Author Topic: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending  (Read 27084 times)

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1515
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #100 on: October 08, 2017, 06:57:15 PM »
Achievement unlocked: proposed brunch at our house instead of brunch out, and made a frittata and coffee cake using all stuff we had in the house already.  Bonus was the toddlers had fun playing in the living room while the adults chatted, which was SO NICE.

I just spent a while catching up on paperwork and despite having a baby this year and the attendant health care costs, we will have money left in spouse's FSA to roll over to next year (his has a rollover provision, mine does not).  It looks like next year for the first time in several years our health care costs will be low enough that we don't have to max out two health FSAs, so that'll be a little bonus money per pay period.

People who keep their grocery bills low - how do you think about your monthly budget?  Do you split it into a weekly target amount?  I find our grocery costs tend to vary quite a bit by week and I'm not sure how to think about what I "should" be spending per week.  I was thinking about using a calculator to keep track of what I'm spending as I shop, to see how adding in "extras" affects the total.
.

Awesome!  Congrats on the entertaining!   Cheap AND relaxing - doesn't get much better than that, right?

On groceries, I am still figuring it out.  What I have figured out so far is that I have some things I can buy at Aldi's and some other things that I need to go to a "regular" grocery store for (like DH's Diet Pepsi and specific brand of OJ).  So I try to go to Aldi's at least every other week and keep that under $100, and then do a larger stock-up on those specific products at the big grocery store every other week, buying enough to last at least two weeks; if I can go three, that is a total win.  For me, it works ok because the bigger store has more temptations, so staying out of there keeps the bills down.  ;-). But that also means that I need to budget by the month, not the week, so I keep a running total to know if I have to ratchet back partway through the month.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1930
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #101 on: October 08, 2017, 08:33:39 PM »
I don't actually adhere to a strict budget any longer, but for groceries, I have a stable of cheap meals.  These are things that are pretty much always cheap, without sales.  I default to these if I can't find anything else that is cheap.  I think it helps to know that my cilantro lime pasta is easy and cheap, and we like it, for example, so when in doubt, I buy what I need for that.  (It also helps that most of the items in these dishes are either shelf stable or things that are pretty much always in our fridge, so if I haven't shopped, I can still make them.)

If I was trying to set a strict budget, I would likely look at weekly costs, but not actually force myself to stay in those limits.  So for $800/mo, that's about $190/week.  If I had a week at $210, that would be fine, but then the following week I'd know I needed to cut back, and I'd likely go to some of my default standard cheap meals.  I'd also try to keep the first week of each month intentionally below budget glide slope so I was starting out ahead of the game.  Lastly, I'd do a fair amount of batch cooking as that helps with planning ahead.  If you spend $260 the first week but you have all that week's meals plus an extra 10 dinners, you've consolidated the spending which can help you keep better track than if you are doing it small amounts at a time, and help you better manage overall. 

And as a side bonus, having those prepared meals can help with laziness when you just want to order in or get take out.  Perhaps you could dedicate 3 hours of the first weekend of each month to batch meal prep.  In that time, you can easily get 20+ meals done, especially after you develop a process.  Make 4 lasagnas, 4 chicken and broccoli casseroles, 4 bags of chicken and bean Italian soup, 4 breakfast casseroles (and breakfast for dinner is always great!) and 4 containers of browned ground beef with onions that can be used for quick tacos (or anything!), for example.  You save time because you are browning that beef in large quantities and using it for both the lasagna and the taco meat.  You use a basic Italian red sauce in the lasagne and as the base for the soup (mixed with broth). Chicken is cooked for the soup and the casserole. You cook potatoes for the breakfast casserole and the soup.  Over time, you'll learn what pairs well with other things for efficiency while still giving you some variety.  I hate cooking, so those 3 hours are not my favorite part of my life, but seeing a freezer full of meals and knowing I won't have to cook dinner for another 3 weeks feels great.  And it allows me to know what I've spend on dinner for most of the month, as opposed to worrying what might come up and push the budget later in the month when there is less time left to adjust. 

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6098
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #102 on: October 08, 2017, 08:35:11 PM »
Our grocery budget averages about $600/month for four adult appetites (I have two teens who eat like hungry adults).   I don't restrict myself to that, though, because I operate largely off of a stocked pantry system.  I have a number of standard meals that I rotate through during the month, and when the staples that I use for those are on a particularly good sale I will stock up.   So last week I had a use 5x coupon at Fred Meyer for $.60/off two cans of organic beans.  That works out to $.70/can, and my family likes the texture of the organics better, so I stocked up and got 10 cans (5 black beans, 5 garbonzos). I needed butter and it was on sale for $3/lb, so I got one salted and one unsalted -- I can actually get it at $2/lb regularly on sale/with coupons, so I only got one pound this time. Next time I see that $2/lb price I will buy several pounds and throw in the freezer.   If pasta is on sale for $1/lb, that is not a bad price, but I try to hold out until I see it for $.88/lb and then I buy enough for 2-3 months. 

Basically what I am doing is keeping a price book in my head.   This concept goes back to The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn -- MMM's secret fairy godmother.   She was the queen of financial badassity before MMM made it hip.   Basically when you operate on a pantry system, you learn pretty quick what a good deal is for the items you buy regularly.   She advocated tracking physically, but I found that I don't really need to do that anymore -- seeing a good price in the weekly flyer makes my radar go off.  And then I look through my coupon stash.   
Wherever you go, there you are

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #103 on: October 08, 2017, 09:43:10 PM »
Thanks so much for all the ideas and feedback.  I love the idea of a stable of cheap meals I can go to.  I think I'd have a harder time implementing batch cooking, but I'm going to try it a bit.  Tomorrow I'm cooking a big batch of black bean mushroom chili and I'll freeze some of the leftovers for future dinners and put some in the fridge for lunches.  I've gotten MUCH better about pulling things out of the freezer and actually eating them since I started trying to cut down our food bills.

I'm also realizing it's not the meals that are driving up the bills, but the extras like snacks and drinks and all that other stuff that is completely optional.  I think with some better planning I can start to cut down on those things, which is both good for our health and our grocery bills.  I've been making sure fruit is always ready to go for a snack - grapes (which are on sale at Aldi a lot) portioned into containers, apples washed and front and center in the fridge, etc.

