Author Topic: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses  (Read 6096 times)

looking for FI

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Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« on: October 31, 2014, 06:30:59 AM »
Income:
Me: 129,900
DH: 92,000
Total: 221,900

Payroll deductions:
401k: 34,000
Ssi: 13,500
Medi: 3,500
State: 11,000
Fed: 37,000
Ins: 4,000

Total take home: 118,900
Monthly: 9908

Expenses
Mtg: 1500
Groceries: 575
Restaurants: 500 ( I have to take clients to lunch occasionally and both of our parents live an hour away in different directions so we meet half way at a restaurant for dinner)
Entertainment: 500 ( 300 for wine and 200 for home security, internet, and cable bundle)
Gifts/charity: 200
Utilities: 300 (garbage, eletric, natural gas)
Personal care/ cleaning supplies: 150
Gas: 350 ( I cover multiple locations and the commute is unavoidable however I do get reimbursed .40 per mile)
Clothing: 200 (recent weight loss rebuilding professional wardrobe)
Home maintenance: 200 (garden supplies, mulch, pressure washing, lightbulbs air filters etc)
Pets: 100
Car ins: 330 (hubby has many pts on his licence his 270 mine 50)
Cell: 60 ( republic wireless was a great suggestion)
Auto: 100 (tires, oil changes, breaks, registration, inspection and taxes)
Travel: 667 ( 8k for three weeks)
Total: 5682

Investments:
4200 added monthly

Assets:
270k home
122k retirement accounts/brokerage
16k two cars paid in full
60k 12 acres of land (trying to sell)
8k savings


Debt:
253k mtg

Republic wireless was a great suggestion same service better price. Any suggestions on ways we can save without creating too much discomfort would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 06:33:49 AM by georgiasl »

Gin1984

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2014, 06:49:52 AM »
$200/month for clothes?  I get that you are replacing a lot because your weight has changed, but how long do you expect to need to buy more?  Also check high end consignments for things like black/brown pants.

NewbieFrugalUK

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2014, 06:57:16 AM »
Looks like you both have high incomes and no consumer debt, which is a very good start! Groceries could obvs come down - do you meal plan?  I have found that planning the weeks meals before I go shopping makes an enormous difference. I kind of enjoy the challenge, and my well stocked freezer makes me very happy (I know, a bit sad!)
Home maintenance and personal care/ cleaning products also seem very high to me?

BPA

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2014, 07:10:48 AM »
It would help if we knew your ages and goals.

Your lifestyle is not very Mustachian yet, but could get there.

Where I would cut assuming you want to live a Mustachian lifestyle:
groceries (I spend way less than that feeding myself and a teenage boy in Canada where groceries are more expensive)
travel
home security
Could your husband bike or walk to work or take public transportation?
Could you pay off more of your mortgage to avoid those fees you have in the States (can't remember what they are called)?
clothes
Actually almost every category except auto (maybe) and gas (maybe based on what you've posted)

You are indulging in luxury in a lot of areas.  That's fine if that's the lifestyle you want, but it is not Mustachian. 

FarmerPete

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2014, 07:32:04 AM »
$300 for wine?  Really?  What kind of wine are you buying?  Even at a bottle a day, thats $10 a bottle.  If you're drinking wine that much, throw in a couple bottles of $3 buck chuck in there and get that down to $200 tops.  Don't like that stuff?  Find a couple cheaper bottles you do like for $5-8 a bottle, or do like most people and don't drink a bottle a day.  Look, it's your money and you can spend $3000 on wine if you want.  You've got the income, but just realize this is a needless luxury that may or may not be worth it to you.  For me, I like wine to be a special thing.  Pulling out a bottle for every meal seems like it would cheapen the experience.  I might as well just be pulling out a Welches at some point.  We might go through 1 to 4 bottles of $3-8 wine a month.

