Author Topic: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?  (Read 3522 times)

MrsSpendyPants

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Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« on: May 23, 2020, 10:35:27 AM »
Our income has been halved.  I'm having trouble cutting expenses to make it fit and need some specific ideas.

First of, I would love to be able to continue my extra mortgage payment as it would finish off the mortgage by the end of the year.

Monthly budget: 8600

Mortgage P&I - 2300
(33k left at 3.75% on 425k, house does not conform to a standard loan so it's financed by a community bank, cannot take advantage of low interest)

Extra Mortgage payment - 2000

Property Taxes - 625

Home, Auto, Umbrella, Mine subsidence insurance - 167 (paid annually)

Tractor payment - 389 (11k left at 0%)

Water - 110

Electricity - 155
(I actually average almost 400 a month in electricity but when I went online to get an even pay plan, they said my average would be 155 so I am going with it for now)

Daycare - 1100

Gym - 100 (company was reimbursing for it but they pulled that recently so I'll be on the hook for this when the gym opens until my contract ends)

Cell phone - 100 (Two Straight Talk plans.  Need data (averaging 10gb+ a month each), texting, and voice that uses the Verizon network.  Don't want to buy new phones so Xfinity is out)

Animals - 600
Average 180 a month in vet bills (three old dogs, including one going through cancer treatment)
Average 100 in chicken food
Average 200 in cat food/cat litter (we feed a lot of feral cats)
Average 120 in dog food
Currently use Chewy and look for sales on Petsmart/Amazon

Gas/Car repairs/car inspections and registrations - 375
(2008 Honda Civic with 215,000 miles and 2015 Subaru Forester with 110,000 miles)

Subscriptions - 35 (Netflix, Amazon Prime, SiriusXM which is only 5)

Comcast Internet - 95 (we have no other providers in the area, I have threatened to leave multiple times and they said they can't do anything at all about the price so I was welcome to leave)

Food/Misc - 800.  Soda is our budget killer.  My husband won't drink anything but diet Soda.  I have tried to get him to change for a decade.  Any places that sell soda cheaper than others?

Total - 8851

This does not count medical costs.  We always hit our OOP which is 12k so should be budgeting 1000 a month but we're only 1600 away from hitting 12k so hoping I can somehow cut other things to save the 1600.

Ideas on how to cut things from my budget?

Thanks!

lhamo

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 11:52:52 AM »
The spending on animals is really high.  I know you love your dogs, but is the cancer treatment really necessary?  Can you get some of your chicken's dietary needs from other sources (there are lots of weeds they love -- can you offer to weed neighbors' yards or take their yard/food waste in exchange for some eggs)?  Will the feral cats survive if you reduce or stop feeding them?  Are you diligently doing TNR to keep the population in check?

What is the fee to break the gym contract?

How old are your kids/how long will you need daycare for them?  If one person's income is gone can they take over childcare responsibilities?

Do you really need/use Netflix and Prime enough to warrant the expense?  I am finding I watch more on Hulu than Netflix these days, and I got Hulu for $2/month during their black friday sale.  Does your library system offer streaming services?  Can you plan ahead better so that you get free shipping on Amazon stuff without paying for Prime?  Can you put up with ads on Pandora instead of using SeriusXM?

Can you reduce both water and electricity use?  I have containers by my sink and a basin in my shower so that I catch all the water used while waiting for the hot water to arrive -- I use that water for plants.  Would adding insulation improve heat/AC efficiency?  Can you reduce the use of heat/AC by adjusting everyone's ability to deal with cold/heat (when we lived in a highrise with west facing windows in China I got us able to tolerate up to 88F during the day/85F at night in summer and 60F in winter)

Understand the urge to pay off your mortgage but at this point most of your payment is going to principal anyway so until you can restore some income I would focus on just staying on top of the regular payment + reducing elsewhere and building up what savings you can -- you guys would be in a world of hurt if you lost the other job without some savings to back you up.

former player

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2020, 01:17:25 PM »
Your house with land and your number of animals and your husband's soda habit have are all fixed (more or less) costs that have been upsized to go with the upsized income that you used to have.  Unfortunately your income has been downsized more easily than any of those fixed costs.  I think the first question is: how long are you going to have to make do on this lower income, and do you have the cash reserves to see you through?  If you can subsidize your lifestyle until more income is coming in then you are taking a financial hit but not an insurmountable one. The real problem comes if this new state of more going out than coming in starts to look permanent, or at least as though it will outrun your cash reserves.  At that point you have to make the hard choices and the trick is to not leave making those choices so late that you lose everything.

