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Old 12-04-2011, 06:19 PM
 
386 posts, read 863,779 times
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We are moving to a new home soon and hence, it is about time to start budgeting (something we've not had to do in a while, fortunately).

What's a reasonable monthly budget for a (healthy) family of 3 (2 mid-30s adults and 1 Middle Schooler). Exclude the PITI (as it has a wide range) and assume "comfortable" living without having to be penny wise.

Thanks!
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Old 12-04-2011, 06:23 PM
 
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We budget $4000-$5000 post-tax dollars per month on average. That covers everything from A-Z.

That average has been consistent for possibly decades with minor variations in human set, BTW, so it's probably an excellent estimate - two adults, one now middle-schooler but once three adults.

[note - this amount is for =everything= including housing, cars, communications, food, vacations, unexpected costs, everything that requires out-of-the-pocket spending]

Last edited by sullyguy; 12-04-2011 at 06:25 PM.. Reason: Noted again that this is for EVERYTHING
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Old 12-04-2011, 06:32 PM
 
386 posts, read 863,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sullyguy View Post
We budget $4000-$5000 post-tax dollars per month on average. That covers everything from A-Z.

That average has been consistent for possibly decades with minor variations in human set, BTW, so it's probably an excellent estimate - two adults, one now middle-schooler but once three adults.

[note - this amount is for =everything= including housing, cars, communications, food, vacations, unexpected costs, everything that requires out-of-the-pocket spending]
With our new mortgage payment, this is going to be a tricky #. So, let me ask - how much of this $4-5K is exclusive of PITI?
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:02 PM
 
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Everyone spends differently. In general, the more you make, the more you spend. Some people live paycheck to paycheck and make 10k+ net, while others live comfortably with much less.

Housing costs is probably the biggest difference in costs from where ever you are from. Non-housing costs are probably pretty close to the same, so you probably have a good idea on what your family can live comfortably on based on your lifestyle.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vauser View Post
With our new mortgage payment, this is going to be a tricky #. So, let me ask - how much of this $4-5K is exclusive of PITI?
About $2000-$3000 if housing is not included.

I bought about 20 years ago, plus or minus, a SFH in Sully Station that was part of a closeout of the builder - got it relatively cheap, now worth about $500k-$600k but the mortgage, relative to now, was quite low - under $200k.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spleuchan View Post
Everyone spends differently.
Very true - I never have had a problem keeping cars, for example, for 10+ years. Then when buying another (always new, admittedly) I have no problem buying something relatively inexpensive like a Nissan.

We have never lived paycheck to paycheck, indeed, that expenditure up there per month has NOTHING to say about savings - we ALWAYS save money every month.

If you eat a restaurant multiple times per week, visit Disney yearly, have another house at the beach, own a boat, like big jewels, buy the latest model Lexus every two years, etc ad nauseum, then MY budget won't be yours.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
240 posts, read 525,894 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sullyguy View Post
We budget $4000-$5000 post-tax dollars per month on average. That covers everything from A-Z.

That average has been consistent for possibly decades with minor variations in human set, BTW, so it's probably an excellent estimate - two adults, one now middle-schooler but once three adults.

[note - this amount is for =everything= including housing, cars, communications, food, vacations, unexpected costs, everything that requires out-of-the-pocket spending]
Same here. Savings come out automatically (401K, IRA, 529, emergency fund) and health/ dental insurance. Everything else gets paid for in cash/ auto debit. To pay the bills and eat costs about 4K a month. But truthfully, we spend about 6K a month, if we buy anything for the house, shop for clothes, or have something break on the house/ car. So that's every month. We're a family of 4 (2 adults, 1 year old, and 3 year old).
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:53 AM
 
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the numbers I gave are definitely averages - large bills can skyrocket the monthly amount transiently but ARE included in the averaging.

[for silly example, we went with our kid for 9 days to Disney a few years back - I believe that 1.5 week vacation cost something like $1000 per day - WAY more than a typical week, for sure, and WAY more than a typical vacation. However, when averaged into everything else, the numbers above still hold]
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA)
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I think you really need to write down your expenses on a monthly basis and then add them up as each family has different expenses. Our monthly expenses for our family of 5 is about $3000, not including our mortgage, savings, or health insurance. But that does include things like monthly preschool tuition and Hebrew school tuition, which you don't have. But you probably have other bills that we don't have - maybe expensive sports teams or a car payment, which we don't have.

Just make sure you put into your monthly budget expenses that come up only once or twice per year like car insurance or family vacations. And don't forget things like car maintenance and house maiintenance. To get your started, our categories include the following:

Phone/cable/internet
Electricity
Water
Gas Company
Cell Phones
Gasoline
Travel
Car Insurance
Food
Preschool
Extra classes/sports
Religious School
Summer Camp
Entertainment
Clothes
Gifts
Auto Maintenance
House Maintenance
Charity
Misc.
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
169 posts, read 188,802 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I think you really need to write down your expenses on a monthly basis and then add them up as each family has different expenses.
Exactly! One thing my family has been doing for the past 4-5 months is keeping up with a Google docs spreadsheet for spending each month. We estimate expenses/spending at the beginning of the month, and enter all actual spending during the month. Google docs makes this easy since the spreadsheet can be shared across multiple google accounts, and can be easily accessed wherever you are. We're in a habit of entering expenses immediately after they're spent. Keeping up with this level of detail has really helped us manage our finances.

One thing we learned quickly is that we tend to significantly underestimate spending. The little things quickly add up to a shockingly large amount.
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