Author Topic: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending  (Read 43150 times)

Bee21

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #150 on: November 29, 2017, 02:01:40 PM »
What are you buying for Christmas? Is it a big deal in your family? It sounds like a lot. ( but i don't like christmas, so feel free to disregard it. I personally hate the fact that a religious event was turned into a month long hyperconsumption)

 Do your kids have high expectations? Surely the baby wouldn't expect much. It is not like you can't afford to spend the money, so do whatever makes you happy.

And is the amount planned for tips/ teacher's gift customary there or a bit overly generous?


MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #151 on: November 29, 2017, 07:09:26 PM »
What are you buying for Christmas? Is it a big deal in your family? It sounds like a lot. ( but i don't like christmas, so feel free to disregard it. I personally hate the fact that a religious event was turned into a month long hyperconsumption)

 Do your kids have high expectations? Surely the baby wouldn't expect much. It is not like you can't afford to spend the money, so do whatever makes you happy.

And is the amount planned for tips/ teacher's gift customary there or a bit overly generous?

The tips/teacher amount is surely a bit generous.  We used to be in an in home and did the equivalent of one week’s fees split among the staff, but this is our first year in a center and the expectation might be different.

Generous gifts are a big thing in DH’s family and it drives me crazy.  We have moved to charity gifts for the adults in his family but it’s still a ridiculous amount.

So here’s the Christmas budget:

$500 - tips and teacher gifts
$350 - gifts to DH’s family ( niece, nephew, BIL, SIL, and his parents) which is $150 in real gifts and $200 to charities that are important to them
$150 - gifts for my mom, niece, and nephew, including shipping abroad
$300 - gifts for our kids, which is what we spent on DD last year doubled, but we likely won’t spend that much on the baby and probably won’t spend that much on DD either (Last year DD got Magnatiles, which are expensive, a doll, a train set, and a couple books.  We’re not extravagant compared to a lot of the people around us, but that’s probably the wrong bar)
$75 - Christmas cards and postage

Adult gifts to each other are small and come out of spending money.

You’re right that this feels really out of whack, since we spend far more on others than our own family.  I need to think more about this and if I want to change it.

Bee21

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #152 on: November 29, 2017, 10:54:28 PM »
Hmmm. Families are tricky. Mine is not really into gift giving, so I can't comment on that. The consensus is that everybody has everything they need, and nobody needs extra clutter. We give plants to the inlaws( getting them a cactus this year as they killed the little bonsai in record time last year), exchange a 50$ gift ard with my sil, and do a boxing day shop together. The nieces requested itunes gift cards the third year on a row, I buy them when they are on sale.

The easiest is to cut the amount you spend on your own kids, as they are only little.  My kids (5 and 7) got tired opening presents halfway through last year, and i spent less than 100. This year i got them things to share, like books, craft sets and board games, plus they get new snorkelling gear.

Teacher's gifts are tricky, esp with multiple carers at childcare. I just got them little gift packs from the bodyshop, nothing extravagant. Might put together a hamper for the staff room.

As for family members, it is probably too late this year, but do you have a gift cupboard? I stock up on presents during the year, whenever i find something suitable on sale. Last year all my kids friends got heavily discounted boardgames for bdays. I used to hoard presents for the nieces when they were little too.

Are the Christmas cards necessary? Can you make them? How many are you sending out? It is a lot of money for something which ends up in the bin. I always feel bad for binning friends' family photos (you know, with them wearing antlers and cheerful raindeer sweaters)after xmas, but really, why should I keep them?

Actually, this is my favourite xmas activity, making cards, now that you mentioned it, I will pull out the cardmaking gear to make the cards for the kids classmates etc. That will keep us busy for a while.

farfromfire

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #153 on: November 30, 2017, 02:43:41 AM »
What are you buying for Christmas? Is it a big deal in your family? It sounds like a lot. ( but i don't like christmas, so feel free to disregard it. I personally hate the fact that a religious event was turned into a month long hyperconsumption)

 Do your kids have high expectations? Surely the baby wouldn't expect much. It is not like you can't afford to spend the money, so do whatever makes you happy.

And is the amount planned for tips/ teacher's gift customary there or a bit overly generous?

The tips/teacher amount is surely a bit generous.  We used to be in an in home and did the equivalent of one week’s fees split among the staff, but this is our first year in a center and the expectation might be different.

Generous gifts are a big thing in DH’s family and it drives me crazy.  We have moved to charity gifts for the adults in his family but it’s still a ridiculous amount.