I'm actually not doing so bad on the grocery spending this month - there are 5 Sundays in October, and I'm aiming for $550 on groceries this month, so that's $110 or less a week.  I spent $52 last week and then $132 this week, so on average I'm still doing well.

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1930
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #104 on: October 08, 2017, 11:29:39 PM »
Thanks so much for all the ideas and feedback.  I love the idea of a stable of cheap meals I can go to.  I think I'd have a harder time implementing batch cooking, but I'm going to try it a bit.  Tomorrow I'm cooking a big batch of black bean mushroom chili and I'll freeze some of the leftovers for future dinners and put some in the fridge for lunches.  I've gotten MUCH better about pulling things out of the freezer and actually eating them since I started trying to cut down our food bills.

I'm also realizing it's not the meals that are driving up the bills, but the extras like snacks and drinks and all that other stuff that is completely optional.  I think with some better planning I can start to cut down on those things, which is both good for our health and our grocery bills.  I've been making sure fruit is always ready to go for a snack - grapes (which are on sale at Aldi a lot) portioned into containers, apples washed and front and center in the fridge, etc.

I'm actually not doing so bad on the grocery spending this month - there are 5 Sundays in October, and I'm aiming for $550 on groceries this month, so that's $110 or less a week.  I spent $52 last week and then $132 this week, so on average I'm still doing well.

I'm doing less batch cooking because I no longer have much freezer space, but still when I cook, 90% of the time, I make a double or triple batch.  Even that adds up to a decent number of freezer meals over time.  So triple that Mushroom chili, instead of just double, especially if mushrooms (and/or whatever you use as key ingredients) are on sale.  This will make your grocery budget less even, but should work out for you in the end.

civil4life

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #105 on: October 09, 2017, 07:32:10 AM »
My dad has always done the family grocery shopping and at this point he is a complete grocery shopping guru.  Growing up if it was not on sale he did not buy it.  Only exception was probably milk.  We had a family of 5 and would go through 4 to 5 gallons a week.

My dad always knew sales prices.  He would know if something was a good deal or super good deal.  He also learned the sales cycle.  For example Pepsi and Coke products usually went on sale once a month.  Even now I can call him on the phone and ask him if a sales price on something is good and he will tell me.

So when something was on sale he knew how much to buy until the next time it would be on sale.  I always remember tuna and mac & cheese.  It would be at least 10 cans of tuna and a full case of mac & cheese.  He stock piled meet and froze it.  For example hamburger he would buy several pounds at a time.  When he got home my mom would repackage them into one pound packaged for the freezer.  These were great for spaghetti, chili, and taco nights.  She would make a few into hamburger patties as well.  We always had a freezer stocked with food.  Summer ribs and hamburger was the sale.  Around Thanksgiving turkey.  We would have 3 to 4 turkeys in the freezer, New Years pork, etc.

Every Sunday he would review all of the grocery ads and plan his shopping for the week.  There were at least 3 or 4 different stores.  He did not always go to all of them.  Then based on the sale items my mom planned the meals for the week.  He usually visited the day old bread store about once a month.  Bread was another thing that was frozen.

My dad is a numbers person so this always came easy and natural to him.  We have always joked that he should be a professional shopper.  Overall his process was more big picture and looked at feeding the family over the long haul.  My mom had various recipes based on what was available at any given time.

Also wanted to share this website http://www.5dollardinners.com/.  This women has a ton of recipes for feeding the family.  She has a grocery list for Costco and Sams that will create 30 meals for very cheap.  She has a facebook page and email list as well.  She used to share everything for free, but has now started selling some of her meal plan menus.  They are still very cheap.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6098
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #106 on: October 09, 2017, 08:16:42 AM »
Another tip about pre-cooking in bulk--try to do some components that can easily be added to other quick-cook items to constitute a meal, so that less freezer space is consumed with the same end outcome.  My favorite example is shredded beef for burritos.  About once a month I cook up a big beef roast in the crock pot with some salsa.  I used to add onions but have stopped -- not really needed.   It is usually 3-4 lbs of meat, enough to make 3-4 family size batches.   I use one that day, put one in the fridge for later in the week, and throw two in the freezer.   When I want to use the saved meat portions, I can just mix in some leftover rice and a can of beans to make the filling.

This approach works pretty well with any kind of sauce-focused recipe.   Or with portions of meat that can then be frozen and added to quick-fix meals later.
Wherever you go, there you are

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #107 on: October 18, 2017, 08:35:22 AM »
Still trucking along.

Our car got a flat tire and couldn't be patched, so I managed to get a used tire and the total was $50 for the tire and labor.

We're doing homemade Halloween, which cost us about $22 in costume making supplies.

DH is traveling this week and that is usually a trigger to spend on take out because LIFE FEELS HARD and I DESERVE IT, but I am really trying to get away from that kind of thinking and so far I have just done easy meals from stuff we have in the house.  It's hard when he's away whether I order take out or make a grilled cheese, so I might as well not blow the money, you know?

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1515
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #108 on: October 19, 2017, 08:53:45 AM »
Still trucking along.

Our car got a flat tire and couldn't be patched, so I managed to get a used tire and the total was $50 for the tire and labor.

We're doing homemade Halloween, which cost us about $22 in costume making supplies.

DH is traveling this week and that is usually a trigger to spend on take out because LIFE FEELS HARD and I DESERVE IT, but I am really trying to get away from that kind of thinking and so far I have just done easy meals from stuff we have in the house.  It's hard when he's away whether I order take out or make a grilled cheese, so I might as well not blow the money, you know?

Good mindset!  FWIW, one of the things I do when DH leaves town is make stuff that he doesn't like -- mine is also heading out of town tonight, and I see a big pot of chicken and dumplings in my future.  :-)
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

pyyj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #109 on: October 19, 2017, 03:38:25 PM »
At the grocery it's good to learn which items can be bought in quantity for a discount and which cannot. Peanut butter in a tub vs peanut butter in a cute little jar: tub! Kraft "cheese" slices: buy 100! Cereal: give me the ultra pack!

On the other hand, some items seem surprisingly resistant to bulk discount (at least, at our grocery): olive oil, vegetables, meats.

Getting used to calculating the "unit cost" is a good way to exercise the brain muscles. $8/L is way better than $4/250ml, buy the big one even though it's "more", etc.

