In this post, we're taking another look at our budget. Inflation has been all the buzz in these past few months of 2022. We've been hearing about record inflation reaching 40-year highs. We're seeing it and feeling it in different areas of our lives, so we thought it would be a cool idea to take a look at our budget as it stands today and see how it differs from even when we got married less than two years ago and even last year (2021). What are the areas that have been affected the most, either by inflation or our lifestyle? Let's find out.
Our housing costs cover several different areas: our mortgage, property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, internet, and electric bill. Our all-in housing budget for 2021 was $1,637.90 per month for all these expenses combined. This year, our HOA fees went up by $10 a month. Our property taxes have gone up. Our electric bill also has been on the rise.
All in all, we experienced about a $40 average increase in our monthly housing costs from one year to the next. The interesting thing about this is that our net cost has remained the same. My job instituted some lovely new benefits for the 2022 year in which they are now covering our internet bills up to a certain amount. My reimbursement currently covers our whole bill. That helps us save $40 per month that we would have had to pay otherwise. With the reimbursement, we're essentially flat year over year.
Car Insurance & Maintenance
We have a sinking fund to cover our car insurance and maintenance expenses, and this line item hasn't changed. In 2021, we put aside $180 per month (~5% of our total household budget) and are holding steady at that rate for 2022. We didn't have any major car repairs in 2021, but we have already had to tap into that fund for 2022. We'll keep an eye on this line item in the future, but we're keeping it the same for now. The older we get and the better our driving records have become, the lower and lower our insurance bill, which also helps with a little bit of cushion in this particular line item.
Our 2021 monthly budgeted amount was $395.84. We are holding steady at that rate for 2022. If you've followed our content for a while, you might think, "only $400?!" Yes. That's what we had in our budget. However, we typically put away a lot more towards student loan debt. The amount in our budget is our minimum required monthly payment under normal debt repayment circumstances.
Meshack is currently on Public Service Loan Forgiveness. His income-based payments are only $12 a month. Since the pandemic started, he hasn't had to recertify his income, so his payments are still based on 2019's data. The majority of our minimum required payment is for my loans.
Groceries & Food
Our 2021 monthly budget was $200 (~6% of our total budget). In 2022, we've gone up to $220. Although twenty dollars isn't a lot, we have noticed that in this inflationary season, items we paid a little bit less for last year now cost more. Those pennies add up! We decided to throw a little bit more cash towards groceries to make sure that we're okay. This is definitely one area where inflation has reared its head very evidently.
We've also witnessed a large increase in our spending in this area given the extremely high gas prices recently. For further context, our 2021 gas budget was very conservative. COVID was still relatively new, and we didn't know when we'd be going back to work. We essentially took both of our separate gas budgets that we were maintaining before we got married and just added them together. This resulted in a monthly budget of $120, which we obviously were not spending for most of the pandemic, as we both were working from home.
We've now both started to go out to work a little bit more often, once or twice a week, so we're spending more money. We don't even want to think about what our gas bill would be if we were both commuting five days a week. Our gas bill has been trending up towards $90 a month recently. However, we decided to lower our budget to $80 this year. What has really saved us is another new benefit my job instituted, reimbursing us for driving into the office up to $50 per month. I usually will meet that cap if I'm going in once a week, and we apply the reimbursement to this line item.
Gifts and Giving
Our 2021 budget was $50 per month, and we haven't made any changes. However, we've noticed that we've had to buy a few gifts this year that have challenged this budgeted amount. It's getting harder to stick to our gifting budget than in previous years, so we'll discuss that and see if we want to make changes. However, for now, the line item remains the same.
When we say travel, this is the amount that we allotted for more local trips, visiting our family in New York monthly. We've budgeted $100, which is enough to take us there once a month.
We've got good old T-mobile. Our $120 fee includes taxes and fees, as well as a 1-screen Netflix subscription. This cost has stayed the same since we enrolled. We also pay an additional $5 per month to get an extra screen for our Netflix package. Netflix has increased its prices a few dollars over the past few years.
We manage our finances together. However, Meshack and I each have a monthly allowance we can take out to do whatever we want. This year, we decided to increase our allowances. Meshack's 2021 allowance was $215, and we've increased it by $50 to $265. My 2021 allowance was $215, and we also increased mine by $50 to $265 (which goes a lot faster than you might think!)
This line item is our whatever is left over/fun money/catch-all fund. We end up going out to eat quite a bit with this money. If we want to go out, do anything special, or have a date night, that is where that money comes from. Last year, we were spending about $160 a month. Now, we have upped that to $210. You could argue that this may be a little bit of lifestyle creep. However, outside is expensive, y'all!
Life insurance is the same. We have term life insurance policies that we took out shortly after getting married, which isn't going to change. It will stay the same for the life of the term.
We also have some new entrants to the budget this year. One of them is health insurance. It's not that we weren't paying for it before. However, how we're paying for it is different. We don't necessarily include it in our budget anymore because now it comes out of Meshack's paycheck before it even hits the budget.
Another new item is savings. We established a new sinking fund this year specifically for health care. Essentially, we're trying to save up the equivalent of the annual deductible on Meshack's health insurance plan. We now put $77 aside every month so that we have the deductible in a year in case Meshack needs medical services.
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personal finance - budgeting - inflation
Originally Posted in Bemused