How Much Do You Hve Left over Each Month After Bills?

Updated on August 28, 2011
M.W. asks from Elkridge, MD
29 answers

Just wondering if any of you would be willing to share how much $$ you have left (if any) for misc items and clothing after all bills, mortgage, food and gas are accounted for?? Want to know if I'm spending too much on certain things like insurance, and food bc we hardly have anything left at end of month!!
What's your budget for clothes each month with little left over??

I do have a 401k I put minimally into biweekly, but without that, if anything were to come up at end of month, we wouldn't even be able to put anything away for savings!

We are in Maryland so I know answers will vary.. Just want to know if spending too much on any following?
Family of 4:
Health insurance- $600/mo
Car insurance- $150/mo
Car payments for 2 cars- $490/mo
Electricity- $200-$300/mo (depending on season)
Cable- $150/mo
2 Cellphones (don't have landline)- $80/mo
Mortgage- $2000/mo
Gas 200/mo
Food 350-500mo

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answers from Cincinnati on

We have right around $1,000 a month once everything is paid for. We do eat out, and spend "fun money" to do things with the kids. I'm known to go into Target for shampoo or diapers and come out with about $50+ of things. We should save a lot more than we do. I put $200 into savings each pay. (bi-weekly.)

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answers from Washington DC on

we only have the mortgage and typical electrical, gas, water, cable bills - so we have plenty left over...enough to allow us to go out to nice restaurants, etc.

We don't buy clothes that often. I'm a SAHM...we planned our finances on my husband's income alone...and in 2006 became a cash only family...and that was a HUGE change!! It's been wonderful now that my husband lost his job without any severance package and we had savings and while it's stressful - not nearly as bad if we had had credit cards on top of all this...

A family of 4 and a dog - we spend about $500 a month in food/groceries...NOT going out - but groceries.

Our insurance is bundled - car, home, personal property, etc. all under one roof and since we've been with them since 1984 - we get great service and GREAT prices!! We have full coverage on our 2001 Grand Caravan and 2004 Honda CR-V with a $250 deductible and our rate is $800.00 per year.

Gas - my husband when he was working took the metro in every day - so it was just my car we were putting gas in and that was about $100 a month.

I would go to the library and check out Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman to see what they say about getting it all under control. What works for me might not work for you...


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answers from St. Louis on

I think ideally you should start/end the month with a zero balance. Not because you have zero dollars, but because you should have allocated money to each 'section' (mortgage and house bills, car bills, groceries and gas, savings, misc spending, etc).

So I think what you are really asking is how much money after the necessary bills are paid do people have left over each month (at least that is how I read it).

We both automatically put money into our 401Ks each pay period and at the end of the month I put money in a 'celebration' (birthdays, anniversarys, etc), college (for the two kids) and savings (overall for emergencies) fund. The amount that goes into there each month depends on what things we purchased or spent money on that month. If we needed tires for one of our cars, then obviouisly that $5-600 will not be going into savings.

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answers from Dallas on

We don't "technically" budget. I pay bills as they come in. I am also the one who runs payroll (myself and hubby) for our company as well as all the financials. We do eat out a lot and I am at the grocery store daily.

I manage bills daily with my list of what I expect to come in and appx how much they will be. Our water bill was $630 last month and our electric went down $10 to $322 (not bad for 4000 SF house and we do not skimp on the temps, etc)

When my grocer or butcher has a special or deal on something we like, I stock up. For instance, my daughter LOVES Honey Nut Cheerios and the huge boxes were on sale the other day 3/$10.... I bought 6 boxes. When Target had cream of chicken soup for .50/can, I bought at least a dozen cans, tuna was 5/$3... I bought 10 cans. You get the gist. I don't coupon, I just shop smart.

Regarding insurance... there are ways to save on that. We have Farmers and our coverage includes our house, jewelry rider, umbrella and cars.

We get discounts (small but discounts small but they add up) for:
security system in the house,
car security systems
defensive driving for daughter (she just got her license)
daughters grades
daughter watched a 10 minute video at Farmers and got a discount.

We pay about $2500/yr for the House/Jewelry policy
$550 a year on umbrella (business related inventory coverage)
2000 every 6 months on car insurance. We all 3 drive Mercedes and it is pricey to insure them. HOWEVER, my 6 month premium for car insurance is actually around $2300. You have a choice to pay1/2 and then 1/2 in another 30 days OR, if you pay in full, you save about $300. We always opt for the discount and pay in full, even though that takes a chunk out of the bank for the month.

We do not escrow. We prefer to make interest although very small vs a mortgage company using our money. We know we have a property tax bill at the end of the year and we know when all insurances will be due. We prepare for that ahead of time.

All that said, we run our company from home so we don't put a lot of mileage on our cars except when hubby is on the road making sales calls. Most of the time, he flies and rents a car which is all expensed through our company. We do eat lunch out almost daily to step away from the home office.

I micro manage our company and personal financials and produce a detailed report daily. This includes the 1 credit card we use which is always paid in full by the time the statement even cuts.

We are fortunate to be doing well in this economy, however, part of our success is that we are huge planners, believe in no debt, living beneath our means and delayed gratification.

You can be successful with whatever you $ you bring in as long as you plan it out and know where to cut some costs. Good luck to you.

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answers from Dallas on

We have little to nothing left. I am working on cutting down my food bill in order to help a little bit. Shop around for insurance and see if you can't get a better rate. It would help .

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answers from New York on

These kinds of questions confuse me because does that mean you guys don't save anything each month? Does a portion of your salary go automatically into a savings acount and the rest into a special account for monthly expenses? I have no idea how much we have left each month because we have several bank accounts as well as a large savings account online.

As far as your numbers, yes, sounds about right. Your electricity seems a bit high, in my opinion. Does your cable include your internet connection? Our cable includes internet, cable and phone. You might call your car insurance and cable and see if they will give you a lower rate. We spend almost 700 a month on insurance for just 3 of us.

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answers from Dallas on

I get paid tomorrow and have already budgeted - I have $109.19 until my next paycheck but I still need gasoline and food. It goes quick but at least, my rent, electric, daycare and main bills are paid:)

I am really struggling as a single mom! I am on the edge/cusp and make too much to get financial asistance but hardly enough to make it from check to check! Crazy:)

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answers from New York on

In theory? Nothing- we have money that stays in our checking for bills, money that goes into 401/403 and then cash allocated for housekeeper, eating out and gifts. "Extra" money goes directly into one of three savings accounts.

We recently called around regarding our car insurance and switched to a different carrier- literally saving $1200 a year! We're working on our home owner's policy now.

I don't buy clothing monthly. If something is coming up that I need clothing for, great. Otherwise, I try really hard not to buy something on impulse. Target is the WORST store to go into... that place is one giant impulse buy waiting to happen!

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answers from Seattle on

I'm with JoW on this one. My exact numbers won't help you because our areas are so different.

Case in Point:

100k in our area is solid middle middle class. Enough to be in the black MOST of the time, but not enough to really save a lot (if any) or send your kids to private school. It is the SAME as making 35k in Peoria IL. (Where I have family, so I can compare). 40k in our area is like 10k in Peoria. 150 is upper middle class in our area, but not wealthy. Just comfortable/ able to save.

Cost of living in Seattle, San Fransisco, & New York are pretty durn close. NY has higher rents, Seattle has higher living expenses (like food and childcare, which are roughly 3x as expensive as NY. It was a crackup this summer in NYC when we realized if we doubled our housing expenditure, our "outgo" from living here in Seattle would be about the same... just because everything else is less expensive on Manhatten than it is here in Seattle). These are the 3 "most overpriced" cities in the nation. LA has expensive housing, but misses being "overpriced" because cost of living is SO variable by NEIGHBORHOOD.

I don't buy clothes every month. I buy my son clothes twice a year (fall and summer... we have 10 months of 1 kind of weather, and 2 months of another... I buy at the start of each "season"). I buy 1 dress or pair of pants, a handful of camisoles, 1 pair of shoes, and 1 bra a year on average.

We don't have credit cards, so we're quite limited to what we can pay for in cash. It's not ideal (just had to cash out our 401k at a major loss) because of an emergency.

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answers from Dallas on

hopefully nothing. i say that because 20% goes to my 401(k) and another 10-15% goes to savings, son's college fund, and roth. plus there's church tithing in there too.

I budget it down pretty tight so I'm maximizing my savings.

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answers from Houston on

nothing....if we ever have any extra there is something it has to go to, for example, we are replacing every toilet in our other property next check, the check after that the remainder is allocated towards siding.

Im just happy we arent in debt

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answers from Pocatello on

We probably have about $200 left - which generally goes into savings, or a dinner out.

once our car is paid off that will be a HUGE load off! that might amount to another $300 to save. We *hope* the next care we get will be bought outright with savings so we wont be wasting money on interest.

The only time we have money to spend is at tax time, that is when we get all our big "extras" taken care off, after we put a large chunk of our return towards bills. This year we hope we can pay off our car! I stay at home, but it really wouldn't help if I worked, because daycare for 2 toddlers around my area costs more than I would make, and it would require us to buy ANOTHER car, and feed it gas and the commute to the nearest town with any employment available is 1.5 hours (one way), so working opposite hours of my husband would be almost impossible...

Our family is eligible for food stamps, and I am torn between doing what we do now and applying for them, because having a little extra "breathing room" would be SO nice, but I have a hard time justifying it since we *can* scrape by on our own...

Our biggest savers; we cloth diaper, we don't use very many paper/disposable products, and we try to be good with our electrical bill and when we do buy clothes and other needs we go to second hand stores or we swap with freind and family. Having one car saves a lot too. We eat all our meals made from home except for about 1 a month as a treat. We save money on food by preparing it at home, and eating smaller portions. We try not to skimp on healthy foods though, even though they cost more- because if you are malnourished, or just not eating well, eventually you'll pay for it in doctor's bills!

But right now, I think everyone is tight, you just have to do what you can to get by! What matters is that you are healthy, safe, and happy!


Edit: after reading your costs... the areas to try and save would be Electric, Insurance, and possibly food (I don't know what kinds of foods you buy, your local cost of living or the ages of your kids... but I think that you might be able to save $ there, especially if you can cook double portions ahead of time and freeze half) Also, buy non perishables that you use in bulk, if possible. The upfront cost is more, but if you buy something like dried pasta, you can get TONS for only a few dollars at places like sam's club... and save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

For electric you probably know the best savers... unplug appliances that are not in use (don't leave toasters, hairdryers, coffee pots etc plugged in... turn down the heat in the winter (if you have central heating) a few degrees and use a space heater instead) turn off lights in rooms you don't use ETC.

I would *guess* you could get cheaper health insurance, if you all are healthy- no major illnesses. Depends on what your's covers of course, and what you need.

To save in the long run, OVERPAY on bills that have interest ever month, so instead of paying $490 on your car payments, try to pay $500... slowly your car payment amount will decrease, but keep over paying... in the end you will save a lot on interest, and when you can, try to pay your cars off completely.

we don't buy clothes monthly, maybe once a year we treat ourselves with a new outfit and shoes. If you have to buy clothes, go to consignment stores, thrift stores or ebay. So much stuff is in great or new condition for WAY less than retail, and you can buy good quality clothes, that no one will ever know are secondhand. I often get complemented on my wardrobe, but those designer jeans... $2.

I also forgot to mention that I make things myself. If I see a product that I HAVE TO HAVE but it is way to expensive, I price materials and make it in my free time. I sew clothes, bags etc, and make hair bows for my girls. I have some really awesome, nice looking and durable things that I made myself, and often you can find instructions to do so online for FREE!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Well I could tell you but it won't help your math. For starters we don't live in the same area. I know we have some of the cheapest gas in the country. I doubt we have the same amount on or mortgage.....

We have a family of four and spend on average $100 a week on food.

My insurance numbers won't help you either, we have different cars and homes, ya know. I do know increasing the deductibles cuts a lot off your insurance bills. You should never make a claim against your homeowners under a thousand anyway so there is no reason to not have your deductible at $1,000. I also keep my car deductible at $1,000 but that doesn't save me much because I have a good driving record. O well, every bit ya know.

Anyway hope that helps.

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answers from Houston on

Not much, it's kind of frightening and we live very frugally and I am worried about saving for college funds or emergencies! We are going to be returning to school (my hubs has a bachelors, me an associates) so hopefully we can get better employment. We cut a lot of corners (we don't have cable, fancy phones, fancy cars, we live in a cheap very old house.. I only have internet b/c I have an online business otherwise that would go too, we only buy clothes at the thrift store, our entire home is furnished w second hand furniture...)

We do have a small 401k for the hubs and pay church tithing. I am usually on top of pulling out for savings, but w recent job loss/relocation to a new job and everything, we have been struggling.

It always makes me sad when I hear about people going to Disney or whatever, that probably won't ever be us.

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answers from Dallas on

We have plenty left over. But you cannot compare yourself to others. If you don't have anything left and don't have an emergency fund, then you are spending too much.
I highly recommend Dave Ramsey for financial advise:

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answers from Washington DC on

I live in an area not to far away. People are amazed at our utility bills here in the D.C. metro area. I just switched to a lower rate. We hope to find a way to put solar panels on our home.
We cut out cable long ago after kids. We do have a landline, for many reasons.
We shop at thrift for most of our clothes.
Our food budget varies; as we have a garden, but mostly buy organic.
We rarely get to save and are trying to still cut as much as possible.



answers from Norfolk on

we have insurance through my husbands work and pay about 120 a month. our car insurance is 300 every 6 months. we dont have a car payment and our water is about 40 a month oh and our mortgage is 850 the rest is probably the same.



answers from Washington DC on

Health insurance, electric and your cable look high to me. Also, you could save on food (lots of coupons, buying on sale, stores like Aldi). I have the same issues though.
You could try and netflix or for TV and movies, then the electric should go down if you buy a few fans to use during the summer. Also, health insurance may just depend on your employer, but often there are different options. Maybe you could look at the other rates and try downgrading some.
Car insurance is often negotiable. If you call a few places and maybe take an online driver's training course a lot of companies will give you a discount.
There's a program called mint that you can use to monitor monthly expenses. It supposedly helps with savings...


answers from Austin on

This was a great conversation starter with my husband, since he does most of the budgeting.
For a family of three, here's our numbers.

$300 health insurance(not sure, automatically deducted)
$100 car insurance
? Homeowners insurance
$300 property tax
$257 car payment(other car is paid off)
$100 ($150 max-$40 minimum) electricity
$110 cable/internet
$30 water
$16 natural gas
$18 per year prepaid cellphones
$100 per year home phone
$600 home equity loan(we put in $3000 per month to pay ahead)
$140 gasoline
$500 food
20% of his pay to 401K
Also in Texas we have no state income tax.



answers from Cleveland on

the only reason that we have money left over is cause we get food stamps so we dont have to pay much for food. with 2 kids, and another on the way its expensive with bills and what not. i think we maybe have 50 a week after paying the bills. if that



answers from Topeka on

Don't have a mortgage payment don't have a car payment we pay 6 months of insurance,electricty right now has been $150.00 a month in winter it is up to 300.00,water is 100.00,dish 35.00,home phone 25.00 basic line no extras,cell mine 55.00,gas varies but I will fill up for under 40.00 that can last from 1-2 weeks depending on the need of me leaving the house,my husbands truck is around 80.00 he goes to work & back so about a 2 week fill up,groceries a week $140.00 for family of 5,we are having medical bills come in so all extra money will go towards to pay those,I try to only eat out when we have a busy schedule & don't want to come all the way home make lunch to go back out again.We don't live pay check to pay check on a current basis at times we will have to just because we paid off the bill in full from the dentist or drs office the car needed repair or something that we had to get extra.Not sure how much is left after bills all I know is that i'm able to get haircuts,clothing shoes,etc when needed


answers from San Antonio on

Health insurance comes out of husband's paycheck every other week, so not sure how much that is per month. We don't consider it in our budget, as we don't pay a bill for it each month.

We have very few bills, as most of ours have gotten paid off thanks to my husbands saving-savvy as a young guy. Every penny we have leftover at the end of the month goes towards building our new home. We currently have one sink, one toilet, and our tub is on cinder-blocks. We have a LOT to get done and each paycheck goes towards the house.

Your bills look about right except for:
Electricity - yikes. Expensive! At the hottest part of the year here in Texas we spend only $260 tops. In the fall, when we rarely use the a/c or heater, our electric bill is more like $50.
Cable - can you not get bunny ears? We pay $0 for our cable. We use hulu, netflix, and dvds. When we lived elsewhere, we used bunny ears and got almost all the channels (pbs, nbc, cbs, fox, etc).
Water - cheap. Nice :)
Mortgage - your house must be nice!
Gas - gasoline? We spend $550 a month for ours. Yours sounds great.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I we had left over. we are currently is a tough spot right now. My husband has a mandatory job change that cut our income by half and are about to loose our house. My husband decided to finish his degree so that our future will hopefully be brighter than it is right now. We are a family of 4 and currently only have $20 for or cloths budget, $300 for our misc budget that includes (food, diapers, dog food (yup we are thinking about find my pup a new home), household items like toilet paper and cleaner)basically the only money we can spent, We do manage to save $50 a month for our car maintenance (oil changes and repairs), our last fund is $40 for entertainment (out to dinner, movie, or camping). The rest of our money goes to pay insurances and utility bills. Absolutely nothing is left over to save. We are trying to get to a better place, but we aren't there yet. I guess when you've hit rock bottom that you can only go up.

My husband is working full time an going to school full time so I can't leave the kids with him to work. We've looked at day care but for what I would be bringing in we'd break even. I'm currently trying to land some work that I can do out of home, but nothing has worked out yet. We are rural area with limited resources. So to answer your question I'd say that we are currently not saving anything sadly.



answers from Washington DC on

For the most part it seems like your prices are right on. You may be able to get your car insurance and cable down, but only like $20 bucks a month.

Keep an eye on all the 'little things' that you buy throughout the month.... I think that's where a lot of us lose money without really noticing. But it all adds up.

Good Luck!


answers from Washington DC on

we are happy as long as long as we break even at $0 before the next paycheck. We do not eat out, spend money on clothes or buy any extras. Those are just our bills. After paying bills we have about $500-$600 per paycheck (every 2 weeks) for food, gas, hair cuts, and medical bills, and maybe once a paycheck to get a frozen yogurt with the kids. This school year, my MIL wanted to buy the kids their school supplies and clothes. I did not ask her to, but she offered and wouldn't take no for an answer. We do get some extra income with my photography business but it's really a hit or miss with that. It seems to come in spurts, so we don't really rely on it or count it in with our income.



answers from Phoenix on

Just looking at your numbers, I think you are doing pretty well. I don't live on the east coast (I'm in AZ) but it seams like you are spending "normal amounts" on normal things.
I am a SAHM and my husband works a city job so we always end the month with little or nothing. We do not have cable or cellphones (internet and landline are $60) and I shop at 4 different stores a week to buy food cheaper (family of 5, $150-200 max). We have two older paid off cars.
I know we live minimally right now, and will continue to until I go back to work. I know some people think you should cut back your spending if you don't have a huge emergency fund, but I have no idea where we would cut back and I think that is the case for a lot of people. If I did work, we would still break barely even since daycare for my 3 kids would negate any cashflow I bring in. :)



answers from Washington DC on

Sadly not enough. Only about 200 dollars left over. We are the the DC metro area and it is a high cost of living area. I work full time, and my husband is a stay at home dad. Having no daycare bill is huge for us, but it's still not enough. Your expenses seem very reasonable to me.



answers from Richmond on

Looking over your expenses, they seem pretty reasonable. Your food bill is cheap, your car payments are low. I would say the only things you can do for more money is 1. make more (obviously) - get a better paying job or a 2nd job and 2. cut out cable and any other small expenses you could possibly skip. The only other option would be to pay off your cars but w/out extra $ I can't see how unless you sell them and buy cheaper vehicles you could pay for outright.



answers from Washington DC on

I live in VA and this sounds pretty comparable to what we spend.

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