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Out on my own, need advice on a budget.

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by SuperDuck, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    As some know, I moved out of my house with the parents a few weeks ago to start a job in Milwaukee. I'm living in single bedroom apartment by myself, and figured out a rough budget before I moved up here to confirm that I would be in the black at the end of each month. Now that I'm starting to settle into my weekly income, and beginning to realize just how many durn expenses I have, I want to develop a sound budget, or a way to keep track of my money and see what I can do to be fiscally responsible.

    Right now I'm making up a rough spreadsheet in order to track all of my expenses (I'm going to keep track of every last receipt for the next couple of weeks) vs. my income on a monthly basis. I don't know what I can do short of that - I've never been good with those wacky money programs, such as a Quicken, I figured it would be safe to stick with what I know. (Excel)

    Any tips? Anything I should watch out for? Any financial advice you can offer to a young man trying to make it in the world?
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Pay your bills first, live on what's left. :D
  3. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio

    Buy groceries, don't eat out if at all possible. Buy meats and cook them (try not to buy the pre-made stuff, the extra cost is just passed on to you).

    BTW, I'm happy for you, duck! :)
  4. Excel is great and it is a tool you know. I use it to track $500 million dollar 25 year development projects and to do my home finances also. You definitely need a baseline to plan a budget and tracking your expenses is how you develop that. Two weeks is good and a month is better. I'm with Joshua on spending the absolute minimum on every thing until you know what all your expenses are. I was shocked when my 26 yr. old son told me that cable TV was a normal utility like electricity and heat.
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Waht he said. cut the expenses down tot the bare minimum and se e how much you have left. it's better to have money than to be in the red.
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Sage advice, but there's no spreadsheet involved. :D

    Thanks to everyone else for the advice so far. I've done some rough figuring based on my first few weeks here, and speculating on some things that I don't know yet (such as my electric bill), I think I should be just fine, especially since I padded my numbers a bit more to the "worst case" side.

    Perhaps I'm young, or maybe just stupid, but I'm going to get high-speed internet. I realize it's quite a big jump over dial-up in terms of price, but I look at it as a luxury I'm willing to pony up for. I don't go out to the bars a lot, I don't eat out a lot, and I'm not one for buying expensive, trendy clothes. I think that considering the cost per month and what I'm getting, Roadrunner is going to be a good setup for me. I may or may not get cable tv. We'll see. Thing is, I'll probably get them both at the same time, as they offer a package with Roadrunner and digital cable, which apparantly comes out to be less than if I got Roadrunner and standard cable. I think they're out to get me, but then again I think everyone is out to get me.

    The only thing I'm worried about is food. It seems like I'm eating it almost every single day. And it doesn't come back like it used to at my old house. I don't know what brand of refrigerator we had, but the food replenished itself. The one I have now doesn't do that.

    Maybe I need a new fridge.

    ps- I attached my spreadsheet. I like making spreadsheets. :D
  7. Here's a tip: Add all of your bills up (including stuff like groceries and your average expenses) and see what your montly average is in bills. Forward any leftover money into another account. That way you won't be dipping your fun money into bill money on accident.

    Oh, and the Salvation Army is your friend.
  8. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    1. Don't buy new clothes. Undergarments exempt.
    2. ALWAYS pay attention to what food costs in different stores. The more you do that the more attentive you will be at knowing where it is cheaper.
    3. Shop at farmer's markets & flea markets for foods. Often is fresher and cheaper than grocery stores.
    4. Quit drinking pop(but save plastic containers). Concentrate is better for you than pop and alot cheaper.
    5. Force yourself to become adept at cooking. You may not justify that $15 on a casserole dish now but when you use it 10x it will.
    6. Turn off lights that don't need to be on. The chair and couch can see just fine without people in the room. Invest in low-watt bulbs(some come with warranties also).
    7. Consider splitting high-speed with a person(or two) next door. Wireless is the best option.
    8. Get a high interest bank account(like ING Direct). Later on, those pennies add up.
    9. NEVER be ashamed of hitting a food kitchen if you need it. Being hungry sucks more than being broke! You paid(or will) taxes and you are entitled to it. Don't forget that.
    I have more, but I can't think of them right now.

    Hope this helps,
  9. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Cook your own food. You have no idea how much it costs to eat out.

    Ddrink at bars - or at least cut back. If I have a drink, it's at home and costs me pennies comparied to dollars.

    Shop clearence racks for clothes. Never pay full price. They will almost always hit the clearance rack in a month or two. My wife works at one of those places and we get all our clothes for at least 40% off if not more.

    Keep track for a couple months lie you are planning. Pay yourself first, even if it's $25 a month. Put it away in a special account.

    Start an IRA or some othe raccount. At your age, even a small monthly contribution will pay off big in 50 years. And yes, you need to think that far ahead.

    Don't charge anything unless it's an absolute emergency!!!Credit Cards are the devil. I'm 39, have a ton of debt and am working my ass off to pay them off. It isn't worth it!!!
  10. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000

    Coming from another finance geek here. . .

    - Clip cupons, and read the supermarket ads that you get in the mail.

    - If your company has a retirement account with any type of employer matching contribution, such as a 401(k), take advantage of the free money.

    - Lastly add savings into your budget - even if it's $10 or $20 a month, it adds up fast and gives you a buffer in case of an emergency.

