Author Topic: I want to try growing a stache.  (Read 9246 times)

adroit

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I want to try growing a stache.
« on: June 20, 2012, 02:08:48 PM »
Hey there,

I've been reading the blog for a couple of days now and I'm hooked. I want to take the plunge but I think I need a little hand holding (or punch to the face) to get started. Here are some details about my current status:

My wife and I are both 26. My wife is a 3rd grade teacher and I'm a software engineer.
We live in Rosengberg, TX, which is a ~30-40 minutes southwest of downtown Houston.
Our combined annual gross income is $136,000.
We are expecting our first child in late November and my wife will work until next June and then be a stay at home mom. At that point, our AGI will be $90,000 (I will probably get a raise, but when planning, I assume the worst).
Bought a house last May: 3br, 2100 sqft at $180,000 and we owe ~$141,000. Mortgage, property taxes and insurance come to ~$1140/mo.
Cash savings: $30,000. About $3000 is designated for hospital costs for when the baby comes, as that is what our deductible is. We'll save about another $1500 to offset some of the initial costs of the baby.
Investments: About $57,500 in my wife's 403b. I didn't have a 401k with my previous job and started a new one this past January. A 401k just became available last month, but they do not do any matching.
I drive a 2004 Nissan Maxima (115,000 miles) and my wife drives a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe (92,000 miles). Both are running fine and get over 20mpg (I know, not ideal, but not terrible).

Average monthly expenditures
House payments: $1140
Utilities (gas, electricity, water): $200
Gasoline: $550
Cell phone: $171 (2 iphones)
Cable & internet: $130
Car insurance: $100
Food + drinks: $1200 (this will be the first thing to tackle)
Vacation: $250
Shopping (clothes, makeup, gifts for large extended families): $600 (this will be the second thing to tackle).
Gym memberships: $50
Work related costs: $100 (books and classroom materials that the school district doesn't pay for).
We have no debt at all except for the mortgage.

This past year we had some big one time purchases with the house, furniture, yard stuff (mower, trimmer, hoses, etc). Looking at my mint.com statement, we have a lot of stuff that is labeled as misc/uncategorized (sometimes up to $1000 per month). This is for sure something that has to be identified and trimmed down. Costs may spike around the holidays with travel and gifts. I would say on average we spend about $5500 per month. I want to get this down to $3500-3800 to start, especially with my wife only working one more year and then we'll be solely living off of my income.

If it was me, I would easily be satisfied with a spartan lifestyle. I would say 95% of the shopping costs are my wife's spending. We drive at least once or twice a month up to the north side of town (~50 miles each way) to visit her family. I think I can convince her to cut down on that, but with her being pregnant it will be tough. With the shopping, I think setting a clear budget and moving to the envelope system will be key.

In my opinion, food is the biggest room for improvement, but might also be the most difficult. We looove to eat out, and usually that includes driving between 5-30 minutes depending on if we're going in to town to meet friends or not. We can cut down on this and make this a once every week or two event. Again, it will be a very hard sell to my wife. I'll continue to write down tips for grocery shopping and try to formulate a plan. To start, I'd love to move down to $500/mo total food costs and go from there.

This post is at risk of turning into a novel, so I'll wrap it up. Any help, criticism or advice is greatly appreciated.

tooqk4u22

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 02:32:57 PM »
Kudos for looking for help, acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery.  I hate to warn you but there may be a pummeling coming your way on a few of your comments, which I will leave for others. Setting that aside, I have a couple of comments:

1.  your wife is pregnant so don't think for a moment that she will be reducing her trips to see her family before the baby comes and almost define.

2.  For DW spending I had a talk with mine prior to her staying home that basically said we lose an income and therefore spending capability cause saving needs to stay the same and arguably increase to offset the risk of having a single income.  It was really important for her to stay home so she was willing to give up spending habits (not really in the spirit of MMM but you do what can to get there).


TLV

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2012, 02:57:32 PM »
Welcome to the forums!

Gasoline: $550

Ouch, that's a lot. That works out to about 45 miles per day each for you and your wife, if my calculations were correct. How much of that is from your commutes? You didn't list this as a priority, but as one of your larger budget items it's definitely something to look into optimizing, especially when you consider that driving at that rate will also lead to higher maintenance and replacement costs in the future.

Quote
Cell phone: $171 (2 iphones)
Cable & internet: $130

See this thread for ideas on how to reduce those. They can be emotionally difficult to to cut, but if you look objectively at your usage patterns and how much value these things add, you can probably save quite a bit of money here. It's also a lot easier to sustain than cuts in other areas, because you only have to make the decision/changes once and the savings will continue every month.

Quote
Car insurance: $100
This seems a bit high for two older cars. Consider shopping around and/or dropping collision coverage.

