Author Topic: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in  (Read 18785 times)

The_Rooster

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Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« on: January 01, 2019, 09:37:26 AM »
Hey everyone. First of all, if you're on the personalfinance subreddit, you may see this post again. I have been reading both forums and would really like a variety of opinions and guidance (if you're willing to give it).

Thesis: Iím terrible with money, but I want to get better. Thatís gotta count for something, right?

Income: Approximately $135k per year (Net ranges between $5,500 and $6,500 per month - some months are as high as $9k)

Expenses: (pulled right from Mint)

Your Spending
Total   $27,261.76
    Export to CSV
Food & Dining   $7,911.31 (I feel like this is likely above average. We eat out (or do take out) most nights.)
Home   $7,240.07 (Mortgage/insurance/pmi is about $1,700 per month + home repairs)
Shopping   $3,658.73 (This obviously includes Christmas shopping)
Auto & Transport   $3,084.67
Kids   $1,343.02
Taxes   $950.00
Uncategorized   $840.26
Health & Fitness   $469.71
Entertainment   $464.96
Personal Care   $364.13
Travel   $287.52
Bills & Utilities   $185.89
Gifts & Donations   $156.34
Business Services   $110.64
Pets   $79.11
Financial   $69.90
Fees & Charges   $45.50
Show fewer   

This is a 3-month snapshot of spending. October 1st to January 1st.

A couple notes on this spending:

* I owe the IRS $24k for a past failed business. I am on a payment plan of $300. This'll take about 10 years (with interest) to pay off.
* The kid's category shows a substantial amount but that's because their tuition is $400+ per month.
* Auto/Transport includes my $300/mo lease and fuel etc.
* Savings is about $500 right now and checking account is around $750.

As far as debt goes, I have the house, car, IRS, credit card ($700 left), and some collections.

Family of 4.

After reading this forum it's clear that there are a fairly large amount of high earners on here, which certainly makes it a bit easier to live well and also save. But i'm trying to push that mindset away and just deal with my situation.

Really trying to figure out what I *should* be spending and whatís NORMAL and HOW to actually do it. Sounds weird but Iíve been living this way so long I no longer know whatís really normal. Whatís a good goal for me?

« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 09:42:45 AM by The_Rooster »

wenchsenior

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2019, 10:07:21 AM »
I hesitate to comment on spending when kids are involved b/c I don't have a good feel for how much they cost.

But off the top of my head, your spending on food is shockingly high.  I say this as one of the most UN-frugal board members when it comes to food.  DH and I spend about 950/mo on food/dining out/alcohol, or roughly 3K per quarter.  Based on what I've seen around here, our budget is 30 to 50% higher than your typical board member's food budget.  Yet even our insane consumables budget, doubled for 4 people, is still 2K less than what you have listed.

Your transportation costs also seem high.  We spend less than 2K/quarter on ours, which also would skew very high around here.  However, we just lost a car in an accident and had to buy a new-ish (though not new) one, and we are currently carrying a car loan.  For the 8 years prior to that, our total transportation costs were about 700$ per quarter.

That seems to be the low-hanging fruit right there. 

ETA To clarify context, our net income after taxes is roughly = to yours at ~100K, and we partially support a second person in a second house (which we own and have costs for). We have saved just at or slightly less than 45% of our net income consistently for the past 8 years, but our annual total spending would still probably skew toward the higher end of the household spending for this board.  I hope that helps give you perspective at an income similar to yours.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 10:37:49 AM by wenchsenior »

use2betrix

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2019, 10:24:55 AM »
Food/dining is close to $32k/year which is insane for food.

A family of 4 could eat pretty dang good off a $200/wk grocery budget to cover all meals. Thatís $22k/yr less than current spending.

If income was $400k, Iíd still say itís high but as long as savings was high, itís manageable if itís something they really are passionate about. At $135k(ish) income, that kind of food bill is crippling.

RePatriot

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2019, 10:50:16 AM »
Are you married?  It says family of 4, but no mention of spouse or spousal income.  Regardless, I'd recommend you start by considering why you are spending so much on food, transportation, and your other low hanging fruit, then work up to how to reduce those categories.

In our case, DW and I overspent on restaurants when we didn't have Friday nights dinner pre-made.  We also discussed that we didn't really get any joy out of Friday night's eating out because it wasn't a date night, it was just a lazy escape from cooking.

Look at why your food bill is so high, make a concerted effort to address the root issue, then address reducing the raw dollar figure.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2019, 11:05:47 AM »
Why not do a more detailed post over in Case Studies?
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/
There are guidelines posted so you put in enough information that people can make educated comments.

Cranky

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2019, 11:22:14 AM »
$135k and you think youíre not a high earner?

Youíre a big spender for sure! $1200/month on ďshoppingĒ?

wenchsenior

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2019, 11:23:52 AM »
$135k and you think youíre not a high earner?

Youíre a big spender for sure! $1200/month on ďshoppingĒ?

Heh.  I didn't catch that!  Yeah, median American household income is about half of the OP's.

meandmyfamily

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2019, 11:31:24 AM »
Food and dining out will be your easiest to change if you want to change it.  We are a family of 6 with 2 teenagers and we spent $15,000 last year on groceries and eating out.  $32,000 for a family of 4 is a TON of eating out. 

What helped us with eating out less over time is picking a number like $150 and put it in cash in an envelope.  Once that is gone no more eating out for the month.  Also pre plan what you will eat for meals.  For example always have oatmeal, eggs and toast as options for breakfast.  Salad stuff, burritos and sandwiches for lunch.  Then plan 3-4 big meals for dinner and the leftovers can be for lunches or other dinners.  Start simple and you will get more creative over time.  Involve the kids.  Also try to buy less and less prepackaged stuff but maybe always keep a couple of frozen pizzas in the freezer for "emergencies".  Buy fruit in season for example.  Learn to use your crock pot and your instant pot. You can do it!

In one year that is at least $17,000 you could put on your loan!!!  That isn't even looking at shopping yet! 

You can do this!
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 11:33:33 AM by meandmyfamily »

remizidae

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2019, 11:49:06 AM »
I would try to go cold turkey on the shopping and restaurant spending. Perhaps a 30-day challenge. Also, it sounds like you're married, but your spouse is not working. She needs to get off her ass and get a damn job. It's not okay to have six different kinds of debt (with some in collections!) and near-zero savings. You have kids! This is an emergency and you BOTH need to contribute.

former player

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2019, 11:58:03 AM »
Trying to limit expenditure without getting a significant other on board is a recipe for divorce - which you cannot afford.  So if you have a significant other you should have a look at the following thread about getting them on board with the MMM program -

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/

Apart from that, there are obviously exploding volcanoes of waste in your life.  My suggestions are

1.  Start by cutting out the things that you won't miss.  Any continuing subscriptions that you no longer use or which aren't value for money.  Utility bills that aren't at the best rates currently available.  Phone contracts that are more expensive than they need be.  Loans that should be refinanced at lower interest rates.

2.  Your shopping, entertainment and uncategorised come to nearly $5k in three months.  Even including Christmas that is astounding - $20k a year out of taxed income and nothing to show for it.  Around these parts it's not uncommon to see this category at $100 or $200 per (adult) person per month.

3.  Food.  Someone in your household needs to learn to cook.  Perhaps a slow cooker would work for your household - you just put a bunch of ingredients into it in the morning and come home to a meal thats ready to eat in the evening.   I think a fairly generous food budget for a family of 4 around here might be $600 a month on food and $200 a month on eating out.

