Welcome to Checks + Balanced, where women of different income brackets indicate how much they spend on wellness (and how they budget it) to spread transparency and maybe a little inspiration. See everything
It is widely accepted to talk about fitness, healthy eating, and self-care. But conversations about financial wellbeing – which is vital to wellbeing – are still, for the most part, very confidential. Even at a time when no topic seems taboo, talking about money still carries a stigma, but the Well + Good’s Checks + Balanced series is designed to help end that stigma. Each month a person shares their income, cost of living, and expenses on their preferred healthy habits.
This month, Amee, a business consultant and writer, shares her budget for medical expenses related to her rheumatoid arthritis, caring for her three teenagers, and wellness habits that are important to her – all as single parents. Amee writes books that help people become successful entrepreneurs and she applies much of her expertise to her own life.
Read on to see how Amee balances the rheumatoid arthritis medical spending budget, her family, and the wellness habits that matter to her.
Art: W + G Kreativ
* Amee, 49, business consultant and author, Snohomish, Washington
Income: $ 103,600 / year. My main task and source of income is working as a management consultant. I had my own business as a marketing and branding consultant for many years. I helped business owners create a website and social media concepts. Then in 2018 I was offered a full-time job helping a company set up a HR department because of a staff shortage. At the time, I was having a divorce that was financially and emotionally stressful, so I took the job. But in January 2021 my job was canceled because of the pandemic. Now I’m back in my own business as a consultant, and I’m currently well on my way to making $ 100,000 this year.
In addition to being a consultant, I am also a writer and I write books on business and entrepreneurship. I get up around 4 a.m. to write so I’m done before my kids – I have three teenagers – get up and begin the day’s demands. I make about $ 300 a month on book fees.
Rental fee: $ 1,700 / month. When I was married I lived in a house my partner and I owned together, but when I divorced a few years ago, my children and I moved out. Now I’m renting a house for $ 1,700 a month. I actually prefer to rent out home ownership because it gives us the flexibility to move elsewhere if we want.
Recurring invoices: $ 1,426 / month. Aside from rent, some of my biggest recurring bills are my student loan and heat, which are $ 200 per month each. Having three teenagers all driving means my auto insurance bill is another major recurring expense. $ 355 a month. Fortunately, my car is paid off so I don’t have a monthly car payment. Health insurance is another major recurring expense at $ 250 per month. (I have rheumatoid arthritis, so having good insurance is especially important for me and my budget.)
My cell phone bill is $ 300 per month and includes a Netflix subscription. Our Wi-Fi bill is $ 70 per month. I also have a subscription to Audible which is $ 15 per month. My subscription to Acorn, an investing app that costs $ 5 per month. I also have an Amazon Prime subscription which is $ 13 a month and the last recurring bill I have is Renters Insurance which is $ 18 a month.
Expenditures for children: $ 400 / month. I pay my kids an allowance every week so they can spend some money. Fortunately, your dad is really supportive and if you want to do an activity he will step in and help with it. He also pays child support. My kids aren’t really athletic; My daughter reads and prefers to do art, for example. I budget $ 100 a week for their allowance and random things they need – like eye makeup remover or hair gel for my son. There are always things that come up.
Eat: $ 400 / month. At the beginning and at the height of the pandemic, I used a grocery service to deliver my groceries – being immunocompromised I didn’t feel safe going to the store myself. But now that I’m fully vaccinated, I can shop at Safeway again. Occasionally, I order items in bulk from Amazon to save money.
In general, the food bill has increased during the pandemic as all children are at home rather than at school. It hit $ 1,000 a month once – which was also because I got the groceries delivered, which costs a fee. It’s better under control now, around $ 400 a month. What we eat, I often light the grill and make burgers, hot dogs or grilled chicken breasts. I keep the pantry and refrigerator full of food that the kids can easily take in and eat – they go through a lot of cereal, for example.
Fitness: $ 0 / month. Fitness is very important to me. Staying active to manage my arthritis symptoms is important to me and also critical to maintaining my sanity. I like to take a walk. I’m going to run five or six miles which is a nice long afternoon break from work. I also have an exercise bike set up in my bedroom, so I sometimes jump on it for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on how I feel. I also have free weights at home that I use. Well I don’t really use them that much to be honest. I stare at them and think about using them!
Beauty: $ 160 / month. Before the pandemic, I was really in beauty. Now it’s just no longer a priority for me. I will put on makeup when I have a large meeting or presentation, but other than that, I just use moisturizer and mascara. I would estimate that I would be spending about $ 100 a month on things like skin care, makeup, and shower products. I do my hair every six weeks which is $ 80 each time.
Medical expenses: $ 100 / month. Autoimmune disease can be quite expensive and is something I have to budget for. My health insurance doesn’t cover everything. I have to have a physical and blood test every three months. Since my immune system is weakened, I get sick more easily. For example, last year I had cold sores and my immune system overreacted. Because of this, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on doctor visits. So now I always make sure to put money in a savings account every month that doubles as a bucket for medical expenses like this that may arise.
Self-sufficiency: $ 800 / year. My long walks are really meditative and I see this as a form of self-care. I enjoy listening to music while I walk and it’s just a great way to reset my brain. Hiking has also become part of my self-sufficiency – Washington is a great place to live for it. I spend about $ 400 a year on hiking gear, like hiking boots, gear, and clothing.
My other form of self-care is watching Netflix. I’m a huge Marvel fan so sometimes I’ll go to the movies on a weekend and that’s my time for me. I also like massages. It just feels good to have someone else take care of you, you know? I didn’t get massages during the pandemic, but now that I’ve had the vaccine, I’ll be back. The massages are $ 100 each and I go about four times a year.
* Last name withheld.
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