Quote
I would say on average we spend about $5500 per month.

The figures you gave only add up to ~4500 - that implies an average of $1k/mo that you don't know where it's going. That's like going to bed Friday night, and when you wake up it's Monday and you have no idea what happened to your weekend.
I would make tracking the missing things my #1 priority.

Quote
In my opinion, food is the biggest room for improvement, but might also be the most difficult. We looove to eat out, and usually that includes driving between 5-30 minutes depending on if we're going in to town to meet friends or not. We can cut down on this and make this a once every week or two event. Again, it will be a very hard sell to my wife. I'll continue to write down tips for grocery shopping and try to formulate a plan.
If it's a hard sell, make sure you don't put a burden on your wife to do the shopping/cooking/washing up, especially since she'll be staying home with the baby soon.
Plan meals at home ahead of time, so when it's time to eat you already know what to make and have the ingredients on hand.
Talk to your wife about what aspects of eating out she enjoys. If it's the food, learn to cook some meals similar to her favorite restaurants. If it's the socializing, invite friends over (consider starting a weekly potluck). If it's the not-having-to-cook-or-clean part, you can start by doing most of that yourself, but eventually you'll want to help her realize that it's much more efficient to do your own cooking than go to work to pay someone else to do it.

$_gone_amok

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2012, 03:25:51 PM »
I'm a bit older than you and your situation is just like mine a few years ago.  In our DINK period we had a lots of big ticket purchases and international travels. However, after we had our first child we cut down our expenses dramatically, mostly because we don't have the time to treat ourselves. We eat out maybe once a month because it is a hassle to bring kids to restaurants, even if we do, it will be inexpensive/kid friendly restaurants. 

I think the biggest improvement you can make is to have your wife's buy in. You can do that by having monthly family budget meetings.

Lavender

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2012, 04:21:36 PM »
$171 for two iPhones? You can surely bring that down to $100, without giving up your iPhones. I resisted smartphones for the longest time, then when a relative gave me his old iPhone (he was upgrading), I unfortunately caught the craze. My husband has an iPhone too, but we both have the minimum data plan (200 MB), no messaging, and the least number of minutes (550 to share). We also get a 10% discount through work (check with your employer to see if they offer something similar. Once the baby comes, you will have no time to talk/text anyway, and data usage will be minimal since your wife will be at home and can use the home wireless network.

Also, $600 per month on shopping, on top of $1000 extra that you don't know what you spend on....now I would try cutting that out altogether, or bringing it down to $100 (just so you/your wife don't feel like you have no fun).

Houston is a terrible place to try saving gas, or minimizing driving, or for public transportation... I feel your pain. But since your wife is quitting her job, consider maybe moving closer to where you work so you can bike, if you aren't already that close? (No, it's not too hot. I live here too. I have been walking everywhere I can and biking, which I started very recently, feels awesome in comparison. Plus, that would cut out the need for a gym membership). Or look into buses, if available. Then your monthly gasoline bills would only involve those trips to see family (and, like someone else mentioned, don't even TRY asking your pregnant wife to cut those out. She needs to see her family. Period.) You could easily shave off $200-$300 here.

Food and drinks, $1200. This could probably be halved, at least.

Work-related costs will go away when your wife quits. As will the need for new clothes and makeup.

That's $2500 in savings each month, right there.

Having said all that, it can be hard to get a spouse on board, but give her the spiel: one less income + one new mouth to feed = serious lifestyle changes.

mechanic baird

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2012, 04:35:06 PM »
We have two iphones and cost is a just a bit over $100. Not saying you can't have them, they are quite useful. But if you carefully select the plans and options, you can easily trim down some fat there..

As of food, we were just like you before, spending over $1300 for a family of 4. But ever since we started meal planning, it took about 4 months to finally get it down and this month, I am looking at our food bill around $700. That's a 50% cut almost, but it took some learning...The most effective way is to never give your excuse that "Fridge is empty, let's go out to eat". We plan it the way this will NEVER become an excuse. There is always something to cook up. Secondly, we make large batch for dinner and brown bag leftovers for lunch.. that helped tremendously. I know it is emotionally hard to trim the "eating out" budget.. That is also why it took us 4 months to do it.. It was hard, I admit.. But after you get into a rhythm and seeing the benefits of eating at your cozy comfy home, you will start to like eating at home more.. The key is planing planing planing..

Daley

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2012, 04:40:30 PM »
$171 for two iPhones? You can surely bring that down to $100, without giving up your iPhones. I resisted smartphones for the longest time, then when a relative gave me his old iPhone (he was upgrading), I unfortunately caught the craze. My husband has an iPhone too, but we both have the minimum data plan (200 MB), no messaging, and the least number of minutes (550 to share). We also get a 10% discount through work (check with your employer to see if they offer something similar. Once the baby comes, you will have no time to talk/text anyway, and data usage will be minimal since your wife will be at home and can use the home wireless network.

