I first heard of Money Diaries from Lauren, and it's been interesting to see how everyone spends their money.
I'm going to switch things up on today's post. I won't be writing a complete money diary for each expense. Instead, I'll be breaking down my monthly expenses, how I lowered my monthly expenses, and how I plan on living on less than $1,000 in the near future.
Disclaimer: I don't have kids. I don't plan on having kids. I have zero debt. I have an emergency fund. I don't buy new clothes, I rarely shop, and I live minimally. Just because I spend money this way, doesn't mean you need to. In my personal opinion, finance isn't a one-size fit all. This is a judgment-free zone. Do you enjoy buying clothes each month? Do you enjoy living in a big house and having kids? Obviously, your numbers will be different from mine. Again, j-u-d-g-m-e-n-t free zone.
Occupation: Blogger and Business Owner
Industry: Marketing and Freelance
Location: Western Slope, Colorado
Annual Income: $80,000 was 2018's income. 2019 is six-figure. Since I don't have set numbers for my annual income, I am setting my annual income at $80,000 for simplicity. I also don't plan on sharing my new income anymore for safety reasons, so I am saying six-figure.
Rent: $550 (1/2 of rent – 2 bedroom duplex that I share with my boyfriend and 2 dogs)
Cell Phone: $68
Internet: $22 (1/2 paid, other 1/2 boyfriend pays)
Electricity: $65 (1/2 paid, other 1/2 boyfriend pays)
Water: $0 (landlord pays)
Netflix and Hulu: $19
Health Insurance: $199 (Liberty HealthShare)
Dental Insurance: $42 (Delta Dental of Colorado)
Pet Insurance: $64 (Embrace and Healthy Paws)
Disability Insurance: $20 (Still working on this)
Auto And Rental Insurance: $99 (State Farm)
The number above does not include my giving, investments, business, and last minute expenses like unexpected dental or medical bills for myself or my dogs.
Annual expenses: For example, my dogs get dental teeth cleaning once a year, need dog food, and get physicals, which is almost $1,000 between my boyfriend and I. I visited the dentist myself this year and shelled out $1,000 with insurance, but this was a one-time thing to address issues I was having. In the future, my dental budget should be $0 since my dental insurance covers 2 cleanings a year – as long as no accidents happen.
Giving: I give monthly to charities that mean a lot to me, such as animal sanctuaries, charities for women involved in domestic and sexual violence, environmental groups, etc. I also enjoy giving to online creators. For example, I watch vegan YouTubers and buy their eBooks even though I'll probably never read them. I just wanted to find a way to support them somehow.
Insurance: I have health insurance, auto and renters insurance, dental insurance, pet insurance for both dogs, and signing on disability insurance this month. I don't have life insurance because I don't want kids and my boyfriend will not need any money from me if I die. I have money saved for cremation in case I die.
Business expenses: My business expenses range month to month. This month, my business expenses were $364, which is higher than usual because I added an accountant to take over the financial part of my business. I recently hired a website designer, and that was a couple grand. I hired someone to do my taxes. Overall, business expenses are usually less than $5,000 a year. [ConvertKit [email marketing] alone is $119/month or $1428/year].
Future added costs: I am starting therapy or life coaching this year to finally address things that have happened in my life that still affect me today.
How I Lowered Monthly Expenses:
1. I lowered my cell phone and internet bill with Billshark. Billshark called both T-Mobile and Xcel Energy for me and lowered my bills which saved me $290 for the next 12 months. I owe Billshark 40% of the $290 they saved me, which is $116. My internet went from $65.99 back down to the intro rate of $45.99 for the next 12 months. Billshark also negotiated my T-Mobile bill, which saved me $40 for 1 month. They were not able to lower my State Farm insurance bill – they said it was already the lowest it could get. I'll probably call Billshark in 12 months and have them try this again. We'll see if it works a second time.
Here's a screenshot of my Billshark dashboard:
2. I used to spend $400+ a month on food, restaurant outings, and coffee. I no longer go out to get coffee every day because I've found a way to make great coffee at home with a french press. I also eat a whole foods plant-based diet which cut down costs dramatically. If you're interested in plant-based eating on a budget, I recommend the book Plant-Based On A Budget. I use Ibotta to save money on groceries, but I don't use it as much as I should.
3. Any time I online shop [and I seriously mean ANY and every time] I use Honey, which plugs in the best coupon at checkout. I've cut down on online shopping, though, so I don't use Honey as much as I used to, but it's still a great way to save money. We buy our dogs prescription medication through 1-800 Pet Meds and make sure to apply Honey at checkout every time.
4. In the future, we are buying our own home [we plan to build a self-converted van]. Once our “home” is paid off, rent and associated costs will go away, which is around $700 per person. We'll save $1,400 at the very minimum by owning our “home.” Living in a van isn't free [last minute expenses, maintenance, campsite fees, insurance, etc.], but it also doesn't cost nearly as much as renting in most cities in the U.S., especially in Colorado where we currently live. As much as we love our current landlord, we're really done renting, and we rather put the money back into our own pockets. P.S. I know a van isn't a house. I don't want to buy a house, but that could obviously change in the future.
5. I no longer travel as much as I used to. This cut down monthly costs dramatically. I really miss home and being with family, so I don't plan on leaving for months at a time in the foreseeable future.
The personal finance community can be very judgmental and critical of how people spend money.
So I want to say this:
If you enjoy going out for a daily coffee, buying new clothes, taking luxurious vacations, go for it if this fits in your budget. If this makes you happy and you can afford this while also putting money away for your retirement and savings, why not?
I remember when I first joined the personal finance community and was making financial choices based on what I thought I was supposed to do. I held a lot of guilt for a long time on buying a new car because you are NOT supposed to buy a new car. Then, I realized I love my new car, and you know what I love even more? My new car's engine doesn't burst into flames or break down every month regardless of getting new batteries as my 2 previous used cars did.
I also paid off my student loans in full the day I graduated instead of putting that money toward investments, which is often recommended in the personal finance community. I did what felt was right for me.
I hope you all enjoyed today's post. If you have any questions about my spending, feel free to ask them below. 🙂
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