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what does your budget look like?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 70
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Hey all, just curious what peoples general budgets look like after bills. Our truck broke down and so we have to buy a new one, so here we are pulling together a tight budget again.

For my husband and I monthly:
groceries: $200.00
gas: $200.00
extras(dog food, dish soap, etc.): $150.00
savings: 150.00
unexpected expenses/farm projects (repairs, dr. visits, etc., hay): $150.00

Does this look normal to you all? High or low? Unrealistic or extravagant? I feel like homesteaders/farmers have a different set of costs that the general public, so I thought you may provide some wisdom for us. Thanks!
 
gardener
Posts: 7881
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have never written down a budget in my life, but I'm sure that my food expenses are about five times what I spend on fuel. Small car, in a small city. Glutton.
 
Posts: 45
Location: N. Idaho
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My Household has varied from three to five persons this year and medical expenses have been rampant, (kidney stones!) so;
$100 per person monthly for food (includes extras, dog food, shampoo, etc)
$100 monthly for communications.
$150 fuel
$800 monthly unexpected expenses  (Ammunition, gun swaps, licenses, taxes, drs, travel, opportunities!)
$400 monthly money just wasted!  (Drinks and other social lubricant, needless exploration, four wheelers, junk trucks for swapping materiel, and thing to keep mama happy!)
 
master steward
Posts: 8076
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Family of four: Myself, my husband, our 4-year old son, and 1-year old daughter. My husband has Crohn's and so follows the SCD diet, so we can't cut costs by eating grains.

  • Groceries: Around $800-900/month
  • Gas: $100 We have a fuel-efficient Honda Fit and a diesel Jetta
  • Mortgage: $728
  • Eating out: $0-20 There's very few places that we can eat and be within my husband's diet
  • Duck food (organic) and pine shavings: $160 for 14 ducks. Yikes, that's steep! We average 6 eggs/day through the year. So, .89 cents a duck egg. My husband usually sells 2 or 3 dozen a month, at $5/dozen. Waaaaay under priced for what we're paying to feed them!
  • Phone/satalite internet: $105
  • Electricity: $100-$120 I wash cloth diapers on hot....
  • Tithe= 10% of income
  • Auto & Home insurance= $138/month


  • Other than bill paying, we tithe and buy everything with our discover card (and pay in full each month). Our bill averages $2,000/month. About $320 of that is tithe, and $850 is groceries and $165 is duck food and bedding and $138 is insurance and $100 is gas. So, all other purchases add up to about $400 (car repairs, clothing, fixing stuff that breaks around the property, groceries bought at stores not considered "grocery" by Discover [probably $100], and presents for family, which is usually $25/person/holiday. That's 19 birthday presents and 14 Christmas presents and six $5 gifts for Mothers/Father's day= $855/year and $70/month)
     
    Posts: 153
    Location: Ozarks
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    chicken goat cooking solar tiny house
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    Taylor Cleveland wrote:
    For my husband and I monthly:
    groceries: $200.00
    gas: $200.00



    Is that gas as in gasoline or gas as in natural gas/propane? If it's gasoline, it seems high unless one of you commutes.

    ---------------------
    Family of four here, kids eat like adults now.

    Food $450/mth
    Gasoline $200/mth -- wife commutes 50 miles round trip -- 4 days a week -- full size pickup truck with V8 engine
    Land payment $200/mth
    Electric $100/mth
    Phone/internet $50/mth -- was $80 but they just lowered it this month for some reason -- new tax rates maybe
    Misc $250/mth

    That leaves us about $300/mth to fix and build things -- if gasoline was $4.00+ per gallon, we'd have to get a 4cyl vehicle for the commute -- scary because of hilly, rural 55mph roads and it's dark when my wife commutes.

    In the next year or two, she should be able to quit her job as I'll be working from home. That will cut the gasoline bill way down. I also have a small pickup for short daytime trips and around the property/neighborhood but it needs a little work. Food is also something to address. Grow more veggies, raise meat birds every year, eggs, pasture pigs/goats at some point. Sell some excess if possible. All that will take some investment of course. Land should be paid off in a few years. Need a root cellar, material for the high tunnel(already have the frame), chicken housing, fence, goat housing and we're living in a small drafty cabin so we'll be building something better, earth sheltered -- passive solar
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 2915
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    Comparing budgets to other families is really a very difficult thing to do because there are so many variables in life. Just the numbers themselves can be misleading, like for instance: I keep track of every penny we spend, but also put everything I want to track into categories (and even sub categories not listed) so that i can keep an eye on budgets very precisely. Others may find that just keeping up with a few basic categories is enough, and I am sure that it is.