We have two iphones and cost is a just a bit over $100. Not saying you can't have them, they are quite useful. But if you carefully select the plans and options, you can easily trim down some fat there..

A hundred dollars, nothing. You could easily gut that bill down to $20 a month for both handsets without giving the fool things up if you're actually on iPhones. Just takes discipline, a GSM based MVNO like Airvoice or H2O Wireless and a lovely mix of WiFi, VoIP at home and alternative messaging utilities like Kik and Google Voice. (Read the linked guide.)

Got nothing else to add here. Pretty sound suggestions otherwise.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 04:43:56 PM by I.P. Daley »

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2012, 06:06:46 AM »
Kudos for looking for help, acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery.  I hate to warn you but there may be a pummeling coming your way on a few of your comments, which I will leave for others. Setting that aside, I have a couple of comments:

Haha, I figured I'd have a couple black eyes at the end of it :)

1.  your wife is pregnant so don't think for a moment that she will be reducing her trips to see her family before the baby comes and almost define.

Yeah, not the brightest idea.

2.  For DW spending I had a talk with mine prior to her staying home that basically said we lose an income and therefore spending capability cause saving needs to stay the same and arguably increase to offset the risk of having a single income.  It was really important for her to stay home so she was willing to give up spending habits (not really in the spirit of MMM but you do what can to get there).

I've started to discuss it with her bit by bit. It's definitely my fault for not sticking to a budget in the first place. We've become comfortable at our spending level so it's going to be slightly painful scaling back. I think once we develop a system it'll be much easier.

Thanks for the comments!

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2012, 06:31:22 AM »
Welcome to the forums!

Thank you!

Ouch, that's a lot. That works out to about 45 miles per day each for you and your wife, if my calculations were correct. How much of that is from your commutes? You didn't list this as a priority, but as one of your larger budget items it's definitely something to look into optimizing, especially when you consider that driving at that rate will also lead to higher maintenance and replacement costs in the future.

My commute is ~45 miles total. My wife's school is about a mile away. We live in Houston, which means to get anywhere (restaurants, church, friends, family), it is going to be at least 10 miles in one direction. I agree that it should be a priority and putting a $ amount on things like driving to midtown to meet friends for dinner (gas alone would be about $8) will help to put things in perspective.

My job is a remote position, so I could work from home or a local coffee shop every day. I just started this past January, so I've been going in to the office 3-4 days a week to put in some face time to build up good rapport. I've been here for about 6 months now, so I have been starting to work from home more and more, so that will cut down costs a good amount.

See this thread for ideas on how to reduce those. They can be emotionally difficult to to cut, but if you look objectively at your usage patterns and how much value these things add, you can probably save quite a bit of money here. It's also a lot easier to sustain than cuts in other areas, because you only have to make the decision/changes once and the savings will continue every month.

I'll look into seeing how much we can reduce our phone plan. For cable/internet, I've been thinking about removing cable altogether as we'll be getting Amazon Prime through Amazon Mom for free (http://www.amazon.com/gp/mom/signup/info) and I use Netflix streaming a ton. I think we will be able to reduce the cost by more than half by just going to an internet plan.

This seems a bit high for two older cars. Consider shopping around and/or dropping collision coverage.

We just recently switched to Geico and were paying ~$200/mo with Farmers. At our age and the coverage we get, I am pleased with this plan for now.

The figures you gave only add up to ~4500 - that implies an average of $1k/mo that you don't know where it's going. That's like going to bed Friday night, and when you wake up it's Monday and you have no idea what happened to your weekend.
I would make tracking the missing things my #1 priority.

I agree, it's quite ridiculous. Once we budget out our expenditures and move towards an envelope system to start, I think these miscellaneous items will disappear.

If it's a hard sell, make sure you don't put a burden on your wife to do the shopping/cooking/washing up, especially since she'll be staying home with the baby soon.
Plan meals at home ahead of time, so when it's time to eat you already know what to make and have the ingredients on hand.
Talk to your wife about what aspects of eating out she enjoys. If it's the food, learn to cook some meals similar to her favorite restaurants. If it's the socializing, invite friends over (consider starting a weekly potluck). If it's the not-having-to-cook-or-clean part, you can start by doing most of that yourself, but eventually you'll want to help her realize that it's much more efficient to do your own cooking than go to work to pay someone else to do it.

Socializing is probably the main factor. We rarely just go out to eat by ourselves. She actually loves cooking and I'm usually the sous-chef :) I'll almost always handle the dishes as well since she pretty much does all of the work with preparing the meal. Meal planning will be difficult, but I think once I get her onboard we'll gradually get in the habit.

