Author Topic: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?  (Read 12569 times)

eldub

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How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« on: June 01, 2012, 10:44:07 AM »
I want a mustache.  A big, fluffy one.  I might be a Mrs. but man, I'm trying.

The Mr. and I had twin boys last year. Woops! We cloth diaper them and keep them clothed an amused with handed-down gear but now that I'm back at work, their daycare costs around $1400 per month (coincidentally, approximately half my take-home pay).  Here in Canada though, childcare is tax-deductable, so the true cost is more like $1100 per month.  That's on the low end of normal for this area.

Real estate in our city is insane.  The four of us live in a 930 square foot 2-bedroom "starter home", bought at the height of the market in 2008 for $442,000 (woops again!) but luckily we live in an area that was relatively untouched by the crash, and today the house is valued at $513,000.  I know that because we just mortgaged it to 80% of it's value (that's $410,800).  Completely antimustachian right?! And yet I feel like in a way we couldn't afford not to - the cash is going towards building a rental suite in the basement that we expect to bring in $1200 per month upon completion (targeted for this September).  Now we've offset those daycare costs for the trade-off of a mortgage payment that has increased by $400 per month.  Once that rent is flowing in, and particularly once the boys hit school and childcare costs drop, I plan to attack that mother of a mortgage with all my might.

The Mr. and I both make decent cash.  I work for the man (our provincial government) in a relatively cushy job for $56K.  The Mr. is a plumber but the work comes in waves, so he pulls in at least as much as me in a bad year, or about $75K in a good year.  His handiness, and buddies in the various trades, keep our home maintenance and renovation costs to a lot less than the average Joe would pay.

So this is all preface to the numbers - and my question.  It looks like we've got it pretty good.  We don't spend a lot on "stuff".  In fact, I'm just waiting for one of my co-workers to say something about the fact that I wear the same shoes EVERY DAY.  We're not into consumption.  And yet, I still feel sometimes like the walls are closing in.  It drove us to take out a huge mortgage because we couln't see another way.  I feel like I'm trying really hard, and yet not getting ahead.  Our costs are so high. So here's the breakdown:

Monthly take-home Income (his, mine and a sweet tax-break for the kids): about $7500

Expenses:
Mortgage and property tax: $2150
Daycare: $1100
RRSP contributions: $867
Tax bill (this is a one-off and related to my maternity leave): $455 (until February 2013)
Utilities: $186
Insurance for the house, 2 vehicles and our lives: $267
Cellphones: $90
Cable/Internet/Phone: $100 (believe me, I've tried to talk the Mr. out of cable.  Almost at the cost of my marriage. He compromised by losing some channels but it appears that cable-free isn't going to happen)
Groceries: $600+ (I work at this. Tricking the Mr. into eating vegetarian at least once a week, buying only on sale, meal planning. But we live in Canada where groceries cost a lot more than the average american is used to)
Gasoline (2 vehicles): $300
Car payment (1 vehicle): $340
parking at my job: $100
Kids' Education fund (RESP): $100 (I want to increase this, the gov matches 20% up to a maximum of $500 per year)
Total: $6655
Miscellaneous eats up the rest - most of this is related to our health-care costs.  The Mr. sees a chiropractor and physiotherapist regularly because of an injury, and this costs a lot up front, but we get a large portion back on our extended health plans through work.  Aside from that, we have some home maintainance costs, and some eating out (I KNOW), the odd kiddie-related item (not toys and shit, but butt paste and the like) or personal care item.

Assets:
House: $513k
2 Vehicles - his a 2001 Ford Explorer Sporttrac (used to shuttle around plumbing tools and gear) that is paid for, mine a 2005 Dodge minivan bought entirely on borrowed cash (shit, twins were coming and no savings!!).  Total value about $15,000
Retirement savings (his and mine): about $50,000+

Debts:
Mortgage: $410,800 at 3.29%, amoritized over 26 years
That maternity leave-related tax bill: about $4000. They charge about 2% interest to make montly payments, which I have opted to do.
Minivan loan: about $7500 outstanding. Interest is variable but in the neighborhood of 5%
All of the above is on my shitlist once we have more cashflow from the rental.

