Vulnerable internet person alert! The last time I took a hard look at my budget and put it on the internet was in 2016 when I was reading the book Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin. I can say now that I was making $35,000 a year, living in an $850/month room, and pretty much putting all my expenses on my credit card.
I’m still at my same job, but last year I negotiated a promotion and received a raise from our annual review, and now my salary is $44,000 a year. I feel like it is time to re-evaluate my budget with my new take home pay of $2,346, over two paychecks per month. So, wow, my life has stabilized a lot.
So by all accounts, I should be on better footing. A good way to measure this is by the 50/30/20 method. 50% of my take home should go to my bills, housing, and transportation, 30% should go to wants, and the last 20% should go to savings.
$2,346 total monthly take home pay:
Necessities: 50% (aiming for $1,173)
– $675 for rent ($1,350 split between me and my boyfriend)
-$121 for the subway monthly pass
-$193 for my student loans (Income-Based Repayment)
-$300 credit card payment (the minimum payment is hovering around $160, but I’ve been paying over the minimum for more than a year)
-Utilities: approx $85 in the winter and $150 in the summer
-$81 phone bill
-$250.00 for food
Total needs per month: ~$1,770! More than half.
Savings: 20% (aiming for $469.20)
-$200 ($100 per paycheck)
Wants: 30% (aiming for $703!?)
-$15 for gym membership
-$10 for Spotify premium
-$0.99 for Apple iCloud storage
-$20 + $5 tip for a monthly gel manicure
-Clothes shopping, Target trips, annual blog fees, beauty products, occasional date nights: $200 estimate
Total wants per month: $251
Some finance websites suggest that my student loan and credit card payments would go into the savings category because in theory once those debts are paid off that money would go into savings, but for the purposes of this exercise I left them in my necessities category.
All of this estimated spending right now totals $2,221, which still technically leaves me about $125 left over each month (which I have definitely been spending because of the holidays and travel related purchases), but I know immediately that I can be putting away more money into savings and toward paying down my credit card. It might not be the $469 into savings that would be 20% but I can definitely add an extra $100 each month! I recently saw a The Financial Diet video about saving and it said to pay your savings each month like a bill, so I’ll start trying that method. Once my credit card is payed off, I’ll probably be able to have 50% overhead, but I am closer than I’ve ever been. More than that, I’m not relying on my credit card for all my purchases (an update on this coming next week).
Further, if I take a more careful approach to spending money, I can be more thoughtful with my purchases, trying to see the bigger picture with my money. The $250 food budget is intentionally high because of my past spending, it covers shared meals at home, if I go out for brunch with friends, get Seamless, and/or buy lunch at work instead of bringing it.
It was a good exercise to see my money laid out this way. I think there is room for improvement because my wants based spending could be cut back (I guess the goal is to have $700 of free spend money?!!! In what universe! ha!) But seriously, I have a few things that I like to buy, but I don’t need to spend much in the wants category. What I need to focus on is building up my savings and paying down my credit card. At this time in my life I need to double down on saving more money and paying down my credit card, but overall I’m very pleased that I’ve managed to get to this place in my life, it’s not a bad place to be at the moment!
Thanks for reading!