Author Topic: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?  (Read 12057 times)

Retired To Win

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Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« on: March 17, 2015, 06:09:03 AM »
That's my BIG gauntlet challenge for 2015:  to take my basic living expenses down another 10%.  Even though I've already gone through a multiyear process to get them down 42%.  Even though I've got them down now to $15,240 a year.

I think there is still more I can do to be even more frugal without making any sacrifices in my standard of living.  So I'm going for it.  And I'm going to log the reductions and offsets I achieve right here as they happen.

How about you?  Think you can notch it down another 10% this year?  Think you can be even more badass??


And here are my reductions and offsets as they happen...

[ ]  $30 mortgage escrow refund... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,210
[ ]  $111 mortgage escrow annual reduction... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,099
[ ]  $24 Sirius cost elimination... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,075
[ ]  $28/mo redux in 3-mo "food plus" run rate = $336 annual redux...  adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $14,739
[ ]  $600 reduction in vehicle maintenance run rate (see reply #25)... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $14,139.

[**] total reduction since January 1: $1101 (7.3% of original $15,240)
« Last Edit: May 30, 2015, 06:26:31 AM by Retired To Win »

Bjorn

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 06:18:02 AM »
Great challenge.

I'm currently at a SWR of 53% but aiming for 65%, which translates to living costs of 12k/year in a high COL country.

randommadness

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 10:18:39 AM »
Maybe not my basic living expenses (I guess I could cut cell phone or switch to Republic) but my goal is to drop my going out expenses by at least 10% starting April.

Going to have to switch to cash for going out, and leave the CC's at home.  No more weekend generosity :P

arebelspy

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 03:26:25 PM »
I sure could.

I could probably cut it by 50%, or more.  But I like and value the things I spend my money on.  :)

That's a badass goal to me: can you get your expenses to where they fully reflect your values and you wouldn't change it - up or down - regardless of the money.

But if you aren't at that stage, a 10% cut might be a good idea.  :)
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Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 09:37:34 PM »
I sure could.

I could probably cut it by 50%, or more.  But I like and value the things I spend my money on.  :)

That's a badass goal to me: can you get your expenses to where they fully reflect your values and you wouldn't change it - up or down - regardless of the money.

But if you aren't at that stage, a 10% cut might be a good idea.  :)


Ahem!!  I thought I was very specific.  Even put it in italics. Quote: "... without making any sacrifices in my standard of living."  My gauntlet challenge is meant to be about optimization.  If that wasn't clear before, my bad.

arebelspy

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 09:48:07 PM »
I sure could.

I could probably cut it by 50%, or more.  But I like and value the things I spend my money on.  :)

That's a badass goal to me: can you get your expenses to where they fully reflect your values and you wouldn't change it - up or down - regardless of the money.

But if you aren't at that stage, a 10% cut might be a good idea.  :)


Ahem!!  I thought I was very specific.  Even put it in italics. Quote: "... without making any sacrifices in my standard of living."  My gauntlet challenge is meant to be about optimization.  If that wasn't clear before, my bad.

Oh, no, my bad.  I don't think I could cut even a penny then.  But for those not optimized, great challenge!  :)
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wintersun

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2015, 11:44:21 AM »
Ten percent is probably too much for me- but there is still one large expense I am planning on dumping and that will be equal to 8%.  I am getting the nerve up to do it. 

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2015, 03:46:00 PM »
Yes, definitely.  For us this will come by reducing our restaurant $ and by line drying clothing from April-October.  Other than that, we're pretty optimal in our budget.

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2015, 07:00:26 AM »
That's my BIG gauntlet challenge for 2015:  to take my basic living expenses down another 10%.  Even though I've already gone through a multiyear process to get them down 42%.  Even though I've got them down now to $15,240 a year.

I think there is still more I can do to be even more frugal without making any sacrifices in my standard of living.  So I'm going for it.  And I'm going to log the reductions and offsets I achieve right here as they happen.