That plus getting to know the "prevailing" cost of your regular purchases so you can jump on deals goes a long way, as well as knowing how long things last: when cheese is on sale, I buy a month's worth; it'll keep.

With This Herring

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1171
  • Location: New York STATE, not city
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #110 on: October 19, 2017, 07:15:11 PM »
At the grocery it's good to learn which items can be bought in quantity for a discount and which cannot. Peanut butter in a tub vs peanut butter in a cute little jar: tub! Kraft "cheese" slices: buy 100! Cereal: give me the ultra pack!

On the other hand, some items seem surprisingly resistant to bulk discount (at least, at our grocery): olive oil, vegetables, meats.

Getting used to calculating the "unit cost" is a good way to exercise the brain muscles. $8/L is way better than $4/250ml, buy the big one even though it's "more", etc.

That plus getting to know the "prevailing" cost of your regular purchases so you can jump on deals goes a long way, as well as knowing how long things last: when cheese is on sale, I buy a month's worth; it'll keep.

I disagree on the vegetables, at least for my local grocery stores.  You can get "by the pound" potatoes and onions for $1+ per pound, or you can buy a 5lb+ sack for closer to 30¢ to 50¢ per pound.  Also, every month or few, the big tins of (normal, non-extra-virgin) olive oil go on sale for much cheaper per quart than normal.  (But I see that you are using liters, so this may not be the case for you.)

But you are right.  Unit pricing is king!
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

6-year CPA currently on hiatus.  Botched this.  Working again. 
Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #111 on: October 23, 2017, 08:34:08 PM »
I am glad people encouraged me in a baby steps approach, because I definitely haven't achieved perfection in one go.  I feel like cutting expenses is a bit of whack a mole.  We're doing pretty well (albeit not worthy of a true mustache) on food costs this month, but the kid stuff costs are inching up and eating up all the food savings.  DS is growing like a weed, so we just had to move him to the next size up.  I had a few hand me downs, but many of what I got from a friend ended up being summer stuff in the size he's in now.  So the rest of his stuff came from the kids' consignment store, which isn't actually all that inexpensive!  I spent $93 for 12M clothes, snow boots for DD, and dress shoes for DD.  I still need to get him winter pajamas too, because his sister was also this size in the summer so I don't have anything warm in 12M.  Luckily I know from experience the hand me down game gets MUCH easier once they are in 2T, so only a few more sizes to go for DS.

It certainly was easier to just spend money freely without paying much attention.  Tracking closely has definitely raised my anxiety along with my awareness, but I am hoping over time I'll have a better sense of the true cost of things so that I can plan.  The kid costs are a bit of a moving target that I need to figure out.

Tuskalusa

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 120
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #112 on: October 23, 2017, 10:39:00 PM »
I totally hear you on the “whack a mole” comment. Just when I think I have something figured out (like food), something else comes up (like my dishwasher breaks). And sometimes it seems like it would be easier to throw money at the problem. I’m still working on balance in this area too. I like this forum because it reminds me that badassity is an ongoing process!

Aimza

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 29
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #113 on: October 24, 2017, 06:18:01 AM »
Have you tried Facebook buy, sell, swap pages for your area? I find that kids clothes are usually sold in bulk for around $1-2 per item.

asauer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 471
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #114 on: October 24, 2017, 06:30:59 AM »
Soooo does spouse 2 have any interest in staying home with the kids?  Because there's a lot of low hanging fruit here and you could definitely afford it, especially considering a huge chunk of spouse 2a salary is going to afford daycare.

I'm really torn.  Obviously, daycare takes up my entire take home.  I am basically working to provide health insurance and save $18k/year in my 403b.

I've invested a lot in my career and I worry I'd be a terrible SAHM.  I don't have a lot of patience for toddler antics, I'm a terrible housekeeper, etc.  I realize this sentiment doesn't fit in well on a board where most people want to FIRE and stop working.  I also went through a bad divorce in my 20s and the idea of leaving the workforce makes me feel vulnerable.  So basically even though it probably makes sense for me to stay home with the kids, and a huge part of me would love the time with them, I feel pretty ambivalent.

I get this.  I also think parents sometimes underestimate future earning potential.  Being out of the workforce for 4-5 years can put parents behind the earning curve.  It's important to look forward to 5 years from now- what is the earning potential in your field?  Does that outstrip daycare cost?

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1515
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #115 on: October 24, 2017, 08:42:32 AM »
I am glad people encouraged me in a baby steps approach, because I definitely haven't achieved perfection in one go.  I feel like cutting expenses is a bit of whack a mole.  We're doing pretty well (albeit not worthy of a true mustache) on food costs this month, but the kid stuff costs are inching up and eating up all the food savings.  DS is growing like a weed, so we just had to move him to the next size up.  I had a few hand me downs, but many of what I got from a friend ended up being summer stuff in the size he's in now.  So the rest of his stuff came from the kids' consignment store, which isn't actually all that inexpensive!  I spent $93 for 12M clothes, snow boots for DD, and dress shoes for DD.  I still need to get him winter pajamas too, because his sister was also this size in the summer so I don't have anything warm in 12M.  Luckily I know from experience the hand me down game gets MUCH easier once they are in 2T, so only a few more sizes to go for DS.

It certainly was easier to just spend money freely without paying much attention.  Tracking closely has definitely raised my anxiety along with my awareness, but I am hoping over time I'll have a better sense of the true cost of things so that I can plan.  The kid costs are a bit of a moving target that I need to figure out.

Believe me, I totally get the frustration (ask me about my grocery challenge . . . ).  It is whack-a-mole!  As Roseanne Roseannadanna so famously said, it's always something.

But this is another area where an attitude change can help.  Your kid was going to grow whether or not you cut back your grocery spend, right?  So isn't it awesome that you cut back on some unnecessary spending so that you had cash available to cover the growth spurt? 

Look, I am not a fluffy kind of person,* and I have zero tolerance for new-agey bullshit.**  But I have found the whole "gratitude" idea does wonders for my mental attitude.  Even -- especially -- when I don't feel it.  What that means to me is reframing bad things in a positive way, pulling the good part out of a bad situation.  Like instead of the frustration of never getting ahead, reframing it as OMG I am SO glad I was able to handle that challenge without falling further behind like I would have last year!  Or when my DD has her periodic crash-and-burns, realizing that last year's was in February, and this year she made it until March, which means there's hope that she will ultimately make it through an entire school year in one piece.*** 

In all honesty, sometimes**** I say things like that sarcastically, because I'm really not feeling it (plus sarcasm is my knee-jerk response to fluffy -- it's kind of how I'm built).  But if I repeatedly force myself to find the pony in the giant pile o' shit, after a while it becomes automatic, and my inner smartass shuts up and actually starts believing it.  Which, in turn, helps me feel more in control, which then reaffirms the optimism, and all of a sudden I am in a virtuous cycle without even realizing it. 