Finally, what's this reference to "some collections"?  You have debts you have defaulted on?  While living high on the hog on an income of $135k a year?  Shame on you.  You need to come clean on those immediately, to yourself and your significant other if no-one else, and put them high on the plan for repayment.

use2betrix

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2019, 12:03:29 PM »
I would try to go cold turkey on the shopping and restaurant spending. Perhaps a 30-day challenge. Also, it sounds like you're married, but your spouse is not working. She needs to get off her ass and get a damn job. It's not okay to have six different kinds of debt (with some in collections!) and near-zero savings. You have kids! This is an emergency and you BOTH need to contribute.

Lol - while I admire the tenacity, I didnít see a comment that gave the assumption that his spouse doesnít work. Iíd ask the question before being quite as harsh.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2019, 12:10:36 PM »
I would try to go cold turkey on the shopping and restaurant spending. Perhaps a 30-day challenge. Also, it sounds like you're married, but your spouse is not working. She needs to get off her ass and get a damn job. It's not okay to have six different kinds of debt (with some in collections!) and near-zero savings. You have kids! This is an emergency and you BOTH need to contribute.

Lol - while I admire the tenacity, I didnít see a comment that gave the assumption that his spouse doesnít work. Iíd ask the question before being quite as harsh.

Given the food/eating out costs, I assumed that if a spouse is present both work, and are both too tired/it's really late when they get home to cook dinner.  This really does belong over in case studies, where points like these are addressed.

OP, a moderator can move this whole thread over for you if you ask them to.

DomesticK

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2019, 12:23:24 PM »
I'm going to address your food consumption. What you're spending on food is absolutely outrageous, and it's extremely easy to change! If you're eating out as much as you say you are, I can't imagine that it's been beneficial for your health or your family either. Especially if you're dining out for breakfast and lunch as well.

We are a family of seven (5 children between the ages of 11-1). In 3 months, we spend $1800 on food. That includes occasional dining out. I literally cannot imagine what we would buy to spend the same amount of money on food as you do.

Start by understanding why you resort to takeout and fix it. If it's not knowing how to cook, there are lots of websites that can help. If it's time, write up a meal plan and learn how to prep and use a slow cooker or instant pot. My personal approach is the stick to a theme for each night of the week and have a set of recipes that correspond with the theme. So for example, if Tuesday is chicken night we can do slow cooker bbq chicken sandwiches or salsa chicken for burrito bowls. It takes 10 minutes of prep and zero thinking on my part because the decision making was done a long time ago.

All of this takes discipline, of course. You haven't formed a habit around making your own meals, so it's going to take time and serious effort to change your behavior.

Laura33

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2019, 01:03:17 PM »
I am going to skip all of the specific suggestions, because it is not one category that is killing you:  it is your mindset.  The three-month snapshot you provided indicates you spent 50% more than you brought home (without even considering the debt payoff), and none of that is related to some sort of unanticipated emergency -- it is all just normal lifestyle expectations.  And this is not a new thing, either, as evidenced by your IRS debt and your other debt in collections. 

So what you need to figure out is why you have decided it is ok to spend more than you make?  It's not because you're "terrible with money" -- that is a cop-out.  At some point, you made a conscious decision that it was ok to inflate your lifestyle beyond what your very healthy salary(ies) can afford.  Why is that? 

-- Do you feel entitled to eating out, a nice car, etc., because you work hard and you "deserve" it?
-- Do you think that a six-figure salary comes along with a certain lifestyle, and so you have chased that expected lifestyle without looking at the math?
-- Did you grow up poor and so are trying to fill your life with all the nice stuff that you couldn't afford before?
-- Did you grow up rich and so just assumed that money would always be there when necessary?
-- Do you feel like you need to maintain a certain lifestyle to live up to someone else's expectations (your wife's, your parents', your neighbors', your coworkers', etc.)?
-- Do you feel like you need to maintain a certain lifestyle to live up to your own expectations and to feel like a success?
-- Did your parents not expect you or teach you to manage money or take responsibility for your finances, and so you have just been floating in blissful ignorance like a teenager?

Etc. etc. etc. -- there are as many different reasons as there are people in the universe.  You need to figure out what is driving you, because until you do that, you will continue to make poor choices.  Imposing a budget without addressing the underlying problem is like playing whack-a-mole:  you can clamp down as hard as you want in one area, but that need is still going to find a way to satisfy itself, and it will pop up again somewhere else. 

The thing you will need to figure out, to feel deep down, is that all of the things that you have in your life are massive luxuries.  Nice house, nice (leased) car, private school, eating out every night -- the vast majority of people in the entire world do not live like that, and certainly families that bring home about $6K/mo do not live like that.  And yet you are acting as though you are entitled to them -- and in fact choosing to chase those luxuries, even at the expense of your family's financial security. 

Life is always an "or," not an "and."  Your very healthy salary(ies) -- more than twice the national household income -- can afford you some luxuries.  But you cannot afford all of them.  So the key for you will be figuring out what your priorities really are,* and then aligning your spending with that. 

*IME, your priorities are what you do, not what you say.  Right now, your spending says that you value a nice car, laziness (not cooking), and consumer goods more than you value your family's financial security or your kids' college education.  I don't think that's what your values actually are.  So go fix that. 

marty998

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2019, 01:20:34 PM »

Food & Dining   $7,911.31 (I feel like this is likely above average. We eat out (or do take out) most nights.)

Just on the comment - I assume you are paying for delivery too? This makes it even more expensive....

UberEats shareholders thankyou for your contribution.

ETBen

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2019, 02:53:37 PM »
What goes into ďKidsĒ. My spend on my kids is shockingly consistent. I average $100 per month for clothes and $150 per month for activities. Although thatís average bc some months are more. Thatís with sports, scouts, etc.

Food: we are a family of 3 and I eat out too much. We spend about 700 per month on food.

Car seems high. By comparison, I have 2 vehicles about 3-4 years old. No car payments. (1 is a clown SUV, the other is a performance vehicle. Yeah yeah I know...). My gas costs are low so probably canít compare there. Someone above mentioned what you are ďbad at moneyĒ. Senses of feeling entitled or competing etc.

For perspective: I make twice as much as you. I have no car payments. And Iím driving 2 nice vehicles, not beaters. I did buy them used, but still. Without being completely judgy, I was in the same problem when I was married. I think thereís some sort of American married couple autopilot, fueled by this sense of how you are ďsupposedĒ to be living.

The_Rooster

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2019, 03:26:47 PM »
Why not do a more detailed post over in Case Studies?
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/
There are guidelines posted so you put in enough information that people can make educated comments.

Sorry. This is what I should have done. If the mods want to move it, I understand.

The_Rooster

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2019, 03:39:50 PM »
Hopefully this works. I tried to answer multiple quotes.

I would try to go cold turkey on the shopping and restaurant spending. Perhaps a 30-day challenge. Also, it sounds like you're married, but your spouse is not working. She needs to get off her ass and get a damn job. It's not okay to have six different kinds of debt (with some in collections!) and near-zero savings. You have kids! This is an emergency and you BOTH need to contribute.

It's true that she doesn't work, but I wouldn't say she is on her butt all day. She is raising our two kids, who are both under 6 years old.

Just on the comment - I assume you are paying for delivery too? This makes it even more expensive....
UberEats shareholders thankyou for your contribution.

That's correct.

We usually do Grubhub or Doordash (similar to Uber Eats).

What goes into “Kids”. My spend on my kids is shockingly consistent. I average $100 per month for clothes and $150 per month for activities. Although that’s average bc some months are more. That’s with sports, scouts, etc.
Food: we are a family of 3 and I eat out too much. We spend about 700 per month on food.
Car seems high. By comparison, I have 2 vehicles about 3-4 years old. No car payments. (1 is a clown SUV, the other is a performance vehicle. Yeah yeah I know...). My gas costs are low so probably can’t compare there. Someone above mentioned what you are “bad at money”. Senses of feeling entitled or competing etc.
For perspective: I make twice as much as you. I have no car payments. And I’m driving 2 nice vehicles, not beaters. I did buy them used, but still. Without being completely judgy, I was in the same problem when I was married. I think there’s some sort of American married couple autopilot, fueled by this sense of how you are “supposed” to be living.