2015 Basic Living Expenses Budget as of January 1: $15,240
[ ]  $30 mortgage escrow refund... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,210
[ ]  $111 mortgage escrow annual reduction... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,099
[ ]  $24 Sirius cost elimination... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,075

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2015, 07:42:07 AM »
I'm going to attempt this challenge.

Currently at $1500/month, down from $1650 I initially planned on at beginning of the year.

10% cut would be $1350, which would be right in my high cost of living area.

choppingwood

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2015, 09:43:15 PM »
I'm in on your challenge.

I'm likely a year away from beginning to live off my investments, and this would give me a margin on my basic spending.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2015, 12:56:48 PM »
I'm in mostly. We are in the process of switching to Republic Wireless. We will be using our wood stove this year. I've been keeping the heat low or off. I'm working on meal planning.

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2015, 07:55:37 PM »
Okay!

How is everybody going to keep track of their progress?

I'm going to post my reductions on this thread, as they happen.  And, as I specified in my original post, I am starting at $15,240.  Which, btw, my op also shows to be down to $15,075 as of March 17th.

Anybody want to chime in with more specifics?

clarkfan1979

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2015, 06:02:23 AM »
My wife and I typically spend about 4,000/month, including everything. This month it looks like we are only going to spend $2500, which includes $200 of extra student loan payments for me. It's nice to know that if we needed to cut back, it would be possible. 

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2015, 07:30:56 AM »
I am on pace to be under my $1350 mark for this month, which is 10% below my already reduced for this year budget ($1500/month)

If I can pull it off to average this over the year, it would be AMAZING thats $16,200/yr in a HCOL!!

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2015, 02:11:10 PM »
I hope so! I'm just getting started - so yes. I'm going to be switching over my cell phone shortly - so that should cut out $60 per month. My unfortunate main expense per month is credit card payments from legal expenses from my divorce/never ending custody nonsense. Right now it is at 40k and I am sending about 2k per month towards it. If I wasn't paying 2k per month towards debt I would have a significant cut in my spending. This month I have been able to open all 0% interest cards and transfer all the balances - so that saves me something like $400 per month in interest right off the bat.

As I am just starting out - since January - I am still making changes, cutting the cord (done!), tracking all my spending, and still learning.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2015, 11:16:50 AM »
I'll be signing a sublease contract today, which will cut my housing + utilities by half. Housing + utilities is about half my budget. Since I'll be moving in on 5/1, that's a 8/12*0.5*0.5 = 16.67% reduction in my expenses this year compared to last year.

So yup, I'll be accomplishing more than a 10% reduction in expenses this year. I mean I am moving from a furnished to an unfurnished apartment so I will have to buy a bed and stuff but that's not going to overwhelm my savings this year by any means.

I'm pretty sure I will reduce my other expenses too, but probably not by too much as a percentage of my overall budget. Last year's budget was 50% housing and 15% school fees, so all other expenses left to optimize are just 35%.

In absolute terms, last year's budget was a hair under $24k.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2015, 11:36:22 AM »

 yes, if i pay off the car early; so its debateable if i'm actually cutting. i know i have to pay it off eventually.

 2nd thing is possibly dropping the land line. supposedly, i can use my iphone as wi-fi; but hadnt tried it yet.

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2015, 11:37:19 AM »
I'll be signing a sublease contract today, which will cut my housing + utilities by half. Housing + utilities is about half my budget. Since I'll be moving in on 5/1, that's a 8/12*0.5*0.5 = 16.67% reduction in my expenses this year compared to last year.

So yup, I'll be accomplishing more than a 10% reduction in expenses this year...

Terrific!  I hope I can do as well with my effort.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2015, 12:00:54 PM »
The month is almost over, and I have declared a great success!!

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2015, 06:26:40 AM »
That's my BIG gauntlet challenge for 2015:  to take my basic living expenses down another 10%.  Even though I've already gone through a multiyear process to get them down 42%.  Even though I've got them down now to $15,240 a year.

I think there is still more I can do to be even more frugal without making any sacrifices in my standard of living.  So I'm going for it.  And I'm going to log the reductions and offsets I achieve right here as they happen.