$200 for home security, internet and tv seems excessive.  I'd drop at least one of those services.  Your pick.  You should be able to get a TV + Internet bundle for $100 that's decent.  I'm sure you could get an internet + home security for under $100 as well.  Unless you live in a dangerous location, I'd drop TV & security and go with just internet.

$200 for clothes?  How much clothing do you need, and where are you buying it?  I've lost over 100lbs in the last 1.5 years, so I certainly get where you're coming from.  Lucky for me, my job doesn't require more than jeans and a polo, so I can buy a weeks worth of clothes for under $100.  I'm certainly spending more over the last few months as I do need to replace some bigger ticket items (coat, suit, etc).  Just tell me that you don't see yourself spending $200 a month for much longer please.  The shopping spree has to end eventually.

$200 for home maintenance?  Is that including saving for break/fix issues, or is that spent each and every month on consumables/services?  $2400 a year is a lot to spend on home maintenance, unless you are including some home improvement projects.  If you're hiring out tasks, do them yourself.  I bought a pressure washer for $300 with a lifetime guarantee, and do it myself.  It's actually the most fun outdoor activity I have.  Just be careful to read the manual and use the minimum pressure necessary to do the job.  You can permanently damage stuff very easy with a decent pressure washer. 

BPA

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2014, 07:48:07 AM »
Sorry.  Just saw this:  "Any suggestions on ways we can save without creating too much discomfort would be much appreciated."

Only you can make that determination.  Your lifestyle is highly inflated compared to the rest of us.  For example, I could go an entire month without drinking wine and feel no discomfort at all.  I don't even own a car and still don't feel real discomfort.  I have no problem shopping second hand for clothes.  Etc. 

I would read this:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post/.  Choose what works for you and what doesn't.  Only you can decided what your definition of discomfort is.

Good luck.

thd7t

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2014, 08:24:49 AM »
What is your goal, here?  Do you want to RE?  Do you have a timeline?  From a base point, you're saving about 40-45% of your income after tax and nearly maxing your 401k.  It's obvious that you could save a lot more, with your income (and your reasonable housing cost for that income), but without knowing your goals, it's hard to say what level of discomfort you might need to consider.  I'll say this: bundling cable, security, etc. is sort of a trick.  Are there a lot of break-ins in your area?  The security system is probably not worth it, at least.  Cable, too.

yandz

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2014, 08:52:59 AM »
We actually have a very similar income to you although some of ours is a bit more irregular based on stock options vesting, bonuses, etc. So monthly we bring home 9k which we budget off of and all irregular income (about 26k/yr) gets saved when it comes in. We are also maxing 401ks.  I will be the first one to admit that we are not uber frugal (just started looking at this all a few month ago) and I would love to cut more expenses that my beloved is not open to at this point. Similar to your "too much discomfort" certain expenses are worth it to him - they just aren't to me and that is fine.  Even so, we are spending markedly less in some areas for what is still pretty lavish living on this forum. I mirrored your categories; here is how we compare. Hopefully it sparks ideas.

