Ask the Readers: What Is Your Biggest Monthly Expense?

By Ashley Jacobs on 21 April 2015 107 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Jeff, Kelli, and Christie for winning this week's contest!

An important part of budgeting is figuring out how much we spend each month on various things — utilities, groceries, mortgages, credit card debt, etc. — and a popular tip for lowering our monthly expenses is to find a way to slash the biggest item on the list.

What is your biggest monthly expense? What percentage of your budget does it take up, approximately? Can you think of any way to lower this expense, and does it make sense for your situation to do so?

Tell us what your biggest monthly expense is and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For Extra Entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, April 27th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 27th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
     
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
     
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck! 

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Michelle Taylor

Biggest Expense is mortgage

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Elena

The biggest expense is mortgage. It takes up 40% of our income

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Greg Grieb

Housing including mortgage, property taxes and insurance make up about 20.5% of my take home pay.

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Ernest S.

Rent is definitely my biggest monthly expense. It takes up about 40% of my monthly income!

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sfmitch

My biggest monthly expense is housing.

Mortgage is $1125. HOA dues are $502. Property Taxes are about $500.

That's $2127 month. Income Tax deductions take a bit of the sting out of that number.

I have more house than I need but I sure do like the large amount of space, location, etc. Only way I could think of lowering my cost is to take on a roommate and I don't think I want to do that.

The good news is that, in the 4 years I've owned the house, it has appreciated close to $400k in value.

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Mary Happymommy

Our mortgage is our biggest expense but I think that's pretty normal.

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Julie Wood

The terrible rising cost of groceries is my biggest monthly expense! I use coupons and shop on sale, but still if I want to cook healthy it costs a lot of money!

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Julien

Biggest expense is mortgage.

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Gina

My biggest monthly expense is rent and it takes up 50% of my income but there's no way to lower it.

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Bayuze

Rent is the biggest - about 40% of monthly income!

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Kay

My biggest expense is definitely rent. Northern CA is not cheap!

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Joanna

Rent! And it never seems to go down.

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Betty

My biggest monthly expense is rent. My health insurance is a close second, which is sad.

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Swapna

Daycare is my biggest expense.

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Bethany M

The rent!

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caroline

Mortgage and property tax and insurance is 1/3 of my take in.

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Abby

Rent is my biggest expense by far.

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Sam L

The mortgage bleghhh

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Laura J

My biggest monthly expense is our mortgage. I have thought about refinancing which would lower it. It takes up about 35 percent.

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Ryan

Rent/mortgage is the highest, it was at 22% of my take home pay, but now I took on a second job and it's at 15% of my take home pay. For now this is the lowest I can get it at unless I raise my income further.

Without my roommate it would be about double that percent. And 50% more without the second job.

Technically my car bill is lower than my rent by almost $100 but everything extra goes towards paying that loan right now which is about 65% of my take home income.

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Sheila K.

Our biggest monthly expense is the mortgage.

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Eric

Rent. Definitely rent.

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Douglas Goldstein

Biggest expense is sending both of our kids to day care. We both work, so we have no choice.

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lisa

By far biggest cost each month is rent. Duh. But close second is gas gas gas. Fuel is not cheap when one has to commute 45 miles a day 5 days a week to school.

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Mary W

I do not have a mortgage so that's off the table. Currently my biggest expense is credit cards. I live with a spender. I am the saver. Good thing we are not both spenders!

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Susan P.

I don't have a mortgage or car payments so the biggest monthly expense I have is rent for my daughters in college.

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tina c

Definitely the mortgage at $1200/mon for a 4/2 in a very modest neighborhood in Tampa fl. We could probably refinance & get a lower rate but will probably have to move soon, so doesn't really make sense. (Husband is unemployed and can't find a decent paying job here.) That gift card would help btw! :)

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Renee

Like most others here, mortgage is the biggest. After that, probably groceries!

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Raina

My mortgage is my biggest monthly expense. It's over 40% of my post-tax income. I could definitely reduce it since I bought quite a nice, big house which I don't really need, but I bought it as an investment. Other than that, property taxes and homeowner's insurance are the next biggest expenses... go figure!

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Linda

Our mortgage is out biggest expense each month.

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nicole dziedzic

My biggest monthly expense is my house payment.

