Author Topic: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul  (Read 5123 times)

Noelle

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Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« on: March 06, 2013, 10:20:56 AM »
My fiancÚ and I are engaged to be married in a couple of months. I am still trying to get my fiancÚ on board with financial badassity. I'd like some advice and real numbers on how to trim the fat from our budget to get my fiancÚ on board.
 
We have two cars, 1998 Subaru Forester & 2000 Mazda Truck, we are getting ready to sell the truck because my fiancÚ commutes to work by bike. This has already been saving us money on gas, car registration and maintenance. Selling it will allow us to pay off the Subaru. We eat a predominately vegan diet from a local organic, vegetarian co-op in our neighborhood. Food is one of our biggest struggles. Groceries average $600 a month for just the two of us (a huge point of contention). We recently moved to a new city and eating out and entertaining family when they come to visit has been costing around $300 a month which we plan to cut out of the budget entirely. We are also planning for our wedding/honeymoon which has accounted for most of our miscellaneous spending for the past six months.
 
What is the fastest way to pay down our debt so we can start saving for an emergency fund and a home down payment? My finance is convinced that we can only afford to make minimum payments on our debt and that paying it off is sure to take us at least ten years. Help me convince my fiancÚ it's possible with real numbers and examples.
 
Thanks in advance!
 

Matt K

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 12:26:08 PM »
Is this last month's budget, or an average of several months? Did you go over budget $600 in one month (not the end of the world) or are you systematically digging yourself $600 further into debt every month?

Some thoughts - don't let $600 in grocery bills become a point to fight over. You are cooking at home, and I assume from scratch (not buying fancy premade vegan food for four times the cost of just making it yourself). You can definitely get that down, without compromising too much on the local or organic, but eating healthy and within your values is important.

Phones, you're spending $65 each on phones. Search the forum for the telephone/IP super guide. You can cut that in half with minimal effort.

$50 month on laundry? That's what, 10 loads of laundry per month? Jeans don't need to be washed after every use. work shirts only need to be cleaned if they get dirty (the undershirt gets washed after one use though). We do 5-8 loads of laundry per month for the two of us. If you have the option to air dry, you can basically cut that cost in half (even though it means bringing damp clothes from the laundramat to your apartment).

You already know your dinning out budget is excessive. You cook fancy vegan food - invite people IN for healthy tasty food (I'm assuming you two are awesome cooks, if not, no time like the present to learn!)

Pet supplies? Care to elaborate on why that is so high? Again, one time or systematic. My 60 pound dog eats premium healthy food, gets all his shots, and still comes in at less than $50 month.

Personal Care? As a guy, I spend less than $10 month on personal care products. My wife spends more, but not much more. You guys can find room to bring that down.

$100 on entertainment? You've already got the intertubes, netflix, and dining out - what are you spending $100 on exactly? how about limiting yourself to one trip to the movies (and no snacks while there), or one other outting (no monre than $25 each) per month?

Automotive expenses are $100/month on top of payments, gas, and insurance? Are you running into lots of repairs, or what is in this category?

Travel, $283? Time to spend more time at home. Or find cheaper ways to travel. Right now you cannot afford to spend $3000 a year on travelling. That is a lot of travel for a couple $50 000 underwater. If you could cut that in half and put it all towards studen loans in five years you'd pay off $7000 from the loans AND save yourself $1000 in interest over that time.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 01:07:26 PM by Matt K »

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 12:35:43 PM »
+1 everything Matt K said plus -

Looks like you're more than underwater - whatever month this is that you posted, you only made all of your expenses by finding $650 in misc additional income! Frankly, you're living above your means, and need to stop the bleeding. See MMM: Your debt is an emergency!

Good plan to sell one vehicle and pay off the other, great plan to bike to work.

Take Matt K's savings numbers, and then use the snowball debt calculator to figure out how fast you can pay them down. I think you'll be amazed!


Noelle

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 01:16:06 PM »

Is this last month's budget, or an average of several months? This is last months budgetDid you go over budget $600 in one month (not the end of the world) or are you systematically digging yourself $600 further into debt every month? We often go a little over $600 in one month

Some thoughts - don't let $600 in grocery bills become a point to fight over. You are cooking at home, and I assume from scratch (not buying fancy premade vegan food for four times the cost of just making it yourself). You can definitely get that down, without compromising too much on the local or organic, but eating healthy and within your values is important.Great advice, I'll better pick financial battles!

Phones, you're spending $65 each on phones. Search the forum for the telephone/IP super guide. You can cut that in half with minimal effort.