-Mtg: 1100
-Groceries: 300/mo  I am a bit of a foodie - I know most couples w/o kids on this board hit about $200/mo so we are eating well ;) This category includes household cleaning supplies, tp, etc.
-Restaurants: 300/mo this is also considered quite high on this board. It includes lunches out for husband and occasional (nice) nights out for us. we have room to cut here with the lunches if I can get better about packing them for him.
-Entertainment: $270 including equivalents to you. To breakdown: we budget $50/mo for "entertainment" which includes Netflix, spotify, some other service for husband (can't remember) and extra $ that we use for the rare movie or concert we want to go to. Our internet is $70/mo (Dern Comcast). Since you included alcohol here, we budget $150 a month which includes a bottle of wine for me and lots of craft beer for husband. This is one category I feel is much higher than it needs to be.
-Gifts/charity: 50/mo
-Utilities: $227/mo and includes water/sewer. We have some easy cuts to make here (replacing bulbs with LED, etc.)
-Personal care $75/mo  This includes haircuts and drycleaning. I get my haircut 2-3x per year and have stopped coloring. Husband gets haircut every 4wks and not yet open to me doing it. He is also pretty insistent re: dry cleaning. We have room to cut here
-Gas: $160 and we are planning to move next year to cut commutes. Personally, I am hoping to get rid of my car.
-Clothing: This comes out of our "personal spending" budgets and we don't usually use it all and invest overages periodically. I maintain a minimal, high quality wardrobe. We each have 100/mo spending so we will call this even.
-Home maintenance: 200 (garden supplies, mulch, pressure washing, lightbulbs air filters etc) This includes "emergency savings" for us to replace appliances, etc. We (and by we, I mean I) DIY as much as we can.
-Pets: 90/mo for 2 dogs quality food/vets/etc
-Car ins: 117/mo
-Cell: n/a employer paid
-Auto: 75 (tires, oil changes, breaks, registration, inspection and taxes)
-Travel: 500/mo  Travel is very important to us, be we do it strategically (flight deals, airbnb etc.) to "save" while exploring all over the world. I never feel like a broke college student when we travel, but we try to be smart.
-Our total comes to 3,664, but we round to 4k in an "over/under/misc fund" and thus invest 5k monthly. Once the over/under fund hits a certain threshold, we invest beyond that.  All said and done, our savings rate next year will be around 70% without anything crazy happening.


Hope it gives you things to consider without significant cutbacks.  I highly recommend the Mint/YNAB combo to make you more conscious of your spending. We are very lucky to have high incomes that allow lots of room while still achieving a high savings rate. It was important to husband not to feel like we were cutting back, but just bringing awareness to your spending alters it for the better. Researching expenses carefully also yields gains. Really consider your priorities - I don't think our budget fully reflects ours yet. Ultimately, having an end goal in mind can justify some discomforts.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 09:01:31 AM by yandz »

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2014, 09:14:54 AM »
I too once spent around $300 in wine. Now, we spend about $50 a month (still not Mustachian, but better).

What changed?

1. We quit drinking wine on weeknights. Not only did we save money, but we feel better for it. It's good to let the liver rest for a few days at a time and heal. Also, drinking wine on the weekends is now a treat and something to look forward to. We actually enjoy it more.
2. We started to take pleasure in finding great deals and interesting wines. Instead of a highly rated and pricey Napa cab, now we look to reds from Washington. Instead of Bordeaux, we dig stuff from Langedoc, Jura, and the Rhone. Instead of Bourgogne, we geek out on Loire wines. Also, we find fabulous stuff and great deals from Portugal, South Africa, Spain, South America, and from the less traveled Italian areas like Emilia Romagna, Siciliy, Trentino Alto Adige, etc. Not to mention up and coming Greek, Lebanese, Austrian, and Croatian wines. We love the thrill of the hunt.

horsepoor

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2014, 09:32:38 AM »
Give boxed wine a try.  I was never spending as much as you guys, but going from $80 a month for various $8-12 bottles, down to $17/month for a Bota Box was a big win, and I don't miss the variety at all.

What is your mortgage rate?  Do you have PMI, considering you don't have much equity in the house?  If you're paying PMI, it might be well worth your while to pay down the mortgage to get rid of it.  Calculated as a % interest on the 20% home equity it effectively secures, PMI can be really costly, plus it doesn't diminish as your equity increases, like interest does; getting rid of it can be an easy win.  If you're paying >4.5% or so interest, consider refinancing, possibly into a 15 year mortgage.

When you go meet up with parents, maybe just go for coffee or appetizers, or maybe bring a picnic lunch and meet at a park if the weather's nice or something?  Or just drive the hour to their house; it's not that far. 

Utilities seem high.  Maybe do an energy audit and see where you can save there.  Things like ancient refrigerators may be worth replacing with Energy Star appliances.  Consider expanding your temperature comfort zone to low 60's in winter and high 70's in summer.

