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Monday, October 13, 2008

Let The Money Series Begin! Take A Look At Our Family Budget

Jump in anywhere:

Wisdom & Treasure: Budgeting

Wisdom & Treasure: Debt

Wisdom & Treasure: How To Spend Only $300/Month On Groceries

Wisdom & Treasure: Giving Generously During Tough Times

Wisdom & Treasure: Coveting (Wishing for what other people have)

First things first - transparency.

I am going to share with you all (with my hubby's permission) our budget. Why am I going to do this? We live on a tight budget and I figure it may help out someone out there to see that "it" can be done. Plus, if you happen to make pretty good money, but you live on a budget like ours, think of all the money you can save/give/pay off debt! So, without further adieu, I present our family budget:

We are a family of four (including two toddlers and a preggo!) and we live on $2,074 a month (this does not include any overtime/side jobs, etc. which go directly into savings). Here is the breakdown of our monthly budget:

Giving - $200

Mortgage - $748.70

Landline Phone - $60 (we keep our landline because with it we get Internet)

Cell - $60

Electric and Water - $140

Insurance (vehicle and life) - $95.82

School Loan Payment - $105.78

Groceries - $300 (this includes diapers)

Gas - $160

Entertainment - $5 (Redbox baby!)

Medical (towards co-pays) - $8

Toiletry - $10

Gifts - $5 (during Christmas we use some of our savings)

Savings - $175.70

*We only have one vehicle and a motorcycle, both of which are paid for (we had a very fortunate situation with our vehicles. My dad used to own a car dealership, so we got our van, used, for free. My husband rides a motorcycle and I had got that for him in my "spoiled" days as a wedding present.)

*The only debt we have, other than our mortgage, is school loans, which are about $11,000. As you saw above, we have a fixed payment we pay every month.

*We only use credit cards in an emergency or for an expensive purchase that we know we can pay for fully when the bill comes. For example, when my mom got sick, I had to use the credit card in order to go and take care of her in Florida. We paid it off with our savings.

*We do not have cable.

*We only have one cell phone that we share.

*We cut off our oil and have decided to use electric space heaters throughout the house to save money. And warm sweaters! We will only use our oil in the dead of winter, but will keep it around 55 degrees and continue to use the space heaters. We also put in a water heater to save money.

*My husband is very blessed to have a job with a school district where we have health, eye, and dental insurance. We have not always had this, and we had to pay a little over $200/month for health insurance.

*We have no pets (unless you count children). :)

*We are due for another vehicle now that my husband needs the van more with winter and the side jobs he is doing. We are waiting until we can find a used vehicle that we can pay cash for. Since we don't have the money right now, we will just have to wait and be patient.

I hope this is helpful to someone! Tomorrow I will share some secrets that I've learned when it comes to debt and getting out of it.

On Thursday, I will put up a Mr. Linky so everyone can share their budgets/savings tips/giving organizations they like, etc. This way we can all benefit from learning from each other.

One more thing - if you have a good idea for a name for this series, please share! I'm no good at creative names! Thanks! :)


Homesteader in Training said...

We have a very tight budget as well. We use the envelope method by Larry Burkett. We've done that since we got married 12 years ago and it's brought us through some rough times having it. You have got to know where your money is going.
I know that you will bless someone greatly with this. If I can help let me know. I'm all for budgeting.
Blessings to you.
As far as the name you could just call is something simple like Money Management 101

Kelly said...

I'm really glad you posted that. My husband is a teacher as well and we are a family of 5. I work 1 day per week so I don't bring in too much but we manage very well on his teacher's salary. (he does have a summer job teaching at the community college but that all goes into savings for emergencies) Our friends wonder how we do it but it's not hard, it just means not eating out much and really watching what we spend our money on. We're fortunate also to have no debt except for our house.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. My dh and I live tightly as well on about $1,800/month. We are in a different season of life as you though.

We pay for all medical insurances and more goes to medical and health in general.

Just a thought as I don't know if you've used space heaters before, but if not, beware as they can become very costly to use. I have an all-electric home and had to use one when one of my baseboards went out and it ended up being more expensive for us. If used for brief periods they would work better I think.

If you live in a milder climate, you should be okay. We live in New England though which is why it didn't work well because winters are just plain cold.

Looking forward to more of your series.

Lauren and Justin said...

wow - incredible! budgeting can be so hard sometimes...

thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving some comment love! come back anytime!

scargosun said...

Budgeting is so hard and we are in need of an update/overhaul. Do you find that the space heaters are less expensive to use? We had one in our upstairs when our bedroom was there and it seemed like our e bill was a lot more expensive. At least that is what P ranted about. ;)

Sarah Mae said...

A couple people have mentioned that space heaters may be more expensive. Here is the position we are in: We have oil/hot water radiator system, and the oil is just too expensive - our monthly oil budget went up to about $300/month from $170 (you can see that we put the $170 into savings in the budget). We just didn't have the money to pay that much for oil. We already have a full tank, so in the dead of winter we will use it. The space heaters are a bit of an experiment, so we'll see what happens, but they've got to be cheaper than $300 a month!

twingirlsmom said...

Thank you for this. I need help with budgeting our meals--we eat out way too much. I need to know what a realistic meal budget is for a family of 4 so I can stick with it and force myself to cook.

P.S. Space heaters scare me! They are the cause of so many fires in my neck of the woods!

Anonymous said...

Sarah Mae,
As I mentioned we have an all-electric home and last year our bills were over $300 in the winter, so I do understand. And we kept our temps at 60 degrees! This year we are holding off until we can't bear it. We're hoping to wait until November, which is not easy to do in New England.