The "kids" category is (pre)school tuition. A little over $400 per month.

The auto category is a mix of a $300 per month lease + fuel for two vehicles. One that is paid off (my wife's) and also my vehicle.

EDIT: Oops! Just saw what you meant by high transportation costs. The chart shows $3k for 3 months in the "auto" column, which is definitely wrong. I copied these numbers straight from Mint, so i'm thinking something got put in the wrong category.

3.  Food.  Someone in your household needs to learn to cook.  Perhaps a slow cooker would work for your household - you just put a bunch of ingredients into it in the morning and come home to a meal thats ready to eat in the evening.   I think a fairly generous food budget for a family of 4 around here might be $600 a month on food and $200 a month on eating out.
Finally, what's this reference to "some collections"?  You have debts you have defaulted on?  While living high on the hog on an income of $135k a year?  Shame on you.  You need to come clean on those immediately, to yourself and your significant other if no-one else, and put them high on the plan for repayment.

You're so right about this.

Actually, you're right about everything you said, but this I emphatically agree with.

We "eat out" (meaning we order and its delivered) 6 nights per week for dinner. The 1 remaining day we are typicaly at one of our parents for dinner.

For lunches we usually do taco bell, mcdonalds, or burger king. Breakfast is mostly Dunkin Donuts.

It's likely not all that healthy, along with being expensive.

But I get out of the office fairly late (6:30 some nights and 8pm other nights), so it's just easier to order out.

The collections are almost 100% medical. We have 7 or 8 collections varying between $75 and $200 for past doctors visits, x-rays and stuff like that. Essentialy whatever our insurance didn't cover at the time. We do have 1 credit card in collections for $4,500 but I was told its better to just ignore that because paying it off won't help our credit.

$135k and you think you’re not a high earner?
You’re a big spender for sure! $1200/month on “shopping”?

Sorry, I didn't intend to disrespect anyone else's situation that earns less.

It's just that:

1) $135k doesn't go very far (or at least it doesn't appear to in our lifestyle - we aren't living in a mcmansion or anything)

2) Others make significantly more (someone else in this very thread spoke about earning 2x what I do.

That's all I was trying to say.

I am going to skip all of the specific suggestions, because it is not one category that is killing you:  it is your mindset.  The three-month snapshot you provided indicates you spent 50% more than you brought home (without even considering the debt payoff), and none of that is related to some sort of unanticipated emergency -- it is all just normal lifestyle expectations.  And this is not a new thing, either, as evidenced by your IRS debt and your other debt in collections. 

So what you need to figure out is why you have decided it is ok to spend more than you make?  It's not because you're "terrible with money" -- that is a cop-out.  At some point, you made a conscious decision that it was ok to inflate your lifestyle beyond what your very healthy salary(ies) can afford.  Why is that? 

-- Do you feel entitled to eating out, a nice car, etc., because you work hard and you "deserve" it?
-- Do you think that a six-figure salary comes along with a certain lifestyle, and so you have chased that expected lifestyle without looking at the math?
-- Did you grow up poor and so are trying to fill your life with all the nice stuff that you couldn't afford before?
-- Did you grow up rich and so just assumed that money would always be there when necessary?
-- Do you feel like you need to maintain a certain lifestyle to live up to someone else's expectations (your wife's, your parents', your neighbors', your coworkers', etc.)?
-- Do you feel like you need to maintain a certain lifestyle to live up to your own expectations and to feel like a success?
-- Did your parents not expect you or teach you to manage money or take responsibility for your finances, and so you have just been floating in blissful ignorance like a teenager?

Etc. etc. etc. -- there are as many different reasons as there are people in the universe.  You need to figure out what is driving you, because until you do that, you will continue to make poor choices.  Imposing a budget without addressing the underlying problem is like playing whack-a-mole:  you can clamp down as hard as you want in one area, but that need is still going to find a way to satisfy itself, and it will pop up again somewhere else. 

The thing you will need to figure out, to feel deep down, is that all of the things that you have in your life are massive luxuries.  Nice house, nice (leased) car, private school, eating out every night -- the vast majority of people in the entire world do not live like that, and certainly families that bring home about $6K/mo do not live like that.  And yet you are acting as though you are entitled to them -- and in fact choosing to chase those luxuries, even at the expense of your family's financial security. 

Life is always an "or," not an "and."  Your very healthy salary(ies) -- more than twice the national household income -- can afford you some luxuries.  But you cannot afford all of them.  So the key for you will be figuring out what your priorities really are,* and then aligning your spending with that. 

*IME, your priorities are what you do, not what you say.  Right now, your spending says that you value a nice car, laziness (not cooking), and consumer goods more than you value your family's financial security or your kids' college education.  I don't think that's what your values actually are.  So go fix that.

I just wanted to reply and say that I did see this post, and I appreciate it and I am reflecting on it.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 03:45:05 PM by The_Rooster »

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2019, 03:58:56 PM »
I..I almost fainted.

ďWe "eat out" (meaning we order and its delivered) 6 nights per week for dinner. The 1 remaining day we are typicaly at one of our parents for dinner.

For lunches we usually do taco bell, mcdonalds, or burger king. Breakfast is mostly Dunkin Donuts.Ē

You have two children under 6 with a SAHP and this is what youíre eating, and you think it might not be healthy?

Youíre right to come here and ask for help. My sincere hope is that youíre ready to take the advice on board, it wonít be easy. You canít keep eating like this, it is so unhealthy that all of your lives will be negatively impacted if this keeps progressing. Please stop!

You canít afford it, financially or health wise.

What you need is a reset of your life, and thst might mean you start with therapy for you and your wife, because this pathway is destructive.

Iím not you, but if I were, Iíd make changes like: cutting up credit cards, stopping all non-essential spending, putting the kids in public school, learning to cook and eat healthy (and affordable) for your family. Rip the bandaid off. Reset, then put in a plan to save and invest.

DomesticK

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2019, 04:06:10 PM »
I think the suggestion to really examine why you're spending so wastefully is a good one. Clearly, you're aware that this is destructive and I'm gathering that you need to get your spouse on board. There's no good reason she can't learn how to become a fiscally responsible home manager along with you and learn ways to save money (like cooking at home). People with less money and more children do this successfully. You can afford to spend almost $8000 every 3 months on takeout, but not a $75 or $200 medical bill? You ignore debt you racked up while continuing to spend excessively? That is a very serious spending and priorities problem. Your hair is currently on fire whilst full of angry, swarming bees. It's all a matter of what both of you are willing to prioritize. You can fix this. I suggest sitting down and going over all of this with your spouse. You both need to brainstorm ways to drastically reduce your spending, pay off your debts, and start saving for emergencies so they don't end up in collections again. That would likely involve your spouse getting a job if she isn't willing to reduce spending in other ways, like cooking at home.

Milizard

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2019, 05:03:45 PM »
It seems like the big stuff has already been addressed by other posters.  Absolutely work on cooking at home!  I wish I had learned more sooner.  Even if I were extremely wealthy, I wouldn't want to eat out so much.  Most restaurant food is unhealthy in one way or another--often in multiple ways.  Even if you choose unhealthy things to eat, if you make them from home chances are they'll still be a lot better for you than whatever you're going to get at a restaurant.  I imagine that you must be fairly young to not have had this diet catch up to you yet.
As DINK's, my DH and I ate out more, as neither of us really knew how to cook.  After kids, we gradually increased our repertoire of foods that we know how to make and that the kids will eat with us.  It's not a large list, but you could easily cut your food costs in half by just cooking at home a few days a week.  So, to ease into it, home-cooking 2 days a week.  Spaghetti is easy and most kids like it.  There's one.  A rotisserie chicken can be bought at the store prepared, and is cheaper than eating out.  Make some quick sides, and there's another healthier option that is easy.  As you get used to that, try another thing.  Embrace leftovers.  Microwaves work great for those.

elaine amj

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2019, 05:17:41 PM »
The good part is $135k is a very healthy income and getting out of the hole you are in should actually be quite easy. The thing you need to realize is that $135k as a single earner family with a SAHP is not quite as much money as you think. Certainly not enough to live at the lifestyle you are currently living.

