Our Budget – The Breakdown of the $27K Annual Budget

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So, we are finally sharing our personal living expenses budget with you again this year.  Many of you have asked for us to share our 2014 budget just like we did in 2013.

Honestly, it is always a little hard to share our personal budget as it is just, well….. personal.

But after hearing from a number of you that this was a help and an encouragement to you when we shared this last year finally made us decide to post it again!  As promised, we are sharing our living expenses budget with you to show you what we budget for and changes made from 2013 and what our lowest budget was historically. We encourage you to read our post HERE regarding setting your budget.  It also includes a free download to fill-out for your high level budget view.

A few points to make:

  • We are out of debt, so our budget could look a lot different than yours
  • When our budget was the lowest, we had the two of us and 2 babies (who don’t eat a lot), and I (Alex) worked 1 mile from home.  All factors that make food/gas (the biggest expenses) a lower option.
  • We are a family of 7
  • This is a base bottom budget.  We base our budget and stick to a budget with a low income in case of famine in business/work.  But when business is booming, we still stick to this budget, but it means that we can add to our home improvement, Christmas and travel/fun fund as well as our savings. But we have learned to live off of this in case we lose some of those extra income outlets.
  • We also have a savings as this budget is less than our normal income and so the excess from our normal income and from our extra businesses goes into savings to pay cash for future purchases like a new mini-van, basement finishing, etc.
  • We are not sharing our mortgage nor our tithe and charitable giving as these are very personal.

Monthly Bills Category

2014 Insurances

  • Term life insurance $160 (all 7 family members)
  • Car insurance for 2 vehicles $63.85 (details on our policy here)
  • Home Insurance $30

2014 Utilities

  • Phone $38.25 ($25 a month plus taxes)
  • Cell Phones $75.59 ($55 a month plus taxes and fees)
  • Gas bill $70
  • Electricity $152
  • City Utilities $96

2014 Entertainment

  • HuluPlus $7.99
  • Amazon Prime $6.58 monthly (this also covers us in our grocery, gift and household category, but easy to categorize here, and….next time we renew, it will be $99!)
  • Netflix $8.51 (with tax)
  • Sermon Audio $4.99

Medical Bills

We do have some medical expenses as well that are not calculated above as it is so random and often without planning.  But we do have an HSA that this comes out of and has covered our medical bills every year for the past few years.

Total in the Monthly Bills Category

$713.76 monthly = $8562.12 this year

Living Expenses Category (This category also shows previous years’ amounts)

Groceries/Household/Personal Care: A note, as a family, we try to live a whole, natural and even organic life when and where we can.  We modify recipes to meet this desire and we shop according to this desire without our allotted budget. We implemented this living goal last year and it was a success and so we will continue this again this year! 

  • 2014: $430 per month (about $107.50 per week). However, we usually only shop once or twice a month at the grocery store since our milk is delivered and produce from co-op and meat in the deep freezer. In addition, much of our excess $250 goes for bulk food buying for nearly all of our dry foods (cereals, grains, beans, etc.) and so just a little at the actual grocery store.   Pretty much all we buy at the grocery store are eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, sour cream, a few of the sale items that week and a few markdowns.
    • Natural fresh milk delivery $30 per month
    • Fresh produce either through Bountiful Baskets or the Warehouse/Grocery stores for $100 per month.
    • Meat Savings for our bulk grass-fed beef and natural chicken orders twice per year $50 per month (this is $600 per year.  Our 1/4 cow usually costs around $400-$450 and chicken is just over $100 – $150)
    • Everything else is $250 per month or about $50 per week at the grocery store/ bulk foods store on needed odds/ends.
  • 2013:$500 per month ($125 per week)
  • 2012: $300 per month or $75 per week
  • Lowest in our budget history:  $150 a month or about $35 a week (not necessarily healthy or organic)

Eating Out (one of our favorite luxuries)

  • 2014: $160 per month
    • Date Nights $60 mo.
    • Alex lunch with clients $20 mo.
    • Mom and Kids lunch outs on field trip days $35 mo.
    • Family Meals out $45 mo.
  • 2013: $200 per month
  • Lowest in our budget history:  $40 a month

Automobile Expenses

  • 2014:
    • Gasoline/Fuel $290 mo. (I commute quite a bit, but much less than last year)
    • Oil Changes for all vehicles  $40 per month (we get high mileage oil and usually a extra service every third time)


