Author Topic: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested  (Read 5325 times)

1111111

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« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 12:08:15 PM by anoninca »

Zamboni

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2016, 09:15:44 PM »
Congrats on getting started!

Focus first on what you can control directly yourself without worrying too much about your spouse.

Specific Question(s):
Should I get rid of my car and get a cheaper car? If so, any suggestions?
Should I pay off one or both cars?
Personally I would sell both cars and get older used cars of the same or similar makes and models. That will cause your payments to go to zero and your insurance will also decrease quite a bit because you can drop collision on cheap cars. Those loan durations are absurd.

What retirement account(s) should I open?
You need to open IRA's and contribute the maximum. You should both do this. Neither of you have access to a 401k or 403b through work?

Can I keep my gym membership? Sure, if that is a priority for you and you are using it regularly. It sounds like you are. Keep what brings value and joy to your life.

Suggestions for best cell phone companies? Why are you paying for someone else's phone? I use airvoice wireless to the tune of $10-20/month. If this is really required for work, then ask them to foot the bill. If you never ask . . .

Suggestions for streaming soccer and boxing or getting them a la carte online?
My other half streams English league games happily from some kind of little box. I can try to find out what it is if you are serious about it.

Frugal high protein meals that don't involve beans? You are spending $600/month for two people . . . you can get that down without jumping straight to beans. I feed three adult-sized people for less than that and we eat meat/chicken/eggs/cheese frequently. Try buying the family pack of whatever meat or poultry is on super sale that week and freezing in right size portions.

Any other ideas? Take small steps towards optimization each month and you'll be in better shape. If you can find a way to autosave as much as possible via direct deposit to retirement accounts (aka pay yourself first), then you'll find a way to live on what is left over.

Widget

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2016, 10:19:05 PM »
Unless I'm reading something wrong, your gross income is $9166 a month, which means you have $4166/month left over after your monthly expenses, that is a pretty great savings rate.  I would definitely use that to pay off the vehicles first if you plan to keep them both.

I agree with Zamboni, worry about what you can adjust rather than worrying about your spouse.  You don't mention any long term goals...are you wanting to retire early?  It helps to have your spouse on board, but I think you will fare best by just setting the example and taking steps to get there.  If they jump on board, great!  If not, you can still work towards it yourself.

Should I get rid of my car and get a cheaper car? If so, any suggestions?
--you can buy a nice used, older car for the $5k you have invested in your Carolla. Getting rid of that debt may make you feel more secure in where you are at currently, as well as demonstrate to your spouse how serious you are about saving. It doesn't seem like the car itself is a priority to you anyway.

Should I pay off one or both cars?  Yes!  That is what I would prioritize in your situation.  Get rid of the debt, then throw everything towards maxing out your retirement, as Zamboni mentioned.

Can I keep my gym membership?  Better to spend the money on your health on the front end than the back end ;-)

Suggestions for best cell phone companies?  I like AT&T.  Not the most frugal option, but I pay ~$60/month for 6GB of data, unlimited texting, and some calling minutes I never use, it's more than enough.

Frugal high protein meals that don't involve beans?  Buy meat in bulk when it's on sale, prep and freeze it.  I love rice and beans, but it doesn't have to be quite so dire!  Eggplant, pasta, chicken, are all easy things to cook at home.  Do you grill?  That can add a lot of variety in flavor to things you normally would cook in the oven.  Don't spend on alcohol when you go out to eat.

Any other ideas? 
Your idea to shop around for car insurance is great, I would definitely pursue that.
I wouldn't push the idea of moving on your spouse, if they bring it up later, great.  It doesn't sound like that's a big problem area for you anyway.
Any way to boost your business income easily?  Don't forget free sources of advertising like social media accounts.
The $100 on home supplies seems high...maybe cut that by looking at cheaper store brands?

Villanelle

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2016, 11:49:59 PM »
You added $700 in slop money for things you don't pay every month.  That's a pretty large amount and should be better accounted for.    Perhaps your professional dues are insanely expensive or you have some other reason for this, but otherwise it seems like you have a lot of money that goes out without you really knowing where.  I'd start writing down every penny you spend, and see if you can get spouse to do this too. 

Yes, get rid of your car and get something older and cheaper.  This should also save you some money on insurance. For the Maxima, assuming selling isn't an option, paying it off is kind of meh.  1.49 is a great rate, and you can do better by investing the money.  If your income is very secure, I'd probably not pay that off, but I'd make sure that I was putting as much as possible in the market. 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2016, 03:20:07 AM »
Why isn't your husband on your health insurance through work?

