themselves if they are using this budget as a guideline for their retirement spending. Then again, I could be mistaken, projecting, or overly conservative.

I could be wrong, if it's true that people's "misc" and "spending" categories really do include the amortized cost of their vehicle / next vehicle, expected maintenance costs, or things like home repair (did you amortize your 20-year roof in there at $20k/20years? I only saw one other person include this item in their budget). But I doubt most posters are doing this especially if not already FI.

I agree that housing costs seem like the most likely way to keep your budget low. I have done the roommate thing for years and it's easy to get half the cost of the cheapest cheap-ass apartment I could possibly find in my city - being able to split monopolized utility costs (80/mo internet WTF) is a big saver in addition to just less rent. If you can go without a vehicle that's likely the 2nd biggest thing but in most cases where you can go without a vehicle, housing costs are higher.
Well I stated in mine that my long term costs would change once I lived with my partner, but the budget I posted was my current spending. I do expect that my monthly expenses will be lower with a partner, but perhaps higher again once we have kids, and most likely different if we (probably) buy a property, although I hope to house hack so not necessarily more. It would be impossible for me to predict my lifetime costs right now, but I'm perfectly comfortable spending under 2k a month and have done so for my entire adult life. The keys for me are not spending too much on rent, even though I do have a one bedroom apartment to myself in a good location (close to work, hobbies, groceries, public transport). And not owning a car, because I chose to live in a place where I didn't need one. If I can get away with never owning a car I will, although what might change that is my partner's desire to have one so we can get out of the city, and if we have kids it might become a necessity (although I love the idea of baby trailers). I didn't include health care costs because I have insurance at work but it costs $117 a month and doesn't put me over 2k, but I haven't investigated that cost without work since that's 20 years out and I don't think current research would useful in any way. And plus, public health care ftw!
All that to say, I believe that sub 2k budgets for single people are sustainable long term as many here have shown.

Hirondelle

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2018, 09:29:54 AM »
I was attempting to make the point that I believe many of these budgets are not true representations of long term costs. And that people might be fooling themselves if they are using this budget as a guideline for their retirement spending. Then again, I could be mistaken, projecting, or overly conservative.


The question was about current expenses ("are you living..") so that's what people answered to. I think quite a few might have different nest-egg numbers that do not necessarily align with current expenses. 

Especially for the young (single, childless) folks amongst us it's easier to have low spending, but it's also hard to predict what retirement spending will look like as there's no way of factoring in expected future expenses of a potential partner/kids. I'm not planning to live in a 130 sqft student room forever, but it's hard to say with how much and into what direction housing costs will change as I can't predict where I'll live in a few years and with whom.

With current expenses I could save up a nest egg of 300k and resign, but I consider it unlikely that my expenses will never go up unless I'd move back to a LCOL country. Hence I have no projected FIRE date or number (but I do have goals in the sense of "get to 30k by the end of the year").

Still it can be extremely helpful and inspirational to see other's budget and find areas of improvement, and to me it's even just interesting to see how people prioritize their spending areas.

Raenia

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2018, 09:33:58 AM »
I was attempting to make the point that I believe many of these budgets are not true representations of long term costs. And that people might be fooling themselves if they are using this budget as a guideline for their retirement spending. Then again, I could be mistaken, projecting, or overly conservative.


The question was about current expenses ("are you living..") so that's what people answered to. I think quite a few might have different nest-egg numbers that do not necessarily align with current expenses. 

Especially for the young (single, childless) folks amongst us it's easier to have low spending, but it's also hard to predict what retirement spending will look like as there's no way of factoring in expected future expenses of a potential partner/kids. I'm not planning to live in a 130 sqft student room forever, but it's hard to say with how much and into what direction housing costs will change as I can't predict where I'll live in a few years and with whom.

With current expenses I could save up a nest egg of 300k and resign, but I consider it unlikely that my expenses will never go up unless I'd move back to a LCOL country. Hence I have no projected FIRE date or number (but I do have goals in the sense of "get to 30k by the end of the year").

Still it can be extremely helpful and inspirational to see other's budget and find areas of improvement, and to me it's even just interesting to see how people prioritize their spending areas.

