This is fascinating! I've only looked a couple of comments because - 233! So, I'll play, with a couple of caveats: ~ I do monthly budgeting because my expenses vary a lot ~ I have a couple of side gigs, but I do not include that income in my monthly budget - some (about a third) of it get saved for long-term stuff and some of it is spent for splurges. When I spend any of my savings, I add that money as income and then put the category in the budget. This gives me a clear picture of how much I generally spend - last year (when my income and rent were much higher) my average was $2700/month. Here goes.... After tax income - $4,100 Savings: - $2,030 (broken down as follows: $588 for retirement, $120 cash, $290 for annual variable expenses, and $1,025 for a house down payment) That leaves about $2070 for expenses, as follows: Fixed expenses: - rent: $350 - total utilities (all): $250 - Disability insurance: $65 Variable expenses: - Gas:~$175 - Health expenses:~$250 - Groceries:~$275 The rest (~$800) is for giving (I don't want to disclose that amount) and discretionary spending (whatever is left over - varies!). Discretionary spending includes pretty much everything that isn't already budgeted - haircuts, dry cleaning, restaurants and bars, clothing, entertainment, etc. For annual expenses (car insurance, renter's insurance, etc.) or predictable expenses that don't fit a schedule (taxes, car repairs, gifts, travel), I use the $290 that I set aside each month.
I am doing a spending diet in January and putting the excess into savings. I can't do that every month (already know that February is going to be expensive), but I will review every month to see where I can cut. And, unlike in the past, I won't spend it elsewhere right away! Other goal is to start boosting side hustle income.
I definitely became more anti-social when I was paying off debt. When I first finished graduate school and got a job, I was pretty reckless with my income - lots of socializing with grad school friends, new clothes, stuff for the new living situation. I eventually buckled down (right around the time student loans went out of the grace period). And I started to grow apart from my former grad school classmates started fading. Around that time, an old, old friend and I reconnected, and from that friend, I picked up a whole crew of friends. My friend invited me to a Halloween party, where I met a now-ex-boyfriend, and the now-ex-boyfriend introduced me to my group that became my closest friends. I almost didn't go to that Halloween party....I wore a "costume" of clothes from my closet...I didn't take anything to the party....I remember being a little annoyed because of gas money to drive across town to the party. In other words, I spent next to nothing in terms of money, and I somehow came out with so many blessings from that one event. This is totally the opposite of my experience with spending all the money right after getting a job - those relationships didn't last (and honestly, they were so, so unhealthy for everyone involved, but that's another story).
Straight out of college, I saved 10(%) of gross income in a 401K with a match of 50%; ahhhh, the mid-2000s when we were flush with cash. I also saved in a cash account, but I can't remember how much. What I do remember was that the savings account that earned between 3-5%. Miss those days. Then I got a little ahead of myself, went to graduate school, didn't get a job in grad school...and took out student loans for the first time. So no savings whatsoever for a while. Just a huge liability taken on in a terrible economy with no job prospects. It really was in my 30s that I started to figure stuff out. I made debt repayment a priority, and once i was done with that, I committed to saving at least 30% of my gross income, for the rest of my life, if possible. I have invested during a lot of the boom in the last 5 years, but my cash savings gets less than 1%. There is no 401K, so no match. Win some, lose some.
@caryatis Why is did “wealthy” the goal? Saving 10K/year may not make a person wealthy, but it will make them a lot more comfortable and have a lot more piece of mind than they would without the savings. Why can’t that be the point of savings?
Logan! So good to see you here - just like the old days! But sorry you're having a rough time. Debt is tough, no question. And realizing that you are your own worst enemy is just...discouraging. I used to have credit cards that I "kept off the books," so that I wouldn't have to acknowledge how much money I was spending (and, I'll be honest - how frivolously I was spending). Then, I "took out a loan from savings" so that, again, I didn't have to acknowledge how much I was spending. It was a bad, bad cycle. What helped me was to be totally honest with myself about my spending. No more secret spending which led, ultimately, to no more "loans," which led, after a long time, to having a balanced spending plan. It was no fun, at all, but I learned a lot about myself? I became a better person? Maybe? Or maybe not. Mostly I just have less stress now.
Nothing very exciting. After a job change, salary is a little lower, so I'm adjusting for a bit. August: $3494 September: $4414
@Mae I can't find the citation, but the benefit formula for determining distribution is higher for lower wage workers than for those with higher income. The range is something like a 5% return on contributions for those in the lowest bracket, compared with 0.5% for the highest bracket. Here are the CBO's findings: http://goo.gl/cO1Lmn
@jfruh Also not regressive when higher earners pay income taxes on the benefit, but lower income earners don't.
@jfruh It's not regressive when those who pay the most into the system get the least out of it. And it's not regressive when lower income workers receive an earned income tax credit to offset the FICA tax.