Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Serendipity's Budget Survey

Serendipity's "First Annual Budget Survey" is underway -- I emailed her my answers, but thought I'd post them here as well. Check out her original post for other answers.
1. Do you actively follow a budget? Yes! Oh, yes. I've followed a budget for nearly ten years now, and it's the reason I was able to survive in New York City on such a ridiculously low salary.

2. Do you use any budgeting software such as Mint, Quicken, etc? No -- Peanut and I had developed our own individual Excel sheets, which he combined when we got married. It tracks our savings, acts as a check register to show outstanding transactions, handles a budget, and shows our net worth. (Plus it's not stored on a website or software vulnerable to hacking.)

3. What percentage (or amount) of your money is divided up into expense and variable expenses? I guess I'd say that we can live on half of our income (or my salary) for our budgeted expenditures (which includes some savings for annual expenses), and the rest we use for debt repayment and long-term savings.

4. How much of your budget is spent on living expenses (rent, utilities)? Rent is 24% of our income, electric/gas is about 2%, internet and cell phones are 2.5%. So 28.5%.

5. How much is spent on auto expenses/ transportation ( payment, insurance,gas, toll fees, bus passes) ? Less than 1%. My monthly unlimited subway card is a perk from work, Peanut's was $89 per month before he went freelance; now he'll pay per ride-- probably $40 per month. We don't take taxis.

6. How much of your income is spent on the following categories:
A. Alcohol -- we don't track this as a separate item. Peanut doesn't drink at all, and I have a glass of wine or a beer only two or three times a month. The cost is negligible.
B. Eating Out -- We spend about $300 a month eating out (including alcohol), which is too much in my opinion! We're part of a brunch group and most of our book clubs meet at restaurants, though, so it's hard to avoid. We eat out only as a couple for birthdays or special occasions.
C. Shopping ( books, clothes, wants not needs) -- Not much. We get books from the library, buy clothes only two or three times a year...I'd say we spend less than $100 between the two of us on not necessary stuff that's not food (we spend more than we need to on groceries, I do know that--I guess that's our "shopping" category).
D. Debt Repayment -- Here's the rub! Nearly half of our income right now is going to debt repayment, so we can pay off $35,000 of student loans in one year.
E. Entertainment -- About $50 a month. We like going to movies, but we get discount tickets at Costco.
7. Does following a budget make you feel anxious or more in control of your financial well-being? In control. It allows me to reach my goals and it's easy to tell what I could do to cut back in case of an emergency like a job loss.
8. Age? 29, Peanut is 27

One category we have that wasn't mentioned at all was retirement. Peanut and I max out a Roth IRA each year, and that's a category we include in our budget. I also contribute to a 401(k) at work. When we're done with paying off our student loans, we'll be able to do more in this category, in addition to freeing up tons of money for fun stuff like saving for a house or a crazy vacation.

This was fun! I look forward to seeing the results, and of course, I hope I win the gift card. :)


  1. I think budget surveys are fun :) I wish she had set it up on Survey Monkey though.

    Love your answers :) nearly half of your income to debt is no joke

  2. Thank you so much for taking it! And for even putting it up on your blog!


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