This.  My current expenses are <20k/yr, but I'm anticipating a retirement spend of at least 30k/yr, to account for changes in lifestyle.  But that's not what the OP asked.

NotJen

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2018, 09:48:46 AM »
I could be wrong, if it's true that people's "misc" and "spending" categories really do include the amortized cost of their vehicle / next vehicle, expected maintenance costs, or things like home repair (did you amortize your 20-year roof in there at $20k/20years? I only saw one other person include this item in their budget). But I doubt most posters are doing this especially if not already FI.

I know for me, that's what my savings are for.  Since I listed only my "living on" expenses, I didn't include my saving rate, or funds already saved, etc.  (Or taxes, which I categorize as an expense in my annual summary.)

Yes, my annual spending could potentially double if I needed to replace my roof.  It'll all average out in the end.  And who knows what my next vehicle will cost, or how much I'll spend on maintenance - circumstances will dictate that when the need arises ... no need to add made-up numbers before they become actual expenses.

Wayward

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2018, 10:22:10 AM »
33, SINK, HCOL area. Target FI age: 40’s?

$600     Rent (all utilities, internet included with 1 roommate)
$20     Household products (detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.)
$50     Cell phone
$250     Food (including groceries, take out, snacks)
$30     Personal care (haircuts, skin products, vitamins, protein shakes, etc.)
$70     Gas
$65     Car insurance (paid in full every 6 months)
$50     Car maintenance (doesn’t get used every month)
$30     Doctor copays
$85     Miscellaneous

$1,250 total per month/$15,000 per year

Housing, food, and transportation are the biggest expenses.  I also have $300/month student loan payments (just under $37,000 balance remaining). 

Most months I’ve been below budget, a few I have been above, but that’s rare now.  Most of my hobbies are free or cheap (reading, walking/hiking, parks, learning guitar, photography).  I also work at two different stables to be able to ride horses and make a side income, which makes my otherwise very expensive passion doable!

limeandpepper

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2018, 11:00:54 AM »
The last time I consistently tracked my expenses was a year or two ago.

The approximate average monthly breakdown (in Australian dollars) for that phase in my life was:

Rent $565 (in a sharehouse with randoms, includes all utilities and internet)
Health insurance $70
Groceries $125 (kept low thanks to free food from work)
Mobile phone $15
Everything else $75
Total $850

Don't really have a strong target FIRE date, instead I am more into a semi-retirement lifestyle consisting of part-time jobs these days and also seem to have developed a habit where I quit my job every few years and go off to travel for several months. I regard those as my mini-retirements and the above numbers do not include that. But my expenditure would still end up being less than $2000 a month if I added that in and averaged it out.

I now own a 1br apartment with my partner (we still have individual finances) and haven't really been doing any tracking, but I'm thinking about getting back into it again. I did do an estimated budget and it's easily under $2k/month. It kind of has to be as my part-time work probably won't even add up to $2k/month!

My portion of estimated monthly costs:

Usual rates and costs associated with home ownership $150
Utilities and internet $145
Health insurance $75
Groceries $250 (trying to stay away from hospitality jobs for a while so no more free food)
Mobile phone $15
Everything else $415 (because I expect to spend wayyyyy more here than the other location)
Total $1050

I'm being a bit lazy with the "everything else" category but it's genuinely tricky as I don't have a predictable employment situation at the moment, so any work related costs, including clothing and transport, can fluctuate from month to month as things change. Also the total figure doesn't include major once in a while expenses but given this basic number is low, there's still a lot of leeway before it gets up to $2000 when averaging things out.

Zikoris

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2018, 11:10:17 AM »
A lot of us lower spenders just don't HAVE big-ticket items that need expensive repairs or replacement. You're not going to need a new roof if you don't own a house, or a new car if you never bothered getting a license!

drachma

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2018, 11:29:13 AM »
I know for me, that's what my savings are for.  Since I listed only my "living on" expenses, I didn't include my saving rate, or funds already saved, etc.  (Or taxes, which I categorize as an expense in my annual summary.)

