2013 Sample $1000 Monthly Budget

by Andy Hough on May 9, 2013

One of the most popular posts on this site is the “Sample $1000 Monthly Budget.” That post is over five years old now so I’ve decided to do a new $1000 budget for 2013. There has been some inflation in the last five years but I’m still easily able to live on a $1000 monthly budget.

A common criticism of the budget is that it isn’t realistic. This budget is based on my actual expenses and I’m real (I’m not the Easter Bunny) so the budget is realistic. Not everyone can live on this budget but many people can. If you’re single, in good health, live in a low cost of living area, and don’t have any debt payments this should be an achievable budget. I currently live in Kansas City, MO but have also lived on a similar budget in Reno, Las Vegas, Dallas, Austin and rural Virginia.

Rent (actual)

$365

Electric

$20

Phone (actual)

$26.81

Food

$120

Health Insurance (actual)

$64.83

Car Insurance (actual)

$37.87

Savings for irregular expenses

$100

Entertainment

$100

Gasoline

$110

Internet (actual)

$15.96

Miscellaneous

$39.53

Total

$1000

The rent, health insurance, car insurance, and phone are all my actual, fixed monthly totals.

My rent, utilities, phone, and health insurance are lower than they were five years ago.  The rent is cheaper because I found a really good deal in a small apartment complex. The utilities are cheaper because I have an all electric apartment and no longer have to pay a gas bill.  My actual electric bills have always been smaller than $20 so far since I live in a third floor apartment with south facing windows that rarely requires me to use heat.  I probably will have to use the A/C this summer but based on my past electric bills a $20 average monthly electric bill is realistic.  My health insurance is slightly cheaper than it was five years ago but only because I raised my deductible from $5000 to $10,000.  I purchase my health insurance through eHealthInsurance which has lots of relatively low cost plans available. My phone is with Virgin Mobile and I get 300 anytime minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited data. That is plenty for me.

The food, car insurance, gasoline, and miscellaneous expenses all went up. Although I think I should still be able to eat for $100 a month I usually spend about $120 a month so I’m using the higher amount.  Food prices have definitely been affected by inflation over the past five years.  My car insurance is quite a bit higher.  Most of that is probably because I had an at-fault accident a couple of years ago. Otherwise, I think there would have only been a modest increase in my insurance premium.  Gasoline costs about the same now as it did in  May 2008 but I drive a little more and increased the expense amount to reflect that.  I also increased the miscellaneous expense a little to account for other small items that may have been affected by inflation.

I’ve kept the budget amount for irregular expense savings and entertainment the same. The savings for irregular expenses covers car registration, maintenance, and any other predictable but irregular expenses.  I’ve yet to spend $100 on entertainment this year and generally spend much less than that. I’m keeping the entertainment amount at $100 since I’ll probably take a couple of trips this year that will be covered by the entertainment budget.

My monthly expenses so far this year have ranged from a low of $822.34 to a high of $1075.78. That shows that a $1000 monthly budget is realistic for me.  I think it is an easily achievable budget for people in similar circumstances as me.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 My Frugal Miser May 9, 2013 at 8:07 am

You make a compelling case that an individual can live on $1,000 per month quite reasonably. We have been trying to eat less meat, which really helps keep our food cost down. Relying on my bicycle more will help with gas and is a great alternative transportation for someone trying to keep to this budget.

My electric bill is higher but there are three of us – per person we’ve been just under $20/month over the mild winter months that defines the Tampa Bay area. I am curious about your $20 electric bill. How many kilowatt-hours are you using every month? What size is your refrigerator/freezer and how often do you use the stove/oven? Do you have a washer/dryer? I would like to lower our electric bill and am brainstorming some aggressive measures like getting a smaller fridge and what to do about the water heater. We already air dry our clothes so the dryer is mostly used for towels.

I will have to check with Humana to see if I can raise my deductible to $10,000 from $5,000. I am in the process of raising the deductibles to $10,000 for my rental properties. Seems like a no brainer since insurance should really be for disasters and unexpected crises.

2 Blogging Banks May 9, 2013 at 8:47 am

You rent is really cheap for Kansas City. Rent in a one bedroom apartment is typically 500/month in the low end to 600+/month.

Are you living in a nice area? Would you mind just sharing the area where one can find rent this cheap for a one bedroom apt.

3 Andy Hough May 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I live North of the River in a good and safe area. I have a studio apartment rather than a one bedroom. The apartment building I live in is old and the common areas are pretty crappy but my actual apartment is acceptable. Doing a Craiglist search I found lots of apartments available in this price range and they aren’t all in the ghetto.

4 Andy Hough May 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Even this budget could be reduced. I could eat for less. I could get rid or my car or at least drive it less.