We have no emergency savings, because I threw everything at a previous line of credit that got rolled into the new mortgage (it was from renovations made to our main floor to make the home safe and liveable).  I'm of the mind that there's no use putting pennies into a savings account when there is a big Line of Credit emergency hanging around.

The two cars are non-negotiable for us (unless a senior mustachian can make a really good argument). I need to drop the boys off at daycare and get to work (then do it in reverse at the end of the day) in a tight timeframe.  The Mr. needs to haul tools and plumbing paraphenalia.

We have seriously considered moving to a smaller town that has cheaper housing.  We ruled it out in the end for a few reasons, not the least of which is family.  We value being close to our families very much.  It is even more important now that we have young children.  The other is opportunity for work (now this only matters if one is not retired, right?).  Both the Mr. and I would have a hard time making the same money, or having the same opportunity to make money, if we left our current city.  I will not move to the suburbs and commute to our same jobs.  I see those suckers who sit in traffic twice a day and I won't do it.  My commute is about 5 minutes to the daycare, then 10 minutes to work.

Once we have rental income, my plan is to pay off the various debts (tax debt, car loan) and redirect the money that previously went to those monthly payments. I want to pay down the mortgage, increase our retirement savings and save more for the boys' education.

So help me, mustachians!  Help me see what I'm missing here!  There must be a better way.

xo,
eldub in Victoria, BC, Canada







grantmeaname

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2012, 11:26:36 AM »
You're doing a lot of things right, so it's not easy to find many places to trim fat out of the budget. I don't know how good any of your expenses are for Canada, but the forum is filled with tips for cutting out waste in the places it exists.
RRSP contributions: $867
Is this contributing only up to the match? If not, you may want to consider decreasing your contribution to the match level only.
Quote
Utilities: $186
Are there any changes you are willing to make here, or do you feel you're pretty frugal already? Line drying, pressure cookers, CFL/LED lights, and insulation upgrades come to mind.
Quote
Insurance for the house, 2 vehicles and our lives: $267
Have you shopped around recently? There's a thread here called "My Savings by Negotiating/Switching Providers" that's full of success stories.
Quote
Cellphones: $90
Cable/Internet/Phone: $100
Don't despair, you can save money on these without ditching cable. Poster IP Daley has assembled some incredible information about saving money on these services, but I don't know how much of it crosses borders.
Quote
Gasoline (2 vehicles): $300
Car payment (1 vehicle): $340
parking at my job: $100
If there are only two kids, what about downgrading to  a smaller car? If I'm reading your post right, your car is worth 15,000 (edit: minus the value of a 2001 sporttrac) and you owe 7500 on it. If you were to sell it and pay off the loan, could you get something smaller and more fuel efficient? It's legitimate that you may actually need two cars, but do you need two big ones, or could you get by with one big and one little car?
Quote
Kids' Education fund (RESP): $100
If the government only matches the first $42 you put in each month, and you prioritize getting rid of those small debts, why don't you cut your contribution until your small debts are paid off, and then increase your contributions when you're done?
Quote
Miscellaneous eats up the rest - most of this is related to our health-care costs.
Many mustachians say that mindfully tracking this miscellaneous spending, either with a service like Mint or manually, has helped them to see random money leaks in their budget. Even if healthcare is a lot of the expense, wouldn't it be nice to know where every cent of your hard-earned $900 is going each month?
« Last Edit: June 01, 2012, 11:34:32 AM by grantmeaname »

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2012, 11:32:09 AM »
I feel your pain as a fellow Victorian. It sometimes feels downright impossible to get ahead in this city with the cost of housing, food, and ferries. But I'm committed to staying here as well. So we have no choice but to figure out how to do well here.

I don't have any good advice-- i'm in a worse position than you are until I finish school and make a career switch. I also bought (a condo) in early 2009-- which is worth a little less now than when I purchased. But at least I can rent one of the rooms.

You should get your husband hooked on 'project free tv' and cut cable. We haven't missed it a bit. I'd also trim the RESP contribution- at least until you get your own finances under control.

TLV

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 11:40:28 AM »
First, if I read correctly your "miscellaneous" appears to be eating up about $900 per month. You ought to track that more closely - if it's all going to medical expenses that's probably unavoidable, but you won't know unless you track it better.