Yes, my annual spending could potentially double if I needed to replace my roof.  It'll all average out in the end.  And who knows what my next vehicle will cost, or how much I'll spend on maintenance - circumstances will dictate that when the need arises ... no need to add made-up numbers before they become actual expenses.

Well, budgets are a very personal thing so I understand that everyone has different use cases which may result in important information for one person being missing from another's budget, and vice versa. Something to be aware of when comparing online.

I, for one, use my budget to predict my required FI 'stache so it is very important to have an accurate picture of expected long term average costs. I also use it to inform my spending behavior, so I do NOT count taxes as an expense (for this purpose) since I do not have control over them and expect them to change drastically (in a predictable way) during FI. So including my current taxes in my budget would not be very useful information for informing my behavior NOR for calculating my required 'stache size. Of course, this may or may not be the case for someone else!

Using cars as an example - I have taken my past experience with near-end-of-life maintenance expenses and prepared to spend that average amount, as long as I own a car. I know that the type of car I drive now is the type of car I'll own in the future so I can estimate how much it will cost to replace. So I can make an entirely reasonable guess and add it to my monthly expenses so that I have a more accurate picture of my actual spending, and will be more prepared when irregular expenses arise. Finance is a life-long optimization problem and not only concerned with the current month or the current year.

To me, making claims about having a certain expense level is useless if it doesn't include this information - like saying "I spent $10 on lunch out but that was 3 hours ago, right NOW I'm spending $0 on lunch! See how frugal I am?" You can see how ludicrous this statement is. If you spent $10k on a car and kept it for 5 years, then it cost you $2k/year to own, and that's part of your expenses. Whether you quantify that in your budget as [$10k, $0, $0, $0, $0] or [$2k, $2k, $2k, $2k, $2k] doesn't matter, but when you're analyzing your finances or telling other people about them you can't just pick one of the $0 years without context and say it's accurate.

I'm not saying its impossible to live on less than $2k or that you all are liars. I'm just suggesting we should be honest and more ready to consider hidden and irregular parts of expenses
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 11:36:06 AM by drachma »

mozar

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #29 on: May 09, 2018, 12:00:27 PM »
35, HCOL area, FIRE date: I dunno. When I was let go from my last job I decided to pursue other goals, but having FU money allows me to do so.
[redacted]
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 01:07:50 PM by mozar »

EconDiva

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2018, 12:06:55 PM »
It seems the common factor for people actually living below the 2k/month limit is controlled housing costs, especially through shared living arrangements.

Agreed...as I suspected.  I might be moving with the next year or two and I need to make a decision to finally cut this down as low as humanly possible if I ever truly want to reach FI on target. 

NotJen

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #31 on: May 09, 2018, 04:55:35 PM »
Well, budgets are a very personal thing so I understand that everyone has different use cases which may result in important information for one person being missing from another's budget, and vice versa. Something to be aware of when comparing online.

I, for one, use my budget to predict my required FI 'stache so it is very important to have an accurate picture of expected long term average costs. I also use it to inform my spending behavior, so I do NOT count taxes as an expense (for this purpose) since I do not have control over them and expect them to change drastically (in a predictable way) during FI. So including my current taxes in my budget would not be very useful information for informing my behavior NOR for calculating my required 'stache size. Of course, this may or may not be the case for someone else!

Using cars as an example - I have taken my past experience with near-end-of-life maintenance expenses and prepared to spend that average amount, as long as I own a car. I know that the type of car I drive now is the type of car I'll own in the future so I can estimate how much it will cost to replace. So I can make an entirely reasonable guess and add it to my monthly expenses so that I have a more accurate picture of my actual spending, and will be more prepared when irregular expenses arise. Finance is a life-long optimization problem and not only concerned with the current month or the current year.

To me, making claims about having a certain expense level is useless if it doesn't include this information - like saying "I spent $10 on lunch out but that was 3 hours ago, right NOW I'm spending $0 on lunch! See how frugal I am?" You can see how ludicrous this statement is. If you spent $10k on a car and kept it for 5 years, then it cost you $2k/year to own, and that's part of your expenses. Whether you quantify that in your budget as [$10k, $0, $0, $0, $0] or [$2k, $2k, $2k, $2k, $2k] doesn't matter, but when you're analyzing your finances or telling other people about them you can't just pick one of the $0 years without context and say it's accurate.

