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What Does My Budget Look Like?

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Yes, I know I’m opening myself to quite a bit of scrutiny here but I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain of our budget. This isn’t a ‘pie in the sky budget’, this is literally our budget every month. We make adjustments as needed and learn to roll with the punches. We’ve been using YNAB for 6 years and it’s fun sometimes to look through budgets from years ago to see how our spending has changed.

What isn’t included:
Charitable Giving – We give to our church and to World Vision monthly and that amount is personal.
Healthcare – That comes straight from my paycheck.
Retirement – We invest 15% into retirement. That also goes straight from my check.

Let’s break it down! I’ve left out the self-explanatory items.
Music Subscription – I make silly videos for the kids several times a month. This is my creative outlet and I share the videos with family (sorry, you won’t see them here). I like using non-copyright music.
YNAB – Budgeting software.
Homeschool – Our kids attend a private/homeschool hybrid program. We pay for tuition, books, extracurriculars, etc.
Southwest Fee – Yes, we use a credit card. Would I recommend others use one? NOPE! But, we haven’t carried a balance in 3 years. We haven’t paid for a personal flight in years.
Zoo/SeaWorld Memberships – We go to the Zoo or SeaWorld every weekend we aren’t camping. When things are tight, we cancel one or both.
Amazon Prime – We use Amazon Prime for TV. We don’t have cable.
Bekah’s/Chris’ Money – We both get $60/month to spend on whatever we want.
Healthcare – This covers anything not covered by insurance. We let the amount build each month and have figured out the sweet spot of how much we usually need.
Amazon Subscriptions – This usually includes snacks for the kids, shampoo, deodorant, etc.
Gas/Car Maintenance – We spend about $150/month on gas. The rest builds up for oil changes and repairs.
Restaurants – We go to dinner 4 times each month. Chris and I each get one weekend by ourselves (we go out with friends), one weekend the entire family picks somewhere to go, and one weekend Chris and I get a date night.
Groceries/Diapers – This includes anything we buy at the grocery store or Costco. Diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, food, etc.
Misc. Money – Anything that doesn’t have a category above comes from this line item.
Christmas Trip – We take a couple weeks off at Christmas for a long camping trip. Camping fees, gas, and misc spending will run $2,000 this year.
Christmas – We spent $100 per person (our family of 6 is $600). We leave an extra $300 for gifts for family and any special dinners in the month of December. We’ve learned that December bleeds money so we try to prepare for it.
Technology – We have 2 cell phones and a laptop. Every year or two, one of them needs to be replaced. This also includes software.
Camping – We average our yearly spend and split that amount by 12.
Replacement Vehicle – We try to add $350/month. Sometimes that’s just not possible. If we get extra money, we usually drop it here. Our current vehicles are a 2008 with 175K miles (Toyota) and a 2013 with 70K miles (Kia).
Homeschool Camp – Every year we go to a homeschool camp. Lots of homeschool families attend each year (nerds unite!) This is one of the highlights of our year. This covers our gas, lodging, food, and activities.

You’re probably thinking, “Geez, if they spent a little less on camping/travel, they’d have a better retirement fund, newer cars, a nicer house, [insert whatever you think we are missing in our lives here].” Here’s the thing, we are passionate about enjoying these special moments with our kids. We don’t buy them a lot of things but we invest a lot of time. We fish, we hike, we explore. When my husband and I plan our year, we run through our options and we always fall back on travelling with the kids. I look back at all we’ve spent on camping and I have zero regrets. Seriously. None. We are adventurers….adventurers who live in a tiny house…and that’s OK.


9 Comments

  • Reply angie |

    Great job on the budget. I will say it is nice to have lots of categories for historical tracking. But I would consider subtotaling “needs” v “wants” v “annual savings/spending” or some sort of larger categories. For instance, most of your fun spending doesn’t look awful, $12 here, $25 there, $200 eating out/date nights. But when you add it altogether you’re budgeting almost $850 for discretionary monthly spending. It shows quite a different story.

    Now to critique your camping…. I know it’s basically your year round accessible vacation. But I’m confused how you spend so much. If I remember correctly, on one of your posts you said you don’t pay for sites at least not every single time. Are you counting additional gas, tourist activities, trailer maintenance in this number?

    DH and I budget $500 for camping for the entire summer. It includes our annual parks pass, restock of consumables, occasional firewood, replacement of any broken items or trailer maintenance, and a couple nights of campsites. $3,600 a year seems a bit high even though you’re probably camping year round.

    • Reply Angie |

      I realize I gave no context. We too camp 3-4 weekends a month, except only from May-October. I do not include additional gas in our camping number. We just have a significantly higher gas budget for summer months.

    • Reply Beks |

      Super interesting perspective! I keep it separate because I’ll likely forget something but I never added it all up!

      Yes, we do pay for every site every time. Southern California sites are expensive. We try to camp at $30 sites at county parks but in the summer, it’s too hot to camp in those sites and we move coastal. Most of our expense comes from summer camping.
      Yes, we camp year round. We camp every other weekend and during the summer, sometimes for a week at a time at the beach.
      Yes, trailer maintenance and registration is included in that number.
      Thanks for the feedback!

  • Reply Stephanie |

    I am always interested in seeing others’ budgets, particularly for a family that leaves in another state. My take away is that your food budget (groceries & restaurants) is WAY lower than mine in Florida. We spend roughly $1500 per month for 2 adults and 1 15 year old girl and 1 14 year old boy. And I anticipate that only increasing. We are comparable on most other categories, except Christmas. That is our big splurge holiday with gifts, decorations, food, baking, etc., all in at $1000.

    Thank you for sharing and perhaps you are sighing with relief.

    • Reply Beks |

      Ha ha! Definitely! The exposure is tough!
      Our kids are 8 and under so I imagine they eat a lot less than teenagers. We also try to shop by season in produce and we buy bulk and freeze our proteins. We invested in a deep freezer so we can save buying more and freezing. Our biggest savings? Shopping online. We order our groceries from Vons online and we only buy what we need from our list. We didn’t realize how much we threw in the cart because it looked good when we shopped in person!

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    Your budget is pretty all encompassing. My question relates to your mortgage since that is the debt you are working on……Is $2200 your minimum due on your mortgage or does it include extra towards your principle? If it doesn’t include extra is there a reason you haven’t included an extra principle in your line items to ensure that you are working towards that goal?

    It’s also really funny to see how different cost of living is in different parts of the country. We also have a modest home that is smaller than many contemporary homes(1600 square ft) Our mortgage is $725 a month. We don’t live near Sea World or the Zoo in San Diego though. When hubby and I were stationed there in the 90s we paid more than we pay for a mortgage now in rent.

    • Reply Beks |

      It does not include extra we throw at the mortgage but I love the idea of creating a separate line item for it! That’s a great idea!

  • Reply Cynthia |

    Seems like a super reasonable budget! Just FYI there’s a nation wide program (Every kid outdoors) where 4th graders (and a certain amount of family members) get free admission to National Parks. We only got to use our pass once before COVID19 hit but if I had a camper I would totally plan more trips.

So, what do you think ?