Can you make money from your land?  Use the tractor to take a hay crop and sell it?  Board animals for money?  Sell timber?  Sell the right to fish?  What about camping? - there's going to be a big demand for camping sites this summer.  If you want to keep that expensive property it needs to start making some money back for you.  Do you sell the eggs from the chickens?  I would want a lot of eggs from them for $1,200 a year.

I'm with lhamo on the need to stop your feral cats from reproducing and on cancer treatment for an old dog: I know it's hard to have a dog put down for illness but it's one of those things that is hard on you, not the dog.

How much does your husband's soda cost?  Is there something he is willing to give up in order to pay for it?

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2020, 04:39:25 PM »
That truly sucks that your income has been cut in half. Itís still challenging to not view what youíve written with disbelief. All of the answers seem obvious and jump off the screen, but itís really about what your family will actually do. It seems pointless for us to take the time to tell you things weíre sure you know. All I can see is a back and forth with you defending not making these changes. If it were me I easily: stop with the extra mortgage payments, focus on my family and not all the extra animals and cut everything else that isnít essential. Not even going to touch the husband soda thing, whatís the point? Internet strangers canít solve that so the deep cuts have to come somewhere else. To me this situation wonít improve until your family confronts the problem on the nose and admits it canít afford the life style and needs to change. Nothing else we say will help if there is no admission that there is a problem and a commitment to sacrifice to overcome the problem. Nothing.

AliEli

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2020, 05:09:50 PM »
Stop feeding the feral cats. If it's not your pet, don't encourage them to come visit.

Gone_Hiking

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2020, 05:22:56 PM »
Oh, crud, this sucks.  I'm sorry.

What jumps out at me is two things:  the 2K a month as an additional mortgage payment and the food for feral cats.  While I understand the desire to pay off the mortgage, shrinking additional contribution and extending the number of payments by a few months might be your only option, unless you have savings that can contribute to the gap between current pay and expenses for another seven months.  The cat food item seems to me, when compared to the mortgage, mostly insignificant, but in the light of your situation even a hundred dollars less in spending will help.   Others have already mentioned the cat issue and I won't thread in there. 

One more thing: does your husband understand gravity of the situation or is the budget stress felt only by you?

MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2020, 05:52:40 PM »
Looking through the posts and will answer but wanted to comment on the cats - yes they are all TNRed, we feed two different colonies and have been for years.  Would love to figure out if I can make it cheaper before I consider cutting it out all together, they do depend on the feeding.

And we do have savings. 60k in cash, 60k in IBonds, and 30k in taxable, not counting retirement/529s. 

Thanks for all of the help!

shuffler

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2020, 07:08:25 PM »
What changes have you made since you asked this question ~9mo ago?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/trying-to-live-on-100k

lhamo

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2020, 07:56:48 PM »
What, exactly, is your income now?

MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2020, 09:21:18 PM »
What changes have you made since you asked this question ~9mo ago?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/trying-to-live-on-100k

We still had our larger income at that point so didn't feel as urgent to do it.  But we cut:
Comcast TV just to internet
Dye my own hair and haven't had a cut since
Switched the type of gravel we use for driveway and just pump out water so less plumber/home maintenance cost
Switched electricity provider and switched to average use per month billing option
Cut kid supplies/misc down significantly

To answer other questions:
As for income, we are now going to make 150k a year.

I am contemplating getting rid of some of my chickens.  Our chickens free range but they still seem starved so they get fed twice a week.

Considering getting rid of Netflix but my elderly FIL uses it all the time which makes me hesitant but we may have to do it.  We do use prime quite constantly but going to see if I can go a month without using it.

We did have an energy audit done and we can add insulation to cut electricity costs.  Just don't know if I want to outlay those costs right now when our income is down.  What would you do?  We have a long ranch house so it's a lot of insulation.

Will look into gym fee to break the contract, that's a good point.

My husband goes through about $30 in soda a week.

I love the idea of renting out for camping!  Any idea what liability insurance might run for that?  We have a wonderful property for that, including a stocked pond.

