*June 2020 | I’ve recently updated this post to reflect my most recent budget.*
When I first wrote this post, I originally was only spending less than $1,350 a month. Since then, I’ve really changed things up. I love spending money on things I enjoy and I’ve increased my spending quite a bit on social outings and shopping.
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.
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Occupation: Blogger and Business Owner
Industry: Marketing and Freelance
Location: Western Slope, Colorado
Annual Income: Since I don’t have set numbers for my annual income, I am setting my annual income at $80,000 for simplicity.
Rent: $550 (1/2 of rent – 2 bedroom duplex that I share with my boyfriend and 2 dogs)
Cell Phone: $57
Internet: $22 (1/2 paid, other 1/2 boyfriend pays)
Electricity: $50 (1/2 paid, other 1/2 boyfriend pays)
Water: $0 (landlord pays)
Car gas: $15 (boyfriend pays other half)
Netflix and Hulu: $16
Health Insurance: $199 (Liberty HealthShare)
Pet Insurance: $70 (Embrace and Healthy Paws)
Auto, Disability, and Rental Insurance: $96 (State Farm)
Life Coaching: $79
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, pet insurance for both dogs, and disability insurance.
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 around $2,500. I also hire someone to do my taxes. Overall, business expenses are usually less than $5,000 a year. [ConvertKit alone is $119/month or $1428/year].
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. If you’re downloading Ibotta on your phone, the app will ask if you have a referral code. Use my referral code: lwyxxrb and you’ll get $10 for signing up.
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. To save even more money on groceries, use Walmart Grocery Pickup. This is my go-to for grocery shopping for 2 major reasons: 1) It’s a huge time-saver 2) Convenient, easy pickup. You don’t even get out of your car to get your groceries. Click here and get $10 toward your first Walmart Grocery Pickup. Even better, once you fall in love with Walmart Grocery Pickup (which you will), you can start referring friends and family. Just get 5 friends to try out Walmart Grocery Pickup and you’ll get $50 toward groceries.
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. I also love spending money and I like buying fancy things sometimes.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s post. If you have any questions about my spending, feel free to ask them below.
What to read next: How I Make $10,000+ Per Month With These 4 Side Hustles
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