2015 Basic Living Expenses Budget as of January 1: $15,240
[ ]  $30 mortgage escrow refund... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,210
[ ]  $111 mortgage escrow annual reduction... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,099
[ ]  $24 Sirius cost elimination... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,075

Another expense reduction to report!

2015 Basic Living Expenses Budget as of March 17: $15,075  (see above)
[ ]  $28 per month reduction in my 3-month run rate for "food plus" = $336 per year reduction
...  adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $14,739
...  total reduction since January 1: $501 (3.3% of original $15,240)

wintersun

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2015, 04:05:52 AM »
I am heavily working this right now, running the numbers over and over, trying to get our spending lower.  I am aiming at the biggest possible difference instead of the small but regrettable ones like cutting services we use a lot.  Getting my dh on board for this latest "upgrade" s the biggie right now.

How is it going Retired To Win?

mrpercentage

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2015, 05:06:31 AM »
Sorry to ask but I see DH everywhere... is that Damned Husband? Or am I creating awesomeness in my head?

wintersun

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2015, 06:14:38 AM »
mrpercentage, For me DH:   DEAR HUSBAND.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2015, 06:20:50 AM »
I don't think 10% is achievable for us at present. I'm constantly refining the budget for small wins but there's also kickback on how low a standard of living we really want to have. I think that's actually healthy because once you find that base level of expenses that you need to feel happy with, it doesn't rebound on you later.

Mainly what I'm working on is getting my own salary UP - 10% is too little for what I want, I've got my sights on achieving a 25-40% increase somehow. Then our current level of expenses won't need to change at all and even get refined further downwards as we learn more.

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2015, 06:23:48 AM »
That's my BIG gauntlet challenge for 2015:  to take my basic living expenses down another 10%.  Even though I've already gone through a multiyear process to get them down 42%.  Even though I've got them down now to $15,240 a year.

I think there is still more I can do to be even more frugal without making any sacrifices in my standard of living.  So I'm going for it.  And I'm going to log the reductions and offsets I achieve right here as they happen.

And here are my reductions and offsets as they happen...

[ ]  $30 mortgage escrow refund... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,210
[ ]  $111 mortgage escrow annual reduction... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,099
[ ]  $24 Sirius cost elimination... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $15,075
[ ]  $28/mo redux in 3-mo "food plus" run rate = $336 annual redux...  adjusted 2015 basic living expenses $14,739

  • total reduction since January 1: $501 (3.3% of original $15,240)
I have another nice expense reduction to report!

I just finished calculating my total vehicle maintenance and repair expenses for the last 3 years.  Grand, grand all-in total was $1093.46 for the 3 years -- which works out to an average of $364.49 per year.

The thing is... my January 1, 2015 baseline expenses projection is based on a cost of $1200 per year for  total vehicle maintenance and repair.  That's a difference of $835 per year.  I'm not going to cut down my official expenses by quite that much.  But I will cut them down by $600 and reset my annual vehicle repair expense line to $600.

So here it is:

[ ] $600 reduction in vehicle maintenance run rate... adjusted 2015 basic living expenses now $14,139.

[**] total reduction since January 1: $1101 (7.3% of original $15,240)
« Last Edit: May 30, 2015, 06:27:06 AM by Retired To Win »

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2015, 07:04:41 AM »
The month is almost over, and I have declared a great success!!

Another month, another cut to spendings.

This month was an amazing $1,143 which puts me at a 74% savings rate for May!!!

Norrie

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2015, 10:10:28 AM »
Yep, absolutely. Exact numbers are hard for me (especially savings rate), but things that I'm going to attack: my Starbucks iced tea addiction, tightening our utility bills, and meal planning to tighten our spending on groceries/restaurants.

It's definitely not going to be a steady, linear improvement, as we have things coming up that will complicate spending (and I see Sbux iced tea in my future when that happens), but we can be doing much better than we have been.

Thanks for the challenge!

