Author Topic: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in  (Read 18787 times)

Villanelle

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #100 on: February 03, 2019, 04:49:06 PM »
Honestly at those levels, cutting the food spend is incredibly simple and easy.  You can't afford to eat out.  At all.  Not even once.  You either decide to do it, or not.  That's it.  There's no need to spend time research and running numbers can calculating.  You are past the point of emergency and should be into full on panic. DECIDE (with your wife, hopefully) to spend zero dollars eat out for a month.  That's it. 

  Keep a few cans of soup or other ready meals at the office so if you forget to pack a lunch, you don't starve.  Spend an hour planning meals and making a shopping list.  Refer to my earlier post about pasta, meat, and canned sauce.  And some quick one pot or crock pot meals. 

You are "talking" like this is a hard problem to crack.  And if you are trying to cut from $300/mo to $200/mo, maybe it is.  But you are spending $3000!!!! a month on food.  Meanwhile, your debt is out of control and you are probably a few months away from being unable to pay major bills, and losing everything that anyone can possibly take back to cover the commitments you made and are now shirking.  So just make a decision and JUST DO IT.  Stop messing around.  Stop being indecisive.  Make a decision that you will do it, and spend an hour planning, and then go shopping.   Research and consideration and allowing some wiggle room are luxuries you no longer can afford.  You pissed that away long ago.  Now, it's time to pay the piper (and the tax man, and...).  That means fully committing to cutting every damn thing you can. 

Once you cut that food spend down to about $6-700, then you may need to research and dig and plan in order to cut it more.  But right now, you have literally a couple thousand dollars in low hanging fruit on your food spending alone that you can cut starting today.  If you want to.

Or, you can lose your home, not be able to pay for heat, be forced to pull your kids out of preschool and not provide basics for them, beg family for money you will never be able to repay, watch the shocked looks on your friends faces as you sell your furniture and luxury items in order to cover groceries, etc.  So if you think that zero eating out is bad, consider the alternative, which is that plus losing a lot more. 


RetiredAt63

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LetItGrow

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #102 on: February 03, 2019, 06:16:31 PM »
Forget food, tackle the 'shopping'. 100% cut, do it. Then go after food. I know it is less, but 100% can go.

APowers

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #103 on: February 03, 2019, 07:25:15 PM »
Hi everyone.

Thank you for all the replies. I decided to come back and give an update, as Iíve been through a pretty rough few days.

On my way home from work a couple of days ago, I stopped at a drive through. I hand the cashier my debit card and she hands it back - declined.

This doesnít make sense. I had looked at the account a bit earlier and there was a little under $1,000 in my checking account.

So I log into my mobile app while I hand the cashier an alternative payment method, and to my shock, my account shows NEGATIVE SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Quickly call the bank and am horrified to hear that the State put a levy on my bank account for past due taxes.

I have $103 in cash in hand, a credit card with a small available balance, and a full kitchen of food.

Thatís about it.

My paycheck deposits into that account too.

So I quickly applied for a bank loan to pay off the levy.

Here is our January 2019, as copy and pasted from Mint. Believe it or not, we tried to change our food habits this month.

Your Spending
CATEGORY   SPENDING
Total   $9,980.28
    Export to CSV
Food & Dining   $3,143.58
Home   $2,434.56
Shopping   $1,649.01
Auto & Transport   $842.34
Kids   $509.09
Taxes   $325.00
Uncategorized   $238.00
Entertainment   $235.19
Personal Care   $193.84
Gifts & Donations   $126.97
Health & Fitness   $122.93
Business Services   $67.29
Financial   $44.85
Pets


AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #104 on: February 03, 2019, 10:06:36 PM »
You guys spent more on food in January than my entire pay packet..... but I guarantee that my net worth is higher than yours. That should be a little embarrassing for you! You can't afford your lifestyle, that's for sure.

horsepoor

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #105 on: February 03, 2019, 10:14:23 PM »
You can't afford to just "think you're doing better, eating at home more" or whatever.  You need to be tracking that shit like your life depends on it.  I suspect you had good intentions of eating at home, stocked the fridge, and then went out to eat anyway, so your spend got even higher, even though you perceived that you were changing your habits.

If you do go out because of a failure to plan, it's got to be off the dollar menu at Wendy's.  No sit-down meals with appetizers and drinks and whatever.  $75 for 2 adults and 2 kids for a non-occasion meal is ridiculous, and you're teaching your kids to be entitled and not think of the cost of anything.

This is the financial equivalent of every episode of "My 600 Pound Life" where the patient thinks they're sticking to the diet except a little cheeseburger here and there, and then when weigh-in comes, no weight has been lost, or worse, they've gained.

You still haven't addressed any questions about your wife being on board.  Does she even know the depth of the problems, or have you been keeping a lot from her?

cowpuncher10

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #106 on: February 04, 2019, 07:50:07 AM »
I am probably a horrible example of living a mustachian life, though we are getting better.

I have 3 kids, 2 in diapers, and we spend $700 month on food, diapers, and household items. Then we spend maybe another 150 going out to eat. That is a LOT compared to most other people.

Putting your bad habits on your food budget out of perspective the one that gets me the most is just generic shopping....and I am betting that this is your wife. Take all credit cards and just cut those bad boys up. Then remove all credit card information from all computers. We also have $100 a month each for discretionary spending for my wife and I as well as a $200 "Stuff we forgot about" budget to include sports registration or some photo shoot my wife can't live without for the family, or whatever the latest pinterest trend is....

If you haven't spelled this out to your wife then you are DOOMED. She is a stay at home mom and y'all are going out to eat every day. I'm sorry bud but she needs to pull her weight and cook some damn food. I don't care if this appears to be a sensitive subject due to perceived gender roles. You are going to be homeless at this rate.

AlexMar

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #107 on: February 04, 2019, 08:25:08 AM »
Hi everyone.

Thank you for all the replies. I decided to come back and give an update, as Iíve been through a pretty rough few days.

On my way home from work a couple of days ago, I stopped at a drive through. I hand the cashier my debit card and she hands it back - declined.

This doesnít make sense. I had looked at the account a bit earlier and there was a little under $1,000 in my checking account.

So I log into my mobile app while I hand the cashier an alternative payment method, and to my shock, my account shows NEGATIVE SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Quickly call the bank and am horrified to hear that the State put a levy on my bank account for past due taxes.

I have $103 in cash in hand, a credit card with a small available balance, and a full kitchen of food.

Thatís about it.

My paycheck deposits into that account too.

So I quickly applied for a bank loan to pay off the levy.

Here is our January 2019, as copy and pasted from Mint. Believe it or not, we tried to change our food habits this month.

Your Spending
CATEGORY   SPENDING
Total   $9,980.28
    Export to CSV
Food & Dining   $3,143.58
Home   $2,434.56
Shopping   $1,649.01
Auto & Transport   $842.34
Kids   $509.09
Taxes   $325.00
Uncategorized   $238.00
Entertainment   $235.19
Personal Care   $193.84
Gifts & Donations   $126.97
Health & Fitness   $122.93
Business Services   $67.29
Financial   $44.85
Pets

Ok, let's take a deep breath.

First of all (unlike some of the others here), I don't have much trouble believing you could spend so much on food.  As I said in my first response to you, my husband and I are BIG spenders in this area compared with the typical board member.

On average, we spend ~275$/month on dining out. BUT, for the most part, it is only ONE PERSON (my husband) doing the majority of the eating out (lunch and sometimes breakfast) on workdays only.  And we very rarely go out to dinner. 

