Not long ago I wrote on how to make a budget plan. If you really want a detailed look at how to set up a reasonable budget for yourself then take a look there. If you are learning to budget or just want some easy to follow numbers though then I’ll try to break it down in this post.
Since I don’t know your specific situation I’m going to use some very broad assumptions.
I’m going to base this sample budget on someone working full time at $10/hr. That’s probably a pretty safe number for someone who is just getting out on their own.
If you make less than that then you’ll have to cut some of the numbers below. If you make more then follow the budget below and save the rest!
Here’s a sample average monthly budget for a single person:
- $135 – Savings
- $135 – Charity
- $375 – Rent
- $100 – Utilities
- $50 – Cell Phone
- $100 – Car Payment
- $75 – Gas
- $80 – Car Insurance
- $140 – Food
- $200 – Healthcare
That totals $1,390 per month which should be close to what your take-home pay is at $10/hour and 40 hours/week.
Breaking Down The Numbers
Giving and Saving
I put these first on the list because I believe they’re the two most important things.
You might be thinking that there’s no way you can afford to put $270 per month towards saving and charity. I highly highly discourage you from cutting those out of your budget. The earlier you can establish those disciplines in your life the easier it will be.
Out of all the numbers in the sample budget above the amount for housing seems really slim. $375 for rent won’t get you much more than a shack in most places. But if you can snag a roommate you should be able to find a decent apartment for $750.
Depending on where you live utilities may be included with your rent. If so that gives you an extra $100 you can put towards another category.
I also included $50 for a cell phone. Even though you could live fine without a cell phone very few people are going to give their phone up. $50 per month should be plenty to cover this expense.
Unless you live in a city where you can walk everywhere you are going to have transportation expense.
$100 per month for a car payment is enough to get you a car in the $4,000 – $5,000 range. You shouldn’t have any problem finding a reliable car in this price range. It may not be the sweetest ride, but it’s in your budget.
With a car come the necessary expenses of gas and insurance. Most insurance companies like for you to pay every 6 months, but you can usually get them to break it out into monthly payments.
If you shop around you can probably find an average monthly car insurance payment of $80 or less.
This is one of the easiest categories to blow. The average cost of food per month for one person isn’t much if you eat at home.
But, if you eat out a lot $140 isn’t going to cut it. Eating at home is so much cheaper.
That doesn’t meat you can’t ever go grab a burger, but limit it to a couple of times per month.
When I was in college my food budget was $25 per week. I ate a lot of ramen noodles and hot dogs.
This will always be a big part of your budget throughout your entire life. Healthcare is expensive.
If you’re under 26 you may be able to get coverage under your parents’ insurance at a reasonable rate.
If you can’t get coverage that way then see if you can get coverage at a discount through your school.
Otherwise do a lot of shopping around. Insurance rates vary wildly from company to company.
A Note on Frugality
When you’re single and have a limited income frugality is your friend. Always be looking for ways to save money.
- Don’t be afraid to use coupons.
- Share a house or apartment with more than 1 roommate
- Learn to love cheap meals like pasta
- Don’t have a pet
- Don’t smoke
- Buy as many things second hand as you can (furniture, clothes, etc.)
- Use free WiFi instead of paying for internet
- Subscribe to Netflix and get movies for a month for the same price as going to 1 movie in the theater.
Living on a budget when you’re young (or not young) may not be the most appealing thing. But it’s a great discipline that will keep you out of debt and give you a jump start to a better financial future as you move forward in life.