First Person: How Our Finances Have Changed Over the Past Six Years

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Before moving in together six years ago, neither my husband nor I had lived outside our parents' home. Moving out on our own was a scary venture that we weren't sure we were financially prepared for. We spent a couple of months looking at the numbers and planning a budget that we were comfortable with before taking the plunge by signing our lease. It's now six years later and we've recently purchased our first home. After reworking our budget to cover all the expenses that came along with the new house, I was shocked to see how much more things are costing us now. These are some of the things that have changed over the years.

Food

This is one the expense that worried my husband the most in the beginning because he wasn't sure we could cover the cost. I assured him that if we stuck to our budget and shopped smartly we would be just fine. In 2006, we budgeted $150 a month for food and found it quite easy to stay within that amount. Now, in 2012, we are budgeting around $300 a month for food and are struggling to stay on track. I never expected that we would see a 50% increase in our food budget in such a short period of time.

Gas

Budgeting for gas has always been and will always be difficult because there is no way to know what the market is going to do. In 2006, we were paying about $2.86 a gallon for gas, and now we are paying $3.74 a gallon. At $2.86 it would cost us $1784.64 to fill our 26 gallon tank twice a month for a year; compare that to the $2333.76 we are spending a year now and there is a difference of $549.12 or about 30.5%.

Entertainment

I'm a firm believer that you have to find a way to enjoy the money you earn or you will end up making some major financial mistakes. That is why I always make sure to budget money for entertainment purposes. Six years ago we had more free money in our budget so our entertainment budget was larger than it is now. We budgeted $300 a month on entertainment in 2006, and now we budget about $150 a month, which a surprising 50% decrease.

As the years pass our expenses keep increasing and our income can't keep up. I'm hopeful that we will not see the same rate of increases over the next six years that we have in the last.

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