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3,333 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Ok, I'm not moving out any time soon (I know I can't afford it) but I've been trying to find a reasonable breakdown of every day living expenses.

I know it all varies by location, but I can't seem to find anything like what I'm looking for!

Basically, something that lists out approximate monthly costs for things like:

utility bills (water, power, gas (heat,etc), cable, phone
random expenses

Also, until just recently I didn't know how much it costs just to move in somewhere, all the deposits needed to hook up your power and such.

If ANYONE can offer me any advice how to find this out I'd greatly appreciate it! I've tried searches for living expenses, and its all colleges and what incoming students can expect to pay... I've tried cost of living and its all just comparing one place to another, but no real numbers... just how they compare to a national average.

I already know I'll need two jobs, but I'm trying to save up money now. The problem is, even if I save up a lot I'll need to make enough to cover all the expenses so I'm not just eating away my savings! Anyone?

3,333 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
new idea:

I think that if I know WHAT I have to pay for I can figure out how much it cost around me.

Anyone who lives in an apartment or owns their own house... can you give me a rough idea of the kinds of bills you pay every month? I don't need to know specific numbers (I'll admit its personal business).

1,908 Posts
Well, I'll give you a breakdown of what my boyfriend and I pay. :)

We live in Northern California. :)

-We live in a small 2 bedroom, 1 bath, in a pretty crappy apartment complex. :? We pay $900.00/month. 8O :evil:

-For our deposit, we paid $1200.00, which was a $900.00 deposit, plus $300.00 for our pet deposit; so the day we moved in, we paid $2100.00! 8O :twisted:


- Our water is included with our rent


-First off, we get a fairly sizeable discount on our power bill because of my Lupus

- We are paying about $100.00/ month


- Our gas is about $26.00/month


- We have a DISH, which came with free installation and equipment, our bill is about $50.00/month


- We also have a discounted phone

- We pay about $10.00/month for phone. (We have no long distance)


- We paid $100.00 for the whole year for dial-up service. When we had high-speed, it cost about $50.00/month


- We each have a phone, each plan is $49.99.....unless we go over......then it is a KILLER!!!!!!


- This varies, but I think we probably spend around $100.00-$150.00/month


- This is a hard one- there is A LOT of stuff that you don't even think about, like doctor's visits, medication, pet supplies, school supplies, shampoo/makeup, etc., gas for your car, clothes, cleaning supplies, furniture, towels/dishcloths, just goes on and on and on...... :?

Was that helpful? :) Did I miss anything? :) [/b]

882 Posts
For me my main monthly bills are (with the amounts approx. for long island):

1) Rent (one bedroom is $1300 a month)
2) Electric (usually around $40 a month)
3) Phone (land line - around $9 a month, only for incoming calls)
4) Phone (Cell phone - verizon plan for $39.99 a month)
5) Cable/Internet (non-premium family cable $45, internet broadband for around $40)
6) Credit Card (mostly gas and groceries, plus whatever else I decide I want/need)

Some yearly expenses are things like:
1) Renter's insurance
2) car insurance
3) Pet insurance for Kiera

I hope that helps! Hopefully you're not living in such an overpriced area as where I am :oops:

*edit* I have to note that at my apartment complex, water, gas, and heat are included. But don't think it's such a great deal, the rent is a rip-off :evil:

3,333 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I think rent is what will kill me. Honestly, I'd rather not live in an apartment. I've read the pros and cons of apartment vs owning, but I'd rather own. I know, I'm only 20 and it seems unrealistic.

I'm not above living in a "trailer" though. There are a lot of mobile homes around me. And I think "modular home" is the term for one that they build and place on a foundation.

They're pretty much regular homes, but they cost about half as much. I know someone who lives in a trailer with a roommate. One of their parent's bought it, and they're paying off the loan. With the lot rent, I think they end up paying around $400 for the loan and lot rent together. To me, that's a TON cheaper than an apartment rent around here.

