Author Topic: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.  (Read 9758 times)

NYCMiniBee133

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HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« on: October 17, 2014, 09:48:21 AM »
Alright, I'm ready for some facepunches. To convince my husband to RE I've painted a picture of modest but not 'spartan' (in his definition) living conditions. I am finding it hard to get my post-tax needs under $60k for a family of four (two young kids) living in an area he likes (think Austin, Seattle, or Denver).

Please keep in mind neither of us is handy nor wants to spend our time in that manner. All other suggestions welcome!

Any help trimming here?

Austin         
         Monthly  Yearly
Property tax   333   4,000   <--can't change this?
Home Maintenance   210   2,520   <-- This is supplies like detergent, storage, any repairs amortized
House insurance (if applicable)   58   700   < -- National average figure
Utilities (water, sewer, electric, gas)   246   2,955   <--Quotes from Yelo from people who live there. I suspect the most I could optimize would be 50/month here more
Internet   45   540   <--cheapest I can find
Food   700   8,400   <--organic food. Yes, a luxury
Car   0   0   <--buying cars outright
Car Maintenance    83   1,000   <--the average that I researched amortized over ten years
Car Insurance   100   1,200   <--lowest I could find
Gas   98   1,178   <--15 miles a day 6 days a week.
Transportation   35   420   <--Tolls and bus fares etc
Clothing   140   1,680   <--4-5 outfits per year for four people.
Health Insurance Premiums   604   7,248   <--Cheapest on health exchange bronze plan - unsubsidized. Mid forties with two youngish children
Addtl Health Costs (Deductibles)   417   5,000   <--avg estimated of deductible cost blended over years
Vacation   583   7,000   <Yes, this is huge
Eating Out   350   4,200   <--two family meals out a month and one date night a month
Other Entertainment   150   1,800   <-- family outings
Miscellaneous/CatchAll   333   4,000   <--conservative buffer  - need to replace a computer? Dishwasher broken?
Optional: Child Enrichment Programming (Summer camps, lessons, etc.)   417   5,000   <--Husband really focused on giving kids sleepover camp etc. This is the daycare budget when they're younger
Dog   108   1,300   <--Have this dog, can't get rid of him.
Total   4,903   60,141   

BaldingStoic

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2014, 10:03:11 AM »
I think you've already identified the optional luxuries MiniBee:
  • Vacation $7,000
  • Eating Out $4,200

These two items are close to 20% of your annual budget!  Cut back on the restaurants significantly and instead grill at a nearby park and go out on picnics;Thus keeping a similar routine but shaving costs.  For vacations, stay local, consider camping, use AirBnB instead of hotels, or play the Air Miles game if you want to fly. 

Seattle is a bit pricey, but I've heard Spokane is quite reasonable and Denver/Austin/Portland are all good cost of living and quality of life cities.

For the record, I'm a huge believer in the "child enrichment" no qualms on that portion of your budget. 
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 10:05:10 AM by BaldingStoic »

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2014, 10:28:42 AM »
You are doing really well in some areas, but these are a few that stood out to me:

You are spending $1000 a month on health costs!  Through my employer, it is $200 a month for a family and all other costs come out of an HSA.  Is this insurance through an employer?

Also you are spending $350 for three meals out.  That is $116 per meal.  That is definitely hurting your spending.  I think it is great that you are getting out for date nights, but are there any restaurants less expensive?

Since you travel a lot, you can look into an airline rewards card.  We like our Chase Preferred.  Between that and our Southwest points, we are flying our family of three with points three times in the next year.  There are also hotel cards.  MMM's latest post on card churning would be great for you.  Most of these cards are also double points at restaurants.

How many dogs do you have?  We average $40 a month for our 140lb dog and cat feeding pretty fancy food.


norabird

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2014, 10:29:44 AM »
Are your outfit costs $100 per outfit? That could/should come down, I think.

surfhb

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2014, 10:33:01 AM »
The feeling you get out of fixing or building something is amazing.    I started doing all the maintenance on my vehicle

It comes down to one simple fact:   You don't make enough money to eat out and vacations like that :)
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 10:35:27 AM by surfhb »

MillenialMustache

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2014, 10:34:34 AM »
Shopping at thrift stores could bring the clothes budget way down - I get lots of good stuff there.

