Our Real Budget: Living on Just $1800 Monthly

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UPDATE: Hey there! You can see the update to this post by clicking here.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that we went down to only one income at the end of 2015. In the nine months since then, we’ve narrowed down how much we spend and where.

This is what our budget looks like for each month:

$1800 monthly budget

So now that you know what I’m working with, let’s talk about it.

What I like:

  • Everything gets paid. That is number one priority, after all. At the end of the day we’re not going hungry, or even uncomfortable really.

What I want to change:

  • SAVINGS. Our current savings plan is awful. Before we bought our house, we had a really nice cushion of savings. All that went to moving us in and the unexpected costs we’ve had with this house sense then. (Looking at you, air conditioner!) So right now we’re in the process of rebuilding that safety net and it’s not as easy as it was the first time. And since we don’t have a short term savings built up, that $214 we have “leftover” each month goes to unexpected/irregular costs like medical bills and being charged for a service call that was the installation tech’s fault. Still not over that one, sorry.
  • Those credit card payments. Forking over almost $200 a month in credit cards bill is no bueno. But, we do pay above the minimum payment on all of our cards each month so we can hopefully get them paid down faster. Our goal is not to get rid of them, just to keep our balance low and possibly paid off each month. Don’t tell Dave Ramsey, but I LIKE our credit cards. They have decent interest rates and great cash back incentives so I would love to use them more once we get below the 30% usage mark on each.
  • Our grocery bill. That $400 a month includes everything from food to toiletries to cleaning supplies to pet essentials, so it’s not a bad amount to pay, but I know I could get it lower. We just started shopping at Aldi a few weeks ago and that has saves us on average about $50 each shopping trip. Aldi doesn’t sell everything though, so we still have to go elsewhere to finish the shopping list, and I really want to work on getting that second trip as cheap as possible.

Goals for the next three months:

  • Get our grocery bill under $300 a month
  • Bump up our savings to $20 a month
  • Lower our utility bill

Want to know how we did? Check out my update on our goals here.

Need to know how to manage your bills and make sure everything is paid on time? Check out this post for Google’s best kept secret!

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24 thoughts on “Our Real Budget: Living on Just $1800 Monthly

  1. How is your mortgage only $500?! I’m so jealous! Is it the area you live in or do you have a roommate?? I just paid off my credit cards on Friday. It still feels surreal. But in the process of doing so I got a really good credit card with a low interest rate and great rewards. I’ll probably still use it from time to time. I won’t tell Dave if you don’t! haha

    1. No roommates other than our pets, thank goodness! The cost of living in our area is pretty low, so that helps a ton. Also we decided to buy a house that was a good bit less expensive than the max we were approved for. It isn’t our dream house so we absolutely plan on moving once we can afford what we really want, but it it makes for a nice home and our little fixer upper project! (And was soooo much less expensive than the apartment we were renting!)

  2. Thanks for sharing. Other people’s budgets always inspire me to figure out where I can alter mine. My husband and I don’t have any kids yet, and we live on a similar amount. Our rent is more and we have some medical costs that we have to pay monthly, but I wanted to tell you – don’t give up on the grocery bill! I spend anywhere from $160-$260 per month on groceries for the two of us without clipping coupons, and we eat healthy, filling meals that (usually) don’t include beans, haha. It is possible!

  3. Cut out your TV and I guarantee you’ll get a surprise at how much time you have on your hands, as well as saving a fortune. I used to spend $100 on SkyTV and went to having no TV. I had so much time on my hands for friends, reading and exercise. I took up running, which in turn made me eat healthier, and then I went and saved money on fresh food! Still, take the small steps you’re comfortable with. Good luck. 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing this! My husband and I have been thinking and praying about buying a house, but I’m not sure if we can afford all that comes along with it. I’d be interested in posts about expenses (planned or unplanned) that have come along since you bought the house.

  5. Most mortgages are more than $500 and health Insurance these days cost WAY more than $35. Also, your car ins. must be liability only. This needs to show more realistic #’s to help most people out there these days.