The things to worry about are if anything breaks, you don't have a landlord to fix it. You're on your own with things like that. I really think I'd rather try to save enough for a downpayment on a "house" that will cost about $40,000 or so. That's roughly the price of a newer (or in some cases NEW) trailer. It comes out to cost less than the rent of most apartments, and when I decide to move, I sell the house and at least get something back, where in an apartment I'd be paying at least $500 a month to get nothing back when I move.

I'd love to move out within a year like I originally planned, but I don't think I can. I'm starting my vet tech program next year, so I'll be in school for another 2 1/2 years. I've already planned out when my classes will be most likely and how much I can work at my job. Only around 30-35 hours a week (assuming they WANT me to work that much) so that alone isn't nearly enough for what I'll need. I was thinking of going up to our Animal Emergency Clinic to see about working there some nights during the week, and maybe every other weekend when I'm not working at my job now. I just don't know if I can handle working from like 1:00-6:30, then going into another job until around midnight AND working every weekend. I don't think I'd get a day off :(

The other option is living with a roommate. Logically, another person cuts expenses in half, right? I just tend to HATE people I spend a lot of time with. It happened at college, and its happening with my friend Joy now. Plus, I have issues with my personal space, people using my things... heck I'd even get mad if I thought my cat liked the roomie better!! I don't know what to do with myself.

2,131 Posts
I don't really see a problem with buying a house and not renting at all. You will need to budget for repairs, though.

If you do decide to rent, check out

My monthly expenses go something like this:

Rent: $650 (two bedroom, two bathroom, fairly nice location)
Phone: $60
Groceries: $320 (I usually spend about $80 per week for two people, but I could probably cut this down if I tried)
Gas (for my car): $40
Water: $13
Electricity: $60

I also have credit card expenses, but there's no need for me to share that. Also, I have a car, but I paid it off two years ago. My husband pays the car insurance and the cable bill. I think that cable is about $40 per month.

When I first got an apartment on my own my expenses were:
Rent: $400 per month all utilities included (one bedroom, bathtub in the kitchen, toilet in the closet)
Phone: $36 per month (bare minimum service w/no long distance)
Groceries: $40 per month (I ate mostly rice and canned soup)
Insurance: $80 per month
My car was paid off, but I never drove it. Justin gave me a ride to work every day (I later married him. :) )

I didn't have cable. I bought my groceries at Save-A-Lot (a discount grocery store where you bag your own groceries). And I never went out to eat or ordered in. I always cooked my own food. I also had to pay my rent in two installments every month because I couldn't afford to pay it all at once. I was only making $6.00 per hour at the time.

I still don't have a cell phone or internet service.

Oh! And don't forget to budget for yearly expenses like taxes. For the longest time, I always owed money on April 15. Now I have an extra $5 taken out of every paycheck for taxes. And the taxes on licensing my car just went up as well. Just yesterday I paid $99 to get stickers on my husband's and my cars, plus the $39 e-check fee to have my car emissions checked (it's mandatory in my county).

3,103 Posts
I understand wanting to own rather than rent. Trust me, I HATE renting. I feel like I'm just throwing my money away. However, even if a house payment is technically lower than a rent payment, there are so many costs that aren't considered when it comes to owning your own home. I think you were touching on this when you mentioned if something breaks, you have to fix it. That's a big deal, even on new homes.

Here are a few examples of things that have gone wrong with this apartment. (Mind you, this building is only about four years old and considered one of the nicer complexes in town.) Some of these problems are my fault, some aren't.

I had a bit too much to drink the night before and didn't realize that a shotglass went down the sink. So the next afternoon I'm doing dishes and go to turn on the garbage disposal... whoops. That needed to be replaced. The dishwasher just quit working, they replaced it -- can't really say if it was my fault or not. We had leaky pipes under the sink, and one time one of the toilets wouldn't stop running. This stuff is normal of anywhere you live.. luckily I didn't have to pay for any of this stuff because it's just "included" with rent. It's nice not to have to worry about these problems when you can't really afford to budget for them.