Since you both have cell phones, consider dropping the landline.

Given your work situations I'd agree that your 2 cars are probably necessary in the short term (and it doesn't seem like you'll be moving closer to work any time soon with that house, either), but you could probably downsize and save some money. Sell the minivan and pay off the note, and buy a smaller car with the extra. With only two kids, even though they're twins, you don't need a minivan with only two kids. Even if you have to expensive carseats to get ones that fit, it's cheaper than a more expensive car. (Unless I'm reading that wrong - is the 15k value for the minivan alone or both cars? If it's for both, this suggestion is less useful but still something to consider.)

Also about cars - look for ways to use the cars less, to reduce gas/maintenance costs, like walking to the grocery store or for other errands. If you don't have a double stroller already, consider getting a bike trailer with a stroller conversion - we find we can carry a lot more in our bike trailer than in a regular stroller, and it's easier to maneuver as well. Also - $100/month to park at work? Ouch. I would think that in a city where real estate/parking are so expensive things would be compressed enough you could get around easily by bike (if your twins were born last year they'll be old enough for helmets soon if they aren't already), but that may be a bad assumption on my part.

I'm not familiar with insurance rates in Canada, but yours seem high to me. Shop around, and make sure you don't have coverage you don't need (ie raise deductibles or drop collision coverage when you have enough liquid savings that you could cover it).

How long is the mortgage rate fixed for? If it's fixed for the whole 26 years at only 3.26%, many of us on the forums wouldn't consider paying it off a priority because you're likely to make more than that by investing. Also, since you don't have any liquid savings at the moment, that's another reason not to rush in paying off the mortgage. Unless you have a HELOC you can tap in an emergency, I would build up some liquid savings (not necessarily cash in a bank account - could be invested too) before throwing extra at the mortgage.

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 12:01:09 PM »
Thank you everyone for your comments.  I guess I should clarify about the vehicles, seems I haven't been clear.  The total value of both of our vehicles is $15,000.  We owe about $7500 on mine, and I'm giving it about that in value (maybe a little more, but I want to be conservative).  I certainly take the point about having a minivan for only two kids.  Yes, the two rear-facing carseats take up more room than a small commuter-type vehicle can offer but the boys will be in forward-facing seats very soon.  We have found the minivan invaluable however, for hauling around that double stroller and other gear when we hit the road to visit the grandparents (45 minutes away). Plus we want to spend family vacations camping and roadtripping when the boys are a bit bigger.  Probably foolish to get out of this vehicle (particularly since there's negligable $$ to be made by selling it) when it could prove to be so useful for years to come? 

Biking is great, and I certainly did a lot more of it before kids.  It is doable for errands and groceries, but the time crunch limits my ability to cycle them to daycare, then myself to work and therefore save the $100 parking fee.  In the same vein, I've scouted for free street parking, but it's all too long of a walk into work to get my 8 hours and be able to pick the kids up again before daycare closes.

Thank you TLV also for the comment about paying down the mortgage.  The 3.29% is fixed for 5 years, at which point we'll renew.  It helps to be reminded that investments almost surely will make more than that, but the emotional aspect around the size of this debt hard makes it hard to ignore. 

Thank you grantmeaname for tons of useful tips - I'll be getting out my magnifying glass and looking harder at the details.

MarkCB - See you 'round the neighborhood! Nice to hear from another Victoria local.

Fresh eyes are good.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 12:43:27 PM »
Okay, how much does it cost to rent a 2-3 bedroom house near work?

gecko10x

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 01:05:57 PM »
Would it be possible for Mr. to drop you/kids off & pick up to avoid the parking fee?

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2012, 01:20:12 PM »
Sadly, the Mr.'s schedule does not allow him to do any dropping off or picking up of kids, it's all on me. 

Renting something ourselves is something to perhaps think more about.  We currently live less than 4km (about 6 miles) from my work - not far at all, and indeed I used to either bike or walk before we had the kids.  Can't get a whole lot closer to work, and it would still conceivably mean driving to the daycare (it's only about 3km from home, but in the opposite direction from work).  Not sure this option would translate into any lower costs.

