In February I shared a post with a snapshot of how we currently manage our personal finances. Today I'm sharing a budget breakdown with actual numbers. I know I find it so helpful to see how other people allocate their money and what they actually spend on things, so I hope this will be helpful to see. Being transparent about our money also motivates me to spend and save well.
Not reflected in this budget are any expenses related to The Girl Next Door podcast or our home in Eau Claire. This is because both of those endeavors have their own separate accounts and income that pay for any needed expenses, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say!
So without further ado, here's our current monthly budget, broken down by category of spending and saving:
House and utilities
This amount reflects our monthly payment after a cash-out refinance that we completed in 2021. The terms of the loan are 20 years and a 2.75% interest rate. We feel so fortunate that we were able to lock in such a historically low rate.
Water and trash: $85
This amount varies a bit depending on water use.
This amount is a monthly average. In the winter months when we aren't using our a/c our bills are as low as $53. In the summer when our a/c is blowing around the clock because it's 113º our bills are as high as $265. Our energy use is offset by the solar we produce however, our provider, SRP, has a fee structure that we feel charges solar generators more than is fair. But that is a conversation for a different time!
This amount is a monthly average. Our home is heated with natural gas so this bill is higher in the winter, as high as $108, and as low as $27 in the summer.
Cell phones: $33
We've been using Mint mobile for a few years and are really happy with it. Prior to that we used a similar service that is no longer in business. We pay our approximately $400 bill annually but we have an automatic monthly transfer of $33 to a separate account so that we accrue the total amount throughout the year. With Mint mobile you have to use an unlocked phone so Mint does not subsidize the cost of a new phone the way some carriers do. So that might be a drawback to some but we love having such a low bill for our cell phone use.
House cleaning: $125
Currently we have our home professionally cleaned once per month.
Car payment: $647.87
Our 2022 hybrid Toyota mini van will be paid off in December 2026.
Insurance: $73 (corrected)
This amount reflects the annual amount of $867 (corrected) that we pay as a lump sum to get a discount. Every month we have $100 automatically transferred to an account so the total amount accrues throughout the year, in addition to a bit extra to save for future repairs.
This varies with the price of gas of course and how much we drive in a month.
Additional fixed monthly expenses
Daycare for Maeve: $920 - $1,150
We are billed $230 weekly so the monthly total depends on whether it's a four- or five-week month. Currently she goes three full days per week. Starting in late July this amount will decrease to $780/month (woo hoo!).
Gym memberships: $278
My Orange Theory membership is $99/month and Chris has recently joined a barre studio for $179/month.
Life insurance: $63
Business-related expenses: $20
This is the cost of hosting my blog and the email subscription platform. Additionally, I pay for my domain name (risingshining.com) but only every few years so that doesn't factor into our monthly budget.
Charitable subscriptions: $15
I've supported the Spilled Milk podcast at $5/month for years and we have a long-standing $10/month donation to our local NPR station.
Variable monthly expenses
I just looked back at our monthly grocery spending for the year so far and we've been under $1,500 every month, but not usually by much. We do most of our shopping at Trader Joe's with some additional purchases at a natural food store and a large chain grocery store. We tend to buy the organic (i.e. more expensive) option if there is one. We routinely eat all of our meals at home, with the exception of the boys buying lunch at school twice per week, so this amount reflects feeding five people for a month.
This is the catch-all beast of a category in which we are always trying to reign in spending. Our budgeted amount of $785 seems like so! much! money! (and is) and yet we seemed to find ways to overspend most months. This category is all Target, Amazon, and pharmacy purchases, any gifts, anything we need for the house like a new hose or air filters, etc., kids' activities, clothes and shoes for everyone, home maintenance services including landscaping (which we do a few times each year), and always plenty of other things it seems. I think I'll do a miscellaneous deep-dive post in the future because I think this is an area where many people find that it's hard to stick to a budget, including us! So I'd love to hear any questions/thoughts you have about this category of spending.
Personal allowances: $300
Chris and I each have $150 a month to spend as we choose. I've now set up Mint so that anything we don't spend from our allowances rolls over to the next month and we have separate Capital One accounts where we can deposit left over allowance budget to be used at a later date. Although we don't change how much we have budgeted for this I'm including it as a variable monthly expense because sometimes we spend more or less than what is budgeted.
Date nights: $300
The amount covers hiring a babysitter and any date activities, even a little mid-day coffee date. Similar to our personal allowances, we try to stick to this amount but sometimes spend more, or less, depending on the month.
School lunch accounts: $50
This amount varies depending on how often the boys are buying lunch or breakfast but we aim to have them eat at school for two lunches each week.
529 college savings: $300
Each month, $100 is automatically saved into each of the kids 529 accounts. We'd like to increase this amount as our daycare expenses go down, and then disappear when Maeve goes to kindergarten.
Vanguard total market index fund: $200
We've been investing in this fund for years and it is consistently rated and reviewed as one of the best investment funds.
Kelsey's Roth IRA contribution: $100
With the small monthly earnings from our Girl Next Door Patreon I am contributing to my Roth IRA again. (Thank you so much to anyone reading this who is helping to make that possible!)
General savings: $1,000
This amount is automatically transferred to a savings account. If we're able to stick to our monthly budgets (looking at you, miscellaneous) then we are able to save the full $1,000. If we overspend elsewhere or there were big expenses (like registering for summer camps or a big trip) then we save less or not at all from this designated savings.
Pre-tax retirement savings from each of Chris's paychecks (26/year or usually two/month)
Pension contribution: $650/paycheck
This amount is a percentage of Chris's salary and so the amount varies as his salary changes over time. It is matched 100% by his employer, Arizona State University.
403b contribution: $100/paycheck
I hope this is helpful to see! Please let me know what questions you have that I could answer or address in a future post.