My Monthly Budget + Tips on How to Save More

A few weeks ago I asked readers to complete a survey trying to find out what topics you'd like to see more of. Surprisingly, many of you asked to know more about how I support myself as a single person and what my finances look like. In case you hadn't noticed already there are virtually no off-limits topics for me on this blog. Growing up I always found it so odd that people never talked about how much money they made. I think it is a side effect from living in a society where the belief is: How much money you make = How 'good' of a person you are.

FALSE. I hate it when people assume if your not making over some certain amount annually that you must be lazy, unintelligent or some combination of the two. Most people are shocked to find out how much I make because they assume since I'm ridiculously hard working and have a Masters degree that I'd be pretty well off. My income fluctuates significantly due to how many classes I'm teaching, or how many jobs I have at the moment (I've had 2-3 jobs at all times since I graduated) but I've never made over 40k a year.

I'm a 29 year old female, with a masters degree, working 60 hours a week (without any benefits) and I've never broken 40k.

and I couldn't care less.

Monthly BudgetMost of the items are self-explanatory but I'll add a few notes:

- Fun Money: I spend about $50 a week on what I consider 'fun' non-essential things; books, going out with friends, 2 bags of PB2 off Amazon (which I order twice a month now!). If I splurge on something like a package of yoga classes (8 for $65) then I'll make up for it by spending less the next week. If I absolutely had to cut my budget down this would be the only thing I could really cut, but since I do enjoy having some money to play with it stays!

- Things not on the list: Car insurance, cell phone and internet are all paid for by my parents. #NoShame. It started when I was in college and I was put on their family plans for all of those things and it's just kind of stayed that way! They are so supportive of what I do but I think they are still waiting for me to get a 'real' job (which is only one that comes with benefits!) If I had to pay those things it would be an additional $100 for all three. The other thing missing: a car payment! I paid mine off last year and I will drive it into the ground to avoid that kind of monthly payment for as long as possible. Also, water and garbage is included in my rent.

- Savings: anything I make a month over $1568 gets put into a savings account. Honestly mine is looking pretty pitiful right now. With my teaching schedule I have a month off over Christmas, unpaid, so I'm always playing 'catch up' the first few months of the year. My goal is to have 3k in savings by the end of 2013.

- Money I make from this site/writing: I've started to make some money from doing sponsored posts and freelance writing work and everything I make from this site I reinvest in the site somehow. It's what funds my race registrations, website hosting/domain fees and website related travel. I'm not making a lot at this point, but I'm grateful for what I do pull in since I would be unable to travel or devote as much time to the site as I do without it!

Money saving tips

- Spend money on experiences, not things. Your $300 purse will be out of style long before the memories of a similar priced overnight trip with friends will be forgotten. Always ask yourself if something your about to buy is a need or a want. I promise you 9 times out of 10, you don't need it.

- CUT CABLE. I will be doing a lengthy post on why I hate cable in the very near future. I spend $8 a month on netflix, watch hulu for free and have a pretty epic DVD collection that provides me with plenty of opportunities to be a total couch potato still (and often.)

- Learn how to save more on your monthly grocery bill. Check out my post here on that subject for how I manage to eat top quality, mostly organic for $200 a month.

- Downsize your house/apartment. Honestly, this was the best decision I made financially in the last year. My previous place was a 2 bedroom that cost about $900 a month in rent/power. Now, my amazing 490 sq ft studio costs about $640 a month. That extra $260 a month is going to help me substantially with one of my main goals for the year: Traveling more!


- Some of my favorite generic tips I'm sure you've seen before: Always bring your own lunch to work and cut way back on how often you eat out. Look at your local paper for fun events/activities going on that are free to attend (concert series, lectures, free museum days,...) Always check out your local library for books/dvd's before renting or buying them. Get rid of your gym membership and workout at home/outside!

- Finally, if you can use it responsibly get a credit card with good rewards. I have had the same Chase credit card for 10 years now and it gives me 1 point for every dollar I spend. I use this card for every purchase I make during the month (gas, food, fun stuff,...) and pay it off completely at the end of the month. 100 points = 1 dollar. By the end of the year I'll usually have about 10,000 points on the card ($100) and I'll use that money for Christmas presents.

Hopefully that answers some of the questions I received in the survey. If you have any others please feel free to ask! Also, check back later this afternoon as I'll have another post up reviewing Jillian Michael's new book Slim for Life!

What is your favorite money saving tip?