So here’s the Christmas budget:

$500 - tips and teacher gifts
$350 - gifts to DH’s family ( niece, nephew, BIL, SIL, and his parents) which is $150 in real gifts and $200 to charities that are important to them
$150 - gifts for my mom, niece, and nephew, including shipping abroad
$300 - gifts for our kids, which is what we spent on DD last year doubled, but we likely won’t spend that much on the baby and probably won’t spend that much on DD either (Last year DD got Magnatiles, which are expensive, a doll, a train set, and a couple books.  We’re not extravagant compared to a lot of the people around us, but that’s probably the wrong bar)
$75 - Christmas cards and postage

Adult gifts to each other are small and come out of spending money.

You’re right that this feels really out of whack, since we spend far more on others than our own family.  I need to think more about this and if I want to change it.
Is this considered a normal amount for only 2 children? And is this (i) something that you want to be doing, (ii) feel obligated to because of society, or (iii) feel is somewhat necessary for your children to be treated well?
Really seems like a lot.

BeanCounter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #154 on: November 30, 2017, 03:59:28 AM »
The only time I have given that kind of money for teachers/babysitters is when we had an infant sitter. I paid her a week of pay (plus time off).
IMO, it's totally unnecessary at a center and would be crazy money for elementary. Unless that's for small gift cards spread over a lot of people at the daycare?
I've done smallish restaurant gift cards for preschool teachers.
Thank goodness our elementary home room coordinator parents have always taken up a collection for Christmas, teachers birthday, and end of the year gift. They give us a suggested amount at the beginning of the year and we write one check. Then they pool the money and buy one large gift or gift card. It works really well. We usually put in $50 for the gift pool.

Laura33

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #155 on: November 30, 2017, 10:16:37 AM »
You’re right that this feels really out of whack, since we spend far more on others than our own family.  I need to think more about this and if I want to change it.

FWIW, personally I am far more likely to cut back on family gifts than on teacher/caregiver gifts.  We* have more than enough; they frequently don't.  My general rule is that barring a real problem, I don't improve my own budget by cutting what I give to people who make a buttload less money than I do/causes I care about.  And frankly, that money means a lot more to the caregiver who makes $9/hr than it would to my SIL whose combined HH income is over $200K.

That said, it is worth checking around for local expectations now that you are in a center -- I don't think we ever did more than $50 for an awesome "main" teacher and $10-20 for helpers (since they tend to get similar tips/gifts from other parents as well).  By the time we got to ES, the lovely room mothers generally arranged class gifts, so we contributed about $20 to that (there seemed to be an unstated expectation that each kid contributed to the gift for only the homeroom/main teacher and the "specials" teachers, which cut down the expected amount by quite a bit).  Most years it still added up to a few hundred dollars, but not $500.

Figure out what you can afford to spend, figure out what is appropriate for your area, but don't kick yourself (or your DH) for being generous to those with less/charity if you can afford it and it is consistent with your values.

* The broad "we," including siblings, parents, children, in-laws, etc.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #156 on: November 30, 2017, 10:48:11 AM »
You’re right that this feels really out of whack, since we spend far more on others than our own family.  I need to think more about this and if I want to change it.

FWIW, personally I am far more likely to cut back on family gifts than on teacher/caregiver gifts.  We* have more than enough; they frequently don't.  My general rule is that barring a real problem, I don't improve my own budget by cutting what I give to people who make a buttload less money than I do/causes I care about.  And frankly, that money means a lot more to the caregiver who makes $9/hr than it would to my SIL whose combined HH income is over $200K.

That said, it is worth checking around for local expectations now that you are in a center -- I don't think we ever did more than $50 for an awesome "main" teacher and $10-20 for helpers (since they tend to get similar tips/gifts from other parents as well).  By the time we got to ES, the lovely room mothers generally arranged class gifts, so we contributed about $20 to that (there seemed to be an unstated expectation that each kid contributed to the gift for only the homeroom/main teacher and the "specials" teachers, which cut down the expected amount by quite a bit).  Most years it still added up to a few hundred dollars, but not $500.

Figure out what you can afford to spend, figure out what is appropriate for your area, but don't kick yourself (or your DH) for being generous to those with less/charity if you can afford it and it is consistent with your values.

* The broad "we," including siblings, parents, children, in-laws, etc.