I'm not saying its impossible to live on less than $2k or that you all are liars. I'm just suggesting we should be honest and more ready to consider hidden and irregular parts of expenses

Yes, we are coming at this in completely different ways.  (Also, note that I indicated mine isn’t a budget - I don’t do budgets.)

I expect my current spending to bear little resemblance to my FIRE spending, though I get lots of great information by tracking my actual spending.  Taxes are a big consideration in my planning, which is why I do include them as an expense and in my FIRE number ($33k/year incl taxes is the current assumption I’m using in my equation).

I get that taxes will change in the future, I just update my planning spreadsheet when changes occur.

For your car example, I don’t pretend to know what maintenance will cost in the future, as it’s highly dependant on what I’m doing when something needs fixed.  For example, I spent $250 on a maintenance item last month. Because of my current situation, I chose to fix it right away in the easiest manner.  If I had been FIREd, I could have made a different decision - maybe not fixed it, maybe fixed it myself very inexpensively (but with a big time commitment), maybe bartered, or maybe even done the exact same thing because I was feeling rich at the moment.

Irregular expenses are what savings is for.  When I need a new roof and spend the money, the FIRE date that comes out of my equation will take a (very little) hit.  If I need a new roof while FIREd, maybe it comes in a year where my investments were up and it didn’t make a dent.  Or it came in a year when I needed to make some money in a side-hustle or be extra frugal to cover it.

In other words, I’m not lying to myself or anyone else.  I spent what I spent last year.  Past performance does not indicate future results.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #32 on: May 09, 2018, 06:03:15 PM »
Are we talking GAAP or non-GAAP budget?

We are under $3k a month for two people except if you count things like buying a $60,000 sailboat or $20,000 pair of snowmobiles.  :-)




Penn42

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #33 on: May 09, 2018, 07:47:56 PM »
I'll play, though unfortunately I don't think I'll be much help to you since my housing is a special situation. 

Age: 26
MCOL
FIRE target: I'm just starting down the path, but if I could be somewhere close by around 40 I'd be tickled pink.

My GF and I split some things and don't split on others.  The things we split I pick up a bit more because I make a lot more.  These expenses are my out of pocket. 

250 - Rent (rent from GF's parents, WSG included, GF picks up electrical)
250 - Food
150 - FU fund
125 - Self funded vacation (no PTO)
100 - to do whatever I want with
48 - Car Insurance
32 - Internet
17 - Phone

Total: $972

Based on those knowns I chose $1100 as my monthly budget for the year.  I figured $128 was enough for all the little things I'm not budgeting for such as seeds for my garden, new tubes for my bike, or a tank of gas here and there.  But I don't think it is enough because I haven't actually stayed under it yet! January was my closest month at $1140.  Everything month since I've had some significant expense out of nowhere.  Life!  Last month was a medical bill from last July (?? get it together insurance) and $112 for new tags on my car that I forgot was coming up.  My average so far is $1350/m.  I still feel pretty good about it, but I'd like to get a couple months at my self imposed number for fun!




mountain mustache

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #34 on: May 09, 2018, 10:03:16 PM »
Age- 27, single
HCOL
Fire target- Who knows! I'd just love to not work after 50

$500- Rent (includes everything)
$300- Groceries
$345- Health Insurance
$100- Gas
$30- eating out (rarely spend all of this)
$30- alcohol (also, rarely spend all of this, just for random happy hours with friends)
$200- misc (household, garden, personal supplies, etc...)

Total is $1505-ish.

Every 6 months I pay $375 for car insurance
Occasionally I buy bulk meat from a farm nearby, and that is $400-$600 one time. That is not included in the budget.

Unfortunately right now I have some major medical bills, so I have an extra $550-$600 a month that I am paying... I didn't include that in my budget, because it isn't a "regular" expense. Although it's becoming pretty regular right now with a lot of injuries happening. Usually that $550 goes straight to my savings instead.

