Take a deep breath, climb down off your high horse (if you’re on it), and think about the mom, dad, and two boys behind the numbers I’m about to share.
Let’s call him Bill. Bill left his budget as a comment on my budget post. I think Bill and his wife are frustrated. Check out his budget and his comments – then we’ll discuss.
|Category||Budgeted||Notes from “Bill”|
|Maid||$90||“Was twice a month, now only once a month for a 2800sq ft house”|
|Electric / water / waste||$160||“AC/Heat is expensive”|
|Cable/Internet||$100||“Just reduced from $130/month”|
|Personal Articles Insurance||$35|
|Groceries||$1100||“We eat lots of fruits, veggies, quality meat, etc”|
|Dining out||$800||“No matter how i try, I cannot get this number down”|
|Misc Household items||$150||“Amazon subscribe and save”|
|Hair/Nails/Wax||$200||“Wife gets manicures/waxing, the boys and I are cheap about $20 bucks each”|
|Clothing||$200||“Wife like to shop”|
|Exercise/Fitness||$300||“Important to us to keep fit”|
|Entertainment||$200||“Includes Netflix, movies, sporting events, activities for the boys”|
|Christmas||$100||“It covers most of Christmas”|
|Birthdays||$100||“Varies, we look at the calendar when making each month budget”|
|Charity||$130||“Church, wish it was more”|
|Car payment||$689||“Wish this was lower, but it’s 0.9% financing”|
|Parking||$60||“Parking for the train, drive downtown”|
|Gas(two cars)||$400||“No joke”|
|Car insurance 1||$57|
|Car insurance 2||$47|
|Repairs||$25||“This category was recently wiped out from a $700 repair on our older car”|
Bill’s comments about his budget:
“It’s frustrating seeing people putting up these so called “budget” numbers. Half the time I feel like it’s wishful thinking. This is reality. I have been using YNAB for more than 3 years, I know exactly what my expenses are. I take issue with people like Mr. Money Mustache because I really feel they are not real. My wife and I sit down on the last Monday of each month and review the budget for the upcoming month. It takes all of 15 minutes nowadays.
Granted, we live pretty comfortable life and what we deem as a necessity, may not be for others. I have a family of four (two growing boys) We live in a major metropolitan area. We are always looking for ideas to cut/save from the budget. I would love to hear some feedback on improving this.”
Yes, Bill is defensive. But because we’ve all agreed to climb down off our high horses and walk a mile in his shoes, we’re going to correctly interpret his defensiveness as frustration and discouragement.
Heck, twelve months ago I was Bill. Twelve months ago I was convinced I needed to earn at least $14,000 per month just to get by. Not kidding.
And by the way, my wife has a pair of $200 Ugg boots that I bought her during our higher earning, big spending period.
So, I get you Bill. And I feel for you.
See, you want to cut back (by dropping your cable/internet bill from $130 to $100, for example), but when you’re hemorrhaging $9,400 per month, saving thirty bucks isn’t doing much for you.
It’s your basic financial structures that are straining your finances:
- You live in an expensive metro area.
- You and your wife both seem to have high-paying, demanding jobs that create a major child care expense.
- You (apparently) live in an expensive home, far from your and your wife’s jobs – which is probably why you spend $800 per month at restaurants and $400 per month on gas for the cars.
- The consumption standards set by your co-workers and neighbors have convinced you to finance a $40,000+ car, spend a total of $5,000 per year on clothing and personal maintenance, and $5,000+ per year on private school.
If you wanted to create substantial savings in your budget, you’d have to evaluate each of those major structures.
At the end of the day, how you spend your money is your business.
I do have some concerns:
- I don’t see any retirement savings budgeted.
- With your income, and having been YNABing for three years, a $700 car repair shouldn’t even faze you. If things are running that close to red line, I wonder if there are credit card balances you’re not telling us about. If not, great. If so, that’s serious business.
- I worry that the tightness created by all those outflows might be creating stress and contention between you and your wife. You didn’t indicate that in the budget or notes, so I hope I’m wrong about this.
Here’s the only advice I’m going to offer:
Read Your Money or Your Life as a couple. You’ve indicated you’re church-goers, so my other advice would be to honestly evaluate whether your spending is making you happy.
That’s all I have. I’ll pass the mic to the community. Hopefully there are other metro-area-living, two-income-earning families in the audience who can offer Bill some advice and support.