Cut the Budget – My Own Example

by David Ning · 9 comments

My parents taught me so much of what I know today.  The importance of living below our means, the understanding of money matters and the appreciation of compound interest are all values that were ingrained into me at a very young age.  I remember my mom used to tell me “there are always ways to save more money so keep looking”.

So mom, I am practicing this today.  I will keep looking for ways to cut my spending.  To help me do this, I listed out my average expenses for the last 3 months.

Expenses for the Past 3 Months (April to June 2008):

Category Average Low High
Rent $1230.00 $1230.00 $1230.00
Food $159.63 $66.02 $223.21
Gas $135.37 $92.62 $182.18
Goods $77.65 $0.00 $152.99
Entertainment $150.08 $19.24 $241.00
Misc $122.45 $9.26 $347.85
Total $1875.18 $1417.14 $2377.23

There seems to be major differences with just 3 months alone. The total for “low” represents me being ultra frugal while the total for “high” represents me as a major spender. Just this quick look has already established a dream goal of just spending $1417.14 per month. Now let’s break down the spending in each category to see whether this goal is achievable.

Food

Average Low High
$159.63 $66.02 $223.21

This one is easy to cut back. All I need to do is eat out less and order less expensive food when I go out. Out of the $223.21 monthly high, 4 meals make up $180 of it so my goal here is to shoot for the low, $66.02.

Gas

Average Low High
$135.37 $92.62 $182.18

Spending less money on gas is harder than cutting back on food but some ways include:

  • Drive less by grouping trips with similar purposes
  • Be more patient on the road and drive with less emphasis on strong acceleration and hard braking
  • Think about the route that I will take before getting on the road to avoid driving unnecessarily

With these tips, I’m aiming for the average, $135.37 a month.

Goods

Average Low High
$77.65 $0.00 $152.99

This is one where cutting is easier said than done. It’s very easy for me to just say that I will not buy anything each month, but it is very difficult to accomplish. Therefore, I’m going to try not buying anything in the next 3 months instead of saying I will never buy anything ever again.

Entertainment

Average Low High
$150.08 $19.24 $241.00

I know doing this wouldn’t make it the ultimate guide to cutting my budget but I’m going to keep the entertainment expense at $150. As you can see, I can be totally frugal and just keep the entertainment expense to only $19.24 but I need to be sensible and make this goal practical and achievable. Therefore, I’m keeping some “fun” money in my new budget, making it $150 a month.

Misc

Average Low High
$122.45 $9.26 $347.85

This one is easier than it seems. The $347.85 is actually a car maintenance expense last month. Since I don’t foresee anymore unexpected expenses, my goal is $20 a month for miscellaneous expenses.

Average Spending of the Last 3 Months: $1875.18
New Budget Goal: $1601.39
Savings: $273.79

I feel good already knowing there are more ways to save. Follow me and do the same analysis with your budget today. Then come back and tell us how much you will be saving.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • luz says:

    Saving today can save us in the future:)

  • magnesium says:

    it is great to count every $ but I don’t manage to do so

  • MoneyNing says:

    marci: Geez those figures are great. Oregon sounds like a good place to be 🙂

  • marci says:

    No NOT $100/mo in property tax…Under $100/month for tax AND Insurance… right now it’s Prop.tax $550/yr and ins/$330/yr…so $880/yr…but with the remodeling I did, the prop tax will go up a little…so I used that under $100/mo figure for both.

    Remember this is rural north coast Oregon – altho I actually live in a small town, tho it is the biggest small town in the county, pop.4000.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Emily: Other than the fact that it’s my wife’s birthday in July, summer is just the same as any other season 🙂

    Greener Pastures: You should keep up your budgets. It’s impossible (at least for me) to remember every little expense if I wait a long time to do it so I try to log the expenses as often as possible.

    marci: Yes I agree. I was thinking about calling it unexpected and then putting car related things into the necessary expenses but I change categories once a year to keep consistency so I will keep that in mind.

    $100 in property tax??.? That’s so good. If I get a house in California, the mortgage and property taxes are more like $3k or $4k.

  • marci says:

    Your MISC category may need tweaked if that’s where your repairs are coming from.
    Is that how bad rent is? Whew. More than I take home in a month. LOL. Looking forward to when you totally own a home, I’ll let you know that my property taxes and insurance run under $100/month if I paid them monthly, which I don’t. (no mortgage) That’s what’s gonna make it easy for me to retire 🙂

    Thanks for sharing with us. And good luck with your goals.

  • Greener Pastures says:

    I really like the way you broke everything down like this. Moms are smart, for sure.

    I haven’t done my budget for 2 months, and usually I am on top of it. I’ve been blogging too much. This reminds me that I need to sit down and get caught up.

    Lisa

  • Emily says:

    Don’t you need to spend more in summer time, Moneyning? : )

    Thanks for sharing your expense to all of us.

  • Kat says:

    Carefully planning your route and driving more sensibly are great tips for saving money on gas. Here are two other money-saving tips: keep your tires property inflated to improve gas mileage by 3% (and save up to 20 gallons or up to $75) and decrease your speed (each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas). Try checking out the Drive $marter Challenge ( http://www.drivesmarterchallenge.org ) for additional saving tips – Kat, Alliance to Save Energy

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