    1. I must say I’m not sure what you mean by realistic numbers, as this is indeed what we pay every month. This post isn’t intended to tell how someone can(or should, for that matter) live on our income, but rather a look into how we specifically make it work.

  6. Do you put more on your credit card than what you pay? Or are you not using them anymore? I mean this looks great on paper, but if you are/have put a lot of items on your credit card(s) then that should be reflected as well.

    We paid off over 105,000 in student loans (my husbands) in 3 years… We also pay off our credit cards every month and use them to pay everything to make money back. I am just interested in what that credit card debt looks like…

    1. We don’t use our credit cards except for the occasional unexpected expense. (Just another reason we need to work harder on building a safety net!) Until we get down to around 30% utilization we’ve agreed not to use them, but my long term goal is to have them paid off completely and use as cash each month. Our utilization is sitting at roughly 95% total right now, and we’ve got just under $5,000 spread across 4 cards. I’m going to do a follow-up to this post in a couple months to reevaluate what we’ve been working on and I’ll be sure to include more on debt with that one!

  7. Hello 🙂
    I’ve been trying to find a method for getting on the “right budget” for a few months now. I’ve seen this kind of layout before but for some weird reason this post just clicked in my head. I was able to go back and write out all my expenses and income and whats left over and figure out a way to start getting on the right track. I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck and need to start thinking long term savings. So thank you for sharing this post. So far it’s helped me out a lot. I’m barely on week 1 but i have confidence that this one will work.

    1. We just have one car with liability. It’s an old car and at that point where paying for more coverage would just mean paying more in than we would ever get out.

  8. If you are tryig to reduce your expenses have you tried sling tv, (can stream live cable tv), they have a week free. It worked well for me but decided not to continue because I watch too much tv as it is (use antenna)

  9. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested
    to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  10. We took the Dave Ramsey class at church and it just made him wealthier so I would not recommend to anyone. Since the snowball system has been pinned so often and that’s the best part. Anyway,I finally got my husband on the same page as me and we recently started and have already paid off the car and are now working on a loan. I figured out when we will have things paid off if we continue and that is inspiring. Since I did not figure out the compounded amounts it will be paid off quicker but I stick with the due dates I came up with. I love it and hope others will try it as well.

  11. I bring home 2314 a month. I have recently adopted my grandson. I get an additional 400 a month for him. Every payday I struggle to make ends meet. Here is my debt ea mo
    Rent 950, elect 200, gas 30., water sewage 60, fuel for auto 100, ins 180, cat pymnt 350, after school Care 120, summer care, 246, groceries 500, clothing 25.00.
    Does any one have any suggestions for a budget???

    1. Christy,

      $500 for food seems high. I have a 13 and 9 year old and our budget is $400. We also live in Sonoma Co CA so cost of living is crazy! See if you can meal plan and get your monthly total down. We eat vegan, so our food may be different than what you are used to buying. Also, pancake dinners with fruit are cheap and fun every once in a while! Get creative : )

    2. Cat payment 350? What the cat eats? Salmon, turkey and bief stakes? Cmn budget here christy. For elect 200? I pay 30 euros, do you hear about led lumps?:) or turning it off if you need not a light? When i read american blogs i laughing, why? Cz, you dont know what is REAL budgeting. What about you speaking a lot of east europe’s people live in frugal like it is normal, and when we want to save, trying budgeting stuff, then they realy budgeting, the best way to save is doing nothing, in weekends sit at home and for example read;) for 2300 dol/ month i think you can do much.

  12. Interesting post, but i think you have wide range to save more. 170 dol for tv internet??? In europe i pay 15 euros for high speed internet and cable tv (basic plan), grocery not so bad, we pay the same maybe even more.
    For mortage in easte europe cheaper, so mortage for small house cost about 250-350 euros/month, credit cards i had never used, just one credit for flat repair, i took smallest period 24 month to pay faster. So you should too dont use it. Good luck 🙂

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