I remember being completely shocked when we realized that by returning to work, both DH and I (earning very middle of the road $60k/yr salaries) were bringing in over $120k/yr gross. When DH scored an $80k/yr job, we were bringing in a mindblowing $140k/yr gross. Crazy! Anyway, I quickly discovered it really wasn't all that much money - basically just enough to boost our FIRE savings.

First things first, it's time to realize it's absolutely crazy to "be able to afford" $1200/mo in shopping and over $2.5k/mo in eating out and not have the cash to pay for a $200 doctor bill. Or a $4500 credit card bill (btw - even if it doesn't improve your credit to pay it off - you must be accummulating an obscene amount of interest every single month. Basically throwing your money away).

I'm sure you will get all kinds of helpful advice here. And it's a good thing you are able to get a bit of a reality check now before you dig a deeper hole.

What I liked about MMM was that it got me off the consumerist merry go round. When I returned to work and we boosted our income, our first thought was to upgrade our home. It just seemed like the logical next step since "that is what everybody else does". Thankfully we didn't find anything suitable in our desired price range.  If we had upgraded, we would likely be working an extra couple of years to pay it off plus be facing additional maintenance costs on a larger home. Instead, I am 39, still living in our little family home, and am FIREd :D

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brooklynmoney

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2019, 05:37:11 PM »
Get a crock pot. You can make a whole week of healthy, delicious and cheap dinners very easily. Think veggie chili, soups and stews. I know people also really like the budgetbytes.com website for good recipes on a budget. Cooking is not hard. You can start basic. Hell making sandwiches or pasta out of a box with some veggies or grilling up some turkey burgers is a good alternative to what you are currently doing.

Laura33

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2019, 05:41:38 PM »
Ok, so I am going to slightly revise my advice to begin with reading the ďhow to convert your SOĒ sticky.  Because given the circumstances you described, you are going to need your wife 100% on board.  You work long hours and clearly get home too late to cook dinner, so that is going to fall on your wife.  Your wife, OTOH, clearly has the bandwidth to do the cooking:  yes, you have two kids, but you are spending $400/mo on preschool, which means she does not have them 24/7 - and even if she did, they nap.  And even if they donít nap, there are literally billions of people who manage to cook dinner with small children around.  But you and your wife have somehow created a pattern where she doesnít do that, for whatever reason.

The thing is, staying home with kids is a privilege.  Yes, many families do so successfully, because having one partner take care of the home can free up the other to work harder, get more promotions,  etc.  But to do that successfully, the SAH partner also has to see her role as a job - a job that includes not just raising the kids, but managing the entire home efficiently.  Basically, both partners have to pull their weight financially, especially when the family is in financial straits - both partners need to either add income or decrease expenses.  So if your wife isnít going to add income, she is going to need to work to decrease expenses.

The problem is that going home and telling your wife to start pulling her weight doesnít tend to go well.  😉. As you will see from the thread I referenced, the only way to make change is to lead by example.  So you need to figure out some way to lead your family toward better choices, even though the bulk of the daily work will likely fall on her.  So brainstorm some ideas.  Maybe raise eating out as a health issue, backed up by a doctor visit as necessary?  Or why donít you sit down with her on Saturday, together come up with a menu of easy weekly meals, and then do the grocery shopping and prep the food over the weekend so she can get dinner on quickly when you get home?  Or, if sheíd prefer, you take the kids so she can do the shopping in peace (I know what Iíd have preferred when my kids were small!).  Or, if your wife is financially inclined, you can always sit down with her with the numbers and talk about how much money you are blowing in various categories - then brainstorm the areas you can cut back where the spending isnít bringing any value.

The other thing I would suggest is lowering your standards, a lot.  Two small kids is tough, period.  When my kids were small, there were days that ďdinnerĒ involved some plain pasta, some cheese, baby carrots, and strawberries.  Yes, for the adults too.  😉. Because some days you just canít, you know?  But everyone got fed, no one died, and no one was warped for life because mom set the bar really really low.  When you are as far in the hole as you are, you need to look at everything - nothing is sacred.  But you also need to have each otherís backs and be kind to each other; itís a long process to change habits and dig out, but itís an even longer life, and you want to enjoy that together.

wordnerd

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2019, 05:45:34 PM »
Get a crock pot. You can make a whole week of healthy, delicious and cheap dinners very easily. Think veggie chili, soups and stews. I know people also really like the budgetbytes.com website for good recipes on a budget. Cooking is not hard. You can start basic. Hell making sandwiches or pasta out of a box with some veggies or grilling up some turkey burgers is a good alternative to what you are currently doing.
The crock pot is especially good because you can set it in the morning before you leave for work. It's going to be a big enough adjustment not having restaurant food every night that telling your wife she had to cook it too probably won't go over well. So, lead by example.

But more than anything, reread Laura33's advice. She's spot on, and if you don't change your mindset, you're going to be in a world of hurt in a decade.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 05:49:47 PM by wordnerd »

Tuskalusa

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2019, 05:49:59 PM »
First, I think itís great that you have a parent at home with your two kids. Being a SAHP to young kids is crazy hard. Finding a job that keeps the family balance isnít easy with 2 kids. I totally get that.

I quit my job a few years ago to become a SAHP. It was stunning how quickly our extra cash dried up. I realized that the only way we were gonna stay afloat was to adopt a budget and cut back on food and shopping. I later went back to work part-time. Our expenses started to creep back up almost immediately. And which categorizes went up?  Food and shopping. I ended the year realizing that Iím now working to support a food and shopping habit. And to me, thatís a drag. Itís got to stop.

So, I agree thatís itís one thing to say ďcut backĒ and another thing to actually do it. But the change in mindset is worth it. Iím doing the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month challenge to reset.  Perhaps you would like to check it out too. Also, her book is rather inspirational too.

Even starting with simple things like getting easy meals at Trader Joeís or Whole Foods would save you money. Then you could work up to more meal and lunch planning. Good luck!

ETBen

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2019, 07:11:58 PM »
Is there a chance your wife is overwhelmed or depressed? Because as others said, itís entirely reasonable to cook and clean with 2 kids and part time childcare. I was never a stay at home mom but I do know what itís like to be completely overwhelmed even when logically I shouldnít have been. Todayís culture puts a lot of pressure on moms and itís easy to get sucked in.

The other possibility is she doesnít want to be that type of SAHM but unless she gets some Real Housewives hook up, sheís out of luck. :)  If it makes you feel better, I know other couples where one spouse is a high earner and the other stays home. More than a few of them are in debt bc no one is managing the home.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2019, 12:33:47 AM »
@The Rooster,
Welcome to this forum.  Coming here and asking questions may very well be one of the best decisions you have done.  It takes guts to realize something is wrong and you need help.  Congratulations on that.  The next step is to take action. I hope you really reflect on what Laura33 wrote and I hope it will give you motivation to take action.  One thing Laura33 recommended regarding eating

Quote
Maybe raise eating out as a health issue, backed up by a doctor visit as necessary? 

As a physician eating what you do every day:

Quote
We "eat out" (meaning we order and its delivered) 6 nights per week for dinner. The 1 remaining day we are typicaly at one of our parents for dinner.