Once the basement suite is built, I figure we could rent out both the basement for about $1200 and the main floor (our current living space) for at least $1400, producing a positive cash flow of at least $500 per month (ignoring maintenance costs).  BUT, we would probably have to pay about $1400 ourselves to rent something that would accommodate our family of four.  In which case it makes sense just to stay doesn't it? 

I have also considered moving the family down into that basement suite and renting out the main floor, which would command more rent but I'll have to wait until the suite is built to see if it would work for our family.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2012, 01:31:35 PM »
Why don't you sell your house if you can rent something for $1400?

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2012, 01:43:41 PM »
In the short term, if we stay in the house with the basement suite rented we are only paying $950 per month ($2150 cost of mortgage and taxes minus $1200 rent from the suite).  Cheaper than any rent we would pay, plus I like to think of the house as one big pile of money one day down the road when it's all paid off (any paid off in part by my basement tenants).  The mortgage payments have an end date, while rent does not.

I would consider keeping the house as a rental property and going to rent somewhere else ourselves, but I don't think cashing out is a wise decision at this point.  We don't have a lot of equity.

grantmeaname

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2012, 01:45:18 PM »
Once the basement suite is built, I figure we could rent out both the basement for about $1200 and the main floor (our current living space) for at least $1400, producing a positive cash flow of at least $500 per month (ignoring maintenance costs).  BUT, we would probably have to pay about $1400 ourselves to rent something that would accommodate our family of four.  In which case it makes sense just to stay doesn't it?
I have also considered moving the family down into that basement suite and renting out the main floor, which would command more rent but I'll have to wait until the suite is built to see if it would work for our family.

Scenario 1: Rent out the basement, stay upstairs.
You pay $2100 a month mortgage, minus $1200 rent, so you're paying $900 a month to live in your house, and building home equity.

Scenario 2: Rent out the upstairs, stay in basement.
You pay $2100 a month mortgage, minus $1400 rent, so you're paying $700 a month to live in less of your house, and building home equity.

Scenario 3: Rent out the upstairs and the downstairs, and rent a place for $1400 a month.
You pay $2100 a month mortgage, minus $1200 basement rent and $1400 upstairs rent, so your house pays $500 of your $1400 rent. Yep, you guessed it, you're paying $900 a month to live somewhere other than your house, and building home equity.

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2012, 01:49:54 PM »

Scenario 3: Rent out the upstairs and the downstairs, and rent a place for $1400 a month.
You pay $2100 a month mortgage, minus $1200 basement rent and $1400 upstairs rent, so your house pays $500 of your $1400 rent. Yep, you guessed it, you're paying $900 a month to live somewhere other than your house, and building home equity.
[/quote]

Yeah, scenario 3 just doesn't make sense considering 1 and 2, does it?

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2012, 02:00:55 PM »
Not to me, it doesn't. There would have to be enough advantages to the new place to make up for the costs of renting (screening, repairs, maintenance, vacancy...) as well as the inconveniences of not living in your place. So I guess the real question come September will be, can you live in just your new basement suite?

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2012, 02:38:04 PM »
The advantage to option 3 would be paying the least you can ($900 a month) while not having to squeeze into the basement.

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2012, 04:14:25 PM »
Taking out a car loan is always a bad bad move.. If you have no money to buy, buy a cheap one.. I would sell both cars and buy two cheaper cars. 5K each car, as long as they run. I did that before and it worked out fine. My friend just bought a 5K Dodge caravan, even with a DVD to entertain his kids. He has 3 kids!!!!

grantmeaname

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2012, 04:22:31 PM »
What's the point of selling a cheap car to buy an equivalent cheap car? I doubt she'll make much money selling a 2001 sporttrac and then buying something suitable for a plumbing truck.

KittyWrestler

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2012, 04:23:28 PM »
What's the point of selling a cheap car to buy an equivalent cheap car? I doubt she'll make much money selling a 2001 sporttrac and then buying something suitable for a plumbing truck.
$15K by no mean is a cheap car. I bought a 1K car to survive and it worked fine.

grantmeaname

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2012, 07:25:41 AM »
The value of the two cars combined is $15k. Yes, there are lots of people here who have owned cheap cars. I'm not arguing that there's a price floor on cheap cars or that anyone is better than you. I'm arguing that selling the Sport Trac would not generate enough money to buy an equivalent vehicle usable as a work truck by a plumber and meaningful capital left over.