Pooperman

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2014, 10:36:05 AM »
You can still drop food a bit by buying and using staples (rice, beans, flour, etc) as well as cutting back on the meat a bit (aim for $500/mo instead of $700/mo). I don't see cell phones on that list. Car insurance you might be able to get cheaper if you look around (check out nerdwallet.com to compare... i'm 24, SO is 24, and together we can get insurance for 1 car at about 100/mo in one of the most expensive car insurance states).

In addition to the suggestions above, i'd estimate you can save:

Food: 200/mo
Car Insurance: 30/mo
Vacation: 4000/yr (play the miles/rewards game!)
Eating out: 2000/yr
Clothing: 1250/yr

Total: 10,000/yr approx. Now you're down to ~50k/yr without much change in lifestyle.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 10:42:10 AM by Pooperman »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2014, 10:44:26 AM »
Car/transportation potentially low unless you specifically design your day to day around biking/walking.

Clothes, vacations, eating out, and your catch all miscellaneous buffer are all quite high. The "child enrichment" can be done less with money, more with your TIME. Also consider how you can make vacations both fun/frugal for you AND enriching for them.

The health costs seem quite high but admittedly I haven't bothered to dial in a number for my own family, since it is literally impossible to predict where the US is going to be with the ACA in 10 years.

Dyk

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2014, 10:56:38 AM »
I agree with the Stoic. 

Vacation - Tough one, if early retirement is a high priority, this could go to almost zero with creative local trips.  This may be something you want to hang on to.  Only you can really answer, but I am guessing with some research you can keep all the enjoyment for a far less $.
Eating out - You list 3 meals a month for $350???  I take a family of 7 out for $20-$30.  Everyone is happy.  Date night:  Dessert only keeps wife happy, or for a full meal Applebees has a 2 / $20 menu.  (If you need fancier food, make it at home, too expensive to eat out.)  Never drink anything but water (ok, date night, splurge for 1 beer/wine).  You can go home and enjoy the beverage for a fraction of the cost, and you still get a meal out.

I differ on child enrichment, real enrichment that blows away camps can be had for a lot less than $5k/year.  Also, there is a beauty to the lost art of playing with friends, making up games, adventures, etc.  (I have a couple of free reel lawn mowers coming my way that my 10 year old daughter will be using to mow neighbors yards.  She will have a bank account and learn business and financial aspects.  We won't pay for this, and actually will take in a little cash.)  If someone uses the term 'well-rounded', think about what that really means, and do you really want your child 'well-rounded' from societies perspective?
   - We ask for passes to children's museums etc. for Christmas instead of the usual gift of seldom used toys.

Other Entertainment:  - $1,800 - Leverage nature, it's cheaper.  We have a free movie at our theater on Saturday, great State Parks, local activities, etc.
Catch all - $4k?  You need to flush this out.  You have a wonderfully detailed list, it's hard to imagine $4k more in expenses.  You need to track this and reduce it.
Utilities - I suspect you will be able to do better, but you won't know until you get there.

You don't have a house payment listed.  It that's because you bought cash - Wow!  Excellent work!
That's a total of $22k to play with, the future is bright!  You can cut a lot of this by exploring your options, and you won't loose any 'quality of life'

Scandium

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2014, 10:57:09 AM »
Miscellaneous/CatchAll   333   4,000   <--conservative buffer  - need to replace a computer? Dishwasher broken?

This sounds extremely conservative. What kind of computers and dishwashers are you buying?! And how often? A Macpro every year? I've amassed 5 PCs in our house of the years and all told they cost less than that! (most self-built though)

$100/month for car insurance means you haven't looked very hard. We pay half that for 2 cars/drivers. And one car is only 5 years old. Try geico. Every time I look they come out cheapest.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 10:59:17 AM by Scandium »

minimustache1985

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2014, 11:00:48 AM »
On the vacations is that what you spend while working?  In RE you should be able to vacation more cheaply even doing the same things since you'll be able to travel off-season and off-day.

Eating out is a lot for just 3 meals a month- I don't think the 3 meals out is excessive but the cost of each one should come down.  As others have pointed out the clothing seems expensive as well for that number of outfits.  Even if your husband is against thrift store shopping, perhaps you could at least for the kids?  They outgrow things so fast anyways and you can save so much that way.

Food seems high even for organic- again is this current cost?  Can you shave it down by cooking more from scratch and buying in bulk without giving up the organic?

