Author Topic: Help me trim the budget!  (Read 1412 times)

kencarylscott

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Help me trim the budget!
« on: October 16, 2018, 10:38:41 AM »
Husband and wife in early 30s, 3 year old, 1 year old, and 3rd kid due in January.  Live in Littleton, CO

Mortgage - $3000/month
Groceries - $1075/month
All Medical - $780/month (self-employed, no health insurance, this covers our Medishare payment and $5k deductible each year)
Babysitter/daycare - $400/month
All Travel - $350/month
Utilities - $250/month
Auto Insurance - $183/month
Gas - $150/month
Repairs/maintenance - $150/month
Life insurance - $150/month
Clothing - $140/month
Pets - $125/month
Gifts - $125/month
Toiletries - $125/month
Miscellaneous - $115/month
Housekeeping - $110/month
Eating Out - $100/month
Home Supplies - $90/month
Baby Supplies - $80/month
Sporting Goods - $60/month
Dates - $50/month
Auto Registration - $45/month
Hair - $45/month
Home Insurance - $37/month
Fun/Entertainment - $25/month
Her Discretionary - $25/month
His Discretionary - $25/month
Wedding Ring Insurance - $10/month
Nursing Malpractice Insurance - $9/month

You add it up and we live off about $94,000 after taxes!  How do we get this number lower to increase our savings rate?

v8rx7guy

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2018, 11:14:32 AM »
Husband and wife in early 30s, 3 year old, 1 year old, and 3rd kid due in January.  Live in Littleton, CO

Mortgage - $3000/month
Groceries - $1075/month
All Medical - $780/month (self-employed, no health insurance, this covers our Medishare payment and $5k deductible each year)
Babysitter/daycare - $400/month
All Travel - $350/month
Utilities - $250/month
Auto Insurance - $183/month
Gas - $150/month
Repairs/maintenance - $150/month
Life insurance - $150/month
Clothing - $140/month
Pets - $125/month
Gifts - $125/month
Toiletries - $125/month
Miscellaneous - $115/month
Housekeeping - $110/month
Eating Out - $100/month
Home Supplies - $90/month
Baby Supplies - $80/month
Sporting Goods - $60/month
Dates - $50/month
Auto Registration - $45/month
Hair - $45/month
Home Insurance - $37/month
Fun/Entertainment - $25/month
Her Discretionary - $25/month
His Discretionary - $25/month
Wedding Ring Insurance - $10/month
Nursing Malpractice Insurance - $9/month

You add it up and we live off about $94,000 after taxes!  How do we get this number lower to increase our savings rate?

1.  What is your monthly income?

2.  Grocery is way too high.  We are also in our early 30's with a 1yo and 3yo and have $600 budgeted for groceries and the includes "toiletries" and "home supplies".

3.  Can you break down your Utilities for us?

4.  Life Insurance?  Either you have a massive policy(ies), or it's a garbage whole life policy(ies) that should be changed to a term policy(ies).  I have $500K policy for $22/mo 20 year term and got it at 30 years old.

5.  Your Car insurance is $183/mo, but I don't see any car payments.  What vehicles do you own, and is it really worth having full coverage on them (assumption here)

6.  Wedding Ring insurance... small amount but: shame, shame, shame, ding ding!

7.  Obviously I don't fully don't understand the housing market in Colorado, but $3,000/mo month needs to be looked at.  What percentage of your take home is this (see #1)?  Does this include property taxes (not listed in your budget)?  It is very possible that you have too much house.

8.  Miscellaneous, is this category really needed considering you really have your budget broken down into so many sub categories?

9.  Sporting goods and Clothing should really be included in "his / her spending money", maybe bump both up to $50 to accommodate this.  Still would be a nice net savings.

Just some food for thought...

[edited to add #9]
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 11:25:57 AM by v8rx7guy »

HamsterStache

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2018, 11:23:25 AM »
I second the comment that your groceries seem to be far too high - we're also in our 30's with a one year old and three year old, living in an extremely HCOL area, and last I checked, we averaged $112 a week on groceries without going to any sort of extreme saving strategies and eating clean/organic in a lot of cases.

What kind of travel are you doing - if it's mostly vacation, perhaps you could scale back. $4200 a year seems high if you're trying to cut back.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2018, 11:29:11 AM »
One more thing, and this is a bit picky, but what exactly is the difference between "fun/entertainment", "dates" and "eating out"?  It's a reasonable amount for all of them, but why not just combine it to keep life simpler?  Maybe just call it "Dates" and allocate $150.  That's what we do and I'm pretty sure it's for all the same things you'd use these 3 categories for.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2018, 11:29:20 AM »
Hello fellow Coloradan. I'll poke a bit at the expenses.