* E.g., don't tell me that someone "passed on" or went to a "better place"; they fucking died, and it sucks, so let's not pretend otherwise. 

** If you tell me that if I really want something all I need to do is "put it out into the universe" and it will magically appear, I will likely hit you.  I mean, I really want to win the damn Powerball, yet somehow the universe has failed to provide the winning numbers.

*** As an aside, this is helpful for the little daily aggravations, but is critical for the really bad stuff.  When we were dealing with miscarriages, I felt a white-hot rage that was so deep I couldn't even find words to describe it.  And then one morning I woke up and instead of thinking "why me?" I thought "well, why NOT me?"  Because it sucked, more than anything I could imagine, but at least I had the resources (mental/physical/emotional/financial) to deal with it, where many others did not.  And that completely changed how I saw the whole situation; instead of this horrible thing that was being done to me, it became "I am going to get through this and be ok one way or the other."  Just that one thought gave me my power back.

****Usually.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

Stashing Swiss-style

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #116 on: October 25, 2017, 03:21:49 AM »
Wonderful post from Laura33.  I wanted to write something similar, but so glad she beat me to it, as her post was way better than anything I could have written.

I still have a lot of work to do on changing my own attitude, but, when I get it right, it is a huge help.   

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6098
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #117 on: October 25, 2017, 08:04:14 AM »
I don't want to be the Debbie Downer here, but even if the shoes were expensive $93 sounds like you probably overpaid significantly for the clothes.   Baby clothes are typically so plentiful that you can get bags and bags of them for free or nearly free -- if you have a local Buy Nothing group, try there.  Or just put the word out a few months ahead (tip:  Start asking about 18 month clothes for spring in January, when people will likely be sorting/decluttering post-holiday gift season). 

If you have some decent storage space in your home, you might want to consider setting up a kids clothing stash -- she used banker's boxes to store each sized.  Worked great for her as she had multiple kids.   So when Kid #1 outgrew the 2Ts, she would get rid of the grotty stuff and put the decent stuff in the "2T" box to wait for the next kid to grow into it.  And if she was low on a size/season, she could keep an eye out for relevant stuff from free sources and garage sales.

Hope this isn't demoralizing -- it is great that you didn't run out and buy everything new and spend 3-4x what you did, but just thought it worth noting that there is still room for significant improvement.  The less you spend on things that are pretty readily available for little to nothing, the more you have for things that are harder to source.  And for fun.
Wherever you go, there you are

With This Herring

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1171
  • Location: New York STATE, not city
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #118 on: October 25, 2017, 10:03:23 AM »
I don't want to be the Debbie Downer here, but even if the shoes were expensive $93 sounds like you probably overpaid significantly for the clothes.   Baby clothes are typically so plentiful that you can get bags and bags of them for free or nearly free -- if you have a local Buy Nothing group, try there.  Or just put the word out a few months ahead (tip:  Start asking about 18 month clothes for spring in January, when people will likely be sorting/decluttering post-holiday gift season). 

If you have some decent storage space in your home, you might want to consider setting up a kids clothing stash -- she used banker's boxes to store each sized.  Worked great for her as she had multiple kids.   So when Kid #1 outgrew the 2Ts, she would get rid of the grotty stuff and put the decent stuff in the "2T" box to wait for the next kid to grow into it.  And if she was low on a size/season, she could keep an eye out for relevant stuff from free sources and garage sales.

Hope this isn't demoralizing -- it is great that you didn't run out and buy everything new and spend 3-4x what you did, but just thought it worth noting that there is still room for significant improvement.  The less you spend on things that are pretty readily available for little to nothing, the more you have for things that are harder to source.  And for fun.

Amy Dacyczyn was very good at forethought!
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

6-year CPA currently on hiatus.  Botched this.  Working again. 
Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6098
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #119 on: October 25, 2017, 10:22:38 AM »
PS:  If you don't have the time/energy for Buy Nothing and garage sales, looks like Ebay can also be your friend on the baby clothes front -- lots of lots of clothes available for good prices:

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1311.R12.TR12.TRC2.A0.H0.X12m.TRS0&_nkw=12+month+boy+clothes+lot&_sacat=0

Craigslist might yield similar results, but require a bit more effort
Wherever you go, there you are

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #120 on: October 25, 2017, 01:07:50 PM »
I don't want to be the Debbie Downer here, but even if the shoes were expensive $93 sounds like you probably overpaid significantly for the clothes.   Baby clothes are typically so plentiful that you can get bags and bags of them for free or nearly free -- if you have a local Buy Nothing group, try there.  Or just put the word out a few months ahead (tip:  Start asking about 18 month clothes for spring in January, when people will likely be sorting/decluttering post-holiday gift season). 

If you have some decent storage space in your home, you might want to consider setting up a kids clothing stash -- she used banker's boxes to store each sized.  Worked great for her as she had multiple kids.   So when Kid #1 outgrew the 2Ts, she would get rid of the grotty stuff and put the decent stuff in the "2T" box to wait for the next kid to grow into it.  And if she was low on a size/season, she could keep an eye out for relevant stuff from free sources and garage sales.

Hope this isn't demoralizing -- it is great that you didn't run out and buy everything new and spend 3-4x what you did, but just thought it worth noting that there is still room for significant improvement.  The less you spend on things that are pretty readily available for little to nothing, the more you have for things that are harder to source.  And for fun.

No, you are totally right, I was pretty surprised at the consignment prices not being substantially better than Target.  I definitely paid a premium for not planning ahead, and you're right that I should start planning soon for 18 months sizes.  We don't have buy nothing and oddly Facebook B/S/T is full of people trying to resell at close to retail, but I am a member of Freecycle and I have another friend who offered me hand me downs so I'll pursue those avenues.