$50 month on laundry? That's what, 10 loads of laundry per week? Jeans don't need to be washed after every use. work shirts only need to be cleaned if they get dirty (the undershirt gets washed after one use though). We do 5-8 loads of laundry per month for the two of us. If you have the option to air dry, you can basically cut that cost in half (even though it means bringing damp clothes from the laundramat to your apartment).

Pet supplies? Care to elaborate on why that is so high? This was due to a vet visit and prescriptions which cost $200Again, one time or systematic. My 60 pound dog eats premium healthy food, gets all his shots, and still comes in at less than $50 month. We have two big dogs so it's usually about $100 every month and a half.

Personal Care? As a guy, I spend less than $10 month on personal care products. My wife spends more, but not much more. You guys can find room to bring that down.Good catch, this can definitely be reined in.

$100 on entertainment? This went to movies, our rock climbing membership (it's too cold and rainy to do outdoors for free right now) and concert tickets. This too is an easy area to start cutting back right away.You've already got the intertubes, netflix, and dining out - what are you spending $100 on exactly? how about limiting yourself to one trip to the movies (and no snacks while there), or one other outting (no monre than $25 each) per month?

Automotive expenses are $100/month on top of payments, gas, and insurance? Are you running into lots of repairs, or what is in this category? This includes parking fees, a parking ticket, bike repairs, annual registration and a new drivers license. It's not typically so high.

Travel, $283? Time to spend more time at home. Or find cheaper ways to travel. Right now you cannot afford to spend $3000 a year on travelling. That is a lot of travel for a couple $50 000 underwater. If you could cut that in half and put it all towards studen loans in five years you'd pay off $7000 from the loans AND save yourself $1000 in interest over that time. This was part of the misc. income given to us for the purpose of scheduling our honeymoon. It's typicially not in the budget at all.

Thanks for your thoughtful response! Cheers to better budgeting next month!
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Matt K

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 03:42:28 PM »
We often go a little over $600 in one month
So, the exact spending pattern here isn't systematic, but the over spending is? That sounds to me like an honest to goodness crisis. I don't just mean MMM's in your face "your debt is an emergency - you're going to be working forever to pay it off", but the "you need to change now or you'll be filing for bankruptcy sooner rather than later" variety.

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$100 on entertainment? This went to movies, our rock climbing membership (it's too cold and rainy to do outdoors for free right now) and concert tickets. This too is an easy area to start cutting back right away.You've already got the intertubes, netflix, and dining out - what are you spending $100 on exactly? how about limiting yourself to one trip to the movies (and no snacks while there), or one other outting (no monre than $25 each) per month?
I'm assuming since you climb out doors you own all your own gear. But how often do you actually hit the gym. Not how often would you like to, but how often in the past three months have you? Given your usage rate is a membership worth it over the cost of paying as you go? At my climbing gym you pretty much need to go three times a week for a monthly membership to be worthwhile. I go once a week, so it is much cheaper to simply fork over the $12 every time I make it out.

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Travel, $283? Time to spend more time at home. Or find cheaper ways to travel. Right now you cannot afford to spend $3000 a year on travelling. That is a lot of travel for a couple $50 000 underwater. If you could cut that in half and put it all towards studen loans in five years you'd pay off $7000 from the loans AND save yourself $1000 in interest over that time. This was part of the misc. income given to us for the purpose of scheduling our honeymoon. It's typicially not in the budget at all.
Okay (that also explains the extra $650 Use It Up asked about). Weddings are expensive. I know. I'm guessing your already doing it, but I'll remind you to look at every expense carefully and decide how much value it will add to the big day - five years from now will anyone remember something or the lack of something?

We were recently married, and there were a lot of things we did (and did not do) to rein in our budget. Some examples and things for you two to think about / discuss if you haven't already:

Flowers: Bride had a beautiful bouquet, as did the maid of honour. Groom and best man had matching flowers in the lapels. No flowers at the church or anywhere else.

Decorations: We held the reception at a golf course. Included in the package was nothing more than a simple table cloth and napkins. We hung photos on the wall. On each table were two martini glasses (purchased at the dollar store) filled with river rocks and blue glass pebbles (purchased at the same place) with water and floating candles. They looked cool and matched our colours. Total cost of decorations under $60. (I think my dad now has a box of 17 martini glasses somewhere...)

Gifts: My wife made a curry mix and I made salsa, total cost of gifts for 70ish people, under $100 (including jars) - but a huge amount of work.