Mortgage - $3000/month [appeal property taxes?]

Groceries - $1075/month [should be way lower. we eat keto and a ton of expensive meat and we're less than $150 a week, not really shopping sales, not sure how you're getting that up to $1075/month. meal plan and shop sales will easily drop this way down]

All Medical - $780/month (self-employed, no health insurance, this covers our Medishare payment and $5k deductible each year) [always pays to shop around, can you do an HSA to reduce tax impact?]

Babysitter/daycare - $400/month [this can be really high or really low depending on what you're getting. i pay $150/week for one infant in full time in-home daycare, for reference]

All Travel - $350/month [we spend more than this on our travel so who am I to judge this line item]

Utilities - $250/month [sounds reasonable, for ALL my utilities including electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash, I average around $300 total, for a 2700sqft home above ground, temp set at 72 year round and liberal use of sprinkler system in warm months]

Auto Insurance - $183/month [shop this at every renewal, also consider older cars and limited physical damage coverage for your own cars to lower this cost]

Gas - $150/month [drive less? this isn't bad though depending on your circumstances]

Repairs/maintenance - $150/month [repairs to car? home? both? just making sure it's accounting for everything]

Life insurance - $150/month [seems really high, if this is a whole life policy, consider cashing out and doing term insurance. whole life stinks. if it's a term policy, consider shopping as this seems really high]

Clothing - $140/month [this is insane. and we spend a ton on baby clothes]

Pets - $125/month [love my dog and cat, but the two combined don't cost this much. why so high?]

Gifts - $125/month [i'd say reevaluate this amount, are you buying plastic junk for 2nd cousins? or awesome well-received gifts for close family. make sure this is in line with your goals]

Toiletries - $125/month [just...what? how much shaving cream and toilet paper are you using?]

Miscellaneous - $115/month [probably not too bad, just make sure it's truly miscellaneous stuff]

Housekeeping - $110/month [a contentious subject on this forum. i don't pay for housekeeping and my wife and I are able to do all cleaning with not a whole lot of time spent, and we have a mcmansion]

Eating Out - $100/month [not bad, some will say that this could be better]

Home Supplies - $90/month [sure]

Baby Supplies - $80/month [sure]

Sporting Goods - $60/month [sure, depending on if you're getting value from new sporting equipment every year]

Dates - $50/month [sure]

Auto Registration - $45/month [sure, but could be lower with older cars]

Hair - $45/month [high, but i'm not one to talk, my wife spends about this much]

Home Insurance - $37/month [seems...low for colorado. are you sure it covers everything you think it covers? keep in mind that some policies in CO depreciate your roof when it comes time for hail claims, which really limits your payout.]

Fun/Entertainment - $25/month [sure]

Her Discretionary - $25/month [sure]

His Discretionary - $25/month [sure]

Wedding Ring Insurance - $10/month [holy moly this is high, not in terms of your overall budget, but it must mean you bought a $10k plus ring!]

Nursing Malpractice Insurance - $9/month [can't comment since I know nothing about this]
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 11:32:33 AM by patchyfacialhair »

therethere

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2018, 11:35:31 AM »
Well you definitely shot yourself in the foot with that mortgage. Why so much house? Was it a recent buy within the last year where you received higher loan rates and higher price point? I know prices are high in the area but a 3k mortgage is pretty ridiculous, that's like a 500k house. \

On top of that you have a whole lot of categories that seem overlapping. I'm assuming this is what some budget aggregate autocategorized for you. It might be worthwhile to set up your own concrete categories for better metrics. For instance, to me, groceries, toiletries, household supplies, and pet food would all fall under "Groceries" since I buy all of this at the grocery store mainly. Eating out, dates, spending money, baby items, miscellaneous, fun, and sporting goods would all fall under "Entertainment/Spending Money". This seems more useful for month to month tracking as you're averaging yourself out. Then utilize subcategories for better spending analysis on an annual basis. Just a thought.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 11:41:53 AM by therethere »

v8rx7guy

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2018, 11:37:48 AM »
Well you definitely shot yourself in the foot with that mortgage. Why so much house? Was it a recent buy within the last year where you received higher loan rates and higher price point? I know prices are high in the area but a 3k mortgage is pretty ridiculous, that's like a 500k house.

We need to know what property taxes are and if that's included in the mortgage before we jump to too many conclusions.  One thing is probably for sure though, a rent/buy analysis would probably suggest renting would be the smarter choice in this market situation.

