Budgeting For The Future

This post may contain affiliate links to products I’ve used and recommend. If you click on the link and purchase the product, I am compensated (at no additional cost to you). 

View my full disclosure here.

I wrote my Pillars of Single FI article so that I could go through the iterations on three different levels of Financial Independence (FI). Reason being is that there is a level of uncertainty as to whether I will remain single in the future or not. I have three FI numbers:

  1. Single FI – enough to retire and support me
  2. Joint FI – enough to retire and support me and a theoretical husband
  3. Family FI – enough to retire and support me, a theoretical husband and two theoretical children

When I came to the latter two numbers, I did not take into account that this man will most likely have assets to contribute to retirement. I wanted to see how long it would take me to get to these numbers on my own.

Well, I had someone ask me how I came to these estimated costs for these three scenarios and hence the inspiration for this post.


I budget. I know a lot of people in the Financial Independence (FI) community do not budget but rather hit their savings goals and use the rest for discretionary spending. That is great if that works for you.

When I was first gaining control of my finances, getting on a budget became the key to unlock the door to success. It helped me to acquire discipline with my giving/spending/paying off debt/savings goals. Now that I’m debt free (yay!), I only need to focus on giving/saving/spending.  I love doing my budget each year and it’s basically turnkey except I do glance at it twice a month (when I get paid) or adjust it if something changes such as a raise or a bonus 🙂

Sharing Is Caring

Since I was asked, I decided to share my budget iterations. I created a post-retirement budget based on what I know now. I realize these expense estimates can change with cost of living adjustments but I am comfortable with these a general goal. Click here to view my google spread with three tabs:

  1. Sample Month Single
  2. Sample Month Married
  3. Sample Month Family

Sample Month Single

Okay, let’s start here. Each of my sample months is broken down into 8 categories:

  1. Charitable gifts
  2. Savings
  3. Housing
  4. Utilities
  5. Food
  6. Transportation
  7. Personal
  8. Recreation

These are the categories I use in my current budget and don’t anticipate them changing when I retire; however, the amounts in certain line items will.

Charitable Giving

I am a Christian and believe in tithing (10%) of my gross income to my home church. I started doing this when I was still in debt. It ended up being one of the things that help me become disciplined with my money. Anyways, I plan on continuing to tithe in retirement as I live off the growth of my investments.

I met a woman at CampFI Mid-Atlantic who told me about her random giving fund. I liked the idea so much that I’ve adopted it. You never know who’ll you meet along the way that you will want to help. Having money in my budget for random giving allows me the freedom to help when I feel called.


This is really a much bigger portion of my current budget compared to my post-retirement budget. I figure the only thing I’ll most likely be saving for in retirement is future cars.


My hope is to have any mortgage I may acquire in the next few years, paid off by retirement. I realize if I do that I’ll still have property taxes and insurance to pay. Just to be safe I factored in a mortgage payment too.


These are the obvious things: phone, electric, gas, internet, water, and sewer. Just maybe I’ll be fortunate to retire in a rural community (love that thought!) and won’t need to pay for city water and sewer. However, I do know that wells and septic tanks have expenses associated with them but it is my understanding that they are a fraction of the cost of city water and sewer.


Groceries and eating out. Pretty basic. Another part of my retirement plan is to garden. If that be the case, I expect my grocery budget to go down in my later years 🙂


I think many people leave out items here so it’s crucial to think of all the components of how you get around. I don’t have car payments because I plan on paying cash for all future cars; hence, that line item being in my savings category. So this includes gas, car insurance, oil changes, automotive repairs, bicycle repairs, and license plates. Enough said here!


Here is where I budget for health insurance, something I currently don’t have to budget for as my boss pays my premium. I went on Liberty Health Share for some quotes.

Additionally, I include Christmas savings which is not a big line item. I don’t believe in spending exorbitant amounts on stuff we don’t need. I do like giving thoughtful gifts which often include homemade items or just the gift of time. Neither of these things cost a lot.

