Author Topic: How to get out of our financial rut?  (Read 5025 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
How to get out of our financial rut?
« on: February 23, 2013, 11:03:11 PM »
Hello fellow mustachians! I am a fairly new reader of the blog, but I'm really digging all the useful advice and the mustachians community!

Some background info:

My boyfriend (let's call him J - 30) and I (28) have been together for two years and change. I moved out of my NYC closet that I was paying $1100/month for (that's with a roomie!) into his Jersey condo (the mortgage payment is $1100/month combined). We both still work in the city and make about the same money: 4.5K (me) & 45K (him). We have two cars currently, one is his and one I borrowed from my parents when I moved to Jersey. I always put 25% of every paycheck into a savings account which is tied to my Sharebuilder account. I'm also contributing to a Roth IRA.

I use Mint to track our money and I noticed that food (specifically eating was a big one, some cut back a lot, bring lunch every day, only go out to dinner on weekends, etc... Now that foods more or less under control, it seems like right now our biggest costs are the ones associated with commuting: we pay for train passes ($300/month), PATH rides ($100+/month), Subway rides, parking, and of course, gas.

Basically, even though my rent and cost of living has gone down, I still feel like we're living paycheck to paycheck sometimes and it scares me. How will we ever start saving for a wedding at this rate?

I've floated the idea of moving a little closer to work to cut down on commuting costs, but J argues that we'd have to worry about selling the condo and now isn't the best time. So I've also suggested getting jobs closer to home, but we're not 100% sure we could find jobs in our industry much closer than NYC.

So I'm wondering, what do my fellow 'staches think we should focus on - moving? Trying to find ways to cut spending even more? Find higher paying jobs? I'd appreciate any advice, even if its tough to hear/read. I just feel like we're stuck in this rut.

Sorry for the wall of text!


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2794
  • Location: NZ
    • My FIRE journal
Re: How to get out of our financial rut?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2013, 11:59:06 PM »
I'd look at sorting out your transport first. Can you elaborate on exactly what both your commutes involve (mode of transport + distance + time for each section).

PS saving 25% isn't living pay check to pay check :)


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 398
Re: How to get out of our financial rut?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 07:20:11 AM »
A 25% savings rate is a great start!

Could you rent out the condo to cover the monthly mortgage/maintenance?

I agree that two cars seems excessive.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: How to get out of our financial rut?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 10:26:32 AM »
Thanks for all the replies! I guess I'll try to elaborate more on our situation since people asked more questions:

Our commute right now looks like this:
Drive 10 minutes to train station, take NJTransit to Hoboken, take PATH train into lower Manhattan (our office is a few blocks from a PATH station). I included "subway rides" in our commuting expense only because, occasionally, we have to take a different route to work which involves the subway. Our commute right now takes about an hour and a half - 2 hours each way.
J is leasing his car, but basically the only reason he chose to do that is because he has a friend who works in the industry that got him a pretty sweet deal (says him, it's a Range Rover and  I don't really know much about cars...) On the car from my parents (Subaru Outback), I don't pay anything but gas, but you guys are right, we could definitely downsize to one car if we really wanted to. The only issue I can foresee is that every couple of weeks or so I drive up to CT to spend the weekend with my parents, and if we only had one car that would mean J would be stuck at the apartment all weekend, but I guess that's not that big of a deal.
Wedding expectations: I'll be honest, I don't really have an expectation of a large wedding and I don't think he does either. I've only half-joked before about just going down to the courthouse one of these days, haha. I guess I meant it more as an example of something that I feel like we should be able to save for, but can't seem to.
We both work at a company that provides gear and specialized training to production companies & post houses in the TV/movie industry. I think I'd probably have an easier time switching jobs/industries than J, especially since he will most likely be getting a pretty significant promotion soon.

Apologies again for this long reply. I definitely agree that we should get the car/commute situation sorted out and think about better career opportunities.


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 434
Re: How to get out of our financial rut?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 12:48:59 PM »
Leasing a Range Rover?  On 45K gross income?  No wonder he asked you to move in and split the bills.  I would be shocked if his monthly car bill (lease, gas, insurance) is under $1200 a month.


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1157
Re: How to get out of our financial rut?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 01:12:06 PM »
you mentioned a 10 minute drive to station, I'm not sure how far that would be, but I'll guess you drive 60mph so the distance is 6 miles driving distance, closer if you drive slower... Is there any way you can ride a bike for that distance, weather permitting? Or switch to a scooter? Then share the 1 car for shopping/etc to save on gas money (unless you talk him into giving up lease, then you also save on that plus insurance too).

If it is problem with hills, one of those electric bikes looks great too (I've been looking into one myself but can't find one that I'm sold on yet). I'm not sure if the bus/train allow you to take bikes with you though, but if they did, it would help get you to the office as well from the station.