The Happy Rock’s Monthly Budget Expenses Revealed

by The Happy Rock on May 15, 2009

I haven’t been hiding our expenses, but the truth isn’t we haven’t really been paying attention.  Since we’ve gotten rid our debt except for the mortgage and established a fully funded emergency fund, we have earned the right not to budgetPants in a Can and DD post their expenses and take flak for it, so I figured I am not above that type of scrutiny.   I don’t want to be throwing money away when there are many other good causes and uses for that cash.

Let’s get right into it.

The Happy Rock’s expenses from 4/1/2008 to 4/1/2009:



Food – Wow!!!  I knew we spend a lot of food, but $800 plus a month on food.  If you do the per day calculations that is about $6.66 a day per person in the family.  The Rockette is a Registered Dietitian, so healthy food isn’t something she is willing to skimp on.  We buy mostly organic and as much raw fruits and veggies as possible.   The Rockette cooks most meals at home and other than snacks like bars and pretzels meals are made from scratch. We also have two boys(ages 18 months and 3.5 years) who eat all the time and I mean all the time, so that part will only get worse. Part of the high costs were organic formula for the baby.   The only bright lining I can find is that the amount is trending down and is now closer to $650-$700 in the last few months.  I also know that when we were in debt we weren’t nearly as picky about the food we ate, our dollars were better spent on debt.

Auto Maintenance – High because our 2003 Nissan Murano problems and having to replace 4 tires on both cars.

Auto Insurance – Includes $150 for AAA

Home Expenses – All in all, I think we are doing pretty well.  Total home costs of of under $1100 even with ridiculous NJ property taxes.  $3300 a year for a 1000 sqft condo with no land is staggering!   All our other bills are pretty reasonable since someone is at home 24/7.

Household Misc. – This is the Target runs, diapers, wipes and the like.  It could be categorized better, but I don’t go through the receipts to break it out into special categories, so a lot of that spending would be broken up into things like clothing, decorations, etc.  It is still a pretty sizable expense.

Child Care – This is for a single sitter who comes to our house and watches both boys 18 hours a week while The Rockette works.  It is a sizable return on investment since The Rockette makes nice money as a consultant.  The boys will be starting preschool in a few weeks which will cause this expenses to go up a little.

All the other costs are reasonable or very good for a vibrant family of 4 in my opinion in an above average cost of living area.

The only other note would be that the monthly and yearly spending is significantly below our income.  We spend way less than we earn and always have which is why we were able to destroy $70,000 in debt , buy a house, adopt two children, put a decent chunk into retirement, and fully fund our emergency fund in the last 5 years or so.

So there you have it.  Let me have it.   Criticism, bashing, whatever, I am up for it.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

MLR May 15, 2009 at 12:32 am

The thing that obviously jumps out is the groceries. Even buying organic… I can’t imagine spending that much per day.

The gas also seems a bit high.

And unfortunately the vacation seems low :(

But, like you said, you guys spend a lot less than you earn so in the grand scheme of things… who cares? Spend it how it makes you happy!


Debt Destroyer May 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm

The grocery total jumped out at me. We have a similar family makeup and I was surprised to see your figures almost twice as high as mine. But I understand that “fresh & healthy” are expensive so I’ll cut you some slack there. :)

The only other number that seemed high to me was Household Misc. But again I’m not going to give you much grief because I have the same problem (In fact I’m going to devout a separate post on this soon).

Now let me say that I’m super jealous of the medical expense. All that healthy eating must pay off! Good for you guys. Hopefully it will stay that low.

Also, BRAVO for being so generous.

I’m sure you will be, but make sure to be just as generous to yourself as the kids get older. As MLR pointed out, there didn’t seem to be “fun” in your rundown.

Something else I noticed that wasn’t listed was life insurance. I understand that personal philosophies vary greatly on this subject, but if you’d like to change your family tree, life insurance can play an important role in doing so.

I also was surprised at the low total of your home insurance. But that might be what a 1000 sf condo can be covered for. I have no idea.