Radagast

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #35 on: May 09, 2018, 10:09:40 PM »
For example I only saw one person with kids and their expenses were low because they had a paid off house with fairly low prop taxes. So maybe being a DINK or SINK is the more common thing between us under $2kers and not just housing.
Good point about kids. I didn't notice that because I didn't look for it, like the 500-lb gorilla on the basket ball team. Of course, many respondents used a per-capita cost, which would make households with kids relatively very cheap.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #36 on: May 09, 2018, 10:18:13 PM »
Our budget (one adult, one child) has run well under $2k/mo, including in HCOLAs.

Yes, for us shelter costs is key, absolute make-or-break. But, for all but two years (out of 30), I've kept housing costs extremely low (often $0-500/mo). I've been hyperstrategic to make it happen. Shared housing, property management, WWOOFing, etc.

Long term? Yep.
Sustainable, yep.

I don't anticipate higher expenses in my old age, either. My mom lives far more simply and spends far less than I do, with very similar lifestyle and interests overall. I plan to follow her example :)

Radagast

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #37 on: May 09, 2018, 10:23:53 PM »
It looks like 4 of 12 responses mentioned roommates or tenants.
5 of 12 mention having a SO
3 of 12 seemed to be single, and one of those was over 2k/person
2 mentioned paid off mortgages
They are not exclusive, and I think I counted some of them wrong.
Costs for the shared-living-type people seem to be lower than the (few) single ones. Deliberate lowering of housing costs seemed to me like the stand-out trait of people with low monthly expenses on this thread. The sample size is small, but the rate of shared housing looks to be higher than what I guess is the US/Ca average.

I was attempting to make the point that I believe many of these budgets are not true representations of long term costs. And that people might be fooling themselves if they are using this budget as a guideline for their retirement spending. Then again, I could be mistaken, projecting, or overly conservative.

I could be wrong, if it's true that people's "misc" and "spending" categories really do include the amortized cost of their vehicle / next vehicle, expected maintenance costs, or things like home repair (did you amortize your 20-year roof in there at $20k/20years? I only saw one other person include this item in their budget). But I doubt most posters are doing this especially if not already FI.

I agree that housing costs seem like the most likely way to keep your budget low. I have done the roommate thing for years and it's easy to get half the cost of the cheapest cheap-ass apartment I could possibly find in my city - being able to split monopolized utility costs (80/mo internet WTF) is a big saver in addition to just less rent. If you can go without a vehicle that's likely the 2nd biggest thing but in most cases where you can go without a vehicle, housing costs are higher.
Speaking for myself, I made no attempt to account for employer-covered insurance in the cost which would definitely be an expense if we had to look after ourselves. The roof is in the 200/mo house maintenance. That is just an estimate, all our expenses are much much more lumpy than the summary made them seem, and like another poster I don't make a budget to meet but instead see where our money went after the fact. However the house maintenance is based on a conservative 0.2% of purchase cost per month. And I forgot about the car depreciation completely because it never shows up in practice and will be a cash-flow item. That should add $100/mo, putting us at $2K exactly.

Also, I note the numbers I presented are a very fluid situation. Four years ago I was single and clueless. Two years ago married, and we maxed our retirement accounts for the first time. This year our income will probably increase drastically in the summer when my wife starts work full time. Two years from now we may have kids and everything will be turned on its head. Four years from now we may be in a new city or a different fancypants house and everything will be different again.

tardis

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #38 on: May 10, 2018, 01:04:31 AM »
25, single, HCOL northern Canada.  No car, no alcholol almost no dining out.

Current rent is 350 for a shared apartment with a coworker provided by work, and will be increasing to about 1000 with utilities in the fall for a 400ft2 one bed.  Moving for a healthier environment disentangled from employment status and space to make art which will hopefully somewhat offset rent by having more stuff to sell and an additional tax credit.

300 food
35 phone, Netflix, website hosting
200 travel (happy for this to be less but family is on the other side of the country)
400-500 on everything else. Lots of art supplies, life drawing, art classes, running/hiking stuff, clothes, medical, the occasional movie, eating out about1-2x a month, gifts, plants, books etc.

