I've always been frustrated at how money is our society's final taboo. It keeps us in the dark about how others spend, which would be helpful (to me at least) in determining where I fit in the grand scheme of things. Is a $700 a month grocery bill reasonable, frugal or extravagant? How about spending a total, including gasoline, of $3,000 a year on my cars?
To this end, I've decided to post what I spent, by category, in 2006. Yes, I'm one of those semi-anal folks who keeps track of all my spending. Hey, at least I round to the nearest dollar instead of writing down every penny.....
So here goes. 2006 was a very good year for me. I'll be making about 50-60% of this in 2007.
Health Care.....$ 6,000........4%
1-2% for each of the following: Home & Religious Education, Home Maintenance, Child Care, Entertainment, Gasoline, Car Expenses (non-gasoline), Eating Out & Clothes
<1% for each of the following: Gym, Books & Magazines, Babysitting, Gifts & Dry Cleaning
Expenses (excluding savings & charitable contributions) totaled $4,200 per month or $50,000 a year.
This seems like a lot; the median household income is $46,000, and I probably need to make $75,000 just to cover the post-tax $50,000 in spending.
Now, I know that if you're from the East or West Coast, these expenses seem insanely low. Realize that I live in an average cost city in above-average but not exactly crazy housing: My 4 bed, 2 bath cul-de-sac, great school district house cost ~$200,000 when I bought it 4 years ago & is still worth less than $300,000.
On the other hand, I'm saving more than half of my Net Spendable Income (which I define as money left over after taxes & charity). Perhaps I should live it up a little more... but money for me really = financial security, so the more I can save & invest, the better.