    One of the key things I noted really needs some explanation, and that is it was averaged over 4 years. On certain categories this is really important, like budgeting for food! This is pretty constant for us; month to month and year to year, but home construction is not. My home is paid for, so the $307 cited is for renovations, additions or improvements. Some years we have bigger projects than others, but averaged out over 4 years, that is what we average per month. On the farm side, Depreciation is the same way; we use cash-only here so big purchases like bulldozers and fencing means lots of depreciation. Depending on how I do that, it might be big for a year, and smaller the next year. The same applies to Rental, repairs and Vet bills; some years are worse than others.

    The real key to budgeting is not budget based on these averages per say, nor what other people are spending. That is just silly and does not do the individual or particular family any good. That only ends up trying to justifying a persons reasoning for those particular numbers. Instead look back upon the numbers...over years if you can, and really deduce what is a real world number for the upcoming year, and then try and be aggressive on a budgeting goal.

    To put that in practice, it would be like Katie and I looking at say our food bill. $925 seems kind of high until you realize that that includes everyday meals at home, fast food, family nights at restaurants and date nights for her and I. We went for a 10% reduction for food expenses for 2018. However, we could still spend $925 a month, but increase our quality of life by reducing our fast food meals to almost $0, and instead fortifying our marriage by going on more date nights. Or, we could invest that money into going out as a family to better restaurants then McDonald's. That is the key to tracking a person's money; knowing that, they can make changes with where it goes. Not spending less, just having a better quality of life...though spending less is a lofty goal.

    Katie and I took some time last week to really look hard at our budget, and we found we could trim $200 a month on personal expenses, and $500 a month on the farm expenses; or at least that is the goal, spelled out in each category. In total that is $700 a month, or $8,400 a year in savings. But should anyone think Katie and I have it altogether money wise, please consider this; if we had done this in 2014, we would have had $33,600 in expense savings to date!!

    Tracking every penny spent is difficult
    Creating a budget is easy
    Sticking to an aggressive budget is the hardest of all; yet is what reaps the most benefits.



     
    pollinator
    Posts: 204
    Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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    Matching your categories: As an individual I spend $120 on groceries, $60 on gas(fuel), and $40 on extras and in recent years $70-100 for projects. I already have $500 saved for emergency situations and that goes no higher.

    Unfortunately, income, location, # of family members, type of vehicle, lifestyle choice, etc, all distort the numbers too much to make relevant comparisons.

    ---

    If I may look at your situation from a different perspective, you have $850 to use on 4 categories per month and the rest is Savings for the new truck. I am going to make the assumption that the truck is somewhat vital or handy to your daily life, and so you want to save as much as possible in order to get a new truck as quickly as possible. From Most to Least flexible:

    1. Extras
    2. Unexpected expenses/farm projects
    3. Groceries
    4. Gas

    $200 - Gas savings are likely to not be worth any extended effort. If you have to travel less for errands or do less post office/grocery runs, that's a small win I guess. I make a trip into town once a month and that's it, but compare that to driving to work everyday and it's not saving a lot.

    $160? (80%) - Groceries are basically up to your comfort level and only you can decide that. My average food budget would probably be $120 a month, but I'm saving up for investments aswell, so I'm currently at only spending $72(60%) per month. 60% seems to be a sort of thresh-hold where I can still buy enough ingredients to create fulfilling meals. I don't use any milk or coffee and hardly any condiments, so it's not too hard for me.

    $150 - Unexpected Expenses/Farm Projects I can't really say much about without knowing more details, except that currently I'd assume you have more time than money, so doing extra preventative check-ups on machines might help reduce this expense. I usually try to take about 10 minutes per machine a week just to check them out a bit. One time after a busy week, I found my boss' front-end loader had lost 2 out of 4 of the bolts holding the engine mounted. He was very relieved to have that pending disaster discovered and cheaply repaired.

    $105? (70%) - Extras also goes along with Miscellaneous, and are usually the one where lots of cost cutting can be done. I can guess many items could be reduced in use or used more efficiently.

    If the above is applicable, then that could put your Savings at $235.

    ---

    Even though it's not included in the OP, you can likely save more by changing habits in electrical and heating usage. I did some experimenting this winter and managed to reduce heating by 15-20% and cut electrical by at least 20% and didn't have to sacrifice much comfort.