And you all are right, this is so hard to do because we love our life style.  We're supposed to be at this income until at least the end of the year and then "everything will be re-evaluated." 

Appreciate everyone's thoughts!

lhamo

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 09:46:01 PM »
OK, in the other thread you said your base was only 100k so I was wondering how you were going to make this work on 50k....

Not saying you shouldn't try to cut back, but you should be fine if the income stays at 150k.  I would stop making the extra mortgage payments for now -- just pile that money into savings and if/when the cushion gets big enough for you to feel safe if you lost your job or had other significant losses in income you could ride it out for a good long period.  For me that would be 12-24 months.  If you have been working in oil and gas maybe longer.

If your SO is likely to be out of work for a long stretch their "job" needs to be finding creative ways to save money or bring in side income.  They can do stuff like looking for ways to pay for the insulation, collecting other people's kitchen scraps to feed the chickens, and doing more of the childcare (cutting down on that daycare bill is a big contribution).  Can you guys try one of those soda stream type things as an alternative to the soda habit?  Or seltzer water with lemon or lime?  Seriously -- I know it is hard to break habits when under stress, but they are an adult and this is something reasonable to ask.

meandmyfamily

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2020, 08:38:47 AM »
Another thought would be to pay off the mortgage with your 60k savings now!  Then save the $4300 a month you were paying while you cut other areas.

AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2020, 11:50:30 AM »
Why don't you just stop the extra principal payments?  Puts you way under budget and let's you continue do the things that you like doing.  I agree that the netflix and other piddly things aren't going to make much difference when your animal budget is what it is.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2020, 02:20:51 PM »
OK, in the other thread you said your base was only 100k so I was wondering how you were going to make this work on 50k....

Not saying you shouldn't try to cut back, but you should be fine if the income stays at 150k.  I would stop making the extra mortgage payments for now -- just pile that money into savings and if/when the cushion gets big enough for you to feel safe if you lost your job or had other significant losses in income you could ride it out for a good long period.  For me that would be 12-24 months.  If you have been working in oil and gas maybe longer.

If your SO is likely to be out of work for a long stretch their "job" needs to be finding creative ways to save money or bring in side income.  They can do stuff like looking for ways to pay for the insulation, collecting other people's kitchen scraps to feed the chickens, and doing more of the childcare (cutting down on that daycare bill is a big contribution).  Can you guys try one of those soda stream type things as an alternative to the soda habit?  Or seltzer water with lemon or lime?  Seriously -- I know it is hard to break habits when under stress, but they are an adult and this is something reasonable to ask.

Iíve looked into this before, and Iím sure it can be googled, but theyíve done some work to show that soda stream wonít actually reduce the costs. Iíd honestly leave this alone.

Ha! Just looked at the previous case study where I did try to give advice regarding stopping the soda thing and can see that went nowhere so yeah, Iíd give up on that idea.

Soda isnít the problem and neither is Netflix. Itís the extra mortgage payments and the animals and daycare. You canít drop daycare unless someone becomes SAH. Youíre unwilling to do anything about the animals, so it leaves the extra mortgage payments, which seems obvious but Iím sure youíll have an answer for keeping them going. Otherwise there isnít a magic bullet. You canít lose half your income and have exactly the same lifestyle unless your lifestyle was designed around half your income.

Maybe tell us how youíre thinking you and your husband together are going to pull this off and get feedback on your plan, instead of us suggesting things you wonít change?
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 02:32:24 PM by MrThatsDifferent »

Scotland2016

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2020, 07:42:45 PM »
You're going to get rid of Netflix which your elderly FIL uses all the time, but you won't stop feeding feral cats and your husband won't get the soda habit under control. Wow.

MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2020, 08:09:12 PM »
To clarify - DH is still working, our household income got halved so we now make 150k combined.

Spoke with work and we are likely going to be allowed to alternate days at home and in the office in order to save on daycare.  I'm not sure that will work without sitting our son in front of the tv all day so I'm waiting for daycare to give me prices on part time daycare.  That should fix the problem until we can pay off the mortgage.

If I take out 15k from savings, I'll be done with the mortgage right around September which will give me some more wiggle room and since the mortgage will be done, 45k in savings will still be 6 months in expenses.

I found a less expensive prescription food for my one cat that needs it so I'll try that and see how it goes.  I'll be switching the feral cats to more dry food rather than wet food which is more expensive. 

