Sunday, August 16, 2009

Frugal Family Budget

It is suggested that your housing expenses should be no more than a third of your income. Before my husband went back to school, we paid $400 in rent, while he was making $1200 per month. We were doing fine.


Now that we've moved closer to my husband's school, he makes $980, and we are paying $600 in rent, heat included, not electric. So our rent takes a little over 60% of our income. Here is the breakdown of our fixed expenses:
Rent: $600.00
Phone: $6.09 (low income reduced)
Internet: $19.99
Auto Insurance: $31.22
Electric: $27.00
Satellite Radio: $12.95
Total Fixed Expenses: $697.25
That leaves us $282.75 for food, gas, any auto repairs, birthdays and holidays, unforeseen needs, and investments. This is more than enough.
I do not have a fixed budget for food and gas because they are fluid. Some months, I spend nearly $200 on food, and other months I spend closer to $75 dollars. This is something I will spend many posts discussing, so stay tuned.

Related Articles:
Expenses Gaps


scrappy quilter said...

I am definitely going to be staying tuned. Great job!!

Migdalia said...

I have a slightly off topic question. I see from your breakdown above that you guys are renting. Not trying to be rude here... but which do you see as a better use of your money.. renting or purchasing a house. My husband and I are still on the fence about this one and could use someone else's input. Thanks!

Emily said...

Migdalia, it really depends on where you are in life. My husband and I do not know where we want to live permanently, so renting is definitely the option for us now. If it's just you and your husband, you can rent a small place, even an effiency apartment, if you can stand it, and pay off your debt and save for a down payment much faster.

Anonymous said...

How do you keep your auto insurance and power bill so low? I know I live in an area known for high utility bills, but even when I lived somewhere with lower bills, we routinely paid $100/month. Our auto insurance is $148/month. I know my husband's driving record doesn't help with that, but I'd like to hear how you've managed to keep both so low.


Emily said...

We have a squeaky clean driving record and only one car. It is a 1998, and we know we will need to replace it in the next 2 years, so we have the bare minimum coverage. We also shop around for low prices; we currently have Allstate.

As far as electric, I may do a whole, but we have all energy efficient bulbs, I don't use the oven, don't have AC and rarely even use a fan. We also don't have electric heat. I'll think about it and make a comprehensive post.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Emily! I wondered if you would tell us about your apartment. You said it was smal. How many rooms & appoximate measurements? Our apartment is the upstairs half of a house. We have 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, hall & bathroom.We have 5 closets.I'll have to measure the rooms again, but the bedrooms , living room & kitchen are each about 12x12 , thhe hall is 6x 9, & the bathroom6x5. These are approximate measurements. I need to get my tape measure & check again. We have baseboard heat & it's cold in winter. Our electric bill was $196 last winter & that was heating only the 1 bedroom , living room & bathroom to no more than 60 degrees. I'm just wanting to comnpare our situation. Good blog , Emily. LIsa

Emily said...

Lisa, I'm creating a post on it right now. I suspect it will be ready by the morning. We have a two bedroom, though, and it is just under 450 square feet.

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

Is the $980 your husband makes before or after taxes?

Where is your retirement savings? You should be putting away a percentage now while you are young.

Do you have life insurance?
What about health insurance?
Dental insurance?
Vision insurance?
Where is your renter's insurance?

How much are you consistently putting into savings each month? What about your emergency fund?

I just see so many categories missing from the budget that I consider to be absolute necessities and wondered how you are doing without them.

Emily said...

It is after taxes, but we don't have federal and state withheld. I'm writing a post covering the rest of your questions, because some of those are complicated. (:

Stephanie said...

Drop the Satellite Radio and use a regular one or listen to it on the internet. Why do you have something that is so frivolous when you brag of being so frugal? I live in a home where the income is 4x yours and we still don't have anything like that.....
just curious.

Farwood said...

Migdalia's question is interesting- with low income you can't qualify for any loans because the banks are so strict about debt to income ratio.
In my own case the banks tell us we can only afford $450 a month in a home loan (with taxes and what have you) when we currently pay $600 in rent!

Patty said...

I'm not here to cricize your expenses as you are clearly doing more with less...I'm just currious about the phone though. How often do you use it? Is it an emergency thing? I would think that perhaps a pay as you go phone would be better if one is not using the phone much because not in use is not pay but if you do use a phone then a line would be cheaper on the per minute costs. Alternatively is the internet tied into the phoneline? That would make it a bit more necessary! (I know, internet is a need not a want but how could I read your blog without it!)

Emily said...

Patty, the $6.09 is for our landline phone, and it is tied to our internet, which is DSL. The lowest pay-as-you go, in our area, is $8/month, so we would not save by switching.

Jen said...

Hi Emily! I just found your blog and love it! I just got laid off from my job but it's not that serious, thankfully my husband still works, and I'm always on the lookout for frugal tips. One maybe for you; you have your car insurance as a monthly expense but I found with mine (it was around $50 a month) I saved thirty bucks paying it all at once (for six months)! Not sure if your insurance charges installment fees but something to look into, plus it's nice having one less bill to worry about every month.

Anonymous said...

So basically, my family subsidizes your family's choice to receive low income discounts because we choose to work for a living and be financially responsible.

There were many times in our early years that we COULD have qualified for governmental assistance, phone discount, etc. Did we? Nope - not a chance in heck - we are of the opinion that it is OUR responsibility to pay our way in this world. Not to expect Uncle Sam and anyone else to foot the bill for us.

You should be ashamed. I was given this blog link to check out ideas for saving money - some of those tips are great - but seeing your multiple posts about accepting financial assistance is nauseating - especially since you're planning on having more children.

Incredibly irresponsible. You don't live within solely YOUR family's means - nope, you live within MY family's needs as well, by subsidizing you. Sad.

Carey said...

Just wanted to commend you! You are doing a great job with what you have right now! I am more than happy to have my tax dollars help someone while they are trying to help themselves. That is what I think gov't assistance is for, temporary help!
Looking forward to future posts! What a great ministry this blog is!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say I completely agree with Carey (I know it was a while ago that this was posted). You are doing a great job, keep it up!

Adella M. said...

My family is smaller than yours ( we just had our first child this past August), we make more each month, have a lower rent, and are using more government aid than you guys! I think you are fabulous and cannot wait to glean some ideas fro
this blog to help us pare down our spending even more. Thank you so much for sharing your life in this way; it is very encouraging to me!


feeties said...

I cannot believe the tone & attitudes of some of your readers. Does everybody have to "say" everything they think about matters they don't even understand? I'm horrified by the harsh self-righteous judgments people feel free to say to someone they don't really know and would never be bold enough to say in real life. I commend you for not showing offense or even feeling like you have to defend yourself, & thank you for simply sharing your life openly for us to examine.

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