So if we can spend that much with only 1 person eating only 1-2 meals out for about 20 days/per month...then it stands to reason that if 4 people were eating that way (BUT STILL EATING DINNER AT HOME), we would easly be spending 1,000$/ month on eating out alone, and still not have accounted for dinners (usually more expensive) or any weekend food spending, or any other grocery spending/booze, etc.  Add those in, and I have little trouble seeing how the bill for 4 people adds up to 3K/month.

Fundamentally, you just have to face the fact that eating out is a black-hole pit for money, and you simply CANNOT eat out regularly and keep spending reasonable. It's as simple as that. You have to break that habit, so that eating out is a special occasion event or at the very least a weekend only type of occurrence.

Apart from that, I get the feeling that either you haven't disclosed your full back taxes situation in your original post, or you have been living in a pattern of denial (not opening bills or scary looking mail, not actually looking at your line by line spending every month).  Or there is another spending problem happening, like spending addiction/gambling etc.  Or some combo of the above.

HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO YOUR WIFE ABOUT HOW BAD YOUR SITUATION IS?  Does she understand and acknowedge just how bad things are? Is she on board with changing things?  You can't just 'slide' gradually into trying to fix this kind of problem.  You both have to acknowledge it, grapple with it, come up with an actionable plan, and ATTACK it. 

You make plenty of money, twice the national median household income.  There is no need for you to live with this kind of distress.  But the two of you have not been thinking or behaving like adults. It is your responsibility to face this situation head on, and handle it.

Thank you for believing in me. I really donít know how we are spending this much on food. Itís not like we are living an incredible lifestyle eating at five star restaurants every day.

 As you said, itís not that hard to spend $100 a day for food. Our family of four is easily $75 at a restaurant. For one meal.

 What hits me harder, is that I thought we are doing better this month. We are eating at home a lot more. I really have to dig down into the itemizations and figure it out.

We recently got our food budget down to about $300 - $450/mo (just started a month and a half ago but so far this seems to be pretty accurate).  STOP EATING OUT.  Just. Stop. It.

I earn substantially more than you, and if I can do it, you sure as hell can.  What I have found is that I feel WAY better because I'm eating decent, real food.  We buy things that are on sale at the grocery store and stock up on all the basics.  Veggies, rice, beans, quinoa, chicken, fish, etc. etc.  We focus on buying the cheaper products.  For example, we will buy a 20lb bag of rice and just easily make rice on the stove instead of the expensive instant rice.  The dollars add up crazy fast that it would shock you at the end of the month.  But really, we are eating great (2 adults, 2 young kids) - better than ever.  And spending very little doing it.

Looking at your spending.... 

Health and Fitness - that should be closer to $0.  Eat decent, homemade food and go for a walk or ride a bicycle.  You'll save big money on the food, too. 

What is personal care that cost $200 in a month?

Shopping?!  $1,600?  WTF?  And really, fuck Christmas gifts.  You have a tax levy, you have an emergency.  You have nothing saved.  Buy a few inexpensive gifts for your kids and let any adults know you won't be getting them gifts.  You can have an amazing Christmas without going bonkers on spending.  I hope that's all from Christmas, too.  If not, your shopping should be closer to $0 - $200.

Gifts & Donations (you said shopping included gifts) - are you kidding me about gifts and donations?  This should be $0.

These are the quick and dirty things that will not only get you above water, but get you pretty financially healthy immediately.  You can then review bigger items like cars and what not later.  To me, your housing/cars doesn't seem outrageous, though.  Room for improvement, but certainly not the main issue.  You have a SPENDING issue.  Food, entertainment, health/fitness, blah blah bullshit stuff.  Come on, man.

Ultimately, this is a frame of mind thing.  You need to change what makes you happy, when it comes to money.... You should get pleasure and joy out of building up your investment accounts and "beating the system" (so to say) by being different, frugal yet living well.  You get pleasure out of spending like crazy.  Change your view on happiness and you'll be fine.  It's not as hard as you think.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 08:27:51 AM by AlexMar »

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #108 on: February 04, 2019, 08:39:24 AM »
I had previously posted in this thread a suggestion that he show his wife this thread. Others have posted similar sentiments, even if just suggesting that he talk to his wife.

And yet we get an update that nothing has changed and that food spending has gone up.

So, rather than blue balling us, what changes have you actually made, OP? Because at this point none of this is the fault of anyone else but you and your wife. This forum has a ton of smart people (not me) that seem eager to help and sure, some changes will take time, but a food bill of $3k is just insanity.

If you want someone to fix this for you, how about this: go to costco, and get 7 frozen lasagnas, 2 dozen eggs, and 2 loaves of bread. Each morning, eggs and toast. Yummy (seriously). Then make the lasagna in the oven (literally just pop it in an oven for like an hour), and bam, everyone has dinner and lunch for the next day. What is that, like $100/week? Even doubling that for inevitable fast food failures would still only chalk up to $8-900 in food spending for the month. $2k a month is an absolute crap ton of money, OP.

For those wondering "lasagna every day isn't healthy," well neither is fast food constantly. Shoot, Costco has a bunch of different frozen family size meals if variety is needed. Then, when everyone is used to eating at home, then start inserting more budget friendly meals. Stir fry is easy and healthy, grilled chicken is easy and healthy, you get the picture.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 08:41:02 AM by patchyfacialhair »

englishteacheralex

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #109 on: February 04, 2019, 08:50:42 AM »
@patchyfacialhair basically just described our typical week of groceries. Mmmmm Costco lasagna.

Sigh. We spent $800 for January on groceries and that's without any household supplies factored in. Family of four. Honolulu has expensive groceries and I was running low on Costco lasagna--had to stock up. :) Only $115 on restaurants last month, though! And that was mostly for a nice date night.

How many people are reading/commenting on this thread just because it makes them feel better by comparison?

All the detailed posts about saving money on food--I think it's falling on deaf ears, tbh. Step #1 is the "rock bottom" moment. Whoever mentioned that there's gotta be a pretty big alcohol component to all this: seems like a definite possibility! When we cut way back on alcohol it got a lot easier to have smaller grocery bills.

Except this month...I don't know what happened!

ATR

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #110 on: February 04, 2019, 09:00:03 AM »
PTF

AlexMar

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #111 on: February 04, 2019, 09:06:48 AM »
@patchyfacialhair basically just described our typical week of groceries. Mmmmm Costco lasagna.

Sigh. We spent $800 for January on groceries and that's without any household supplies factored in. Family of four. Honolulu has expensive groceries and I was running low on Costco lasagna--had to stock up. :) Only $115 on restaurants last month, though! And that was mostly for a nice date night.

How many people are reading/commenting on this thread just because it makes them feel better by comparison?

All the detailed posts about saving money on food--I think it's falling on deaf ears, tbh. Step #1 is the "rock bottom" moment. Whoever mentioned that there's gotta be a pretty big alcohol component to all this: seems like a definite possibility! When we cut way back on alcohol it got a lot easier to have smaller grocery bills.

Except this month...I don't know what happened!

The costco rotisserie chickens are great, too.  $4.99!  We'll get enough meat off them for a bunch of servings, sandwiches, and even boil the carcass and make a simple soup.  Even pizza night... we'll cook 2 of the frozen pizzas, which cost what $2.75/ea or so... so under $6.00 and we have pizza.  We spent that on just the gratuity for delivery!
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 09:08:25 AM by AlexMar »

cats

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #112 on: February 04, 2019, 09:16:37 AM »
I looked back at your original post and I don't see any mention of overdue state taxes.  I see something about a debt to the IRS but it looks like you have a payment plan worked out for that so presumably this $6-7k was something different?

