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Recalculating My Monthly Nut

It has been about a year since I calculated my monthly nut so it is about time I lay it on the line for both readers and myself.  I would hate to lie to myself about my family’s spending.

What is a Monthly Nut?

A monthly nut is your fixed costs, month to month, absent job loss or disability that will be there waiting for you.  A monthly nut is not the same as a budget.  A budget is whether you are over buying clothes or certain types of food, while a monthly nut is made up of items like heat and other contractual obligations.

While a budget can change month to month it is unlikely your monthly nut will outside of direct inertia to change something (i.e. shop for cheaper insurance, pay off a debt, etc).

My Monthly Nut

When I originally calculated my monthly nut I came up to about $4,400 per month. That number has increased pretty dramatically in the past year due to some very obvious factors:

  • I moved from a townhouse to a much larger home (with a much larger tax bill and higher utilities)
  • The Wife’s lease is up in the next few months and “we” have decided to buy a minivan next.  This will increase her car expenditure from $339 to probably about $500, so I just included the $500.  It could be less, but regardless it won’t be forever once we pay off the future note.
  • I have increased my life insurance, significantly and will be providing an update as to that in the next few weeks when it finalizes.  As such, I have just included the expected increase in price here.

Everything is rounded up:

Expense Cost Notes
Mortgage, Taxes andH/O Insu $3,000
 Sprint Cell Phone Service  $135  The Wife and I have a shared plan with unlimited data and texts and minutes that we don’t come near but can’t reduce.
 Verizon FIOS  $150  Home phone, Internet and TV
 Life Insurance  $400  Not exact as I am in the midst of updating my insurance but includes ins on my life, my wife’s life and child’s life 
 Alarm System  $30  Contract based on new equipment provided
Law School Loan Payment  $255  I paid off my smaller loan and this one is locked in at 3.5% but going to take a while to pay off, so unlikely to be removed from the monthly nut for years
Car Insurance  $225  Covers The Wife and My Auto Insurance.  We recently just priced this out.
 Electricity  $172  “Budgeted” monthly cost.  I inherited this from the previous owner so I have no idea if this is too much for my family’s need.  This might be lowered if we use less electricity than the last homeowner
 Gas  $17  Again, this is the budgeted monthly cost.   The only thing running on gas is our cooking and our hot water.  The reason it is so low is because of the next item which is new to me.
 Oil  $300 I have zero clue how much oil we will use in a year, but I do know it costs about a grand at current rates (which I locked in) to fill up the tank so if I have to fill it up 3 – 4 times a year we are in this world
 Gas  $300  Reviewing my American Express Bill from last year it looks like The Wife and I spend about $300 a month on gas.  This number is something we should be able to fix with a little better planning.
New Car $500  As explained above we are getting The Wife a new car in the next few months
 Food for Home $540 According to AMEX this is what we spent at the following shops: Target, Stop and Shop, Shopright and Trader Joes – last year. I am not sure how much is food and how much is other since I don’t go to any of those stores except Trader Joes.
 Total:  $6,024 Wow.


Missing items that could be shut off right away:

  • Water – Poland Springs $40
  • Pet Insurance $50
  • Average household purchases: $225
  • No clue on restaurant/bar expenditures

Ever try to calculate your monthly nut with this much detail?  It is pretty rare that I put myself out there this much but feel free to comment!



  1. Ouch… Only 30 more years until the house is paid off, right? 😉 haha. I can’t wait to hear more about the life insurance. Was the main motivation because of the new home?

    • New home was the main one. At the time we thought we would be having another kid too. Have to bite the bullet at some point why not now?

  2. $225 on the car insurance? I bet you can mess with that line a bit. Also, I doubt you do $300 a month on oil, you should be pleasantly surprised on that one (we had an oil heater back east).

    I hear you on the large expenses in expensive areas. We do about $250 a month in gas and electricity, in ~2100 square feet in the best climate in the country (fact, not opinion).