Got subscriptions down to $21 from $35.

Keep ideas coming!  Thanks!

AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2020, 08:19:50 PM »
.....you were feeding feral cats wet food?

I'd take a hard look at everything everyone is saying to you, and why they are saying it. 

I can pick up a case of 30 diet pepsi's at Costco for like $9.99.  Is he seriously drinking like 90 a week? 



MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2020, 08:26:38 PM »
.....you were feeding feral cats wet food?

I'd take a hard look at everything everyone is saying to you, and why they are saying it. 

I can pick up a case of 30 diet pepsi's at Costco for like $9.99.  Is he seriously drinking like 90 a week?

Yes, it's healthier for them so saves on vet costs.  I don't do much charitable giving so I count this as my good deed.

And it's probably closer to ten cans a day.  He literally drinks nothing else - no water, no milk, no coffee, etc.  I think I'll try and get him to buy two liters instead because he doesn't always finish the whole can. 

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2020, 09:54:39 PM »
Congrats on those changes youíve made or will make. Outside of having food life insurance policies and updated wills, Iím not sure what more anyone can suggest for you? Most things should be doable on a salary of $150k.

Cgbg

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2020, 10:40:37 PM »
At ten cans a day, you might have another decrease in income.

Thatís a seriously bad habit. Not to mention a bad habit in excess. I canít even imagine what 10 cans (or two 2-liters) of soda a day does to a person. Not sure it matters much that itís diet soda. Thatís just a crap ton of soda. He must be permanently dehydrated.

Wet cat food for ferals?!! Theyíre not your cats. Throw out some dry food and move on. These arenít pets. Theyíre probably not keeping your mice population down since youíre giving them awesome wet food. Let them find their own wet food.

Reduce your flock of chickens unless youíre making money off of them. Thatís a lot to spend on feed. Do you have like 80? Or are you feeding organic layer food from a specialty store? I have to ask, because 50 lbs of feed is like $15 here. Free range, theyíre going to eat a lot less.

Take care of your dog in the way you see fit.

You have plenty of money, just some odd priorities.

Scotland2016

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2020, 09:49:17 AM »
Wait..... you are feeding the feral cats wet food because it saves on vet costs? You are taking feral cats to the vet?
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 09:51:02 AM by Scotland2016 »

waltworks

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2020, 10:28:25 AM »
If you want to feed feral cats, that's your call.

But calling it a "good deed" sticks in my craw a bit. If you were donating money to a food bank or fostering a kid or any number of other things that actually helps a human being, I'd say that's a good deed.

But you are feeding invasive animals that arguably harm the local environment (ie kill native birds and amphibians) that aren't even pets. Spending money that could do actual good in the world. Presumably because you think cats are cute.

Again, that's your call. You're not doing too much harm. But you're not doing a good deed. You're harming the world a little bit, and wasting money too.

-W

MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2020, 01:30:13 PM »
If you want to feed feral cats, that's your call.

But calling it a "good deed" sticks in my craw a bit. If you were donating money to a food bank or fostering a kid or any number of other things that actually helps a human being, I'd say that's a good deed.

But you are feeding invasive animals that arguably harm the local environment (ie kill native birds and amphibians) that aren't even pets. Spending money that could do actual good in the world. Presumably because you think cats are cute.

Again, that's your call. You're not doing too much harm. But you're not doing a good deed. You're harming the world a little bit, and wasting money too.

-W

So you would prefer these cats get rabies and die in the streets?  I'm doing exactly what needs done to prevent this invasive species from multiplying and spreading disease by spaying/neutering and making sure they get rabies shots and vet care as needed (putting injured cats to sleep as needed or treating them for simple things like mange so they don't suffer).  What do you propose we do instead - catch and shoot them?  Or just ignore the problem while people complain about it?

Some information on the topic: https://www.alleycat.org/our-work/trap-neuter-return/

« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 01:38:19 PM by MrsSpendyPants »

waltworks

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2020, 02:00:12 PM »
Yes I would shoot them. Or let coyotes eat them/nature have it's way. I certainly would not use resources on them that could easily save multiple human lives in the right place/time. I'd love to hear you explain your wet-food cat feeding and regular vet visits to some of the homeless families that come in to the food bank I volunteer at. Like, to their faces, as in "this random cat that isn't even my pet gets to go to the doctor if she's sick, but you don't". That would be priceless.

