1. money 2. budget 3. ??? 4. profit!! July 11, 2021 11:03 AM   Subscribe

With regard to this post I think monthly budgets are fascinating to compare. This question isn't meant at all for you to share your income, just to give an idea of what you spend and where. Geographic location is definitely appreciated for cost of living adjustments. I'll post mine first.

Northwest Portland, Oregon (for various reasons I'm trapped in a zip code in Multnomah county with the highest median income a fantastic walk score) .

rent: $1685
parking: $115
meds (medicaid covers everything except): $145
therapy: $280
phone loan (0% interest): $36
stash: $45
mefi: $35
magazine/news subscriptions: $50
cloud and hosting costs: ~$100
auto insurance: $140
renter's insurance: $25
electric: ~$140 (It's not on autopay so I forget to pay it until I get shutoff notices)
laundry (I'm a lazy person and send my laundry out): $45
internet (I have EFF): $10
online game micropayments (way too much while unemployed, much less since Tuesday): $50
delivery (I'm not good at feeding myself): $500

I have a whole 'nother post/question in the works about salary transparency.
posted by bendy to MetaFilter-Related at 11:03 AM (36 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Mod note: Quick mod reminder that MetaTalk is a public-facing site; this feels like it could be an interesting discussion for anybody who feels like participating but be sure to keep in mind your personal needs about privacy when deciding what to share.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2021 [9 favorites]

Food $200
Data $150
Rent $800
Candles $3,600
Utility $150
someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. my family is dying
posted by Klipspringer at 11:18 AM on July 11, 2021 [33 favorites]

Here's slightly edited info about a family of two professional, late-career adults in urban Nebraska, actual numbers from the first half of the year:
Category                           1H21 monthly
Automotive (maint/gas/regs)      $1,074    $179
Charitable Giving                $6,754  $1,126
Clothing                           $433     $72
Groceries & Restaurants          $4,982    $830
Health Insurance (marketplace)     $350     $58
Healthcare/Medical/vision        $1,173    $196
Hobbies & Entertainment            $790    $132
Home Improvement/Maint          $10,028  $1,671
Insurance (home+car)               $253     $42 
Internet & Phone                 $1,042    $174
Personal Care                      $567     $95
Property Taxes                   $1,489    $248
Travel                           $2,990    $498
Utilities                        $1,117    $186
Total Expenses                  $33,042  $5,507
  • Charitable giving includes money previously placed in a Donor Advised Fund
  • Home Improvement/Maint blew way past budget (300% of yearly budget in 6mos)
  • Phone includes a line for a 3rd person not in the household
  • Some liquor is probably in Groceries, some is in Entertainment
  • I included is Property Tax on our home since it's a living expense not dependent on income or other spending
  • New savings & investments not shown
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 12:36 PM on July 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Am going to share some generalities about my budget at the moment, rather than a full-on report -

* My budget for health-related expenses and for taxis and ubers is through the g-darn roof right now, because I'm still trying to get over this damn broken knee - apparently my insurance cuts me off coverage for physical therapy after only 30 sessions per year, so I'm paying out of pocket now. Fortunately paying out of pocket isn't that different from what I was already paying with the copay, but it's added up.

* In early June, I got a raise - just in time for the apartment hunt that my roommate and I were launching. (We learned the current landlord was jacking up the rent too far.) We still managed to find a place that is going to be CHEAPER than our current place, and we've signed a two-year lease that locks that rate in. So at the end of the day, between that and the raise, that'd be an effective $200 increase in my monthly income; most of which I will already be shunting over towards savings. I finally got my financial house in order earlier this year, and my financial advisor confirmed that the plan I had in place would DEFINITELY ensure I'd be able to retire and do quite well, so I'm sticking to that plan.

* This is, however, all different from the moving expenses - movers, packing supplies, any new furniture I need to replace - which is giving me anxiety right now. Fortunately I got a really hefty tax return that is offsetting that, and the security deposit will also help offset it. But I had to dip into my emergency savings to float things initially (and I just keep reminding myself that "thank god that nest egg was even THERE" and "this is kind of the REASON you had that thing saved up").

So ultimately I will be in a pretty decent place insofar as the budget does with intake and output. It's just all cattywampus right now because of some circumstances which I am just repeatedly reminding myself are temporary.

