Post # 1
My fiance and I have been engaged for almost a year now and we are looking to get married soon. We are both graduate students and have research positions that don’t pay very much. As soon as we make enough money to live together without needing loans, we will set a wedding date. To help me figure out how much we will need, I came up with a monthly budget including the expenses we would typically have based on experience living on my own. By the way, we live in Toronto. Here is what I came up with. Please let me know if this is a reasonable budget, if I have missed anything out or if you have any advice for me.
Rent (1 Bedroom away from Downtown): $900
Transportation (2 TTC Student Monthly Passes) : $200
Hydro: $50 warm months, $80-100 winter months
Groceries ($100 a week): $400
Cellphone Bills ($75 each w data plans): $150
Laundry (assuming we have to pay for machines): $20 (twice a month for three washers and two dryers each time, at $1.50 each)
Renter’s Insurance: $20
Entertainment and Personal Expenses: $200
Total per month: roughly $2100
I thought about including extra for clothing etc. but him and I are quite frugal with our clothing and tend to keep clothes for many years at a time. Since there is wiggle room in the savings and personal expense budget, I figure when necessary we can just spend out of these (or wait for bonuses/government tax refunds etc.)
Is $2100 reasonable? Is there anything I have overlooked?
Post # 3
Personally, I would plan to save way more per month but I am kind of a plan-for-a-bad-day type of person. I am also in a relatively low-paying research position and my budgets are similar although I’m getting an amazing deal on rent right now. I spend about 1600 per month (just me- SO and I budget separately) but I also pay auto insurance and car payments which together are a little more expensive than your passes. I do my best to save 400-600 additional per month.
Are you going to need more money for furnishings, curtains, pots & pans, etc? Even if you have some furniture, you may not like it/it may not fit in a new place. You may also need a deposit up front.
Cell phones are expensive in Canada? No way you can trim that down by being on a family plan or something?
Post # 4
Are you paying for your own wedding? If so you should plan on saving for that in your budget as well. I agree with PP about saving a little more each month if possible. Fiance and I are saving as fast as possible to save 6 months of living expenses just in case something happens. Also, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement!
Post # 5
@Pirouette7: if you can swing it, definitely more needed in savings. $100 a month isn’t very much, and if an emergency comes up or you need to pay for something unexpected, you’ll want to have as much as you can in savings.
Post # 6
I realize $100 is very little saving, but it is all we would be able to afford on our salaries once we begin living together–a little something is better than nothing, right? This amount is in addition to the money we have already saved and also doesn’t include the extra income we get from bonuses, scholarships etc., which we also put aside. We have already saved up about 2-months worth of emergency funds and are working on making that about 6-months worth after we get married (I started off only saving $50 month and we put away any extra money we both got through governement checks, work bonuses etc.). We are not really having a wedding, we are just planning on inviting those closest to us to a lovely meal the day we get married, which my parents want to pay for. Between the next several months of work, the scholarships we are lined up to get, and the newlywed money and furniture we get from our families and friends as part of our cultural wedding traditions (we are Middle Eastern)–I doubt we will be lacking the resources to furnish our apartment with. However, I don’t want to depend on these sources of funds for our monthly expenses since they aren’t already in my hands–so that is why I am trying to figure out a practical budget of how much we will need to be making a month without the gifts, scholarships etc. just in case we don’t get these for whatever reason (wedding gets cancelled, we get no stipends with our scholarships etc.). So, the budget I proposed above does not include these (hence why it is such a tight budget) and it also does not consider the money we have already saved since emergency money and money for furniture/wedding etc. will not be a part of our typical monthly expenses once we are married. So, without money for a wedding and furniture since these will have been taken care of the day we move in together, as a montly expense budget for a newlywed couple who already have a good chunk of emergency money set aside, is this reasonable?
Post # 7
check out koodo mobile for much cheaper cell phone rates (month to month, no fees or cancellation charges)
if you buy in bulk, you should not need 100 in groceries a week. My SO and I bought a 20 lb bag of flour, a 15 lb bag of basmati rice, bulk pasta, cooking oil, quinoa, sugar, oats, etc. it’s more up front, but we haven’t repurchased hardly any of those items in almost 4 months – HUGE savings.
our weekly shopping trip is now meat, fruits and veg, milk, eggs, and only perishables. probably about 40 – 50 dollars a week for both of us, and we cook constantly.
and this is silly – but we currently live in england and its SO COLD sometimes, but our heat bills are ridiculous – so next winter, i’m buying an electric blanket for 20 gbp and turning it on before bed, will save so much on heat!
also see if you can offset that money with money you can make elsewhere. i do this all the time because i want something new but can’t ‘afford’ it or it’s not in the budget. ie – i want a new cell phone, it’s going to cost 250 – so i’m selling an old coach purse i never wore, if i apply that money to the phone, it now costs 150 🙂 so can you sell furniture you won’t need at your new place? have a garage sale? sell your old textbooks? etc
Post # 8
@Pirouette7: I’d say being secure means making 1.5-2x your monthly expenses (combined). Things happen and you never know what you’ll need. however, I don’t think getting married should depend on that–you’ll be with each other through richer and poorer right? Well, you’re poorer now and there will be better times financially but you should get married whenever you feel ready!
Post # 9
@lawbride88: I was going to mention the same sort of thing.
On this end of the world, the rule of thumb tends to be that your combined income should be at least 3 times your rental/mortgage payment. heck, you won’t even qualify for a rental if you aren’t making 3 times the rent.
I’ve been using this rule and it’s stood me in pretty good stead.
Post # 10
@ms_protea: Agreed. Mortgage & rental stress can set in when paying more than 30% of total net income (on an average income.)
Nothing was listed for utilities – electricity/gas/water – or is this included in your rent?
Post # 11
You may want to increase the transportation costs. I don’t have a car and I take public transport but I always need to take a cab or rent a car share at some point during the month. Usually, because it’s late or I need to stock up on groceries.
Post # 12
@Vikstar: Hydro=electricity in Ontario
Post # 13
Wouldn’t living together help you save money by splitting rent? I know you’re not saving a lot per month, but I don’t see how getting married will change your budgets much if you’re splitting some costs.
Post # 14
@Vikstar: I think maybe ‘hydro’ is one of those bills? Not sure if it’s the same as gas/electric or something. Hopefully OP can clarify.
To OP, as other posters have said, you should be making approximately 3x your rent/mortgage. While I have survived on less (we can’t all start out with great incomes), it is definitely not comfortable (can’t go out to eat all the time, can’t randomly splurge, etc). That being said, some of my fondest memories with my husband (then boyfriend) were when we were totally broke but still happy we had each other.
Post # 15
@Pirouette7: I know a lot of bees will tell you that you need to save more, and ideally, you should. However, Darling Husband and I currently live on $2200 a month, and we’re doing fine. We’re saving a little, not much, but as long as there’s promise of better paying jobs in your future, I think $2100 is OK. Don’t let finances (unless they’re majorly screwed up) keep you from getting engaged/living together/married!
Post # 16
I think the word “should” is misleading. What works for one person may not work for you. I have friends who have been completely self-sufficient on around $1000/month income. I have family who is always broke even though they make around $70,000 a year. You have to decide how you like to live and what you are comfortable going without. There are tons of married couples out there who aren’t self-sufficient, get food stamps/cash assistance from the government and live comfortably because of the welfare they receive. For me & SO, self-sufficient means being able to cover the bills – rent, food, utilities, internet/phone, car bills. If we are making enough to cover that, I am comfortable. But, I also have a big savings account that I have built up so my “emergency” fund is a great safety net.