Did you not know you owed $6k to the state? Had the state not communicated with you about the taxes owed previously?  I have no personal experience but it seems there must be some interim steps between failing to pay on time and having a levy placed on your account.  Do you just toss mail you don't want to deal with straight into recycling?

I agree with all the prior comments that your spending is out of control and that the food and shopping categories especially are extremely high and unsustainable (and should be easy to cut).  But the fact that you seemed to be somehow unaware of a $6k tax bill until a levy hits suggests to me that you are going to need to do more than just spend less.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #113 on: February 04, 2019, 09:32:00 AM »
@patchyfacialhair basically just described our typical week of groceries. Mmmmm Costco lasagna.

Sigh. We spent $800 for January on groceries and that's without any household supplies factored in. Family of four. Honolulu has expensive groceries and I was running low on Costco lasagna--had to stock up. :) Only $115 on restaurants last month, though! And that was mostly for a nice date night.

How many people are reading/commenting on this thread just because it makes them feel better by comparison?

All the detailed posts about saving money on food--I think it's falling on deaf ears, tbh. Step #1 is the "rock bottom" moment. Whoever mentioned that there's gotta be a pretty big alcohol component to all this: seems like a definite possibility! When we cut way back on alcohol it got a lot easier to have smaller grocery bills.

Except this month...I don't know what happened!

Umm, weíre reading and commenting because heís asked for help, has a clear problem and just had $6k taken from his account. He is in trouble. If he was fine, then his expenses wouldnít be an issue. If youíre spending $800 on food for 4 in Hawaii isnít an issue because the rest of your finances are in order, then youíre not similarly situated. No one is judging or commenting on your spend. And weíre not on our high horses. $3-7k a month on food is insane unless youíre hosting monthly parties or weddings. But if youíre financially responsible, go for it. He is not.

wenchsenior

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #114 on: February 04, 2019, 09:38:29 AM »
I looked back at your original post and I don't see any mention of overdue state taxes.  I see something about a debt to the IRS but it looks like you have a payment plan worked out for that so presumably this $6-7k was something different?

Did you not know you owed $6k to the state? Had the state not communicated with you about the taxes owed previously?  I have no personal experience but it seems there must be some interim steps between failing to pay on time and having a levy placed on your account.  Do you just toss mail you don't want to deal with straight into recycling?

I agree with all the prior comments that your spending is out of control and that the food and shopping categories especially are extremely high and unsustainable (and should be easy to cut).  But the fact that you seemed to be somehow unaware of a $6k tax bill until a levy hits suggests to me that you are going to need to do more than just spend less.

Yes, I noted this in my previous response as well.  I suspect that there are shopping, gambling, or other addictions at play, or this is a couple who just habitually have never communicated successfully about money and therefore do not view their spending as something they need to account to for each other.  And b/c the situation has become ever worse, they are probably in intense avoidance mode and not discussing it, not opening bills, ignoring creditor notices, etc. And it is a potential bomb ticking in the middle of the marriage, which makes them want to avoid it even more.

FireHiker

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #115 on: February 04, 2019, 09:48:14 AM »
How many people are reading/commenting on this thread just because it makes them feel better by comparison?

I have come to this thread and nearly posted multiple times exactly for this reason! But, I don't think that's a bad thing. I think if you come to this board and see people posting $200/mo food budget and you're spending $3000, then it feels unattainable. Maybe knowing there are people here with more mid-range food spending will help the OP see that incremental progress is better than no progress. Pre-made food from the grocery store (another vote for Costco, bagged salads, etc) will be much cheaper and healthier than their current lifestyle, although it certainly won't be $200/mo. Our household is my husband and myself, my 18 year old son who is an athlete (eats as much as the rest of us combined), and two elementary school children. We got our food spending under $800 last month for the first time ever. Usually we're closer to $1200 but with college looming this year we really need to dial it back.

OP there is a LOT of good advice here. I'm not usually pro-Dave Ramsey as I think he isn't optimal, but I think for someone in your situation his approach could really turn things around. Check out his book from the library for free if you don't want to spend the $100 for FPU. Dive in and do something about it. Really, you can keep making excuses and rationalizations, or you can do something about it. What will future-you a year from now prefer?

HamsterStache

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #116 on: February 04, 2019, 10:18:06 AM »

Food & Dining   $3,143.58
Home   $2,434.56
Shopping   $1,649.01
Auto & Transport   $842.34
Kids   $509.09
Taxes   $325.00
Uncategorized   $238.00
Entertainment   $235.19
Personal Care   $193.84
Gifts & Donations   $126.97
Health & Fitness   $122.93
Business Services   $67.29
Financial   $44.85
Pets

Basically every one of those categories looks like it can be trimmed significantly, which is good news. The bad news is that you've obviously gotten very used to certain patterns of spending, and changing everything is going to seem very overwhelming. So let's change one thing at a time.

Lets take your top three categories, Food, Home, and Shopping. Shopping would be the easiest one to cut back on because if you've been shopping at those levels, there is most likely very little you ACTUALLY NEED each month. So if you want to tackle this category, double check what Mint is categorizing there, and then don't buy ANYTHING not actually essential this month. No clothes if you have things that fit and are not worn out. No knick-knacks, not electronics, no nothing. Ask yourself how your life will be different if you don't buy that thing before you buy it, and if you can't come up with a really good reason (in your situation, if it isn't keeping you alive and healthy, there probably is not a good reason) then DO NOT BUY.

If that sounds too hard, or you want to see the biggest impact right away, then go for the food category. We are a family of four in a HCOL area. I absolutely see how you bill can balloon like that if you are eating out/ ordering every time. We try to eat healthy, often including organic and all natural foods in our diet. We eat out virtually never. Even with cooking almost all our own food and eating the way we do, our grocery bill is only around $500 a month. If you cut back to that level, you would be saving $2,500 a month easily! You need to make it a rule though - no buying food from any sort of restaurant, and no buying pre-made salads etc. from a grocery store. Just don't, it's not even a choice. If you don't want to think about it, pack the same lunch every day. Some yogurt, and apple, a sandwich - PB&J, Tuna, whatever you like and is easy for you. Personally I rely on dinner leftovers for lunches.  For breakfast we cook oatmeal (not packets, just plain old quick oats) with raisins, some brown sugar, some other "add-ins" along with a banana. For dinner, go to the basics. A box of pasta with some sauce. and a frozen veggie. Some beans and ground beef in a crockpot to make chile. Roaseted potatoes and baked chicken. No need to get complicated. Just try buying some of the least expensive, non-processed basics - meat, vegetable, grains, fruits, etc - and then prepare them in a quick, edible, manner. You can worry about recipes and more attractive meals later if the planning and preparing is daunting, but just get some good, cheap food on the table. If you are used to fast-food all the time, it's not like you are craving expensive elaborate meals that cost a lot - you've just been paying for branding, marketing, and service.

There is a lot of other good advice on this thread. It is up to you and your wife to take some of it. Make a decision together about some sort of plan. Instead of just wanting and trying to spend less in your same style, you have to re-write some of your rules, and then stick to the new ones. Good luck!

damnedbee

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #117 on: February 04, 2019, 11:27:17 AM »
Wow. Just, wow. Truthfully, I know you came to the forums looking for help, but I'm not sure you're anywhere near ready for Mustachian-level of change yet. Something about your self-proclaimed destructive level of spending warrants a deep look inside, as some have suggested. Try a bit of therapy, perhaps? Until you really get to the heart of what's going on, I worry you won't be successful.

