Here is my monthly budget for 2009 based on my income after taxes. My retirement account (403b) and health insurance costs are not included for this reason. But I get about 3% taken out of each pay check for my 403b and get a company match. I am still evaluating whether I will open a Roth IRA/or start contributing monthly to the IRA account I have from rolling over my 401K from my last job in 2009. I am leaning toward paying off my credit card balance first since I am already contributing some money for my retirement and have a few decades to worry about retirement anyway. I have the feeling that one of my personal finance gurus, Washington Post columnist, Michelle Singletary would agree with me.
I definitely want to start tracking my spending more closely and will strictly adhere to the budget as much as possible. Any windfalls I receive over the year will be split between debt payoff and savings. Money leftover from any category can be used toward another category or applied to debt repayment. I've gotten a little lazy in tracking my spending by relying on Mint.com. But I find that the categories don't always apply my money to the correct areas, for instance, my purchases at CVS are very rarely a health/medical expense, but Mint often puts them in this category. The best thing for my to do is track my money daily with receipts and use Mint as a back up and a way to easily look at all my account balances at one time.
I just used the percentages in my budget below, but will be using dollar amounts that I am over/under in each category when I track this at the end of each month starting in January. It's kind of disappointing that I can't really afford to apply more money to debt right now so I can focus on my savings goals, but I'd rather stay within my budget on a consistent basis and save what I can, than save too much and be short on cash for other things I need each month. When looking at my housing/utility category, keep in mind that I don't have roommates, so I'm not sharing the costs of rent/utilities with others.
So here it goes:
Charity - (1%)
Saving - (2.1 %)
Housing - (37.1%)
Utilities/Cell Phone/Renter's Insurance - ( 13.8%)
Food - (6.2%)
Transportation (Metro/Amtrak/Bus rides) - (12.4%)
Clothing - (1%)
Personal - (5%)
Recreation/Entertainment/Gym Membership - (2.9%)
Debts (Student Loans/Credit Card Balance) - (20.9%)