AmbystomaOpacum

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2012, 06:47:26 AM »
I would agree that phone and cable are the logical places to start. Cutting food expenses takes time and energy every week.

I would highly, highly recommend NOT cutting trips to see family. You will always be able to make more money. You will never be able to make more time with family.

Before trying to set a budget, I think you need to track more precisely where the money is going. How much, for example, of food and drinks is food and how much is drinks? How much is groceries and how much is restaurant food?

Finally, a few more questions. What is your goal for saving? Have you shown your wife MMM and talked to her about why you want to save more?

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2012, 06:56:27 AM »
$171 for two iPhones? You can surely bring that down to $100, without giving up your iPhones. I resisted smartphones for the longest time, then when a relative gave me his old iPhone (he was upgrading), I unfortunately caught the craze. My husband has an iPhone too, but we both have the minimum data plan (200 MB), no messaging, and the least number of minutes (550 to share). We also get a 10% discount through work (check with your employer to see if they offer something similar. Once the baby comes, you will have no time to talk/text anyway, and data usage will be minimal since your wife will be at home and can use the home wireless network.

I just don't think this is viable. We're about half way through our billing cycle and we've used over 1GB of data and ~900 text messages (about 60 are mine). For work, I most definitely need a smart phone of some type, as I need to be able to remotely log in to servers in the case I'm not by a computer. Perhaps this is something I can pitch to my employer, but I'll probably wait until I'm there for at least a year. When the baby comes, I'm almost positive my wife's usage will stay the same or even spike, given that she's going to be sharing a LOT more pictures.

Also, $600 per month on shopping, on top of $1000 extra that you don't know what you spend on....now I would try cutting that out altogether, or bringing it down to $100 (just so you/your wife don't feel like you have no fun).

Yeah, my wife has already agreed to move to an envelope system and cut this down significantly. I think we'll start at $150/mo and see how it goes.

Houston is a terrible place to try saving gas, or minimizing driving, or for public transportation... I feel your pain. But since your wife is quitting her job, consider maybe moving closer to where you work so you can bike, if you aren't already that close? (No, it's not too hot. I live here too. I have been walking everywhere I can and biking, which I started very recently, feels awesome in comparison. Plus, that would cut out the need for a gym membership). Or look into buses, if available. Then your monthly gasoline bills would only involve those trips to see family (and, like someone else mentioned, don't even TRY asking your pregnant wife to cut those out. She needs to see her family. Period.) You could easily shave off $200-$300 here.

Yeah, Houston has got to be one of the least mobile-friendly places. Everything is so freaking spread out. The good thing is that my job is a remote position, so I'll start working from home more and more.

Food and drinks, $1200. This could probably be halved, at least.

Starting next month, we're going to budget $600 in the "food" envelope and see how it goes. I've also decided to just get water at restaurants, so I'm sure not ordering alcoholic drinks will reduce things quite a bit.

Work-related costs will go away when your wife quits. As will the need for new clothes and makeup.

My wife will think of a reason to "need" new clothes :D

That's $2500 in savings each month, right there.

Having said all that, it can be hard to get a spouse on board, but give her the spiel: one less income + one new mouth to feed = serious lifestyle changes.

Indeed. Once we start seeing results, that will help us stay motivated. Thanks for the tips!

fiveoh

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2012, 07:33:16 AM »
Hey!  I'm right around the corner from you(99 and westpark area).  Who do you use for your cable/internet?  We cut out cable a year ago and my wife complained at first but most of the shows she watchesare on the regular networks.  Netflix and/or hulu/amazon have the rest pretty much covered.  I do miss the astros games.  :(   

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2012, 07:37:29 AM »
I would agree that phone and cable are the logical places to start. Cutting food expenses takes time and energy every week.

I would highly, highly recommend NOT cutting trips to see family. You will always be able to make more money. You will never be able to make more time with family.

Before trying to set a budget, I think you need to track more precisely where the money is going. How much, for example, of food and drinks is food and how much is drinks? How much is groceries and how much is restaurant food?

May Food Expense
Groceries: $564
Restaurants: $552
Total: $1116

The grocery shopping involves 0 meal planning.

Finally, a few more questions. What is your goal for saving? Have you shown your wife MMM and talked to her about why you want to save more?

If we can get our monthly expenses down to about $3200, then I can become FI in 15 years by saving $3000/month and averaging an annual return of 7%. During that time, I can also work on side projects (web development, mobile app development, etc) that will also provide supplemental passive income.

I have not shown my wife MMM. I've casually talked about earlier retirement and financial independence to her in the past. Her dad has worked at the same BigCo for 30+ years and will probably work there until retirement age or more. Her grandfather was an orthodontist until he was 75. In the world she grew up in, people work until they are old because they have to and then they retire. I want to become financially independent so I can have the freedom to work on the things I want without the burden of it needing to provide for my family.