Gerard

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2012, 08:17:44 PM »
You're putting money into your RRSPs, so it's not like you're just breaking even. And I assume you'll get a big-ass DB pension when you retire, so you don't need a huge 'stash.
You're not making gigantic strides toward FI right this second, but you have things in place to be in much better shape in about 4 years. The car and the tax bill will be paid off. You may go back to not driving to work. The kids will start regular school, reducing your child care costs. Assuming you get some raises in the meantime, avoid lifestyle inflation, and find a few places to cut your rather high miscellaneous costs, you'll have a good $2000-plus a month more in savings than you do now, plus the income from the basement. Not too shabby!
Another very different option: can you take unpaid leave from work? It looks to me like it's costing you $2100 a month or more in post-tax dollars (car payment, gas, parking, insurance, child care, and the clothing/food portion of the miscellaneous budget line) to earn about $2600 a month post-tax (60% of 56K at a high marginal rate). At 35 hours of work and 10 hours of commuting and lunch per week, your job is netting you about $2.60 an hour.

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2012, 12:41:47 PM »
Hey eldub,
How's it going? We were wondering about your suite renovation project over in another thread. Are you on track to meet your September deadline?

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2012, 05:20:33 PM »
Going great, thanks for asking. Have puked out a reply on the other thread.

We're on time and budget, though the Mr. may have shortened his lifespan by a few years. Has been stressful for him. Fingers crossed could have a paying tenant September 1st though.

Am looking forward to the extra income, many plans for attacking car loan, increasing/changing retirement investments, putting more away for twins' university fund, etc.

We're going to stay in this house as long as possible, but have been hatching a new plan for the house. The Mr. claims he will never sell this house, and I can't really blame him. He has had his hands on every square inch of this place and I think it's part of his soul now. Emotional, yes. Logical, maybe not.

His idea is if/when we outgrow the house, keep it as a two-unit rental and we move to our "forever" family home. I think it's a good plan, but depends on us being able to save $100,000+ for a new downpayment.

I've been reading Arebelspy's, your, and others thoughts on the 50% rule of landlording. First I've heard of it and it's thrown me for a pretty good loop. It's absolutely impossible to follow this where we live, but I can't give up on the idea that rental properties could still be a good move financially for us.

In my own mind, I've been thinking that as long as the rent covers expenses plus maybe a few hundred bucks a month, all would be ok. I guess I'm counting less on having monthly income and more on having a paid-off house (read: pile of cash) in 25 years. This has been rattling around in my head the last week or so and wanted to start a new thread but haven't got around to it yet.

Thoughts?

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2012, 05:48:40 PM »
Start a new thread with your thoughts and numbers, and I'll throw some numbers back at you.  :)
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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2012, 07:12:37 PM »
Sounds like step one is sharing MMM and the forum with the Mr, so that he gets on board with any hard changes.


If you were to hypothetically down-size the minivan, and replace it with a slightly older, much smaller car, not only are you freeing up $4000 (or so) cash, you are also saving another 500-1000 in interest payments (depending how long it would take you to pay it off).  You have to add in the interest to its value for considering what it costs you.

Or to look at it another way, you are immediately reducing your monthly expenses by the amount of your monthly payment by trading down to something you can afford in cash.

On top of that, its operating expenses will be a lot higher than a smaller car - especially gas, but also insurance, tires, possibly maintenance.
Just counting fuel, going from the Dodge minivan to a 35mpg car, assuming average miles per year, is another $1000 a year in fuel savings - every year as long as you own the vehicle.

There is no reason you can't go camping and take road trips in a car.  People do it all the time.  You don't usually sleep in the car on a camping trip, you sleep in a tent.  And it really doesn't make sense to pay the extra $1000 a year in gas (plus extra $1000 in interest payments) to have a large vehicle because you might want to go on trips a few times a year some day.  The savings will more than pay for the cost of a rental if you really felt you needed something bigger for road trips - or you could just use the SUV for road trips.