LifeHappens

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2018, 11:44:05 AM »
The mortgage does stand out. It would be helpful to know what your purchase price was/total owed/interest rate/if you're paying PMI/PITI breakdown. On first glance it looks like you bought too much house, but we need more information.

What are your goals? You seem to have quite a bit of luxury in your budget with high spending for clothes, food, personal care, house cleaning, etc. Do these expenses align with your goals and personal budget? What is your savings rate now vs. what you want it to be? What are you willing to change?

Greyweld

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2018, 11:53:26 AM »
CO, but less pricey Springs area.

I agree that grocery costs are high. Are you buying things like expensive formula for a special-needs infant or something? We spend about $250-$300 per month for 2, and we eat a lot of VERY good food.

Is there a strong need for high clothing spending? Not only a professional job, but the need for a constant rotation of clothes?

Not sure about utilities. Others say they are high, but ours are similar. I need to understand patchy's secrets of keeping the thermostat at 72 and keeping utilities low. Always worth checking to make sure you don't have any slow water leaks, that your insulation is up to par, and that you're not heating or cooling the place excessively when no one is home.

I think travel is a bit high. You may be in a position to take advantage of travel cards. I feel some guilt about having paid for Amex Platinum, but at least for the first year it's covered 3 round-trip plane tickets so far.

My homeowner's insurance is way higher for a house that's probably about half the value of yours. How...?

As others have said, your house is the clear biggest line item. At first I figured "well, Longmont is more expensive," but then I went on Zillow and found 4 bedrooms for well under 500k. Is staying in your current home worth nearly 40% of what you are spending to you?

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2018, 03:06:10 PM »
Husband and wife in early 30s, 3 year old, 1 year old, and 3rd kid due in January.  Live in Littleton, CO

Mortgage - $3000/month
Groceries - $1075/month
All Medical - $780/month (self-employed, no health insurance, this covers our Medishare payment and $5k deductible each year)
Babysitter/daycare - $400/month
All Travel - $350/month
Utilities - $250/month
Auto Insurance - $183/month
Gas - $150/month
Repairs/maintenance - $150/month
Life insurance - $150/month
Clothing - $140/month
Pets - $125/month
Gifts - $125/month
Toiletries - $125/month
Miscellaneous - $115/month
Housekeeping - $110/month
Eating Out - $100/month
Home Supplies - $90/month
Baby Supplies - $80/month
Sporting Goods - $60/month
Dates - $50/month
Auto Registration - $45/month
Hair - $45/month
Home Insurance - $37/month
Fun/Entertainment - $25/month
Her Discretionary - $25/month
His Discretionary - $25/month
Wedding Ring Insurance - $10/month
Nursing Malpractice Insurance - $9/month

You add it up and we live off about $94,000 after taxes!  How do we get this number lower to increase our savings rate?

1.  What is your monthly income?

2.  Grocery is way too high.  We are also in our early 30's with a 1yo and 3yo and have $600 budgeted for groceries and the includes "toiletries" and "home supplies".

3.  Can you break down your Utilities for us?

4.  Life Insurance?  Either you have a massive policy(ies), or it's a garbage whole life policy(ies) that should be changed to a term policy(ies).  I have $500K policy for $22/mo 20 year term and got it at 30 years old.

5.  Your Car insurance is $183/mo, but I don't see any car payments.  What vehicles do you own, and is it really worth having full coverage on them (assumption here)

6.  Wedding Ring insurance... small amount but: shame, shame, shame, ding ding!

7.  Obviously I don't fully don't understand the housing market in Colorado, but $3,000/mo month needs to be looked at.  What percentage of your take home is this (see #1)?  Does this include property taxes (not listed in your budget)?  It is very possible that you have too much house.

8.  Miscellaneous, is this category really needed considering you really have your budget broken down into so many sub categories?

9.  Sporting goods and Clothing should really be included in "his / her spending money", maybe bump both up to $50 to accommodate this.  Still would be a nice net savings.

Just some food for thought...

[edited to add #9]

1 -  Enough.  I'm less concerned with income and more concerned with minimizing expenditures.

2 - Where are you shopping?  Are you buying organic fruits/veggies/meats or living off Tofu?  Asking solely so I can have a point of reference since different people buy different levels/quality/types of food.  I'd love to get the grocery line item down but I love that we eat healthy food.

3 - Looking at last month....HOA is $52.  Water is $103.  Natural Gas is $23.  Electricity is $156.  That's during a hotter month, so electricity should drop a bit when not running AC.

4 - It's a term life policy.  I have$1M on my wife and we're taking out a $3M on me.  At the age of 32 and given my income, it'd take much more than that to replace lost earnings.