**Sorry, I don’t mean to focus so much on insurance, but a year ago that was my world so it comes natural.**


Glow Imagery May 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Your giving is awesome!

What’s up with the cheap cell phone service? Is that two cans and a string?

That’s a lot for groceries, but you did awesome on the eating out so it kind of blunts the grocery bill.

You have to keep budgeting though, that keeps the whole house on the same page and using those habits.

Keep up the good work!


Jacquelin May 16, 2009 at 1:09 pm

My suggestions: For clothes-garage sale. They are worth the time. I just got my daughter 4 pair of shorts for 10cents each. I clothe everyone in my family as much as I can from garage sales. So far this year, I have spent 64.25 and am almost done for the year. (4 kids, hubby and me)
Also-look for home decor and gifts this year at garage sales-I’ve noticed that a lot of people are trying to “downsize” and get rid of the non-necessities. I’ve seen a lot of decor and small appliances at the sales this year.
The food situation: you just have to limit. It’s a hard thing…I know. this is a day at our house: 7a.m.-breakfast (oatmeal, bacon and eggs, pancakes, ect) 9:30-snack for my little one at home:(a carrot, celery with p.b., or a few crackers) 11:30 lunch-leftovers from last night or soup and salad 3:30-snack for all kids-usually fruit(orange, apple, grapes) 6:00 dinner. They get their fill at supper,(complete with a simple dessert) so I don’t have to worry about late night hungers. I figured out just how much we spend on food for a month: this is with acknowledgement that we live on a farm and raise our own beef and veggies-about $330/month. what works for my family is limiting.


Richard May 16, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Cool budget breakdown- interesting information…

$1100 for a condo in NJ is very very cheap actually.
Trying finding something like that CA?

Great blog layout too- this is my first time visiting!


Matt May 17, 2009 at 7:19 am

How do you guys deal with health insurance premiums?


The Happy Rock May 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for the great comments.

@MLR – Gas is high on average, since last year around this time gas was about $4.00 a gallon. The bill is half that now.

For vacation, we usually plan one big vacation but haven’t because having a baby really limits your options. We do also do a lot of camping and day trips which keep the costs down.

@DD – I will be taking a look at groceries, but I suspect $600 a month might be the low end with the type of food that we buy. It will be interesting to see.

The household misc. is bit high, usually that corresponds with how many times The Rockette gets out to Target and the like.

As far as fun, I have one big comment. ‘Fun’ is an attitude not an activity or a place or an item. We do lots of stuff. Zoo membership, lots of playgrounds, hiking, camping, amusement parks, etc. We just make sure we have coupons and bring a great attitude. For example, cardboard boxes can be a blast and cost almost nothing!

@Glow – We have two pre-paid plans with Virgin mobile that only require $20 every 3 months. We try not to use cell phones.

@Jacquelin – Thanks for the comment. Our schedule looks almost the same, except for the night time snacks. Our older boy eat more after dinner than most of the day and we make sure he eat dinner first. Crazy metabolism. Both our boys are ravenous! Plus buying organic in NJ is cost expensive and that is a cost we are willing to take. We think it translates into long term health and lower long term expenses and higher quality of life.

@Richard – We appreciate our condo and it was a great first house that helped us succeed financially. Time to move into something that accommodates our family better though.

@Matt and DD – I have a inexpensive pre-tax deduction for insurance through my employer which is a huge benefit. About $75 a month for good full family medical + dental, + life insurances and disabilities. Pretty sweet deal.


Mr.Choice May 17, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Great budget. It looks like your auto maintenance shows figures above $2700. Wow, and I thought I was paying more! Great post, nonetheless.


Sue May 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Low cell phone bill surprised me also. Great job on child care and entertainment. Hopefully gas and electric won’t drastically increase when you buy a new home. Great detail on the expenses.


Jonathan@Friends&Money November 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Great budget summary. I know that you created this a few years back but that’s what makes it more interesting because you get to compare income/expenditure at that point. It would be interesting to see how this all compares now! :)


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