Does something keep you in California? Two jobs to get to $85k is pretty achievable in lower-cost areas.

thedayisbrave

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2016, 06:17:10 AM »
I wouldn't pay off your cars.  The rates are low and they're not luxurious - they will last you a while, so take good care of them.

Since your workplace doesn't have a retirement plan, I'd start a Trad. IRA.  You can contribute $11,000 per year ($5,500 for each spouse). 

You mention other business income.  How is that entity set up? You could potentially open up a SEP IRA or something similar to get a little more money into retirement accounts.  I believe with a SEP you're limited to 25% of profits, but that's still something.

And yes, as others have mentioned.... keep a detailed record of what you spend.  It sucks at first but once you have a clear grasp of what you're spending on, you'll be able to control it much, much better.  You seem to have a lot of extra each month, but your savings don't really show for it.

slappy

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2016, 06:29:45 AM »
Check out budgetbytes.com for frugal meal ideas

1111111

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2016, 09:58:32 AM »
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« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 12:08:32 PM by anoninca »

garion

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2016, 12:18:47 PM »
I would personally fund the retirement accounts before paying off the car(s), just because interest rate on the loans is so low.

Oh_Wrd

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2016, 12:24:56 PM »
For streaming use use a roku and get a subscription to netflix for tv-series and movies, and a subscription to "sling tv" for the cable sports shows (combined ~30 USD/month).  A one-time purchase of a digital converter with bunny ears will provide HD local broadcast channels (30-60 USD) for all the local games.  It varies by area, but we get about 15 broadcast channels that includes all major networks, two older/classic movie channels, 24 hour weather with jazz playing in the background, and some sort of shopping nonsense.

For the gym, I personally recommend looking into body-weight fitness.  There are lots of good resources on this, but https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/ has one of the most comprehensive starting plans I have seen in their side bar and a very active community.  Startup has very little equipment needed and often you can find local parks that have everything you need.  If you want the comunity feel you get at the gym because that helps motivate you and there are not open-air equipments near by, look at the possibility of getting some workout buddies or see if you can workout at a local gymnastics, martial arts, or boxing gym for much cheaper.  Doing it on your own would save over 1000 USD per year, which adds up quickly over 10-20 years when you consider the returns when you invest that instead of spending it.

I agree with what others have been saying about the cars.  Drop at least yours asap and replace it with something that doesn't require such high insurance (by dropping to liability and uninsured motorist only - I pay about 20 dollars per month).  400 / month is incredibly high.  I would think youu should easily be able to save at least another 1000 per year on insurance by dropping the full coverage.  remember also that both of you taking a defensive driving course could reduce your rates, so you might want to ask your agent about that option as you start shopping around.

What about where you live - you don't want to move down or to a worse neighborhood - But can you find an equivalent rent closer to where you work?  Your parking costs alone are running up another 1000 USD per year.  I would certainly look into that if my work was in a similar area.

Zamboni

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2016, 09:58:16 PM »
Quote
The insurance on the Toyota is less than $100 per month.

GASP that is A LOT for one little car! I realize it varies by location (because I used to live in Boston, HCOL birthplace of the aggressive driver), but just to put it into perspective for you I pay $560 per year total to insure TWO vehicles. So $280 per year per vehicle, or yeah about $20-$25 per month. $100 per month is crazy talk. Just sayin'

We get TV with a combination of a high powered antennae (one time expense of $40-80 at a warehouse club or Best Buy) & $8.95/month Netflix streaming just like Oh_Wrd says, but our little streaming box is not a roku. Other half is asleep, so can't ask him now what it is, but will try to remember tomorrow. The weird thing is, he got it to watch soccer, and he was super excited right when he got it, but lately he's not been watching English league that much.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 06:01:52 AM by Zamboni »

tj

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2016, 10:50:46 PM »
You're middle aged with a 6 figure AGI, no dependents, but you only 44k in assets and 19k in auto debt?

What have you guys been spending on the past several years? I assume this is a relatively new budget because it doesn't make sense why you would have so little saved up after presumably being in the work force for 20+ years. How does the spouse who is not on board expect to survive in retirement? How many more years are you both planning on working? What is your expected social security benefit?

Self employment gives you way more access to tax advantaged space than an employee because you can contribute as employer and employee, so I would definitely look into that.