I'd also recommend checking out Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps. Yes, I know he's controversial here, but I'm a fan because following those simple steps set me on my eventual path to FIRE. OP needs a lesson in the very basics.

Blueberries

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #118 on: February 04, 2019, 11:31:19 AM »
I debated replying because I think when people are struggling and requesting help, it doesn't help to respond in a patronizing manner.  I'm wondering if you're floundering to the point where you don't even know where to begin, so you're just doing nothing.  Maybe this post will help?  If not, just ignore it.

I wanted to throw out some suggestions on a weekly menu that you could try to follow.  I'm not suggesting this is optimal in terms of health or even finances, I'm suggesting it as a way you can cut costs and keep the convenience factor.  When you're in a better place, you can focus on better choices.

Breakfast

M, W, F:  Oatmeal - Add milk, add mashed bananas
T, Th:  Cereal like Rice Krispies - Add milk, add a banana
Sa & Su:  Eggs, Sausage, Toast

Lunch

M, W, F:  PB & J on Bread
T, Th, Sa:  Ham & Cheese on Bread
Su:  Eat Out (I think the idea that you'll go from always eating out to never eating out isn't practical.  If you can do it, great.  If not, have a reasonable lunch out on Sunday afternoon.)

Snacks:  Peanuts, Cheese sticks, Cut veggies, Apples, Bananas, Pears, Applesauce, Yogurt, Raisins

Dinner (All Frozen/Prepackaged Meals from Costco/Sams.  If you don't have access, there are plenty of pre-packaged meals at grocery stores that will work.)

M:  Frozen Pizza
T:  Meatballs
W:  Roast Chicken
Th:  Lasagna
F:  Ribs or Wings
Sa:  Sandwich Wraps
Su:  Meatloaf

Sides to add:  Warmed apple sauce, frozen veggies, and instant rice bags (if needed).  All of those items only require a microwave. 
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 11:39:24 AM by Blueberries »

wtp1020

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #119 on: February 04, 2019, 12:40:55 PM »
Bills & Utilities   $185.89
This is a 3-month snapshot of spending. October 1st to January 1st.

This stands out to me, $185 for three months of utilities/bills? What sort of utilities run this cheap? Are you living off the grid?

HamsterStache

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #120 on: February 04, 2019, 12:50:44 PM »
Bills & Utilities   $185.89
This is a 3-month snapshot of spending. October 1st to January 1st.

This stands out to me, $185 for three months of utilities/bills? What sort of utilities run this cheap? Are you living off the grid?

I noticed that as well - since this is just a copy and paste from Mint, I suspect that a few things have been categorized wrongly and maybe some utility spending is being counted in one of the other categories. OP would do well to check more into detail what costs are going into these categories.

charis

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #121 on: February 04, 2019, 01:12:18 PM »

Thank you for believing in me. I really donít know how we are spending this much on food. Itís not like we are living an incredible lifestyle eating at five star restaurants every day.

 As you said, itís not that hard to spend $100 a day for food. Our family of four is easily $75 at a restaurant. For one meal.

 What hits me harder, is that I thought we are doing better this month. We are eating at home a lot more. I really have to dig down into the itemizations and figure it out.

This mindset is a huge part of the problem.  If you were dining at 5 star restaurants everyday, you would be spending at least 3-4x what you are already spending. 

I hear this a lot from friends who are bleeding money but believe that they are living "frugally" because they aren't living in luxury. 

And they this perception cloud their understanding of how they have created a lifestyle that bleeds money.  By signing onto relatively expensive housing (with higher taxes) with nice furnishings/furniture; home improvement projects; private school tuition and/or multiple activities per kid; little downtime to meal prep or cook; kids need new/matching/nice clothes, shoes, equipment, and accessories; a "modest vacation" (aka bleeds money) and a few weekend get aways per year; and drop $ on Christmas, birthday, valentines, mother/father's day, and date nights (including cost of babysitter). 

That's not luxury, but it's nonetheless very expensive and certainly incredible by many standards (unless you can relate to the characters on Gossip Girl).

dividend

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #122 on: February 04, 2019, 03:10:56 PM »
I think a big thing that might help is to shift from reacting to how much money has already been spent, to budgeting proactively towards how much you want to spend.  This is obviously going to require some kind of tracking of spending as you go along. 

You're never going to get ahead if you just spend blindly and then look at these arbitrary buckets after the fact.  The data from Mint is useful though, in figuring out what a reasonable budget should look like.  But you should know roughly where your money is going before the month even starts.  And you're going to need to learn how to pay yourself first, because you will never be able to save money if you intend to save whatever's "leftover."  There's less than nothing leftover right now.  So you might try something like this.  Say next month you want to tackle your Food category.  You spend >$3,000 in January, so make your February budget $2,000.  Put that $1,000 difference in savings right now.  Keep an eye on your spending in February however you like - check Mint or track your receipts, and monitor how close you're getting to that $2,000 budget.  If you're not on track, cut back.  Cook a few things at home, have some frozen pizza nights, hell, even get cheaper takeout.  But the point is that you're being proactive instead of reactive.  Do this with all of your categories that are out of control.  As you get a handle on the idea of spending less because you've decided ahead of time how you want to allocate your dollars, work on refining and cutting back even more.  But right now, it's important for you to be in control of how much you're spending and not the other way around. 

Also, if what I described is honestly too difficult, well, there's your sign that you might need some kind of counseling/therapy for whatever the underlying issue is that makes this kind of basic financial responsibility so difficult for you.  Because cutting back to only spending $2,000/month on food, or only shopping for $800 worth of miscellaneous crap should be a piece of cake. 

RetiredAt63

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #123 on: February 04, 2019, 04:06:01 PM »
I'm rereading one of Peter Walsh's books now, and I am also wondering if OP's home is full of stuff - i.e. cluttered.  Living in a cluttered environment is stressful, and  people often buy duplicates because they can't find the original. And can't cook because there is no free counter space in the kitchen.

Gail Vaz Oxlade used to do spending breakdowns and budgets (with jars!) and it really helped people see how their spending was out of whack.  Seriously, sit down as a couple and watch old episodes of 'Til Debt Do Us Part - I know I have suggested this before, but that show is a real eye-opener, and easy to identify with.

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #124 on: February 04, 2019, 04:07:16 PM »
ptf

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #125 on: February 04, 2019, 04:07:58 PM »
Gail Vaz Oxlade used to do spending breakdowns and budgets (with jars!) and it really helped people see how their spending was out of whack.  Seriously, sit down as a couple and watch old episodes of 'Til Debt Do Us Part - I know I have suggested this before, but that show is a real eye-opener, and easy to identify with.

Yes. This show is very good, and it might help the author to understand that 1) his family is far from the only one in this situation, 2) the situation is not hopeless, but 3) it needs to be brought under control immediately.

stoaX

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #126 on: February 04, 2019, 04:42:34 PM »

Thank you for believing in me. I really donít know how we are spending this much on food. Itís not like we are living an incredible lifestyle eating at five star restaurants every day.

 As you said, itís not that hard to spend $100 a day for food. Our family of four is easily $75 at a restaurant. For one meal.

 What hits me harder, is that I thought we are doing better this month. We are eating at home a lot more. I really have to dig down into the itemizations and figure it out.

This mindset is a huge part of the problem.  If you were dining at 5 star restaurants everyday, you would be spending at least 3-4x what you are already spending. 

I hear this a lot from friends who are bleeding money but believe that they are living "frugally" because they aren't living in luxury. 