5 - No car payments.  Own three cars.  Trying to sell one of them right now, maybe a 2nd in the Spring. 

6 - It's already paid for itself multple times over.  She lost the diamond on it in the first year of marriage and we got a brand new one put in.

7 - it does include property taxes.  It's about 20% of my take home pay.

8 - yes, we use it

9 - clothing is for kids as well.  Sporting goods...I mean, we live in Colorado :)

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2018, 03:08:27 PM »
I second the comment that your groceries seem to be far too high - we're also in our 30's with a one year old and three year old, living in an extremely HCOL area, and last I checked, we averaged $112 a week on groceries without going to any sort of extreme saving strategies and eating clean/organic in a lot of cases.

What kind of travel are you doing - if it's mostly vacation, perhaps you could scale back. $4200 a year seems high if you're trying to cut back.

Can you share where you're shopping?  What you guys typically eat?  I'd love to get that grocery bill down.

Travel is mostly obligated travel.  If we do a trip to my family, a trip to her family, and a family vacation in the lower 48, you get there pretty quick.  Again, would love to lower that though so open to suggestions on how to still do those things in a more cost effective way.  Airfare, rental car, and hotel/airbnb just add up fast.

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2018, 03:09:34 PM »
One more thing, and this is a bit picky, but what exactly is the difference between "fun/entertainment", "dates" and "eating out"?  It's a reasonable amount for all of them, but why not just combine it to keep life simpler?  Maybe just call it "Dates" and allocate $150.  That's what we do and I'm pretty sure it's for all the same things you'd use these 3 categories for.

We considered it.  And truthfully, Fun/entertainment and eating out could probably go together.  We try to keep Dates separate so we're purposeful in spending time together and the budget doesn't just go all to eating out as a family.

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2018, 03:15:00 PM »
Hello fellow Coloradan. I'll poke a bit at the expenses.

Mortgage - $3000/month [appeal property taxes?]

Groceries - $1075/month [should be way lower. we eat keto and a ton of expensive meat and we're less than $150 a week, not really shopping sales, not sure how you're getting that up to $1075/month. meal plan and shop sales will easily drop this way down]

All Medical - $780/month (self-employed, no health insurance, this covers our Medishare payment and $5k deductible each year) [always pays to shop around, can you do an HSA to reduce tax impact?]

Babysitter/daycare - $400/month [this can be really high or really low depending on what you're getting. i pay $150/week for one infant in full time in-home daycare, for reference]

All Travel - $350/month [we spend more than this on our travel so who am I to judge this line item]

Utilities - $250/month [sounds reasonable, for ALL my utilities including electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash, I average around $300 total, for a 2700sqft home above ground, temp set at 72 year round and liberal use of sprinkler system in warm months]

Auto Insurance - $183/month [shop this at every renewal, also consider older cars and limited physical damage coverage for your own cars to lower this cost]

Gas - $150/month [drive less? this isn't bad though depending on your circumstances]

Repairs/maintenance - $150/month [repairs to car? home? both? just making sure it's accounting for everything]

Life insurance - $150/month [seems really high, if this is a whole life policy, consider cashing out and doing term insurance. whole life stinks. if it's a term policy, consider shopping as this seems really high]

Clothing - $140/month [this is insane. and we spend a ton on baby clothes]

Pets - $125/month [love my dog and cat, but the two combined don't cost this much. why so high?]

Gifts - $125/month [i'd say reevaluate this amount, are you buying plastic junk for 2nd cousins? or awesome well-received gifts for close family. make sure this is in line with your goals]

Toiletries - $125/month [just...what? how much shaving cream and toilet paper are you using?]

Miscellaneous - $115/month [probably not too bad, just make sure it's truly miscellaneous stuff]

Housekeeping - $110/month [a contentious subject on this forum. i don't pay for housekeeping and my wife and I are able to do all cleaning with not a whole lot of time spent, and we have a mcmansion]

Eating Out - $100/month [not bad, some will say that this could be better]

Home Supplies - $90/month [sure]

Baby Supplies - $80/month [sure]

Sporting Goods - $60/month [sure, depending on if you're getting value from new sporting equipment every year]

Dates - $50/month [sure]

Auto Registration - $45/month [sure, but could be lower with older cars]

Hair - $45/month [high, but i'm not one to talk, my wife spends about this much]

Home Insurance - $37/month [seems...low for colorado. are you sure it covers everything you think it covers? keep in mind that some policies in CO depreciate your roof when it comes time for hail claims, which really limits your payout.]

