Frugal Living 

Calculate Your Monthly Freedom Day

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Pocket CalendarEvery year, the Tax Foundation points to a day in April and proclaims it Tax Freedom Day. It’s the day after which you have effectively earned enough to cover your tax liabilities for the year. For 2010, that day was April 9th. In 2009, it was April 8th. The idea is that, based on what you are projected to owe in taxes, every hour you work until that day goes towards funding that liability. It’s more a gimmick than anything else but it does underscore an important point, each month you experience your own “Freedom Day.”

Your personal Monthly Freedom Day is the day where you earned enough that month to cover your fixed monthly obligations like your rent or mortgage, your car loan or your student loans. Today, I’m going to help you calculate your Monthly Freedom Day.

First, why should you calculate your Monthly Freedom Day? There are two reasons:

  1. That which can be measured, can be improved. By sitting down and calculating your Monthly Freedom Day, you get to review all of your monthly expenses and make a decision on whether or not you want to keep them. In the case of your rent or mortgage, you won’t have much of a choice. In the case of other monthly service contracts, like a gym membership or Netflix subscription, you may decide you don’t want to pay for it anymore.
  2. It’s fun! It’s fun to know what day you start working for yourself, instead of for the government or your possessions (like your car or your education).

Adding Up Expenses

The first step is to find every monthly expense you have and adding it up. You can start by looking at your credit card bills and bank statements, as you probably pay for most of your services through one of those two methods. If there are monthly bills you pay in cash, it’s important to include those as well. Next, you need to recall all the things you pay for on a quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis. If you own a home, this might be quarterly water bills or the annual property tax assessment (these may be integrated into your mortgage payment). One common one is insurance, as my auto insurance is billed every six months. If you’re a stickler for details, try to estimate gasoline usage (or mass transit expenses) and parking fees if you want to be more precise.

Here are the ones that were in my list of monthly expenses: mortgage (including property taxes and homeowners insurance), auto insurance (semiannual), Netflix membership, pest control services, cell phone, cable television/internet, gym and magazine subscriptions.

Calculating Earnings

There are two different strategies you can take for calculating your earnings:

  • Calculate earnings after tax. Look at your paycheck and divide your take home pay (gross income minus deductions) by the number of hours worked.
  • Use gross income and add deductions to your expenses. Divide your gross pay by the number of hours you worked so you know how much you earn per day, then account for the deductions by adding them to your monthly expenses. This is most similar to the way the Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day.

The first way is easier and creates a much earlier day in the month but the second way is more in the spirit of the Tax Foundations calculation.


So now you have your earnings per day (per eight hours) and your expenses, simply divide and you know how many days you need to work in order to hit your Monthly Freedom Day. This day will change each month, depending on when the weekends fall, but you get the general idea.

Which day is your Monthly Freedom Day?

(Photo: joelanman)

{ 9 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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9 Responses to “Calculate Your Monthly Freedom Day”

  1. Shirley says:

    If I am retired, can I count the 1st day of each month as my Monthly Freedom Day? 😉

  2. cdiver says:

    What does it mean when your monthly freedom day does not come until the following month?

  3. Hope? says:

    So we have to work one more day in 2010 to pay our taxes. Doesn’t this mean taxes went up compared to 2009? What happened to Mr. Obama’s “no tax increase on those earning less than $250k”? My effective tax rate also went up in 2009 compared to 2008.

    • Martha says:

      Are you including state and local taxes?

    • zapeta says:

      The increase by one day is considering the entire population, and those who make above 250k had their taxes increase. It doesn’t mean that you specifically have to work one extra day to pay your taxes. The increase in your effective tax rate could easily be explained by deductions that you were able to take in 2008 but couldn’t in 2009 rather than an actual tax increase.

  4. jsbrendog says:

    this is an interesting idea. im not sure i would go through it to figure it out but it is very intriguing. it is very similar to the previous post about quantifying purchases by how many hours of work it would take to pay it off imo

  5. FlyFisher says:

    Interesting idea. The length it takes for someone to get this together is probably a good test on how organized your finances are.

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