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2015, 11:30:11 AM »
Daycare is 18% of our expenses, and I have a corporate job I work from home. If we had to, we could cut the daycare.  But it would make my work more difficult and, honestly, the kids would suffer too because I would be busy and occupied with work.  Also: I would go nuts if I had to watch them all day.  Maybe if mine were older...

Well, if you take another look at my original post, you will see that I emphasize that I will be implementing "frugality without sacrifice" to achieve my targeted 10% expenses cut.  That means that I am optimizing what I spend for goods and services without actually giving up the goods and services.  And you can see how that is working from the cost reduction details I have posted so far.

So, if you apply that thinking approach to your situation, the goal would not be to cut the daycare; it would be to find creative/thriftier ways to provide your children with daycare and you with reasonable work-from-home conditions.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2015, 12:10:27 PM »
I think I'll be able to do this for 2016, since I will most likely pay off my student loans sometime that year.  Right now they make up right around 25% of our expenses.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2015, 12:14:03 PM »
In the process of trying to lower expenses and increase saving.   Probably can't reduce expenses 10% more right now but am trying to look at over all less spend than 2014.   One step at a time.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2015, 05:48:07 AM »
Good challenge for those participating - good luck!

Definitely not joining. We're pretty well optimized. Honestly (horror) I wish I could spend more than we do. So many deferred projects around here that we just can't afford right now because we're recovering from our 20s (kids, gotta love 'em, but had them super early which puts you behind the 8-ball in having a secure financial footing; still five figures of SLs though much of that is it nominal interest rates). If I could, I would spend even more than we do on food to get best-quality local produce and animal products from my favorite farms. I do this as much as I can but still have months where, because of other bills, I have to fall back on the super-cheap supermarkets and industrial-produced food.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2015, 07:35:15 AM »
We actually have increased our spending because we realized we wanted to go out once a week to do various activities that we had cut years ago. WE also are taking more trips to enjoy ourselves while we can ( in our early 60's) because you never know what may happen. I love the idea that you are cutting without affecting quality of life.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #33 on: June 05, 2015, 09:10:28 AM »
Great challenge!   this is on my to do list for 2015, but I'm working on tracking spending for a few months first- fell off the badassity bandwagon and getting back on right now.

Retired To Win

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2015, 06:10:52 AM »
We actually have increased our spending because we realized we wanted to go out once a week to do various activities that we had cut years ago. WE also are taking more trips to enjoy ourselves while we can ( in our early 60's) because you never know what may happen. I love the idea that you are cutting without affecting quality of life.

Thanks.  I'm a very BIG fan of "frugality without sacrifice."  It does take some researching and creativity to manage it sometimes, but the payoff is just great because -- as you say -- I get to maintain my quality of life and still lower my expenses.  Win-Win!

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #35 on: June 06, 2015, 06:20:01 AM »
We actually have increased our spending because we realized we wanted to go out once a week to do various activities that we had cut years ago. WE also are taking more trips to enjoy ourselves while we can ( in our early 60's) because you never know what may happen. I love the idea that you are cutting without affecting quality of life.

Cassie - Trips at that stage are always great. Friends of my family retired around conventional age (early 60s). They're now in 70s and still fair but not great health, but in the 10 years or so they've been retired they've been to several continents and many countries, with a wide variety of trips. Cruises both large (multi-thousand passenger) and small (30ish passenger), to RVing Australia from (I think) Sydney all the way to Perth. All for the express reason of trying to make sure they got things in before health started to fail, which I think it has started to for the husband.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #36 on: June 06, 2015, 06:22:39 AM »
Good question!  I am sure we could.

Areas we need to work on.

1.  Cell phone contract is coming up for renewal in March 2016.  I may be able to end earlier for a small fee (but make it back on cheaper service)

2.  Eliminating the mortgage escrow is interesting.  How did you manage that?  I will check with our mortgage company.  Are you handling the money differently when you have it yourself?