Fun/Entertainment - $25/month [sure]

Her Discretionary - $25/month [sure]

His Discretionary - $25/month [sure]

Wedding Ring Insurance - $10/month [holy moly this is high, not in terms of your overall budget, but it must mean you bought a $10k plus ring!]

Nursing Malpractice Insurance - $9/month [can't comment since I know nothing about this]

Mortgate - yes, includes property taxes

Groceries - please help with this one!  We love eating health/organic but it's easy for us to hit $1075 in a month.  Where are you shopping?

All Medical - maybe?  I already have an HSA thru previous employer.  Maybe a good idea to transfer pre-tax money into that vs paying out of pocket post-tax

Babysitter/daycare - this covers our two boys, one going 1 day a week and the older going 2 days a week

Utilities - glad to know I'm in the right ballpark

Gas - I work from home so I already hardly drive.

Repairs/maintenance - that's just cars

Life insurance - I'd love to lower that as well, but I want to be adequately insured

Clothing - where do you shop?

Toiletries - I asked my wife the same thing!

Home insurance - I'll double check

Thanks for the feedback!

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2018, 03:24:20 PM »
Well you definitely shot yourself in the foot with that mortgage. Why so much house? Was it a recent buy within the last year where you received higher loan rates and higher price point? I know prices are high in the area but a 3k mortgage is pretty ridiculous, that's like a 500k house. \

On top of that you have a whole lot of categories that seem overlapping. I'm assuming this is what some budget aggregate autocategorized for you. It might be worthwhile to set up your own concrete categories for better metrics. For instance, to me, groceries, toiletries, household supplies, and pet food would all fall under "Groceries" since I buy all of this at the grocery store mainly. Eating out, dates, spending money, baby items, miscellaneous, fun, and sporting goods would all fall under "Entertainment/Spending Money". This seems more useful for month to month tracking as you're averaging yourself out. Then utilize subcategories for better spending analysis on an annual basis. Just a thought.

Others have asked about mortgage, so I'll give a full explanation here and reference this post.

Yes, $3k includes property taxes.

Yes, it's more house than we need.  We bought it for it's location (great schools, deer in my front yard, 45 miles of private hiking trails, three swimming pools, super quiet neighborhood, great neighbors, etc).  We also got a good deal on it.  No realtors involved, offered them the price they paid in 2014 + cost of updates they had done with receipts to prove it.  So basically bought it for 2014 price in 2018.

Yes, we absolutely love where we live.  You'd have to drag me out of here.

May leverage part of the house as an airbnb to have another income stream.

Purchase price was $720k.  Total owed is $490k.  Interest rate is 4.125%.

Short version: we bought the house in March and haven't reconsidered once.  We love it.  And, as noted above, the $3k/month is only about 20% of my takehome pay.  We could have bought a lot more.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2018, 03:24:49 PM »
Mortgate - yes, includes property taxes make sure your property tax assessment isn't out of line. in colorado springs, mine is assessed way below market so i just enjoy it while it lasts

Groceries - please help with this one!  We love eating health/organic but it's easy for us to hit $1075 in a month.  Where are you shopping? 90% of the time, sprouts. we're pretty simple, i ask my wife what she wants to eat since she can be picky, i make a list while standing in my kitchen so i don't buy things i already have, and then go buy everything. sprouts typically has good priced meats and veggies but they fleece you on canned/packaged goods

All Medical - maybe?  I already have an HSA thru previous employer.  Maybe a good idea to transfer pre-tax money into that vs paying out of pocket post-tax agreed, if possible, especially with open enrollment around the corner for your employer most likely

Babysitter/daycare - this covers our two boys, one going 1 day a week and the older going 2 days a week not bad, in my opinion

Utilities - glad to know I'm in the right ballpark sweet

Gas - I work from home so I already hardly drive. better than me

Repairs/maintenance - that's just cars cool

Life insurance - I'd love to lower that as well, but I want to be adequately insured remember that your kids would get social security payments if a parent dies, check ssa.gov website to see how much, and use that to factor in how much coverage you need

Clothing - where do you shop? Dillards sale racks, or Kohl's clearance for adults, Carters store or walmart for kid

Toiletries - I asked my wife the same thing! LOL

Home insurance - I'll double check unsolicited advice, just make sure you understand your deductibles, and ensure that your home is insured for replacement cost, including the roof (former licensed agent here)

Thanks for the feedback! Sure thing!

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2018, 03:26:26 PM »
Well you definitely shot yourself in the foot with that mortgage. Why so much house? Was it a recent buy within the last year where you received higher loan rates and higher price point? I know prices are high in the area but a 3k mortgage is pretty ridiculous, that's like a 500k house.

