Back to the budget

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Remember September when I gave a break down of living on the city year stipend? I wanted to review that. Living on less than $1000 per month is tricky, but it is possible. One thing I should clarify is that I technically live on less than $1500 per month if you include benefits like food stamps, metro card, health care, and my cell phone. I have been tracking how I spend money through

Challenges and errors:
I'm not saving any money. I'm living paycheck to paycheck. This was not what I wanted, but it's what I have to do. The original plan was to save $110 per month, but all of that money is being spent. I didn't consider all possible expenses and I underestimated the cost of things. 

  1. I need to eat, and eating requires cooking, which requires appliances and "tools."  Tools cost money. I have purchased a nice knife (which also cut my fingers which required bandaids. oops), a blender, a colander, a can opener, tupperware, and other random things. I didn't budget for those things.
  2. Entertainment. I budgeted $50 per month, and I have been doing okay with that but not really. If I want to eat out that costs around $20. Movie tickets are $14.50. Shows are also expensive, so it's definitely a struggle. At the same I have been able to enjoy comedy shows and plays under $15, and there are lots of free concerts around town. 
  3. Clothes- I budgeted $20 a month for clothes. Way off. $20 a month on clothes looks like 1, maybe 2 articles of something. Living in New York has also made me a bit more conscious of what I wear, but probably not as bad if I were living in L.A. (just being real). Basically I spend about $75 per month on clothes and accessories. This is an area where I don't NEED to spend money, but the urge is strong and I'm okay with spending extra. 
  4. Necessities: I forgot things like haircuts, de-tanglers, new toothbrushes, and medicine. Those things cost more than $20/month (original budget).

Blessings and Successes:

  1. I have not had any emergency expenses. I haven't been mugged and I haven't lost my metrocard. Yay!
  2. I have been able to tithe, and I have been more generous than I planned. 
  3. It's been no problem living on $200/month for groceries. I have joined a Farm Share and I can still shop at Trader Joes and Whole foods for fun items. I get basic food things at Aldi. I've been deliberate at stretching the food I buy and not wasting things. My freezer is well stocked.
  4. I haven't gone to my parents for money. :) However, I have enjoyed nice care-packages from them and a handful of other people. Care-packages totally make my day. Gifts and quality time are my two love-languages.  
  5. Exercising: Originally I was considering joining a gym because I wouldn't have organized sports like I did in high school and I wouldn't have a bike. That hasn't been necessary because I have a river right by my apartment to run along, I walk at least 2 miles every day, and I have gotten into yoga (also free).

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