For us the space heater made the bill even higher (this was 2 winters ago). You'll need to experiment, but as someone who did this, electric heating is really not less expensive either.

Best wishes with whatever you do, it's expensive to heat for anyone these days, no matter what one has!

Bonita said...

This series sounds exciting and what perfect timing! Our budget looks very similar to yours except my husband has business expenses and our grocery budget is higher due to two hungry teenagers.

Anthony and Lisa said...

My husband and I have very different views on finances, mine being spend it if ya have it, his make me realize that we don't have it! All this to say that we also live under extremely tight restrictions, but have NEVER not had enough. We met with a financial adviser a few years ago, who looked at our budget and noticed our tithes and offerings. She told us that we should give a little less so that we'd have "more flexibility". Needless to say, we have not been back there.

I love that you're addressing this! Money can make or break a marriage. Thanks!

HeathahLee said...

All I can say is I'm looking forward to these posts!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your note. I don't mean to worry you, rather just letting you know that electric heat is not cheap by any means either.

We have electric baseboard heating. The winter a few years back that I used one - it was for the bedroom and was on often. Even with one space heater, our heat was higher, but again, my whole house is electric.

Considering where you mentioned you live it's still fairly cold in the winter. If possible, I would not run any space heater 24/7., especially not several.

Perhaps you can experiment and use them just a little initially and see how your electric bill is. You will have a lot of variables too, like your own electric rates, how big your house is, how cold the temps get, etc. I can't say for sure what your bills will be like.

Something we try to do too is to pay a little ahead on the electric bill when we can. We're pretty much dreading our heating bills for this winter - as I mentioned they were well over $300 in the coldest months. Our rates just went up a whopping 21% two months ago, so yes, we're a little concerned, but there's only so much you can do. Freezing only to get sick or worse is not a good alternative! We know we cannot afford monthly bills of $400 so we'll just try to do our best.

In the meantime, make sure you have enough warm clothing, blankets, quilts, maybe even an electric blanket or mattress pad. Drink lots of hot beverages, eat soup, stews and chilis. Think tropical :). Hang in there, we'll all get through this as we have to. Take care, Lyn

Anonymous said...

Sarah Mae, I just wanted to add if you have any more questions and want to contact me, you can send your email addy in your comment. I won't post your info. This way I won't take up all your space here. :)

Tami said...

Thanks for sharing - I'm looking forward to more :)

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Thank you for sharing all of this. It's wonderful! Living on the opposite coast, I have to say that I'm drooling over your mortgage payment! :)

We can all learn something from this and being frugal pays off in so many ways.

Names? Nifty Thriftiness or maybe SAVE THE PENNIES - Help save those poor little pennies who are being cruelly spent! :)

Seriously, it's a great series no matter what you call it!

I passed your award right back to ya, by the way!

Dana said...

i grew up with just my mom and myself and there were several ocassions when we did not have electricity or phoneservice or very much food. i'm definitely more comfortable with having little. now that i'm married with four children, i'm lamost embarrased to say how much we budget for different things. my husband has a great job. he's not a doctor or lawyer, but we're certainly not scrapping the barrell. perhaps i can figure out percentages to share. anyways, we use a mix of larry burkett and dave ramsey's ideas.

MamaHenClucks said...

I love that you are doing this. What I would like to hear more about, is how you do food (including diapers) for a family on $300 per month. My food budget is about $200 more than that, so I am all ears. And I coupon clip and watch sales. Aside from that, we use the envelope system, which works for all our other expenses!

Bobbie said...

I am very impressed with your budget and I need to learn some of your ways! How do you spend $300 a month on grocries? What meals do you cook?

Kat said...

Hey Sarah Mae!!!!

I'm also curious as to what your meals look like with a $300 grocery budget.

I'm also going to chime in about the electric heat thing. Our house uses propane. Very, very, very expensive. We have gas logs in the family room, a wall heater in the hall, and then the central system. The hall heater is very cost effective, but the gas logs and central system go through propane like nobody's business. So, we bought electric oil filled heaters (the ones that look like radiators) and put them in 5 rooms. 3 bedrooms, the kitchen, and office. I'll also add we don't have a big house by today's standards. Approx. 2000 sq. feet. We only left the ones in the bedrooms on at night, but the other 2 were pretty much on all day. For a reason I can't remember, we quit using them. Our electric bill went down DRASTICALLY. I don't think we saved hardly anything by using them.

Now, we just are really stingy with heat. We only turn on the gas logs when we are desperate. We use the hall heater quite a bit. We keep it cool. Well, cool to us...nowhere near the 55 degrees you keep it. We keep it around 68ish. That alone has me wearing a jacket around the house!

kari said...

thank you for sharing and for your willingness to speak/write honestly. it's encouraging to know that there are others out there that are trying to live according to God's word. blessings to you all...

Anonymous said...

This is very helpful. We are new to the whole budget/be responsible with money thing and there are some good tips here!

Hannah a.k.a.Topiary Lady said...

It's fun to see other people's budgets. My mortgage is almost triple yours! (and we don't have a huge house or anything. I really think it depends on where in the country you live)

Oil, oh don't get me started!! I'm scared to fill the tank. We have a 250 gallon tank and it's about $3+/gallon here for oil. Yikes!! do the math. We usually fill it up 2 or 3 times a winter, depending on the winter.

We also use space heaters in our 3 bedrooms for at night, put them on low during the day. I can't tell you how they affect the bills because I took over the bills this summer. (sorry)

Thanks for sharing and encouraging.