And they this perception cloud their understanding of how they have created a lifestyle that bleeds money.  By signing onto relatively expensive housing (with higher taxes) with nice furnishings/furniture; home improvement projects; private school tuition and/or multiple activities per kid; little downtime to meal prep or cook; kids need new/matching/nice clothes, shoes, equipment, and accessories; a "modest vacation" (aka bleeds money) and a few weekend get aways per year; and drop $ on Christmas, birthday, valentines, mother/father's day, and date nights (including cost of babysitter). 

That's not luxury, but it's nonetheless very expensive and certainly incredible by many standards (unless you can relate to the characters on Gossip Girl).

Good insight!  It may not be luxury, but just a very expensive way of non-luxurious living...

justchristine

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #127 on: February 05, 2019, 08:55:45 AM »
I think you might be best served by locking up your credit and debit cards and switching to a cash only system for your grocery/dining spending.  Figure out how much money you want to budget for groceries and how much for eating out each month and put that amount of cash in an envelope.  Pay for your groceries and dining out of their respective envelopes and when the envelopes are empty....no more spending for the month.  You could break it down by week if that's easier to manage.  I think other people up thread have given reasonable starting amounts for a family your size so I would say start with that.

cats

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #128 on: February 05, 2019, 09:29:52 AM »

Thank you for believing in me. I really donít know how we are spending this much on food. Itís not like we are living an incredible lifestyle eating at five star restaurants every day.


This mindset is a huge part of the problem.  If you were dining at 5 star restaurants everyday, you would be spending at least 3-4x what you are already spending. 

I hear this a lot from friends who are bleeding money but believe that they are living "frugally" because they aren't living in luxury. 


I agree that you need to change your mindset about what constitutes an extravagant or luxurious lifestyle.

You earn about 2x median US income.  The US is a very wealthy country.  If you spend everything you earn, you are living a lifestyle far beyond what most of the world can live or even aspire to living.

I was talking to my father recently and he happened to recall that when he was a kid, his family did not have a freezer.  They had an ice box and had a big block of ice delivered periodically.  His parents probably didn't even have that growing up.  Now we take it as a given that everyone has an electric freezer.  My point here is that even a fairly basic and frugal lifestyle in this day and age is also far more luxurious than what the majority of humans have enjoyed even within the past hundred years.

You have two kids and the means to give them an excellent chance at outliving you.  Historically, many parents have not had this opportunity for all their children.

You may also want to remind yourself that your basis of comparison (what other people appear to be doing) may be flawed.  The average American household carries something like $16k in credit card debt.  If you are living like the "average", you are likely in a debt emergency.  Many people don't acknowledge their debt or they view it as normal and inescapable, rather than a direct consequence of the lifestyle they choose to live.  Thus, their lifestyle becomes "normal".

A while back I was talking with an acquaintance with a similar household income to ours, she revealed that her family struggled to meet certain savings goals that my husband and I have always met easily.  On the surface, her lifestyle is not that different from ours.  But in every area, her family is just a little more spendy: they drive a newer car and they drive a little more, they take a few more trips that involve plane tickets or hotel stays each year, they buy a bit more pre-packaged food and booze, they always buy things new rather than seeking out used options, their kid has a few more toys than ours, they upgrade their phones more often, etc.  None of the differences are individually that big, but it appears the cumulative impact is pretty substantial,  likely several tens of thousands of dollars each year.  Relative to our household income (and yours), that is a fairly substantial number.  But my acquaintance would never describe her lifestyle as "extravagant", even though it's putting her on track to need to work into her late 60s (assuming everything goes well).  It doesn't take a super extravagant lifestyle to run up substantial and unsustainable expenses.

scantee

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #129 on: February 05, 2019, 09:45:17 AM »
I see this thread is going the same direction as these types of threads of always do: the original poster posts a few times and all the regulars keep piling on with more and more financial advice long after the original poster has stopped paying attention.

The_Rooster, if youíre still here I have one piece of advice: take like $500 of the dollars you would spend on eating out this month and use it to start weekly sessions with your wife and a skilled marriage therapist. All the budgeting and money saving tips in the world arenít going to help you unless you address the underlying issues that have lead you to this dire situation.

Laura33

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #130 on: February 05, 2019, 10:43:42 AM »
Hi everyone.

Thank you for all the replies. I decided to come back and give an update, as Iíve been through a pretty rough few days.

On my way home from work a couple of days ago, I stopped at a drive through. I hand the cashier my debit card and she hands it back - declined.

This doesnít make sense. I had looked at the account a bit earlier and there was a little under $1,000 in my checking account.

So I log into my mobile app while I hand the cashier an alternative payment method, and to my shock, my account shows NEGATIVE SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Quickly call the bank and am horrified to hear that the State put a levy on my bank account for past due taxes.

I have $103 in cash in hand, a credit card with a small available balance, and a full kitchen of food.

Thatís about it.

My paycheck deposits into that account too.

So I quickly applied for a bank loan to pay off the levy.

Here is our January 2019, as copy and pasted from Mint. Believe it or not, we tried to change our food habits this month.

Your Spending
CATEGORY   SPENDING
Total   $9,980.28
    Export to CSV
Food & Dining   $3,143.58
Home   $2,434.56
Shopping   $1,649.01
Auto & Transport   $842.34
Kids   $509.09
Taxes   $325.00
Uncategorized   $238.00
Entertainment   $235.19
Personal Care   $193.84
Gifts & Donations   $126.97
Health & Fitness   $122.93
Business Services   $67.29
Financial   $44.85
Pets

1.  Applying for a loan does not "pay off" your tax levy.  It simply replaces one form of debt with another.  A/k/a "robbing Peter to pay Paul."  A/k/a "shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic."

2.  The state will not simply garnish your wages and take your bank account with no notice.  If you need proof that burying your head in the sand and ignoring problems does not make them go away, well, there you go.

3.  You did not "try" to change your food habits -- you started off your story at a drive-through, for Pete's sake.  Remember Yoda?  There is no try.  Do, or do not.

4.  Stop acting like an entitled twit.  $3K/mo. for food IS a lavish lifestyle, unless you're a Russian Oligarch or the Queen of England; it just doesn't feel like it because (a) you're so used to it that there's nothing special about it, and (b) you're blowing it at generic chains with food that is meh at best.  Spending $1600/mo on shopping IS a massive luxury; it just doesn't feel like it because (a) you're so used to it that there's nothing special about it,* and (b) you're not buying anything meaningful.  You guys have no right to spend more than you make, so stop acting like you do. 

5.  When what you're doing isn't working -- and clearly it's not -- then try something else.  Literally cut up your credit cards and live off of a cash allowance.  You have $100 in cash and a house stocked with food.  That is more than enough to make it several weeks if you just stop feeling sorry for yourself and buckle down to work with what you've got.

You have received a ton of advice here, and it seems you haven't taken any of it.  Did you talk to your wife?  Did you figure out why you think you're so entitled?  What changes did you make to "try" to improve your spending habits, and how did they backfire so horribly? 

I hope this is your "rock-bottom" moment.  But it will be that only if you learn from it and make immediate and dramatic changes.  Believe me, it can get worse; you can default on your loans, you can lose your house, you can declare bankruptcy -- and you can destroy your marriage in the process.  If you care about yourself and your family, make this stop.  Now.  As in now -- not "tomorrow," not "we'll do better next month," but TODAY.  The spending stops.  No excuses.

*See a theme here?

mm1970

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #131 on: February 05, 2019, 10:56:36 AM »
@patchyfacialhair basically just described our typical week of groceries. Mmmmm Costco lasagna.

