How to Figure Your Spending, Now and After a Home Purchase

By Eric Tyson, Ray Brown

Before you set out to trade in your current house for a “better” one, you need to take a good look at your overall budget and determine how much more, if any, of your monthly spending can go toward housing costs. If you haven’t examined your monthly budget in a while, now is the time to do so — before you set the wheels in motion to trade up to a more expensive home.

Review your bank-account and credit-card transactions, paychecks, most recent year’s tax return, and anything else that helps you document where you’ve been spending your money during the past 6 to 12 months. You may also need to do some tracking or estimating of cash purchases that don’t leave an electronic or paper trail. The following table can help you to organize your spending by category.

Figure Your Spending, Now and After a Home Purchase
Item Current Monthly Average Spending in Your Current Home ($) Expected Monthly Average Spending in Your Next Home ($)
Income _____________ _____________
Taxes
Social Security _____________ _____________
Federal _____________ _____________
State and local _____________ _____________
Housing expenses
Mortgage _____________ _____________
Property taxes _____________ _____________
Gas/electric/oil _____________ _____________
Water/garbage _____________ _____________
Phone _____________ _____________
Cable TV _____________ _____________
Furniture/appliances _____________ _____________
Maintenance/repairs _____________ _____________
Food and eating
Supermarket _____________ _____________
Restaurants and takeout _____________ _____________
Transportation
Gasoline _____________ _____________
Maintenance and repairs _____________ _____________
State registration fees _____________ _____________
Tolls and parking _____________ _____________
Bus or subway fares _____________ _____________
Appearance
Clothing _____________ _____________
Shoes _____________ _____________
Jewelry/watches _____________ _____________
Dry cleaning _____________ _____________
Haircuts _____________ _____________
Makeup _____________ _____________
Other _____________ _____________
Debt repayments
Credit cards and charge cards _____________ _____________
Auto loans _____________ _____________
Student loans _____________ _____________
Other _____________ _____________
Fun stuff
Entertainment (movies, concerts, and so on) _____________ _____________
Vacation and travel _____________ _____________
Gifts _____________ _____________
Hobbies _____________ _____________
Pets _____________ _____________
Health club or gym _____________ _____________
Other _____________ _____________
Advisors
Accountant _____________ _____________
Attorney _____________ _____________
Financial advisor _____________ _____________
Healthcare
Physicians and hospitals _____________ _____________
Drugs _____________ _____________
Dental and vision _____________ _____________
Therapy _____________ _____________
Insurance
Homeowners _____________ _____________
Auto _____________ _____________
Health _____________ _____________
Life _____________ _____________
Disability _____________ _____________
Educational expenses
Courses and tuition _____________ _____________
Books _____________ _____________
Supplies _____________ _____________
Kids
Day care _____________ _____________
Toys _____________ _____________
Other _____________ _____________
Charitable donations _____________ _____________
Other
_______________ _____________ _____________
_______________ _____________ _____________
_______________ _____________ _____________
_______________ _____________ _____________
_______________ _____________ _____________
Total spending _____________ _____________
Amount saved (subtract “Total spending” line from “Income”) _____________ _____________