Seattle is Expensive

We knew we'd be spending a lot more on rent here, but we are constantly surprised by how everything, from groceries to gas, is much more expensive. It doesn't help that Seattle also has one of the highest sales tax rates {9.5%} in the country! When we made our annual budget at the beginning of the year, we calculated the percentage spent in each category and compared them to Dave Ramsey's recommendations. 

Piggy Bank

Housing. Dave recommends 25-35%. We spend 25.6%. 
Since we are apartment-dwellers, this just includes our monthly rent and renter's insurance.

Utilities. Dave recommends 5-10%. We spend 4.8%. 
This includes our water, electricity, internet, and cell phone bills.

Groceries. Dave recommends 5-15%. We spend 9.7%. 
We try to buy mostly organic items, within reason. I limit myself to the options offered at the Kroger across the street. We put toiletries, cleaning supplies and other necessary house expenses, like batteries and light bulbs, in this category too.

Transportation. Dave recommends 10-15%. We spend 4.9%. 
This includes car insurance, gas, repairs and any inspection or registration fees. We only have one car and Adam uses a free bus pass from work to commute the majority of the time, so we only need to fill up the tank maybe twice a month. 

Recreation. Dave recommends 5-10%. We spend 10.5%.
This includes travel, entertainment, going out to eat, hiring a babysitter, and our Netflix subscription. Since we live so far away from our families, the bulk of this category is definitely travel expenses.

Personal. Dave recommends 5-10%. We spend 12.8%. 
This is a ridiculously broad category. It includes gifts, clothing, home decor, hair cuts, Claire's music class, formula, diapers, and even life insurance. We are super excited about having $100 extra in the budget every month when Claire stops drinking formula - hopefully within the next few weeks!

Charity Donations. Dave recommends 10-15%. We spend 10.0%. 
Based on our bishop's recommendations, we give 6% to our parish every week and save up the remaining 4% to donate to various charities at the end of the year. 

Debts. Dave recommends 5-10%. We spend 7.3%. 
This includes the minimum monthly payments on our car and student loans. 

Savings. Dave recommends 5-10%. We save 14.4%. 
Well, we are actually using this category to pay off our debts more aggressively. We are really, really close to paying off our car {just waiting for the tax refund to arrive} and then we will have an extra $250 a month to put towards getting rid of those student loans! 

You might have noticed that medical expenses are missing from this list. We are extremely fortunate in that Adam's company provides absolutely amazing insurance. There are no monthly payments or co-pays and they actually pay half the deductible. The rest of the deductible is automatically taken out of Adam's paycheck and moved to our health savings account. A portion of Adam's paycheck {just what the company matches, for now} is also automatically sent to his 401k. 

This exercise definitely helped us breath a sigh of relief. It's so nice to see that we're on track in basically every category. A few weeks ago, I chatted with a fellow mom at the library who had just moved here from California and was thrilled to see how much cheaper everything was here in Seattle. So, I guess it could be worse? 

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