Enrichment is important, but 5k seems high- especially since being RE you'll be able to take them to a lot of enriching family outings (museums, hikes, etc) yourself, and a YMCA type organization would be great for them to socialize with their age group.

Also, make sure you live the budget before RE.  Some things naturally become cheaper once your RE (like travel, since you're more flexible then), but shopping at thrift stores, eating out at cheaper places, cooking from scratch at least some of the time, those are things that you should be implementing now to get adjusted.

Ynari

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2014, 11:02:53 AM »
So this is a hypothetical budget?  There is probably a lot of play in these numbers, even the ones that you think you can't do much about.  There are also a lot of little things you can do to save $50/month here and there, and you SHOULD do them because they add up! But BaldingStoic is right, the big ones you identified are the real kickers.


Home expenses - you don't say what size house, initial cost, etc.  You may be able to lower taxes, utilities, etc., by choosing a smaller, cheaper house and/or slightly different location.

Car(s?) - you say "cars" as in more than one car.  I'll assume you both work, but moving to a place where one of you can walk/bike/transit could save on transportation costs.  Also, part of the lower expenses of RE is that by not working, you can definitely get by with one car per family (if any).  Are you creating a budget for while you are working or for after RE?

Clothes - each outfit costs nearly $100 for you?  When you're talking two adults and two children?  Thrift stores and sales are your friend.  I'd cut that budget in half.

Health insurance - again, I'm confused whether you're creating a budget for now or for after you're RE.  If you're working now, do neither of you have health insurance through your employer?  If you are thinking about RE, you'll probably be able to get around $3000 off in subsidies.

Vacation - travel hacking; even if you cut off 2k, you'd still have a respectable travel budget.

Eating out - 3 meals out a month puts you at $350? I think it'd be easy to keep this to around $200.  I'm used to normal dinners costing ~$15/person and fancy dinners costing $30.  So in my mind, a family dinner for four or a fancy dinner for two should cost around $72 ($60+tip), or $216/mo.

Buffer - what is this number based on?  Past miscellaneous costs, or just a number that makes you feel comfortable? 


Rough numbers here, but I would think the above would cut about $8000 (maybe even $10k) off the budget easy, more if you actually start optimizing.

seattlecyclone

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2014, 11:05:56 AM »
Agreed that it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen with the ACA subsidies over time, but under today's law you would be eligible for a pretty sizable subsidy for your premiums even if your AGI equaled your expenses and you didn't use any of the ways to make your AGI lower than your expenses through methods such as selling stock in a taxable account (only the gains count as income) or withdrawing Roth funds.

A family of four with an AGI of $60k is at 255% of the poverty level, which means you should be able to buy the second-cheapest silver plan in your area for a net cost of 8.19% of your AGI, or $4,913/year. The subsidy you get is calculated based on subtracting this number from the retail cost of the second-cheapest silver plan. You can apply this same dollar amount to a cheaper bronze plan, making your net premium cost even lower.

Get your AGI down to $40k and that same second-cheapest silver plan will cost only $1,965/year after subsidy; a bronze plan might be nearly free.

(source: http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/)

Bob W

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2014, 11:11:29 AM »
Unless you have an ongoing "need" for medical care you should have zero deductible most years.  Some people go to the doctor for every cold.  Some go only if they are really sick.   (5,000)

Vacations -  7,000  Your kidding with us right?   Camping in a really nice place is maybe $600 for 30 days.  (6,500)

Eating out --  Another funny joke right?  (4,000)

Food budget -  Could easily trim (3,000)

Misc -  (4,000)

Soap and household mait trim (1,500)

Dog -  not so much for me -- we have two kids -- no dog  -- better life  (1,300)  You could actually start a personal dog sitting service if you like dogs.  That way you could have dogs when you want them and make money doing so.

Also,  property taxes are actually a negotiable that most people don't realize.   You get with your county and find out the method for appeal.   I reduced mine by 1,200 per year by doing so. 

About 25K in cuts.

One glaring omission is your home mortgage or house?    Do you own a house outright?

Thanks for the opportunity to pick your life apart. 

Bob Werner




dragoncar

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2014, 12:27:15 PM »
I think you're confusing the word "can't" for the word "won't."  Homework: Show us what a mustachian budget would be, and then separately identify the luxuries you'd like to add on top of that.

