Have you ever had German pancakes? When we were newly married, on Danny’s birthday, he asked me to make German pancakes. I had never eaten or seen German pancakes. (Yes, I had lived a sad life until that point.) I had a recipe from one of Danny’s family members that was written on a plain sheet of paper. No photos, no special instructions, just the basic recipe. I was SO confused while I was trying to make those suckers. (How are these pancakes? Am I supposed to put a little batter in the cake pan and bake the servings individually like normal pancakes are made? I had no idea what was going on). I ultimately figured it out, but the whole process was way more complicated than it needed to be. Itwould have been SO much easier if I had an example to guide me, like photos or watching someone make them previously.
Creating a budget is a lot like following a recipe. There are a million different ideas out there on budgeting. But what I think is most helpful, is to see an actual budget and mimic and modify it so it can apply to you. Especially if you are like us and paying off a massive amount of debt. So, here is a sneak peak inside my budget.
Danny’s student loans went into repayment this week. We thought there would be like a gun shot or confetti or at a minimum, a letter or e-mail letting us know that we were officially entering repayment. In the law, we call that “notice.” He did, however, receive an email letting him know that he was eligible for income based repayment. So, thanks government, for reminding us that we are poor. We did in fact sign up for an income based repayment plan– REPAYE. (More on our repayment plan here)
Anyway, I am beyond grateful income based repayment exists, even though we are not planning to take advantage of the forgiveness part of the plan. It is scary starting out new careers– we are unsure what either of our incomes will be. The fact that what we are only required to pay 10 % of our discretionary income versus upwards of $7000 a month on a standard plan is certainly comforting. So thank you for that Barack, George, Bill, and George, and hopefully Donald. So far we have been paying between $10k and $12k a month to student loans. So there’s that.
I’m rambling. Onto the good stuff! After receiving lots of questions about how we set and stick to our budget, it behooved us to share a sneak peak into what our actual budget looks like. It might be helpful to see the details so you can create your own budget. If you are curious about how we came up with each category, check out our post on HOW TO CREATE AND STICK TO A BUDGET.
We also pay 10% of our income in tithing to our church, pay a ridiculous amount in taxes each month, and save a teeny tiny bit for retirement (since I have a 401k aka my employer will give me more money if I participate). Anything in excess of our monthly spending goes to student loans. This month, that was a little over $12k.
We use Personal Capital andMint to manage our budget but really any app, excel sheet, or hand written paper will do!
Mortgage. Our mortgage payment includes all of our taxes and insurance. Our auto budget is bigger than what we need in a regular month. Our monthly payment on our tiny Toyota is $116 a month, but as you know, with a car there are sometimes unexpected things that need to be fixed with cars. Our insurance on both cars runs us about $50 a month. Fortunately our jeep is paid off.
Auto. We have one cheap car with a small loan on it that costs a little over $100 per month. But we budget for well over this amount since cars need maintenance like oil changes and occasional fixes. This month we had to fix something on our Jeep which pretty quickly blew up our budget.
Gas. Items in our budget that are not fixed expenses, like gas and food, we simply create a goal for our budget. We try to stick below $200 per month on gas and for us, that number is easily doable.
Utilities. Again, another expense which is not fixed. We create a goal based off of past spending and do our best to stick to it.
Eating out. The convenience of eating out is easily the hardest part of our budget to stick to! We try to spend $60 or less per month but we routinely screw up this part of our budget 😉
Groceries. We try to stick below $400 per month. We do our best to eat healthy. We also include any house hold items in our grocery budget. We save money by shopping sales, using coupons, and scoring cash back rebates.
Health insurance. Health insurance is obviously a fixed expense, just like our mortgage. So painful, but at least we know what to expect and budget for.
Fitness. We each pay a little more than $10 for a gym pass. This is a total luxury since we could technically work out from home.
Unexpected budget. Note that our “unexpected” budget is a cheap catch all. There are just too many things that come up every month for me to categorize them every month. Sometimes we hire a babysitter, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we need to hire an electrician, sometimes we don’t. Our goal is to increase this “unexpected” expenses budget and reduce spending in our other categories as kind of a safety net for when bigger emergencies arise.
So, that is all there is to it. I believe a family budget should be as SIMPLE as possible so that you will actually stick to it and review it. Is it helpful to have an example like this? Let me know if it is and I will post more updates of our budget like this.
P.S. If you want to download our budget so you can fill in your own numbers, please feel free to download the Microsoft Excel version here: OUR FAMILY BUDGET EXAMPLE
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