Zamboni

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2016, 06:06:36 AM »
^My dad managed to spend his whole life accumulating debt rather than net worth. Unfortunately lots of people live this way. I'm glad that the OP has woken up to smell the retirement savings coffee, because my dad is in his 70's and still has to work (although he would like to retire, SS isn't enough to even pay his existing debt and he doesn't want to resort to SNAP.)

The little soccer box is apparently a very small android computer that can download streaming apps and play what streams on the TV. My other half is very tech savvy, so he had no trouble setting this up.

soupcxan

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2016, 07:20:23 AM »
Don't change the cars. You already took the big depreciation hit when you drove them off the lot. They are reasonably priced and reliable. Keep them for 10 years and take care of them.

dycker1978

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2016, 07:57:14 AM »
Wow, again another example of how soft this forum has gotten.

You pay 265 a month on cell phones.  Look at this, now.  Can you cancel the plan for the person that no longer lives with you?  You can find much much cheaper rates then this.  Check out IP Dailies thread here for help.

You are spending aprox. $400 a month on deprecating assets.  Sell them and get what you can out of them.  Then but a used reliable car.  There are many threads here that can help with that.

Bus is 3.5 a day.  Assuming you work 20 days a month that would be $70.  The bus is cheaper than parking.  Nevermind the gas, wear and tear, insurance etc.  This may or may not be worth it to you, that one is on you to decide.

$200 a month to watch soccer.... that is all that I can say about that...  Netflix is $9

$600 a month for food is a little bit less then I spend.  I have a family of 4 and am in Canada(which is much pricier then USA).  There can be savings made here.

The gym membership is your choice.  Remember, you live in California.  It is nice out, you can run/jog/walk for free.  You can always find heavy shit to pick up and put down.  This can also be free.  You DO NOT need to spend money at a gym to "work out".

little_brown_dog

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2016, 09:47:52 AM »
Car insurance – this is crazy, even with tickets you definitely should be able to get a lower rate than this. Shop around asap.

Home supplies – since you rent (I'm assuming you don't need to buy things to repair broken home fixures) I’m not sure what you are spending a full 100 on. A gigantic pack of papertowels and toilet paper will set you back 30 bucks max. Are you using your dish soap, detergents, cosmetics, etc appropriately or are you using too much? For 2 people you can easily cut this in half to $50.

Cars – this may seem extreme, but since you don’t need a car every day is it possible to share one vehicle and use public transport (or carpool with a coworker?) until you can afford one without a payment? This isn't the easiest route, but its certainly the most frugal.

Cable/internet – I know you don’t want to mess with your spouse, but this is CRAZY. Try to compromise on this. Even uber luxurious tv packages with tons of channels should only cost around $120.

Phones – is there a reason you are paying for another person’s phone? Can they at least pay you half the bill each month?

Meals - $400 should be plenty for high end groceries for 2 people. A frugal person can happily feed 2 for $250/mo, but I love organics so I tend to be a bit soft in this category.  Cheap, healthy protein sources without beans: eggs, tofu, lentils. Use a crockpot to make big batches of lentil stews and soups. Tofu can be used in stirfries instead of meat. Eggs can be turned into main dishes via quiches, hearty omlettes, souffles, etc.

Honestly, it is tough to mustachianize your life if your partner is not on board or at least willing to go along with some of the very reasonable changes you propose. Start with what you can control without any pushback, but this whole thing works best if your partner is at least willing to compromise a bit.


terran

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2016, 10:01:39 AM »
I am looking into a tax advantaged account for the self-employed because maybe we could potentially contribute more money to it, but I don't know much about it, so would appreciate any suggestions. Would the individual 401k be a good option?

Yes. Vanguard, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and maybe etrade all have good options for this.

1111111

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2016, 04:37:16 PM »
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« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 12:08:50 PM by anoninca »

Villanelle

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Re: Reader Case Study - just starting to be frugal, spouse not interested
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2016, 06:03:03 PM »
Thanks again everyone for your suggestions! I am working on some of them and will report back soon, probably with more questions.
Yes, it's hard when your partner thinks they can work forever an never get old. But I hope by making positive changes for myself it may make a difference with our joint things too.

Have a great weekend :)

Perhaps it is time to look at partially separating finances.  Just because s/he wants to work until death doesn't mean you have to.  I understand compromise and that it isn't fair if you simply mandate a bunch of cuts with no say from Spouse, but if she's willing to at least meet in the middle (and a few small cuts certainly don't constitute "middle") then it might be time to consider separating your goals from your spouse's.