Total with current rent~ 1350
Total with new rent ~2000

BobTheBuilder

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #39 on: May 10, 2018, 03:45:23 AM »
Age:32, living with SO, budgets is for me only (SO is very similar, but has no student loans and a different hobby)
Targeted FIRE Age: 40+ (starting late, student debt)
Med Col. (big city in central europe)

Rent/Electricity/Internet/Heating...: 560€
Phone: 25€
Groceries: 150€.
Cantina and eating out: 120€
Dining Out & "going out" allowance: 100€
Transportation: 275€ (insane distance to ph.d. project location, 5 months to go...)
Student loans: 350€.
2 cats: 50€
Vacation: 90€
University: 45€
Pers. budget.: 90€
Total: 1855€

I undercut my budget more often than I overspend.

Since I started the ph.d. I basically stopped hobbies, sadly, so I only have to spend money on running shoes right now in that category. Transportation makes me mad (carpooling 50% of drives), once I land a real job that will easily drop. Appartment is o.k. for the price but not to nice either.

dashuk

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #40 on: May 10, 2018, 04:52:41 AM »
36, married, two preschool kids. Currently 'semi-retired' as a family with me doing 3d/wk and OH as SAHM. If we carry on as we are, probably FI by 45, maybe a bit earlier if we do more paid work once the kids are in school.

In the UK, in an area with low/medium house prices. So not sure how much relevance this actually has for the OP or anyone else in North America.

Everything below is for all four of us, and is actual spend from 4/2017 to 3/2018 averaged out to a monthly figure. Conversion to USD at 1.35.

House is paid off, but mortgage payment was £500/$675.

Utilities, local taxes, house insurance - £162/$220
TV, home and cell phones, other 'digital' costs - £75/$100
Supermarket spending - £334/$450
Other buying of 'stuff' - £226/$305
Prescriptions and eyecare - £13/$17
Motor vehicle fixed costs, fuel and parking - £116/$158
Home improvement/repair - £138/$187
Eating out, doing things and a week away with friends - £89/$120
Assorted memberships and donations - £51/$68
Cash spending - £58/$68

Adds up to £1263/$1705, or if you add the mortgage payments back in £1763/$2380.

So yeah, I guess you could say the lack of rent/mortgage payments is a big factor in getting us under the OP's number.

I think last year was a bit spendy, and there's room for optimisation in there.

- dropping the cable TV and just having phone/internet gets that down to under £50.
- vehicle costs are for family car (Yaris) and small cc motorcycle for some of my commuting. Motorcycle was stolen at the end of March, which has given me the necessary nudge to commit to 100% cycle commuting (with the fallback of part bike/part bus available if I really need it, albeit at £10/day!). We're also planning to go car-free by the time all the annual costs for the Yaris land in December, so this category basically disappears next year - although a hopefully smaller number will be added to the "doing stuff" category for trains/car hire type costs.
- Supermarket spend includes about 6 months of testing the kids for suspected food intolerances, which is probably £40-50 a month of buying 'free-from' stuff. We're basically back to normal now, but on the other hand they do keep getting bigger and hungrier.
 - Obviously the cash spending is a big opaque lump of "where did that go?". Some will be essential stuff from the other categories, some less so. Likewise haven't properly dissected the non-supermarket shopping.

On the flipside, we didn't do a big holiday last year because of new baby. This year we're off to the south of France for three weeks, which would spread over the year as maybe £100/mo.


2Birds1Stone

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #41 on: May 10, 2018, 05:12:49 AM »
HCOL area but living in a small 1 bedroom apartment with slightly below market rent, and paying 1/2 (SO pays other 1/2)

Fixed

$550 - Rent (includes electric, heat, water, WiFi)
$150 - Groceries (mostly Aldi, ethnic markets, TJ's)
$92 - Health & Dental* (PPO + HDHP)
$90 - Car Insurance (2008 Infiniti g37s)
$50 - Cell
$20 - Gym
$12 - Motorcycle Insurance (2005 Yamaha RSTD)
~$950 Total