GardenFun

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2014, 02:10:57 PM »
Unless you have an ongoing "need" for medical care you should have zero deductible most years.  Some people go to the doctor for every cold.  Some go only if they are really sick.   (5,000)

+1.  Be a savvy shopper regarding how any of this is spent.  Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room.  Call around if you need any tests/scans performed.  If its a basic flu / cold / viral infection that can't be helped with medicine, get OTC meds, fluids and rest.

This list is very general, which shows your thinking regarding improvement is still in the "top overall view" general phase.  Grab 2-3 items and do a thorough analysis of their components.  Get creative, read through ideas on this forum, and then you will start seeing true results.     

wtjbatman

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2014, 04:47:56 PM »
You spend more on food than we spend to rent our house, heat it, and power all of our gadgets.

Prepube

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2014, 05:23:33 PM »
I think you're confusing the word "can't" for the word "won't."  Homework: Show us what a mustachian budget would be, and then separately identify the luxuries you'd like to add on top of that.

+1

Mustachian budget should be baseline, then the fancy stuff added as the income/savings goals would allow.  Let's see your mustache budget.  Your travel budget alone says you're not really trying get below 60k.  Cut it out entirely for a year or so and those other goals you have will start to materialize.     

NYCMiniBee133

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2014, 06:02:07 PM »
Ugh, yes the can't vs won't piece is absolutely correct. I'm finding that the comments on specific line items helps a lot thought because I've gotten to the edge of my comfort zone and need someone to kick me in the pants and tell me in a granular fashion where I'm overestimating and why. As several pointed out, this is 60k NOT INCLUDING housing expenses (mortgage/rent) so I'm aware it's a lot of money. Thank you and keep the suggestions rolling!

retired?

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2014, 08:34:34 PM »
Agreed that it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen with the ACA subsidies over time, but under today's law you would be eligible for a pretty sizable subsidy for your premiums even if your AGI equaled your expenses and you didn't use any of the ways to make your AGI lower than your expenses through methods such as selling stock in a taxable account (only the gains count as income) or withdrawing Roth funds.

A family of four with an AGI of $60k is at 255% of the poverty level, which means you should be able to buy the second-cheapest silver plan in your area for a net cost of 8.19% of your AGI, or $4,913/year. The subsidy you get is calculated based on subtracting this number from the retail cost of the second-cheapest silver plan. You can apply this same dollar amount to a cheaper bronze plan, making your net premium cost even lower.

Get your AGI down to $40k and that same second-cheapest silver plan will cost only $1,965/year after subsidy; a bronze plan might be nearly free.

(source: http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/)

She didn't say their AGI was 60k.  Rather, that was the amount she felt they needed to spend.  We don't have any idea of the earning power.  Perhaps I missed it.

starterstache

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2014, 09:08:39 PM »
There is definitely a lot missing from this 'case study', even though you didn't call it that in the title.  Can you provide more information on your yearly income, assets, debts, etc.?  That would help everyone see the complete picture and potentially provide additional angles for discussion/adjustments. 

Bottom line, as others have said you have to 'want' change.  Unless you're willing to give up many of the *fancy* items in your budget, you'll continue to be stuck in this purgatory of non-financial independence.  Believe me, I've been there done that and can speak from experience that I wish I would have changed my ways a long time ago.  Fortunately I'm on the right track now, but it took many years of denial before I found this forum and saw the light.

Good luck!

KBecks2

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2014, 09:43:26 PM »
You spend more on food than we spend to rent our house, heat it, and power all of our gadgets.

Nice perspective!

NYCMiniBee133

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2014, 06:35:58 AM »
Agreed that it's impossible to predict exactly what will happen with the ACA subsidies over time, but under today's law you would be eligible for a pretty sizable subsidy for your premiums even if your AGI equaled your expenses and you didn't use any of the ways to make your AGI lower than your expenses through methods such as selling stock in a taxable account (only the gains count as income) or withdrawing Roth funds.

A family of four with an AGI of $60k is at 255% of the poverty level, which means you should be able to buy the second-cheapest silver plan in your area for a net cost of 8.19% of your AGI, or $4,913/year. The subsidy you get is calculated based on subtracting this number from the retail cost of the second-cheapest silver plan. You can apply this same dollar amount to a cheaper bronze plan, making your net premium cost even lower.