My bills go like this:

Rent: $650 for a very nice two bedroom, 1 and 3/4 bath, with living room, dining room, and deck/balcony. Amenities include free water, trash removal, and a dishwasher. Laundry facilities are in the building but you have to pay to use them.

Electric averages $35.08. It peaks in the summer at around $55 (because of A/C) but stays around $25-30 during the other months,

Gas averages: $16.52, which is excellent compared to most people. We have the luxury of living on the second floor and recieving a lot of the heat from the guy that lives below us. In the summer months gas is only $8-12 a month because it's only used to heat water.

Cable and Internet together are $118/month. That includes cable modem and digital cable with HBO. (This is definitely a bill that doesn't need to be this high, lol...)

Land Line is $14.93 a month, which is something like 400 minutes of talk time without long distance.

Between two people we average between $250 and $300 a month on groceries. This is also something that can be cheaper but Jess is so stubborn about buying everything as "name brand". Ugh.

Other random expenses include unexpected vet bills, the occasional car repair, holidays, vacations, etc. (Believe me, at least one of these always comes up every month...)

69 Posts
well, here i can make you all feel better :)

this is for worcester area, MA.

2 bedroom duplex, 1.5 bath, with basement and parking. rent is $1150/mo(originally was 1400, could easily have gotten that but we talked her down :)

phone was about 35/mo but i just cancelled the landline.

internet and cable are combined - 88.41/mo

gas - 60/mo (we pay a flat fee, and then we are reimbursed for the difference at the end of the year)

electric - 50-130 a month depending on usage.

groceries - average 50-75 a week for me and the animals.

trash service (nope, my town doesnt have it) - 27-28 bucks/mo

everything but the groceries are split between myself and my roommate.

722 Posts
Having lived in Charlotte, NC I have a pretty good idea at what you are looking at expenses wise. A dirt cheap apartment in the worst area of town will run you about $300 a month, a relatively good one bedroom in an ok neighborhood will run about $500 a month. Some apartment complexes have ammenities included with the rent such as gas/power/phone/cable tv/water/sewer so you should keep an eye out for those. Unless you like going to the laundrymat or moms to do laundry make sure the apartment has washer/dryer hookups. You can get a decent washer/dryer set from the classifieds in the newspaper usually for about $100.

Having both rented and owned a home I can definately say its sooo much nicer to own your own home, but we were fortunate in that our home was built for us, so it was brand new and didn't have any major issues that needed fixing. A friend of mine bought a house and two months later the sewer system went kaput :roll: Her and her husband ended up shelling out $30k to have a new system put in. 8O 8O 8O

Oh yeah so back to the topic, a basic rundown of a decent apartments monthly costs:

1 bdrm apt $500

electric $50(kick it up to $80 if you do a lot of cooking and wash your own clothing)

Phone $30 land line with caller id and some other junk I dont think I ever used

Cell phones: $95 a month for two phones with unlimited nights/weekends, free sprint to sprint calls, 2000 local and long distance minutes. Or you could get the $29 a month cricket dealio for unlimited local calls.

Gas $20 a month up to $40 depending on whether or not you actually have gas and what its used for

Car insurance: all depends on your car and what coverage you have

Car payment: depends on if your car is payed off or not and how much it costs if not

Groceries: Oh boy, Patrick and I can spend up to $900 a month on food, its our one big splurge, we go out to eat a lot. But if I recall correctly I used to be able to scrape by on $80 a week with just me and my ex husband

Gas: gawd only knows, with prices going up like mad...we spend about $40 every week and a half on filling up his gas guzzling truck.

Misc: Never forget yourself! You never want to be in a situation where your monthly expenses = your entire monthly paycheck. Make sure to leave at LEAST 10% room of your paycheck for emergencies(girl scout cookies being available unfortunately does not fall into the emergency category I was unhappily informed by Patrick), and another 10% for personal shopping, going out with friends etc.