    • Gasoline/Fuel $433 mo.
    • Oil Changes for all vehicles  $40 per month (we get high mileage oil and usually a extra service every third time)
  • Lowest in our budget history: 
    • Gasoline/Fuel $100 mo.
    • Oil Changes for all vehicles  $15 per month


  • 2014: $15 per month (we now only have 1 in diapers and we are using cloth during the day at home and it takes us about 5-6 weeks to get through a case of diapers that costs us around $22 on Amazon with the cloth option – Details on this here)
  • 2013: $20 per month (nearly the same)
  • Lowest in our budget history: Now – this year 2014


  • 2014: $80 per month (essentially just over $11 per person)
  • 2013: $80 per month (same)
  • Lowest in Budget History:$25 per month ($300 per year)

Health Products/Supplements

  • 2014: $55 per month
  • 2013: $50 per month (essentially just over $7 per person)
  • 2012: $20 per month
  • Lowest in budget history: $0

Hair Cuts/Salon

  • 2014:$10 per month (Just the girls get hair cuts at the local beauty college – Cassie cut bangs and the boy’s hair at home)
  • 2013: $10 per month (no change)
  • Lowest in budget history: $5 per month


  • 2014: $20 month
  • 2013: $20 month (Same)
  • Lowest in budget history: None – $0

Allowances: for the kids, we give them .50 per year per week

  • 2014: $108 total
      • Alex – $20
      • Cassie -$20
      • 10 year old – $20
      • 9 year old – $18
      • 7 year old – $14
      • 5 year old – $10
      • 3-year old – $6
  • 2013: Same formula but $96 due to younger ages
  • Lowest in budget history: none – $0 (not a good idea as we couldn’t stick to it – give yourself something)


  • 2014:
    • $150 per month for supplies, books, curricula, etc.
    • $198 Tutor fees ($2375 annually in tutoring fees for 4 kids)
  • 2013: $160 per month (covers supplies, books, curricula, etc.)
  • Lowest in budget history: none as it wasn’t needed with 2 babies

Totals in Living Expenses:

2014: $1,556 per month (it is actually $1,600 as we also give ourselves nearly a $100 incidentals) – which is $19,200 this year

Past years:

2013: $1,609 (it is actually $1,700 as we also give ourselves nearly a $100 incidentals) – which is $20,400 for the year

2012: $1,349 (Actual amount we budgeted $1,450 to include incidentals and the biggest change was in the groceries from $300 to $500) – which is just over $16,000 for the year.

Lowest in budget history for living expenses category: $335, but we had it at $400 to cover incidentals and Christmas.  BUT… we really, really struggled to stick with this and found it nearly impossible.  This was in our unsuccessful 3 years of only paying off $15k debt.  It wasn’t until we became realistic and started our 2×2 plan that we were successful in sticking with our budget and seeing big debt changes by paying off $85k the next 3.5 years.   The 2×2 plan is how we would recommend making and sticking to a budget and you will get to your rock bottom budget soon and much less painfully!

The GRAND total of both bills and living expenses category = $27,762.12 this year

So you may be asking about…… Christmas, Travel, fun and home improvement. Well, we have saved for Christmas before at $5 – $15 per paycheck ($5 x26 = $130 at lowest and $15×26 = $390) but we have done something different the past 2-years.  We’ve mentioned many times that we run our own home businesses and so we now save a percentage of our excess income to pay for these extras.  This would be a fun way to motivate you and your family to earn extra for travel and Christmas if you wanted. Check out our Over 100 Ways to Earn Extra Income post HERE. If you don’t want to do this, we would highly recommend saving monthly for those events in your normal budget.

Here’s what we do with our extra income:

  • 10% tithe
  • 30% Home Improvement (we have a lot of projects we want to complete)
  • 5% Christmas fund
  • 15% Travel/fun fund
  • Remaining in savings and other charitable giving

So for an example, between our extra businesses (we have about 4), we could bring in $1,000 extra per month.  $300 goes into home improvement, $150 for travel/fun and $50 for Christmas.  The rest is savings and tithe.  Some months are more and some are less, but that gives you an idea of what we do! It is also a great motivator for us!

Extra links:

See our Finance Category for more helpful articles

See our Financial Tips and Resources Pinterest Board


  1. Donna says

    First of all I am impressed and amazed at your dedication and discipline. It is inspiring and at that same time, convicting. The one item on your list that I was really surprised by, though, was the babysitting. I don’t know of anyone that I could get who would watch 5 children for $20, unless I was only going to be gone for 30 minutes. The best rate I can get is $10 an hour and that is for 2 children, 1 of them in diapers….
    Congrats to you and your family, I think you guys are awesome!

