In each year of my experiment with tax resistance I have, for one month, carried around a pen and a little notebook and have made note of every time I have spent money. I’ve then combined this with a record of my bill-paying from home and of any yearly expenses that didn’t come directly to my attention during the month in order to create an estimate of my budget.
things were a little more complicated, as me & my sweetie have moved in together. She’s not a tax resister or a voluntary simplicity true believer. We split expenses 50/50, but I still feel like I have to be on-guard to make sure that I’m not subsidizing my tax-free lifestyle with her taxed salary — that would feel like cheating. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be fair for my frugal choices to dictate what sort of life she lives. So we each compromise, although on the whole we tend toward the simplicity and low-expense lifestyle — the advantages of which she appreciates for their own sake.
We’ve set up a joint checking account to pay for common expenses. This makes the accounting a little more complex than it has been in years past, but I’ve still been able to run the numbers.
What I found this year, based on my spending in , is that my lifestyle costs me about $43.44 a day:
|Food (eating out)||$0.58|
|Coffee, tea, beer, wine, booze||$4.53|
Here’s how this compares to years past (I’ve had to rejuggle the numbers a bit so that the categories remain the same from year to year):
|Food (eating out)||$48.61||$113.11||$30.90||$17.40|
|Coffee, tea, beer, wine, booze||$103.34||$30.30||$97.50||$135.90|
|Total (minus untaxed)||$1,164.94||$901.97||$1,129.81||$1,246.68|
|Yearly (minus untaxed)||$14,183||$10,981||$13,755||$14,960|
|* tax-deductible now that I’m self-employed|
My rent went up a little this year, but my utilities went way down, as did my food bills (I’m doing more home cooking than before, and it’s more efficient to cook for two than for one). Some of that food savings is going into wine and beer, including home brew kits which get me great beer for maybe 60 cents a pint. I’m still working on my Spanish, but by exchanging English for Spanish tutoring rather than taking a for-money course. Bus fares have gone up, and we’re also buying in to the City Car Share program so we can occasionally use a car or truck.
Some of my expenses were unusually high, and I think that this month may not be very representative. For instance, my normally low-maintenance cat needed $213 in vet care this month, and there were some residual costs from the move into our new place in . Much of this shows up in “Miscellany” above, with some leaking into “Transportation.” I think in a typical month, my costs in these areas will be significantly lower. But no month is completely typical, so gains in those areas might be offset by losses in others. I don’t have the discipline to keep this close an eye on my spending all year, so I have to estimate a bit when considering my yearly budget.
To make a long story short: I’m still living within my means at a federal income tax-free income level (to do that with my current method I need to keep my taxed expenses under $15,000).