722 Posts
Forgot to mention, if I had it all to do over again i'd definately buy what I needed for the apartment BEFORE moving out. That way you can get the really nice $600 sofa instead of the $20 at a yard sale kind. I left my ex with only a bed, my computer, a computer desk, and my car. Not counting furniture it ended up costing me $1000 at discount stores just to re-stock on everyday things like cookware, silverware, glasses, shampoo deodorant, toilet paper, toilet brush, towels...things you don't even think about cause they are always just THERE.

882 Posts
I hate renting! I think i have the most expensive rent from all of you that posted so far, and it's only for a 1 bedroom! It's so irritating sometimes, and I feel embarassed when I tell people what I pay.

But for me, renting is the right decision because I very well might be moving off the island if I decide to switch jobs. So unless you KNOW where you'll be settling for the forseable future, renting might just be a better decision for now.

I think a roomate might be okay, if you find someone that matches your living habits. For me, roomate conflicts occurred with people who go about their daily lives in a completely different way than me, and people who were really inconsiderate of me. When I found people who were just as clean as I was and had similar sleep schedules, I did not have any problems. If I needed my space, that's what separate bedrooms were for.

Good luck, the real world can be a smack in the face, can't it? ;)

1,476 Posts
had a bit too much to drink the night before and didn't realize that a shotglass went down the sink. So the next afternoon I'm doing dishes and go to turn on the garbage disposal... whoops.
LMAO!! :lol: :lol:

See, no one tells you to plan for these expenses! Or if you have a roommate or friend that likes to punch walls when drunk. My bf's friend/roommate left at least one hole in every place he every lived in at college... and one hole in most everyone else's places. :(

I have a budget sheet somewhere that was extremely helpful. I will try to find it for you. It really helped me get every lined out when I was trying to figure out where my money was going.

I've been on my own for 7 years now, 5 of which were spent attending college. While it isn't easy, it is possible.

What I can tell you is this: stay at home and save up as much as you can while you can. It is a great opportunity to live rent-free with parents. While in college, I only half-jokingly begged my mom to move to my town and live with me. :lol:

1,013 Posts
Okay here are my expenses:
Rent: $600 for a 1 BR
Electric: range from $60-120 depending on time of year (summer is higher)
Phone: $20 *I think*
Water: usually $15
DSL: $25
Cell phones: each of us has a $30/month plan but taxes make it a lot higher
Groceries: range from $60-$100 per week (for 2 people)

We don't have cable, so that saves some money, but looking at our expenses, we do have a lot of "extras" I would say with the cell phones, phone and DSL.
Other expenses to consider would be cat supplies, toiletries, "fun money" like going out to eat and entertainment.
You might try keeping a diary of some sort for about a month to see how much you spend on toiletries and so forth, that will give you an idea of how much those are for you. You can call the electric company and so forth to ask them how much their deposits are.

1,013 Posts
Oh and hey, if you do decide to get a roommate, I would suggest getting a 2 BR/2 BA. It is really not as bad when you don't have to share a bathroom with can almost stay in 2 separate worlds. Although, yes, you will still get irritated if they don't clean up the kitchen or something like that (I was more the guilty party here). The important thing is just to find someone who has a similar lifestyle to you (in terms of messyness, socialness, etc).

1,398 Posts
Definitely keep a record of all your expenses for a month or two, even the cup of coffee and donut you buy at the 7-11. You'll be amazed when you total it up at the end of the month. Also, start reading the local classifieds to get an idea of the going rent rates in your area.