Setting that aside, I like birds and wild animals better, even if the money/time/resources were going to be wasted on something else anyway.

This sort of reminds me of the wild horse problems here in UT/the southwest generally. People think they're cute and don't like the idea of killing them, but they're killing everything else and destroying the environment. Since people don't see those secondary/tertiary effects directly, they refuse to allow the animals to just be killed, but they also don't want to pay to house/feed hundreds of thousands of wild horses, so...

-W

MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2020, 02:26:54 PM »
Yes I would shoot them. Or let coyotes eat them/nature have it's way. I certainly would not use resources on them that could easily save multiple human lives in the right place/time. I'd love to hear you explain your wet-food cat feeding and regular vet visits to some of the homeless families that come in to the food bank I volunteer at. Like, to their faces, as in "this random cat that isn't even my pet gets to go to the doctor if she's sick, but you don't". That would be priceless.

Setting that aside, I like birds and wild animals better, even if the money/time/resources were going to be wasted on something else anyway.

This sort of reminds me of the wild horse problems here in UT/the southwest generally. People think they're cute and don't like the idea of killing them, but they're killing everything else and destroying the environment. Since people don't see those secondary/tertiary effects directly, they refuse to allow the animals to just be killed, but they also don't want to pay to house/feed hundreds of thousands of wild horses, so...

-W

Nowhere did I say that they got regular vet care.  A new cat in the area gets caught and gets neutered/spayed and get its rabies shot.  Then it gets released back in the area and only get vet care if it appears to need to be put down or if it needs vet care (leg is hanging off for example).  Wet food keeps them healthier so I don't have to spend money on vet care plus leaving dry food out just causes raccoons.  I like to keep those and coyotes away as they feast on my chickens before they go for the cats.  Glad to hear you would shoot cats.

Some people donate to food shelters, some people have to take care of the things no one else wants to take care of.  Not neutering/spaying cats would cause a great increase in the amount of cats out there which is harmful for the environment.  Someone has to take care of that problem and in my neighborhood, that person is me.

So in your example of wild horses, I'm assuming you are volunteering to round them up and shoot them?  Otherwise you're just complaining about them but not taking care of the problem either way.  I refuse to shoot the cats so I'm minimizing their effect on the environment as best as I can.

waltworks

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2020, 02:39:16 PM »
No, you're feeding them. You are actively helping them destroy the environment. Spaying them is great, but they still have years left to kill native animals even if they don't reproduce. In Australia, they poison feral cats as fast as they can, and there's actually a bounty as well, so I suppose if I lived there (and was very bored) I could indeed make some money doing it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/magazine/australia-cat-killing.html

You also, really, have to read the Australian government's letter to Bridget Bardot about it:
http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/8bde0309-4f18-4bab-bda8-fc3d78bb5c75/files/brigitte-bardot-response.pdf

Money quote (they're referring to each cat): "feral cats kill at least 5 animals per night."

I have no interest in shooting horses myself (if paid to do so, I wouldn't have a problem doing it, though) and it wouldn't be legal for me to do so anyway. That doesn't mean I spend my time feeding them or assisting them in wrecking the landscape.

Maybe you should think of the cats as cane toads with fur. They're basically the same - invasive, destructive, all over the place. Would you feed them too? It might seem humane to spay/neuter and release them, because you hate seeing pain or death. But you are adding to the pain and death, just not witnessing it.

And besides, you're wasting a ton of money, which is what you wanted help with. The cat thing is definitely wasting money.

-W

BikeFanatic

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2020, 03:18:46 PM »
I know people who have feral outdoor cats as pets, nothing wrong with having pets. I f they indeed kill 5 animals every night (and I donít believe it) that means they donít have to be fed.

waltworks

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2020, 03:22:19 PM »
Many domesticated pet cats kill an animal or two a day when they're not even hungry. Some just basically spend their days killing (there's one in our neighborhood that trots back and forth with a vole or mouse or bird multiple times a day, every day) I'd believe feral cats doing several times that.

https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/cats-kill-billions-animals-annually-study-finds/story?id=18357853

They estimate cats in the US kill 10% of the bird population *every year*.

But I'll stop with the cats thing. It's a potential money savings, that's all.

