Way back when, long before I started this blog, I thought I knew personal finance. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on it. I do, but, actually after starting this thing, I realized that a whole lot of people know a whole lot more than me. And that’s a pretty gnarly (albeit humbling) realization. So, with your help, I’ve decided to put that collective knowledge to good use. That’s right- I’m giving you all a chance, and hoping you will help me make my budget. The thing is, my budget doesn’t look too bad right now. But, it can look better. So, if you’re willing, I would love your help in traveling down that yellow brick road to wealth (more like a Wizard of Oz reference, with wealth being the wizard. Not a Beatles reference- IMHO, they’re over-rated). I don’t want any detours on the road to riches, so guides are welcome. If you’re game, you can comment on what you think my budget should look like, write a post on your own blog, email me (and I’ll post it on the sequel to this), tweet it to me (if it will fit) or send it via facebook. You can make a small part of it, or all of it. Tell me how much to contribute to my Roth, or 401(k), or where to park my savings. What I should keep, and what I should cut. It’s up to you. I’m in your hands here. So, without further ado, here are my household’s vital stats.
- Income: $82,867.20. This is pre-tax, and likely with bonuses, overtime, and side hustles, closer to $85-90k. Tennessee does not have any income tax, so all taxes paid are Federal.
- Mortgage: $434 monthly. Our outstanding total is about $42,000.
- Dogs: 2 of them. We have two dogs, and prefer not to feed them any food with by-products, and recently began feeding them raw for about $80/month.
- Car Insurance: $750 annually. We make semi-annual payments on this, in March and September.
- Credit Cards: $0. Boo-yah! I love writing that we have no credit card debt.
- Student Loans: $0. See above.
- Utilities: $135 monthly (high end estimate). This includes water, sewer, trash, and electric. It’s lower during the summer, and would be lower except for the nasty cold winter we’ve had.
- Internet: $55 monthly. Kinda need internet.
- Entertainment: $16 monthly. Netflix and Hulu+ are the culprits here.
- Transportation: $180 monthly. This is about the minimum of what we need to spend on gas for transportation costs to and from work and school, with gas costing about $3.50/gallon.
- Food: $350. You can play with the food budget. Maybe we spend less, or maybe more? We like organics, if you’re interested. This includes all meals, eating out, which we do rarely, and cooking at home.
So, there you have it. Make my budget. How much should we each contribute to our employer sponsored 401(k) plans? We both have to contribute a minimum of 5% to get the company match. How much should we be putting into savings? How much should we be contributing to a Roth IRA, and how should we do it? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually? Where should we keep our savings? How much should be in our emergency fund?
Some things to keep in mind:
- Sales tax is about 9.25% here in Nashville.
- We are planning on moving in 2 years and purchasing a home.
- I would prefer to have some liquidity, were the market to crash. That’s a sale I would like to take advantage of.
- We enjoy traveling.
That’s it. Have at it. Thanks for all of your help!
Let me know how you would make my budget!