This part looks at how you spend your money.
Step 5: Monthly expenses
This step is hard, and it may take some time. But taking a day to make plans will pay off in time.
What you need:
- Last 12 months of utility bills
- Last 12 months of bank statements
- Last 12 months of credit card bills
- At least two months of receipts/written records*
* I strongly urge you to record EVERYTHING you buy with cash for at least two months. I bet you’ll be surprised! For instance, I was spending about $600.00 a year on food in vending machines!
You will fill in numbers for the following categories:
- Family costs
- Personal care
- Health costs
- Gifts/outside giving
Don’t include any transition costs you already have. Those are later.
- Mortgage or rent
- Second mortgage/equity credit line
- Association dues
- Taxes (if not escrowed)
- Homeowner/renter insurance
- Cleaning supplies
- Yard care
- Home upkeep/repairs
- Security system
Note: If you had an unusual expense in the last month, divide the price by 12. For example, if you had to get a new refrigerator, divide that by 12, since you won’t need another one soon.
- Mobile phone
- Pest control
- Water softener
- Bottled water
Notes: Some utilities cost more at different times of year. Add up a year of these bills and divide it by 12.
Notes: Homeowners/renters insurance is listed under shelter. If your company health/dental or other policies are deducted from your paycheck, you don’t need to include the amount here.
- Food at home
- Food at work
- Meals out
- Convenience stores
- Coffee, etc.
- School lunches
- Snacks/vending machines
- Special dietary items
Notes: This tends to be one of the most wasteful areas. Problem areas are impulse buys and convenience buys: Candy, coffee, chips, soda. Milk, etc. at the convenience store instead of the big (cheaper) store. Getting lunch at work instead of bringing food. Receipts/records are especially important for food. It’s easy to forget about a drink with friends, bread from the convenience store, a coffee, or a fast-food stop now and then. You need an accurate record!
- Car payment/lease payment
- Car repairs/maintenance/wash
- Public transportation
- Motorcycle/boat, etc.
Notes: Car insurance is under Insurance. Don’t list it twice. We will also do a separate table for current transition costs, as well as future ones. Don’t include current transition costs here. We’ll be dealing with the column marked “Revised amount” in Exercise 8. Leave it blank for now.
- Legal/tax advice
- Union dues (if not deducted)
- Credit card annual fees
- Checking account fee/ATM fees
- Child support/alimony (paid)
- Pet care (food, vet, kennel, etc.)
- Postage/ package shipping
- Professional association fees
- Memberships (health clubs, etc.)
- Tuition, books, school supplies
- Children’s allowance
- Family/social events
- ATM fees and bounced check/late payment fees are huge money wasters. Check your last year of statements for how much you spent on these.
- Children bring on a whole new dimension of disappearing money. Be sure to write down any amounts of money they get, as well as all those little incidental expenses that come up with kids.
- Family and social events are another slippery category. Whether you include the costs here or under travel/vacation, don’t forget money spent on these sorts of things.
- Laundry/dry cleaning
- Hair cuts/hair care
- Toiletries and personal items
- Wine, beer, liquor
- Recreational drugs
- Condoms, lubrication, etc.
- OK, so alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, etc. aren’t really personal care, but don’t forget them!
- Most people don’t realize how much they spend on stuff from the drugstore in a month. Write it all down!
- Chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc
- Dermatologist, podiatrist, etc.
- Eyeglasses/contacts, solution, etc.
- This category is for non-transition health costs. List hormones, gender therapy, etc. under Transition costs below
- Gifts to family
- Gifts to others
- Money-sending apps: PayPal, Venmo, etc.
- Holiday gift reserve
- Change to homeless, dropboxes etc.
- Do not forget annual dues to charities, or small amounts of cash given to Salvation Army, street musicians, etc.
- Don’t forget birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, flowers for coworkers, funerals, going-away gifts, girl scout cookies, wedding/shower/baptism gifts, AIDS Walk pledges, raffles, all those sorts of things.
- Student loan payments
- Loan payments to friends
- Hobbies, arts, crafts
- Computer equipment, supplies, software
- News subscriptions
- Media subscriptions (Netflix, Amazon)
- Crowdfunding (Patreon, Kickstarter, etc)
- Other online subscriptions
- Movies, concerts, etc.
- Rack your brain and check your records for anything not listed here, and add it.
Current transition costs
- Hair loss drugs
- Plastic surgery
- This is only for transition costs you are already incurring monthly.
- For items to include in these costs, look at the itemized categories in my examples of transition costs.
OK, hold your breath again…
Let’s add ’em up.
|Monthly expenses||Subtotals||Revised amounts|
|Transition costs (current)|
|Total monthly expenses|
Next: Your monthly income