How My Monthly Budget Looks in 2013

In , I went through my annual ritual of carrying around a notebook and keeping track of every time I spent money, with an eye to making sure my spending is sustainable under my deliberately limited income.

I took the numbers from what I explicitly spent this month and then added in a few more items: estimates for my utility bills based on those from previous months, and some regular expenses that I didn’t happen to spend anything on this month but that I do spend money on throughout the year and so I felt I should include in the tally. Here is what I found from this year:

CategoryDaily expenseMonthly expense
Food (groceries)$7.20$219.01
Utilities & internet$3.99$121.38
Cat stuff$3.42$104.00
Commercial beer/wine$2.67$81.41
California state taxes$0.61$18.58
Food (eating out)$0.00$0.00

(The numbers may not all add up quite right due to rounding. Also, I adjusted the 31-day October totals to correspond to the average 30.4-day month.)

Here’s how my current burn rate compares with past years (I’ve had to rejuggle the numbers a bit so that the categories remain the same from year to year; and in many past years I didn’t account for sales tax separately, which probably messes up the numbers a bit):

monthly totals
Monthly total$1,168.00$1,165.41
Yearly total$14,016$13,985
Food (groceries)$191.96$219.01
Internet (hosting) fees$15.23$7.53
Food (eating out)$34.35$0.00

Not included in any of the above totals were any business expenses (since I write these off against my business income), my health insurance premium (which, as a self-employed person, I can also write off), or any medical expenses that I paid for from my pre-tax Health Savings Account. I started separating California state sales tax into its own line item, and I have combined that with my expected California income tax bill (I don’t resist my state tax, just as a matter of picking my battles).

A $13,985/year burn rate is quite sustainable given my current technique of staying below the tax line by keeping my adjustable gross income below $17,750.

Here are the results from years past, if you’d like to compare: