Budgeting

Budget Wars: My Early Retirement Journey vs A Purple Life

I have been enjoying reading A Purple Life’s journey and thought she’d serve as a good metric in the frugal FIRE since there are not many published single girl budgets out there. While so entitled, this is not actually a war. I just like data!

After my end of year financial update, I thought I was doing very well, especially in my food spending. That was an area I was prepared to cut, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I still use the USDA food allowance of $200/mon for a household of one as a guide. And I was well below that at $119/mon for groceries. Kudos for this single girl!

Then A Purple Life offered another metric, and I just had to see how I did. Could I do better or am I already killing it?! Let’s take a look…

A Purple Life My Early Retirement Journey Difference (APL-MERJ) %Difference
Monthly Bills $11,393.73 $13,981.00 $2,587.27 -22.71%
Rent $10,074.50 $11,965.00 $1,890.50
Phone $299.48 $50.00 $249.48
Internet $281.07 $0.00 $281.07
Electric $256.95 $408.00 -$151.05
Water/Sewer/Gas $344.69 $0.00 $344.69
Transit $137.04 $1,558.00 -$1,420.96
Changelings $2,978.67 $2,354.00 $624.67 20.97%
Groceries $1,192.65 $1,431.00 -$238.35
Eating Out $760.82 $923.00 -$162.18
Alcohol $809.19 $0.00 $809.19
Parties $216.01 $0.00 $216.01
Vacation $2,379.85 $520.00 $1,859.85 78.15%
Rainy Days $650.24 $3,726.00 $3,075.76 -473.02%
Household goods $190.32 $523.00 -$332.68
Clothing $20.41 $39.00 -$18.59
Entertainment $207.25 $369.00 -$161.75
Medical $23.65 $2,087.00 -$2,063.35
Grass $28.00 $0.00 $28.00
Vision $44.40 $0.00 $44.40
Furniture $173.49 $708.00 -$534.51
Longterm $313.06 $786.00 -$472.94 -151.07%
Electronics $10.09 $18.00 -$7.91
Credit Card Fees $95.00 $0.00 $95.00
Gifts $90.88 $506.00 -$415.12
Blog $117.09 $262.00 -$144.91
Year End Total $17,715.55 $21,367.00 -$3,651.45 -20.61%
Actual year end total: $33,533 (difference of +$12,166)

I used her categories and compared it to like categories in my budget. Her categories were about 2/3 of my budget. One could say there is room to trim in My Early Retirement Journey.

Monthly Bills

I spent about 22% more than she did in this category. That’s kind of high I suppose considering NC is considerably more affordable than the West Coast. And here I thought my rent was pretty affordable albeit a huge chunk of my budget (more than the recommended 30%). However, I get my own space and she is splitting a 1-bedroom apartment with her partner.  Even my phoneless existence and lowered utilities don’t help make up the difference.  I don’t plan on moving or giving up my car, so not much room for improvement here unfortunately.  There goes $2,500!

Changelings

As I mentioned before, I was pleased as punch with my monthly and yearly grocery expense.  She knocked me out of that category as well! Darn it! Eating out I also was patting myself on the back for because I think I do a pretty good job of stretching a take-out meal. Oh well. I only inched out a victory because I really don’t understand the point of alcohol and I don’t have any friends (i.e. no parties). Don’t really see this category changing much though. I don’t really enjoy comparison shopping, and feeding myself comes before feeding myself for less.

Vacation

Well, I don’t know if this is a good category to win or not considering I didn’t go anywhere last year. So I saved a whopping $1,800 in this category. This is already going to be a lot more in 2019 as I’ve half planned and purchased three vacations!

Rainy Days

Yowzers! I went over by about $3,000.  The surgery and subsequent mattress update can explain the bulk of that. My household goods seem a little high in comparison; and those are just trips to Walmart. May be worth keeping an eye on that. I tend to buy paper products and who knows what else at almost $50/mon to her approx. $15/mon.

Longterm

Oo, yikes! I went over 151% mostly in gifts, and that doesn’t even include Aunty MERJ! I got a little generous in December. It was the holidays and my budget had some breathing room. As I’ve said before, this is why it would not benefit me to do monthly budget checks – if I find I have a little bit more money than expected, I tend to spend it.

Areas of Improvement

All in all, I thought I’d be motivated to make big changes, but there’s nothing I really see as a significant area of improvement. I might think a little bit more on what exactly I’m buying as personal supplies (aka household goods). That was the line item I seem to remember. Otherwise, the big differences were: medical, car, housing.  I don’t have any surgery planned, but I have started physical therapy so that will be a bigger expense this year than an annual physical. I’m not going carless anytime soon, and my lease isn’t even up until October even if I wanted to move!

Strengths

It felt good to play a little comparison game. I didn’t come out feeling worse. Go me! I had a little sigh that she outbudgeted me on groceries, but oh well. For as ridiculous as I am in the grocery store, I still like my numbers! Alcohol is an easy category for me (as are recreational drugs). I liked seeing different numbers for vacation; it gives me a mental negotiation point. Although, she is a successful travel hacker and I don’t use credit cards. I am thinking about it for the near future though (for travel hacking only!).

What about you, any FIRE budgets out there you keep a close eye on??

Other budget comparisons:
Comparing An Actual Retiree’s Budget to My Proposed Early Retiree Budget
Poverty and You: How does your FIRE budget compare?

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7 Comments

  1. Comparing budgets can be useful but not down to the nitty gritty. You might not have access to cheap grocery stores in comparison to A Purple Life. In addition is her grocery budget half of a budget for 2 people? If so she’s always likely to beat you as eating for one is not half the cost of 2 people.
    But comparisons do help you to consider your own situation even if you end up making no changes, at least you know you are spending at the right level for you.
    I us my tracking sheet to compare our grocery spending – this year versus last year etc. I also keep our alcohol expenses separate as this would cloud the food budget rather a lot!

    1. Heyyy… I remember you ;)! I’m looking forward to being able to compare 2019 to 2018 of my own spending, but until then I still like seeing what other people are doing. Kind of my M.O. for now. What the heck is everyone doing with their lives?! 🙂 Hope all is well in merry ole England. I hear a princely baby is coming due….

      1. Your own spending comparison is definitely good to do as you are invested in those numbers.
        England is good but wet! What’s new?! Princely baby is indeed coming soon – 11 months after the wedding so no hanging about!
        We are ramping up those FIRE plans – hopefully this summer, wahoo!

  2. Oh hello 🙂 . I think you did a great job!! Really cool to see this kind of detailed comparison especially since we live in very different places.

    1. Hiya! Thanks…I’ve been captivated by your journey. You’re fiesty! I like it. Glad you stopped by..saves me having to msg you 🙂

      1. So glad you’ve been liking it! And oh my – my feisty-ness comes through in my posts lol? LOVE IT! Glad I could save you a message 😉 . I’m all about that inbox 0 life so when I see a pingback on the blog I investigate before archiving 🙂 .

        1. See I can’t get my pingbacks to work. I’ll find out weeks later when I check referral sources. And yes…. data and plans-on-plans… a blog after my own heart!

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