In this episode, we break down the main budget categories, Food and Transportation, and identify what expenses you should include in these two areas of your budget.  We'll also share simple yet powerful tips on how to save money and manage each of these expenses so you can budget more successfully.

SHow Notes:

Main Category - Food - Average of 10-13% of Net Income

Two Subcategories

  • Groceries - foods you prepare.
  • Eating Out - restaurants or take out.


  • High variation in cost - organic or specialty foods.
  • Cost per person per month - $200 to 225 per person.
  • Shop with a list (meal planning).
  • Keep a mental tally or add up cost on a phone calculator.
  • Don’t shop when hungry or in a hurry (kids in tow).
  • Cost vs value - get generic when possible.

Eating Out

  • Set a reasonable amount.
  • Take out or fast food for 2 - $15-25.
  • Sit down basic - $30-$35.
  • Sit down fancy - $50-$100.
  • Use cash.
  • Share an appetizer and split a meal.
  • Use promotions or coupons.

Main Category - Transportation - Average of 10-13% of Net Income

Tags & Inspection

  • $100-$120 per vehicle in Texas - check your own state required inspection and license/tags/taxes renewal fees.
  • Total cost for all vehicles /12

Maintenance & Repair Cost

  • Varies depending on make and model of vehicle.
  • Use a reputable mechanic vs dealer to save on maintenance and repairs.
  • $150 or more per month is a good starting budget - depends on condition.


  • Oil change every 3-5K miles.
  • Air filter, fuel filter, cabin filter - every year.
  • Coolant flush and change every 1 to 2 years.
  • Transmission fluid change and service every year.
  • Tire replaced every 40-50K miles (3 to 4 years).
  • Battery replaced every 4 to 5 years.
  • Brakes - 2 to 4 years (varies depending on driving and vehicle type).


  • A/C repair
  • Alternator/Starter
  • Timing belt

Car Payments

Difficult to fit into an average income budget.

  • Ex. $65,000 net income
    • Transportation (12%) $7,800/yr or $650/month.
    • Gas $120
    • Insurance $125
    • Maintenance & repairs $150
    • Tags $16
    • Total = $411 leaving $239 available for a car payment.


  • Calculate your mpg on each car.
    • Calculate how much driving you do per month per car.
    • Ex. 1000 miles/mo, 20/mpg, 50 gallons @ $2.25/gallon = $112.50/mo (do this for all ca rs).


  • Get adequate insurance from a reputable insurance company.
  • Newer or financed cars require full coverage (avg. $70/mo.).
  • Older vehicles - liability insurance (good drivers).
  • Consider having a higher deductible (make sure you have an emergency fund).
  • Carefully shop for add on’s like towing, gap insurance, vanishing deductible, which are not free!


You can access these and other resources on my Resource page.

Budget Forms and Tutorials
Spending Guidelines
Debt Payoff Plan