November challenge and budget breakdown

Remember how, in theory, we should be able to get by on $2500 a month?

Well, we did! $2582 was the final number…okay, so a tiny bit over, but granted, we did buy a couple of Christmas presents early, which I decided to include here, and ate out a little more than usual. (What’s not included is our contents insurance, which was due this month, and the cost of our “new” car and associated expenses. They’re not in here because while one is budgeted for regularly and one was not so much so, neither are things we pay for in the course of a usual month.)

But it proves my maths skills are not totally hopeless and that yes, this is a realistic number for a four-week month without major special occasions, ie, birthdays, etc.


Also, I made an extra $630 this month aside from my regular job – that’s from regular freelancing, a focus group and editing some rather dry economics essays. All of that went to my travel fund, which is currently sitting at just about enough to take us both to a tropical island for my birthday next year, or one flight to either California or London. Ahem.

Now, to the next order of business. While I love my monthly spending recaps, they don’t provide a full picture of what’s happening. They don’t include my regular savings. They don’t include T’s own fun money. It is simply a picture of (almost all) of our spending, and the percentages are relative. Er, by that I mean the percentages are the percentage only of our expenditure, not our total budget/income.

So, after much work, this is a more accurate snapshot. I don’t feel the need to start doing this regularly, but I did want to do it at least once.


As you can see, this incorporates savings, debt repayments (which is just T paying me back for some costs I covered for him once upon a time, that pesky insurance, and his spending money. My only real concern is that his allowance is larger than our eating out costs!

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to do this was to see if we were totally out of whack with our proportions. Here are some relevant links. The one I went with about as simple as you can get – the 50/30/20 budget.

  • Basically, it posits that you should be spending:
    • 50% on needs
    • 30% on wants
    • 20% on savings

    In comparison, here’s ours:

    • 44% on needs
    • 11% on wants
    • 45% on savings (granted, this got a hefty bump from my side incomes this month)

As T says, we spend more on, well, living, than the few of our friends who support themselves. We also have regular internet (which more than pays for itself through the side work it affords me) and eat real food (ie, not just beans, mince, noodles and pies). I would argue, though, that our lack of drinking more than makes up for it. But let’s not get me started on that…Proportionally, I think we’re doing all right.

And just for fun – here’s the breakdown of where his money went this month.

Which actually seems quite reasonable in perspective…although I wonder if we can negotiate for his spending to come down a little bit more.

9 thoughts on “November challenge and budget breakdown

  • Reply Amber from Girl with the Red Hair December 14, 2010 at 09:28

    You are SO detailed with your budgeting. I am decent with budgeting but not that good 😉

    I find we spend MORE on WANTS in the summer. This winter we’ve been laying low and barely eating out or doing anything so less money is spent. In the summer we tend to go on roadtrips, weekend trips, bbq’s, drink a bit more etc. So it kind of balances itself out that way! Plus if you’re saving for a BIG want like a trip I think it’s good to save more/spend less!

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie December 14, 2010 at 10:33

    Woo! Congratulations!

    And economics essays are totally not dry. Ok, maybe they are.

  • Reply retirebyforty December 14, 2010 at 14:39

    Wow, 45% to saving is extremely impressive. Great job!

  • Reply Lindy Mint December 14, 2010 at 17:33

    45% on savings is pretty darn good in my book. And nice side income too! I vote for the tropical island.

  • Reply Amanda December 15, 2010 at 04:08

    Every time I read a blog with savings plans and graphs, I just feel completely young and immature. I had some kinda rough, sketchy savings “plan” until I went and blew it all on California, so uh *cough*.

    Congrats on getting by on 2.5k a month though! I’m curious as to how much our household gets by on… although we don’t need to pay rent, so I guess that’s a decent chunk of difference there. I hope your travel savings keep growing so you can have several options to choose from!

  • Reply The Everyday Minimalist December 16, 2010 at 12:37

    You are doing awesome. 40%+ is.. wow 🙂 Incredible!!!

    Also, love the graphs. Tweeted about it @brokeinthecity and I hope you will do more of them some day

  • Reply Antonia at Swedish Love Affair December 18, 2010 at 07:02

    I’m impressed by these numbers. Great job, really!

    Kind wishes,

  • Reply Tracking expenses – the lowdown « Musings of an Abstract Aucklander January 9, 2011 at 16:21

    […] Monthly roundups (for now) include all my expenses and our joint expenses. They don’t include his allowance, fun money or whatever else you want to call it. Except in November, when I undertook to track all of our money and live on $2500. […]

  • Reply Slash and burn: Cost-cutting | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander August 1, 2011 at 11:44

    […] to escape the realities of rent, transport costs, food and the other necessities.) For us, a realistic threshold is $2500 – but that number is about to go […]

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