For the last month or so, Sherrian and I have been using Mint to manage our budget (our expenses and total debt are still tracked using Quicken and Excel). So far we have found it to be more intuitive than Quicken, and much easier than Excel.
Since part of the purpose of this blog is to share with you our efforts to pay off over $100,000 in debt, we want to share with you a breakdown of our monthly budget (click on the picture to see a larger version of the chart):
Housing Costs – 40%
As you can see, the biggest monthly expense that we have is our rent. We pay out 34% of our take-home income in rent. We definitely don’t live in luxury and we are actually getting a great deal (a few hundred dollars a month cheaper than comparable places) for where we are, but it’s hard to live in New Jersey and not have rent/mortgage take up a huge chunk of your income.
Other Housing Costs
We also pay all utilities (gas, electric, water, and sewer) and when you add those (5%) in, you’re looking at almost 40% of our income gone! Actually, when you add in the small amount for rental insurance (listed as 0% in the chart), then we hit 40% exactly.
Debt Repayment – 32%
This is the category that breaks our heart. There are several expenses that fit into this group…
Credit Card Payments – 15%
Like I said on Periscope, our minimum payments add up to about 13% of this amount. The only way we would be happy paying this much to credit card companies is if the minimum payments took up about 5% of our income and we were throwing an extra 10% pay down the debt faster.
We are still using the debt avalanche to pay down our debt, but starting with such a small additional payment will make this process take much longer than desired.
Student Loans – 10%
Yes, we pay a dime on the dollar toward our student loans. The interest rates are as low as we are going to get them, so we just have to deal with this until we have them completely paid off – they are the lowest priority in our debt elimination plan.
Car Payment – 7%
There isn’t much to say about this. We were forced to replace our vehicle over the summer (after holding out for as long as we could) and this car note is going to be with us for a while. Now that I think about it, this is actually the lowest priority for us to repay because the interest rate is even lower than the student loans.
Speaking of our car, we also pay out 6% of our income to insure it and 3% to fuel it each month.
Groceries & Other Supplies – 11%
Looking at the items listed above, we’ve already at 81% before eating or buying supplies!
Groceries – 9%
Our grocery budget has been pretty stable for a while, but the actual expenses fluctuate when we lack discipline and choose to eat out a lot during a month. However, we are committed to cracking down on eating out, so we expect this number to remain steady.
Vitamins & Home Supplies – 2%
This is for things that typically get counted against groceries in most households: Clorox, dish detergent, body wash, shampoo, and other cleaning and hygiene supplies. We also buy a good amount of vitamins and supplements that either aid with our health problems or are for general dietary supplementation.
Giving & Misc. – 8%
Giving – 5%
If you follow us over at our main website (KNS Financial), then you know how passionate we are about the topic of giving. In fact, we even have a free course on worshipful giving that people can take if they want to honor God with how they give.
That is why this is by far the most painful part of our budget. We would love to give 20 or 30% of our income, but instead we are stuck doing 5% because of the debt that we have. This is why we can say that we are in debt bondage. We are not free to give like we want because our debt causes us to act differently than how our true priorities would lead us.
Misc. – 3%
This includes everything else that we have budgeted: Dry cleaning, parking, clothing, registration, dining out etc. These things are so small that they are pretty insignificant even when two or three are added together (most of them show up as 0% on the chart).
As you can see, we don’t have a budgeted amount for savings. We have 5% of our gross income saved through my employer – and they match that with 8% of their money. However, we do not have any additional savings for retirement or for short-term expenses. This is something that we will be correcting in the next few months.
Also, we need to take out life insurance on Sherrian. Even though she isn’t bringing home an income that will have to be replaced, there will be costs associated with her death that I need to be prepared for. In addition to those costs, I need to be prepared for the reality of not being as productive as normal for a while – it may take a while for me to get back to earning at full capacity.
What Do You Think?
Any questions or comments about our budget? How does this stack up to your budget? I’m curious to see if any of you who tracks this has a higher amount of your income going to housing costs and debt repayment as us.
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