I’ve never been real big on new year’s resolutions, but resolutions in general have interested me more and more in the last few years, and why not start at the new year if that’s convenient for you? A few years ago, Sunny and I decided to be vegan for a year. And we did it. For a full year. It wan’t easy at first, and I made some stupid mistakes. Naan has egg in it. It says so right on the package, but I somehow missed that ingredient when I read the label. A friend politely pointed it out to me and without making me feel like an idiot. It got easier though, and I discovered a lot of different types of food and recipes and just some great nutritional information. It was a good year, and even though we’re not vegan anymore (we’re still vegetarians and have been for almost ever), we still eat healthy food and some of our favorite meals are still vegan.
So, in 2016, we’ve got a new plan. We’ve decided to create a tight, but realistic budget of $28,600. Of course, everyone has to figure out for themselves what that healthy balance is between tight and realistic. Too tight and you’ll just give up. I imagine if we decided to resort back to the days of flip phones, we’d be able to save a lot of money, but do we want to go in that direction? We could also stop paying eight dollars a month for Netflix, but if we didn’t have that, we might be more likely to rent movies and end up spending more than eight dollars a month on entertainment.
When creating a new budget, there are a lot of things that are nonnegotiable. Rent, for example. You can of course decide to move into a cheaper place, but once you’ve found the place you’re going to live, you can’t just cut back one month to save money. You live there, and that’s how much it costs to live there. Similarly, your minimum student loan payment, your car insurance, your phone bill…
There are also the unforeseen expenses, like car repairs. In the last twelve months we’ve averaged $75 per month on car repairs, so that’s what I put in the 2016 budget, but there’s no telling if it will be more or less. I have to have a car to get to work, so if it breaks, we’ll spend the money to fix it. That $75 includes two pretty major repairs as well as a bunch of smaller repairs. This year I’ll probably get back into the habit of working on the car myself.
Back to that $28,600. Maybe that’s not realistic—there has been at least one family member who suggested we may starve to death—but we’ve made unrealistic goals for ourselves before, and we’ve met those goals. We’ve also failed before. Like the time we thought we’d camp in ninety degree weather with our one-year-old, two dogs and a cat while we road tripped from Minnesota to Washington. We ended up staying in hotels with air conditioning. BringFido is pretty handy. Anyway, we’re not going to be too upset if we can’t quite stay within our budget, but I hope we come close. And I’m sure we’ll learn something along the way.
Sunny and I are still working out the budget. Once we have that figured out, I’ll share it with you and then I’ll share all of our spending, month by month, for the next year.
Ok. Here we go.