Thank you for this perspective.  I think we have mostly given out of immense gratitude for them taking such good care of our children, and also because it is something we can afford to do for people who don't make a lot of money.  I certainly don't feel like I am obligated, since I know other parents give less, but it is somewhat important to me.  It is similar to the charitable giving - not something I feel comfortable cutting back on when we are so financially well off.  This is gifts for six teachers and the director.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #157 on: November 30, 2017, 10:51:45 AM »
Are the Christmas cards necessary? Can you make them? How many are you sending out? It is a lot of money for something which ends up in the bin. I always feel bad for binning friends' family photos (you know, with them wearing antlers and cheerful raindeer sweaters)after xmas, but really, why should I keep them?

Actually, this is my favourite xmas activity, making cards, now that you mentioned it, I will pull out the cardmaking gear to make the cards for the kids classmates etc. That will keep us busy for a while.

Totally not necessary, but something I enjoy doing as we have lots of out of town family and friends.  We mail about 70 cards, so $35 of that is postage.  The other $40 is cards and a photo print of the kids.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #158 on: November 30, 2017, 10:53:47 AM »
Are the Christmas cards necessary? Can you make them? How many are you sending out? It is a lot of money for something which ends up in the bin. I always feel bad for binning friends' family photos (you know, with them wearing antlers and cheerful raindeer sweaters)after xmas, but really, why should I keep them?

Actually, this is my favourite xmas activity, making cards, now that you mentioned it, I will pull out the cardmaking gear to make the cards for the kids classmates etc. That will keep us busy for a while.

Totally not necessary, but something I enjoy doing as we have lots of out of town family and friends.  We mail about 70 cards, so $35 of that is postage.  The other $40 is cards and a photo print of the kids.

Something I haven't thought about doing is an online card - that would cost almost nothing and preserve the ability to write personalized messages.  The cards are already purchased for this year, but I might consider that next year.

Laura33

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #159 on: November 30, 2017, 11:27:57 AM »
Are the Christmas cards necessary? Can you make them? How many are you sending out? It is a lot of money for something which ends up in the bin. I always feel bad for binning friends' family photos (you know, with them wearing antlers and cheerful raindeer sweaters)after xmas, but really, why should I keep them?

Actually, this is my favourite xmas activity, making cards, now that you mentioned it, I will pull out the cardmaking gear to make the cards for the kids classmates etc. That will keep us busy for a while.

Totally not necessary, but something I enjoy doing as we have lots of out of town family and friends.  We mail about 70 cards, so $35 of that is postage.  The other $40 is cards and a photo print of the kids.

FWIW, I make my own newsletters and just copy photos from iPhotos directly into the Word document.  Add some photo-friendly, somewhat-nicer-than-usual paper, and you avoid at least $30 of that $40.  I like it because it feels more personal than the standard "Merry Christmas to you and yours!" photo cards I usually receive (they're my friends, I want to hear about how their lives are!), and I can still handwrite whatever personalized message I want to add to specific individual recipients.

BeanCounter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #160 on: November 30, 2017, 03:05:58 PM »
Are the Christmas cards necessary? Can you make them? How many are you sending out? It is a lot of money for something which ends up in the bin. I always feel bad for binning friends' family photos (you know, with them wearing antlers and cheerful raindeer sweaters)after xmas, but really, why should I keep them?

Actually, this is my favourite xmas activity, making cards, now that you mentioned it, I will pull out the cardmaking gear to make the cards for the kids classmates etc. That will keep us busy for a while.

Totally not necessary, but something I enjoy doing as we have lots of out of town family and friends.  We mail about 70 cards, so $35 of that is postage.  The other $40 is cards and a photo print of the kids.

FWIW, I make my own newsletters and just copy photos from iPhotos directly into the Word document.  Add some photo-friendly, somewhat-nicer-than-usual paper, and you avoid at least $30 of that $40.  I like it because it feels more personal than the standard "Merry Christmas to you and yours!" photo cards I usually receive (they're my friends, I want to hear about how their lives are!), and I can still handwrite whatever personalized message I want to add to specific individual recipients.
OMG. I LOVE this idea. I had just been contemplating what to do as I feel like the kids have grown out of the cute-ish post card type Christmas card and I'd prefer to have a space to write a note or two. Really good idea.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #161 on: November 30, 2017, 03:39:43 PM »
I get crafty for my Christmas letter - I do a text that summarizes the year, add in 5 or 6 pictures and do some layout tricks. Sometimes it is a half lengthwise 11x17 folded into an accordion.  Sometimes it is just a straight up letter size.  Then I paste it into cards that I get the kids to make and mail it off to mostly overseas friends and family.  My goal is to get it to them before February first.  Some years it gets there before Christmas but if it doesn't, it doesn't.  I often get a long email back from distant friends mentioning how they look forward to it every year.  People that I regularly Facebook with - don't send them one in the post - I just do it virtually.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #162 on: January 04, 2018, 04:37:05 AM »
Minor update, re: Christmas.

