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Your Monthly Expenses: Part I

The plateau. Every woman that has ever been on a diet has experienced the plateau. The plateau is the part of the diet where no matter what you do you feel like you just can’t overcome the hurdle. You are stopped dead in your tracks. One step shy from obtaining your goal.  When I was thinking about my version of the Black Girl Money Diet. I thought, hmmm, doesn’t that sound like expenses? At least to me, it did. 

Expenses are the monthly hurdle we must overcome every month. No matter what happens, they are there staring us down. Waiting to see how we conquer it. 

Last time, we discussed and completed the starting weight portion of the fillable form—your monthly income. This time, we tackle our plateau – the expense portion. It’s time to open your fillable form and complete the first part of the expense categories.

Now one of the key points that I want you to remember is that if you have an expense that is considered an annual expense then please divide this by 12 so you can get your monthly expense.  I know some of you may be thinking: why do I have to do that; I pay it once a year? That’s true.  The key here is that we want to be able to capture monthly outflows with accuracy.

The first item is probably one of our biggest monthly expenses:


Rent or Mortgage

Please fill in how much you pay per month for your rent or your mortgage.

Property taxes

In Southern California, the average person pays their bill twice a year. Here is where we must divide the annual amount first by 12 in order to determine the monthly amount. Once you have calculated that amount, please fill in that amount.

Repairs and improvements

How much do you anticipate that you will pay monthly for any repairs or improvements on your home?  If you do not have an estimate, then use the actual amount you paid last year. If you had a usually high repair expense last year that you feel does not represent your current situation, then use an estimate. Since I rent, I list zero.

Home equity loan

Fill out how much you pay rather than your minimum monthly payment. If you have a second mortgage rather than a home equity loan, please list it here.

Other (housing). Any other monthly housing expenses that you can think of that are not listed.


Gas and electric bill.

Water and trash. If you pay sewer, please list it here.

Cell phone/landline




Car payment

If you have two car payments please combine them and list both here.

Public transportation

I take the subway to and from work. The amount I spend on my monthly pass would go here. If you do not take public transportation but you like to take either Uber or Lyft, list on average how much you spend per month.


How much do you spend monthly on groceries?

What about dining out?

Personal Care



Entertainment.  All types here such as girl’s night out or going to the movies.

Gym membership

Prescription meds

Other (personal care). For all other personal expenses.

Household upkeep

Cleaning supplies. How much do you estimate you spend on supplies per month?


Other household. List other items here.

That wraps up the first six expense categories. The important goal here is one of accuracy. If you can’t remember any of the expenses off the top of your head, then use your bank statements as your guide. Another good tool is to use your annual spending summary provided by your credit card company.

If you are still having trouble coming up with an estimate, one of my tricks is to use an average based on my prior three months of spending. 

I know this may seem like a daunting task. I agree with you. It is. That is why I split this activity up into two parts. It takes time to list all your expenses and to provide an accurate account of them.

Just remember, there is a purpose to all this madness. This is an important first step in conquering that plateau.

If this is your first time completing such an exercise, it could be an eye-opener. Sometimes we believe we spend a particular amount on something but then the numbers tell us a different story.

If anyone has any questions about how to complete the fillable form, please do not hesitate to either post a comment here or send me an email. I will respond as soon as time permits.

After you fill out all your data, don’t forget to hit the save button.

Next time, we tackle the second portion of the monthly expense categories.

BGMD Editorial Team

Teigh Reed is the Content Editor for BGMD. I have a passion for all things finance-related. I'm on a mission to pay forward my knowledge of money and to cheer on your accomplishments. What's on your money mind? I'm listening.

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