At book club last night, some ladies and I were talking about spending money. We were lamenting on how expensive it is to date and be social, because you end up going out frequently for dinners, drinks and entertainment, and therefore spend more money than you would have left to your own devices. We also talked about how hard it is to not spend money when you are not working (aka when educators have their summer's off), because you aren't as busy and end up going out more. I remember feeling that way the past few summers and it being really hard to balance doing things but not spending too much money during my time off. That was one of the reasons I liked to have a summer job- not only to MAKE money but for keeping me from SPENDING money.
I am a big believer in frugal living, which I have talked about here. One of the big ways I save money is by reading as much as I do- I go to the library to get books for free (I love going to Barnes and Nobles and seeing their racks of recommended books and then requesting them at a local library), and they obviously provide hours and hours of entertainment. You can also read ANYWHERE, so I bring a book with me daily to keep from buying things or doing something costly when I have downtime during my day (like when killing time between appointments/meetings or just a slow day at work). I also have very basic cable plans (no DVR or multiple boxes because you can watch everything On Demand or online), pay almost nothing for my cell phone, and don't go out to eat much. With friends, we run or walk or just hang out at people's porches more than we actually GO places. I also usually eat at home and just order a drink or dessert when I am out OR just try to be budget-conscious when I am eating out. I don't like concerts, buy most of my gifts/do my shopping online at Amazon (thank you, Prime!) so I can find the best deals and not get caught up in what I see in the store that I don't need, drive an old, basic car that is paid off, and I am an anti-hoarder, so I don't buy knick-knacks. I want my money to go to travel and not necessary mundane things every month. All of this is how I live as frugal as possible.
A blog I really like showcased her monthly expenses as an example of how she lives, so I figured I would do that same (because I also think saving is FUN)! This is what a typical month looks like for me:
Condo Fees (including gym, lawn car, trash service, and pool): $200
Gas: $105 (I wish I didn't work so far away from my condo, but I can't give up city living!)
Cell Phone: $25 (thank you, not having a smart phone!)
Shopping: $100 (usually for weddings, showers or birthdays...I typically only buy myself things at the end of the month when I know what I have remaining)
That totals to roughly: $1813/month. Give or take a little bit depending on the month:)
The rest of my money goes to a Roth IRA that I maximize each year, a certain amount of pre-taxed money goes to a 457(b), and the rest to savings or additional principal on my mortgage once my savings is high enough. My health insurance comes out of my paycheck, so that only affects my take-home pay. I pay off my credit card every month so I don't have to pay interest, and I don't believe in credit cards that have fees:) I think I do pretty well overall!
How do you do with a budget? Any tips for me or ways you like to save?