For lunches we usually do taco bell, mcdonalds, or burger king. Breakfast is mostly Dunkin Donuts.

This is a recipe for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol which for many ends up in heart failure, heart attacks, kidney failure or stroke.  Your life expectancy on this daily diet is decreasing with each and every meal.  The only way you know what goes into your body is by cooking it yourself and it is time to start.

Honestly this change alone would not only help you get rich, it will enrich your life with better health. 

Goodluck and feel free to lean on the support group of this forum.  We are here to help.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 12:40:51 AM by EnjoyIt »

EnjoyIt

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2019, 12:46:49 AM »
The other possibility is she doesnít want to be that type of SAHM but unless she gets some Real Housewives hook up, sheís out of luck. :)  If it makes you feel better, I know other couples where one spouse is a high earner and the other stays home. More than a few of them are in debt bc no one is managing the home.

I have a friend who works a ton. She and her husband are trying to get out of debt and create a better life for themselves.  Basically she works 6 days a week and is the sole bread winner.  He is the stay at home parent that plays the much needed supporting role.  He wakes up with her and makes sure breakfast is on the table, and kids are of to school.  He packs lunch for everyone. He keeps the home clean and makes sure dinner is ready.  He even makes sure her car is always full of gas and well maintained.  Basically he makes sure the only thing she needs to think about is making money while he helps make everything run smoothly.  They are a team and both are doing their part.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2019, 06:43:49 AM »
Your food in ridiculous.  To get better at it you don't even need to learn how to "cook", you need to learn how to assemble.  Want Chinese, Take one bag or frozen rice, one bag of frozen veggies, some precooked chicken and pre-bottled sauce.  Either nuke the rice to serve separate or just dump all the ingredients into a big skillet and cook for 10 minutes or so until everything is hot.  Want an egg sandwich, take a couple of eggs, add some shredded cheese stir together in a microwave bowl or the like.  Put into the microwave for 1 minute.  Toast up an english muffin or bread, instant breakfast sandwich in 2 minutes.       

OtherJen

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #30 on: January 02, 2019, 07:11:35 AM »
Your food in ridiculous.  To get better at it you don't even need to learn how to "cook", you need to learn how to assemble.  Want Chinese, Take one bag or frozen rice, one bag of frozen veggies, some precooked chicken and pre-bottled sauce.  Either nuke the rice to serve separate or just dump all the ingredients into a big skillet and cook for 10 minutes or so until everything is hot.  Want an egg sandwich, take a couple of eggs, add some shredded cheese stir together in a microwave bowl or the like.  Put into the microwave for 1 minute.  Toast up an english muffin or bread, instant breakfast sandwich in 2 minutes.       

Yes. Breakfast could be even simpler: a bagel with cream cheese (prepped at home from grocery store food). Lunch could be a sandwich, can of soup, a bagged salad kit. Dinner could be a pound of ground beef, browned, and either mixed with a packet of taco seasoning and served in taco shells with salad or mixed with a jar of spaghetti sauce and served over pasta. If there are leftovers, these can also be lunch.

Kids can be picky and difficult to feed, but a frozen pizza, boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen chicken nuggets, or PB&J are all far cheaper and nutritionally no worse than the current diet. If nothing else, my picky niece and nephew will always eat those foods and some raw veggies with ranch dressing.

MsPeacock

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #31 on: January 02, 2019, 07:58:58 AM »
Wow - the eating out. I am going to assume that the eating out relates to either not knowing "how" to cook, or feeling limited on time and overwhelmed. I'm a single mom with two kids and I work full time. It is definitely possible to cook from scratch with fast recipes and significantly reduce your food costs. I spend closer to $400 a month for all our groceries - plus just a but more for maybe 2 delivery meals a month.

I subscribe to emeals - it is $60 for the year and you get a weekly meal plan and shopping list. You can pick the meals you want to cook and adjust the shopping list very easily from the app. I get the"30 minute meal" plan - there are others to choose from. The meals are huge - I generally cut the quantities in half to feed myself and two teenage boys (and often my boyfriend as well). There are other meal plans you can choose - such as slow cooker, kid friendly, vegetarian, etc. The instructions are straight forward, easy to follow, uncomplicated, and *fast.* They also have a lunch menu plan. I strongly suggest getting into meal planning. If you leave figuring out dinner to the end of the day, it greatly increases the likelihood of just ordering something. For me, I need 30 minute meals because I get home and want to get something on the table fast because we are all hungry and tired. They have a free trial and there are also free one week example plans that you can print off from the website and try before signing up.

https://emeals.com/account/join_account.php?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=emeals&utm_campaign=G_Brand_RLSA&GA_network=g&GA_device=c&GA_campaign=273979958&GA_adgroup=20509165358&GA_target=&GA_placement=&GA_creative=157199092002&GA_extension=&GA_keyword=emeals&GA_loc_physical_ms=9007812&GA_landingpage=https://emeals.com/account/trial.php%3Futm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dcpc%26utm_term%3Demeals%26utm_campaign%3DG_Brand_RLSA&keyword=emeals&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=emeals&gclid=Cj0KCQiA37HhBRC8ARIsAPWoO0zoORxGIYa8Q0qrEXYTgz8UcvV7jWrsTnM1PqTfvBkGVpoTkwcErPwaApPqEALw_wcB

Secondly - you don't need to be creative for breakfast. Just get some cereal and milk - or whatever - and have a standing choice of 2 or 3 pantry items that work for breakfast. Same for lunch. Buy bread, lunch meat, chips, and fruit every week and eat them. Stop doing fast food.

I make one shopping trip on the weekend. I shop from the emeals app (it also lets you add additional items - e.g. milk, etc, to your shopping list). This takes approximately 90 minutes out of my week. I hit Aldi for most items and Safeway for anything that isn't available there. The list and meal plan are very time efficient for me. It is also possible to order grocery delivery directly from the app.


mathlete

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2019, 08:17:36 AM »
Second(third, fourth, sixtyith)ing learning to cook. Lots of good advice already, but I'll add in what helped me.

1). Start small. You don't have to be Gordon Ramsey right away. If you jump headlong into this and fill your pantry with scratch ingredients, you'll get overwhelmed.

Instead of spending $60 ordering out, spend $20 on a family size frozen meal and bags of microwavable vegetables. Then all you're doing is popping something in the oven and then microwaving some veggies a few minutes before it's ready.

Once you're comfortable with eating pre-fab stuff over eating out, you make a switch again. Buy something like a whole roasted grocery store chicken and some fresh vegetables. Then all you're doing is plating up some hot and ready chicken and chopping and pan frying some veggies in oil.

From there, you can replace the whole roasted chicken with raw chicken breast that you actually grill or bake yourself. And so on.

2.) More frequent trips to the store are better than "stocking up".

This one kind of depends upon how close you live to the grocery store, but in the amounts your spending, grocery delivery may even make sense.

Life is crazy and it's hard to plan a few days ahead, let alone a whole week. Big shopping trips can often lead to buying and rebuying the same things if you're not careful. Two or three full bottles of ketchup was not uncommon for my family growing up because both my parents worked and my mom's solution was to save all the shopping for one day every one or two weeks. Bulk trips also lead to perishable foods going bad.

I usually hit the grocery store about three times a week, spending just $10-$20 each trip. I'll pop into the store after work on a weekday, and buy something for that night's dinner, and the following night. If chicken is on sale, I buy chicken. If beef, I buy beef. After deciding on the meat, I figure out what we're having for the next two nights and buy anything else I need to make it happen. This all takes maybe ten minutes.

3.) Staples, and options for lazy nights.

