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  1. May I please ask why the sigh about the HOA fees? I just get frustrated when I hear this because it’s a contract you signed when you bought the house. It’s just like a mortgage, and people don’t sigh about paying that.

    Just curious.

    • I think the reason people feel a little frustrated about HOAs is because you don’t live everyday thinking about what they provide. When I pay my electric bill I know I can turn on my lights, AC, or tv. Same thing for water, mortgage, clothes, cell phones etc. However when I pay my HOA fees the service they’re providing is a little less tangible.

    • That’s a great perspective Julie. I grew up in the country and I had never even heard of an HOA until a few years ago. Maybe it’s a control thing? I know they provide the trash service and access to a community pool, but I keep thinking that I could very likely pay less for the services they provide on my own. But your right that we bought the house, so it’s kind of silly to complain.
      The Busy Budgeter recently posted…A Sample Budget to Help You Create Your Own BudgetMy Profile

    • I can understand some frustration. Like where I live (which is also a choice based on where we work and the best schools in the vicinity) there are not a lot of stand alone homes. The area was really built up about 20 years ago so most of the homes available are in a subdivision. We don’t really have much choice about whether we have to pay HOA.
      I have seen some Hoa’s that don’t really offer much for what you pay. I’ve seen others that have been poorly run and rapidly start raising fees (my old condo started at $250 when we bought it and within 3 years were up $425 because the management made poor decisions…that’s per MONTH). Then there are those that go on a power trip about what people can do to homes they own!

      So yes you sign a contract, but sometimes the other side doesn’t live up to it or they don’t manage the money well and you are not in control.

      • That pretty much covers it. Ours hasn’t raised too much (only about $30 in 5 years), but we just had friends with a condo that raised theirs up to $500/mo. I think you can probably tell from my site, that I like to be very in control of my spending, so anytime I’m relying on someone else for those decisions, it drives me nuts. I didn’t actually purchase the house, I married into it. But he’s well worth the HOA fees so, I’ll call it a win. 🙂

  2. I’m so excited to hear that you use Ting! My husband and I have been using Ting for over a year and pay about 75/mo total for our phone. Most people we know haven’t heard of it. We also bought our iphones used- one from Glide and one from a friend.
    Thanks for the helpful budget tips! I am continually trying to tweak our budget since my income went away as a SAHM and your BLOG is encouraging.
    One additional line item we have in our budget is Giving. The goal is to give 11% of our net income ($346). We try to support ministries and people who have less.

  3. Thanks for bearing your soul, err checkbook, for the world to see. Our income is similar to yours one area I saw that we spend a lot less in is the mortgage. Ours is about $560, but we live in rural Kansas. Because of how rural we are my husband and I both commute (under 30 miles) to work. So our gas and other vehicle related costs are a lot higher than yours.

    • That’s it. I’m moving to Kansas! I have a love/hate relationship with Northern Virginia. The housing costs for a family are so expensive. I rented a basement apartment in someones house when I was single for $100 more than your mortgage! I’m really going to work on finding a solution to that next year.
      The Busy Budgeter recently posted…A Sample Budget to Help You Create Your Own BudgetMy Profile

      • We recently moved out of NOVA for the same reason. Our mortgage on a much bigger house is less than the rent was for our townhouse there. I’m a realtor in VA. Let me know if you need help 😀

  4. I feel like your internet is a bit high…we do internet only with Charter for $59.99/mo at a rate of 60blahblahblahs (idk what the right measurement is!!). Maybe you have faster speed but it seems like a lot.

    • It might be. We have Verizon Fios. My husband insisted on it. I think it’s some sort of fancy cable with fast internet? I’m actually due to call into them to see if we can lower it though. Fingers crossed.

  5. Where do you allocate all of this money? Do you have several accounts where you spread your money out? Or do you have a running list of how much money is in each category?

    • We’ve tried it every way. For now, I use calendarbudget.com (I’m about to start testing everydollar, but calendar budget is free), so that tracks my category spending for me and I update it weekly (we don’t purchase frequently, if you still buy things daily, you should be updating daily or every other day, it only takes a few minutes). So that helps me track categories (though the money is kept in out bank account). For things that won;t actually get used every month (vacation, business spending, car fun, emergency fund), I create separate savings accounts through USAA then just nickname them. Make sure if you use multiple savings accounts that you don’t deposit money that you plan to use frequently over the month (some banks have limits on withdrawls) and make sure it’s an account that doesn’t charge fees.

  6. The Internet price is insane. Thats almost what we pay for internet, cable and a free home phone through time warner. Were in Ohio. The internet can be purchased as low as $14.99 a month it costs an extra $10 if you want faster service but they gave it to us for free because of our existing services. They’re also very easy to negotiate with. No contracts and will usually give you whatever promotions are going on if you simply ask. We usually call about once a year to negotiate our bill and they’re happy to help.

    • Internet is something I need to figure out. I’m clueless when it comes to trying to figure out the different routers, wifi, ethernet etc. I’m going to send my bill to Cinch Financial and see what they can do with it.

  7. We have a family of 7, and live in a medium sized city in Florida, on the gulf coast. We pay far less than you in mortgage: just under 700 a month. We have an HOA, but I think it’s just 200 a year.
    We pay ALOT more than you in groceries. 1000 a month. No car payment, and we drive a twelve year old Toyota, and an 8 year old 12 passenger van. We do not have personal spending money at all. We buy nothing, except groceries and clothes, and gas and the bare minimums. Our clothes budget is more like 2,000 a year, broken into 1 trip for the hubby’s work clothes, and 2 separate trips for the kids’ consignment clothes. I rarely buy clothes, I’d say I spend less than 100 dollars a year on my own clothing.
    We are living the good life. God bless.

  8. I noticed that you are looking at different ways to manage your budget. We just started using YNAB or You Need a Budget. It is $54 but an amazing investment. It has a free iPhone app that goes along with it. Basically you set up a budget and then put in EVERY TRANSACTION you make. The program automatically deducts it from your budget so you know EXACTLY how much you have left.

  9. We moved to a different town/county last month. We’re still within commuting distance, the schools are fab (if my kids decided to keep going to ps- we give them the option every year), taxes, insurance, and fees are lower. And our neighbors are much nicer. lol We traded the electric furnace for solely wood heat, which has def been interesting. We’re saving $300 a month now. We bulk shop (Costco, local restaurant supply store, and a co-op that gives us 10% discounts on ordering bulk) instead of couponing. I hate couponing. We have older vehicles as well and maintain them regularly. However I’m toying with the idea of swallowing a car payment for the extra space- teenagers. Our internet is ~$50/month (CenturyLink), whereas before the move it was ~110. So that makes me happy. Other things as well, but these are our biggest money saving changes right now. OH And about water/sewer- we also had/still have to pay for stormwater- our old bill was almost $100/month. Now it’s $83 and the water allotment is more.

  10. $300 a year on hair cuts seems awfully high to me. I get my hair cut twice a year, a simple cut that grows out nicely, for around $35-40 each time (I tip a lot), and I cut everyone else’s hair at home. My husband only gets his hair barber cut if our neighbor across the street wants to try to talk him into running for Village Board Trustee. (Our Village is a weird mix of Chicago political horse racing and Mayberry neighborliness.)

  11. Have you any idea? How can I manage all needed in a small budget? I come through to your website by Google. I am surprised that you are mention how can manage a budget. Really it is a helpful topic. Especially I am inspired from your blog. Thank you for a great article. Ii is always favoring to me….
    Ella recently posted…Ernie Els penalty BMW PGA ChampionshipMy Profile

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