30 Comments

  1. I am fairly happy with our expenses if we look at them this way. I am spending more like $600 per month on food, so $7,200, but there are four of us and some of us are vegetarian. Everything else is legit.

    • Your family is awesome when it comes to budgeting, Holly. I learned so much from you guys when I was too chicken to actually comment. Your blog was the first place I learned about zero-sum budgeting!

  2. I’d love to trade grocery budgets with you but not property taxes – YIKES! We pay about half of that! My husband is the king of using paper towels…really. (He is sitting next to me and I’m glad he isn’t watching me type) OK – he likes to clean though, so I’ll keep him 🙂 I am working on a post in the next few weeks about phones. We use 4 different plans and we have a hot spot because we have different needs. We re-evaluate that one each year, but try not to spend forever on it either! I’m eyeing Google Fi right now myself, but have used Republic Wireless and Airvoice too! Loved them all. One kid uses Straight Talk and the other uses Virgin Mobile. I’ve read a ton (more than I could have ever dreamed of) about plans but I still use a crappy windows phone that cost $35… 🙂

    • It sounds like I need to pick your brain, Vicki! Do you all have Androids? I am hoping Tip Yourself will be available on Androids by the time my contract is up!

      • My kids have Iphones, hubby has a Nexus 4 and I have a Noika windows phone of all things… I am looking at Google Fi and Nexus 5X for $199. Nice to have gmail, google docs etc. all seamless with the Nexus phones. I hope Tip Yourself is on Android soon too! The windows store is just silly.

  3. $208/month for groceries is amazing!
    I’ve been with Selectel Wireless for app a year now. My phone runs on Verizon and I pay a flat $30/month. Data limit is 1G which I only reached once while traveling and using maps often. Mr G has StraightTalk for $40/month, which is closer to $45 with taxes and fees. His phone also runs on Verizon and he has more data. If you want to do some research check out the techmeshugana.com – Daley’s guides.

  4. Great article! Looking at budget items from a yearly perspective can really make you think twice about some of your spending. This past year I cut my cable/internet bill from $120 to $40/month with SlingTV. That’s $960/year saved from the cable crooks! Not sure what you and Mr. P watch on TV but it may be something to look into.

    • That’s incredible! I cut back some of our channels, but he’s still holding on dearly to Discovery, Animal Planet, and the History Channel. I would love to find a better option!

  5. Nothing like some Aldi Riesling to sooth the nerves. The food bill is fantastic. I think Mrs. G. and I are in the $350-$380/month range. And I don’t have a hollow leg! The mortgage and the property expenses seem about right for your neck of the woods. Cable bill is pretty good too. We currently pay $88/month (internet, land-line, and Netflix). The cell phone bill does appear high. I think we’re paying about half that. All in all, I say you and Mr. P. are entitled to a victory lap around the kitchen table. Nice job.

    • The cell phone bill drives me up the wall. What really makes me nervous is that Sprint is moving to leasing phones, not buying them outright. Which seems even more absurd!

  6. $200 per month on groceries?! You’re my hero! I’ll follow your labels for some of my expenses.

    The Good: cell phones $37.31 each or $985/year
    The Pricey: car insurance on two vehicles $66.50 or $800/year. Not sure how this compares to the PF community, but with my friends I’m paying way more than I should.
    The Ridiculous: Christmas $80+ or $1000+/year. This is actually pretty normal for a family of five, but to me it’s absolutely ridiculous. Looked at alternatives last season, and maybe I’ll actually change my ways this coming season.

    As for your cell phones, maybe check out Virgin Mobile since you’re already on the Sprint network. I like them because I don’t mind having a crappy smart phone, and I don’t use a lot of data. They have other options that still might save you money.

    • I lump insurance and registration together, and ours is high. Because my husband drives a TSX…and we got in a hit-and-run last year. Since we claimed it, our rates went up. We pay $110 a month for two cars. Sigh.

  7. Your food bill is great! (Confession – I use the select a size paper towels and tear them in half, just can’t help myself).

    We are pretty good with the food and utility expenses, plus we have 4 1/2 years left on a property tax abatement, so $0 there for now! 🙂

    We are bad on the cell phones, but that should drop soon with two of the phones being paid off. I would consider other plans, but we have 8 lines on our family plan, so this would affect everyone else and I’d hate to make our parents switch.

    • That’s definitely more complicated when there are many lines involved. Good for you for getting creative with paper towels. My husband comes from a family where they used a roll a day. Getting him to switch to rags has been a challenge!

  8. When I actually looked back on our yearly spending closely over the past three years, I was surprised by a few things (who knew we actually spent MORE on electric than gas!). Some months, if I multiplied by 12, it would be sad and scary (since we pay car insurance semi-annually, etc.) 🙂

    • Ha! Yes. That would be scary. We pay our car insurance semi-annually (I’m not paying a convenience fee! No way! 🙂 ), but I budget $110 for it every month.

  9. With you on those parasites who suck the blood from us on cable. If I could only find a way to watch football and my beloved British soccer, I would be golden.
    Oh, and those real estate taxes in Taxachusetts. Aargh!!
    If only the 12 could be a 1.2 but that would be cheating.
    Our groceries including household items and beer/wine is closer to $1000 for a family of four. So yearly that is still an ouch.

  10. You are killing it in the grocery department! I love ALDI and ethnic stores, too.

    We really only budget on an annual basis, so I have to divide by 12 to figure out what I can spend. I think it’s a good way to do it because we factor in annual vacations, Christmas gifts, and other non-monthly things at the beginning of the year. It works for us.

  11. I know I had to look at yearly and monthly because some things (like Prime, which we categorize as cable/internet) are annual expenses, and car insurance is semi-annual. So it was easier to just calculate both anyway.

    So we’re good on cable/streaming (827 annual) and cell phone for 2 ($840 annual), but health insurance at 6720 annual is a big bite, and our groceries are almost the same.

  12. I get frustrated when I think about how much my phone costs me every year. Then I remember that half of it is a tax write-off now that I use it for business.

    I also like thinking in yearly terms. Then I don’t miss renters insurance and my prime membership, which feels necessary when you don’t have a car.

    • Nice move with the tax write off, ZJ! Shifting back and forth between monthly and yearly perspectives suits me well.

  13. Rue

    NGL, I would pay $80 for unlimited data. My previous carrier charged that much for 300 local minutes and only 2GB data.
    Your method of looking at the costs yearly instead of monthly is actually what prompted me to look into a better plan when I was going over my budget some months ago.

    • That’s reassuring. I don’t think I actually need that much data, but it is nice to know we don’t have to watch it. Still, I’m going to keep researching before my contract is up. That’s awesome that a yearly perspective helped you!

  14. Your property tax rate is so much higher than mine! I paid about $3600 in property taxes this year. They’re up about $1000 over the last four years.

    I pay $35-40/month for my Cricket wireless plan and I have a ton of data. BF pays about $55/month for his, but his employer pays for some of it so his out of pocket cost is very low.

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