Determining My Financial Budget

by Mike Holman

Jay is a new writer here at Four Pillars – read his introduction post here.

Today we’re going to figure out my financial budget by breaking down all the money that I earn and then try to see if I can explain where it all goes.

Net Income

After taxes, I earn roughly $1000 a month currently as a telemarketer. They tell me I would earn more if was better at my job. I feel like I need a better job to be better at. Whatever the case may be, it hasn’t really been close to enough money for me, and so I’ve started tutoring English as a second language on the side. I’ve got one student who generates $80 a month, and I’m hopefully expanding my clientele soon.

Net Monthly Income = $1080

Fixed Expenses

My current basic fixed monthly costs are as follows:

  • Rent – $350. I live with my uncle, but he doesn’t believe in free rides.
  • Bus Passes – $111. A 1-zone monthly pass costs $73, and two packs of 10 bus fare add-ons cost $19 each, or $38 total. I’ve already cut this down from the previous cost of $136* for a 3-zone pass.
  • Student Loan repayment – $150. It doesn’t matter to the government that I’m going to go back to school in the fall, they want my money now.
  • Food – $80. Basically $20 a week, and I’m not entirely sure I can keep within this limit
  • Cell – $37. I have a Koodo phone plan that totals at $37, ($25 Talk and Text plan with the added $12 “essentials” pack)
  • Tithe – $108. I am a Christian, and I tithe 10% of my income. Incidentally, my parents are missionaries in Japan, so I support them instead of giving to a local church
  • Debt – $50. I owe my brother about $700, and this is the payment arrangements we’ve come up with

Total fixed costs – $886.

Now, I’m no math genius, but if I take my total net income and take away my total fixed costs, I’m left with $194.

$194 a month

Here’s what I have to do on $194 a month

  • 1. Replace things that run out every few months (toiletries, laundry soap, clothes etc.)
  • 2. Have some semblance of a social life.
  • 3. Save up for my short-term, and long-term goals.

Right now, I’m probably spending close to $100 a month on the social life, and the rest is going into replacing stuff and savings. I’ll have more precise numbers at the end of the month, when I balance the books for March and give my report to the blog.

Quick Thoughts

Obviously, the biggest problem I have here is that I’m not earning enough money. I’m hoping to find a new job to either supplement my current income, or replace it entirely if the new job pays well enough. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck finding additional income so I’m stuck at the moment.

Another issue I’m having is the amount of time I am spending/wasting in transit. I’ll be taking a closer look at my calendar next Monday, and perhaps you will see some of the problems I am facing.


Just to give an outline of how the next few posts are going to look for me, my next post will be on my time management. I will probably be linking to my Google Calendar and explaining from there.

The post following that will introduce the budget spreadsheet that I will be using, and some of the financial goals that I have for the month of April.

The first Monday of every month will be my budget report to the blog going over the previous month’s budget.

As always, questions and comments are welcome, I really hope you guys have some good tips for making/saving money over the next few months, because I would love to try implementing some of them. I may never make my own laundry soap – My brother tried doing that once when we were living together. It was great, except that he used the frying pan to make it, and all our food had a faint soapy taste for the next week. Needless to say, I was not happy – but I would like to put into practice some of your ideas, so speak up!

Remember, I’m Four Pillar’s very own financial guinea pig, and I subscribe to the tri-financial principle of budgeting: I’m willing to try just about anything.

* for those who are interested, I have to travel 3 transit zones to get to work. I work from 6pm-12am. After 6:30pm, all transit is considered 1 zone, meaning my return trip was essentially a 1 zone trip. By using a 1-zone pass with a fare add-on on the way to work, and just the pass on the way back home, I save $25 dollars a month.

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