Get your AGI down to $40k and that same second-cheapest silver plan will cost only $1,965/year after subsidy; a bronze plan might be nearly free.

(source: http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/)

She didn't say their AGI was 60k.  Rather, that was the amount she felt they needed to spend.  We don't have any idea of the earning power.  Perhaps I missed it.

Yes, this is our RE budget. We are currently living in an expensive big city and don't have the two kids I've planned for in the theoretical budget. I need help shaving down my future RE budget, so it's not quite a current case study. Thank you!

Paul der Krake

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2014, 07:37:59 AM »
What kind of vacation are you expecting to take for $7000 a year?

mm1970

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2014, 12:24:54 PM »
As a theoretical budget, it needs some work.

First, things change when you have kids.

Like the $7000 vacation budget.  If you are accustomed to trips to Hawaii or Europe, well, that will change.  I'm not saying you won't ever take those trips that involve 4 plane tickets, hotel, car, but they aren't likely to be annual.  We traveled to Hawaii 2x when we had one child (at about $4k each trip), but haven't since we had a second.  In fact, our trips that involve plane tickets have dwindled to every other year, and then to visit family.

Not that I don't have friends who make these trips every year - I do.  But they are 2 income (and high income) couples who aren't retiring early.  You have to realize that traveling like that with small children really sucks, and it isn't really a "vacation", unless you make ample use of child care at the other end.  This increases your expense.

Ditto with the eating out budget.  $350 a month would be a budget if you get takeout 10x a month.  Two family meals and a date night?  Those are pretty fancy places you are going (unless you are counting babysitting in that budget).  A cheaper way to have a family night "out" would be a picnic in the park where you pick up something prepared from a grocery store.

The health insurance budget looks pretty normal to me, for a family of 4 with 2 mid-40's parents.  We are pretty healthy, but still with 8 dentist appts a year, plus eyeglasses, plus flu shots, sick kids, bum knees and ankles - you probably are pretty close to an average.

Clothing is a little high, but depends on specialty stuff.  I go through 2 pair of running shoes a year, for example.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2014, 03:20:08 PM »
Only Pooperman mentioned Phones / cell service.  That's usually a big area of savings - myself, I went from a data pig plan ($123/month) to Airvoice $10/month +$3/Skype for my iPhone.  Mostly text and phone using wifi at home & the office.  $40 one-time purchase FreedomPop free 1Gb/month.   I.P. Daley has the definitive guide on tech - read, and embrace the freedom.

Goldielocks

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Re: HELP! Can't get spending for family of four below $60k.
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2014, 09:12:01 PM »
I highlighted where I think you can save the most... Bold is just to help see my additions.

We are not super frugal, and these are areas we spend far less on..



         Monthly  Yearly

Car   0   0   <--buying cars outright
Cars- plural?
. Definitely reduce your car expense to one plus transit or bikes.  Choose where you live tto mamake this happen

Car Maintenance    83   1,000   <--the average that I researched amortized over ten yearsyears
Whoa, half for one car is plenty.


Gas   98   1,178   <--15 miles a day 6 days a week. You won't need to drive this mmuch in future
Transportation   35   420   <--Tolls and bus fares etc
Clothing   140   1,680   <--4-5 outfits per year for four people.Thrift store..  Do it, own it, it's terrific once you start.  New clothes are for presents


Vacation   583   7,000   <Yes, this is huge try every other year plus a small annual trip? 
Eating Out   350   4,200   <--two family meals out a month and one date night a monthmonth
Try eating out for breakfast or lunches as a family instead of dinner.  Walk to coffee shop for your date, etc?



Other Entertainment   150   1,800   <-- family outingsoutings
yeah, us too this is where we spend
Miscellaneous/CatchAll   333   4,000   <--conservative buffer  - need to replace a computer? Dishwasher broken?A WTF budget of $4k,  Really?  You have a maintenance budget above already.
Optional: Child Enrichment Programming (Summer camps, lessons, etc.)   417   5,000   <--Husband really focused on giving kids sleepover camp etc. This is the daycare budget when they're youngeryounger
we budget under $200 per month, each, including clothes and school fees, plus one activity at a time plus at least one week each of overnight camp.  Church based camps are often non-denominational, and half or less of the private or YMCA campscamps. Or try scouts or other organizations
.
Hope that helps?  Good luck.