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Mandi

My biggest expense is my house mortgage. :( it takes up about 25% of my total monthly budget which also includes student loans, utilities, food, a car loan, etc. I already refinanced so can't reduce it anymore and I love my home too much to downsize.

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Sarah

Does savings count? The majority of our money goes towards savings, but our mortgage is roughly 2/3 of our spending budget.

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Cynthia

My biggest monthly expense is groceries, it can get pricey trying to buy mostly organic foods.

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Emily

Definitely my mortgage, which is quite reasonable but still the largest line item in my budget.

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Jen

My biggest expense is rent. I just lowered it in November by moving to a cheaper place closer to work.

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Amanda Sakovitz

My car payment is my biggest expense

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Jennifer Marie

House costs are our biggest monthly expense.

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Mandy

Paying student loans costs us 25% of our monthly budget! :(

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Jennifer

Our biggest expense is our mortgage (PITI), which comprises 13% of our gross income. we just refinanced and hope to put a little extra towards the principal each month to cut long-term costs.

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Susan Smith

Mortgage payment is my biggest expense and is about 25% of our pay.

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Bonnie

Rent.

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HMA

Our mortgage was, but now our monthly health-care premiums and health/dental costs are (and we don't have any health problems! Just routine things for a family).

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Christina

My mortgage is my biggest expense. It is about 30% of my income.

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Christie

It's a toss-up. Our credit card bill usually ends up being more than the mortgage every month, but we put ALL of our other bills and shopping on the card every month. After that, the mortgage is our biggest expense, though it's not too much.

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lostAnnfound

Mortgage, if you do P+I+T+I, comes out to about 20% of our budget.

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Guest

Our rent. It takes up 20% of our income. We save 15% a month so that we'll be able to buy something in the next few years. Our most frivolous expense is our premium cable package but I can't convince my husband to give it up!

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Guest

My biggest line item is the mortgage - i have lowered it by refinancing for a decent rate and only a 15 year term

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MJ

When I look at my budget, the largest number is in the housing category, but it sure seems like irregular expenses and entertainment suck up a lot of cash. Recently, debt payments have taken the biggest chunk, but I don't make that a line in my budget.

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Olivia

Housing. It is part of the salary package and not flexible. 28% of the total package for tax purposes.

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Guest

My rent takes up the most. It is about 40% of my income, which I feel like is a lot. Unfortunately, for where I live, I'm actually paying a really good price.

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Karen

My greatest monthly expense is health insurance--about 37% of my monthly budget. I will raise my deductible at the end of the year, as long as I don't incur any unexpected health issues. When I do change plans, with the lower monthly payment and the higher deductible, I would end up paying about the same as I do now if I had a medical problem, so I would have to continue to budget at the same rate.

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Guest

My cable Tv is the biggest expense

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Judy

My mortgage is my biggest expense each month, followed by medical bills.

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Teri T

Housing! When I bought my house 20 years ago, my income was on the rise. Now thanks to budget cuts at my work, I've lost 10% of my pay plus our work week was cut from five days to four. It's a struggle every month to pay my house payment and for necessities. Tried finding a part time job to supplement my income, but so many businesses want you to be available 24/7.

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Margaret

My biggest monthly expense is rent. Second biggest is groceries.

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Suz_Glo

The mortgage! But after that I'd have to say groceries are the biggest expense.

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Elle

My mortgage is my biggest monthly payment that I have.

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Donna Sako

Insurance is about 23% of my budget but I m helping another to pay off student loans which is about 30-50% of my budget.

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Nancy

Four years ago our biggest expense was the mortgage. Then we sold our house for a profit, moved to a less expensive area, and paid cash for the house we have now. With that taken care of, our biggest expense became my medical insurance, but this year I went on Medicare. Now our biggest expense is food for a family of 3. We minimize that by a combination of tactics--cooking at home, limiting meat, shopping sales, bulk buying.

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DG Reid

The biggest monthly expense is the mortgage. This includes taxes and insurance as well as the house loan itself. The house is modest but then neighborhood around us has gentrified and the value has gone up. Good if we want to sell and move, not so good since we want to stay!

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Louly

By FAR our biggest expense is our electric bill since our entire house is electric.

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April

Housing is our biggest expense. Mortgage, HOA, insurance, taxes, and utilities make up 30% of our take home pay. We could move to decease this but choose to live in a top school district and the taxes and property costs seem to follow.