Sigh. We spent $800 for January on groceries and that's without any household supplies factored in. Family of four. Honolulu has expensive groceries and I was running low on Costco lasagna--had to stock up. :) Only $115 on restaurants last month, though! And that was mostly for a nice date night.

How many people are reading/commenting on this thread just because it makes them feel better by comparison?

All the detailed posts about saving money on food--I think it's falling on deaf ears, tbh. Step #1 is the "rock bottom" moment. Whoever mentioned that there's gotta be a pretty big alcohol component to all this: seems like a definite possibility! When we cut way back on alcohol it got a lot easier to have smaller grocery bills.

Except this month...I don't know what happened!

The costco rotisserie chickens are great, too.  $4.99!  We'll get enough meat off them for a bunch of servings, sandwiches, and even boil the carcass and make a simple soup.  Even pizza night... we'll cook 2 of the frozen pizzas, which cost what $2.75/ea or so... so under $6.00 and we have pizza.  We spent that on just the gratuity for delivery!

I had a boss who had 2 houses.  He worked here, wife worked in SD (3.5 hr south).  So he'd live here during the week and go home on the weekends.

His wife couldn't believe how he lived up here.  I don't remember what he ate for breakfast.  He did buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks on the way to work.

He would buy a chicken from Costco on Monday, and a bunch of potatoes.  He would eat chicken and veg for dinner every night, and would bake all the potatoes and eat baked potatoes for lunch.  Every day.

Heck, repeats are your friend anyway.  I like variety like everyone else (it's a treat!) but I eat salad for lunch every damn day.  We eat a lot of leftovers.  And I've relaxed my budget this year, allowing for more produce delivery AND more frozen pizza.

Moustachienne

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #132 on: February 05, 2019, 10:58:06 AM »
This bit below is pure Mustachian gold!   It takes surprisingly little overspending across multiple categories to lead to financial stress but luckily at the same time, it takes surprisingly easy dial down tweaks across categories to get to financial peace, if not FI and FIRE right off the bat (although MMM's whole argument is that those levels don't require suffering either, just a realignment of values and perspective).

Ah, Mr. Micawber's truth still holds.
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

Hope that Rooster is still reading.  You never know.


A while back I was talking with an acquaintance with a similar household income to ours, she revealed that her family struggled to meet certain savings goals that my husband and I have always met easily.  On the surface, her lifestyle is not that different from ours.  But in every area, her family is just a little more spendy: they drive a newer car and they drive a little more, they take a few more trips that involve plane tickets or hotel stays each year, they buy a bit more pre-packaged food and booze, they always buy things new rather than seeking out used options, their kid has a few more toys than ours, they upgrade their phones more often, etc.  None of the differences are individually that big, but it appears the cumulative impact is pretty substantial,  likely several tens of thousands of dollars each year.  Relative to our household income (and yours), that is a fairly substantial number.  But my acquaintance would never describe her lifestyle as "extravagant", even though it's putting her on track to need to work into her late 60s (assuming everything goes well).  It doesn't take a super extravagant lifestyle to run up substantial and unsustainable expenses.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #133 on: February 05, 2019, 10:59:37 AM »
I see this thread is going the same direction as these types of threads of always do: the original poster posts a few times and all the regulars keep piling on with more and more financial advice long after the original poster has stopped paying attention.

The_Rooster, if youíre still here I have one piece of advice: take like $500 of the dollars you would spend on eating out this month and use it to start weekly sessions with your wife and a skilled marriage therapist. All the budgeting and money saving tips in the world arenít going to help you unless you address the underlying issues that have lead you to this dire situation.

Ha! This is exactly what I meant when I said that I wonder how many people are just posting because it makes them feel good by comparison? I mean, a million posts splitting hairs about how to save money on food are kind of slapping a band-aid on a huge gaping arterial wound.

I was reading this funny article about "Why wasn't I consulted?" syndrome on the internet. Everyone has an opinion and wants to air it. This epic pile on of posts about budgeting etc are pretty funny. This family is at ground zero: "Hey we have a big problem...I think...wait do we really have a problem?...wait oh no we have a way bigger problem than I thought...wait oh no EVERYONE ON THIS INTERNET FORUM SAYS I SHOULD COOK MY OWN FOOD"


OtherJen

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #134 on: February 05, 2019, 11:32:00 AM »
I see this thread is going the same direction as these types of threads of always do: the original poster posts a few times and all the regulars keep piling on with more and more financial advice long after the original poster has stopped paying attention.

The_Rooster, if youíre still here I have one piece of advice: take like $500 of the dollars you would spend on eating out this month and use it to start weekly sessions with your wife and a skilled marriage therapist. All the budgeting and money saving tips in the world arenít going to help you unless you address the underlying issues that have lead you to this dire situation.

Ha! This is exactly what I meant when I said that I wonder how many people are just posting because it makes them feel good by comparison? I mean, a million posts splitting hairs about how to save money on food are kind of slapping a band-aid on a huge gaping arterial wound.

I was reading this funny article about "Why wasn't I consulted?" syndrome on the internet. Everyone has an opinion and wants to air it. This epic pile on of posts about budgeting etc are pretty funny. This family is at ground zero: "Hey we have a big problem...I think...wait do we really have a problem?...wait oh no we have a way bigger problem than I thought...wait oh no EVERYONE ON THIS INTERNET FORUM SAYS I SHOULD COOK MY OWN FOOD"

It IS a discussion forum. Are we not supposed to discuss the issue presented and updated by the OP?

englishteacheralex

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #135 on: February 05, 2019, 11:34:45 AM »
Oh, discuss as much as you want! Seems like diminishing returns at this point, is all I'm saying.

scantee

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #136 on: February 05, 2019, 11:55:46 AM »
Oh, discuss as much as you want! Seems like diminishing returns at this point, is all I'm saying.

Right. Discuss away. At this point weíre not doing anything to help the OP, weíre developing a generic list of best practices for some hypothetical person who is ready to make lasting change. OP has, it appears to me, other more fundamental life problems that make the nuanced financial advice provided here irrelevant to the kind of change he really needs to make.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #137 on: February 05, 2019, 12:14:18 PM »
Oh, discuss as much as you want! Seems like diminishing returns at this point, is all I'm saying.

Right. Discuss away. At this point weíre not doing anything to help the OP, weíre developing a generic list of best practices for some hypothetical person who is ready to make lasting change. OP has, it appears to me, other more fundamental life problems that make the nuanced financial advice provided here irrelevant to the kind of change he really needs to make.

Hmm, maybe we should make a generic list that can be posted someplace, so we don't waste our time saying the same things over and over.  Anyone remember mr. beatle (sp?)?

At this point, until @The_Rooster posts that he AND HIS WIFE are onboard with having hair-on-fire debt that they need to look after, there is not much point continuing to post here.

Villanelle

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #138 on: February 05, 2019, 12:15:45 PM »
Oh, discuss as much as you want! Seems like diminishing returns at this point, is all I'm saying.

My take is that the OP doesn't seem to have gotten "it" or changed anything yet.  So who knows is wording something differently, taking a slight different tac, using a different analogy, or sharing a specific story might just be the thing?  At worst, it seems worth trying.  And more productive for him than complaining about the same basic post repeating itself and speculating about the selfish motives of those posting, certainly. Are the returns diminishing?  I'd argue that there have been no returns yet since he's changed nothing, and I think most posters are just trying to maybe find the right words to get through to him.  If you don't think there's value or hope in that, cool.  But I think those posters hope to accomplish maybe, just maybe, helping the OP.  What do you hope to accomplish by suggesting people are posting to make themselves feel good and that it's decidedly NOT helping the OP, when you have no way of knowing that?  What's the harm if people want to continue trying?  Will it work?  I wouldn't bet on it, but one never knows, and it's not your time they are wasting, if it's a waste. 