You could be right about the biking time, but I'd recommend trying it at least once before ruling it out.
5 minutes by car should only be about 12 minutes by bike at trailer pulling speed, and then 15 min by car about 25 min by bike at no trailer speed (assuming you can leave the trailer at daycare), for a total of 17 extra minutes each way.
Not a whole lot, especially if you were able to eliminate or reduce dedicated workout time because of it.  Given how much you could save, it might be worth half an hour a day - you'll get that time back some day when you reach FI years sooner.
Of course those numbers will vary depending on hills, wind, and your fitness (and if you did it regularly, they would get smaller and smaller with time as you got stronger) and the only way you would know for sure would be to try it at least once.

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2012, 07:23:36 PM »
I think you are doing well.  Your bottom line booster will come with the rental income from the suite.  The next biggest saving will occur when the kids start school and your daycare costs go away.  You will be doing really quite well at that point! 

As far as groceries go, it is hard for me to know whether there is some way to cut costs - you seem to have things organized.  We fish, crab and prawn as a hobby which is probably break even but local and fresh.  We buy what is on sale.

Worst case scenario of staying where you are I still thing you are set in a good direction!

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2012, 11:25:47 PM »
Mortgage and property tax: $2150
Daycare: $1100 (disappears when the kid is in school?)
RRSP contributions: $867
Tax bill (this is a one-off and related to my maternity leave): $455 (until February 2013)
Utilities: $186
Insurance for the house, 2 vehicles and our lives: $267
Cellphones: $90
Cable/Internet/Phone: $100 (believe me, I've tried to talk the Mr. out of cable.  Almost at the cost of my marriage. He compromised by losing some channels but it appears that cable-free isn't going to happen)
Groceries: $600+ (I work at this. Tricking the Mr. into eating vegetarian at least once a week, buying only on sale, meal planning. But we live in Canada where groceries cost a lot more than the average american is used to)
Gasoline (2 vehicles): $300
Car payment (1 vehicle): $340
parking at my job: $100
Kids' Education fund (RESP): $100 (I want to increase this, the gov matches 20% up to a maximum of $500 per year)
Total: $6655

You face the unfortunate issue of living on an island were all consummables are brought in, and those that are produced there are inherently more expensives. My general guess is that you are in the 'invest' phase of your life and some of these will disappear as kids age.

The two biggest concerns or changes you could make in my opinion are biking to daycare / work. As near as I can tell this is 7km total and would easily solve your issues with a bike trailer. Likely eliminates $100 gas) + $50 (ins.) + 340 (car payment). Total savings $500. I would try the route for a month and see if you can tolerate it, then consider making a bigger switch.

The second change is to track the misc. spending. ~15% of your spending is heading into a blackhole right now and there are likely plenty of opportunities to save additional dollars there save to additional $. I would spend 1-2 months tracking what goes into this category and you'll probably be surprised at what you find. We found out when we did this that we were spending $150 on brunch, $150 on booze, and $200 on small items. We cut all of this out, became healthier and saved $500 in the process.

The third change is in the groceries bill. As near as I can tell you're spending ~300 per person, or $75 per week. A few general tips that helped me cut my bill down (there are too many on the board that don't need repeating here). I focused first on waste by investing in a good set of vegetable storage containers (basically air tight tupperware), and meal planning. Our food waste dropped from a fairly average 30% to 5%, automatically saving 25% on groceries. Second, buy anything that lasts for more than 2-3 months in bulk and store it. This saved me another 10% or so. You may already be doing this, and the bill may be reasonable given the price in victoria, but thought I'd share my starting points anyway.

cadamsgis

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2012, 06:02:51 AM »
I personally don't have children but I have friends who do.... plus I'm in the US so don't know if it's different there.....I know a single mom with 3 kids and every time she thinks she is making progress some of this stuff comes up to bit her on the ass....


the daycare costs are not totally gone when the kids get to school because there is before care and after care (and the kids have to go in both for parents to work a full 8 hour day plus commuting) - plus there is the added expenses of summers off school - camps and child care are for all day for these months. And there is winter break and here they have all kinds of in service days where teachers have to work but the kids don't go to school - so yet again more child care costs. If one of the kids are sick they make you come and get him right away so you have to have alternatives for that too.

so granted the costs may be different once the twins are in school but I'd do some research before I've spent all that daycare money

Bakari

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2012, 08:55:20 AM »
The two biggest concerns or changes you could make in my opinion are biking to daycare / work. As near as I can tell this is 7km total and would easily solve your issues with a bike trailer. Likely eliminates $100 gas) + $50 (ins.) + 340 (car payment). Total savings $500. I would try the route for a month and see if you can tolerate it, then consider making a bigger switch.