    More about expanding income than savings, but using some of your farm equipment, even something small like a chainsaw, to get extra work once in awhlie on the weekends would likely be the most efficient way to expand your savings.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 4339
    Location: Anjou ,France
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    Firstly income
    One part time Job 900e
    Help from govt      200e for the rent 200 e because we have low pay

    Out goings  
    300e rent
    480e shopping that's everything we eat organic go out once ish a week to play music dance
    100e petrol
    70e   Electric
    20e.  Water
    0e.    Medical yay for the French health service
    100e  misc other bills rest saved

    Plus inkind stuff save 50 e a month cooking own bread 50 e a month growing own veg etc heating cost 0 as I cut my own wood
    Future increace amounts of veg and fruit save for new car ( new to us :-) ) plus save for holiday

    David
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 287
    Location: Denmark 57N
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    We know the budgeting issue! But I'm not in the same country however I'll swap everything to USD so you can see at least what % we spend where

    Monthly
    Food $350 (including dog food for 2 cat food for 2and all soaps etc etc)
    Electric $143 (it's expensive stuff here)
    Gas (cooking) $10
    Petrol $150
    Wood (heating and hot water) $25
    Water $50
    Taxes house  $30
    Taxes car      $60
    Tax TV/internet $25
    Internet $46
    2 mobile phones $10
    Duck and chicken food $7
    Medicine $50 i(ncluding dog and cat wormers defleaers etc)

    Totaling $956 every month

    These costs don't include clothes tools or repairs at least another $200-$400 every month for that.

     
    Posts: 39
    Location: Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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    chicken forest garden homestead
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    Our household has has a lot of changes lately and a stricter budget is something I have been wanting to implement. One for myself, but I would like to the rest of the household on board as well. My partner is fairly frugal and money-wise, but he likes to keep track of it all mostly in his head... I admit this is the way I'm used to doing it too. We don't make a lot but we are fairly frugal with what we do make, so it all generally works out, but I would really like to get some numbers in a spreadsheet or something and actually track our expenses carefully, and save more efficiently. We're still young but we're not getting any younger, and we've got big goals for our little farm. At least I do.

    In the months going forward I will track my spending and figure out our average budget. Does anyone have a method they recommend?
    From there I can adjust what needs adjusting and put my money to better use.

    I think my initial categories would break down into:

    Groceries - we spend a good amount here. After all, we are filthy millennials who like out avocado toast. At least we can stay busy by killing applebees and probably cutting back on the pre-made foods we by and using more raw ingredients. I already do this a lot but we do get lazy at times. I wonder if this category should contain our "going out" money or if that should fall under extras?
    Gas - fairly inflexible expense, we already use it as sparingly as we can most of the time. This number is going to be larger because my partner commutes.
    Bills - Internet, phone, taxes, netflix....doesn't change a lot, could go down a little.
    Farm & house fund - Big one that varies a lot month to month. Should probably be broken down into more categories....
    Savings & emergency fund - a minimum of $50 a month but often more.
    Extras - this one is going to be a place to cut back, I can sense it.

    Even without the exact numbers, I can already see places where I could cut back or shift priorities in order to save up more quickly.
     
    Travis Johnson
    pollinator
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    Rebecca Wooldridge wrote:...hould probably be broken down into more categories....



    I encourage you to write down your expenses because it probably will shock you how little things add up. When a person tracks things by categories and then sub-categories, they really get a good idea of what they are spending, and just where things can be cut. For instance, at the shipyard I used to buy a coffee and breakfast sandwich for $2.25 every day. That amounted to $11.25 a week, $45 a month, and a staggering $540 per year. A family can do a lot with $540!

    I will list how my Person Expenses look listed out in Excel, but keep in mind I do not use all these categories, or sub-categories. For instance, I don't have any loans, nor cell phone or satellite, but I have a category nonetheless. The idea here is to make a template, but a person does not have to use each category, or sub-category.

    On most of the categories I have a spot that takes the total cost for the month and divides it by my families size, in my case (6). This gives me a cost per person basis for each category. Some expenses though are very personalized, like clothing (my wife and her love of shoes for instance), or presents for the kids, so these I add up separately for each person.

    While it is interesting the trends and exact numbers I can give you regarding our expenses, the real benefit is to make accurate, and aggressively lower monthly budgets so that we spend less money. In other words, as difficult as it is to track where the money is going, it is another thing to actually refrain from spending it, and that of course is what budgets are for.

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