To put that in perspective, the church has a set 'floral arrangement & decoration' where volunteers come in and decorate the church and put up flowers for you, cost is $250. Fancy table cloths and seat covers for the reception would have cost a few hundred dollars more. Brand name 'gift jars' cost $1 each. We could have easily spent $50 per table in decorations at the local art store.

This isn't to say we skimped, we got good food and wine and everyone had a good party, but we chose to spend our money were we felt it would matter, and if it wasn't a big deal to us, we simply didn't spend the money. Where it did matter, but we didn't feel the cost was worth it, we did it ourselves (and asked for help from our family & friends).

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Thanks for your thoughtful response! Cheers to better budgeting next month!
Welcome to the Forum!

The Bearded Bank Builder

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 04:29:01 PM »
+1 on what Matt K has said, he has some great advice.

Just as far as getting the significant other on board, I found that getting my fiance to start reading MMM was by far the best way of reaching her. While she could appreciate what I was telling her about MMM, it really hit home when she starting reading and figuring it out on her own. Just the other day I felt like eating out and she said "no, I found this new recipe and we can make dinner plus leftovers for lunch tomorrow for under $7." I love it!

Also - as far as weddings go - just remember to do what you and your fiance want to do. We're getting married on Saturday and have received a lot of opinions about what we should be doing, which is often not what we want (and often super expensive). Congrats and good luck on your wedding and marriage!

savingtofreedom

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 04:46:54 PM »
Hi Noelle,

The first step is joining the MMM.  The next is seriously changing your spending.  You are spending for a lifestyle you can't afford.  As a vegan, I would think you could seriously cut down your food expenses - I am all about organic when it is feasible and cost effective but what are you buying that costs so much??

You can totally fix this and the sooner you get your fiance on board the easier your life will be.  One big source of marriage pressure is financial issues - and I think you are going to have a better relationship if you get this fixed earlier than later.   I have pretty recently cut down my spending and by leading by example I have gotten my already pretty frugal husband to do the same.

Once you do this for a couple of months it will become second nature.

Getting creative can help you too - do you have a 1.00 movie theater by you?? There is always redbox and coupons.  Check out your area for free concerts and activities.  As for the wedding don't overspend on that either - not worth going further into debt.

Obviously you want to cut expenses as much as possible - is there any opportunity to find a higher paying job?  That may help with the debt.

What about moving - do you own your place or are you renting?  Can you look into cheaper places to live?

Zikoris

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 05:37:00 PM »
My boyfriend and I are also a vegan couple, and we spend less than half the amount you guys do on food($230, including household supplies, and we don't eat out). You can definitely improve on that.

MsSindy

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 05:51:17 PM »
Hi Noelle--
I have to echo the concern about entering a new marriage with financial stress, or in your case, financial crisis.  Nothing will kill that honeymoon period faster than fighting over money.  With that kind of stress, the newness of "being newlyweds" wears off pretty quick.  You guys need to have a serious sit-down and talk about your goals in life.  Where do you guys see yourself in 2, 5, or 10 years?  Are there kids in the picture?  If so, "ain't no way you gonna get there" if you're overspending what you take in each month.

As to getting your fiance on board, you'll need to find out more about where the resistance is and help (her?) come to the conclusion that you guys need to change things or you're headed for disaster.  Talk & listen, then talk & listen some more (no preaching and no getting impatient).  My DH would find MMM too extreme, so instead I just started to change my behavior (controlling the food budget was the easiest place to start).  Then I started to talk about what I wanted out of life - it turns out he still "wants things" and is willing to work longer to have them - so, we found common ground on what we could save/spend that makes both of us happy.  But, I'm in a totally different place in life than you are - I'm very near early semi-retirement - you guys are in financial crisis!  Trust me, fighting about money sucks and takes all the fun out of being married - life is good when you're both on the same page (or at least find common ground) and you're humming along and sticking to a plan.

IMO, if you're $50 effin' thousand dollars in debt and getting worse every month, you shouldn't be spending ANY money on entertainment, climbing activities, or travel!  You guys need to suck it up for a little while (it's not forever) and get second jobs to take a big chunk out of that debt.  When I was first newlywed, this is what we did - it was actually invigorating because we could see us making progress quickly.  We kept a wall chart themometer and would color it in - it is totally awesome when it goes from negative to positive.  You have a big hill in front of you, but many people have climbed it and you guys can, too!


N

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 07:15:50 PM »
+1 to everything written before me.

