My "living on less" monthly budget is $2700 which provides for a few extras and covers my necessary expenses. By taking my monthly take-home pay and deducting debt repayments from my current salary, I have about $2700 leftover to cover all my living expenses, and living on less is working just fine.
At last, I'm no longer digging a bigger debt hole. Also, I’ve learned my lesson well; I will never again have a car loan. By making a few changes to my spending, and some changes were hard to accept, like switching from a PPO to an HMO and visiting Las Vegas for a girls weekend once every “other” year. (smiley) I've freed up more cash to pay off debt.
Listed below is what my monthly budget of $2700 for two adults and two cats looks like.
HOUSING & UTILITIES
Mortgage $755.00 ( lower payment with a recent refinance)
I got lucky here; I bought it during the housing crash in California. My small one-bedroom Condo was a foreclosure, so great deal.
Home Owners Association Fee $375
Compared to my mortgage the HOA fee is astronomical, but the HOA is secure, and I love my building. Adding my mortgage and HOA my monthly housing is $ 1250.00, still less than a one-bedroom rental in my area.
I probably spend more than most on electricity because all my appliances are electric. If I had to reduce costs, I could shave off $20 by watching my usage more carefully. All other utilities like Water and Trash are included in my HOA fee.
Cable & Internet Service $225
I know, shame on me, but, in my defense, I'm a bit of a cinephile.
Two phones, two lines, and no contract on Consumer Cellular. My husband and I share the 5Gig data plan with ease.
FOOD & ENTERTAINMENT
Maybe it’s high for a household of two, but I love good food and won’t give it up. In the spirit of living on less, I brown bag every day and rarely dine out. When I do spring for a restaurant meal, it's a lovely treat that I thoroughly enjoy.
A Netflix subscription is a must, I’ve subscribed to Netflix since it’s beginning and can’t imagine life without it! Okay maybe that’s an overstatement, but you get the idea.
This amount is average out and includes things like the occasional breakfast out, movie rentals on Amazon, and a live play or concert once or twice a year.
Kitty Supplies $50
I buy the fancy stuff for our two kitty hellions.
Auto Insurance $76
Covers two cars, both are paid in full, no car loans.
Condo Insurance $45
A basic policy with enough coverage so I sleep well at night.
Health/Dental Vision Insurance $25
My health insurance is provided for free by my previous employer. When I officially retired from my University job at age 50, I became eligible for lifetime medical, as long as I select the HMO option the cost to me is minimal. My current employer provides vision and dental insurance. I know it’s shockingly low, please don’t hate me.
Transportation Cost. $60
I joined a vanpool, so my work transportation cost is under $20 a month, down from $200! My employer offers reimbursement and subsidy so the final cost to the rider minimal. I get a new van and five vanpool partners at almost no cost to me. The remaining $40 in my budget will fill up my personal car's gas tank once a month.
Car Loan $0
I finally paid off my car loan after five long years of $425 a month payments. Living on less is undoubtedly more comfortable without a car loan.
ALL THE OTHER STUFF
Pocket Cash $400
I withdraw $100 a week for miscellaneous stuff I might need throughout the month, including new clothes, discounted gift cards, makeup, pedicures, and any other personal spending needs. Anything unspent at the end of the month gets put in my 401G (G for Gambling) account for the next Las Vegas girls weekend.
Holiday Spending $25
I don’t exchange gifts with family anymore, we are all grown up so instead, I do a little holiday baking, or we get together for something festive but inexpensive. I opened a Holiday Club account and each November the money is automatically transferred to my checking account to cover holiday meals, decoration, cards, stamps, etc. Debt Free holidays are the best!
Special Savings $50
Covers car upkeep, auto registrations, and household repairs.
Vacation Savings $150
I have a ton of reward points from my spendy days so for the next couple of year’s airfare, and hotels are paid with points.
Closing Thoughts for Living on Less
I use Coupons, Groupon, Living Social, and sites like Gift Card Granny to get the most for my dollar. I also try to buy used when it’s appropriate.
Some areas of my budget are unusually low, I don’t have a car payment, and my health insurance is almost free. However, I am a little extravagant with groceries and pocket cash, and if one essential budget category goes up, I’ll reduce a non-essential expense.