For the first time in my life, I'm actually trying to keep to a budget. Last year we had a very good year, financially, and we went a little nuts with various financial aspects. This year certainly won't be bad, but it'll be a bit tight unless BiM starts selling like hotcakes. So last night, Kev and I sat down and worked out our annual and monthly fixed expenses, and then figured out what we had left for weekly costs. We ended up with $150/week for groceries, toiletries, clothes, books, movies, grabbing sandwiches when Kev's on campus, occasional dinners out, his nice coffee from Intelligentsia, etc.
This still sounds like a lot of money to me. But I suspect it's not as much money as it seems like right now. For example, I just bought $40 of books on Amazon: King's On Writing, LeGuin's The Language of the Night, Seth's travel memoir, and The Best American Essays of 2004, so this week's budget is already down to $110. While I expect to enjoy these books, they're also valid teaching/writing expenses; part of the job is reading. At least I get to deduct them on taxes.
It'd be good if I actually spent less than $150/week, since we're not saving anything this year as the budget currently stands. (Kev does get automatic retirement benefit stuff, but I don't, for example). This is just for this year; we're planning on paying off the rest of my student loans this year, so next year should be better. I'd ideally like to work until I keel over, but there's no guarantee my health (physical or mental) will allow that, so I do need to start planning for retirement at some point. Next year, hopefully.
Being a writer is complicated. :-) If I take a nice full-time academic job with benefits, all of this essentially gets taken care of for me. But that might cut into the writing, which is Not Allowed. So we're planning for various contingencies.
By the way, in case it isn't clear, Kevin is still essentially supporting me, as he did last year too, while all my income is going to pay off various old debts (and pay for various writerly expenses, like the Sri Lanka trip and a comfy chair and a new laptop and a book launch party). Writers may not need patrons as much as they did in the old days, but gosh, they're nice to have.