When my husband and I began to seriously consider a move into another rental while we delayed purchasing our own little house, I broke out my excel budget and started reworking the new costs and projected savings. I used the budgeting spreadsheet I created for my Newlywed Bliss Box as a start. As I compared my current rental house budget with my soon-to-be new apartment budget, I noticed that some categories, like rent, increased a bit in the total dollar cost. However, the total cost of projected utilities decreased. Though the dollar figures were staring me in the face, it was hard to compare if the new rental would be worth the stress of a move. So I created a new column on my nifty spreadsheet and decided to compare percentages of each category compared to the overall monthly budget.

What I found was that the percentages really showed me where the majority of my budgeted expenses were going: rent and utilities.

Budget based on percents
Budget based on percents

Whoa! Almost 50% of my expense is for housing and utilities (I factor in renters insurance and phones as well here.) After revising my monthly rent and assuming the cost of utilities will be significantly lower…I’m projecting here since I haven’t lived in an apartment in 5-years…my total housing hold percent increased by 1% compared to what the total house hold cost was in the rental house I was living in.

Looking at this section of my budget, the phones take up quite a hefty part of the utilities, but since my husband runs a business out of our home our two phone lines are something we’ve lowered as much as we can at this point. I could possibly move the phone costs to the business category, but since we also use them for our own personal use, it makes more sense in ‘house hold’.

The remainder of my budget is evenly divided into sections such as auto expenses, groceries, personal, savings, and business expenses that each account for about 10% of my expense budget. Not too shabby since I’m still able to squeeze about 10% into savings.

I’m sure looking at my budget percents, one would wonder why I’m not calculating those percentages based on my income rather than total expenses. In most cases, especially on steady incomes, it would make much more sense. But on a fluctuating income, where I’m living from feast to famine at any given time, it makes much more sense for me to figure out total expenditures. This way I can set aside the extra income in any one month and carry it over to the next if need be.

What I’ve noticed through my percentage-based budget is that I can see which aspects of my life are costing the most. Perhaps in the future I can realign my lifestyle to a simpler, less expensive one!

Do you calculate your expenses or income in percents or whole dollars? Which makes more sense to you? Have you found areas that seem exorbitantly expensive?

7 Comments

  1. My budget is a bit different than everybody elses, but in my spreadsheet I do use dollar amounts instead of percentages.

    I like using dollar amounts because I can quickly contrast what I expect vs what reality is (our credit card bill has kept creeping up faster than the amount it was suppose too, it’s because of the cost of our kids…)
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..Funny Money – Comic 4 – Mr Penny Learning Finances =-.

  2. If you haven’t, it might be worth calling up the cell phone company and just asking for a discount. We did that and got a 5% permanent discount off the bill.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Pet joys- things we like =-.

  3. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff Reply

    Our budget uses whole dollars but I’ve never tried looking at the percentages on paper too. I’m intrigued!

  4. I have not ever really thought about the percentages. Probably because most of our expenses are pretty fixed by now (we are mid way through our mortgage and don’t plan on moving.) It is a very interesting idea though. I think I might try it just to see what it reveals.
    .-= Everyday Tips´s last blog ..Miscellaneous Musings =-.

    • @Everyday Tips – I tried it just to see if I could analyze my costs better. I think I’m able to see more clearly how much of my income is going toward each category instead of just a solid dollar figure.

  5. @Suba – That’s one big drawback of living in a rental. I’m not really sure what our new place’s take is on rent increases. I’d probably be shocked to know what we will be looking at next year!

  6. @Len – I hadn’t thought about how easy it would be to see percentages over time. I guess that is just another benefit of looking at a budget both ways! Now I just have to remember not to write over my existing budget the next time I update it. 😉

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