We need to know what property taxes are and if that's included in the mortgage before we jump to too many conclusions.  One thing is probably for sure though, a rent/buy analysis would probably suggest renting would be the smarter choice in this market situation.

See other reply on housing.

I'll also add that we were spending around $2200/month with utilities for a house half this size in a much less nice neighborhood.  So I'm spending about $1100/month more to have twice the house, much better schools, and a far far better neighborhood.  Well worth $13k/year IMO. 

Greyweld

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2018, 03:28:19 PM »
How much does your wife drive for her commute? $150 per month in gas seems like quite a bit for a commute for one person in gas per month. Though it's possible I'm spoiled by being able to carpool with my SO and driving a hybrid car.

I'm not a fancy person when it comes to clothing... I shop at Dress Barn and Kohl's if I'm feeling fancy, thrift shops if I'm feeling cheap. But frequency of shopping plays a part too. We only go shopping about once per year each. We spend about $300 a year on clothes if both of us have lost weight. We don't update our wardrobes much. We also aren't clothing a growing kid.

I may have trouble being comparable on the food front. We buy mostly from Sprouts and King Soopers. We're not big organic shoppers. But would shopping organic be enough to triple/quadruple our usual cost of fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains? I doubt it, but I could be wrong!

kencarylscott

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2018, 03:28:19 PM »
CO, but less pricey Springs area.

I agree that grocery costs are high. Are you buying things like expensive formula for a special-needs infant or something? We spend about $250-$300 per month for 2, and we eat a lot of VERY good food.

Is there a strong need for high clothing spending? Not only a professional job, but the need for a constant rotation of clothes?

Not sure about utilities. Others say they are high, but ours are similar. I need to understand patchy's secrets of keeping the thermostat at 72 and keeping utilities low. Always worth checking to make sure you don't have any slow water leaks, that your insulation is up to par, and that you're not heating or cooling the place excessively when no one is home.

I think travel is a bit high. You may be in a position to take advantage of travel cards. I feel some guilt about having paid for Amex Platinum, but at least for the first year it's covered 3 round-trip plane tickets so far.

My homeowner's insurance is way higher for a house that's probably about half the value of yours. How...?

As others have said, your house is the clear biggest line item. At first I figured "well, Longmont is more expensive," but then I went on Zillow and found 4 bedrooms for well under 500k. Is staying in your current home worth nearly 40% of what you are spending to you?

See other response on housing.

How do you people eat so cheap?!  Where are you shopping?!

I need to look into the clothing budget more.  I'm not spending it. 

Need to learn a bit more on travel hacking.

Someone else mentioned homeowners insurance as low as well.  I'll check the numbers.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2018, 03:31:09 PM »
1 -  Enough.  I'm less concerned with income and more concerned with minimizing expenditures.

Ok, that's fine.  Confused - Is there two incomes, or one?  Who is the Nurse?  Both are self-employed?  Could Nurse work for hospital and make similar money with Health Insurance Benefits to reduce Insurance/Medical costs?

2 - Where are you shopping?  Are you buying organic fruits/veggies/meats or living off Tofu?  Asking solely so I can have a point of reference since different people buy different levels/quality/types of food.  I'd love to get the grocery line item down but I love that we eat healthy food.

We spend about $400 of our Grocery budget at Costco at the beginning of each month.  Yes, lots of fruits veggies & meats.  No, not organic typically, but some when it makes sense.  The rest is at the local grocery store throughout the month that happens to be a Safeway.

3 - Looking at last month....HOA is $52.  Water is $103.  Natural Gas is $23.  Electricity is $156.  That's during a hotter month, so electricity should drop a bit when not running AC.

But Natural gas will go up... heard it's already snowing there.  What about Cell phone bill?  Internet?  Streaming service / TV?

4 - It's a term life policy.  I have$1M on my wife and we're taking out a $3M on me.  At the age of 32 and given my income, it'd take much more than that to replace lost earnings.

Conservative life insurance coverage is 10X annual salary, are you making $400k/yr combined?  Might be a little high.

5 - No car payments.  Own three cars.  Trying to sell one of them right now, maybe a 2nd in the Spring.

Excellent, but question remains, do they need full coverage? 

6 - It's already paid for itself multiple times over.  She lost the diamond on it in the first year of marriage and we got a brand new one put in.

Sounds like you have made peace with it.  Maybe drop it and make pact that you'll replace it with a CZ diamond next time :)

7 - it does include property taxes.  It's about 20% of my take home pay.

Not unreasonable as a percentage of take home pay, in fact it's pretty decent.  Some things do not quite make sense about your situation though.  What are you goals?



