Author Topic: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"  (Read 3421 times)

AlanStache

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My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« on: February 15, 2014, 11:10:09 AM »
Finally got around to doing a somewhat proper review of my spending over the last 6 months.  There are a few obvious places to cut and would gladly take any pointers on other places.  Things are a bit complicated as I travel for work often (averaged 8 days gone per month in the last six months) so food and cash withdrawals can only be ball park estimates of what I spend at home.  I really donít think it is fair to count eating out when I am on the road, I do go to local grocery stores when I can, also I get per-diem that more than covers expenses, yes spending on the road is still spending but I tried to make the below comparable to most people.

Basics info: 34 not married-no kids, with GF, engineer.  No debt other than mortgage.  Car is an old Toyota-4 door, paid off years ago.  I commute ~30 min five days per week. 

Income: mid 90ís salary, have done ~115k-ish the last few years after OT and per-diem.

Savings:
> 401k, maxed for last two years - ~105k balance.
> Roth, half funded for í14, ~25k balance, 5k with lending club.  Maxed for last bunch of years.
> Taxable investment account:  ~30k
> Checking: 1k-2k, after mortgage clears I move remainder down to a bit under 1k to the taxable investment account.

Below is 6 month average of monthly spending, unless otherwise noted, data taken from Mint and in Mints categories.
Home:
> 1200$ mortgage, ~920 base with taxes-rest is paying ahead.  Owe ~105k @ 5.8%.
> 150$ condo fees
> 45$ misc home improvement, includes washer repair.
Shopping
> 533$, this includes an expensive desktop computer and two cell phones.  The computer is for a hobby and will last many years (last one lasted five), was definitely a luxury.
> 250$ without one time purchases of computer and phones, also does not include food.
   >> Of the 250$, 83$ is spent on Amazon, mostly graphic novels and odd stuff/books.  Is really a bit higher than I would have guessed.
Food and dinning
> 270$ costo and grocery store
> 83$ bars and booze for home. (This includes booze for three big parties)
> 75$ general restaurants.  This includes money spent while with family in DC on holiday, see travel.
> 12$ fast food
Utilities (all utilities done with a 12 month average, 1100 sqft condo)
> 60$ power
> 58$ trash/water
> 30$ home gas
> 133$ cable + internet (self-face punch below)
> 80$ cell phone, tmoble family plain, mom pays me 30$ for her to be on my plain, so my out of pocket is 50$.  I am without contract and have looked at cheaper options but they had shit coverage around me and no international service.  I will pay an extra 20$ per month to know I can go most anywhere in the developed world and make a call or use data w/o wifi.  If there are good options I have missed please let me know last looked in early fall.
Gifts
> 65$, npr annual renewal, make-a-wish, local food closet.
Auto/Transport
> 80$ gas
> 60$ insurance
> 50$ other, minor maintenance and tax.  We just got some tolls here so this will increase by 10$-15$ per month I would guess.
Travel:
> 110$, One trip to DC with family (only my cut included), one trip to Paris tacked onto a work trip by myself, one upgrade to business class when coming home on a 9hr flight while sick (upgrade was 250$-day of travel, yes was worth it to have a nearly flat bed, proper blanket, and good rest.)  Two trips were both two nights, and figure includes mainly hotel.
Other
> 30$ Gym.  Went back and forth long and hard on this before signing up recently but in the end it was the best way to get a proper squat rack and treadmill.  I donít have a garage to put them in and the condo living room is a bit small with low ceilings.  I would love to ditch this expense but I think it is here for now.
Cash withdrawals: here it will get complicated and wishy-washy.
> 500$; monthly average.  But this includes when I get 300$-400$ before a trip so I can pay cash while traveling-cash is king and American credit cards donít have a chip to make them work elsewhere.  When traveling I get per diem so if I spend 40$ per day on food but PD is 75$ per day I can keep the difference.  Spending less means you keep more.  But putting effort into spending less may mean few hours on the time sheet and less money over all.
> 200$, when I take out only 100$ at a time for normal walking around non-travel cash.  Also I rounded this up as I normally get back with some unspent cash that I then spend at home.  The round up also tries to cover personal spending in DC and Paris. The bulk of this probably goes to towards groceries.

Notes and self-inflicted face punches:
> I was cable free for years, got it again when my mom moved in with me.  Donít want to get into details but it has made the transition easier for her.  I will bring up hulu plus and digital over the air with her in the not to distant future or maybe get them and see if she can switch and not use cable; the tv is mostly back ground noise for her.
> Home interest and driving: I have continually put off refinancing or moving closer to work because of girlfriends and then my mom.  I would love to sit in the car 5hr per week less but larger things are playing on this for the moment.  And refinancing never made sense if I was moving in 6 months.
> Figuring out what I spend while on travel would take a good bit of work as the per diem normally comes on the same check as other fully reimbursed expenses so would take looking at all the details and subtracting them out.

I think the basics could be a bit tighter but what will make a real difference is allowing fewer one-time events to soak up 300$ at a time or spending 100$ at the liquor store for a party, but some of that is life and getting to see really cool places.  Going forward it might be interesting to not use cash at home to do a better job of tracking home vs travel spending.

