Last week, one of our guest bloggers, Mr. Extreme Saver posted a great blog post about how he is able to live in NYC on only a $1k a month of spending. That got me thinking. A lot of spending consists of “trying to keep up with the Joneses.” But what if instead of competing on how much we can spend (which is a lose-lose scenario), we were to compete on how little we spend? Here is my budget and how I stack up to Mr. Extreme Saver:
Housing: By living with not one but two roommates, I’m able to keep my rent down to $575 a month. Utilities only add about an extra $36 a month since I live in an apartment in San Diego (lower heating costs and no air conditioning) and split the bills 3 ways with my roommates. Household expenses like kitchen and bathroom supplies tack on a few more dollars for a total of around $650 per month. While most unmarried people want to live alone, I actually prefer living with roommates. (Call me crazy but I’ve lived with 25 different people since high school and never had a really bad experience.) Mr. Extreme Saver wins this one by $200, largely because he takes shared living to the next level by splitting a studio apartment with his wife.
Transportation: San Diego isn’t exactly known for its public transportation system so unlike Mr. Extreme Saver, I do have a car. But like Mr. Extreme Saver, I live in an area where I can walk around to almost everything I need (4 grocery stores, tons of restaurants, barber shops, banks, and even my doctor, dentist, and eye doctor are all in a short walking distance.) My car is also paid for so it only costs me $64 a month to insure and about $75 a month in gas since I don’t drive it much. Still, Mr. Extreme Saver has me beat here too by about $70.
Food, personal care, and entertainment: I personally lump together groceries, eating out, personal care, and entertainment under my $600 monthly cash allowance. Since I eat out a lot, this is my biggest weakness. I also know it’s not ideal from a health standpoint so I have a goal of cooking more and adding green smoothies into my diet. On the other hand, I rarely buy things or go drinking, clubbing, or to the movie theater so I spend less than my peer group in these areas. Even if you add his food, personal care expenses, and monthly cash allowance, Mr. Extreme Saver wins again by $135.
Health Care: Like Mr. Extreme Saver, my employer covers my health insurance premiums. However, since we have high-deductible insurance, and I’ve never met that deductible, I do end up paying practically all of my health costs out-of-pocket. I don’t count it as an additional expense though since my employer funds my HSA. I have Mr . Extreme Saver (slightly) beat here by $30-40 per year since he doesn’t have an employer-funded HSA for his co-payments.
Communication: I pay about $35 a month for 300 minutes and unlimited texts and data on an Android smartphone with Virgin Mobile, which uses Sprint’s network. While my monthly plan is actually only $25 a month, I spend about another $10 a month on overage charges. This is $20 more than Mr. Extreme Saver but having a a smartphone is definitely worth it to me, especially with all of my travel. It’s not an iPhone or the latest Android but I don’t need to be tempted by a slightly nicer screen to waste any more time playing Angry Birds.
Along with some other miscellaneous expenses, I round my total monthly spending up to about $1,500 so Mr, Extreme Saver wins by about $500 a month. I guess that’s why he’s called “Extreme.” Want to challenge us? If you’ve found a way to beat us in either a particular area or in total spending, leave a comment explaining how below.