What’s the opposite of frugal? Me, if our 2017 budget is any indication. While I’ve never shared an exact breakdown of our monthly budget, I have hinted at it here and here. And since our budget for January will match all the other months, it’s pretty easy to run the numbers for the year. We’re going to clock in right around $40,000 for the year. My poor heart! Grab the paddles!
So how did we get so lost? That’s actually partly why I don’t share an exact breakdown. Because my fear is that I know exactly what you all will do. Because I do it too. You’d focus on the extras. I know our cell phones are too expensive. I know we could cut cable all the way to save some money. But when you get right down to it, our budget isn’t all that excessive.
Take our spending money for the month. Each month, we set aside $300 for the two of us. That could include dinners out, but it also includes things like prescription refills and medical co-pays. Or dental visits because Mr. P’s dental insurance is
kind of really a joke. It’s not all shits and giggles. But that $300 line item might look that way on paper.
But let’s say I’m going to be absolutely ruthless and cut everything from our budget. I’ll kiss our cleaning service goodbye. Mr. P will host a 21-click salute for cable. We’ll switch to a low-cost cell phone carrier. You know what I’d save? Around $210 a month or $2520 a year. That still leaves our budget just shy of $40K.
That’s not to say that small changes are nothing. They do add up. And I will continue to seek them out. Any extra money–no matter how much or how little–we can avoid spending can go towards saving. Or the real budget killer: our debt.
It turns out that our budget, while not quite barebones, is actually pretty frugal aside from one thing. If I “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” through every line item in our budget, the most significant way to make a difference is to get rid of our mortgage. At just under $1000 a month, it is colossal compared to everything else. Well, everything except the $700 a month we set aside for property taxes. I might live in the Midwest, but when it comes to taxes, this sweet little slice of suburbia is more Chicago than anything else.
So if I look at the $40,000 we are on pace to spend this year, we aren’t looking terribly frugal. In fact, I might be downright laughable considering all the time I spend on the internet talking about money. But in less than ten years, that $40,000 will drop to $28,000 once we kick our mortgage to the curb for good. Now we’re talking.
So Tell Me…Has your budget ever looked misleading? Do you know how much you’re on pace to spend this year?