    • says

      Hi Donna, Thanks for your comment and that made us realize that we probably should clarify that this is what our budget each month is, but that doesn’t mean we do this activity each month. But rather, we set the funds aside for that purpose. Babysitting would probably need to be a lot more, but we have lots of family (grandparents and siblings) close that watch our kids. However, every few months, we do need a sitter when family is not available. And so we will have $40+ set aside for that occasional need. Our sitter charges $10 an hour. Anyway, I hope that clarifies for you! Thank you again!

  2. Elizabeth says

    So inspiring and organized!! I am trying hard to get ourselves on a realistic budget, but my husband is self employed, which means a very irregular pay schedule. Any recommendations on how to successfully budget when your income is irregular? Also, I didn’t notice mortgage/rent on your budget… Just wondering how much that adds to your total expenditures for the month. I am in CA and my mortgage is more than the suggested 26% of your income…

  3. Rosemary Doran says

    Thanks form the treat website. I have always thought I was fragile but I am learning so much. I am currently unemployed and living off savings until I can return to work.

  4. Joshua says

    I was wondering how you are able to get your home insurance to only $30 a month. Thank you for your time and advice!


    • says

      Hi Joshua – First, here’s an article on 10 Ways to Save on Home owner’s insurance: http://thethriftycouple.com/2013/11/06/10-ways-to-save-on-your-homeowners-and-auto-insurance-premiums/

      Second, there are many factors that contribute to your insurance – cost of home is a big one. In addition, here’s other factors that have contributed to our rate: we’ve had no insurance claims in several years, nor with this company, we selected a higher deductible, we don’t live in a place of normal natural disasters and a safer zip code and professional’s discount. Also, we have bundled all of our insurances with one company which gives us an additional blanket savings. These factors along with the tips we share in the article has helped us. This is the lowest our home insurance has been in the home we have right now.

  5. Lorean Stanfield says

    Hi, I noticed you didn’t include health insurance in the monthly expenses. Since you all have home businesses, do you pay for that yourselves or forego insurance? Thank you!! Loving all the tips!

    • says

      Hi Lorean, yes, you are right. First, we are not completely self-employed this year. Alex is working for a company that provides insurance. So we don’t count it as part of our bills as it automatically happens from his paycheck without us even thinking about it. So we calculate our budget based on his take home pay and the bills we are actually paying. However, in past years, we have been entirely self employed and we used Samaritan Ministries (http://samaritanministries.org/) for health sharing coverage and it was around $325 a month for our family. In addition, we did have a small monthly amount to stow away in savings for dental and eye (Samaritan doesn’t cover this). Hope that helps! 😉

  6. Michelle says

    In what section of your budget do things like toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, etc. fall all into?

  7. Jan Jacobs says

    I am mesmerized by your budget! How do you get by with such lo e
    Cost with insurance? Amazing. I’m trying very hard to become more disciplined. Sign Mr up for your newsletter. Thanks and God bless!

  8. Kelly says

    This is amazing. How do you guys get your life insurance so low? I’m guessing part of it is the area you live but every place I looked at around me it’s that much for just a policy on my husband! BTW, I LOVE your guy’s blog, I found it someone on Facebook and have been reading it ever since!

    • says

      Hi Kelly,

      As far as life insurance goes, it is probably because we did try to get it when we were younger to not have to pay as much and we don’t smoke (which we understand could be a big rise in cost). We also have all of our insurance bundled under the same company for additional discounts on all of the insurance and term life insurance is always the cheaper route. I hope that helps give some idea!

    • says

      Hi Marlene,

      Our property taxes are automatically included in our mortgage payment. We aren’t sharing our mortgage as this was already really putting ourselves out there. In addition, the housing costs have the widest range of expenses for families across the globe and so it is some what irrelevant. We hope to use our budget as a sound board on writing articles on how to save in different areas, but the mortgage is a mortgage. We do have tips on what you should and shouldn’t do with a mortgage, but as for as “saving on a mortgage” there’s not really much besides paying it off early. We will be sharing details of our home and mortgage in a future article in our Deep in Debt to Debt-Free story, so be watching for that. Here’s the story so far: http://thethriftycouple.com/about/

      Finally, once our house is paid off, our property taxes will be included here. :)

  9. Dana L says

    This is great, thank you! May I ask why you have term life on children? I have heard of people doing this but I have never heard a good reason for holding a life insurance for children.