Spouse and I discussed the large charity gifts to his family and decided that they probably didn't have much meaning to anyone.  So we decided on small, more meaningful gifts for his family - photo books of the kids.

Christmas actual spending

Daycare teacher and cleaning lady gifts/bonuses - $550
Daycare Secret Santa x2 - $25
Gifts for DH's parents - $37
Gifts for nieces/nephews - $56
Gifts for my mom - $53
Gifts for our kids - $111
Christmas cards - $75

Total: $907

That's $443 less than our budget, so I'm going to send that amount to my student loan right now.

Laura33

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #163 on: January 04, 2018, 07:36:10 AM »
That's $443 less than our budget, so I'm going to send that amount to my student loan right now.

Congrats!! 

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #164 on: January 04, 2018, 07:37:11 AM »
That is fantastic.

YoungGranny

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #165 on: January 04, 2018, 08:05:00 AM »
Just caught up on you entire case study! Congrats you guys have really come a long way! Can't wait to see what 2018 holds for you but I'm sure it'll be good with your new-found mustachian ways.

Did you review your December budget yet? Curious to know if it's been getting easier to find deals at the grocery store the longer you've been at it.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #166 on: January 04, 2018, 08:17:12 AM »
Did you review your December budget yet? Curious to know if it's been getting easier to find deals at the grocery store the longer you've been at it.

I'm about a week behind in YNAB but I'll update once I have the December spending.  December was a little weird with the holidays, but I do think it's getting easier and I'm getting more price conscious.  For example, I did a quick mid-week run because we were out of a few things, which in the past easily could have turned into a $35 run, but I only spent $11 on yogurt, milk, lettuce and sale fruit.  I've also been much more conscious of shopping seasonally, especially for fruits and vegetables, which seems to make a HUGE difference.

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #167 on: January 07, 2018, 04:56:49 AM »
You’re right that this feels really out of whack, since we spend far more on others than our own family.  I need to think more about this and if I want to change it.

FWIW, personally I am far more likely to cut back on family gifts than on teacher/caregiver gifts.  We* have more than enough; they frequently don't.  My general rule is that barring a real problem, I don't improve my own budget by cutting what I give to people who make a buttload less money than I do/causes I care about.  And frankly, that money means a lot more to the caregiver who makes $9/hr than it would to my SIL whose combined HH income is over $200K.

That said, it is worth checking around for local expectations now that you are in a center -- I don't think we ever did more than $50 for an awesome "main" teacher and $10-20 for helpers (since they tend to get similar tips/gifts from other parents as well).  By the time we got to ES, the lovely room mothers generally arranged class gifts, so we contributed about $20 to that (there seemed to be an unstated expectation that each kid contributed to the gift for only the homeroom/main teacher and the "specials" teachers, which cut down the expected amount by quite a bit).  Most years it still added up to a few hundred dollars, but not $500.

Figure out what you can afford to spend, figure out what is appropriate for your area, but don't kick yourself (or your DH) for being generous to those with less/charity if you can afford it and it is consistent with your values.

* The broad "we," including siblings, parents, children, in-laws, etc.

Thank you for this perspective.  I think we have mostly given out of immense gratitude for them taking such good care of our children, and also because it is something we can afford to do for people who don't make a lot of money.  I certainly don't feel like I am obligated, since I know other parents give less, but it is somewhat important to me.  It is similar to the charitable giving - not something I feel comfortable cutting back on when we are so financially well off.  This is gifts for six teachers and the director.

Completely agree with Laura here.  We do the same.

Now, here's hoping our respective *we*'s don't troll the MMM forums anytime soon...ha! 

Omalley

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #168 on: January 15, 2018, 07:55:26 AM »
One way we avoid grovery store spending creep is to make a detailed list before going to the store.  This gives us a chance to see if the needed items are buried in the pantry, and more importantly if an item isn't on the list it stays at the store. 

Agree with other suggestions that you should begin tracking how the $600 per month  ($7,200 per year) in spending money is used. 