-W
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 03:27:09 PM by waltworks »

CrustyBadger

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2020, 06:53:49 PM »
MrsSpendyPants,

Do you have disability insurance, or life insurance?  I don't see those anywhere in your expenses.

What about a college savings account?

I would look at that $600 you are spending on animal care (and the $80 you are spending on sodas) and compare it with the amount you are spending to provide for your child should something happen to you, or to have for college expenses.


Loud Noises

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #29 on: May 26, 2020, 08:34:55 AM »
On the mortgage, I would say THIS WEEK, either:

Pay it off from your savings, eliminating the expense.
or
Recast it with your servicer, reducing your payment obligation to a tiny fraction of what it currently is, because you've made so many extra payments (should cost only a few hundred dollars, tops).  This preserves maximum liquidity during uncertainty.

Choose what you prefer, but choose one.  There is no reason to continue status quo here.

I also see either a present or future connection between the $1500/year soda drinking and high healthcare costs.  But you can only lead a horse to water, so that's that.

You have made clear that the other high costs are fixed, so as a result, I see your situation being solved by addressing the mortgage as I mentioned.  But nothing will pay more dividends than taking care of your health.

ontheway2

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #30 on: May 26, 2020, 11:03:22 AM »
I see so many items that can be reduced in your budget, but others have already touched on them.  Regarding the soda, how much is your husband drinking? I have been trying to reduce my soda intake, but $30/week is like 12 cans/day. Is he drinking just regular diet soda, or is it something more expensive?

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2020, 02:19:12 PM »
I see so many items that can be reduced in your budget, but others have already touched on them.  Regarding the soda, how much is your husband drinking? I have been trying to reduce my soda intake, but $30/week is like 12 cans/day. Is he drinking just regular diet soda, or is it something more expensive?

Sheís responded to this: 10 cans a day and he wonít consume any other liquid.

Iím wondering if there is an underlying mental health issue here as that seems to be atypical. Not my partner though, so not my issue to deal with.

parkerk

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2020, 03:34:57 PM »
Can I ask how on-board your husband is with the MMM lifestyle in general?  I absolutely understand how much harder it is to make changes when they affect others and not just yourself.  Like, if he's already on board I'd suggest sitting down together with your expenses and digging deep on what can be changed.  If he's the kind that just goes along with whatever you do for yourself but doesn't want big changes for himself, that's a lot more complicated!

If you haven't seen it already the "how to convert your spouse" thread is great: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/

Aside from the soda thing is there room in your grocery budget for improvement?  APowers' $200 a month grocery thread is awesome inspiration in this area even if you don't think you can go quite that low:  https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/have-a-sub-$200month-grocery-budget/ 

The only practical advice I can give on soda is that buying in 2L bottles instead of cans and switching to store brand instead of name brand will both be cheaper, but you probably already know that.

Smarter people than I have already commented on the mortgage.   Any chance of becoming a one-car family?  That's the only other one that jumps out at me but obviously I don't know your circumstances around that.

Good luck with everything!

habaneroNorway

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2020, 04:11:37 AM »
Ecosystem 101 : The more food, the more animals.

You are not solving any feral cat problem. You are paying top money to maintain it.

ericrugiero

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2020, 02:35:04 PM »
Ecosystem 101 : The more food, the more animals.

You are not solving any feral cat problem. You are paying top money to maintain it.

That was my first thought as well but she is paying to have them spayed/neutered.  She is just drawing them all to her area but they won't be having kittens. 

OP.  At $150K/year you have plenty of money.  With 60K in the bank you could pay off the rest and that balances your budget.  Or, you could cut back to the minimum payments and let it pay off over time.  You do have lots of waste in soda, pet care, groceries, etc.    That waste isn't going to kill you short term but it will affect your time to FI. 

I agree with the posts above that the diet soda habit is a problem.  It's not the money (you waste more on pet care) it's the health problems that follow. 

freya

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2020, 03:44:47 PM »
A suggestion for husband's diet soda habit:  buy a sodastream and some of those sugar free flavorings with stevia, and have him make his own "soda".  Sparkling water by itself may be enough to get him off the soda, and over time this is a lot cheaper not to mention healthier.  Or just buy seltzer water at the grocery if you can get it for less than a dollar a liter.