You've got a great income and can save a ton of money if you really want to.

looking for FI

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2014, 11:47:25 AM »
It would help if we knew your ages and goals.

Could you pay off more of your mortgage to avoid those fees you have in the States (can't remember what they are called)?
 
I am 29 and DH is 37, no children and we don't plan on having any. We would like to get to a place where we can quit our stressful, long hour jobs and instead do things on a contract basis as we need/want to.

We do not have PMI Husband was in the navy so we used a VA loan. Rate is 3.8% so at this point I would rather put more into investments than pay down the mtg.

Restaurants: 500 ( I have to take clients to lunch occasionally and both of our parents live an hour away in different directions so we meet half way at a restaurant for dinner) Why are client lunches coming out of your personal budget? For parents, can you look for Groupons or other discounts for these frequent restaurant visits?
Entertainment: 500 ( 300 for wine and 200 for home security, internet, and cable bundle) You can cut each of these in half. I have heard about home security systems that will use your existing ADT or whatever equipment but monitor it for far far less. Internet/cable, look for a minimal bundle. We have Comcast's plan which is high-speed internet, basic TV, plus HBO for $55/month inclusive of taxes. Shop around, play the various cable/satellite providers against each other.
Gifts/charity: 200 Seems reasonable depending on how much is "gifts" and how much is "charity"
Utilities: 300 (garbage, eletric, natural gas) Every month? This seems really high but I know this varies dramatically by location. Where do you set your thermostat?
Personal care/ cleaning supplies: 150 Let me guess: you have your hair professionally colored? Break cleaning supplies out from personal care, assuming you mean household cleaning supplies, it's strange to lump these two things together.
Gas: 350 ( I cover multiple locations and the commute is unavoidable however I do get reimbursed .40 per mile)
Clothing: 200 (recent weight loss rebuilding professional wardrobe) Strategic secondhand shopping can go a long way here. You can even do this online at sites like LikeTwice.com and ThredUp.com. Get some of your clothes tailored if they are only 1-2 sizes too big.
Home maintenance: 200 (garden supplies, mulch, pressure washing, lightbulbs air filters etc)
Pets: 100
Car ins: 330 (hubby has many pts on his licence his 270 mine 50) Holy crap
Cell: 60 ( republic wireless was a great suggestion)
Auto: 100 (tires, oil changes, breaks, registration, inspection and taxes)
Travel: 667 ( 8k for three weeks) I prioritize travel so I won't facepunch you for this but just get ready.
Total: 5682

Unfortunatley company won't reimburse and these things are expected by clients in my industry. Since I work commission I have to keep clients happy. I will definately try the groupon idea for the family meals. I also plan on looking at those two sites for clothing. Since I need to wear professional clothes to work and live in a rural area local consignment shops were of no help. Thanks!
I lumped cleaning supplies and personal care because we get most of that stuff in a single trip to target each month. I don't get my hair professionally colored but I do get it professionally cut.
The points on hubbys licence should come off next november so ins should be reasonable again.
I too once spent around $300 in wine. Now, we spend about $50 a month (still not Mustachian, but better).

What changed?

1. We quit drinking wine on weeknights. Not only did we save money, but we feel better for it. It's good to let the liver rest for a few days at a time and heal. Also, drinking wine on the weekends is now a treat and something to look forward to. We actually enjoy it more.
2. We started to take pleasure in finding great deals and interesting wines. Instead of a highly rated and pricey Napa cab, now we look to reds from Washington. Instead of Bordeaux, we dig stuff from Langedoc, Jura, and the Rhone. Instead of Bourgogne, we geek out on Loire wines. Also, we find fabulous stuff and great deals from Portugal, South Africa, Spain, South America, and from the less traveled Italian areas like Emilia Romagna, Siciliy, Trentino Alto Adige, etc. Not to mention up and coming Greek, Lebanese, Austrian, and Croatian wines. We love the thrill of the hunt.