I can't really answer your question too well, as we have some fairly unique circumstances (self-employment), but FWIW:

Mortgage runs just under $750/mo. (for house & shop, acreage around us we own free & clear)
Homeowners' Insurance: $500/year
Health Insurance: about $350/month (don't even get me STARTED!)
Car Insurance: about $125/mo. (that's for 4 business/personal vehicles, though I just dropped 2 of them off the policy)
Car Payment: $0 (all are paid off)
Electricity: usually around $70/month (but we run the shop off a feed from the house, so proably 80% of that is business power)
Phone: About $150/month. We have to have a dedeicated business line to declare it as a tax exemption, so we have two land lines. Mine's the personal line, about $30/mo.
Internet (dialup) & Satellite: $50/month
Heat: $0 (wood heat, we cut our own)
Gas: Depends on what we're doing. We use the smallest car as much as possible and plan trips, but living so far away from civilization is tough...I'd say we probably spend about $200/mo. on gas in the busy season, $100 off-season. If we had a daily commute to the nearest city, we'd spend about $400/mo at today's prices.

Then there are credit card bills, Business credit lines, business insurances/taxes, car repairs...oh, and food...I buy most stuff in bulk through a co-op, garden in the summer, and we grow our own meat, so I can't even hazard a guess as to how it breaks down per month. I spend about $25/month on Assumpta, between food, litter, dental chews, and vet visits.

Edited to add: Duh! I forgot to mention property taxes of about $2000/year (in my defense, I am trying to avoid thinking about that particular bill, as it went up about $400 this year). Also, I got notification today that our health insurance is going up another $50 per month. I need a nap.

If you do an apartment, second floor apartments are usually warmer and have lower heating bills (and often, if you're on the first floor, the greedy so-and-so's who live over you will keep their heat off all winter, saving a bundle while you pay to heat their apartment..not that I'm still bitter about the upstairs neighbours I had in college... :twisted: ).

672 Posts
If you do get a roomate, make sure you mesh well with this person! I lived with my cousin and her kid for almost 2 years and it was nice at first, but then it got to the point where there would be people I didnt know sleeping on our floor in the morning! Little did she know I had been buying things little by little so I could move out. Every month or so I would spend about $30 or so getting room neccesities together (like for the bathroom, I needed a shower curtain and rings, trash can, toilet brush and cleaners) I moved out when I had bought the most important things I would need, and worked on getting things like furniture and a TV later on. My bf was in Iraq at the time so I lived and helped myself for over 8 months and I think I did pretty well!

Remember: The Dollar Store is your friend! I also shopped at places like Big Lots, Ross, for good stuff at great prices.

My Necessary Expenses (Monthly - North Dallas, 1 BR apt )
Rent: 550 - water included
Electric Avg: 120 (last Sept it was almost 200!)
Phone Service w DSL: 70
Car ins. and expenses (gas etc, my car only): 250
Cell Phone: 30
Groceries: 200 or less a month for both of us

I save about 40-60% when I buy groceries every week because I clip coupons and subscribe to a wonderful website:
I cannot explain how much money this helps me save. I would reccommend it to anyone!

1,013 Posts
Gudewife said:
If you do an apartment, second floor apartments are usually warmer and have lower heating bills (and often, if you're on the first floor, the greedy so-and-so's who live over you will keep their heat off all winter, saving a bundle while you pay to heat their apartment..not that I'm still bitter about the upstairs neighbours I had in college... :twisted: ).
On the flip side, it has really sucked being on the 3rd floor all summer in Texas. We paid horrible electic bills because of our AC running all the time.

245 Posts
1. Mortgage $772.00 a month, includes insurance and taxes on a 3 bedroom/2 bath home
2. Car insurance for 2 cars and a truck $167.00 a month
3. Electricity $80-$100 a month
4. water $20-$30 a month give or take
5. home phone $25.00 a month
6. cable $70 a month with cable internet
7. groceries are $80-$100 a week for me and my husband (and the dog and cat)
8. Cell phone plan is $50.00 each with T-Mobile (we currently have separate phone plans, but it may be cheaper when we get on one)
9. Garbage pick up is $39.99 for 3 months at a time
10. Health insurance through my husband's work is about $120 a month for both of us, but that comes out tax free before we get his check.