I actually DO have a clothing "filing system" for everything we have that is gender neutral, so I do have a small stash of 18M and 24M in the closet for DS already.  Also 3T for DD, and lots of larger shoes.  I think if I get more organized, we can substantially reduce clothing costs.

MountainFlower

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 258
  • Location: Colorado Mountains
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #121 on: October 26, 2017, 09:54:10 AM »
I buy the pricey items like coats and snow boots on ebay for the kids.  I can then sometimes turn around and sell them on our work classifieds for close to what I paid.  Well, that was when the kids were little.  Now my daughter's coat looks like she uses it for a napkin after every meal; pretty much no one would buy it.  Sigh

I bought brand new Lands End coats for my kids last spring on clearance in addition to their 30%  and free shipping sale.  They were like $20 each for $100 jackets.  We live in a very cold and windy environment and we ski so coats are kind of a big thing.  One of them probably won't fit my son until next year, but I'm ready!

Hopefully you will find someone with older kids who can start passing things down.  They are out there!  Maybe there is a facebook mom's group for your neighborhood or community. 

BeanCounter

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1474
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #122 on: October 26, 2017, 10:46:15 AM »
Soooo does spouse 2 have any interest in staying home with the kids?  Because there's a lot of low hanging fruit here and you could definitely afford it, especially considering a huge chunk of spouse 2a salary is going to afford daycare.

I'm really torn.  Obviously, daycare takes up my entire take home.  I am basically working to provide health insurance and save $18k/year in my 403b.

I've invested a lot in my career and I worry I'd be a terrible SAHM.  I don't have a lot of patience for toddler antics, I'm a terrible housekeeper, etc.  I realize this sentiment doesn't fit in well on a board where most people want to FIRE and stop working.  I also went through a bad divorce in my 20s and the idea of leaving the workforce makes me feel vulnerable.  So basically even though it probably makes sense for me to stay home with the kids, and a huge part of me would love the time with them, I feel pretty ambivalent.

I get this.  I also think parents sometimes underestimate future earning potential.  Being out of the workforce for 4-5 years can put parents behind the earning curve.  It's important to look forward to 5 years from now- what is the earning potential in your field?  Does that outstrip daycare cost?
Hi MustachedImposter,
 I've been following along a bit on your thread and I relate to so many things that you posted. Especially about working vs staying home. I felt the exact same way you said above when my kids were young. We had someone who we paid dearly to look after them, but I thought she did a better job than I would have and it allowed me to continue in my career. 9 years later and I have nearly tripled my salary and we are getting close to FI. Which I think will allow me to scale back as the boys get bigger and it gets harder to hire help for things like afterschool and driving them to everything.
I also wanted to encourage you to get a meal plan going. This is easily the single biggest money saver for us. I have a three week rotating menu that I developed of things we like, and the correlating the grocery lists already made. So we know what we are eating every night in advance. I prep on the weekends and make some things in bulk and freeze. So for 1-2 hours of my weekend time I don't have to think about what we'll eat at all. This includes breakfast and lunch. It may take you a few months to find a good groove, but once you do it makes life so much easier and cheaper. We feed a family of four on about $100-$125 a week. That includes household supplies. (note- I do not have anyone in diapers or on formula) There are probably folks on here that can do better but for a full time working mom with boys in sports and activities, I think that's pretty good.
As for clothing- I have found that store sales and coupons are the best way to go. For someone who is working with children thrifting/online sales groups are just a time suck with minimal return. I've tried many times and often I just do as well or only slightly worse shopping end of the season sales with a store coupon online on my lunch break.

Llewellyn2006

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 32
  • Location: Australia
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #123 on: October 26, 2017, 03:46:52 PM »
I don't have any advice to add as there's been plenty of good stuff already but I just wanted to congratulate the OP on taking the advice that's been given on board and making some tough changes that will have a positive impact on your financial future. Well done.

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #124 on: October 30, 2017, 01:34:52 PM »
Laura33, I want to thank you for all the advice and guidance you've given to me.  You're right that changing my attitude can make all the difference.  I actually think this is one of my biggest challenges, especially when I'm bogged down with kids and work and life.  One thing I've liked in following other discussions on the board (I haven't jumped in with my own posts yet but have been reading a lot) is that sometimes someone will take an individual situation and put it in a global context and it changes the entire way you look at something.  The feedback I've gotten here has been really helpful for that too - you're right, it's always something!  But my somethings are manageable, and things that I have the power to improve.

I've been thinking a lot about this post lately: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/03/the-practical-benefits-of-outrageous-optimism/  I can't quite articulate my thoughts, other than to say it resonates with me a lot these days.

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #125 on: October 30, 2017, 01:40:25 PM »
Also, progress news!  WE ARE GETTING RID OF THE STORAGE UNIT!  Baby clothes for a third baby we're probably not having, breakable decorations that won't be back in rotation for another 5-10 years, hockey gear that hasn't seen any use since 2010, all are headed to new homes by this weekend.  I cleared out some stuff this weekend and listed it on Craigslist.  My mom is visiting and will spring us for a few hours to clear out the rest.  Our storage unit is conveniently located across the street from Goodwill.  It's like the world is giving us a sign.

I got the notice last week it's going up to $75 a month.  Bam, $900/year back in our pockets.

Novik

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 383
  • Age: 23
  • Location: Ottawa, ON, Canada
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #126 on: October 30, 2017, 02:20:12 PM »
Our storage unit is conveniently located across the street from Goodwill.  It's like the world is giving us a sign.

Yes!
Over-thinking, over-planning and over-committing, aka my 2017 goals: Procrastinating my way to FIRE
If you're a dual American/Canadian citizen living in Canada and investing in index funds outside an RRSP, please PM me!

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #127 on: October 30, 2017, 02:32:22 PM »
Oh, a few other things.  Sorry for the multiple posts, they are all separate thoughts, LOL.

I freecycled a bunch of the baby clothes, and while I was on the freecycle site someone posted some 4T clothes.  I picked them up, sorted them, and put them into my new and improved bankers box storage in DD's closet.  We've been keeping stuff in the storage unit, but I figure out I can keep a box of each size two sizes ahead for each kid and fit them in the closet.

We joined the babysitting co-op and will be full members in mid-November after we attend our first event.

I got a raise!  It's not a ton, but it's enough to make a difference.

Our exorbitant Christmas budget is fully funded in YNAB, but DH and I planned out gift giving for the kids and will be well below the budget of $150/kid we had planned for.

