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20 Year Old, Trying To Budget My Life

Question

Hello /personalfinance,

My name is Justin, and I live in West Virginia. My great state is among the poorest overall in the nation, and I don’t work at a high paying job by any means. I am having trouble with budgeting, frankly I have no clue how to really do it.

I am currently enrolled in a community college which is funded through the Federal Pell Grant, which covers 95% of my costs, and other non-federal financial aid covers the remaining balance. I live with my mother, who is physically disabled, and my step-father who buys and sells equipment, vehicles, guns, etc. etc.. I work at a regional oil & gas safety company based out of Texas, and my current salary is $13.00 an hour, with an expected raise of $.50 to $1.00 total. I only work on the weekends and pickup shifts when I can, bringing in a minimum of 36 hours per week with 72 total hours per paycheck. After taxes, my minimum pay (without extra days) is about $710, with a base monthly salary of $1,420.

Here are my expenses per month :

Car insurance – $190

Cable & Internet – $240

Phone bill – $117

Gas – $60 (I don’t drive much)

Food – $250

Personal items, clothes, etc. etc. – $150

Savings for emergency – $300

Petty cash – About $100 usually

Is this a good budget? I don’t pay rent to live with my mom and step-dad, I just pay the cable and internet. I plan on working at my current job until I finish my associates, then getting a job in-state until a better opportunity is made.

Any suggestions would be awesome, I am new to the workforce and paying bills. I am not too familiar with budgetizing!

Thank you

Answers

Someone answered:

Considering that your expenses seem to be lower than your income and you have some breathing room to save for an emergency, I'd say it's a fine budget. But it seems like there could be some room cut some expenses.

Cable & internet seems pretty outrageous. Do you or your parents watch a lot of TV? If you're only paying this as a pseudo-rent to your parents, then you might not have wiggle room on this, but you should consider either cutting cable, ditching any extra channel packages, or trying to get a better rate by shopping around or threatening to cancel with your provider.

How often do you eat at home vs. eat out? Do you have to buy your own groceries? $250 seems like a lot for someone that lives at home.

Someone answered:

Hi buddy. Props on the hard work. Is it possible to get rid of your car? You're paying an insane amount in insurance to gas ratio. Consider Ubering/biking when you can. Also look into Mint Wireless if you haven't seen it in this sub before. I decided to try it and it is fantastic. The rest seem fairly reasonable as long as you drop Cable as well.

Good luck my friend!

Someone answered:

Definitely shop for different car insurance. But more importantly…cut the cable bill. Just ditch TV altogether. If TV is a must for you, get YouTube TV ($39.95 per month) if you’re Internet bandwidth is strong enough. Or shop for an alternative provider. You’re getting hosed with that bill. Easy way to save money each month.