And I think focusing on the food might seem very specific but firstly, that low hanging fruit in his budget is so high that it could very well make a huge impact.  If he cut only that to reasonable (not even austere) levels, he'd actually balance his budget.  Secondly, it's a place to start when changing everything may be overwhelming.  Thirdly, it serves as an example of the kinds of changes to habit and thinking he needs to make.  Fourthly, it's very quick to address, unlikes some other categories. 


CNM

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #139 on: February 05, 2019, 12:38:47 PM »
This reminds me of a Frugal Freaks situation.  Someone had mentioned The Frugal Freaks upthread - they have a youtube channel and instagram feed about their get-out-of-debt journey.

They hit "rock bottom" when the wife of Frugal Freaks began staying home with their children.  She began opening the mail and, to her shock, realized that they were WAAAAAAY in debt.  They hadn't ever sat down and figured out how much they owe and to whom and it was a surprise to her, and her husband too, when they actually did so. 

I mention this because this is what seems to be happening to @The_Rooster .  Neither adult seems to have a grasp on the debts that are owed nor is that being compared to the money that is coming in. This needs to be done to you all can figure out a way forward.  Ignorance is not bliss in this scenario, as @The_Rooster found out the hard way when s/he suddenly had a tax levy assessed. 

charis

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #140 on: February 05, 2019, 12:45:06 PM »
I see this thread is going the same direction as these types of threads of always do: the original poster posts a few times and all the regulars keep piling on with more and more financial advice long after the original poster has stopped paying attention.

The_Rooster, if youíre still here I have one piece of advice: take like $500 of the dollars you would spend on eating out this month and use it to start weekly sessions with your wife and a skilled marriage therapist. All the budgeting and money saving tips in the world arenít going to help you unless you address the underlying issues that have lead you to this dire situation.

Ha! This is exactly what I meant when I said that I wonder how many people are just posting because it makes them feel good by comparison? I mean, a million posts splitting hairs about how to save money on food are kind of slapping a band-aid on a huge gaping arterial wound.

I was reading this funny article about "Why wasn't I consulted?" syndrome on the internet. Everyone has an opinion and wants to air it. This epic pile on of posts about budgeting etc are pretty funny. This family is at ground zero: "Hey we have a big problem...I think...wait do we really have a problem?...wait oh no we have a way bigger problem than I thought...wait oh no EVERYONE ON THIS INTERNET FORUM SAYS I SHOULD COOK MY OWN FOOD"

I don't know if I agree.  I responded because I know many families that live and complain about their similarly "destructive lifestyle" but feel like it's inevitable because they can't change anything.  It's fascinating.  My parents still live in their first house.  My 30-something friends are mostly on to their second homes and everything's all granite countertops, stainless steel, and man caves. 

And my first step re MMM was signing up on Mint and making a budget for the categories.  I tweaked the budget as more tracking data became available and eventually stopped budgeting.  Starting from zero is still a start.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #141 on: February 05, 2019, 04:42:57 PM »
I really donít know how we are spending this much on food.

You can add, right?

Just Joe

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #142 on: February 05, 2019, 04:43:29 PM »
I think you might be best served by locking up your credit and debit cards and switching to a cash only system for your grocery/dining spending.  Figure out how much money you want to budget for groceries and how much for eating out each month and put that amount of cash in an envelope.  Pay for your groceries and dining out of their respective envelopes and when the envelopes are empty....no more spending for the month.  You could break it down by week if that's easier to manage.  I think other people up thread have given reasonable starting amounts for a family your size so I would say start with that.

While cash might be more "real" - I'd argue for all debit spending and then track every cent in Mint.com

Way back when that was how we identified things our family could optimize. Its easy to see how much was spent willy-nilly on convenience for example. Also easy to pick long time periods so a person can say - "over the past year..."

Over last year can be an eye opening moment.

cbr shadow

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #143 on: February 05, 2019, 05:46:12 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.

Really impressed with this advice!

kei te pai

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #144 on: February 05, 2019, 07:49:38 PM »
Dear Rooster, is there any one in your family called The Beatles?

SisterX

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #145 on: February 05, 2019, 09:54:40 PM »
Hang onto something, because I am NOT going to be kind.

First, we need a straight answer on whether or not your wife knows what kind of financial situation the two of you are in. Several people have asked and you haven't answered. That's a huge red flag, as is the fact that you're freaking out about the money that was taken out of your account, so I'm going to assume the answer is no. And even if she does know, then you two have clearly not talked about this in depth. So my first question is, why the heck did you marry someone you disrespect so much? People lie to their spouses when they're hiding alcohol and drug addictions. When they're hiding affairs. When they're hiding gambling problems. Do you really want your marriage lumped into those categories? You and your wife BOTH deserve to sit down together--every single night if necessary--and go over your finances. Together. You BOTH need to figure out what you're spending money on, why you're spending it, and what steps you need to take. THIS IS NOT A DRILL, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. YOU HAVE OUTSTANDING DEBT AND COLLECTIONS. If you don't respect your wife enough to take this step, then you're likely looking at divorce down the road. Hiding things from your spouse, being dishonest (even if what you're hiding is the extent of the problem, but she knows a little bit), is not respecting your spouse. Spending the way you two are doing doesn't happen by accident, and you need to hold yourselves/each other accountable.

Second, the thing that both of you most need to keep in mind is that YOU. ARE. PARENTS. It is your job to be the adults in this situation and NEITHER OF YOU IS. You spend like it's all play money. Want something? Buy it! Don't even think about it! What the fuck is wrong with you both? Those are not the actions of adults, that is how children interact with the world. Grow up and be the example that your kids need. Right now you are both TERRIBLE role models for them. Write that down and hang it up somewhere that you are going to see every day, because I think you need to let that sink in for a while. Really. What values do you want your kids to grow up with? Do you seriously want them to grow up thinking that spending money is their life's purpose? Even more, do you want them to grow up in a household dominated by anxiety, fear, and depression? Over fucking money? I have a hard time believing that that's really the atmosphere that you want for your kids but that is EXACTLY what you are creating. Your kids are picking up on your anxiety. Your kids are picking up on your spending habits. You are creating a LIFETIME of anxiety and poor habits for them through your behavior. Write that down and stick it up somewhere that you can read it every day. Remind yourself every fucking morning that YOU NEED TO BE A BETTER EXAMPLE FOR YOUR KIDS.

Third, if you don't hate yourself and your kids then you're damn well acting like it. The way you are eating is going to lead to your early death. Every time you want to go out for doughnuts or to Taco Bell or whatever, think about dying at 60. How old will your kids be? Will they be married, having kids? What parts of life will you miss out on? Will it be your grandkids who never really get to know Grandpa because he kicked the bucket at 60 due to heart problems and diabetes? This is not a joke. The way you're eating has major health consequences, and the ones to you are the least of them.