You forgot the parking.
$600

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2012, 09:22:23 AM »
Gah, that damn parking! Update - probably starting new job (same ministry, different location). Also bikable, but not as convenient, i.e. having to bike on main roads rather than on our awesome commuter bike path. Not sure yet what the parking costs are in the new location.

I go back and forth on the biking bit. One major thing for me is the trailer aspect. Yeah, I know people do it all the time but having my kids behind me and vulnerable to the traffic scares the hell out of me. I always think that they could be hit. That said we saw an awesome bike that puts the kids in wooden basket-type thing up front between the handlebars and the front wheel. $2600 though.

http://www.biketo.ca/sites/default/files/images/bakfiets-short.img_assist_custom-500x375.jpg

Bakari

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2012, 10:32:29 AM »
Add a couple flags, and some extra bright lights to use in the day time.

People tend to drive extra carefully when they think its children they might hit, and give trailers extra space (even though they usually aren't much wider than the riders handlebars anyway)
This is why I'm keeping mine looking like a child trailer even though the seats have been removed and I use it only for cargo ;)

Also, keep in mind that driving is very dangerous too - the steel cage provides a false sense of security; car accidents are still the number one killer of people under 40 in the US (no idea for Canada, but I'd bet its similar)

This post addresses the worry about getting hit from behind by passing cars:
http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/06/please-ride-your-bike-in-street.html

And remember that after you take out the 70-90% of bike-car collisions that wouldn't have happened had the cyclist been following the law, cycling is statistically safer per mile than driving.

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2012, 11:14:45 AM »
You've blinded me with science! Point taken.

Hard to quiet that irrationally morbid mama-instinct :)

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2012, 03:18:10 PM »
Update on the rental suite:  DONE!!

It turned out beautifully, a huge round of applause goe to my Mr. for his hard labour.

We have it listed online for $1350 and have 4-5 showings between today and tomorrow.  Wish us luck!


grantmeaname

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2012, 06:55:39 PM »
Right on schedule, too! Congrats, I'm glad it went well!

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2012, 05:52:33 PM »
Congratulations!

eldub

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2012, 09:33:18 AM »
An update:

We ended up renting the suite for $1100 per month, including water and electricity/heat. By my calculation we're clearing about $600 per month, here's my breakdown:

Monthly Cost                    Pre-Suite          Post-Suite
Mortgage + Prop Tax       $1768              $2332
House Insurance               $86               $103
Van Payment                     $338                $0
Hydro (electricity)               $118              $218 (est)
Water                                 $30              $42 (est)
    - Rental Income (net)     $0                  $959
Total                                  $2337          $1736
Difference                               $601

twinge

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #34 on: November 02, 2012, 01:30:55 PM »
Quote
We have found the minivan invaluable however, for hauling around that double stroller and other gear when we hit the road to visit the grandparents (45 minutes away). Plus we want to spend family vacations camping and roadtripping when the boys are a bit bigger.  Probably foolish to get out of this vehicle (particularly since there's negligable $$ to be made by selling it) when it could prove to be so useful for years to come? 

We had this same initial idea about our  used short-lived mini-van (Honda Odyssey) and our family of four  and then saw the light.  It just really doesn't make sense to pay so much more for gas every time you drive, so we sold it after owning it for less than a year (for more than we paid for it!).  We go on long camping road trips etc. and find the small car is just easier--and saves SO much in gas.  The biggest innovation we did to make it all work on those occasions when we were really packed (e.g., tent camping on a 2 week trip) was to use our hatchback bike carrier as a stroller carrier.  It works great even with our mammoth jogging stroller! We don't even have a car-top carrier or other storage add on box but we could add that if we needed to.  Parking is so much easier with a small car.  It forces you to be more organized so you don't have kid detritus everywhere in your van.  It's just WAY better. 

