As promised here is a look at my current budget (which includes my merit increase) and the details behind it.
Category Amount Notes
Rent $1,080.00 **For my area, this is normal since I live alone. I wish it was lower!
Student Loans 90.56
Car Loan 368.50
Extra on Car Pmt 35.00 **I take any extra from other categories to apply here each month.
Insurance 68.12 **Car insurance and renter's insurance
Oil Change 8.00
Car Registration 9.19
Gas Bill 17.81 **Budget monthly average instead of actuals by month
Electric Bill 30.00 **Budget monthly average instead of actuals by month
Food 120.00 **This includes groceries and eating out
Monthly Spending 77.00
Apt/PHP Items 15.50 **Items needed for personal hygiene and my apartment
Doc Appts 10.00
Savings for Taxes 8.33
All of the items highlighted in blue are those which do not occur monthly. They may be once per quarter or annually. I budget for them each month though. This makes me feel better so that I don't have to all of the sudden find money for one of them at the end of the year. I buy gifts throughout the year, but I budget $25.00 each month so that I don't have to come up with extra money around Christmas time to buy gifts for my family.
My monthly spending category is for going out with friends, renting movies, and anything else that I would want to do during the month.
My food budget may seem rather low to some people, but it works for me. I do not buy any premade items, so all of my meals require cooking. I try to cook on Sunday, so that I have leftovers for the rest of the week. I also do my grocery shopping on Sunday once I look through the ads and make my list based on those ads.
The savings category is used for a number of things. I divide it out each month based on where I need/want it to go the most at that time. Some of the categories which it ends up in are my emergency fund, travel fund, car repair/emergency, extra towards my car loan, new technology fund, moving fund, etc. This works best for me because then I can evaluate each month where I might need the money most since of these funds are ones which I may not need to add too unless I take money out or they are not used that often.
I know that this budget may seem rather long and odd to some, but it works for me. I think that's the most important part. I have been budgeting like this for a number of years now. I try to avoid surprises, so it works for me to budget for the annual items all year long. I have thought about combining some of the smaller items (like car registration, savings for taxes, and gifts) into my larger savings amount, but so far I have not done that.
I am saving for retirement through my 401k. Between what I am contributing and the company match, I have a total of 14% of my salary going towards retirement each year. I would like to start an IRA in the near future, but I have other things that I am concentrating on right now.
I am not putting an extra towards my student loans until my car is paid off. The interest rate on my student loans is less than what I am making on my savings each month, so I am not too worried about those right now.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my budget!!