Also if you own you have to think of expenses such as if the interior or exterior needs paint, or if something happens to the air conditioning or heating unit, and if the home already comes equiped with a stove, refridgerator, and dishwasher. Ours happened to come with those things because it was a new home and part of the package. Also, if you have a yard, you will need a lawn mower or pay someone to do it. Now if you bought a condo instead you would not have to worry about those exterior things, but you would probably have a monthly association fee. around here they run anywhere from $35 to $250 a month, depending on the amenities offered by the condos (such as a pool, community center, etc or cheaper if it is just for trash pick-up and simple stuff) If you own a home or condo you can get your taxes and homeowners insurance rolled in with your payment so you don't have to worry about putting some away every month for those things.

1,470 Posts
ok.. here we go..

Rent for bedroom/2 bath apt, $659.
Water, $30
Electric can range anywhere from $80(january)-$200(august), )we are on the 2nd floor in Florida.. Air is on ALOT, we also both work out of the house, so computers, lights, cooking, ect.. they add up fast.
Car Payment $269
Insurance- $200 a month (included 2 people for the car, renters insurance, and computer insurance)
Phone- Land line- $18, no long distance.. just basic service
Cell's- we have 2 phone sharring one minute plan about $110 per month
Cable- We do not have Cable.. saving about 40-50 a month
High Speed Interent- $45.95
Health Insurance $500 for 2 people (self-emlpoyeed, and please don't get me started on this either....
Food- about $100 a week, 2 people ALWAYS home for meals

Unforseen costs..
Gas, Credit Card Bills, Car fixes, medical bills, Cat food/litter/vet visits/toys/treats, b-day presents, x-mas presents, stamps, eating out,
clothes. shoes, all new furnature, decorations, laundry $ if you need to use a laundry mat... plus your security deposit, and your pet deposit when you move in...

Ok.. Now we are in the process of buying a house..

Mortgage: $1148 (double the size of our apartment, square footagewise.. same 2bedrooms/2baths
I don't know what electric is going to be.. but i quess about the same.. or lower- we have to buy a new air conditioner, which will be more efficant.
Home Owners Association fee -$110 per month, covers lawn care, pool, tennis courts, cable and clubhouse)
Water, $40.. i am quessing....

Trash pick up- IDK, but something

Insurance.. I will let you know after my apt tomorrow ;)

car payment, phones and internet will be the same...

Plus if anything breaks we need to fix it...

Owning a home at 20 is not a bad thing, not does it sound unresonable. As long as you have good credit and a good job, why not? I wish i would of bought my first house at 20.. wow.. how much better off i would be, I HATE renting.. throughing $$$ right out the window..

Hope i have been some help! Good luck!

3,333 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
WOW! I'm amazed at just how many people responded. THANKS!!

I'm definately more depressed now than before I

I already have a good chunk of bills for someone who is living "free" with my mom.

car payment $175.98/mo
car insurance $600 or so every 6 months (about $100/mo)
cell phone $45/mo (about)
credit cards usually average about $200/mo (on stuff I know I don't need :( )
gas is usually only $20 to fill up my tank and lasts about 1 1/2 to 2 weeks

My biggest expense now is school. I pay it all and am on academic probation so I can't get any scholarship money :oops: That's about $900 this semester and will be about $1100 next semester. Also, tons of money for stupid books. At least when I start my vet tech program at another school next year my gpa starts fresh and clean and I can get some MONEY!!

I buy my own clothes (good thing I HATE shopping)
I go out to eat way more than I should
I spend money on tons of stuff I don't need

I think I'm going to start keeping track of what I buy. Also, if it turns out I'm wasting more money than I'd like to, I'm going to start leaving my credit cards and debit card at home, carrying only my checkbook in case of any emergency.

Its sad that I buy so much online that I've memorized my credit and debit card numbers :oops: I've gotten better about that though.

Thanks again to everyone! I'm going to try to save up as much as possible, spend as little as possible, and work every chance I get.
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