Matte

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2012, 08:44:30 AM »
Well it looks like your first mistake is the same as mine, living in BC.  I am sure that it's a province that it is set up to make sure nobody gets ahead.  So many of these suggestions don't work for our situation, you can't shop for car insurance here and it's always a ripoff(tax in disguise) andtasaurus thesaurus values are insane, I bought my house thesaurus same time as you so but I'm in maple ridge.  Ever thought of taking a annual or semi annual trip to anacortez to do all your non-perishable/consumable shopping? Go with friends to split the ferry and campsite/motel bill.  You can save tons of money and get a trip out of it.  Many of thesaurus basics for food run 50-70 percent less there.  Things like Campbell's soup are usually a buck a can, beans, tomato sauce, is all a fraction of the price. 

I share your frustration so much with struggling on a good income.  There are those who are established long ago and rich off house equity and those who don't have a cent of savings, and are living in rentals and Rake in huge govt aide checks.  Being anywhere in the middle is a real squeeze.

mm1970

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2012, 08:55:27 PM »
Quote
We have found the minivan invaluable however, for hauling around that double stroller and other gear when we hit the road to visit the grandparents (45 minutes away). Plus we want to spend family vacations camping and roadtripping when the boys are a bit bigger.  Probably foolish to get out of this vehicle (particularly since there's negligable $$ to be made by selling it) when it could prove to be so useful for years to come? 

We had this same initial idea about our  used short-lived mini-van (Honda Odyssey) and our family of four  and then saw the light.  It just really doesn't make sense to pay so much more for gas every time you drive, so we sold it after owning it for less than a year (for more than we paid for it!).  We go on long camping road trips etc. and find the small car is just easier--and saves SO much in gas.  The biggest innovation we did to make it all work on those occasions when we were really packed (e.g., tent camping on a 2 week trip) was to use our hatchback bike carrier as a stroller carrier.  It works great even with our mammoth jogging stroller! We don't even have a car-top carrier or other storage add on box but we could add that if we needed to.  Parking is so much easier with a small car.  It forces you to be more organized so you don't have kid detritus everywhere in your van.  It's just WAY better.
We use our Toyota Matrix with the roof rack and Thule carrier for camping.  We went this year and were able to take camping gear for our family (3 of us) AND camping gear for my husband's sister's family (they were flying in for a vacation) - 5 of them.

I have a newly pregnant friend with a toddler and twins on the way.  I told her to get a minivan vs. an SUV if they need to replace a car (and they do).  But her husband is dead set on an SUV that's both American and large enough to tow a pop up camper for future camping trips.  Ah, honey, that is 3 years away you know that right?

Anyway, I just sent her the link/thread to the "how to fit 3 carseats in a Honda Civic".  Because if you can do it in a Civic, they can do it in their existing car.

strider3700

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2012, 08:22:59 PM »
Just found this thread. I live in Nanaimo.

On the cable front is there some specific channels that your husband wants?  Over the Air I get 18 HD channels in Nanaimo.  In some parts of Victoria you can get Everything from Victoria, Vancouver, Bellingham and Seattle which would be near 30 which is lots unless you want something special that is cable only.

For the size of your house your hydro bill before taking in the renter is bad, with the renter it's insane.  My all electric 2200 sqft early 60's BC box  averaged  $70/month over the last year. That with 4 of us (2 kids under 5)  You should easily be able to make improvements there.

I may have missed it but why did your mortgage go up with the addition of the suite?


catalana

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Re: How to grow a mustache in such an expensive city?
« Reply #38 on: November 05, 2012, 06:03:01 AM »
I appreciate that this thread has moved on, and great news on getting the rental suite finished and tenanted!  I will repeat what others are saying though - start tracking your miscellaneous spending!  I can see so many gaps in your budget.  Some categories I have:

- Birthday and other gifts
- Christmas and other major holidays
- Healthcare (e.g. pills potions and creams)
- Beauty and haircuts
- Clothing
- Household (anything from a new doormat to cleaning products to new white goods)
- Eating out / Takeaways
- Car repairs
- Entertainment (anything from books/magazines to theatre or sport tickets)
- Professional subscriptions

Unless you track these, you will never know how much you spend, and hence never be able to take control of these costs and possibly add more to your FI pot.  Just 2-3 months of tracking, and you will be able to put an average monthly figure to many of these more annual and one-off expenses.