3.  We could take 10% off the food budget

4.  Find a cheaper alternative to my son's expensive ADHD medication (if we find something that meets his needs)

5. I could walk / bike more this summer.

Those are all the ideas I have at the time.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2015, 09:16:14 PM »
Excellent challenge. I save 50% now, but feel I can add another 10% . my bills are low at this point , so that's not changing. The main area is food budget and the second is car spendings . mostly grocery budget . at the beginning of the month I purchased gift cards for the two stores I most often shop at, to set limits . I will determine what number to lower these to. Car spending isn't super high, but gas could be a little lower. I will brainstorm this as well.
I am currently on a two week (almost entirely free) vacation , so am spending very minimally . so this months numbers are low, but then I'm also not making money.

Cassie

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2015, 01:58:13 PM »
Goblinchief: Most of my life while raising our 3 kids we took trips to see family,  went camping etc. Not expensive but fun. I have seen too many people wait until it was too late so we are having fun now. I can't even believe that I am this old. It seems like yesterday that I was your age.  My Mom always said the older you get the faster time goes:))

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #39 on: September 18, 2015, 04:24:34 PM »
Except for the phone bill, I don't think there is anything else on my side of the budget. I can cut it by $20 a month, possibly $30 - not really sure why I am hesitating, I'm such a wuss about that sort of thing sometimes. Should have done it today.

Mr. R.s side of the budget - working on it, subscriptions are the low hanging fruit, but it is meeting with resistance.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #40 on: September 18, 2015, 05:38:02 PM »
I just found MMM this summer, so this is easy enough. I was spending $600 on groceries for two people, but now it's half that. What was I buying? I can't even remember. Must've been a lot of processed food, plus a lot of waste. We also used to drive to the store, but now we walk. I'm ashamed to say how close it is to us. We ate out a lot too, usually multiple times a week, just because it was easier and we were being lazy. Now we're badass and don't rely on that as a crutch, so eating out is a special event. I lost ten pounds, too. We've also cut our electricity expenses dramatically, though I'm convinced we could do more there.

I'm looking forward to following this thread to see what people who are more optimized than me are cutting.

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #41 on: September 26, 2015, 10:16:41 PM »
No.  Well, I don't think so.  The things I can think of cutting would all be sacrifices.  So either we are pretty well optimized or I am having a failure of imagination.  😊

riverffashion

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2015, 08:35:38 PM »
Well, I've been bad & haven't been tracking expenses. Will begin again in October. However, I hav dramatically reduced grocery spending. I do a plant-based diet & hav reduced to approx. $20/week. Will verify exactly in October.
Previously grocery bill monthly more recently something like $300-450. So...fabulous.:)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 08:37:09 PM by riverffashion »

arebelspy

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2015, 04:22:28 PM »
No.  Well, I don't think so.  The things I can think of cutting would all be sacrifices.  So either we are pretty well optimized or I am having a failure of imagination.  😊

That's cause for celebration!

Being able to cut 10% (or more... Many new to MMM often cut 30%, 50%, or more) is cause for celebration for sure, but so is being so optimized that your spending is in line with your values already and there is nothing you would cut! :)

Well done to those in this thread making cuts. Getting your spending down without sacrificing happiness is awesome. It often will just increase happiness.
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Rosy

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2015, 07:53:57 PM »
Except for the phone bill, I don't think there is anything else on my side of the budget. I can cut it by $20 a month, possibly $30 - not really sure why I am hesitating, I'm such a wuss about that sort of thing sometimes. Should have done it today.


Well, I am not entirely sure how I did it, but I found an extra $100 bucks I am sending to savings each month. Had a look at my rolling budget and decided I was being a bit too generous to myself considering that I need to stash some cash.
Didn't even miss it.
I'd love to do more, but that would put me in "poor me territory" which is always a recipe for disaster. At present I am looking to increase my income instead. 10% would make me ecstatic:)
The phone bill is not sorted out yet and then there are still low hanging fruit in Mr. Rs basket.
All in good time.

Kaikou

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Re: Can you take your expenses down another 10%?
« Reply #45 on: October 14, 2015, 07:31:49 AM »
I reduced my phone bill from 33 dollars down to 3 dollars.