This is an area I really need advice with. How can I get my wife excited about the idea of being FI? Financial matters simply don't cross her mind. I get the feeling she'd start reading MMM and think he's crazy, haha.

grantmeaname

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2012, 07:46:59 AM »
Finally, a few more questions. What is your goal for saving? Have you shown your wife MMM and talked to her about why you want to save more?
This is what jumped out at me as I was reading the thread. If she doesn't get excited about it, it's gonna be a lot harder or a lot less successful. MMM's got a great article about "the talk" that's worth a read (or a re-read, for that matter).

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2012, 07:49:04 AM »
Hey!  I'm right around the corner from you(99 and westpark area).  Who do you use for your cable/internet?  We cut out cable a year ago and my wife complained at first but most of the shows she watchesare on the regular networks.  Netflix and/or hulu/amazon have the rest pretty much covered.  I do miss the astros games.  :(

Hey there, good to know a Mustachian is nearby! We currently have Comcast Xfinity Cable & Internet. I was thinking about switching to just Xfinity internet or possibly switching to AT&T U-verse. Either way, I think I could get just the internet for ~$45/month without a contract for 12-20 Mbps. This would be about 1/3 cheaper than what we're currently paying.

Have you thought about getting MLB.tv for $99/year? It'll stream to devices like Playstation, Xbox, Roku, newer TVs, etc.

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2012, 07:50:07 AM »
Finally, a few more questions. What is your goal for saving? Have you shown your wife MMM and talked to her about why you want to save more?
This is what jumped out at me as I was reading the thread. If she doesn't get excited about it, it's gonna be a lot harder or a lot less successful. MMM's got a great article about "the talk" that's worth a read (or a re-read, for that matter).

Very nice, I'll queue that one up! Tonight we're going out to a fancy dinner for our 4 year anniversary, so maybe I'll bring it up then. The irony of the situation amuses me.

fiveoh

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2012, 08:07:17 AM »
Hey!  I'm right around the corner from you(99 and westpark area).  Who do you use for your cable/internet?  We cut out cable a year ago and my wife complained at first but most of the shows she watchesare on the regular networks.  Netflix and/or hulu/amazon have the rest pretty much covered.  I do miss the astros games.  :(

Hey there, good to know a Mustachian is nearby! We currently have Comcast Xfinity Cable & Internet. I was thinking about switching to just Xfinity internet or possibly switching to AT&T U-verse. Either way, I think I could get just the internet for ~$45/month without a contract for 12-20 Mbps. This would be about 1/3 cheaper than what we're currently paying.

Have you thought about getting MLB.tv for $99/year? It'll stream to devices like Playstation, Xbox, Roku, newer TVs, etc.

I use uverse 12mb it comes out to 48 a month after taxes/fees and has been rock solid for 2 years.  Comcast has a cheaper plan but I've had horrible service with them in the past.  I also don't like the fact their advertised speeds are "up to" using their speedboost bs.  I looked in to MLB.tv and it appeared they have blackouts for local games.  :(

As far as talking to your wife goes, I slowly eased into it and didn't tell her about mmm right away.  Took more of the what are our long term goals and interests we'd like to pursue in the future approach.   Then started to explain we needed a plan to get there etc etc.  I still have to compromise with her on a lot of things. 

fiveoh

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2012, 08:35:02 AM »
Also I sent you a message about a question I had. 

Uncephalized

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2012, 09:37:32 AM »
Finally, a few more questions. What is your goal for saving? Have you shown your wife MMM and talked to her about why you want to save more?
This is what jumped out at me as I was reading the thread. If she doesn't get excited about it, it's gonna be a lot harder or a lot less successful. MMM's got a great article about "the talk" that's worth a read (or a re-read, for that matter).

Very nice, I'll queue that one up! Tonight we're going out to a fancy dinner for our 4 year anniversary, so maybe I'll bring it up then. The irony of the situation amuses me.
Lol. I wouldn't go there on MY anniversary dinner if I wasn't sure what the reaction was going to be, but hey, you know her and I don't.

Just a thought that if it's not something she finds exciting or fun to think about, or is an uncomfortable topic, you MIGHT want to consider bringing it up on a "normal" night, because she will resent you "ruining the moment" on your anniversary by bringing up money. Obviously I don't know if your wife is prone to thinking this way but many women are so I would sure as hell tread carefully. Good luck! :-)

TLV

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2012, 10:40:46 AM »
How can I get my wife excited about the idea of being FI? Financial matters simply don't cross her mind. I get the feeling she'd start reading MMM and think he's crazy, haha.