    Let’s see the restaurant bill!

    • Restaurant can be cut if need be! Although to be fair its not pretty lol. Neither is the bar bill.

      In NY I think that is a pretty good rate for the car insurance, but we both have pretty clean records. I’ll have to check but at this point I am tied in with my homeowners (which was a bitch – a ton of companies pulled out after Sandy) so I don’t see myself shopping too soon.

      The oil I think is an accurate number. We filled up (after we let it get to zero, lesson learned lol) cost us about a grand – so figured 3 times 3.5 times a year maybe?

  3. As I get closer to retirement, I am trying to reduce my monthly nut to a very small number. I will have it more than covered by Social Security and my pension though.

  4. I feel your pain. We have a couple of young kids, and our expenses are up dramatically from just a couple of years ago. I’d estimate we probably pay about the $6k mark in expenses per month. After childcare and all the kids expenses, its tough to really crank up that savings rate!

  5. I just did this because I’m trying to make sure I can save enough to pay for my wedding. I came to about $2,300 but that doesn’t include food. If we add in food I’m probably looking at around $3000-$3,300. That also doesn’t include anything that comes directly out of my paycheck (401k, health and dental insurance).

    It’s a small enough number that I have enough to save $700 every two weeks and pay for my wedding!

    • I will go through the life insurance on another post, but that is $2.25 on my life (mixed term/whole life), $750K on the Wife and $130K on the boy

  6. Have you looked into something like Straight Talk, which is more or less unlimited everything or Virgin Mobile that could perhaps reduce your cell to about $45 each?

    Also have you looked into ditching the phone through the bundle and getting a Ooma (one-time cost)? It might not save much because then you lose the bundle discount.

    I wouldn’t include restaurant/bar that you mentioned in the end. That’s not contract obligation or a necessity like the other items. It would be more of a budget item, I would think.

    • I have looked into MetroPCS before I got into another contract with Sprint and after all the add ons I was like 10 or 15 bucks off from Sprint. I was pretty annoyed once they figured out the true cost. Maybe I can check out those 2 companies though in a year when I am up again.

      I agree with you on the restaurant is a budget item. I don’t budget or anything. I just know if I don’t invest/save enough its time to yell at Evan and get to work

  7. My last house was heated with oil and my current house is heated with natural gas. Incredible cost savings with gas. Perhaps you should find out how old the furnace is and investigate replacement costs.

    Of course if there is ever a great collapse in infrastructure and the government you can always buy oil from some sketchy back alley guy and my house would just be cold.

    • The Furnace is REALLY REALLY REALLY old. I have heard wild costs that range from 5K to 15K. It would take me a decade to recoup the costs it seems like.

  8. Gasp! That’s almost three times my total monthly expenditures!

    What you call the “nut” is what I call “nondiscretionary” — stuff you have to pay for willy-nilly, like utilities and insurance. But I don’t include groceries in that…because (I suppose) one has a great deal more control over grocery and household purchases than over the other gotta-pay-it items. One can always eat cat food, after all.

    The PITI and the car payments make that law-school loan look like a mosquito bite. If it were me and I could afford $500 a month for a car, I’d buy an older model and apply the difference toward the mortgage principal. The sooner you can get out from under that monster payment, the better. A new minivan will jack up the car insurance rates, and wait’ll you see the gasoline bills for that thing! I speak from experience: the Dog Chariot is a Toyota Sienna. We measure mileage in yards per gallon…

    • I haven’t written about it yet (since I am responding to the comment 2 weeks later) – but we ended up with a $369/mo lease payment which is much better. I wanted to buy a used one but the incentives on the new were crazy then tack on incentives to lease.

      I have a long time before I am out from underneath that payment. Really long time – the principal is $385Kish. Every time I think about putting everything at principal I remember I am only paying 3.375% interest (30 year fixed). Think I’d rather invest the extra.

  9. I actually do this quite often! My monthly nut is $1088 (I`m a student living on student grants and loans).


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