    • says

      Hi Dana,

      Their life insurance is very minimal. In fact, it’s just enough to cover funeral expenses. That is pretty much the only reason why, at least in our case. I pray and hope with all that we have that we never have to use it. But if something happened, we don’t want to use our savings set aside for other purposes and other children to cover the funeral. It is utterly amazing how much funerals cost, even with the “lower” options. It’s ridiculous! Life insurance for children is smart as it is only about $5 of the $160 per month in our case. I think that most life insurance companies do have options that are about this low for children to add to a family policy. So it is $5 well spent to have peace of mind in times of trial. Hopefully that answers your question!

  10. Amy W says

    Thank you for sharing this! There were a couple expenses I have, which I didn’t notice you mention. Do you have a city water, sewer, trash bill or HOA dues? My water, sewer, trash bill averages about $100 per month. What about vehicle registration taxes and emission tests? Also, may I suggest (if you have not already done so) purchasing disability income insurance? Thanks again, and regards to both of you!

    • says

      Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your question! The city utilities are included above and includes all of the items you mention. Also, our extra vehicle expenses come out of savings as the cost is so random each year based on repairs/tests needed each year, so we haven’t itemized it. The insurance does include disability as this is just as important to insure :) Thank you again and hopefully that answers questions!

  11. Laura says

    Nice post. I was also wondering about vehicle registration/emissions tests and even driver’s license renewal fees (mine expires this year). We also have to pay quarterly water and sewer fees which run about $180 per quarter. Do you pay for high speed internet? Our family had to budget for orthodontia for three kids and two who wear glasses. We also budget for a dog (not cheap). Each family has its own unique expenses. We’ve been debt free (including no mortgage or car payments) for 8 years now and it’s great!

    • says

      Hi Laura,

      Thank you for your questions! I did clarify the vehicle question above to Amy, but will repeat for you here – our extra vehicle expenses come out of savings as the cost is so random each year based on repairs/tests needed each year, so we haven’t itemized it. Also, the internet is a GREAT question! We actually have free high speed internet through Alex’s work. Which is a HUGE blessing. I know that we will have orthodontia in the near future. Our oldest just turned 10, so I am hoping we have another year or two. :) GREAT JOB on being totally debt-free. It is such an amazing feeling! Keep it up!

  12. says

    As soon as ones tries living like this, no debt, no luxuries like iPhone, no expensive cable, no car payments (driving older car is Ok), one gets free to do whatever they want to do. Live your dreams! We do!

    • says

      That is so very true! We got into over $100K of consumer debt trying to chase after the “American Dream” and we were so unhappy, stressed and discontent with the “stuff” we had. But once we sacrificed and worked hard to pay it all of and live free from debt, our lives became that dream :) There is freedom in contentment too with where you are at! Thank you for sharing that! In case you didn’t see our story, it’s here: http://thethriftycouple.com/about/

  13. Julie says

    Can you tell me how you get HULU etc and I do not see an item in your budget for internet service, did I just miss it?

  14. Jenny says

    Ugh, it just proves how medical expenses can make a HUGE difference in budget and lifestyle.
    We pay roughly a thousand a month in medical insurance (we don’t even have any vision insurance), plus about another $350/month for prescription meds and doctor visits. Then we almost always have another thousand or so every year because someone was hospitalized, broke a bone, whatever.
    Medical costs are a huge, huge chunk of our expenses. We wish we could save money regularly and take family trips, but there just isn’t anything to spare. It’s very frustrating.

  15. Carrie says

    First, you say, “We are out of debt, so our budget could look a lot different than yours.”
    Then, you say, “We are not sharing our mortgage nor our tithe and charitable giving as these are very personal.”

    The tithe thing I get. It should be between you and God. I really don’t care what your mortgage payment is either. But when you say you’re debt free and then say you have a mortgage payment, I begin to question your honesty, as a mortgage payment IS a debt. I understand trying to encourage people that it’s possible to live on a smaller budget, but between the mortgage and other expenses others have mentioned (car registration, repairs, internet, medical insurance), it realistically requires at least a $40k/year income to make this “$27,000 budget” work for most people. By not being totally transparent about your expenses, you’ve created this illusion that a family of 7 can thrive on a $27k/year income, which is not realistic at all–they probably could if they lived in the right area but without many of the luxuries you’ve listed.

    • Crystal says

      I think they meant consumer debt free?

      They have other expenses (like home schooling fees and tutoring) that many people wouldn’t have.

      It’s their unique budget and I don’t find it deceptive. It’s just not complete. I get the feeling they are very hesitant to fully disclose their whole financial situation so instead they are showing the part they are comfortable sharing.

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