Thanks for the suggestion we do love our wine and don't drink that many bottles but the bottles are pricy I am going to see if we can deal with some cheaper options from lesser know regions :-)


looking for FI

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2014, 11:49:52 AM »
Looks like you both have high incomes and no consumer debt, which is a very good start! Groceries could obvs come down - do you meal plan?  I have found that planning the weeks meals before I go shopping makes an enormous difference. I kind of enjoy the challenge, and my well stocked freezer makes me very happy (I know, a bit sad!)
Home maintenance and personal care/ cleaning products also seem very high to me?

I am going to try to be better about this I find that we make alot of unnecessary purchases once we get to the store. I am going to try to start making a list and sticking to it.

looking for FI

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2014, 11:56:53 AM »
We actually have a very similar income to you although some of ours is a bit more irregular based on stock options vesting, bonuses, etc. So monthly we bring home 9k which we budget off of and all irregular income (about 26k/yr) gets saved when it comes in. We are also maxing 401ks.  I will be the first one to admit that we are not uber frugal (just started looking at this all a few month ago) and I would love to cut more expenses that my beloved is not open to at this point. Similar to your "too much discomfort" certain expenses are worth it to him - they just aren't to me and that is fine.  Even so, we are spending markedly less in some areas for what is still pretty lavish living on this forum. I mirrored your categories; here is how we compare. Hopefully it sparks ideas.

-Mtg: 1100
-Groceries: 300/mo  I am a bit of a foodie - I know most couples w/o kids on this board hit about $200/mo so we are eating well ;) This category includes household cleaning supplies, tp, etc.
-Restaurants: 300/mo this is also considered quite high on this board. It includes lunches out for husband and occasional (nice) nights out for us. we have room to cut here with the lunches if I can get better about packing them for him.
-Entertainment: $270 including equivalents to you. To breakdown: we budget $50/mo for "entertainment" which includes Netflix, spotify, some other service for husband (can't remember) and extra $ that we use for the rare movie or concert we want to go to. Our internet is $70/mo (Dern Comcast). Since you included alcohol here, we budget $150 a month which includes a bottle of wine for me and lots of craft beer for husband. This is one category I feel is much higher than it needs to be.
-Gifts/charity: 50/mo
-Utilities: $227/mo and includes water/sewer. We have some easy cuts to make here (replacing bulbs with LED, etc.)
-Personal care $75/mo  This includes haircuts and drycleaning. I get my haircut 2-3x per year and have stopped coloring. Husband gets haircut every 4wks and not yet open to me doing it. He is also pretty insistent re: dry cleaning. We have room to cut here
-Gas: $160 and we are planning to move next year to cut commutes. Personally, I am hoping to get rid of my car.
-Clothing: This comes out of our "personal spending" budgets and we don't usually use it all and invest overages periodically. I maintain a minimal, high quality wardrobe. We each have 100/mo spending so we will call this even.
-Home maintenance: 200 (garden supplies, mulch, pressure washing, lightbulbs air filters etc) This includes "emergency savings" for us to replace appliances, etc. We (and by we, I mean I) DIY as much as we can.
-Pets: 90/mo for 2 dogs quality food/vets/etc
-Car ins: 117/mo
-Cell: n/a employer paid
-Auto: 75 (tires, oil changes, breaks, registration, inspection and taxes)
-Travel: 500/mo  Travel is very important to us, be we do it strategically (flight deals, airbnb etc.) to "save" while exploring all over the world. I never feel like a broke college student when we travel, but we try to be smart.
-Our total comes to 3,664, but we round to 4k in an "over/under/misc fund" and thus invest 5k monthly. Once the over/under fund hits a certain threshold, we invest beyond that.  All said and done, our savings rate next year will be around 70% without anything crazy happening.