There are a few things I do make sure to keep stocked. Bags of frozen vegetables to add a veggie serving to meals when I may have neglected to make other plans. Rice, to fill up on. Eggs, because they keep for decently long and can be prepared a bunch of different ways. Dry oats or oatmeal, because it's a quick breakfast that, unlike cereal, does not rely on perishable milk that you may or may not have. Frozen pizzas, for when all else fails. Because $7 for two frozen pizzas can keep you from spending a ton on uber eats.

From there, you can start building out a stable of reliable dinner options, and maybe even start meal prepping. That's what worked for me. I hope you find something that works for you. Good luck!

Villanelle

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #33 on: January 02, 2019, 08:22:20 AM »
I hate cooking.  Hate.  It's an absolute chore.

But there are plenty of easy, simple meals you can make very quickly.  Boil pasta and dump some canned red or white sauce on it.  Make meatballs in bulk (still very easy) and freeze, then add a handful of them to the pasta and red sauce and you have dinner.  Cook a bunch of chicken breasts, dice and freeze, and toss a handful of that on pasta and white sauce.

You could even buy pre-made frozen meatballs.  Not as ideal, but still much cheaper than ordering in. 

And there are plenty of meals like this.  My favorite are "one pot" meals (search pinterest).  Most are very easy, they don't make a huge mess or generate a lot of dishes, and they are usually ready in about half an hour. 

Also, spending a few hours in the kitchen once a month can pay huge dividends.  You can make those meatballs, several lasagnas, several of a couple different casseroles, and some meat that can be used for tacos.  In about 2 hours, you've cooked dinners for more than a dozen (or more)  nights.  Then grab one out of the freezer the night before and it will be defrosted (in the fridge) by the time you get home from work.  Bake for ~30 minutes, and you've got dinner.  And you can be set for dinners for half of the nights of the month after only a couple hours of work.

Truly, it's not as much work, and not nearly as overwhelming as it seems. 

cats

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #34 on: January 02, 2019, 08:27:05 AM »
+1 to everyone else on the eating out.  My husband and I both work FT and have a toddler and most of our meals are home cooked.  We have a pressure cooker and make a big batch of something on the weekend and roast some vegetables.  I have seen a few people recommend a slow cooker, I would actually recommend an electric pressure cooker as an easier tool to cook with if you have kids as it requires slightly less planning.

How much time are your kids actually out at their preschool?  The amount you pay in tuition makes me think you are either in a very LCOL area or there's only one kid in preschool for a few mornings a week?

Also wondering what is going on with the "shopping"?  You mention that it includes Christmas, but really...Christmas does not need to be expensive.  My husband and I skip Christmas specific gifts for each other most of the time.  This year we spent under $100 on gifts for our son.  What is being purchased here?  Clothes? Toys for the kids? Household stuff?  This seems like a pretty nebulous category that could probably be whittled down quite a bit by both buying less stuff overall and perhaps getting smarter about where/when you shop.  It definitely needs more scrutiny.

How does your wife feel about your current spending and financial situation?  Staying home to raise kids absolutely is work, but it is also a luxury.  Aside from a very small and very wealthy slice of the population who can afford trophy wives, I think most SAHPs consider trimming household expenses through things like more home cooking to be part of their job.  If you are working long hours and she is staying home, I don't see your efforts to cut expenses getting very far unless she is fully onboard also.  If you haven't already, I highly recommend checking a copy of Your Money or Your Life out of the library and reading it together.

Just Joe

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #35 on: January 02, 2019, 08:36:54 AM »
http://dish.allrecipes.com/mobile-apps/

You create a free account, you can save favorite recipes to reuse later, some integration between the app and local grocery stores that I have not explored.

There is a Roku Dinner Spinner channel that lets you watch the cooking videos for free. The website and app do that too.

Start slow and easy as others have instructed. The good habits can be daunting at first compared to the convenience of food delivery or carryout.

Babystep improvements in all areas.

We used to eat out more often when our schedule was more hectic but the MMM forums and a picky eater homebody child has changed our relationship with going out. The improvement in our budget is noticeable. Less money, fewer miles, less gasoline. We are done with dinner faster than a restaurant would serve us.

Our income is similar to your's. There is alot of room for easy polish in your budget. We save alot of money each month. Good luck to you.

NomadMonad

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #36 on: January 02, 2019, 09:27:52 AM »
It's definitely possible to cut down - my income is very similar to yours ($148k), but my 2018 spending was only $24k.  To be fair, I had some advantages over you - no kids, and a paid-off house - but maybe comparing my numbers will give you some idea what's possible?  (And yes, maybe I'm bragging on my frugality a bit, so sue me :P)

A lot of people are focusing on your food spending, but I think your Auto & Transport and 'Shopping' are worth attention too.

Since your numbers are 3-month and mine are 12-month, I multiplied yours by 4 for comparison.  I've bolded the ones I think you could improve most easily in.

Total   Yours: $109,044 Mine: $24,349

Food & Dining   Yours: $31,644 Mine: $2,855
  Even if we account for the fact that you're feeding 4, that brings my spending to $11,420, about a third of yours.  As other people mentioned, you need to do some of your own cooking!

Home   Yours: $28,960 Mine: $3,318
  Hard to say how you can improve here without knowing how much is mortgage vs. repairs.

Shopping   Yours: $14,632 Mine: $330
  What are you shopping for?  Do you really need it?  Yours is probably an overestimate, since it was extrapolated from the 3 months that include Christmas shopping, but still seems very high.

Auto & Transport   Yours: $12,336 Mine: $972
EDIT: Just saw that you said this number was inaccurate.  Do you know what the real number is?
  For me this is just a bike+train fares.  But even assuming you need a car or two, I'm sure you can cut this down - Back when I drove, I had a 2001 Altima that cost me $8k and and maybe $2k/year in maintenance.  Worked great for 7 years and was still in good condition when I sold it.  What do you need $12k/year for?

Kids   Yours: $5,372 Mine: $0
  Can't really comment here as I have none.

Taxes   Yours: $3,800 Mine: $5,030
  You beat me here!

Uncategorized   Yours: $3,360 Mine: $108
  Tracking this down might be useful.

Health & Fitness   Yours: $1,876 Mine: $0
  Is this a gym membership?  There are plenty of ways to get exercise without one.

Entertainment   Yours: $1,860 Mine: $713

Personal Care   Yours: $1,456 Mine: $0
  What is this, exactly?  I'm imagining soap and shampoo, but it seems too high for just that.

Travel   Yours: $1,150 Mine: $1,462
  Wow, you have me beat here!

Bills & Utilities   Yours: $740 Mine: $3,643
  You beat me here too! Good job!

Gifts & Donations   Yours: $624 Mine: $0

Business Services   Yours: $440 Mine: $0

Pets   Yours: $316 Mine: $3,273
  My spending here is very high due to my cat having health problems this year.

Financial   Yours: $280 Mine: $0

Fees & Charges   Yours: $180 Mine: $0

I also spent $2,209 on insurance - I'm not sure where you categorized that.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 10:17:29 AM by NomadMonad »

horsepoor

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #37 on: January 02, 2019, 09:32:46 AM »
You've gotten enough advice about cooking except - unless you already have a slow cooker, I'd recommend an Instant Pot instead.  More versatile and gets dinner on the table faster through pressure cooking when planning ahead doesn't happen (often faster than ordering take-out, once you get the hang of it).

You seem pretty resigned to spending 10 years paying off the IRS, but for some perspective, if you get your food budget under control and redirect those funds, you could pay off the IRS in about 1.5 years instead.

As far as your other budget line items, I think it would be useful and eye-opening to go through them one-by-one and reflect on them. 

You have over $800 in "uncategorized".  Look at these and see if you can put them into categories.  Can you even remember what they were?  Look through your over $3,000 in "shopping" and try to categorize all of the purchases more specifically - are they clothes, toys, hobby supplies? Is the item currently being fully used and appreciated?