Variable
~$100 - Misc (clothing, vehicle maintenance, etc)
~$100 - gas
~$100 - gifts/charity
~$100 - Vehicle depreciation/replacement fund
~$200 - entertainment
~$50 - haircuts, personal hygiene, etc
~$550 Total

$1500 Grand Total

Target FI age - 32/33
Target RE age - 35

Funds required to maintain current spending @ 4% WR = $450k




daverobev

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #42 on: May 10, 2018, 06:13:47 AM »
This is in Canadian dollars; multiply by 0.8 for USD, or 0.55 for GBP. This is what I'm working with for 2018. Married, two children; wife works, I am FI/RE or stay at home dad depending on who asks. I have paid off 'my half' of the mortgage.

Edit: Not sure about 'cost of living', but we're in a cheapish house. I'm going to say medium, because we're not in a $40k rust belt area, but we're certainly not in New York or London. This really is a national/regional thing, I think - the house I had in the UK was about double the price of this one, with considerably less garden, etc, etc.

I mean... it almost isn't worth saying, because you can find cheapo rentals in HCOL places, or live in McMansions in the boonies - and it is reflected in the budget given - if your base costs (housing, etc) are high, that means you are in a HCOL area :P

Item            Monthly Amount
Food            $160.00
House Maintenance   $100.00
Travel         $125.00
Property Tax      $80.00
Misc spending      $100.00
Car insurance      $70.00
Electricity         $50.00
Medical         $65.00
Home Insurance      $35.00
Gas            $30.00
Water            $25.00
Petrol            $25.00
Internet         $20.00
Car Maintenance      $20.00
Cell phones         $19.00
   
   
   
Total            $924.00
Discretionary      $250.00
Excl Discretionary      $674.00


This is somewhat fuzzy; there is money going into the children's investments, but it mostly comes from child benefits from the government. Medical is very high this year because I had wisdom teeth out (I appreciate this is not high for people in the US).

No daycare at the moment but we're getting to the point that we want to put #2 in a day or two a week, so that will change things. Discretionary I have Travel, Misc, and Petrol. We will also need a bigger home in the next couple of years, so a lot of these lines will go up, and a mortgage will go back in.

Car maintenance is low because I bought a new one a couple of years ago and don't drive much. Long road trip fuel costs go in travel not petrol; petrol is just the small amount of driving I do.

Travel is supplemented by credit card sign up bonuses, though done inefficiently.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 12:15:22 PM by daverobev »

Nickyd£g

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #43 on: May 10, 2018, 07:45:27 AM »
Single, 47, no kids, live in a HCOL area of Scotland, in a large (for the UK) 2 bedroom apartment in a Victorian tenement - kind of similar to a New York brownstone.

Conversion to USD at 1.35

Mortgage £329 pm
Council tax (covers local services, such as road repairs, lighting, libraries, rubbish collection and water) £103
Factors (covers landscaping and repairs and upkeep of the apartment complex - or close as we call it) £30
Home insurance £15
Transport £0 - I live 10 minutes walk from work, and about 20 minutes from the city centre so I don't own a car
Landline and broadband £30
Cell phone £21
Gas and electricity £56
TV licence £12 - a legal requirement in the UK
Amazon Prime (firestick) £8 - I could get rid of this if I needed to.

Total fixed bills = £604

Groceries £120
Personal money £60
Hair & beauty £22 (I get my hair cut and eyebrows waxed every 8 weeks)
Christmas Fund £30
Holiday Fund £150

Total discretionary spending £382 - and this can be drastically cut, should I need to.

I currently save £120 pm into my pension (4%, my employer adds a further 3% to it, this is by law the minimum I can put in) and a further £100 in an ISA.

I'm aggressively paying down debt, throwing another £400 pm at it, but even with that my outgoings are £1,606. Once I kill my debt, I will save that into my pension.

No medical costs, as all care, including prescriptions, is covered by the NHS in Scotland.

I definitely don't make a lot, but I don't need a lot. I eat healthily, but budget judiciously, meal prep and inventory, and my grocery budget includes household items and toiletries. I meet up with friends for drinks or brunch, or use my personal money to buy the odd book if the wait list at the library is too long, flowers for myself from Aldi, thrift store clothing, or the occasional Zumba or boxing class.