I also have a line item for hair/make-up/toiletries/vitamins which don’t account for much. Lastly, I include clothing here but I rarely buy new clothes so this expense is small.


This is the fun stuff and I have increased it in my post-retirement budget for obvious reasons. I only include three items here: recreation (a catch-all for random fun), skiing (I plan to do more in retirement) and travel. I do use travel rewards cards but know there is still cost associated with travel. Plus having this category padded will give me the freedom to travel anytime, not just when I have points.

I anticipate some of my post-retirement traveling to be for mission trips.

Adding More People

The next step for me was to come up with a post-retirement budget that included a spouse and then one that included a spouse and some children.

Joint FI

If you review the tab titled, “Sample Month Married” you’ll find highlighted expenses in blue that I presume would double or at least increase with another person:

  • Tithing
  • Random Giving
  • Car Savings
  • Phone
  • All Food
  • All Transportation
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance – this is a new line item since as a single I only have my employer-sponsored life insurance. I obtained a free quote from Zander Insurance.
  • Christmas
  • Clothing
  • All Recreation

Being able to share my life with another person has a ton of advantages but since this is budgeting post, we’ll talk about the financial ones. Housing expenses don’t typically increase from a one to a two-person household. And while other expenses increase, I imagine the addition of a second income far outweighs this.

Family FI

A lot of the same line items increase when I factored two theoretical children into the picture.  You can see what I increased (highlighted in green) on the tab titled, “Sample Month Family”. The biggest increase I accounted for is a college savings fund. I calculated this by taking the average cost of tuition at a state college times two.

I didn’t increase transportation, other than insurance, as I would expect the children to pay for their own automotive expenses if they wanted a car.

Final Thoughts

So much is uncertain about the future but I found this experiment useful. I will be tweaking my post-retirement budget as my life circumstances change but I like having a baseline to work with.

How about you? How do you plan for future uncertainty in retirement?



10 thoughts on “Budgeting For The Future”

  1. Cooper @ Two Corporate Millennials


    I found your blog from the ChooseFI page and watching your Dave Ramsey experience. What an inspiration you are and I will become an avid reader of yours starting today. Thanks for doing what you are doing and being brutally honest.

    As far as budgeting is concerned, I loved this exercise and plan on taking some time this week to do it with my wife. I may not have as many variables, but this is still a wonderful exercise! Thank you for the idea.

    1. Cooper, you are very kind! I am very eager to read some of your stuff too.

      Yeah, it was fun to go through the iterations and think about how expenses can change. The ultimate goal for me was to be more open to possibilities. I now feel confident in that whatever comes, I can still achieve my financial goals.

      I am speculating that the variables which could change with you and your wife are the addition of children. That would be a fun budget experiment for you to flesh out!

        1. Yeah, I just read that in your “about me” section on your blog. Wow!! Okay, unknown variables don’t include more children 🙂

  2. As of right now, I have no idea where I will be in 2 years, let alone 5, 10, etc. I have projections of income (a post I am working on writing!), and income/job security, but I do not have any plans for my future other than to get out of debt. That is plan number one. Get out of debt and continue to contribute 5% into my retirement plan. I feel like, if I can continue pursuing this, I am on the right path.

    At this point, I have no idea how I will handle my future. I haven’t even thought about it. I will say, when I was married, it was a sort of bleek picture in my mind. Retirement looked like something I wouldn’t get to have until 60 or so. Now that I’m single and feel like I have control over my life again, I feel much more certain, that no matter what happens, it will all be okay. Does that make sense?

    I love that you share this with us, and I enjoy reading your insights!

    1. That totally makes sense and to be honest I have no idea where I’ll be in my future too! But I liked looking at the numbers of several options.

      Getting out of debt is a good #1 plan. With your going to nursing school, your income will likely continue to rise so that you can do it quickly!! The fact that you are starting to save for retirement at your young age is going to serve you well. You will totally be okay 🙂

      Thanks for reading and sharing!

Leave a Reply