This seems like a great place (and time, I'm trapped inside all day while this hurricane/tropical storm tears through my town) to have my budget and fiscal lifestyle critiqued. My husband and I have already trimmed as much as we feel like we can, BUT BUT BUT there is always room for improvement and the chance that some of you might see something we can trim or have other influential ideas about our budget.
okay, Judge away.
My take home income after taxes: $240.00/week (full-time-Salary)
Husband's take home income after taxes: $230.00/week (he was dropped to part-time last year, so this number varies depending on the hours he can get)
Total average monthly income: $1880.00
ING Savings Account @ 3%: $9,100.00
Bank of America Checking Account: $1,200.00 (generally steady, but drops right after rent is paid-we always try to have it at 1k or more just in case though)
Utilities: $100.00/month (varies-if it's above 95 degrees inside we run one window air conditioner)
Car insurance: $60.00/month
My Student Loans: $115/month (realistically, I pay about $300 per month because I want this loan GONE and I like to suffer by a trimmed budget as much as possible... haha!). $11,000 total @ 2%
internet services: $40.00/month
Bank of America CC: 13% with $0.00 balance. I've only used it once for a vet bill emergency for my pet.
Spending money: $200/ month. This includes Gas for the car, groceries, pet food, and usually one public dining or recreational experience (a movie, a trip to the beach, etc. etc.)
**(anything extra always gets put into our ING savings account. We're looking to move to a new and more lucrative and cultural city in the next 2 years, and to buy a house at the 75-85k range in the next 10 years or so with 50k down.)**
Neither of us are offered health insurance at our jobs. We are part of a county program called "choices," which allows us regular Dr. visits a few times a year and dental services 2x a year, but is not health insurance.. just a dr. visit program. We'd like to either buy a family policy, or find jobs that can supply insurance (VERY hard, we live in a college town and all the grads take all the jobs-I've been looking, and I mean aggressively looking [10 resumes out at a time, when one turns me down or I haven't heard from them in 3 weeks, another resume goes out], for 4 months, ugh.)
Although my job is low income and doesn't offer benefits, it IS steady and has taught me a lot about frugal living by placing me in a low income bracket. It's also one of those dreadfully wonderful jobs where by performing your duties, you're helping mankind... and those are hard to quit. I'm a personal assistant for a very young epileptic woman with a small child. By having me there, she is able to lead a normal life. I drive her, help her care for her child, and most recently, assisted her in starting up a small business of her own from her home. It's going to be hard to leave, but she and I both know it is time for me to move on.
We just moved from a $650/month apartment in a bad neighborhood to our current $475/month apartment in a quiet pretty neighborhood. YAY! We did have to spend about $75 to get the current apartment in live-able conditions. The last tenants let their cats urinate everywhere and bring fleas into the house along with the tenants NEVER having cleaned the bathroom or kitchen and the... well, I'll leave it at that. We HAD to buy cleaning supplies.
We share one vehicle, a 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage. I sold my vehicle a few months ago (to the dealership--if you have a Toyota truck, take it in to have the frame inspected), saved 8k of the profit and purchased a moped with $1,700 of the profit, which has not yet been delivered. I will carry no insurance on my moped and get 110mpg. The car gets about 35mpg and is driven about 40 miles a week which will be reduced once my moped arrives.
We hand wash and line dry all of our laundry, but I'd really like to have a small tumble electric dryer because in Florida's current rainy weather, line-drying means clothing hanging ALL over our 200 Sq Ft Apt. Does anyone have any advice or model recommendations?
We have a TV that was given to us and we use it for watching DVDs, but no cable. We pay for internet services and watch all of our TV and movies online for free. If we LOVE a movie or show, we buy it on DVD with our spending money if we have some left that month.
I do odd jobs for friends or acquaintances around town for household needs. I find that this makes it easier than receiving cash because I can restrict myself. I wash/walk dogs for toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, etc. I cut hair for tips or household gifts. I got 1 year old ikea furniture for our entire new apartment in exchange for a haircut. I cleaned the gutters out of a house in exchange for work on my computer. This works out really well and I'm usually able to do enough labor to cover all of those types of needs. On occasion we'll end up having to buy a roll or two of paper towels or some trash bags, but not usually. My husband does barter work too, but usually not to support our needs. He'll do work for a video game or in exchange for electronics... I sometimes feel a bit irate about this, BUT I have to remember that he doesn't have the same connections and the people he knows may not HAVE a bulk supply of garbage bags for him... what they might have is a video game or hard drive. I'm coming to terms with this because he recently helped a friend out in exchange for really nice hair cutting scissors... which help me exercise my barter skills. But, I digress.
I work part-time 8 hours a week for a non-profit business in an effort to expand my business knowledge, build my resume, and stay in shape (it's a non-profit women's sports league).
I pay every student loan bill x3 meaning if it's $100.00, I pay $300.00. I've lowered it from about 15k to 11k in the last few months. I want it GONE.
I would REALLY like to go back to school at some point and move out of this area since their is an over flux of workers for the job market. I have an AA with honors and have MANY more credits (it'd take me ONE semester to have a BA if I transferred)... I had to take an AA because my 50% academic scholarship ran out and I started working a second job to pay for the difference. This left me little time to study and my grades were slipping steeply. I took the AA while I could still have an honorable GPA and not starve to death.
My husband just got his GED last year and would also like to go to college or tech school sometime soon. Since I've already had my chance, I'd like him to go first and for me to follow once he is done. We're both in our mid-to-late twenties and would like to be finished with our schooling and into our careers ASAP within reason.
I can't think of anything else pertinent to our budget or money... So does anyone have any suggestions? Any small job ideas for money making on the side? Any places you see that we could trim our spending? Any job markets you would recommend for my husband to go to school for? Any cities you recommend moving to when we're ready to move?
All comment welcome!