NYC mefites, if anyone's looking for some furniture and other random crap, DM me and I'll let you what things I have to shed....I don't need money for it, I just need it out of the damn house so I don't have to pay off a junk-hauler to cart it out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on July 11, 2021 [5 favorites]

I stopped tracking expenses closely last year because we are in a really good place financially, and I decided as long as I'm hitting my saving goals, I don't need to obsess over the grocery bill.

49% of my post tax income goes to needs (and over half of that is rent and health insurance premiums)
34% goes into savings
17% goes to "wants."
posted by COD at 5:46 PM on July 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

We earn more money than we need, so I don't worry too much about precise budgeting right now. These are our regular expenses.

Mortgage: £600
Council tax: £100
Insurance: £100
Groceries: £400
Utilities (gas, electric, water, mobiles, internet): £200
Fun (including takeaways, petrol, clothes, gifts): £800
Charities: £50
Subscriptions (metafilter, newspapers): £100
Transit pass: £50
posted by plonkee at 5:34 AM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's only been for the last 2.5 years of my life that I've made enough money to feel like I have plenty of money (a lot less than some, a lot more than others), and I've only been able to enjoy that feeling for about a year. Before that I was aggressively saving to buy a house. And before that I was underpaid.

Here's my general methodology:

My operating account runs lean. I live inexpensively* and only put about 105% of my living expenses into my operating account direct deposit. This is about 40%* of my gross.
About 7% of my gross goes to medical (benefit costs which are low through my employer, prescription costs)
I put about 25% of my gross into retirement savings (401k, IRA, etc)
And I put the rest into various savings accounts** via direct deposit so I never ever see it.

*Before I bought my house, my living expenses (rent+food+dogs+bills/donations/subscriptions/etc+pocket money) were closer to 30% and my retirement contributions were closer to 10%. I was saving considerably more and it was all going into a future down payment savings account. Now I let myself spend a little more carelessly. (I'm also paying 175% of my mortgage principal every month which is artificially inflating my living expenses.)

**Yes, this means that I have rather bloated cash savings that aren't "working" for me. The money is all spread across high yield savings accounts, which isn't much. But those accounts are absolutely working for me in terms of peace of mind.

If I make myself live on my checking account, it's really only necessities and little extras. But deep in my heart I know that I have money socked away in these little not-quite-emergency funds. See a piece of furniture that would be perfect for my room? I have already bought it, a few dollars every paycheck for the last few months. The symphony sent out a mailer and next season looks awesome? Well I've already bought the subscription, a few dollars every paycheck for the last few months. Work sucks and I need to flee? I've already been buying myself the permission to rage quit for a few dollars every paycheck. Etc. I'm trading off a few percents return for the ability to feel like I'm being impulsive every once in a while. As a planner, I think that's been really good for my mental health.
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on July 12, 2021 [10 favorites]

Ontario, just north of Toronto. I have lived almost all of my life below the poverty line with a husband who was in active addiction and left me hundred of thousands of dollars in debt after our divorce. He does not contribute to our children's expenses except in the most minimal of ways. I am just now making $100,000/year and seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

mortgage: $1,400
employer's private insurance for things not covered by OHIP like glasses, drugs, massages, and dental: $225 (two adults, five children)
Mobile phone: $115 (plus $130 for two of the children's mobiles)
Internet: $125 (fastest speed avail)
Hydro-electricity: $200
Gas (heating): $35
Car payment: $400 (three months left!)
Gar (for car): $450 - I have a long commute and I travel A LOT
Car payment for eldest daughter's car: $510
auto insurance (both): $520
Home insurance: $109
Life insurance $300 (I am overinsured to give comfort to my children due to ongoing threat of IPV)
Groceries: $400 (I should be buying more but five teenagers will simply never stop eating)
Restaraunt/takout/fun: $500 (underestimating becaue the real number is way too high)
Booze: $300 (I dont actually drink much but I do entertain a fair amount)
Firewood: $100 (lots of campfires)
Donations: $300
RRSP/RESP/Pension: $1,000 (five years from retirement)
Eldest child'e post-secondary expenses, tuition/rent etc: $2,000
Property tax: $200
Income taxes: $1,100
posted by saucysault at 8:18 AM on July 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

My budget breaks down to "Oh my god, too much, too much, please stop, stop"
posted by bleep at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2021 [8 favorites]

I hate it when I have only 1 money but 2 budget...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:05 PM on July 12, 2021 [9 favorites]

50% of take home goes to my mortgage payment

10% other recurring expenses - car insurance, utilities

25% "disposable" income - groceries, gas, clothing, smaller home repair stuff, entertainment, anything that's not a recurring expense

15% goes into savings - first I built up a 6-month emergency fund, now it goes toward the major house projects fund (basically anything I can't cash flow - vanities and flooring for bathroom remodel, paying someone to seal and paint the exterior, buying so many doors...). I've saved enough / enough house problems are fixed that I'll probably change to 10% house, 5% travel soon.