My wife started really turning around (in favor of early FI) after a couple of months as a stay-at-home mom - because 1) it's hard work even with just 1 kid, and she'd like me home more to help, and 2) she recognizes that I'm missing a lot of the baby's development by being gone to work all day.

So, my suggestion is - don't focus on the financial aspects of it. Focus on the aspects of it she does appreciate, whatever those may be. And be patient - time will help, especially if the changes you can make without her full support increase quality of life (instead of just being painful cuts).

Daley

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2012, 11:38:18 AM »
I just don't think this is viable. We're about half way through our billing cycle and we've used over 1GB of data and ~900 text messages (about 60 are mine). For work, I most definitely need a smart phone of some type, as I need to be able to remotely log in to servers in the case I'm not by a computer. Perhaps this is something I can pitch to my employer, but I'll probably wait until I'm there for at least a year. When the baby comes, I'm almost positive my wife's usage will stay the same or even spike, given that she's going to be sharing a LOT more pictures.

I was thinking about switching to just Xfinity internet or possibly switching to AT&T U-verse. Either way, I think I could get just the internet for ~$45/month without a contract for 12-20 Mbps. This would be about 1/3 cheaper than what we're currently paying.

Very nice, I'll queue that one up! Tonight we're going out to a fancy dinner for our 4 year anniversary, so maybe I'll bring it up then. The irony of the situation amuses me.

I'm typically one of the last people to deliberately "punch" someone for their thinking, but forgive me, I feel especially compelled to do it today for some inexplicable reason. Adroit, you're being irrational about your internet and cell phone usage and you should read the guide I've put together on the topic as has been suggested twice now, both by myself and TLV. I do contract IT work for a living out of my home and our total telecom bill for my wife and I averages between $60-65 a month!

I don't want to hear about how you can't possibly cut down your cell phone usage costs or your need for super ultra mega broadband service, or a need to pay $99 a year to be able to enjoy Astros games even if you're in a market that's gone cable-only for broadcast when baseball is one of those rare sports that is so laid back, relaxed and awesome when paired with a good radio broadcaster that you can sit out in a hammock on a warm summer evening with a cold beer, close your eyes, listen and thoroughly enjoy the game on AM radio like your grandparents did. I'd even go so far as to say that baseball is one of those rare sports that can actually allow you to recreate entire games in your head just reading the post-game statistics!

Sorry, bit of a rant there and the last part wasn't entirely directed at you. It's out of my system now.

Anyway, okay... data access for work on the mobile pushing a gigabyte or two. Okay, fine, workable. So's the insane level of SMS text messages. The carrier is called Ting, and it's a Sprint MVNO owned by Tucows that allows for Verizon voice roaming. The buy-in is expensive and the per-month fees aren't the cheapest in the MVNO prepaid market, but per month for 2GB of data, 1000 SMS messages and 500 minutes on two handsets would only run you $68 a month, and that's not even trying to cut back on usage or utilize alternate free texting methods like Google Voice or bringing back a home phone line via a VoIP provider for less than $10 a month to gut the minutes used. If you have GSM handsets, there's Airvoice, H2O Wireless, StraightTalk, T-Mobile, etc., etc. I won't link them all as they're already in the guide.

As for the photos? You don't need a cellphone plan and MMS functionality to send photos. There's e-mail, Picasa, Flickr and Facebook just off the top of my head. All use regular data services either from a desktop computer or via WiFi on a smartphone. There is absolutely no reason why your wife's mobile communications usage should EVER spike when she's home with wired data and voice access that you need anyway that's available for a fraction of the cost!

It may not be much towards your total saved spending goals per month, but everyone here suggesting you tackle these bills first is right. These are the easiest and most consistent things you can decimate in your budget RIGHT NOW.

As for your approach with all this, not having your wife on board, baby on the way, and considering bringing up "the talk" on your anniversary? Let me offer you a little bit of friendly if not a bit deservedly hostile marital advice from someone older than you and who has not only been happily married for ten years but also had a failed marriage under his belt from before this decade of bliss, especially since you have a child on the way. ARE YOU INSANE!? This reads like one-way ticket to Splitsville behaviors, dude, and is not going to end well. You know how the Bible draws parallels between relationships and teams of oxen, and states that for a successful marriage to work, the pair must be equally yolked? This isn't just some silly talk about spiritual beliefs like most modern believers try to paint it, defending some asinine bias towards marrying within the denomination. This is awesome, free, insanely wise sage advice that applies to every last single aspect of anyone's relationship. It is imperative that you work together as a team, unified, or it will only end in injury and destruction.