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Amanda

My and my husband's largest monthly expense WOULD be our mortgage. However, since we split that and do not split my student loan payment, I would say *MY* biggest expense each month is my $400 student loan payment.

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Guest

My Mortgage. It is about 35% of my budget

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Candice

Mortgage takes up about 35% of our income, followed by groceries.

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Tabathia B

Rent is the most expensive with utiilties and food both a close second

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Rachael Woodstuff

Our largest expense is our mortgage. It is 24% of our monthly budget. I feel like it's lower than it could be, I think 24% is a good number. However, it is followed closely by our student loans, which come in at a whopping 17%. Ugh!

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My largest expense is our mortgage.

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marsha

Our house and cars are paid for so food is about $700 a month. what I don't see mentioned is the cost of insurance. Ours is 850.00 per month. That is 8% -/+

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Catseye

Like most people, my biggest monthly expense is keeping a roof over my head. It's tougher than ever because I'm currently on a fixed income and had to move last fall to a more expensive place. I don't even want to know what percentage of my income goes towards rent.

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Elena R.

My biggest expense is daycare.

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Michael Bruce

Mortgage is my biggest expense.

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Sophie_SF

In term of % of my take home salary, I am below 20% for my rent. I would say my biggest expense right now is my credit card debt ($9,000) and upcoming school loan since I will be finishing my grad program in May.

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SerenityNow

Definitely rent. Student loans are a close second.

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Guest

The mortgage

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Denise

Housing bundle...mortgage, park fee, insurance, taxes...grateful that I can keep it all manageable and under control

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Cassie Nix

Student loans! We are paying off 4x the minimum payment to try and get them paid off quickly.

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Heather

My biggest monthly expense is my mortgage, by far! But it won't be forever...I'm aggressively working to pay it off early!

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Patrick

Nothing original here, it's my mortgage. Looking forward to the day when it's paid off and I can have a different answer.

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Jeff

mortgage

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Dee Dee

Building payment and property tax.

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Carol Anderson

My biggest monthly expense is my retirement savings: $2,858. This includes maxing out my 401K, Health Savings Account and Roth IRA.

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Toni B

Our biggest expense is rent, followed by food. It probably takes about 30-40% of our income. We could probably find a cheaper place to live, but we love the area & being able to garden (which saves on food in the summer).

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Holly Sanford

Mortgage is my biggest expense. I pay $1100 a month between my condo mortgage payment and HOA fee. I've thought about trying to sell my condo and move into an apartment but the apartment costs are not much cheaper where I live so I hate the thought of paying someone else's mortgage instead of my own if it's not going to save me much money.

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Jen2

Our mortgage (followed closely by childcare). Mortgage is currently 31% of our net and 20% of our gross. Childcare is 24% of our net and 15% of our gross. The two together are a heavy burden!

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Jeremy

My biggest expense is Rent. I would definitely suggest living within your means (30% of monthly income to rent) or you may struggle like me.

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Cindy Lilly

My biggest monthly expense is my rent payment. It takes up about 40% of my budget. I can eradicate this expense by marrying someone who already has a house. It makes a lot of sense for my situation to do this because I'm in my 30s and ready for love, marriage, and children.

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Kim

It's definitely the mortgage. I'm adding extra each month, so it's quite a bit.

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Kelli

Mortgage is definitely my biggest monthly expense.

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J. Pario

Mortgage, especially since we are trying to pay it off early.

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Cinch

We can't offer a gift card, but we do have some advice. Try BillSnap, and learn how you can save more on everything from credit cards, to mortgages! It's super helpful, and it's free!

Guest's picture

Mortgage by far. But if you break it down by PITI, I actually pay more in property taxes each month than I do on my mortgage.

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Jasoon

My biggest expense is my mortgage

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Guest

Rent, without a doubt. When I lived in Philly it took up 30% of my income, but now that I'm moving to northern California that's prob going to be closer to 50%

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Matt

Our biggest expense is the truck payment at 14% of our income. No reason to try to lower it other than just paying it off early.

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Adrienne

Like most of the commenters, the mortgage is our biggest expense. Refinancing a few years ago saved us about $100 a month, but it's still our largest monthly bill.

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Liisa R

Rent!

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Matt

Rent

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Ginger

My mortgage is the biggest expense!