    One thing that my grandparents and parents always instilled in us was it's not what you make, it's what you save.
  11. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I support your decision to get high speed internet. I use the internet for a few hours each day and i could not live with dial up and get done what i need to. Cable i could live without, i rarely watch television, but thats different for everyone.

    Definitely make your own food. Frozen entrees are a bit expensive, unless its something in bulk from a wholesale store like 20 chichimangas for 10 bucks or something, thats not bad. Learn to make stuff from scratch, pasta dishes, etc.

    Dont eat out, if you drive, dont make unnecesary trips.
    If you have friends in the area, occasionally mooch off food at their place for a meal here and there ;)
  12. Don't go out drinking with The Golden Boy every time he goes- "Hey! SuperDuck, let's go pound some drinks!"
  13. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I got rid of a big hole in my pocket when I stopped buying lunch at work and started to bring my own. These days I alternate between making a sandwich in the morning or having made enough food for dinner that I have leftovers to bring to work. I'm a good cook, so my food is better anyway!

    I also have a nice thermos that keeps my coffee warm all day...so I make that at home too. I figure between stopping the $2 coffee in the am and the $7 lunch in the pm, I'm saving about 30 bucks a week (figuring in the extra food I buy at the store).

    I also tend to shop for specials at the store. When the pasta goes to 4 boxes for a dollar, I buy a couple of bucks worth...the next week there will be a different sale, and I can stock up on something else. You'll figure out pretty quickly what things are expensive that you can live without. I never buy prepared food, I make it myself...I also buy things in bigger quantity and break it up into useable portions once I get home, then I can cook enough for a meal and not have to waste either uncooked or leftover food. Usually when I shop I have an idea of what I'm buying and what I want to spend and I usually pick one or two 'splurg' items that won't break the bank but will change up the regular stuff.

    I'm lucky, my rent is a little less than 25% of my monthly income, and I don't have a car payment.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Oh, yeah...your spread sheet's nice, but I sometimes have a tough time keeping up with such things...I work my finances based upon my bill cycle and my pay.

    Fer instance, I know that 1 of my 4 paychecks will cover my rent, with enough money left over for a week's food shopping. So, my last paycheck of the month goes to the next month's rent (due first week of the new month).

    The first week's rent is up for grabs, I don't have anything due at that time, so that's the check that pays for clothes, blank CDs, or whatever else I might need. I know that I can spend it without any real problems, or put it in the bank for another day.

    The second week's pay covers my car insurance, cable bill, etc. all my regular 'cost of living bills'.

    The third week's pay goes to my Credit card people. That bill is due at the end of the month, and I pretty much just sign it over. If I have spent more than normal that month on it, I'll use some of my money from week one to beef up the payment.

    I do have some cash that goes into an investment account, and my employer diverts money directly into a different retirement account as well.
  15. Your bicycle (assuming you have one) is your friend. You'd be amazed how much you cut down on gas for short trips by just riding your bike out. Not only is it free, its good for you.
  16. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    1. If you receive an email from General Swahini in Africa who wishes to conduct a financial transaction with you DO IT! Easy money!

    2. If some guys in a white van approach you in a parking lot and want you to buy speakers DO IT! Who can pass up a pair of $2000 speakers for the low, low price of $250!

    3. Always check the coin return slots of pay phones for quarters. You probably won't find any but you will get all the germs of all the bums who stuck their fingers in the coin slot before you, thus building up your immunities and saving money by reducing doctor's visits.

    4. When you put your quarter in the newspaper machine open it up and take ALL of the papers. This won't save you money really but it's fun to steal! Plus maybe you could use them as toilet paper or something...or you could make a lot of fun party hats.

    5. Buy stuff that's cheap BUT don't buy stuff that's NOT cheap.

    6. If you still live in 1990 when you receive the 3.5" floppies from AOL featuring their free software, just reformat them and use them as blanks. You can fit a lot of these puppies in the pockets of your Members Only jacket. USB drives? Bah!

    7. Anything that's on sale buy it.

    8. Get lots of credit cards. All you do is show it at stores and you get free stuff. Beware though: This will increase the amount of mail that you receive.

    9. Avoid debit cards, they never seem to work for me.

    10. Avoid costly transportation such as "cars" or "trucks" and stick to cheaply maintained and environmentally friendly means of transportation such as a skateboard. You'll thank me later when you and Yabbo are gleaming the cube.
  17. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    Bankruptcy lawyer here. Three biggest mistakes we make are:

    1. Too much rent or house payment. Your rent should be a quarter or less of your take home pay.

    2. Too much car payment. If you can swallow your pride and always drive a car that's paid for, you'll likely be ahead the rest of your life. At a minimum buy a used reliable model rated well by Consumer Reports. Drive it into the ground.

    3. Use of credit cards. I know very few people who can keep zero balances month to month. If you can't pay cash, you don't need it.

    My wife and my happiest times were when we were the poorest and used the laundrymat. Enjoy this time of your life.
  18. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Their, Fixed if for you! :D
  19. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    This is something I would like to start doing within the next few months. I know very little about these matters, though, so I need to get educated before I start investing my money in such a manner. Seems to make good financial sense, though, especially considering the my Social Security may or may not be available when I'm older.
  20. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Easy fix - I make my own beer. Based on ingredients, it costs me roughly $.50/bottle to make it, and it beats the heck out of any beer you could buy that cheap. We'll be doing some cost efficient drinking! :D