Greyweld

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2018, 03:32:04 PM »
CO, but less pricey Springs area.

I agree that grocery costs are high. Are you buying things like expensive formula for a special-needs infant or something? We spend about $250-$300 per month for 2, and we eat a lot of VERY good food.

Is there a strong need for high clothing spending? Not only a professional job, but the need for a constant rotation of clothes?

Not sure about utilities. Others say they are high, but ours are similar. I need to understand patchy's secrets of keeping the thermostat at 72 and keeping utilities low. Always worth checking to make sure you don't have any slow water leaks, that your insulation is up to par, and that you're not heating or cooling the place excessively when no one is home.

I think travel is a bit high. You may be in a position to take advantage of travel cards. I feel some guilt about having paid for Amex Platinum, but at least for the first year it's covered 3 round-trip plane tickets so far.

My homeowner's insurance is way higher for a house that's probably about half the value of yours. How...?

As others have said, your house is the clear biggest line item. At first I figured "well, Longmont is more expensive," but then I went on Zillow and found 4 bedrooms for well under 500k. Is staying in your current home worth nearly 40% of what you are spending to you?

See other response on housing.

How do you people eat so cheap?!  Where are you shopping?!

I need to look into the clothing budget more.  I'm not spending it. 

Need to learn a bit more on travel hacking.

Someone else mentioned homeowners insurance as low as well.  I'll check the numbers.

I posted some responses to your questions at almost the exact time you asked them in the post just above here. I sometimes wonder if I get away with a low grocery budget because we eat a lot of carbs, which are cheaper. But we eat a substantial amount of salmon, chicken, steaks, ground beef, eggs, etc... just not organic.

HamsterStache

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2018, 03:34:26 PM »
I second the comment that your groceries seem to be far too high - we're also in our 30's with a one year old and three year old, living in an extremely HCOL area, and last I checked, we averaged $112 a week on groceries without going to any sort of extreme saving strategies and eating clean/organic in a lot of cases.

What kind of travel are you doing - if it's mostly vacation, perhaps you could scale back. $4200 a year seems high if you're trying to cut back.

Can you share where you're shopping?  What you guys typically eat?  I'd love to get that grocery bill down.

Travel is mostly obligated travel.  If we do a trip to my family, a trip to her family, and a family vacation in the lower 48, you get there pretty quick.  Again, would love to lower that though so open to suggestions on how to still do those things in a more cost effective way.  Airfare, rental car, and hotel/airbnb just add up fast.

We mostly shop at Giant - not sure what your equivalent there would be, we're on the east coast. Lately we've been trying out Aldi which has some great bargains but limited selection that necessitates non-one stop shopping. Also Costco for certain things. We buy organic for some things, mostly when it is not a huge price difference, and stick with 95% clean/non-processed otherwise.  Meat we only buy the "managers specials" when it is 50% off or more and then plan meals around what's in the freezer. Beans and rice, vegetarian, and crockpot meals, and pasta can all be inexpensive options for meals, and we stick one or two of those in rotation each week.

We're lucky that family is all in driving distance and most vacations are with relatives so little cost there. I can see how costs can add up if that's not the case.

merula

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2018, 04:04:56 PM »
I have a family of four (two adults, a 4 and a 6 y/o) and live in a similar middle-America MCOL city. I spend about $500/month on groceries, which I consider one of our least frugal habits.

For example, here are the kinds of things we buy:
-Meat/Dairy - local, grass-fed non-organic options from the natural foods co-op (the brand we buy isn't organic because they do give their animals antibiotics on an as-needed basis) This is the choice we make for animal welfare reasons, so we almost never buy conventional animal products. We pay for this, but consider it well worth it.
-Produce - Primarily in-season or on-sale options from Target, Whole Foods, local co-op or farmer's market
-Staples - Mostly from Costco or Target, occasionally Trader Joe's; dried beans, pasta, peanut butter, nuts, canned tomatoes, etc. Also from local ethnic shops for things like olive oil, rice, masa de tamal, masarepa, etc.
-Spices, tea and coffee - in bulk from the co-op, or occasionally from the local ethnic shop (for stuff like black peppercorns that we'll go through fast, or the imported paprika that my husband insists on)

Here's the kinds of things we DON'T usually buy:
-Individually packaged snacks, or really most snacks (cookies, chips, crackers, fruit sauce pouches, etc.). I'll bake cookies or brownies if we want them, or we eat nuts or dried fruits.
-Soda or other beverages. We almost never have juice; we eat whole fruits instead. We'll buy beer or wine occasionally but also brew our own.
-Prepared foods like boxed dinners, mac and cheese, frozen pizzas or other frozen meals, etc.
-Stock. We save meat carcasses in the freezer and make our own stock.

