When we started looking at real estate a few months ago and started to get our finances in order to apply for a mortgage, we did what we had never done before – create an actual budget. Sure, we kept loose track of our spending and I knew pretty much what went out the door each month, but we had never created an actual spreadsheet with real, concrete budget numbers in it. Back in July I wrote about the free Google Docs that were available, and that is where I got my budget template that we have been using that looks like this (those are generic numbers in the sheet, not mine):
It is unbelievable how much money you spend when you start tracking each and every dime! You always think of the big things; rent, mortgage, cars, insurance, food – but what about the incidentals that rarely get included in budgets when you are trying to sort out how much you can spend. In August, we managed to spend $86 on clothing, $150 on a composting bin, $68 at the hardware store, $45 on books, $36 on some hobby equipment, and a few other “unplanned” expenses. That was at least $385 in money that was not included in the initial budget but was spent anyway. The little things do add up, especially when you do not think of them as you plan out your spending for the month. And while we have the money to spend on these type of things, keeping track of them really opens your eyes to how much goes out the door unnoticed!
Without getting into personal specifics, our recurring expenses every month include the following:
Car Payment: $317
Renters & Car Insurance: $97
Satellite: $67 (Because DirectTV ripped us off)
Web Hosting for my businesses: $199
Dining Out: $100
Student Loan Payment: $121
Total of just the above = $2,946. This does not include stuff I won’t talk here such as investments and savings, charity, and miscellaneous cash spending, but that amount is close to the bare minimum we spend each month on our “expected” expenses. But when you start tracking all the other little amounts you spend throughout the month, the dollar amount climbs accordingly. It is amazing when you start paying this close of attention!
How about you? Did you have any sort of epiphany when you created an exact budget/expense sheet and started tracking where every penny goes? Did you think you were doing better or worse than you thought you were? How do our regular expenses compare to some of yours? Let me know in the comments!