I've also heard of people who buy large industrial size but food-grade C02 canisters and hack their sodastream to draw from it.  It reduces the cost of sparkling water to something like 25 cents a liter.

I also would suggest paying the minimum on the mortgage and banking the rest.  I know it's tempting to pay it off and be done, but in these uncertain times, and with a lot of inflexible spending "rocks" in your budget, you need a healthy cash cushion.  $60K in savings doesn't sound anywhere near enough to me.  I also echo the sentiments of the poster who asked why future college expenses for the kids, life insurance, and lifestyle changes to improve health for whoever is incurring those high medical bills are lower priority than feral cats, chickens, and soda.   I realize that from your point of view your actions are totally reasonable, but just think how this looks to the readers whose responses you've solicited.

waltworks

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2020, 04:20:46 PM »
If anyone wants to know how to do their own sparkling water with CO2 tank and regulator, just ask. It's an easy hack and you'll recoup your costs in a few months. Plus it's cool.

-W

Steeze

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2020, 06:38:38 PM »
.....you were feeding feral cats wet food?

I'd take a hard look at everything everyone is saying to you, and why they are saying it. 

I can pick up a case of 30 diet pepsi's at Costco for like $9.99.  Is he seriously drinking like 90 a week?

Yes, it's healthier for them so saves on vet costs.  I don't do much charitable giving so I count this as my good deed.

And it's probably closer to ten cans a day.  He literally drinks nothing else - no water, no milk, no coffee, etc.  I think I'll try and get him to buy two liters instead because he doesn't always finish the whole can.

When I first went to college I lived with a faculty member who was also a triathlete. At that time I drank 6+ cans a day along with a couple energy drinks which I had been doing for several years. I came home one day and he had two giant bags of empty cans in the living room. He sat me down and told me I was killing myself, he was legitimately concerned and begged me to quit cold turkey.

Caffeine and sugar in those amounts is extremely addictive, and the withdraw from it sucks, but isnít dangerous, mostly just terrible headaches, fatigue, and irritability. I highly recommend your husband consider giving up the soda for a few weeks and then only indulge on occasion. 1 or 2 sodas a month is still a lot. To each their own - but a habit like that will cost a lot more than $30/wk at some point.

Consider green tea (no sweetener) to ween off of it - that way you still have something to enjoy and a little caffeine bump. Then try to work in some decaf teas, I liked the Apple cinnamon tea. Eventually just drink only water for a while.

To this day I do not buy soda for the house. I will buy a single can once in a while if I am out for lunch, but I cannot help but binge if itís in the house. Good decision start at the grocery store by not buying it in the first place.

Best of luck - hope he gets in control of the habit before itís too late.


20957

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2020, 09:48:20 PM »
Do you really use Prime "all the time"? That shopping is something to examine right there. And if $800 is for just groceries, I bet you can cut that by a lot. If your husband is not currently doing meal planning/shopping then you might bring him in and set him a challenge- save $120/month in other food costs and you get to keep the soda.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #39 on: May 28, 2020, 06:39:14 AM »
.....you were feeding feral cats wet food?

I'd take a hard look at everything everyone is saying to you, and why they are saying it. 

I can pick up a case of 30 diet pepsi's at Costco for like $9.99.  Is he seriously drinking like 90 a week?

Yes, it's healthier for them so saves on vet costs.  I don't do much charitable giving so I count this as my good deed.

And it's probably closer to ten cans a day.  He literally drinks nothing else - no water, no milk, no coffee, etc.  I think I'll try and get him to buy two liters instead because he doesn't always finish the whole can.

When I first went to college I lived with a faculty member who was also a triathlete. At that time I drank 6+ cans a day along with a couple energy drinks which I had been doing for several years. I came home one day and he had two giant bags of empty cans in the living room. He sat me down and told me I was killing myself, he was legitimately concerned and begged me to quit cold turkey.

Caffeine and sugar in those amounts is extremely addictive, and the withdraw from it sucks, but isnít dangerous, mostly just terrible headaches, fatigue, and irritability. I highly recommend your husband consider giving up the soda for a few weeks and then only indulge on occasion. 1 or 2 sodas a month is still a lot. To each their own - but a habit like that will cost a lot more than $30/wk at some point.

Consider green tea (no sweetener) to ween off of it - that way you still have something to enjoy and a little caffeine bump. Then try to work in some decaf teas, I liked the Apple cinnamon tea. Eventually just drink only water for a while.

