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How I get through the month without breaking the bank


Hey amazing artists!

Over the course of a few years I have been asked several times how I remain financially stable while getting through school and now rehearsals with a full time job. I'm not going to lie, my parents have given me a very privileged lifestyle but after I graduated high school I did try to cover most tuition and expenses on my own. So throughout my high school, college and (very short) adulting life, I have always been really frugal with my money. Sometimes I do go a little overboard on some things but for the most part I don't spend as much as my millennial counterparts. I am going to go through my budget with you today to give you just an idea of what I personally am spending, and give you a good idea of what my finance professor would probably tell you to spend. This is going to be really accurate thanks to my Mint App that automatically tracks, and categorizes my spending (and also scolds me if I spend too much). For some of these I will not give you an exact number for privacy sake, but I will say how much of my paycheck it takes which I think is fair. This is going to get really vulnerable for me, so let's get started!
 Image result for Mint budget image leaf

1. Rent, Utilities, and Renter's Insurance - 1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom, Washer/Dryer Unit

50% of my paycheck

So I'm not going to lie, this would not be realistic if I had student loans. I was blessed not to have them so this is still a big splurge. However, after living with roommates for freshmen and sophomore year, to living with my parents junior and senior year, back to living with three other girls in New York, I was ready to live on my own. I love my apartment so much! I love to cook, I love living simply and I love having my own space. I keep my utilities down by taking shorter showers, turning off AC and Heat during the day while I'm at work and at night when I'm asleep. I only wash my clothes at most twice a month (bigger closet = more clothes) and I hand wash dishes 50% of the time.
What you should be paying.
30% of your paycheck.
Most financial articles I look up suggest no more than 30% and they recommend 25% if you have substantial debt or credit card payments. With rent on the rise unfortunately, this means roommates are a must! This is all okay, just make sure they are people who groove with you and are clean.

2. Phone Bill and Wi-Fi - $120 give or take

Insider tip with your phone and Wi-Fi bills, every company has discounts depending on where you are employed. I still have my former employer discount on mine because they haven't asked for any proof if I'm still employed there! Wi-Fi is probably something I should look into finding a better deal but so far it has been really reliable and fast.
What you should be paying.
If you split the cost of Wi-Fi with you're roommates or maybe even a phone plan, you can bring this cost way down. I know friends who go in on their bill together like a family plan and that is great. Do what you can with this.

3. Transportation - Auto Payment, Maintenance, and Gas Average per month


Alright I know that seems high but here is the deal, I don't spend that every month. Not even. I calculated a deductible I would have to pay if I have damage to my car which is 500 and I doubt that would happen more than once a year so I calculated that. I get my fluids topped and oil changed three times a year so that's about $150 a year but some months I won't pay that. Then there is my car payment which is close to $300. I only have to pay that two more years and then I am home free! Then there is gas which right now I am paying $75 a month and that is covered usually by dance lessons I teach. I do not pay car insurance YET. But I will probably soon unfortunately. Thank you parents!!!
What you should be paying- $200-400 per month.
I was relieved to find I was not alone in that type of car maintenance, payment, and gas figure. It's fairly common. However in the summer and fall months I may test out Dallas's public transportation and see if I can cut my expenses way down. The problem with that is I would be adding an expense not knowing if I would actually really lower expenses. Those in NYC have a nice simple Metro Card of $169 for unlimited rides you lucky dogs.


4. Groceries- $130 per month

Okay I was personally sad to hear I pay that much but then I remembered I lived in New York and grocery bills are outrageous so more than likely that raised my average. In Dallas I keep my bills fairly low by shopping at Aldi (God bless Aldi) and having a gas rewards card at Tomb Thumb to get other things harder to come by like Tofu and other meatless alternatives I need. According to my Mint app (the best budgeting app EVER) I pay a third of what the average Dallasite pays. Woohoo!
What you should be paying- $125/month.
Thank goodness I am actually so close to what professionals say you should be paying. This may be hard if you live in an expensive area but you can do it! New Yorkers, Jack's Discount Store was a godsend. Literally I would get all nonperishable items like canned goods for a fraction of the cost of Trader Joe's equivalent. Dallas, go to Aldi, the Farmer's Market and your local grocery store for deals. This is usually easier for you. Food is cheap in the south thank goodness.


5. Eating Out - $57.91/month

Low key I had no idea my spending would be this low and I am so proud of myself. Here's the thing, I don't really eat out as much as I used to because I am a vegetarian and that means there aren't many fast food places that cater to me. So mostly I go to sit down restaurants and that is not a regular thing. I cook a ton. I love prepping my meals and discovering new recipes. It's also so much healthier. And honestly it's a ton of fun. In the past my spending was $10 higher/month which if you think about is a lot.

 What you should paying- no more than $100 a month.

Think of how much you could SAVE just spending just that much on going out! According to Mint, the average person in New York spends $701 a month going out to eat. In Dallas it's $690 a month! Jaw dropping. Guys. Go on Pinterest. Get inspired. Blue Apron is cheaper than that and it will at least teach you how to cook! Cut that down! And it doesn't take an obscene amount of time. Look up 10 minute recipes on YouTube and you are set.

6. Savings and Retirement - 11% of my paycheck

Go to my blog post about finances and learn more on how you should educate yourself about retirement. This is essential to everyone. I will admit right now my emergency savings is kind of low due to a dreadful deductible that recently attacked it, but I am working on making it more of a priority to save save save!

What you should be putting away - 10% of your paycheck
Be smart and save. Don't go on a shopping spree. Don't go on vacation just yet. Put it away because you never know!

Smaller Expenses

  • Coffee - $12/month average (I thought it was way higher but I'm not complaining.)
  • Entertainment- $13/month
  • Health Insurance - $40/month
  • Health and Hair- $57.58/month
  • Clothes- $15/month (I don't need anymore clothes and I sometimes swap with friends.)
  • Credit Card Debt - $0 (I don't trust myself and I already have a Good credit score through my car payment.)
As you can see this is a pretty frugal list but it keeps my expenses down to an average spending of $2,430/month which I think is very doable to live a meaningful life. Believe me, just because I am frugal does not mean I don't have fun.

Fun things that will keep your costs DOWN!
  • Clothes Swap Party - Bring clothes you don't want and switch with your friends. Clothes that are left, donate or sell on Thread Up. This is also eco-friendly and my friends and I have a blast!
  • Join your city event page - Lots of events in parks are free admission. BYOB and have a picnic!
  • Work out at your apartment gym and local park, or join a free month membership.
  • Make you're own coffee!!!!!! The average American spends $14 a week on coffee. Instead you could make it just the way you like it at home.
  • Netflix and literally chill. You don't have to be outrageous for date night.
  • Potluck - I'm thinking we need to bring back the old 50s, churchy, weekly potluck thing. Instead of going out to eat everybody make something and pitch in for a meal!

 Let's be the generation that is more financially responsible. Invest in your future. Don't spend money you don't have. Be happy with what you already have!


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