I used 72 kwh last month. I don’t have a washer/dryer and rarely use the stove/oven. I usually use the microwave or my electric grill when I have hot food. The hot water comes from a central boiler which I’m sure saves me a lot of money because I take looong, hot, showers. I have a full size refrigerator although it is smaller than what most people currently have. You are doing pretty well at $20 per person. I was also working 65 hours a week the last few months so I wasn’t home to use the electricity that much. I’m sure my bill will go up over the summer.

The health insurance may not be too much cheaper with the higher deductible. Once the Obamacare health insurance requirement goes into effect, health insurance with a $10,000 deductible won’t be considered acceptable coverage. I’ll probably qualify for a subsidy so I might get better insurance for less money. I’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

5 Cindy Brick May 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm

You’re not the Easter Bunny??
It would be tough to get a $365 price for a studio apartment in the Denver area. Our oldest daughter lives in the one of the cheaper parts of town (Capitol Hill), and pays $595 for a studio apartment. That doesn’t include utilities, either.
But she doesn’t pay for cable or Internet. There are ways to save in every situation.

6 The First Million is the Hardest May 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I think I could live on each of those amounts. But I don’t know how you have a $20 electric bill, especially if your apt is all electric. Do you write by candle light?!

7 Penni May 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Andy,

I came across your website a couple of months ago and really enjoy your articles. SOOOOO many people are living sooooooo above their means. I am 40+ creeping up on 50. I do live in an expensive area (San Diego), I a major airline in LAX, so I spend well over $400 on gas. I do have an international calling on my phone just in case of extreme emergencies. I do have to pay for food on the road, because I am limited to what I can bring, especially in other countries. I have never earned more than 40K a year. Usually my husband and I make about 60K combined. My mortgages are (home and small rental unit) $2000 of which the renter pays $700. My husband is a bit of a foodie, so we enjoy dining out and we take 2-4 trips a year (sometimes out of the country). Also my husband races a vintage (read….hard to find parts for) motorcycle 4 times a year, in CA, UT, CA & AL.

Saying all of that we are still able to max out my 401K, every year since 2001 (my husband doesn’t have one any more he lost that job in 2010). Our home and rental are currently worth (zillow) $626K, we owe $300K. But the shocker to most of my friends in the same earnings group is what our 401K, rollover IRA, Roth IRA’s and savings total are approx $625K. Close to $1M in net worth, making 35K & 25K a year and living in San Diego, CA.

I don’t feel deprived or like I am missing out on anything…..for Pete’s sake I live in one of the best cities EVER and spend time working all over the country and certain parts of the world. Luckily I don’t like malls, prefer thrift stores over Macy’s or Nordstrom, wear a uniform, travel for pennies on the dollar and have never had a car payment.

I do however believe there is always room for improvement, you inspire me! We couldn’t realistically live on $1000 each, because that is our house payment. I am able to save more than 30% of our gross income every year and get to donate approx. 5% to charity every year. I would love to get to the point where we are able to save 50%, or pay down a little bit more to our mortgage(which we pay a little extra to each month) than we are paying now.

Thank you for your hints, tips, suggestions etc. Keep them coming!

Penni

8 Andy Hough May 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Denver is more expensive than KC. One would probably need a roommate to have a $1000 monthly budget there.

9 Andy Hough May 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

The electric bill does seem awfully low even to me. Now that I’m not working as much and it is getting warmer I’m sure it will go up, but I think it will still be really cheap.

10 Andy Hough May 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Thanks, I’m glad you like the blog. You are doing great saving that much money while living in a high cost area and not having that high of an income.

11 Nightvid Cole October 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

1. If your lifestyle depends on a car you need to put something in for replacing it every ~10 years. $100/month might be reasonable ($14k car every 10 years or $7k car every 5 years).

2. Rent that cheap is usually not available near big job centers
3. It may not be worth having such a low food budget given the extra time you will need to spend on food-related activities (cooking, washing dishes, etc.). One thing I’ve noticed repeatedly is that a lot of frugal living discussions seem to omit the issue of the value of your time. But as a busy grad student that is juggling teaching, preparing for more job hunting, and research, I must say that to simply ignore this issue doesn’t do justice. I COULD cut my food budget down to something absurdly low like $120, but at the expense of no longer having the time to do what I need to do to get my degree in a timely manner and thereby increase my income. My food budget currently is about $250/month. Would it REALLY make sense to spend $120, but then have a future income loss equivalent to an additional $200-$300/month since I’d be spending more time on food and might take a semester longer to get a PHD than I otherwise would?

12 Andy Hough October 26, 2014 at 9:22 am

Yes, it probably would make sense to have an item for car replacement in the budget. I could do without a car in my current location though.

That rent was based on my actual rent. Rent this cheap isn’t available everywhere, but it is available in many places.

This food budget included a lot of fast food and convenience foods. I’m sure I spent less time than most on cooking and preparing food.

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