Considering that you currently have about $1,200 in actual cash to your name, would you still make those purchases?  Why were they more important that paying off small medical bills that are apparently in collections?  If they are on a credit card, what is the interest rate, and how much is it going to cost you in a year?  Can any of it be returned or sold on FB/Craigslist?

Do this with your wife if at all possible (in a non-judgmental, team-like way of course).

I'll echo the previous recommendation to read "Your Money or Your Life" and I think it might help you reset your view on all this purchasing.

The good news is, this is a perfect time to turn things around.  Your kids are young, and will adjust much easier to a change in lifestyle.  If you keep this up until they are older, it will be harder to make changes when they constantly expect the latest clothes and gadgets, and take for granted that they can order whatever food they want 3x a day.  Teaching them to eat healthy and cook at home will be a lifelong gift you can give them.

Blueberries

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2019, 09:56:47 AM »
You've gotten enough advice about cooking except - unless you already have a slow cooker, I'd recommend an Instant Pot instead.  More versatile and gets dinner on the table faster through pressure cooking when planning ahead doesn't happen (often faster than ordering take-out, once you get the hang of it).

You seem pretty resigned to spending 10 years paying off the IRS, but for some perspective, if you get your food budget under control and redirect those funds, you could pay off the IRS in about 1.5 years instead.

<edit>

The good news is, this is a perfect time to turn things around.  Your kids are young, and will adjust much easier to a change in lifestyle.  If you keep this up until they are older, it will be harder to make changes when they constantly expect the latest clothes and gadgets, and take for granted that they can order whatever food they want 3x a day.  Teaching them to eat healthy and cook at home will be a lifelong gift you can give them.

I second all of this.

Another suggestion on the food front is to purchase Costco ready meals in the freezer section.  It's not going to be as healthy as fresh, but they have some great all-natural meals that will save you so much money and yet, make your wife's job easy. 

honeybbq

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2019, 12:08:52 PM »
I would try to go cold turkey on the shopping and restaurant spending. Perhaps a 30-day challenge. Also, it sounds like you're married, but your spouse is not working. She needs to get off her ass and get a damn job. It's not okay to have six different kinds of debt (with some in collections!) and near-zero savings. You have kids! This is an emergency and you BOTH need to contribute.

Wow, this is shockingly sexist and rude. So much judgement, so little information.

1. While the OP's name is "rooster" which I would also guess is a male, you don't know for sure. (It's posted later but not when you posted)
2. How do you know spouse isn't working?
3. You assume "she" doesn't contribute even though they have a household and 2 kids? LOL for days.
4. Two kids needing day care in my area = 4000-5000$ a month. So, the spouse would need to pull in over 75k/year to even make it worthwhile. Maybe the smart thing is for one spouse to stay home.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 12:12:16 PM by honeybbq »

GoConfidently

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2019, 12:38:47 PM »
What is your wife's role in the finances? Do you handle everything? Do you both sit down together to discuss monthly? Does she know the numbers you shared with us? How does she feel about them? Or about finances in general? Not knowing is different than not caring, and you can't do this alone so her beliefs/attitude/feelings about your situation is important.

The new year gives you a great excuse to have this serious conversation with her. If I were you, I would chose a quiet time when the kids are away or asleep to tell her you want to discuss your family goals for the coming year. Ask her what she's looking forward to or hoping for in 2019. Then tell her your goal is to clear debt and save money. Show her the numbers. You have very little in savings and a lot of debt. What if something happens to one of you? Or you lose your job? Appeal to her with both logic and emotions. Then pick a 3 month goal, something like - "by the end of March, I want to increase the saving account to $1000 and pay off the $700 credit card bill, plus the medical collections." (If my back of the napkin math is right, that's probably $2000-2500 in three months). Make a list of all the little debts you want to eliminate in order of smallest to largest with a target pay-off month. Then tell her how you plan to cut back in other areas to make that possible. Making/taking breakfast and lunch every day instead of eating out for yourself, commit to making one dinner per week at home, no unnecessary shopping, cancelling your gym membership, sale something expensive that you don't actually use that often, or whatever you can commit to doing. Your family is spending over $85 per DAY on food alone. Cutting that in half for just 2 days means you can pay off one of your medical bills in collections. It's super low-hanging fruit! Ask her to please help you make this happen. Plan together how you can both be more aware of the money you're spending.

Here's the most important part. Once you have her on board (or at least made her aware even if she's not fully on board) for this little three month goal - update her often. If at the end of week 2 you managed to cut that food spending, pay off one of those little bills and have a kitchen dance party to celebrate! Mark a big red X through it on the debt spreadsheet! Keep doing that each time progress is made. At the end of the three months, sit down with old and new numbers side by side. How much did you pay off? How hard was it? Is there something we can do better or change to help us tackle the next debt. Make a new plan together and move forward.

Quote
Really trying to figure out what I *should* be spending and whatís NORMAL and HOW to actually do it. Sounds weird but Iíve been living this way so long I no longer know whatís really normal. Whatís a good goal for me?

The truth is that "normal" doesn't mean anything because everyone's situation is different, and it doesn't really even matter right now. You can't worry about normal spending until you're done getting out of debt. You should be worried about how to make you spending work for you and your situation. This isn't something that you can blame on being "terrible with money." (Money in-money out=money left over) is simple math. You have a motivation/lifestyle rut problem. I had one of those for a while too, and making short-term, reachable goals so I could build up small wins really did work on changing my attitude, habits, and thinking patterns about money. The first steps are the hardest. Good luck.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2019, 02:36:14 PM »
Masses of good advice here.

One thought - does your wife LIKE being a SAHM?  I hated it, I was isolated and bored.  Being home with DD was wonderful but the rest sucked.  I was back to work full time after a year.

The one parent works (Dad)/one parent stays home (Mom) is a very 50's/60's lifestyle.   And it was a full-time job (or more than full-time, because she was also the on-call parent all night) for the Mom who was home.  She was much more than Mom, she did all the housework, all the cooking and baking (from scratch) and dishes, she did the shopping and planning (and maybe knitting and sewing if they were part of her skill set).  His job was to make the money, her job was to stretch it as far as possible.  I know, that was how I grew up, that is what everyone's Mom did.   Very clear gender roles, and not great if they didn't fit well, but at least the job description was clear

So really, to make this work, you wife either needs to go back to a job she likes (I assume she likes it if she misses it) or truly embrace the homemaker role.  Unfortunately this is not a choice you can make for her, she has to do it on her own.                                       

Basenji

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #42 on: January 02, 2019, 03:42:19 PM »
I don't see anything for a retirement fund (IRA or a 401k from work?) or other investments. Are there none? Or did you leave that out?

partgypsy

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #43 on: January 02, 2019, 05:37:17 PM »
I'm divorced. My ex was a good cook and made delicious home cooked meals. I work full-time and usually come home around 6:30 pm. I spend more on grocery than the average here, and my grocery also includes pet food and household staples (tp, tolietries, cleaning supplies)(average this year has been 640/mo grocery, 153/mo eating or drinking out family of 3 with 2 pets). You are
spending 2637 a month compared to my generous and easy less than 800 budget. Even if you do nothing else but eat in and reduce budget accordingly, you can reduce expenditures by 22K a year!
So believe me, I make it easy on myself! I shop on the weekends to buy things for meals. If I can do it, your wife can too! And the recipes below are super kid friendly because the vegetables are served on the side. I only cook more involved meals with having people over. I enjoy baking on the weekends.
 