Yes, you should both get on board together and have the same goals as soon as possible so you can work together towards a unified goal. No, you do not try and do that during a special event marking a significant milestone in your relationship, especially doing it cold! She's gotta be warmed up to the idea gradually, because this is about changing some deeply seeded and ingrained patterns and habits. You have the kid on the way which will help spark the catalyst for positive change for you both, utilize that, but don't do it in a jerky way (like I feel I am in this post, unfortunately). Communication is one of the most important thing to have in your relationship, and it takes work. HARD WORK. It's not always going to be skittles and beer, and communication is going to be one of the most difficult things to even do at some of the roughest and most stressful times in your marriage, but you have to do it anyway if you want it to work, even if you don't feel like talking. Especially if you don't feel like talking. I say this only because of how you described some of the dynamic and your approach. If you know this anyway, disregard it as just an old fart showing genuine concern in what appears to be a weakness in a younger couple's relationship.

You both can do this, and I know you're early in the transition yourself, but there's a great deal of potential there to greatly improve your lives and your savings rates if you simply stop saying you can't cut back in certain areas.

Good luck, and I hope this helps give you some clarity and perspective to the process.

fiveoh

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2012, 12:00:27 PM »
I just don't think this is viable. We're about half way through our billing cycle and we've used over 1GB of data and ~900 text messages (about 60 are mine). For work, I most definitely need a smart phone of some type, as I need to be able to remotely log in to servers in the case I'm not by a computer. Perhaps this is something I can pitch to my employer, but I'll probably wait until I'm there for at least a year. When the baby comes, I'm almost positive my wife's usage will stay the same or even spike, given that she's going to be sharing a LOT more pictures.

I was thinking about switching to just Xfinity internet or possibly switching to AT&T U-verse. Either way, I think I could get just the internet for ~$45/month without a contract for 12-20 Mbps. This would be about 1/3 cheaper than what we're currently paying.

Very nice, I'll queue that one up! Tonight we're going out to a fancy dinner for our 4 year anniversary, so maybe I'll bring it up then. The irony of the situation amuses me.

I don't want to hear about how you can't possibly cut down your cell phone usage costs or your need for super ultra mega broadband service, or a need to pay $99 a year to be able to enjoy Astros games even if you're in a market that's gone cable-only for broadcast when baseball is one of those rare sports that is so laid back, relaxed and awesome when paired with a good radio broadcaster that you can sit out in a hammock on a warm summer evening with a cold beer, close your eyes, listen and thoroughly enjoy the game on AM radio like your grandparents did. I'd even go so far as to say that baseball is one of those rare sports that can actually allow you to recreate entire games in your head just reading the post-game statistics!


Just to clarify I was the one that made the Astros comment not adroit.  :)   I looked into it but decided against it and do listen to the games on the radio frequently. 

Daley

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2012, 01:13:05 PM »
Just to clarify I was the one that made the Astros comment not adroit.  :)   I looked into it but decided against it and do listen to the games on the radio frequently.

I know you were, Fiveoh, which is why I said what I did about not necessarily directing the last part entirely at him.... though he was the one who suggested MLB.tv in this thread to begin with. It's just been a bit of build-up the past couple weeks I think from the Cutting Cable thread.

As said before, I like to watch a good baseball or hockey game just as much as the next guy, but between my normally attempted passive and non face-punching approach around here and this seemingly overwhelming tide of people lately who can't justify cutting back on spending money to watch other people play sports, it finally hit my limit when combined with the other stuff quoted. My apologies to everyone for loosing my cool, especially to you Adroit.

adroit

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2012, 01:41:56 PM »
Just to clarify I was the one that made the Astros comment not adroit.  :)   I looked into it but decided against it and do listen to the games on the radio frequently.

I know you were, Fiveoh, which is why I said what I did about not necessarily directing the last part entirely at him.... though he was the one who suggested MLB.tv in this thread to begin with. It's just been a bit of build-up the past couple weeks I think from the Cutting Cable thread.

As said before, I like to watch a good baseball or hockey game just as much as the next guy, but between my normally attempted passive and non face-punching approach around here and this seemingly overwhelming tide of people lately who can't justify cutting back on spending money to watch other people play sports, it finally hit my limit when combined with the other stuff quoted. My apologies to everyone for loosing my cool, especially to you Adroit.

No problem, I have thick skin :) I'll be able to respond in depth when I have more time later, but I greatly appreciate all of the feedback given so far.

Just one note, my idea of bringing up all the finance stuff tonight at dinner was slightly tongue in cheek - so no worries of the special night turning sour.

Bank

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2012, 04:18:31 PM »
I won't beat on stuff that's already mentioned, but if I were in your position the first thing I would do is get rid of one of those gas guzzlers.  Your Maxima is worth about $6K, KBB value.  You get yourself into a used Scion or comparable car of similar vintage and your MPG could easily go up by 40%.  If you take the more fuel efficient car for most long drives you could cut that gas bill down by almost the same percentage.  That's over $200 more into your stash every month, just by changing ONE of the vehicles you drive (no need to convince your wife to give up her Santa Fe before you have "the talk").  That's seriously low hanging fruit.