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #169 on: January 22, 2018, 02:06:00 PM »
Just caught up on you entire case study! Congrats you guys have really come a long way! Can't wait to see what 2018 holds for you but I'm sure it'll be good with your new-found mustachian ways.

Did you review your December budget yet? Curious to know if it's been getting easier to find deals at the grocery store the longer you've been at it.

I finally have time to post our December numbers for our discretionary spending.

Groceries - $519.28
Eating out - $285.61
Alcohol - $71.45
Household supplies - $23.21
Baby and kid supplies - $198.61
Kid's clothes - $21.24
Gas - $35.21

I realize this is not impressive by mustachian standards, but it is SUCH a cutback in our spending from the original case study.  And even now, looking at it, I'm like "I probably could have not spent that $21 on two outfits for the baby" whereas before I would have given myself a high five for finding such a good deal.

I actually thought eating out was up this month, but it looks like it's down from past months.  We were off for a week and had two meals out just to have something to do in the freezing cold, which feels like a failure of creativity.  But we cut way back on random eating out expenses earlier in the month, so it evened out.  I have been keeping up with YNAB in real time lately (I fell behind in December) so I have a better sense for this now.

The baby and kid supplies are the hardest thing for me to cut down - a lot of that stuff just costs what it costs.  I've started adding notes to YNAB of what it is so I can see what is adding up to so much.  Basically it's formula for the baby and overnight diapers for them both, but every month I think "next month it will be less because we'll need less formula" or "next month we won't need overnights for DD" but there's always something!  DS is about to switch to cow's milk so I just hope that goes okay because it's a LOT less than formula.  We looked into switching to Costco for formula and diapers, but we're actually already getting better than Costco prices from Amazon on diapers, and it seemed like too big a pain to switch his formula given his GI issues when he's so close to switching to cow's milk.

The part that feels REALLY good is that we've finally opened up a gap between our income and expenses.  We had a little extra income in December, but we were able to put $2265 extra toward my student loans.  The smaller loan will be done this month, and we're still deciding if we should pay off the larger loan (3.71% interest) or put the money into an investment account.  DH the market timer/risk averse one wants to pay down the debt, while I'd prefer to invest.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #170 on: January 22, 2018, 02:11:48 PM »
One way we avoid grovery store spending creep is to make a detailed list before going to the store.  This gives us a chance to see if the needed items are buried in the pantry, and more importantly if an item isn't on the list it stays at the store. 

Agree with other suggestions that you should begin tracking how the $600 per month  ($7,200 per year) in spending money is used.

I've been getting much better about checking the pantry and using things up!

I totally agree that we need to track the $600 of spending money, it just hasn't been worth pushing the issue with DH when there were so many high expenses in my area of control that I could attack first.  I think an allowance system is not ideal, but having "no accountability" money has in the past been a key to keeping the financial marital peace.

I don't want to portray DH as an obstructionist or anything, because overall he's very supportive of my efforts and has started to get more on board as I show him the progress I am making.  But he really wants a latte when he wants it, and doesn't think it makes a difference to our overall financial picture.  I tend to get frustrated about this, and it causes fights.  So I'm still trying to figure out how to approach this without it becoming a big thing we disagree over.

galliver

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #171 on: January 22, 2018, 02:37:06 PM »
The baby and kid supplies are the hardest thing for me to cut down - a lot of that stuff just costs what it costs.  I've started adding notes to YNAB of what it is so I can see what is adding up to so much.  Basically it's formula for the baby and overnight diapers for them both, but every month I think "next month it will be less because we'll need less formula" or "next month we won't need overnights for DD" but there's always something!  DS is about to switch to cow's milk so I just hope that goes okay because it's a LOT less than formula.  We looked into switching to Costco for formula and diapers, but we're actually already getting better than Costco prices from Amazon on diapers, and it seemed like too big a pain to switch his formula given his GI issues when he's so close to switching to cow's milk.

First, congrats on your progress! Always good to have a good month (in regards to whatever goal one is pursuing).

Second, have you looked into/considered goats milk? I've read it can be easier on baby and adult stomachs alike due to  the balance of nutrients, lactose content, etc. Please take this as "in case you haven't heard of this" and not "I, internet stranger, have the answer to all your problems" ;)

Villanelle

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #172 on: January 22, 2018, 09:00:48 PM »
If you can't agree on where to put the extra money, why not split it between investment and the lower interest loan?  Perhaps not ideal for either your or DH's outlook, but that's what compromise usually feels like. 