My small student loan will be paid off in December.  About half of the payoff is money we moved out of savings, but the other half is money we reclaimed from our budget and DH's raise.  I realize now paying off the lower rate loan didn't make mathematical sense, but it made emotional sense, because it gave us a GOAL.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1515
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #128 on: October 30, 2017, 03:01:12 PM »
WOO-HOOO!!!!!  You go!

:-)
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

BeanCounter

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1474
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #129 on: October 30, 2017, 05:02:58 PM »
Wow! It's cool to watch (read) you put this all into action. That's fantastic!

Splashncash

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 70
  • Location: Kailua, HI
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #130 on: October 30, 2017, 05:14:36 PM »
WOO-HOOO!!!!!  You go!

:-)

Seriously!  Keep up the good (tough) work!  It is a joy to read about your incremental achievements.

With This Herring

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1171
  • Location: New York STATE, not city
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #131 on: October 31, 2017, 02:42:54 PM »
Excellent!  Good riddance to the storage unit and the loan!
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

6-year CPA currently on hiatus.  Botched this.  Working again. 
Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6502
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #132 on: November 01, 2017, 12:37:14 PM »
I'd happily stay out of Target forever, but we do need formula and cat litter and cat food.  DH did Target this weekend and did stick to the list, and we got a lot of formula so we don't need to go back until next month.
Hmmm, got nothin' on the formula, except maybe pricing it at Costco, Sam's or Amazon Prime, which could pay for the membership cost with just that one item. Our cat happily eats the catfood from the purple bag at Costco. Her litter is Johnny Cat. It's $1 for a five pound bag at the dollar store. I go through two bags every three weeks. Sometimes I cheat a week by adding in some baking soda. It's the least expensive and most effective option I've found.

IMHO, that Target red card and its 5% discount is poison. The 5% is baked into the price of everything. Target offers it because they KNOW you will spend more there if you have one. Good for them, not so great for you. If you're serious about eliminating debt, get rid of it and stay out of Target.
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

Aimza

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 29
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #133 on: November 01, 2017, 01:57:06 PM »
I normally don't buy name brand stuff, but I find that the things I do buy like cereal, juice, many other foods and hair dye is much cheaper at Target than at the grocery store or drug store.

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6502
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #134 on: November 02, 2017, 12:39:44 AM »
Funny, when I do enter a Target, I'm often shocked at how expensive things are, especially food. I guess it matters what your frame of reference is. But then, I don't shop at drug stores and I only frequent discount grocery stores. I have no problem buying name brands, it's price and quality that matter most to me.
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

BeanCounter

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1474
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #135 on: November 02, 2017, 04:01:54 AM »
I'm supposed to be Target's target group- suburban mom with two kids. I stay out of that place. Same with Costco.
I stick to Aldi mostly and Walmart for paper goods, and the handful of items we are brand specific on or that Aldi doesn't carry that week. (Cereal and yogurt mostly). I hate Walmart, but in my area they are the cheapest. They also do free car pickup, so that's nice!

Zoot

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 242
  • Location: Atlanta (OTP)
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #136 on: November 04, 2017, 08:30:07 AM »
Posting to follow, and to say that I am tickled pink with your progress.  You have made some amazing changes in your habits, and more importantly, you have "flipped the switch" in your mind which made those changes possible--which will also set you up to make more changes in the future and avoid taking on new expensive habits.  Well done!

Several people here have invoked the name of Amy Dacyczyn, and I wanted to hop on that bandwagon, too.  Her brainchild, The Tightwad Gazette, absolutely changed my life when I read it back in the 90s.  Her newsletter--an actual honest-to-god paper newsletter--was what a blog would have been in the early 90s if blogs had existed.  ;-)  I still live by some of those principles I learned from her book, nearly 20 years later.

Buying a (used!) copy of this book (see https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0375752250/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=&sr=, where you can get it for under $10) would be one of the best investments you could make.  I'd suggest getting it from the library, but (a) this book tends to be really popular and might not be available for a while, and (b) this is one book you actually WANT in your house ALL THE TIME, because it's so valuable for the information and inspiration within its covers.

In fact, I was inspired by this thread to go get my own copy off the shelf and put it in bedside-table rotation.  :)

Dacyczyn fans might enjoy this video interview with her in 2009: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUFyD-FTf-E
And also these interviews with her daughters:  http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/search/label/Dacyczyn%20Interviews

Can't wait to see your future progress!  Keep the faith--it's so worth it! 

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #137 on: November 08, 2017, 11:10:45 AM »
I'm supposed to be Target's target group- suburban mom with two kids. I stay out of that place. Same with Costco.
I stick to Aldi mostly and Walmart for paper goods, and the handful of items we are brand specific on or that Aldi doesn't carry that week. (Cereal and yogurt mostly). I hate Walmart, but in my area they are the cheapest. They also do free car pickup, so that's nice!

We have no nearby Walmart, but I did start subscriptions for formula, cat food, and cat litter so we don't have to go to Target anymore.  That has helped a TON - getting another 5% off and avoiding the store.

Target has 10% off for veterans and their families until Saturday (DH is a vet) and I'm going to buy enough formula to last us until DS turns a year.  It stacks with the 5% Red Card discount.

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #138 on: November 08, 2017, 11:18:24 AM »
Posting to follow, and to say that I am tickled pink with your progress.  You have made some amazing changes in your habits, and more importantly, you have "flipped the switch" in your mind which made those changes possible--which will also set you up to make more changes in the future and avoid taking on new expensive habits.  Well done!

Yes!  I felt kind of hopeless when I first posted this case study, but we've built a lot of momentum and I feel so much more capable of taking charge of our financial life.  I still have a LOOOOONG way to go, but I'm committed to reining in the wild spending and making progress each month.

Speaking of, groceries were still a big challenge in October - I finished at $628 for the month.  Yikes!  My goal was $550, but I am still getting the hang of planning and we did an extra grocery run at the end of the month because we were hosting people on Halloween and "needed" a bunch of stuff.  Aiming for $550 again this month, but am already doing better because I wrote down everything we're hosting this month and am working on ways to do it without buying a zillion groceries.  We also are going out of town for Thanksgiving and will bring wine.  I can probably figure out a way to do that with wine I get on sale.

Villanelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1930
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #139 on: November 10, 2017, 07:51:25 PM »
Is there some way to cut back on the hosting?  It doesn't sound like you are getting a lot of corresponding hosting in return.  Not that it's a quid pro quo, but typically these things come out even.  If I have friends over a few times, they all have me over a few times so budget wise, it's a wash.  If this is affecting your budget that much over more than just one month, it seems like there's an issue.  Perhaps it's time to do more potlucks, plan entertainments for after meals (game night at 8pm so you only provide very basic snacks and drinks rather than meals), and maybe just do less entertaining overall.

Tuskalusa

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 120
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #140 on: November 11, 2017, 10:14:08 AM »
On the hosting. I thought I’d share about a party I threw last night. We did a “Bad Moms Inspired” pot luck happy hour. Everyone literally just bought a pre-made appetizer from the grocery store. I don’t think anyone spent more than $7. We drank beer and sodas I already had in the fridge...some people brought beer and wine they had at home. It was super low-key and we had a great time.  It was super cheap and easy to clean up too!

1967mama

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2183
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Canada
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #141 on: November 12, 2017, 12:57:04 AM »
Another idea on the hosting that has worked well for us when you've invited a big crowd over is to have everyone have everyone bring something to drink and something to eat which will all be shared. Whether its dinner, or appys and snacks,  I specify that on the invite.  This way, you are assured of enough food and drink no matter how many people show up. If there's a small crowd, there will be a small amount of food and drink. A huge crowd shows up, and they all bring enough food and drink to share. Works for us every time.

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #142 on: November 20, 2017, 10:20:22 AM »
Is there some way to cut back on the hosting?  It doesn't sound like you are getting a lot of corresponding hosting in return.  Not that it's a quid pro quo, but typically these things come out even.  If I have friends over a few times, they all have me over a few times so budget wise, it's a wash.  If this is affecting your budget that much over more than just one month, it seems like there's an issue.  Perhaps it's time to do more potlucks, plan entertainments for after meals (game night at 8pm so you only provide very basic snacks and drinks rather than meals), and maybe just do less entertaining overall.

Yeah, it's honestly not a big impact on the budget, but not planning can make it worse.  The basic deal is with the two small kids we have people over a lot because it's so much easier for us that I don't mind it, but I should definitely make it more of a potluck thing more often.  We put the kids to bed and then can hang out much longer than if we went to someone else's house.

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #143 on: November 20, 2017, 10:26:48 AM »
So we're doing better on the income side than the expenses side, but I got a new job!  It's an 8% raise.

I also switched my phone from Verizon ($57/month) to Metro PCS ($30/month)

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #144 on: November 20, 2017, 11:34:03 AM »
Here is an updated picture with actuals from YNAB and reflecting some of the changes we've made.  I think it will be helpful to me to see where we've made progress and where we still have progress to go.  I've reflected the way our paychecks will look in December, when our benefits switch over to DH and I get my first paycheck from the new job.

Gross Salary/Wages: Spouse 1: $155,000 $167,400 + 12% bonus (new job, so he hasn't gotten the bonus yet and it is not included below)
Spouse 2: $74,714 $84,000

Net Salary per paycheck (biweekly pay):
Spouse 1:
Gross Salary - $5,961.54 $6438.46
Taxes - $1,515.23 $1593.09
401k - $834.62 $695.35 (employer matches 7.5%)
ESPP - $889.73 $965.77
Health and Dependent Care FSAs - $95.24 $211.46 (moved from Spouse #2's daycare plan)
Medical/Dental/Vision -  $18.03 (Covers Spouse 1 only) $136.06 (family coverage)
Transit - $30
Net Pay - $2,578.69 $2,806.73

Spouse 2:
Gross Salary: $2,873.60 $3230.77
Taxes - $359.91 $621.27
403b - $689.66 (Employer matches first 3%) $691.38 (employer matches first 5%)
Health and Dependent Care FSAs - $314.58
Medical/Dental/Vision/LTD - $187.43 (Covers Spouse 2 and the children)
Net Pay - $1,322.02 $1918.12

Total Monthly Income:
Wages: $8,451.54 $10,237.18 (paychecks x 26 / 12)
ESPP sales: $2,104 $2,092.77 (we sell immediately to bank the gains from the 15% discount, and use it as general income)
Daycare FSA reimbursement: $417
Total income: $10,972.54 $12,746.95

Expenses: (August to October actual averages for most categories except where prices are fixed)

Housing
Mortgage + HOA - $1,510 $1579 ($934 principal and interest, $576 $645 taxes, insurance, and HOA)
Storage Unit - $70
House Cleaner - $220
House maintenance - $214 (I'm still setting this much aside in YNAB, actual has been $32/month)

Utilities
Cell Phone - $57 (One Verizon 2 gb plan, spouse 1 has phone through work) $30
Internet - $50 (Lowest available non-contract price)
Natural Gas - $65 $51
Electricity - $63 $83

Transportation
Gas - $35 $42
Car Insurance - $24
Bike share - $17
Auto maintenance/replacement fund - $150

Kid Expenses
Daycare - $3,033 $3,360 (our actuals were higher than budgeted, it should be slightly lower than this on an ongoing basis)
Babysitter - $100 $45
College savings - $200

Health/Insurance
OOP Medical - $180 (actual spending above Health FSA from last year, may be lower this year) (haven't spent outside the FSA)
Umbrella Insurance - $13
Life Insurance - $163

Debt Service
Student Loan #1 - $483
Student Loan #2 - $143

Discretionary Spending
Groceries - $598 $613.12
Restaurants and food away from home - $783 $393
Alcohol - $83 $46
Amazon/Target - $748 (this includes some groceries and alcohol not tracked separately, household supplies, baby formula, kids clothes, and all “other”.  I know I need to break it out better)
Baby and Kid Supplies - $154.53
Kids' Clothes - $103.40
Kids' Toys and Books - $15.13
Gifts - $77
Pet Food and Litter - $43.84
Pet Medication - $12.48
Pet Sitting - $35
Parking and Tolls - $60