To this day I do not buy soda for the house. I will buy a single can once in a while if I am out for lunch, but I cannot help but binge if itís in the house. Good decision start at the grocery store by not buying it in the first place.

Best of luck - hope he gets in control of the habit before itís too late.

Just to echo what everyone has said, if you haven't, please encourage him to stop the sodas (that's SO MANY), not for the money, but for the health. Sodas are addictive and so horrible for you. It's funny how almost anything you research food wise has pros and cons, thigns about how they're bad for this but good for that. Sodas are just bad period. I've been off for, I dunno, maybe a couple years now. After the first 3-6 months, I stopped wanting them altogether. It's so much better for you, and it saves money to boot. If you've encouraged him for money, maybe encourage him for health. If he won't listen, don't get into fights over it - that helps no one. However, please encourage him for health if you've previously only done it only for money, try to tell him you just want him around longer. Maybe give up something unhealthy for yourself at the same time for solidarity. My wife giving up sodas helped me to.

StashingAway

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #40 on: May 29, 2020, 02:31:08 PM »
Another vote for taking a serious look at soda consumption. Diet soda doesn't cause the same problems that sugar soda does, but it does create a host of other dietary and health issues.

This addiction won't be easy to overcome if he chooses to do so. But it's worth it to not be under the thumb of something like that.

ChickenStash

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #41 on: May 29, 2020, 05:04:23 PM »
I used to have a soda problem and went the route of getting the Sodastream and the 20lb CO2 tank. It's been a pretty good replacement for soda. For me, it turns out all I really wanted was the carbonation and didn't care about the flavorings so I stick with just making seltzer. Compared to real soda, the initial cost is covered quickly. Compared to just seltzer from the supermarket, not so much. Also, no plastic bottles or cans to throw away.

And to echo the others, 10 cans/day of diet soda is not healthy.

MrsSpendyPants

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #42 on: May 30, 2020, 07:47:05 PM »
We do have soda stream that I use for carbonated water.  I'll figure out if I can move him onto it somehow, that's a good idea.

I do have other good news - we had a serious talk about health and today is day two of his cutting his soda in half.  I have decided to cook more to cut his carbs so hopefully he seems some weight reduction and feels compelled to stick with the lower soda intake. 

In bad news, our good car's transmission seems to be going wonky (jerks heavily when going from stop to go) and our dog had a pretty bad allergic reaction so needs to go to the vet this week.  There goes that animal budget and car budget for the month.  Will have to cut it back on the groceries.

Cassie

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #43 on: May 30, 2020, 11:34:39 PM »
Ignore Walt and keep feeding the feral cats. Thatís awesome!

StashingAway

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #44 on: May 31, 2020, 05:41:18 AM »
I do have other good news - we had a serious talk about health and today is day two of his cutting his soda in half.  I have decided to cook more to cut his carbs so hopefully he seems some weight reduction and feels compelled to stick with the lower soda intake. 

This is great! The two should work hand in hand... Diet soda makes you feel hungrier than you otherwise would, so while it doesn't directly contribute to calories, it does make you consume more calories. It also tunes your brain to like more sugary things as a baseline. So someone addicted to diet soda will almost certainly eat more ice cream. Soda is one of the most unhealthy things we have. I'm not one for regulation, but I think it should go the way of the cigarette... there are way too many known side effects to be selling it with unlimited refills in big gulps. Good luck! It is an addictive substance, so don't be deterred by setbacks!

RainyDay

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Re: Income halved - how do I cut my budget?
« Reply #45 on: Today at 07:26:39 AM »
Wet cat food for ferals?!!

Reduce your flock of chickens unless youíre making money off of them. Thatís a lot to spend on feed. Do you have like 80? Or are you feeding organic layer food from a specialty store? I have to ask, because 50 lbs of feed is like $15 here. Free range, theyíre going to eat a lot less.


Totally agree.  I love and foster cats, but I do not feed ferals, let alone WET FOOD.  That shit's expensive. 

And that's a crap-ton of money to spend on chickens.  I have 13 chickens and spend *maybe* $25/month.  Let them free-range.  And if you have that many chickens to justify spending so much on feed, you ought to be getting dozens of extra eggs each week, which you can sell.