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #173 on: January 23, 2018, 07:14:15 AM »
If you can't agree on where to put the extra money, why not split it between investment and the lower interest loan?  Perhaps not ideal for either your or DH's outlook, but that's what compromise usually feels like.

That is an excellent suggestion!  LOL, it's so simple, I'm not sure why we are always all or nothing.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #174 on: January 23, 2018, 07:16:07 AM »
Second, have you looked into/considered goats milk? I've read it can be easier on baby and adult stomachs alike due to  the balance of nutrients, lactose content, etc. Please take this as "in case you haven't heard of this" and not "I, internet stranger, have the answer to all your problems" ;)

Thanks for the info, it's something I hadn't considered, but I'll look into it.  Poor little thing had such a rough go with formula at the beginning that I'm hoping it was just a gut maturity issue, but it's great to have options.

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #175 on: July 27, 2018, 10:29:54 AM »
Hello everyone!  It's been a year since I posted this case study and wanted to give an update.

I've been using YNAB for a year, and we made some progress in some areas, but honestly reviewing this was very sobering.  We still spend so much money, and I feel like we could be making so much more progress if I could get my arms around this.  However, I do want to give myself credit for opening up a gap between our income and expenses.  We've been able to use that money to pay down my student loans fairly substantially and contribute to our taxable account.  So we are making progress, just not as much progress as I would like.

The personal spending money is DH's hill to die on.  He doesn't want to give it up, and he doesn't want me to even track it so I could know what it's going towards.  I've decided $300/month is not worth fighting about, but we did say we could revisit the issue again in a few months.  I think the bigger issue is we don't have a shared goal.  He's happy working until normal retirement age and spending a lot of money on "lifestyle" while I am not.  I'm honestly not sure how to get us on the same page.

We're taking a stab at both the babysitting and restaurant numbers by doing date nights at home instead of going out.  On Saturdays after the kids are in bed we cook a nice meal and do some sort of fun activity that we take turns planning.  We started in June so we should see the $$$ results over the next few months.

You all have been so helpful to me, and I appreciate the honest feedback I've gotten.  I'm still up for feedback and areas for improvement, even if it should be obvious to me by now.

Here's our original case study spending and our current actual spending, January to June of this year from YNAB.

CategoryOld SpendingNew SpendingComments
Housing
Mortgage$1,510$1,589Recalculation of our payment, taxes went up
Storage Unit$70$0
House Cleaner$220$220I've come to appreciate how much I value this with two careers and young kids
Home maintenence$214 (budgeted)$76 (actual)New garbage disposal
Utilities
Cell Phone$57$30Switched to Metro PCS
Internet$50$50
Natural Gas$65$92Will work to cut this down next winter
Electricity$63$53This is seasonal, but I did adjust the AC and start using ceiling fans
Transportation
Gas$35 (budgeted)$25 (actual)
Parking and tollsNot accounted for$15
Car Insurance$24$24
Bike Share$17$0I bought a bike with my spending money for $150
Auto Maintenance/Replacement    $150 (budgeted)$90 (actual)One $500ish repair
Registration/City Parking PermitNot accounted for$26
Kid Expenses
Daycare$3033 (budgeted)$3068 (actual)
Babysitter$100$156
College Savings$200$200
Health/Insurance
OOP Medical$180 (budgeted)$230 (actual)Large dentist bill in February
Umbrella Insurance$13$13Hesitant to drop this
Life Insurance$163$163
Debt Service
Student Loan #1$483$515Refinanced for lower rate and shorter term
Student Loan #2$143$0Paid off!
Discretionary Spending
Groceries$598$584Not great, covers more food at home
Restaurants$783$334Moved lunches to "personal spending"
Alcohol$83$85
Amazon/Target$748Broken out below   
Baby and Kid SuppliesNot broken out$103Dropped substantially since March, no more formula
Kids ClothesNot broken out$60Mostly secondhand, still too much
Other kid expensesNot broken out$33Toys, activities, etc.
GiftsNot broken out$8
Pet Food and LitterNot broken out$42
Pet MedicationNot broken out$16
Pet SittingNot broken out$17
Vet$83 (budgeted)$0 (actual)Kitties are in good health!
Spending Money$600$600Can't budge DH on this one, saving a lot of mine
Travel$600 (budgeted)$635 (actual)March vacation plus 2018 holiday travel bookings
Christmas$115 (budgeted)$67 (budgeted)Cutting back this year, but still high
Charitable Giving$300$0Moved to DAF
Entertainment$30 (budgeted)$38 (actual)Includes Spotify, NYTimes subscriptions
Total Expenses$10,784$9,257$1527 difference