I'll grant that a lot of the reason people buy these kinds of things is the convenience. My husband loves to cook, it's relaxing for him, so that's not a compelling reason for him. I also think that there are plenty of from-scratch options that take the same amount of time as the boxes. Like mac and cheese: pasta takes the same amount of time to boil whether it comes with a packet of powdered cheese or not. While the pasta is boiling, you can grate the cheese and mix up the sauce and be ready to mix it all together when the pasta is done.

Here's what we're eating this week. This is heavy on soups and soft foods because my 6 y/o just had his tonsils out.
-Butternut squash soup with fresh sage and sausage, made in the Instant Pot. (We grow sage in our garden. Ground pork was on sale but sausage wasn't, so I bought the pork and spent 5 minutes to mix up sausage from an internet recipe with spices I had on hand. Stock was homemade. Squash was an impulse purchase because it was the first squash of the season, local and organic from the co-op.)
-"Morning flatbread" (improvised homemade version of Ozery's morning rounds) with peanut butter (we buy the large jars from Target; Costco would be cheaper but I'm a loyal Skippy Natural Chunky eater)
-Homemade mac and cheese (I found a 20lb box of elbow macaroni at Costco this past weekend. Local mozzarella, cheddar, yogurt and egg from the co-op. Spices we had on hand.)
-Black beans, arepas and rice with roasted sweet potatoes and fried plantains (Black beans made in the instant pot with homemade stock and chunks of pork we bought on sale and kept in the freezer. Arepas from scratch, takes maybe 20 minute, from a 5lb bag of masarepa bought at the local hispanic market. Also got the plantains at the same market.)
-Scrambled eggs with toasted homemade bread.
-French onion soup (homemade stock, topped with homemade bread and gruyere. The gruyere was a total splurge.)
-Chicken tikka masala (another Instant pot recipe, local chicken, spices we had on-hand. TJ's shelf-stable heavy cream is a lifesaver.) Homemade garlic naan (takes only 20 minutes of actual work)
-Vegetable stir fry (Using up bits of various vegetables in the fridge before they go bad, sauces we had on hand, served over rice noodles we got a large box at the local Asian market.)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 04:09:34 PM by merula »

AMandM

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Re: Help me trim the budget!
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2018, 07:26:39 PM »
The easiest places to cut:

Groceries - $1075/month
      Clearly the lowest-hanging fruit. We spend less than this and we are two adults and three teenagers plus frequent guests and relatives over for dinner. We shop the way Merula does.

"Fun"
Babysitter/daycare - $400/month
All Travel - $350/month
Eating Out - $100/month
Sporting Goods - $60/month
Dates - $50/month
Fun/Entertainment - $25/month

If you switched from a date out with babysitting to an evening in eating popcorn and reading to each other or playing a card/board game I bet you'd save $100/month.
Is your travel obligatory? Can it be done more cheaply (bring your own food, cheaper AirBnB, motel or camp instead of hotel)?
Do you really need over $700 of sports equipment every year?

"Lifestyle"
Utilities - $250/month
Gas - $150/month
Clothing - $140/month
Pets - $125/month
Gifts - $125/month
Toiletries - $125/month
Housekeeping - $110/month
Home Supplies - $90/month
Baby Supplies - $80/month
Hair - $45/month

There are lots of ways to save money that basically are variations on "don't do things the easiest way."  I'll give a bunch of examples, which may or may not apply to you specifically, just to give you the idea.  Cut your own/your spouse's/kid's hair. Use generic toiletries & cleaning products, or use products like vinegar and baking soda.  Buy gifts year-round when something suitable is available cheap. Turn the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter. Swap out your lightbulbs for LED ones. Clean your own house. Walk or bike instead of driving, and consolidate trips in car to cut down on gas. Give  fewer or simpler/less costly presents. Don't "update " or "freshen" your decor and wardrobe. Buy things used (clothes, toys, household equipment, tools, etc.) Do your own repairs.

Yes, these all involve making your life a little less smooth and convenient.  Convenience costs money, $8000 a month in your case. If you want to spend less money, you will have to spend more effort. But the good news is that these kinds of efforts often result in a life that is in fact more enjoyable than the convenient one. Acquiring skills like cutting hair or fixing a leaky tap is very satisfying. Plus, a lot of these tasks are best done together, so it can make for extra couple time (or later, when the kids are older and more involved, family time or one-on-one kid & parent time).

Good luck, and congrats on the new baby!