My spending has seen extremes over the years. From $400 in a year when I had nothing except bottle returns (so lived outside and on strangers’ floors), to $4000/mo when I borrowed to save my son’s life, to $1300/mo when all was well and I got nicely frugal…
In 2017, I spent $28k on the two of us. This doesn’t account for money moved into savings or investments, direct business expenses, or gifts to nonprofits -just the amount for us to stay alive and play.
A reasonable amount, especially considering we continue living in some of the most expensive regions, where rent or ownership alone commonly starts at $29k/yr for a family. At the same time, it’s a wild increase from the $1300/mo I was spending two years ago.
Our shelter cost has almost doubled in that time, from $450 to $800, but the new place is the cheapest one now available that meets our needs. I also paid $1000 for two post-secondary courses, in order to bring in much more in grant income.
The rest of the difference is sheer luxury: driving; Starbucks while I wait for my teen near his three-hour activities; fitness classes; a new hobby of music; whatever groceries we want.
Interestingly, I would credit a fair degree of those $15k years to the relationship I had at that time. He came with kids, and the lot of us spent heaps of time together hiking, attending free community events, and making stuff. Without that lovely glom of humans to play with, I’ve found myself spending a lot more to fulfill the social and recreational needs of me and my child. At the same time, that relationship was really, really hard on my psyche and my son’s psyche.
Currently, we’re both the healthiest and happiest we’ve ever been.
So will I aim to reduce expenses in 2018? No. $28k ($14k per person) seems to be the optimal amount for us to spend in our circumstances. It allows us to save and invest aggressively, give a lot, experiment and expand in business, build community, learn intensively, choose only healthy relationships, stay well, and feel extraordinary happiness. It took 29 years of working, learning, and experimenting to get here, and this seems to be the ideal balance for our household, all variables considered.
I’m nostalgic for that $1300/mo budget, but the $28k is just right now.