It is widely accepted to talk about fitness, healthy food and self-care. But conversations about financial wellness — which is crucial to well-being — remain in large part very muted. Even while it doesn’t seem like a taboo topic, talking about money still has a stigma attached to it, but ok + good The Balanced Check + series is meant to help end this stigma. Each month, one person shares their income, living expenses, and what they spend on their favorite healthy habits.
This month, Amy, a business consultant and author, shares her budget for rheumatoid arthritis-related medical expenses, caring for three teens, and the health habits that matter to her—all as a single parent. Amy writes books that help people become successful entrepreneurs and applies much of her knowledge to her own life.
Keep reading to see how Amy balances her ability to balance rheumatoid arthritis medical expenses and her family with the health habits that matter to her.
*My mom, 49, business consultant and author, Snohomish, Washington
Income: $103,600 per year. My primary job and source of income is working as a business consultant. For many years, I have been doing my own business as a marketing and branding consultant. I have helped business owners with things like creating a website and social media concepts. Then in 2018, I was offered a full-time job to help a company develop a recruitment department because they were understaffed. At the time, I was going through a divorce, which was financially and emotionally draining, so I took the job. But in January 2021, my job was canceled due to the pandemic. I’m now back in counseling on my own and am currently making $100,000 this year.
In addition to being a consultant, I am also an author who writes books on business and entrepreneurship. I get up around 4 a.m. to write so I can do it before my kids – I have three teens – wake up and the demands of the day begin. I make about $300 a month in book fees.
Leasing: $1700/month. When I was married, I lived in a house that my partner and I owned together, but when they separated two years ago, my children and I moved in. Now I rent a house for $1700 a month. I actually prefer renting over owning a home, as it gives us the flexibility to move elsewhere if we want to.
Recurring billing: $1426/month. Besides rent, some of my biggest recurring bills are student loans and streams, which are $200 a month each. Having three teens driving means my car insurance bill is another big recurring expense; $355 a month. Fortunately, my car was paid for, so I don’t have monthly car payments. Health insurance is another great recurring account at $250 a month. (I have rheumatoid arthritis, so it is very important for me and my budget to have good insurance coverage.)
My cell phone bills $300 a month, and it includes a Netflix subscription. Our Wi-fi bill is $70 a month. I also have a subscription to audible, which is $15 a month. my subscription to oak, which is an investment app, which is $5 per month. I also have an Amazon Prime subscription, which is $13/month, and my last recurring bill is renter insurance, which is $18/month.
Child related expenses: $400/month. I pay my kids an allowance every week so they can spend some money. Fortunately, their father is really supportive and if they want to do something, he will step in and help with it. It also pays child support. My kids aren’t really into sports; My daughter prefers reading and doing art, for example. I make $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 appear.
food: $400/month. During the beginning and peak of the epidemic, I used the grocery service to deliver my groceries – since I’m immunocompromised, I didn’t feel safe going to the store myself. But now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’m back to shopping at Safeway. Occasionally, I’ll order things in bulk from Amazon to save money.
In general, the grocery bill went up during the pandemic, as all the kids were at home and not at school. At one point it was as low as $1000 a month – that’s also because I was getting groceries delivered, which is charging me a fee. Now it’s more under control, about $400 a month. In terms of what we eat, I often turn up the grill and make burgers, sausages, or grilled chicken breasts. I keep the pantry and fridge full of foods the kids can get their hands on and eat—they eat a lot of cereal, for example.
Fitness: 0 dollars / month. Fitness is really important to me. It’s important for me to stay active to overcome my arthritis symptoms, and it’s also important for maintaining my mental health. I love to go for walks. I’ll walk five or six miles, which is a long afternoon off work. I also have an exercise bike installed in my bedroom, so sometimes I’ll jump on that anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how I’m feeling. I also have free weights at home that I use. Well, I don’t really use it much, to be honest. I’m staring at them thinking About using it, though!
Beauty: $160/month. Before the pandemic, I was really into beauty. Now, it’s not a priority for me anymore. I’ll put some makeup on if I have a big meeting or presentation, but other than that, I only use moisturizer and mascara. I estimate that I spend about $100 a month on things like skincare, makeup, and bath products. I style my hair every six weeks, and it’s $80 a time.
Medical Expenses: $100/month. Having an autoimmune condition can be very expensive and is something I have to budget for. My health insurance doesn’t cover everything. Every three months I have to do physical and blood work. Since my immune system is weak, the disease has become easier. For example, last year I had a cold sore and it caused my immune system to overreact. I dropped hundreds of dollars for medical visits because of it. So now I always make sure to put the money into a savings account each month, which doubles as a bucket for medical expenses like this that can come up.
Self care 800 dollars/year. Hiking is really meditative and I see it as a form of self-care. I love listening to music while walking and it’s a really good way to reset my mind. Hiking has also become a part of my self-care – Washington is a great place to live for that. I spend about $400 a year on hiking equipment, such as hiking boots, equipment, and clothing.
My other form of self-care is watching Netflix. I’m a huge fan of Marvel, so sometimes I’ll wow movies on the weekends, and that’s my time. I also love getting a massage. It feels so nice to have someone else take care of you, you know? I stopped getting massages during the pandemic, but now that I’m vaccinated, I’ll start going back again. The massages cost $100, and I go about four times a year.
* Last name withheld.
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