Super easy things that I make almost weekly:
tacos (seasoned ground beef, refried beans, cheese and other fixings, soft or hard taco shells. This takes 20 minutes to make
spagehtti and meat sauce or spagehtti and meatballs. If you make double meatballs and save some sauce, can have a 2nd meal of meatball subs (get hoagie rolls and provolone)
rotisseri chickent with steamed vegetables (usually broccoli and carrots) and mashed potato (I make gravy from one of those packets)
tuna melts
tuna and pasta
creamy pasta with artificial crab
lentil soup
black beans and rice (literally I take the big cans of seasoned black beans, just need rice and toppings like tomato, green onion, cheese
quesadillas
baked macaroni and cheese (veggies on side)
breakfast for dinner (eggs or egg sandwiches)
hamburgers
chili with cornbread
broiled fish (buy bags of frozen tilapia or favorite fish) with corn, coleslaw, whatever
breads and spreads (whatever your favorite spreads: hummus, cheeses, pate etc) with side salad

I have enough stuff in pantry, microwave meals, that even if I don't want to cook AT ALL, there is something to eat (including yes that frozen pizza on Friday : ).
I do have to keep fresh fruit in house and kids go through a lot of that. And snacks, No reason at all to not eat breakfast, lunches from home.
At work, I pack a lunch, and also keep frozen entrees (you can get these for $2, 3 a piece on sales) and yogurts at work. I don't get to-go coffee, I make tea.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 06:05:50 PM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #44 on: January 02, 2019, 05:55:02 PM »
If you want to know if what you are spending is normal, here is what I found for an average consumer unit, which is 2.5 people (of which 1.3 are earners). So I think this is an average household budget. Remember people on this forum don't want to be normal. They want to be better than normal/average.

housing 16557/year
mortgage interest and charges 2251
transportation 7677 gasoline 2132
food at home 3624
food away from home 2505
healthcare 33157
entertainment 2504
clothing and services 1700
insurance other contributions 5373
everything else 5012
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 05:57:41 PM by partgypsy »

mm1970

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2019, 06:10:04 PM »
I..I almost fainted.

ďWe "eat out" (meaning we order and its delivered) 6 nights per week for dinner. The 1 remaining day we are typicaly at one of our parents for dinner.

For lunches we usually do taco bell, mcdonalds, or burger king. Breakfast is mostly Dunkin Donuts.Ē

You have two children under 6 with a SAHP and this is what youíre eating, and you think it might not be healthy?

Youíre right to come here and ask for help. My sincere hope is that youíre ready to take the advice on board, it wonít be easy. You canít keep eating like this, it is so unhealthy that all of your lives will be negatively impacted if this keeps progressing. Please stop!

You canít afford it, financially or health wise.

What you need is a reset of your life, and thst might mean you start with therapy for you and your wife, because this pathway is destructive.

Iím not you, but if I were, Iíd make changes like: cutting up credit cards, stopping all non-essential spending, putting the kids in public school, learning to cook and eat healthy (and affordable) for your family. Rip the bandaid off. Reset, then put in a plan to save and invest.
I also almost fainted.  But then I remembered...ah, history.

When I was in my 20s, I didn't know how to cook.  I got through college on a meal plan and things like canned soup, boxed mac and cheese, and ramen.

When I first moved to DC and was dang poor, I learned to make spaghetti with jarred sauce.  Sandwiches.  Yogurt.  Bagels for breakfast.  Chicken fingers and frozen fries, put into the oven.  (Yeah, I wasn't the healthiest eater, lol!)  After 2 years I made LTJG and got a raise.  Man, then I started grad school.  I'd occasionally try to cook, but I'd usually cut or burn myself.  Luckily, I had a boyfriend.  He could cook.  But then he moved cross country.

Long story short...there were many days a week that I ate out breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I'd grab a ham, egg, and cheese bagel on the way to work (I walked to work, it was on the way).  I'd get a Reuben or a tuna salad sandwich for lunch, with diet coke and a bag of chips.  (Occasionally I'd get a veggie wrap).  For dinner, I'd either grab something on the way to class OR go out for beer and burgers after playing volleyball.  Man.  I blew so much money on food because I didn't really cook at all.  I also started gaining weight.

So, I feel you there.  I really do.  Luckily for me, I learned to cook before I had kids (and I married that great boyfriend).   With 2 kids under 6, it can be exhausting.  But you gotta do it.  Just start slow.  First up: breakfast.  Buy some cereal and milk.  Oatmeal.  Eggs.  Frozen waffles.  It doesn't matter what.  Eat some fruit with it.  Apples, bananas.  Eventually you'll be used to it.  Next: focus on lunch.  Go buy bread, lunch meat, and some fruit.  Make sandwiches.  When my kids were that small, that's what I did.  Once you have a regular lunch down pat, move on to dinner.  Buy a bunch of frozen pizzas to take the edge off occasionally.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #46 on: January 02, 2019, 06:37:51 PM »
I don't see anything for a retirement fund (IRA or a 401k from work?) or other investments. Are there none? Or did you leave that out?

He wrote: ďSavings is about $500 right now and checking account is around $750.Ē

Thatís all I saw regarding savings and investments.

ETBen

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #47 on: January 02, 2019, 06:51:16 PM »
The other possibility is she doesnít want to be that type of SAHM but unless she gets some Real Housewives hook up, sheís out of luck. :)  If it makes you feel better, I know other couples where one spouse is a high earner and the other stays home. More than a few of them are in debt bc no one is managing the home.

I have a friend who works a ton. She and her husband are trying to get out of debt and create a better life for themselves.  Basically she works 6 days a week and is the sole bread winner.  He is the stay at home parent that plays the much needed supporting role.  He wakes up with her and makes sure breakfast is on the table, and kids are of to school.  He packs lunch for everyone. He keeps the home clean and makes sure dinner is ready.  He even makes sure her car is always full of gas and well maintained.  Basically he makes sure the only thing she needs to think about is making money while he helps make everything run smoothly.  They are a team and both are doing their part.

Yeah I have friends in both groups and you can definitely see the difference in those who have the roles worked out. Which doesnít even seem to be a gender specific thing like you said. I think SAHP is such a tough role to step into and feel comfortable.

The_Rooster

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #48 on: January 18, 2019, 07:27:48 PM »
Masses of good advice here.

One thought - does your wife LIKE being a SAHM?  I hated it, I was isolated and bored.  Being home with DD was wonderful but the rest sucked.  I was back to work full time after a year.

The one parent works (Dad)/one parent stays home (Mom) is a very 50's/60's lifestyle.   And it was a full-time job (or more than full-time, because she was also the on-call parent all night) for the Mom who was home.  She was much more than Mom, she did all the housework, all the cooking and baking (from scratch) and dishes, she did the shopping and planning (and maybe knitting and sewing if they were part of her skill set).  His job was to make the money, her job was to stretch it as far as possible.  I know, that was how I grew up, that is what everyone's Mom did.   Very clear gender roles, and not great if they didn't fit well, but at least the job description was clear

So really, to make this work, you wife either needs to go back to a job she likes (I assume she likes it if she misses it) or truly embrace the homemaker role.  Unfortunately this is not a choice you can make for her, she has to do it on her own.                                       

Thank you for this post.

My wife has a love/hate relationship with being a SAHM.

She likes being in control, but she misses work.

She misses friends.

She misses having a reason to put on nice clothes.

She actually was just offered a part time job yesterday. Itís 3 days per week and $18 per hour.

It would bring in about $1,000 net per month.

Iím not sure if itís worth it or not. I feel that we could easily cut $1,000 of expenses from our spending every month.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 08:27:57 PM by The_Rooster »

The_Rooster

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #49 on: January 18, 2019, 08:26:18 PM »
I don't see anything for a retirement fund (IRA or a 401k from work?) or other investments. Are there none? Or did you leave that out?

I have a little over 13k in a work IRA.

But we borrowed about $4,000 against it (they call it a loan and they deduct $35 from my paycheck every week to pay it back) for a vacation we went on last year.

Thatís the extend of our retirement fund, unfortunately.