I’ve referenced my potential low monthly burn rate a few times, and people keep asking me questions about it, so I’m going to go into more detail using real life numbers.
It’s important to note that I don’t actually spend this little every month, most months, or really even any months. The point is that I could if I ever needed to, and also that by having as little as possible mandatory spending every month, I’m able to direct my money towards investments or discretionary purchases. You could correctly say, “Well, I couldn’t do this because of _____” and it would be true. I’m only writing this because people always ask about it and because looking at the financial decisions I’ve made my be interesting.
Most of the reason I can have such a good burn rate is because I’ve put up a lot of money in advance to buy things that most people rent. I like doing that because it’s very easy for me to determine what I can afford now, and not as easy for me to determine what I’ll be able to afford later.
I bought my place in Vegas for under $50,000 including fees and renovations. I don’t have a mortgage or insurance, so my fees there are very low. Taxes, HOA fees, and utilities are approximately $300 per month. They’re less than that in the winter and more in the summer, but that’s about average.
Budapest and the Island cost me roughly $40 each per month. That number depends on how many projects we do, but it’s a good estimate.
$380 a month
I have 1.5 cars (I share one with my neighbor) and a motorcycle. All of them are paid for and my insurance is about $70 a month for all three. I’m not counting gas because if I really wanted to save money I would probably just drive the motorcycle or ride my electric skateboard.
$70 a month
I have a cool grandfathered health plan that costs me $100 per month. I really wish I could pay less and have a plan that only covered total disasters. I think if I had to switch to the new plans I would have to pay $150-200.
I also pay $20/mo for life insurance to cover being cryogenically frozen when I die.
$120 a month
I pay $32 for my cell phone (family T-Mobile plan), $20 for internet (shared with neighbors). Water, trash, and sewer are included in the HOA fee. I pay $22/mo for a non-business server (personal email, scripts, etc).
$74 a month
Realistically if I was really in a position where I had to batten the hatches, I would just make giant batches of lentil, quinoa, and vegetable stew and eat for about $5 per day. I used to eat that every day for dinner and I really liked it. Right now a typical day for me is $10.32 at Chipotle and approximately $7 for my two lunch sandwiches. So, call that $500 a month for luxury eating (I love my food) or $150 for the basics.
$150-500 a month
I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten. I don’t have any subscriptions, any debt, or any other insurance policies. But if we total it all up, assuming the low food cost, that’s $794 a month to live a pretty awesome (in my opinion) life. Call it $1150 with Chipotle every day.
Again, I don’t want to give the impression that I ever only spend $800 a month. I spend more than that on travel alone many months. And, obviously, I had to save a lot more money than that to be able to spend so little. This is just an illustration of what it looks like when you’re frugal and invest in assets that save you ongoing cost. Having such a low monthly burn gives me a ton of freedom and eliminates all stress. I’ve also built enough mostly-passive income (books + cruisesheet) that I would never have to worry about coming up with that $800.
Sometimes I find myself struggling to explain why it’s important to save money, but I think this post demonstrates it well. If you constantly finance stuff, your minimum monthly cost is high and never goes down. If you save money and buy durable assets, it keeps going lower, which makes it easy for the cycle to continue.
I appreciate that a lot of people have asked about this, and I hope that the breakdown is interesting. Definitely let me know what other topics you’d like to hear me write about.
Photo is the amazing flower display at the Bellagio. This is one of my top few favorite things in Vegas!
Heading back to the island tomorrow, then Budapest with my family, and a cruise! Basically my dream month.