Before reading MMM I still did not spend much on stupid stuff but probably wasted more than I should have on rent and name brand grocery store food.  Was sort of a lack of direction and not seeing that I could retire long before I hit 65.

Thanks for any constructive criticism and things I have missed, I will try to answer any questions for clarification I can.

EDIT: condo was bought in '09 (?) for 165, similar unit is now for sale at 162.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 11:28:43 AM by AlanStache »

anisotropy

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Re: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 11:49:54 AM »
Cash withdrawals: here it will get complicated and wishy-washy.
> 500$; monthly average.  But this includes when I get 300$-400$ before a trip so I can pay cash while traveling-cash is king and American credit cards donít have a chip to make them work elsewhere.  When traveling I get per diem so if I spend 40$ per day on food but PD is 75$ per day I can keep the difference.  Spending less means you keep more.  But putting effort into spending less may mean few hours on the time sheet and less money over all.
> 200$, when I take out only 100$ at a time for normal walking around non-travel cash.  Also I rounded this up as I normally get back with some unspent cash that I then spend at home.  The round up also tries to cover personal spending in DC and Paris. The bulk of this probably goes to towards groceries.

Ya taking cash out prior to a trip is fair, few years ago I visited Williamsport PA for an extented trip, I think I took out 400 then lived off per diem. It's tough to visit grocery stores and make your own meals when you are on the road. As long as you bring back more than you took out I think it's ok (only counting per diem, ie, not touching the salary from the trip).

lhamo

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Re: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 05:36:51 PM »
When traveling I get per diem so if I spend 40$ per day on food but PD is 75$ per day I can keep the difference.  Spending less means you keep more.  But putting effort into spending less may mean few hours on the time sheet and less money over all.


I understand the first two sentences, but not the last one.  Presumably your company is paying you to travel for X number of days to do Y amount of work.  You have to eat during those days.  But you can choose whether you are eating filet mignon or a roast beef sandwich, no?  Yes, I can understand that it might not be convenient to try to find a grocery store or learn to cook in your room with a water kettle, but $75 seems like a really generous perdiem allowance and I don't get what the $400-500 in extra cash is going to.  It sounds to me like you might be wasting a LOT of money on your trips.  The excuses about how difficult it is to track sound bogus to me.    If you want to start saving more, I would start being more conscious about your spending during that 25% of each month. 

Otherwise, you seem to have a good handle on your day to day spending but have issues with random splurge or unplanned purchases.  Did you really need a top end desktop AND two phones?  Plus another $250/month of random stuff just for the heck of it?

Food is also high, considering you are travelling so much for work and having meals paid for.  Do you have an issue with throwing food out (stuff you buy right before a trip that goes bad before you can eat it, for example).

AlanStache

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Re: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2014, 08:47:59 AM »
Quote
I understand the first two sentences, but not the last one.  Presumably your company is paying you to travel for X number of days to do Y amount of work.

Not quite, generally there is always more work to be done and put on the time sheet.  It is very rare to have any real free time or free days.  Souvenirs are almost always bought in airport gift shops, nothing crazy but you have to get the gf a t-shirt or set of chopsticks.  Also I often extend the return date if more needs to get finished.

Very rarely will I or we (I travel alone more then half the time), will eat high end.  Most often I eat in the hotel because I am in the middle of no where-they speak some english and I know what I am ordering.  I do most always travel with heat and eat food packed into my checked bag.  Then in the first few days try to get to a local grocery store but often the hotel room does not have a fridge or tea-water-boiler.

Sorry should have been more clear the cash I arrive with also is spent on fully reimbursable things like cabs, parking, subways or gas.

But yes spending less while away will mean spending less and this is probably my biggest fattiest target that does not involve a mortgage broker.

One of the phones was for my mom.  It might be worth me going back and surveying the odd one-time special expenses over the last few years and seeing what they average.  Or maybe put a budget-savings plain in place for these things.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2014, 10:08:07 AM by AlanStache »

mc6

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Re: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2014, 01:02:21 PM »
> 1200$ mortgage, ~920 base with taxes-rest is paying ahead.  Owe ~105k @ 5.8%.

> Home interest and driving: I have continually put off refinancing or moving closer to work because of girlfriends and then my mom.  I would love to sit in the car 5hr per week less but larger things are playing on this for the moment.  And refinancing never made sense if I was moving in 6 months.

Play around with some online mortgage calculators.  30 minutes from work is not horrible but 5.8% is, IMHO. 

MarciaB

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Re: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2014, 05:14:07 PM »
"Souvenirs are almost always bought in airport gift shops, nothing crazy but you have to get the gf a t-shirt or set of chopsticks."

What kind of GF needs (let alone wants) another t-shirt or some trinket like chopsticks?! Personally I would save buying this sort of stuff, and spend the money (or maybe about half the money) on flowers or some other more romantic thing. :)

AlanStache

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Re: My spending details. "thank you sir, may I have another?"
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2014, 05:57:15 PM »
But "Hooters - Mecca" t-shirts are great for the gf to workout in :-)