Hope it gives you things to consider without significant cutbacks.  I highly recommend the Mint/YNAB combo to make you more conscious of your spending. We are very lucky to have high incomes that allow lots of room while still achieving a high savings rate. It was important to husband not to feel like we were cutting back, but just bringing awareness to your spending alters it for the better. Researching expenses carefully also yields gains. Really consider your priorities - I don't think our budget fully reflects ours yet. Ultimately, having an end goal in mind can justify some discomforts.

Logging our accounts into personal capital two months ago forced me to see that we were spending over 9k on average per month :-O. The budget I just posted is what we lived by this past month and what I think we could stick to based on looking at past spending and adjusting for what was an obvious waste of money. I know we can still do better just trying to figure out which categories to focus on first :-) Seeing your breakdown helped a lot thanks!

DocHolliday

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2014, 01:28:39 PM »
Take that wine expense way down by playing with hard cider.  It's fun to make, extremely economical and super easy.  Plus, it's more fun to drink given that you feel like you've performed some magical alchemy along the way.  As an aside, I have not had a single hangover from the cider (maybe more B vitamins in the yeast?).  At $3.50 per 10 drinks, it's hard to beat finacially.  Please look at MMM article on home brewing using the bottle the juice comes in. 

My process is simple.
1.  Buy a gallon bottle of apple juice at Kroger for $3.57.
2.  Open carefully and decant 1 cup of juice.
3.  Add 1 cup of sugar (which increases the potential alcohol by 3% or so according to my hygrometer).
4.  Add 1/8 tsp of regular yeast.
5.  Cover with plastic wrap and a hair scrunchy to hold the wrap in place.  No holes in the plastic wrap are necessary.
6.  Let sit for 5-6 days (according to desired sweetness and ETOH content).
7.  Refridgerate for 2 days (burp once after first 4 hours).
8.  Decant into a new bottle to leave behind some of the yeast.
9.  Keep in fridge and enjoy as desired.

Addendum:  I assume this is legal in your area and that you have the ability to not contaminate the bottle.  Don't make cider if this is not true for you or if you are not of legal age.

Spondulix

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2014, 08:31:28 PM »
Couple other ideas re: wine...

DH and I got a Sodastream to use instead of wine some nights. I think it worked out to 30-50 cents a night vs $10 plus.

Are there any wineries in the area around you? I'm spoiled to live in CA, but I have tried wines in other parts of the country that aren't that bad. Usually there's a case discount, and it's always more fun to drink a wine when you have the memory of the actual winery (and not just a recommendation from some magazine, wine club or competition where who knows if you share tastes). In CA, there's great wineries all over (not just Napa/Sonoma - outside Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, etc) - a lot of areas to potentially make a trip out of.

Spondulix

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2014, 08:34:03 PM »
Doc, I had no idea it was that easy to make cider! I was thinking about buying a kit til I saw this post! Does it get fizzy in the gallon bottle? I assume so if you have to burp it. I make kombucha (which needs secondary fermentation to get fizzy, and even then it doesn't always happen)

Lowerbills

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2014, 06:11:18 AM »
Repeating what others have said, but hopefully it will help..  Congrats on tracking expenses; that's the first step and a real eye opener!

Wine - there is probably a liquor store or grocery store near you that has occasional free wine tastings.  Ignore the label and price, find something you like to drink.  I guarantee you there are bottles in the $9-$12 range that are great.  Even if you drink 10 of those a month (which seems really high to me) that's almost $200 saved.

Car insurance - yeah that's gotta come down. Kudos on only $16k in cars for your income level.  But paying almost $4k a year to insure $16k in cars is crazy. 

Restaurants - if company won't reimburse, can you personally deduct any of these expenses?  I'll meet people for work related stuff.  Not trying to tell you how to have client meetings, but consider moving away from the practice of spending money and hobnobbing.  Get coffee instead?  Or better yet, go on a bike ride with clients? Run?  Just an idea. For me it's about the actual discussion and never the food.  We're conditioned to think that has to take place at a fancy pants restaurant while sitting down, but it doesn't.

