how much should i budget every month

$75 at Olive Garden and Other December Expenditures

Well here it is, a full week into January and the final numbers are in for our December budget. I have to warn you: it isn’t pretty.

We overspent on gifts. (Doesn’t everyone?) The amount listed this month – $500.90 – isn’t even close to what we spent overall. I got tired of carrying around cash and had to order a few things online so I deposited what was left of our Christmas club account so I could place online orders. I am proud to say that we didn’t accumulate any new debt for the Christmas season this year! This is our second year in a row of paying cash for Christmas and it feels pretty good.

A few out of the norm expenses this month were:

  • Our sewer bill, which comes due every three months
  • Grocery spending was still high – I’m vowing to switch back to Aldi from now on and will let you know how that adjustment goes
  • We spent $75 at Olive Garden – our annual “Christmas Eve dinner splurge” was a bit pricey, but it was oh-so-delicious

Our big win this month is paying off my bank loan! YEAH! Another one bites the dust! 

And here’s the breakdown of our spending. 

ItemAmountMarvelous Mrs. Musings
Mortgage359This amount includes our house insurance and property taxes. Yes, we live in a humble home - nothing extravagant here - but it fits our family's needs just fine.
Repairs + Maintenance0
Electricity142.89This is higher than usual - but we keep a heat lamp on our water pump in the colder months so our water doesn't freeze. It froze two years ago when the bulb went out and we didn't know and it was a costly repair!
Sewer90Our city sewer bill comes quarterly and was due this month, so that's what this is.
Gas34Even though we live in a rural area, we are fortunate to have access to natural gas. Saves us a ton over others who rely on propane for heating and cooking.
Cell Phone24.95We used up the last of our credit from switching from Sprint to Verizon, so this is all we had to pay. Back to a normal phone bill next month!
Trash0We pay this once per year and the next bill isn't due until summertime.
Cable8.99After much deliberation, we cut cable in the spring of 2015. For now, our "cable" is a Netflix subscription.
Internet47.07Our rural area means high prices for low speeds when it comes to internet. This covers a measly 5 mbps bandwidth.
Grocery616.57Still over budget, but almost a full $100 less than last month so I'll take it! Gonna work on getting this back under control now that the Christmas season is over.
Restaurant177.73Also much higher than usual. We had friends in from out of town and we splurged on Olive Garden for our Christmas Eve dinner. Ouch!
School Lunch35Nora prefers to have hot lunch at school most days, so this covers that expense.
Car Payments489.69Having two car loans at one time is rough on the budget.
Gas & Oil274.11Living in a rural area means we drive A LOT. Amy drives 30 miles every day and Andrew drives more double that - 70 miles daily. And that's just getting to work and back!
Repairs + Tires0
Car Insurance239.88Not bad for full coverage on both of our cars.
Clothing291.35I should be done buying clothes for awhile now. This was spent on tights for Nora and maternity clothes for me.
Medical31.08Vitamins and other OTC medicines
Life Insurance121.58We're in the process of setting up life, accident, and disability insurance (among other things) with our Northwestern Mutual representative. If you're looking for a clear picture of your financial future, I'm happy to refer you to our money guy!
Child Care50Luckily Nora is old enough to be in school all day so our childcare expenses are minimal.
Toiletries + Cosmetics0
Hair Care44Nora and I both got haircuts for a good deal this month! We tried a new hair salon and liked it.
Chore Payments0Nora is on a commission system but she broke her finger and hasn't been doing many chores. So no money for her this month.
Kid's Activities58One thing Nora adores is gymnastics. I love that it keeps her active, though it is on the expensive side.
School Supplies20Absolutely no memory of what this was spent on. 🙁
Gifts500.90This includes some Christmas gifts. Yes, they're budgeted. We have a Christmas Club account that we contribute to every payday.
Entertainment95.50Again, this is way more than we usually spend. But we had family in from out of town and, well, we had fun LOL
Bank Loan450.45This is a loan I took out to consolidate my credit cards four years ago. We made a bigger payment this month and it's "officially" PAID OFF!!!
Best Buy770This is our normal "debt snowball" payment on this card. I'm hoping to have it paid off in January!
Capital One68At 24.99% APR, this one hurts.
Citibank116.67Sigh. More debt!
Discover Card100Ugh. Did I mention I hate credit cards?
Student Loans390.63Between the two of us, we're paying on three separate student loans.

I am curious how this matches up with everyone else’s monthly budgets. Am I way off base here? Do I have my priorities messed up? How do you control grocery spending? 


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Amy Beardsley

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Amy Beardsley, the driving force behind Marvelous Mrs, loves personal finance and productivity hacks, Netflix, and everything chocolate. You can check out her favorite money-tracking tool Personal Capital and visit her freelance writing business, too. Thanks for reading the blog!