Spending money - $600 (budgeted, covers adult clothing, hair, hobbies, anything else not in the budget, actuals are lower because I don’t spend my whole allowance)
Travel - $625 (budgeted, three trips east to visit family for holidays, one big vacation every other year, small local trips, actual was right on last year) $425.38
Vet - $83 (budgeted, actual has been lower but we have two ancient cats and expect it won’t be low forever) $42.84
Christmas - $115 (per month, based on actual spending last year, including tips/gifts to service providers)
Technology Replacement - $29
Charitable Giving - $300
Entertainment - $30 $18.87

Total Expenses - $10,784 $9,951.59

Assets:
Condo - 2 br, worth about $360k, outstanding mortgage of $185k $184k, so about $175k in home equity
Roth IRAs - $75k $76k
Tax advantaged retirement accounts (401k/403b) - $183k $216k
Taxable investment account - $77k $83k
Spouse 2's random investment account - $1,904 $2,308
Cash savings - $26,851 $18,934
Checking - $5,689 $6,949
Car - $1000 (2003 Toyota Corolla, in fair condition)

Liabilities:
Mortgage - previously mentioned, balance of $185,080 $184,183, interest rate 4.125%, 28 years left, minimum payment $934
Student Loan #1 - $29,790 $27,862, interest rate 4.0%, 6 years left, minimum payment $483
Student Loan #2 - $9,050 $3,581, interest rate 3.0%, 6 years left, minimum payment $143
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 11:49:36 AM by MustachedImposter »

Novik

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 383
  • Age: 23
  • Location: Ottawa, ON, Canada
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #145 on: November 20, 2017, 11:58:27 AM »
Total income: $10,972.54 $12,746.95
Total Expenses - $10,784 $9,668.59

First of all, congrats. You now have a MUCH better idea of what/where you're actually spending, and you've created a gap between what you earn and what you spend!

So now the question is - where are you going to throw that money and how can you automate taking that money out of "income" and into "savings" so you aren't tricked or tempted into spending it? DON'T let the extra be eaten by "surprises" like Christmas. Instead, keep up the good work!

Second - some categories to continue to focus on:
  • Restaurants (and groceries, but mostly restaurants for now... just don't let groceries keep rising any more!)
  • Baby and Kid supplies and kids' clothes - seems high as a total, but nice to see that breakdown much lower than the Amazon/Target misc total earlier!
  • Christmas (115$ a month!! - but glad you're budgeting for it)
  • Spending money - $600   (any way to break some of this out into family spending that can be optimized and reduce the amount that's opaque 'blow money'?)

Overall though I think it's awesome that you're continually reflecting on your whole picture and have a clearer path forward thanks to that!

Over-thinking, over-planning and over-committing, aka my 2017 goals: Procrastinating my way to FIRE
If you're a dual American/Canadian citizen living in Canada and investing in index funds outside an RRSP, please PM me!

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #146 on: November 20, 2017, 12:25:54 PM »
Total income: $10,972.54 $12,746.95
Total Expenses - $10,784 $9,668.59

First of all, congrats. You now have a MUCH better idea of what/where you're actually spending, and you've created a gap between what you earn and what you spend!

So now the question is - where are you going to throw that money and how can you automate taking that money out of "income" and into "savings" so you aren't tricked or tempted into spending it? DON'T let the extra be eaten by "surprises" like Christmas. Instead, keep up the good work!

Second - some categories to continue to focus on:
  • Restaurants (and groceries, but mostly restaurants for now... just don't let groceries keep rising any more!)
  • Baby and Kid supplies and kids' clothes - seems high as a total, but nice to see that breakdown much lower than the Amazon/Target misc total earlier!
  • Christmas (115$ a month!! - but glad you're budgeting for it)
  • Spending money - $600   (any way to break some of this out into family spending that can be optimized and reduce the amount that's opaque 'blow money'?)

Overall though I think it's awesome that you're continually reflecting on your whole picture and have a clearer path forward thanks to that!

I realized I forgot some categories and updated the total.

Yeah, I agree on the places you suggested to cut.  We've cut way down on restaurants but there's still a lot of room for improvement.  We did much better in September, then October creeped up again.

Baby and kid supplies includes formula, which is about $100/month.  DS will be moving to regular milk soon and that will be a big savings!

Christmas is one of those things where lifestyle creep begets lifestyle creep.  $500 of that is bonuses/gifts to the daycare teachers and our cleaning lady.  But even the remaining amount is extravagant by any standard.  I'm exploring whether we can cut back on adult gifts (to our parents and siblings), because it just seems silly.

Spending money is definitely a place we need to focus at some point, but I'm seeing what I can do with the rest of the budget first.  We already moved any individual meals out to the spending money category.  I am not sure about moving it to family spending - this is one of those "we've always done it this way" things that I should reflect on.

We're currently putting the money that is left over toward my student loans, but we haven't automated it yet.  I definitely want to make sure we reap the fruits of our cost-cutting labors!

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1515
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #147 on: November 20, 2017, 03:43:47 PM »
Good progress!  But why did the Salary 1 go up and the 401(k) contributions go down?  Doesn’t make sense to pay off 3% loans when you still have pretax savings available.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

mrspendy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #148 on: November 20, 2017, 06:01:50 PM »
Good progress!  But why did the Salary 1 go up and the 401(k) contributions go down?  Doesn’t make sense to pay off 3% loans when you still have pretax savings available.

+1, you have ample liquidity

       $26K in cash and savings
       $58K in stressed taxable account (just multiplied by 0.7x for a stock correction haircut)
        $53K stressed roth (see above), assuming you have at least that in contributions
      $137K of liquidity in a stress scenario


So if you are 100% stocks, and the market went down 30% immediately, tomorrow, and you both lost your jobs immediately,  you'd have $137K of liquidity to get by while you adapt, (13 months!) and that's ignoring the ability to borrow from your workplace ($216K) in a less draconian scenario

you should max out all tax advantaged accounts or just hold less cash if you want to be rid of the cash suck from loans.

Am I missing something? is there some big expense or unknown scenario you are worried about?


Nevermind, see that you are maxing things out.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 06:17:33 PM by mrspendy »

MustachedImposter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #149 on: November 20, 2017, 06:04:41 PM »
Good progress!  But why did the Salary 1 go up and the 401(k) contributions go down?  Doesn’t make sense to pay off 3% loans when you still have pretax savings available.

We’re maxing out both pretax accounts - I adjusted the contribution so it won’t max until the last paycheck of the year because the match is per pay period.  Before that we’d been contributing more to reach the max since DH didn’t contribute at the beginning of the year.