In light of our 1 year anniversary on our debt repayment project I thought I would post our budget again. I'm in the process of thinking about a massive overhaul of the blog to make it more user friendly but in the mean time I have combined our last year budget and this year's budget in one spreadsheet to show the differences. On the whole, our expenses have trended up this year. The few line items in green are where we had some cost savings. Line items shown in purple I want to explore further because I think we can generate some more savings in these categories and empty columns in 2012 meant that we didn't have that item as a budget line in our 2012 budget. Doesn't mean we didn't incur the expenses but that we didn't clearly allocate a budget to them. I'm happy to answer any questions so if you have any please leave them in the comments section.
As far as our family finance approach when it comes to saving, spending, paying off debt.. I think we've learned that for us it comes down to living comfortably and being happy. The whole reason why we embarked on tackling our debt head on was the goal of becoming more financially independent. While there are many things we could do to wipe out our debt more quickly like giving up our cars or even one of them or downsizing our house, deciding not to travel, etc., we've sort of worked our way to a spot where we think we are on good middle ground. It's really about finding efficiencies in our budget that don't compromise our comfort or happiness on our journey to being debt-free. We don't need luxury cars to make us happy, but we do need reliable, reasonably newer vehicles. We don't need to be wearing sweaters in our house in the heat of the summer but having the comfort of A/C to take off the edge on a hot summer night keeps us happy. You get the idea.. all of this makes it much easier to sock money away toward the debt when we aren't busy feeling miserable, uncomfortable, and deprived.
Our monthly family income has actually dropped by $50 this year - no graduate assistantship finding since I am no longer a student but I did get a raise at work so we bring home approx. $7200 after taxes on an average month. For another example of a household budget at a similar income level you can check out Kelsey's budget. I've been thinking so much lately about how hush hush money always is which is unfortunate because I think we could all be learning from each other a great deal. I'd love to know how our household budget and expenses compare to yours and if ours are ridiculously higher in one area than I want to know your secret!!!