Charitable giving is currently about 1% because mortgage. Previously, I was giving around 10% of net. I expect a 10% raise in a year, and will probably start giving more then. I was raised with the concept of tithing and see 10% of gross as a good goal.

I contribute 16% of my gross income to retirement, but 12% of that is from my employer. Pretax, so not reflected above. I'm in decent shape, retirement-wise.

I make about 80% of the US median household income and I live alone. I have benefited from generational wealth - without it I wouldn't have been able to buy a place and my retirement would be in worse shape.
posted by momus_window at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have been aggressively saving for a down payment for as long as I have been in the working world and, juuust as it seemed like there was a light at the end of the tunnel (I even signed up for a first-time homebuyer's class!), the pandemic real estate insanity neatly punted everything back out of my reach. Feels a bit like Charlie Brown with the football over here, except the football is a modest 1b1b condo with access to public transportation.
posted by btfreek at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2021 [6 favorites]

Just as a PS., I was unemployed for the last six months and my financial house is in chaos and this is far from a normal situation for me. Last week I started a job that falls into the "more money than one person should actually be making while people are sleeping on the streets" category and will begin paying down credit cards and family loans first, with a distant goal of saving enough for a down payment on a home and starting to build up retirement funds so I don't have wait to retire until 87 with only eleven seconds to live.

When I'm making money I submit a request to the state to get off Medicaid but then I go to the doctor and they say Medicaid is still covering me.

I appreciate y'all's candor... this can really be an uncomfortable topic but I still believe it's a reasonable conversation to have.
posted by bendy at 6:57 PM on July 12, 2021

Context: Bay Area, tech job at a small business. I come from a family with both intergenerational wealth and a thing for crafty frugality. I live with a partner and we split our household expenses, and I'm listing my half of those expenses. I appreciate reading these, so here's mine!

Average month, looking at the past few months:

Rent: $1200
Groceries: $280
Restaurants: $90
Household supplies: $40
Electric/gas: $30
Phone: $5 (subsidized by my company because I use my personal phone for work)
Internet: $10 (subsidized by one of our companies because we work from home)
Renter's insurance: $10
Health insurance: $130 (subsidized by my company)
Health expenses: $100 (dentist, prescriptions, etc)
Transportation: $140 (public transit, Lyft)
Donations: $200
Newspaper subscriptions: $40
Average of various occasional purchases: $200 (like haircuts, furniture, clothes, gifts, other shopping)
Average of various things I do sometimes but not every month: $200 (for example: attend events, take music lessons, go to therapy; also counting movers and cleaners for a recent move under this category)
posted by dreamyshade at 8:41 PM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

In Atlanta, rent takes up more than half of our household income, and in its wisdom, the state of Georgia has decided that university employees do not require cost of living pay increases because we are ivory tower elites and don't eat, drink, or sleep. We were really hoping to buy this year, since mortgages here are significantly lower than rent for the same homes, but like btfreek was saying, the sudden doubling in home prices during the pandemic has put a damper on that.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:29 AM on July 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sigh...I pay almost as much in rent for my studio apartment in a middling college town as people are paying for their mortgage, with utilities, a little over 1 grand a month. That's half my take home income. Half of the remainder goes to other bills, things like college loans, bus fare, and paying off dental bills. Around half the remainder of that goes to groceries and fancy dining, like getting food from the convenience store before work to have something overnight or getting take out on my first day off so I don't have to get groceries again until the next day.

The rest is my irresponsible "fun money" I waste on things like used books every few months and, most importantly, coffee so I can spend the afternoon sitting outside at a coffeeshop reading those used books. I have no insurance and no vehicle because I can't afford either, at least at a price that would make them worthwhile rather than a money sink. My "savings" are whatever is in my checking account that has yet to be used, which tends to be my tax refund as it slowly dwindles over the course of a year.