Utilities - could probably bring that down with greater efforts on energy efficiency.

Those jump out as the layups to me and a good place to start.  As others have mentioned it's up to you about what lifestyle changes you're willing to accept.

Also, can you do anything with the acreage (any income producing capability) or just trying to sell it?

How are rentals in your area?  Looks like you have enough funds to consider owning a rental house, and probably wouldn't have an issue getting cheap financing.  If you do sell the acreage, maybe use the proceeds to invest in other real estate?

Spondulix

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2014, 08:37:45 PM »
Restaurants - if company won't reimburse, can you personally deduct any of these expenses?  I'll meet people for work related stuff.  Not trying to tell you how to have client meetings, but consider moving away from the practice of spending money and hobnobbing.  Get coffee instead?  Or better yet, go on a bike ride with clients? Run?  Just an idea. For me it's about the actual discussion and never the food.  We're conditioned to think that has to take place at a fancy pants restaurant while sitting down, but it doesn't.

I have this same issue when it comes to client meetings, and not a lot of solutions yet. Business meals can be itemized on taxes, but it's only 50% of what you spend (this is what my accountant says). Coffee is a great idea and some clients are open to just meeting for drinks or possibly at someone's home. But it's tough when it's someone you haven't met before - I find lunch is a safe option. But there has to be better solutions without looking cheap by not ordering anything, always doing coffee, etc.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2014, 07:44:34 AM »
Expenses
Mtg: 1500
Groceries: 575
Restaurants: 500 ( I have to take clients to lunch occasionally and both of our parents live an hour away in different directions so we meet half way at a restaurant for dinner)
Entertainment: 500 ( 300 for wine and 200 for home security, internet, and cable bundle)
Gifts/charity: 200
Utilities: 300 (garbage, eletric, natural gas)
Personal care/ cleaning supplies: 150
Gas: 350 ( I cover multiple locations and the commute is unavoidable however I do get reimbursed .40 per mile)
Clothing: 200 (recent weight loss rebuilding professional wardrobe)
Home maintenance: 200 (garden supplies, mulch, pressure washing, lightbulbs air filters etc)
Pets: 100
Car ins: 330 (hubby has many pts on his licence his 270 mine 50)
Cell: 60 ( republic wireless was a great suggestion)
Auto: 100 (tires, oil changes, breaks, registration, inspection and taxes)
Travel: 667 ( 8k for three weeks)
Total: 5682
I think it totally depends on what your savings goals are and what savings rate you'd like to hit every month. But, if you do want to save more, I'd say you could cut back dramatically on:

Groceries: my husband and I spend circa $300-$350/month for the two of us. We never eat out, so this is 3 healthy, usually organic meals a day, 7 days a week. We're primarily vegetarian and often vegan, which saves us a ton. We also buy in bulk and cook from scratch.

Entertainment: Not sure about the region you live in, but is the home security system necessary? We live in the middle of a dense, urban city and we don't have a security system. But, I think that's a comfort level thing. Can you cut the cable entirely? We pay $66/month for just internet.

Wine: I know other folks have mentioned this too, and again, I think it's all about what your goals are. For reference, we spend $18/month (or sometimes every 2 months) on one box of wine.

Clothes: congrats on losing weight! That's awesome! I totally get the need for professional clothes (I'm in the same boat), but, can you just identify your staples and re-wear stuff? I have a few good pieces that I rotate through every week or so with a different belt or necklace (hooray for black dresses that match everything and always look sharp!).

Personal care: wondering what all is included in that? Seems really high for an every month expense.

Good luck and congrats for having the courage to post a case study!

looking for FI

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 52
Re: Case study....help me find ways to cut expenses
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2014, 05:59:36 PM »
Thank you all for your comments and and suggestions. I know where I should focus my efforts and hope to report back with lower spending rates in a couple of months. :-)