Im not a natural-born frugal person. My story can be found here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/journals/the-start-ns-journal/

In my relationship with my husband, financially speaking, it was sort of a ostrich head in the sand approach. And it didnt work very well. When you are systematically overspending, the hole gets a little deeper every month until one day  you realize you cant see the light. Or some catastrophe happens and pushes you off the cliff. (in my case, it was two medical surgeries that pushed us over).

50K in debt is an emergency. a major emergency. you cannot afford the life you are living. put every thing on the table and really evaluate all the options and make some decisions that will make a difference. As soon as possible.


Paul der Krake

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 09:20:10 PM »
Just echoing what's already been said by others- you are in an emergency. It's hard to tell how expensive your area is from the chart, could the rent be reduced somehow? Your combined income is plentiful for comfortable living, however you should worry about what an unexepected job loss/emergency could do to your finances. With those levels of debt, one bad hit could wipe you out.

Hopefully the wording for "huge point of contention" in regards to the grocery bill is exagerated. If not, could it hide something deeper? Do the two of you share a somewhat uneven burden of loans that could lead to resentment from one of you?

Best of luck, and welcome to the forums!

Hotstreak

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2013, 09:23:18 PM »
Great advice from the folks who already posted.


Food you should cut down, savings $300/m.  If you're having trouble, try eating more oil & fat.  Olive or Coconut oil are fairly cheap (especially olive) based on how many calories you get.  So are almonds.. obviously no expensive processed bread or anything.  Beans and rice are great with the right seasoning.

Seeing as your fiance is not as dedicated as you are, a compromise may be appropriate.  I would allocate $50/m for eating out (once) and $50/m for entertainment.  That's two date nights, total savings $400/m.  Once you get used to eating out being a special occasion the two of you share, you probably won't miss all the days one of you grabs a quick lunch at work or take out on the way home.

On the personal care you can save about $100/month based on your spending.  Keep things simple & don't throw anything out until it's completely used up.

Not sure what you're spending on MISC.  You have so many categories, what could not fit in those?  Knowing you have food & bills paid, I'll assume most of these are absolutely not needed, savings here $200.

I realize you are stuck with your pets, but please don't let them ruin you.  Why do they get their own category?  The most likely fit best in your Entertainment category.  I would suggest combining your basic pet expenses there, and if they become more expensive one month, you need to not go out in order to stay in budget.  They are not "Free" entertainment that doesn't effect the rest of your budget when they run up a bill.  Like children, sometimes they cost more than expected.. don't let it effect your financial goals.  They require sacrifice!


That's $1000, roughly, that you could cut off your spending.  Not even getting started on the housing cost.  How much is a 1 bed 1 bath apartment in your area?  You may want to view anything above that as luxury spending until you get on your feet financially.  What fields do both of you work in, and are you able to find more lucrative employment?  What work CAN you do on the weekends or evenings to bring more money in?



PS, I found an error you may want to correct.  The $200 should be listed as emergency savings, not house savings.

travelbug

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Re: Engaged Vegans - Budget Overhaul
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2013, 10:00:20 PM »

IMO, if you're $50 effin' thousand dollars in debt and getting worse every month, you shouldn't be spending ANY money on entertainment, climbing activities, or travel!  You guys need to suck it up for a little while (it's not forever) and get second jobs to take a big chunk out of that debt.  When I was first newlywed, this is what we did - it was actually invigorating because we could see us making progress quickly.  We kept a wall chart themometer and would color it in - it is totally awesome when it goes from negative to positive.  You have a big hill in front of you, but many people have climbed it and you guys can, too!

Yep, I agree with this. Can you wait to get married until after you have paid off your debt?

I would be getting second jobs, reeling in your spending and having zero "extras" until that debt was gone and my budget under control.

Give yourselves little rewards after you hit a goal; for example: when we get to only 40k debt remaining lets go out for coffee and cake. Then at 20k; now we can buy new running shoes that we both need and a good bottle of that fancy olive oil...you get the picture...

You can do it but the interest on that amount alone would pay for a dream wedding afew times over. Good for you for posting here, you will learn alot, but if you take it onboard you can change your life. Each tiny decision we make will form the rest of our lives.

We are 37 and 41 and are FI, but are choosing to work for another 18 months to create a larger buffer as we have two small children. I very rarely have a coffee out, we do not have gym/fitness memberships, it's just an entitlement mindset which you need to untangle yourselves from and rewire your brain to enjoy a simpler life for while rather than see it as deprivation.

Good luck OP, keep us posted with what you guys are up to.