On the investing side, is there a reason you have so much cash on hand?  If not, those employees should be put to work.  Get yourself a Roth IRA and fund it fully.  And now that you have a 401(k) -- unless the options are really shitty and the fees are high -- max that out too.  Even without an employer match, tax free and tax deferred compounding of investment gains is a powerful method to build one's stash.

Lastly --- don't be me.  I have pissed away tens of thousands of dollars paying people to bring me drinks I don't need and food I shouldn't be eating.  If I had saved that money, I would likely be retired in a few years.  Instead, I'm ten years older than you and looking at another ten years of working.

Good luck putting it all together and talking this through with your wife.

mechanic baird

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2012, 04:33:06 PM »

Lastly --- don't be me.  I have pissed away tens of thousands of dollars paying people to bring me drinks I don't need and food I shouldn't be eating.  If I had saved that money, I would likely be retired in a few years.  Instead, I'm ten years older than you and looking at another ten years of working.

No joking there.. When we were younger in our 20's, we would pay some 8 dollar fine money to order one tiny drink! Now I look back and was like "WTF"?!!

Before we started attacking our "eating out" habit, we were like 400 - 500 bucks each month sinking in the restaurants..June is almost over, we have spent $88 so far, one of them was a birthday outing.. Anyway.. Ur right on about throwing thousands of dollars away paying ppl bringing food and drink that we don't need

wilk916

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #26 on: June 21, 2012, 04:59:00 PM »
For cable/internet, I've been thinking about removing cable altogether as we'll be getting Amazon Prime through Amazon Mom for free (http://www.amazon.com/gp/mom/signup/info) and I use Netflix streaming a ton. I think we will be able to reduce the cost by more than half by just going to an internet plan.

Not to burst any bubbles, but Amazon Mom is a "special version" of Amazon Prime and does not include free streaming... just free shipping.

cats

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #27 on: June 21, 2012, 05:31:20 PM »
Seems like you are getting lots of good advice on the cable/internet/phone front, I thought I'd chime in on the food/eating out front.

If you mainly go out to eat to socialize, how about switching over to hosting a potluck (minimal work and very little expense) or even just cooking dinner for your friends.  You can do a potluck very cheaply (as everyone brings something), and even if you cook an entire dinner for 6, you probably won't spend any more than you would eating out for 2.  Especially if you start doing a little meal planning and shape your menu around cheap but tasty foods.  You can EASILY cut your food/restaurant bill in half with a little resolve and planning.

I'd also really try to itemize what is going on with that "shopping" section of the budget, it seems to cover a LOT of different kinds of purchases!  Maybe figure out what the biggest portion of the shopping budget is and then figure out how to do that more cheaply?  For example, if it's gifts, perhaps discuss with your family the idea of mutually agreeing not to buy gifts, or at least set a price limit?

AmbystomaOpacum

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Re: I want to try growing a stache.
« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2012, 07:38:19 AM »
May Food Expense
Groceries: $564
Restaurants: $552
Total: $1116

The grocery shopping involves 0 meal planning.

I really don't think the grocery spending is that bad. If you want to save on food, I'd focus on the restaurant spending.

For me, one of the easiest ways of saving money on restaurant spending was realizing that (for me at least) it's just as fun to be a regular at a local pizza joint than it is to try a new nicer restaurant every week. My wife and I can go out for pizza and beer (or burgers and beer) for about $25. For us, at least, that's enough of an "out" experience to satisfy the urge without spending a lot on trying a new nicer place.

If we can get our monthly expenses down to about $3200, then I can become FI in 15 years by saving $3000/month and averaging an annual return of 7%. During that time, I can also work on side projects (web development, mobile app development, etc) that will also provide supplemental passive income.

I have not shown my wife MMM. I've casually talked about earlier retirement and financial independence to her in the past. Her dad has worked at the same BigCo for 30+ years and will probably work there until retirement age or more. Her grandfather was an orthodontist until he was 75. In the world she grew up in, people work until they are old because they have to and then they retire. I want to become financially independent so I can have the freedom to work on the things I want without the burden of it needing to provide for my family.

This is an area I really need advice with. How can I get my wife excited about the idea of being FI? Financial matters simply don't cross her mind. I get the feeling she'd start reading MMM and think he's crazy, haha.

I think you need to probe even deeper on this goal. Why do you want to be financially independent in 15 years? Why do you want the freedom to work on things you want?

I ask, because I think if you get to the heart of the goal (which for me was "I want to work from home on my time so I can have the time and energy to be with my family"), then it's a lot easier to sell than, "hey, let's cut our spending in half."