But it's not just YOU who gets to enjoy the health problems, you're also setting your kids up for a lifetime of poor health! Yay you! If you really want your kids to be dependent on insulin, or to develop heart problems at sickeningly young ages, then congratulations! That's exactly what you're doing! Since I think we're all assuming you don't want to do that, then stop feeding them shit food all the time. It's not even just about the money--although that is an OBSCENE amount of money to spend every month--it is also about your family's HEALTH. What's the price on that, for you? Is it maybe worth making the hard changes? Is it worth having the tough conversations? Or would you rather continue with the status quo and drop dead of a diet-and-anxiety related heart attack, leaving your family alone to deal with this financial shitshow without the sole earner? Do you want to have to take your kids to doctors all the time for their health problems? Is that how you want your kids to remember their childhoods, as a series of fast food and takeout punctuated by doctor's appointments? What a happy and fun childhood that sounds like!

Plenty of people have given you GREAT advice about how to start cooking at home. You're clearly not taking it. You have a house full of food but you were still at a drive-through? You managed to spend EVEN MORE money on food? What the actual fuck? It's like you're TRYING to make your situation worse. Stop it!

For reference, my family is in a similar situation to yours with a few caveats. Our mortgage is more expensive. We earn less. Preschool is slightly more expensive. I do work part-time (but am about to quit, since childcare costs more than I make per hour). But we manage to have a healthy emergency fund, and we have no debt other than our mortgage. We sock money away in our 401ks and investment accounts regularly. It's not unreasonable to think that you could do the same. What IS unreasonable is your INSANE belief that you're both "not making very much money" and that your lifestyle isn't extravagant as fuck. YOU ARE LIVING BEYOND YOUR MEANS, therefore you cannot afford your lifestyle. You need to make your lifestyle into something that works within the means at your disposal. You and your wife are the only ones that can do that. You need to become adults and, I'm sorry, but you need to do that right now because you have left yourself no other choice. Grow up, and fix the situation you've made for yourself. Talk to your wife. Think about what you're doing to your family, to your marriage, to your kids. Remind yourself every day that you are failing your kids, but you don't have to. You can change. And it will do all of you a lot of good.

FenderBender

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #146 on: February 05, 2019, 11:25:14 PM »
Hang onto something, because I am NOT going to be kind.

First, we need a straight answer on whether or not your wife knows what kind of financial situation the two of you are in. Several people have asked and you haven't answered. That's a huge red flag, as is the fact that you're freaking out about the money that was taken out of your account, so I'm going to assume the answer is no. And even if she does know, then you two have clearly not talked about this in depth. So my first question is, why the heck did you marry someone you disrespect so much? People lie to their spouses when they're hiding alcohol and drug addictions. When they're hiding affairs. When they're hiding gambling problems. Do you really want your marriage lumped into those categories? You and your wife BOTH deserve to sit down together--every single night if necessary--and go over your finances. Together. You BOTH need to figure out what you're spending money on, why you're spending it, and what steps you need to take. THIS IS NOT A DRILL, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. YOU HAVE OUTSTANDING DEBT AND COLLECTIONS. If you don't respect your wife enough to take this step, then you're likely looking at divorce down the road. Hiding things from your spouse, being dishonest (even if what you're hiding is the extent of the problem, but she knows a little bit), is not respecting your spouse. Spending the way you two are doing doesn't happen by accident, and you need to hold yourselves/each other accountable.

Second, the thing that both of you most need to keep in mind is that YOU. ARE. PARENTS. It is your job to be the adults in this situation and NEITHER OF YOU IS. You spend like it's all play money. Want something? Buy it! Don't even think about it! What the fuck is wrong with you both? Those are not the actions of adults, that is how children interact with the world. Grow up and be the example that your kids need. Right now you are both TERRIBLE role models for them. Write that down and hang it up somewhere that you are going to see every day, because I think you need to let that sink in for a while. Really. What values do you want your kids to grow up with? Do you seriously want them to grow up thinking that spending money is their life's purpose? Even more, do you want them to grow up in a household dominated by anxiety, fear, and depression? Over fucking money? I have a hard time believing that that's really the atmosphere that you want for your kids but that is EXACTLY what you are creating. Your kids are picking up on your anxiety. Your kids are picking up on your spending habits. You are creating a LIFETIME of anxiety and poor habits for them through your behavior. Write that down and stick it up somewhere that you can read it every day. Remind yourself every fucking morning that YOU NEED TO BE A BETTER EXAMPLE FOR YOUR KIDS.

Third, if you don't hate yourself and your kids then you're damn well acting like it. The way you are eating is going to lead to your early death. Every time you want to go out for doughnuts or to Taco Bell or whatever, think about dying at 60. How old will your kids be? Will they be married, having kids? What parts of life will you miss out on? Will it be your grandkids who never really get to know Grandpa because he kicked the bucket at 60 due to heart problems and diabetes? This is not a joke. The way you're eating has major health consequences, and the ones to you are the least of them.

But it's not just YOU who gets to enjoy the health problems, you're also setting your kids up for a lifetime of poor health! Yay you! If you really want your kids to be dependent on insulin, or to develop heart problems at sickeningly young ages, then congratulations! That's exactly what you're doing! Since I think we're all assuming you don't want to do that, then stop feeding them shit food all the time. It's not even just about the money--although that is an OBSCENE amount of money to spend every month--it is also about your family's HEALTH. What's the price on that, for you? Is it maybe worth making the hard changes? Is it worth having the tough conversations? Or would you rather continue with the status quo and drop dead of a diet-and-anxiety related heart attack, leaving your family alone to deal with this financial shitshow without the sole earner? Do you want to have to take your kids to doctors all the time for their health problems? Is that how you want your kids to remember their childhoods, as a series of fast food and takeout punctuated by doctor's appointments? What a happy and fun childhood that sounds like!

Plenty of people have given you GREAT advice about how to start cooking at home. You're clearly not taking it. You have a house full of food but you were still at a drive-through? You managed to spend EVEN MORE money on food? What the actual fuck? It's like you're TRYING to make your situation worse. Stop it!

For reference, my family is in a similar situation to yours with a few caveats. Our mortgage is more expensive. We earn less. Preschool is slightly more expensive. I do work part-time (but am about to quit, since childcare costs more than I make per hour). But we manage to have a healthy emergency fund, and we have no debt other than our mortgage. We sock money away in our 401ks and investment accounts regularly. It's not unreasonable to think that you could do the same. What IS unreasonable is your INSANE belief that you're both "not making very much money" and that your lifestyle isn't extravagant as fuck. YOU ARE LIVING BEYOND YOUR MEANS, therefore you cannot afford your lifestyle. You need to make your lifestyle into something that works within the means at your disposal. You and your wife are the only ones that can do that. You need to become adults and, I'm sorry, but you need to do that right now because you have left yourself no other choice. Grow up, and fix the situation you've made for yourself. Talk to your wife. Think about what you're doing to your family, to your marriage, to your kids. Remind yourself every day that you are failing your kids, but you don't have to. You can change. And it will do all of you a lot of good.

lol ... careful ... this is the perfect place for a fake financial disaster story.      (edit: changed "to" to "for")
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 08:50:27 AM by FenderBender »

Panly

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #147 on: February 06, 2019, 05:36:22 AM »
Dear Rooster, is there any one in your family called The Beatles?

I have been thinking the same. 
And as with the Beatles,  I suspect it is mmm having a laugh.


partgypsy

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #148 on: February 06, 2019, 08:50:29 AM »
Can someone explain the Beatles reference?

wenchsenior

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Re: Trying to get out of this destructive lifestyle I'm in
« Reply #149 on: February 06, 2019, 08:58:11 AM »
Can someone explain the Beatles reference?

Previous poster that confessed financial problems and asked for help, then progressively revealed more and more financial problems, then eventually dribbled out enough info for us to realize they had NEXT LEVEL HORRIFIC TRAINWRECK financial problems.  Took almost none of the advice offered.