Still though, I do get coffee, the internet and occasional books, so it ain't all bad, I mean as long as I can still drag myself into work everyday for the rest of my life, but social security might make it so I can cut down to only four days a week instead of five, so that's something to look forward to.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:59 AM on July 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

Pretty much just daycare, therapy, and breakfast cereal. Sometimes I pay the electric bill.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:23 AM on July 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

Well, I quit my job and my last day is Thursday so I expect to reaaaally tighten up, but I've been cash positive the past six months anyway by quite a bit.

I like doing things via percentage as I think that shows more of what you could minimize. According to Mint my 6 month average on things is...
Home (this includes improvement projects): 19%
Food: 18.6%
Shopping (lots of house stuff, suit for wedding): 11.1%
Utilities: 9%
Entertainment (whatever I feel like): 4.3%
Pets: 4.2%
Subscriptions (streaming, etc.): 1.2%

That's about it. Little odds and ends beyond that. That's like 70% of my take home. I guess I didn't count insurance/retirement in there because my take home pay is minus that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Semi-related: pretty sure we've decided to start planning to retire to Croatia in ten-to-fifteen-ish years. Cost of living looks to be about 60% of what we're paying now, which makes enough difference that not only can we a) actually retire but b) we can maybe do so before we're very advanced in age. Also, America is a shitshow, so.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I used to live fairly high on the hog in the Silicon Valley but I've retired to a much more modest life in Mexico.

Location: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
$ == USD

Therapy = $700
Food = $500
Health care = $225 (medication and office visits)
Catastrophic health insurance = $200
Electric bill = $125
House Maintenance = $125
House manager = $100
Telecom (cell and internet) = $20
Gas bill = $20
Water bill = $5
Garbage = $2
Misc = $300

My therapist is the last leftover from my previous life. All I need to do is attain mental health and I can let him go.

I vastly overspend on food. If I didn't have every meal delivered, $200 a month would be beyond plenty.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:37 PM on July 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ok, let's see. I live in Los Angeles. One person household with a cat. Everything is in USD.

$2000 goes to rent
$1180 goes to weekly therapy
$350 goes to food
$250 goes to incidentals (gas, shopping, cat food)
$220 goes to health insurance
$150 goes to in app purchases for games
$50 goes to Patreon memberships

Utility bills and prescriptions are paid for quarterly. Those are like $100-$140 total.

The rest goes into savings. I have never been able to save before.

This month has added expenses because I also saw my psych ($180), have had multiple doctor's appointments ($100), and will be having a bunch of tests done ($500), so nothing is going to my savings. I'm so, so grateful to have enough to cover the additional health stuff.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:16 PM on July 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

One person, offgrid in TN

$1259 total
$449 groceries
$212 internet/phone
$260 incidentals
$116 vet (nontypical)
$99 vehicle
$69 medical/insurance
$45 restaurants
$10 donations
posted by joeyh at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm going to use other people's categories mostly. I have been pretty candid that my life with two dead parents who were both basically independent (i.e. no longer married to each other, or anyone else) money hoarders has meant that I have a lot more choices than most people with my peripatetic work history (also since I am a 2nd gen money hoarder - I feel like my grandparents knew how to happily spend money, I do not). When my father died, he left me and my sister his house and also some money that we deemed "the house's money" but also is a safety net. So I'm leaving all of that off because it also belongs to my sister. Charitable giving comes out of this pot too, it's about $400/mo between us and mostly goes to bail funds, erasing medical debt, helping trans kids, food banks.

Also COVID made me forget what I spend money on since things are only just starting to get back to where things are open and shopping is a thing.

rent: $732 (includes heat)
parking: $0
health insurance: $600
therapy: $90
meds: $20
medical/dental: $150 (approx, average)
stash: $15
auto insurance: $140
renter's insurance: $20
electric: $50
laundry: $5
trash: $5
food at home: $120
food out: $30
snacks while working at the library: $40
maple candy: $5
random thrift store shopping: $20
media subscriptions $15
domains: $10
newspaper: $4
gas: $30

My rent will easily double when I have to move somewhere else. My landlady is 97. I sock away basically as much as I can for the time being.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

maple candy: $5
random thrift store shopping: $20

Excellent categories!
posted by jgirl at 9:50 AM on July 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

Maple candy budget seems too low.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2021 [15 favorites]

Maybe they found a source for very cheap maple candies. Who can say.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:22 PM on July 14, 2021

