2014 expenses

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  • Rent is $1695 per month for two people. This is a relatively good deal for the Bay Area, and is partly explained by our living in the relatively less sexy backwater that is South Berkeley.
  • Health insurance costs about $207 per month. This was the cheapest plan I could find. I would have preferred to find a cheaper plan, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outlaws lower-cost plans.
  • Internet, inclusive of taxes, costs about $56 per month for our household. Our Internet provider is sonic.net.
  • Electricity and gas cost about $25-40 per month for the household, with some seasonal variation.
  • Web hosting on Linode cost $50/month till July. In July, I upgraded to a $100/month plan, not because it was immediately needed, but because I didn’t want to have to deal with upgrading and related issues once I had a full-time job. My total web hosting expenses for 2014 and 2015 together would come to a little over $2000.
  • Until I started my full-time job, my transportation expenses were negligible — two $1.85 trips to downtown Berkeley in a week, plus one $8 round-trip to San Francisco every 2-3 weeks, and a $20 trip to the South Bay every 2-3 months. After joining my job, transportation has become a major expense category: a $7.80 BART round-trip from Ashby BART to 16th Street/Mission BART every weekday, plus a $2 bus ride back from downtown Berkeley on weekends, so about $41 per week.
  • I’ve spent money on contributing to a fund used for promoting Open Borders: The Case posts on Facebook. I believe my expenses so far have been in the $500-1000 range.
  • Until August 2014, I did not have a smartphone, but my Nokia 2610 went through two $50 recharges. In August 2014, I acquired a $50 Nokia Lumia smartphone with a $40 monthly plan. I don’t use the smartphone as a phone at all, and still use my old phone for phone calls. The smartphone offers a way to browse the Internet during my commutes — a need I didn’t have until I accepted a full-time job that would necessitate an hour of daily commuting. My usage of my regular phone has also gone up considerably since I got my job, and I’ve had to do two or three more $50 recharges since then. My combined phone expenses for this year and next year are expected to be a little over $1000.
  • A major one-time expense: my laptop conked out unexpectedly, so I had to buy a new one and install relevant software on it. This cost somewhere between $700 and $900.
  • Another major one-time expense: my flight from Chicago to Oakland cost $273, plus $30 for the ride from the airport.
  • I have some other Internet-based subscription services, including Pandora ($4/month), Eros Now ($6/month), OKCupid ($10/month) and SurveyMonkey ($200/year). I may not renew the OKCupid and SurveyMonkey subscriptions.
  • I had to pay $380 for my Optional Practical Training STEM extension application.
  • My expenses on entertainment purchases from Amazon were somewhere in the $200-500 range this year. About $200 was purchases of all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. I’ve also bought about 30 songs at the $1 price, and about a dozen books.
  • Restaurant dining was also a relatively big expense. Prior to getting my job, I had on average four outside meals. After getting my job, the number of outside meals that I pay for myself has remained around that number, perhaps even gone down. But the company sponsors lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • My one original sin is hot chocolate. I get a daily hot chocolate from Take 5 Cafe. At $2, it’s pretty cheap, but it still comes to almost $700 a year (they are closed sometimes, which is why it doesn’t go all the way to $730). I also sometimes get a hot chocolate from a place near my job. That costs $3 but I only do it one or two times a week, and only started in August. In addition, I have hot chocolate powder at home that I sometimes use for additional replenishment.
  • Groceries and toiletries: Hard to keep track of these, but I spend about $40 on food in my weekly shopping at Trader Joe’s, plus about $50 a month shopping at WalGreens. Estimated annual cost: $2000-3500.

Basic information