And here is our current balance sheet:

CategoryBeforeAfterComments
Assets
Condo$360k$330kGot a new estimate from realtor
Roth IRAs$75k$78k
401k/403b$183k$244k
Taxable Investment Account$77k$97k
Spouse 2's Personal Investment Account    $1,904$3,214
Cash Savings$26,851$10,909Moved some cash to market
Checking$5,689$3,296
Donor Advised Fund$0$23,430New, due to tax law change
529 plansNot in original case study    $5,667Forgot these last time
Car$1000$7002003 Toyota Corolla
Liabilities
Mortgage$185,000$181,436
Student Loan #1$29,790$7,897
Student Loan #2$9,050$0Paid off
Net Worth$506,604$606,883

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #176 on: July 27, 2018, 11:05:45 AM »
TLDR: We've cut our monthly expenses by $1500 and still have a long way to go.

Novik

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #177 on: July 27, 2018, 11:16:10 AM »
Congrats on opening up that gap between income and spending, and on having a much better idea of where you're spending your money! >9k is high spending, but almost half of it is daycare and a mortgage, which really brings the costs into perspective.

Also wanted to give a shout out to this:  "Net Worth   $506,604   -> $606,883"   Way to go!

(now imagine how much faster your net worth would grow if you drop 1000$ a month from spending... save 100$ more on groceries, restaurants, babysitting and each of your personal money* + 500$ on student loan #1 once you have that paid off = 12 000$ more every year to invest.)

*or some combo of personal, vacation, christmas, kids

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #178 on: July 27, 2018, 01:43:00 PM »
TLDR: We've cut our monthly expenses by $1500 and still have a long way to go.

I read this entire case study today & was so impressed by your attitude & changes. I know it feels hard when you are looking at all of the numbers (and, obviously, still plenty of areas to improve), bu you have done a great job tracking, cutting back, & creating an income/spending gap. That's huge progress! Especially for the phase of life you're in with two small kids.

FWIW, we have a similar situation, and kept the house keeper until the kids were older. It's much easier now that they are older, can help (although, they do a sub par job for sure), but my sanity is just much better. I can meal plan, I don't mind & resent cleaning & laundry, I sell things we no longer need.

My spouse also has his own fund. We can afford it, & I ask no questions. It's kept the marital harmony. Is $300 an amount that can't be changed? Would he be willing to increase the student loan payments (mutually) by you each dropping to $250, therefore increasing the payment by $100/month? I get that the flexibility & autonomy is important, but if you had a shared goal for a cut, perhaps that would make a change more palatable?

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #179 on: July 27, 2018, 04:54:39 PM »
That's good progress.  One tip: You may want to be careful dropping the emergency fund too much, especially with your monthly spend that high: you don't want to be caught in a problem that then costs you all the gains you've made (or a big chunk of them) because you don't have cash on hand. 


DoNorth

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #180 on: July 28, 2018, 02:14:09 AM »
sounds like you're on a nice path now.  We were in a similar situation several years ago making many of the same choices.  One of the tactics that seemed to work and continues to work was "automate and envelope"  You described a time when you had lower income and you adjusted your spending.  You have 401ks, 403bs, etc.  Do you have 529s, savings accounts for the kids, checking accounts for the kids, UTMA/UGMA accounts for the kids?  I automate all these every month and encourage grandparents/aunts/uncles whatever to gift directly to my kids' 529s as part of their Christmas/birthday gifts....the relatives love the convenience and like the fact their contributing to the kids' education and/or savings.  More automation of investment naturally leads to higher savings rate and then if you're like some people, you gradually adjust your spending lower to prevent yourself from going into debt.  I thought enveloping was kind of hokey especially I like using CCs for the points, and I hate having change in my pocket because I always lose it. But, there is something about having to actually hand over cash to someone that gives you pause.  One clicking is so easy, and the 5% back on the Target card makes you feel really good b/c you're "saving", but what is that really enticing you to do?  If nothing else, enveloping gives you a different way to think about your money.  Lets say you set a $20/month coffee budget.  Normally, you hit starbucks, grab a super macchiato whatever (I drink black coffee so i don't even know the names) swipe your phone, get a bunch of stars and you're on your way.  You do it over and over and over having no clue where that money ever went.  Now, instead, you put that crisp $20 in an envelope and you're thinking, this $20 is only going to last a week if I get the fancy coffee OR, I could buy 8-9 tall pike place black coffees (better option) OR, I could buy two 20 oz bags at the store, brew my coffee every day at home and make it last most of the month.  its painful and a bit tedious, but worthwhile nonetheless especially as your trying to come to grips on your spending.