Rent for a fairly small flat in London: £1100, which I feel both dreadful about (because wtf that's a lot of money?) and happy with (because my upstairs neighbours, with a different landlord, were paying £1495).
posted by knapah at 2:49 PM on July 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

First gen Asian immigrant into a high tax social democracy (Australia), so many things that we'd normally pay for (healthcare, education, charity, etc) are done out of taxes. I honestly have more money than I know what to do with, to which, the obvious answer is "charity" but, it's already #3 on my expense list, and, well, 34% of my gross is taxed, and half of government spending is on universal healthcare + welfare alone, so it feels like the most patriotic thing you can do is pay more taxes. I guess there's two paths you can take: as you grow wealthier, your expenses can either increase, or decrease - in my case, expenses are rapidly dropping to pretty much just 12% of my gross because I no longer have to spend on housing and only pay a discounted rate on vehicle leases. Figures are in $A, annual costs converted to monthly costs, excludes investment income / taxes / expenses.

Total Gross Monthly Salary - $12,083
Savings / Investments - $6,361
Taxes - $4,125
Expenses - $1463
--- Food (Eating out and groceries) - $350
--- Transport (Vehicle Lease, Petrol, Toll, Parking) - $258
--- Charity - $200
--- Accommodation (I own, so this is council rates / annual maintenance) - $183
--- Entertainment / Shopping - $150
--- Health Insurance - $142
--- Holidays - $100
--- Water - $50
--- Mobile Phone (80GB per year) - $13
--- Internet (40mbps) - $33
--- Electricity - $58
--- Professional Fees - $58
posted by xdvesper at 5:23 PM on July 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Maple candy budget seems too low.

I go through about a third of a pound a month and it's $16/pound.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:29 PM on July 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Maple candy budget seems too low.

I go through about a third of a pound a month and it's $16/pound.

When I was a kid my mom would buy a box of 6 pieces of maple candy and it would last her for months. That blew my mind, since I could've gone through that whole box in about 15 minutes. Even now as an adult, I doubt it would last me more than a week, so I don't dare keep it in the house.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:28 PM on July 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh no, I need a maple candy budget!!!!
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:04 AM on July 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Maple candy budget seems too low.

I was able to make drastic cuts to my maple candy expenditures when I discovered it's trivially easy to make at home even for someone like me who is, shall we say, not a high precision chef.
posted by majick at 5:33 PM on July 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

$69 medical/insurance

Practicing safe sex, nice
posted by ominous_paws at 3:43 AM on July 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

We're a SINK couple in Ireland. I took a large salary cut last year to get the fuck out of a toxic waste dump of a job. I now work a three day week, and freelance the other two. No regrets. Also our mortgage is about 1/4th the regional average (we put down 50% on our house 15 years ago), which is what allows us to function financially at this income level.

Monthly Income: €2,500

Mortgage 430.00
Internet 63.00
Mobiles 44.00
Garbage 26.00
Cable 43.00
Gas 30.00
Electric 60.00
Allowance Him 200.00
Allowance Her 260.00
Phone 25.00
Groceries 400.00
Dog Walking 60.00
Meds 114.00
Savings 500.00

That brings us to about €2,250 per month in set expenses, and the other €250 is absorbed by living - GP visits, dental care, therapist if needed, dinners out, cinema nights, etc. Whatever is left over at the end of the month goes onto savings and we do the whole thing again.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:42 PM on July 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Damn, I need to get out of California ASAP! I’ll try to post some numbers later, but just our fuel alone for two non-commuting, low-mileage drivers averages over $200/month. Our groceries are in the $800 to $1000/month range (we do drink wine), and our utilities average $400/ month (phone, internet, gas & electric, water, garbage).
posted by Gusaroo at 9:56 PM on July 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

utilities average $400/ month (phone, internet, gas & electric, water, garbage).

I don't live in CA (though I do spent 1/6 of the year there in southern CA), and my water/trash bill is $100 a month [if I don't water my grass, if I do it's more like $150], natural gas $25, electricity $200, cable tv/internet $200, and cell phone $150.

Incidentally, my car fuel bill is also higher in CA, because even though I live in a suburb not that different than southern CA, everything that is fun in CA seems slightly farther apart than were I live and my in-laws medical appointments are spread from LA to Newport Beach, so I fill up once a week.

I also have a slightly higher mortgage at $1500 a month than most listed here even though I bought my home 12 years ago for $150k, which was cheap then.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:36 AM on July 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

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