Have you seen that McDonald’s and Visa came up with a budget for “their average worker” that brings in $2000 a month? It’s freaking hilarious. Here’s a quick summary:
An Actual Budget
Okay, so that is obviously not a realistic budget for most people. It just seems to assume you don’t pay for some things and can roll things like food into a daily amount of leftover money and be fine. And $2000 a month is obviously very little to live on.
BUT, Mr. BFS and I actually lived on $2000 a month during college and the year after (2005-2006). So, here it goes, a realistic $2000 budget for two people that has actually worked before…
Actual $2000 Per Month Budget for Two People
- Savings – $150
- Rent (550 sq. ft. apartment in Houston, TX - also could be attained with roommates) – $400
- Food (groceries and value menus, baby!) – $350
- Car Payment (my Chevy Aveo) – $225
- Car Insurance (2 vehicles, one was paid off) – $150
- Gasoline – $150
- Health Insurance (was supplemented by our jobs) – $100
- Utilities (Electricity, Water, and Garbage – small space) – $125
- Cell Phones (two basic phones on the same plan) – $75
- Cable (we used this as our during the week fun ) – $120
- Monthly Meds – $30
- Cash/Entertainment – $125
- Total = $2000
That $2000 after taxes is about what I was making as a full-time cubicle worker plus what Mr. BFS brought in from working at Gamestop for minimum wage for 20-30 hours a week.
Making Extra Money
We threw anything extra that we made from hobby jobs into our savings so we could buy our own house faster. I worked a shift every Saturday at a bookstore for $7.50 an hour, and Mr. BFS was reffing basketball and football for $60 an evening, 2-3 evenings a week. Combined, we were throwing in about $1000 extra per month into savings. That could also be used as padding when crap happened with our cars or with life in general.
Also, we could use that entertainment and cash on anything (including tithing if that is close to your heart). I volunteered with the Houston SPCA through this time of our lives, so we spent the cash and entertainment money on fun stuff like movies and saved it up for inexpensive weekend road trips.
We didn’t have that much free time though. His shifts could be any 3-4 days of the week at Gamestop, plus 3 random evenings of reffing. I worked Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm, volunteered 2-3 evenings a week at the HSPCA, and had that Saturday shift at the bookstore. We fit in fun where we could and watched tv or read a book (borrowed from family or the library) every night before we headed to bed.
My Take – Possible But Not Fun
The $2000-a-month life was stressful. And cramped.
Our contented spot really happened from late 2006 through 2010, when we were bringing in $4800 a month after taxes from just our full-time day jobs and living on $3500 a month (that budget is in my new eBook, Managing Your Monthly Nut, which is free until July 21, 2013).
I was still a cubicle worker at that point ($30,000 a year), and Mr. BFS was a teacher ($42,000 a year). That gave us the opportunity to live somewhere larger (a 1000 sq. ft 1 bedroom apartment for $730, and then a 1750 sq. ft. house for $1000 including property taxes), and we could save more but still have regular fun too. We each still had hobby jobs. In fact, in 2010, I started blogging.
Overall, it is possible to live on very little, but it wasn’t fun for us. And if you live in a higher cost of living area than Houston, it requires sacrifices like having multiple roommates just to stay at $500 a month or less for rent. That’s stressful sometimes too.
What do you think? Is $2000 a month doable? Was the McDonald’s budget just weird on its breakdown?