lentil

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #181 on: July 28, 2018, 09:29:52 AM »
Quote
The personal spending money is DH's hill to die on.  He doesn't want to give it up, and he doesn't want me to even track it so I could know what it's going towards.  I've decided $300/month is not worth fighting about, but we did say we could revisit the issue again in a few months.  I think the bigger issue is we don't have a shared goal.  He's happy working until normal retirement age and spending a lot of money on "lifestyle" while I am not.  I'm honestly not sure how to get us on the same page.

Just wanted to comment directly on this part, since I can relate. My partner loves his job and hates feeling "deprived" by spending cutbacks, so FIRE for the sake of FIRE isn't particularly motivating for him.

However, the idea of spending in ways that reflect our values resonates quite a bit. So I often frame financial discussions that way -- not "let's cut back on ____ so we can grow our net worth some more," but, "hey, if we cut back on ____, we'd have more to spend on this other thing that's more important to us." Sometimes the incentive is really just fun (like a relatively spendy vacation), sometimes it's something that reflects other priorities (more in charitable donations, or simply focusing on higher-value experiences). And often, the end result is that we figure out how to cut back on our spending, then get used to doing without it, and end up saving considerably more than the short-term incentive really requires.

Your date night ideas sound similar, in recognizing that higher-value experiences often involve more personal effort and less casual spending. For us, it's more like a long-running series of conversations about what we want out of life (currently, in the immediate future, and sometimes the hazy-and-mysterious distant future too)...we aren't always on the same page at the same time, but the conversation itself is often pretty interesting.

It seems like you've done a great job gaining control of your finances in the past year. Congratulations!!

MustachedImposter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #182 on: July 30, 2018, 09:29:17 AM »
Quote
The personal spending money is DH's hill to die on.  He doesn't want to give it up, and he doesn't want me to even track it so I could know what it's going towards.  I've decided $300/month is not worth fighting about, but we did say we could revisit the issue again in a few months.  I think the bigger issue is we don't have a shared goal.  He's happy working until normal retirement age and spending a lot of money on "lifestyle" while I am not.  I'm honestly not sure how to get us on the same page.

Just wanted to comment directly on this part, since I can relate. My partner loves his job and hates feeling "deprived" by spending cutbacks, so FIRE for the sake of FIRE isn't particularly motivating for him.

However, the idea of spending in ways that reflect our values resonates quite a bit. So I often frame financial discussions that way -- not "let's cut back on ____ so we can grow our net worth some more," but, "hey, if we cut back on ____, we'd have more to spend on this other thing that's more important to us." Sometimes the incentive is really just fun (like a relatively spendy vacation), sometimes it's something that reflects other priorities (more in charitable donations, or simply focusing on higher-value experiences). And often, the end result is that we figure out how to cut back on our spending, then get used to doing without it, and end up saving considerably more than the short-term incentive really requires.

Your date night ideas sound similar, in recognizing that higher-value experiences often involve more personal effort and less casual spending. For us, it's more like a long-running series of conversations about what we want out of life (currently, in the immediate future, and sometimes the hazy-and-mysterious distant future too)...we aren't always on the same page at the same time, but the conversation itself is often pretty interesting.

It seems like you've done a great job gaining control of your finances in the past year. Congratulations!!

Thank you, this sounds like an approach that would resonate with my H.  He's on board with specific ways to align our spending and values, but doesn't seem to connect with the overarching goal of FIRE.

Pennycounter

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Re: Case Study: Hair on Fire Spending
« Reply #183 on: July 31, 2018, 12:48:14 PM »
Congrats on the progress and thanks for the update. Sometimes it feels like time passes so slowly and then boom, you are comparing year on year results. 

I have difficulty with my DH on spending as well. We don't do an allowance but he doesn't get that every $10 adds up and that if we get an unexpected bill, that the rest of our spending should ramp down to accommodate.  It's tough and sometimes I get so frustrated but then step back and remember its just not worth the aggravation. I think a lot of us in this community are optimizers and that's hard to convert people to that way of thinking.  Best of luck with continued savings :)