My main priority is travel, so I save for a holiday every couple of years. I feel like I live really well, and I've calculated I need to invest c. £150,000 for a slightly early retirement at age 62 in order to live the same lifestyle, which is do-able, even though I'm late to the party.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 07:53:56 AM by Nickyd£g »

daverobev

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #44 on: May 10, 2018, 08:02:00 AM »
TV licence £12 - a legal requirement in the UK

Not if you don't have a TV, or if you don't connect your TV to an aerial. I used to have a TV for my PS2, but did not pay TV license because it was never hooked up for TV.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #45 on: May 10, 2018, 09:26:48 AM »
25, single, HCOL northern Canada.  No car, no alcholol almost no dining out.

Current rent is 350 for a shared apartment with a coworker provided by work, and will be increasing to about 1000 with utilities in the fall for a 400ft2 one bed.  Moving for a healthier environment disentangled from employment status and space to make art which will hopefully somewhat offset rent by having more stuff to sell and an additional tax credit.

300 food
35 phone, Netflix, website hosting
200 travel (happy for this to be less but family is on the other side of the country)
400-500 on everything else. Lots of art supplies, life drawing, art classes, running/hiking stuff, clothes, medical, the occasional movie, eating out about1-2x a month, gifts, plants, books etc.

Total with current rent~ 1350
Total with new rent ~2000
If you swich to Crave TV ($80/year) from netflix it's cheaper (Basic Netflix is $108).

More importantly you get Dr. Who ;)

Prairie Stash

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #46 on: May 10, 2018, 09:58:16 AM »
I use $2500 as my baseline estimate for FIRE; but usually come in much under (I assume we'll increase spending in retirement). 2 adults, 2 kids. My anomalies to get a low budget are:

#1 was controlling housing costs. My house has a basement that I converted to a suite; so it depends on your accounting but if I flow though the rent to pay off the mortgage, does that increase income? Some say no, some say yes. After several years it resulted in a paid off house, now I can ignore the debate. I also went from single to married to two kids, now I use the space as part of my house. I also had roomates in the bedrooms on the main floor, now my kids use those rooms. My house is huge for one person, but all the extra space was paid for by others and is now enjoyed by children. When they leave I'll rent out the suite again, it will pay for the house upkeep and then some (every 20 years it generates enough to rebuild my entire house). In short, the situation has changed every year.

#2 was transportation costs, I cut those back by not having a car for a number of years, now we have 2, in FIRE it will be one. Including purchase costs, maintenance, insurance etc. that swings my budget by $1500/year. We'll keep a single vehicle for road trips, we can vacation cheaply if we use the car and pay for the car out of what others pay for a vacation. My vacations are cheaper if I have a car, it works for me.

#3 Utilities are the weirdest and hardest to replicate hack. I pay very little for utilities by having more efficient appliances, LED bulbs, water barrels, extra insulation etc. Those incremental reductions have added up over the years, they took a lot of time to install, build, research etc. it wasn't an overnight change.

sol

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #47 on: May 10, 2018, 10:12:49 AM »
For a normal American family of five, $2k/mo per person is pretty damn luxurious.  That's $120k/yr!

My family of five is not very mustachian and even we only spend approximately half that much (depending on how you count mortgage costs).

drachma

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #48 on: May 10, 2018, 10:55:28 AM »
For a normal American family of five, $2k/mo per person is pretty damn luxurious.  That's $120k/yr!

My family of five is not very mustachian and even we only spend approximately half that much (depending on how you count mortgage costs).

are you being deliberately obtuse? I think it's quite obvious that children/dependents aren't a part of what's being asked about.

sol

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Re: Are you living on $2k/month or less? Share your budget [please]
« Reply #49 on: May 10, 2018, 11:11:30 AM »
are you being deliberately obtuse?

Often, but not in this case.

Children are real people.  They have real expenses, which have to be paid by someone.  They need bedrooms and fridge space like anyone else.

The efficiencies of family life come from putting five people under one roof.  They are exactly analogous to having four roommates, except in this case they are roommates who don't have jobs.