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Old 02-15-2016, 09:37 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
Ok, I give up - How are these people putting the formatted tables in their posts?
I'll admit it, I cheated. I quoted someone else's table (then cut the applicable portions) and just changed the values and then pasted it into a new message. Probably not the easiest way, but it was the easiest for me! ☺

Sent via mobile device. Please excuse any grammatical errors.
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Old 02-15-2016, 11:19 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I believe they were referring to liability coverage (pays others), not collision and comprehensive (pays you). USAA allowed me to drop my collision and comp coverage on older cars and maintain my umbrella policy.
I have State Farm and they let me have liability only on my car and have umbrella insurance. The liability coverage amounts were the ones OP quoted, I believe. (I am agreeing with REWahoo, but responding to OP)
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Old 02-16-2016, 05:27 PM   #63
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I like the retiree dress code.
So do I, although DW has much, much higher standards than I do. I just threw out a flannel shirt that had to be 15 years old if not more. But she insisted that I buy new jeans even though the holes in the old ones were only little. Oh well, if it keeps her happy....
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Old 02-16-2016, 06:11 PM   #64
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I think we could do it with $40K.
There are a few categories missing from this table.

Electric $1,737.24
Comcast $898.23
Auto, Travel $5,034.80
Entertainment $1,272.85
Insurance $3,971.72
Heating $1,763.11
Lowes $333.13
ATM Cash $600.00
Checks $759.50
Water $691.00
Pest $226.84
County $342.00
RE Taxes $10,649.08
Charitable $200.00
Fed Tax Est $1,865.00
State Tax Est $498.00
Clothes $2,024.00
Food ?
TOTAL $32,866.50
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Old 02-16-2016, 06:24 PM   #65
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There are several ways to get the table. I found Excel macron and other stuff to automate the process, but it is really simple this way:
- Get your data into Excel columns and rows
- Format numbers, etc.
- Insert an empty column between each column with data.
- Fill the empty column with | character
- Copy the block of data
- Paste into Notepad
- Copy from Notepad
- Paste here
- Select all the text and click on the table icon
- Change TABLE to TABLE=HEAD if you have a header

If you copy Excel and paste into this form, you get some kind of HTML table that seems to be difficult to control.

I also find that [TABLE=HEAD] should begin on same line as your first row of data.

Electric $1,737.24
Comcast $898.23
Auto, Travel $5,034.80
Entertainment $1,272.85
TOTAL $33,866.50
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:18 PM   #66
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I've changed my habits to spend on groceries like you do, but I had to start a price book, learn to shop at the stores with specials or regularly low prices, and also cook more from scratch. My main grocery shopping trip this month was under $100 for 2 and that included a significant amount of wine and beer.

I have a lot of cookbooks from thrift shops and library book sales with some interesting ethnic and whole foods recipes to try. A healthy wok meal we had recently with quinoa and sprouted brown rice, organic eggs and veggies was inspired by a thrift shop Buddhist cookbook. It is nice to have the time these days to pick up interesting cookbooks and then try out the different recipes.
$100/month for 2, with booze? Is that sustainable even without booze, meaning, is it the monthly average for the entire year?

I thought we were frugal, but Quicken said my grocery bills were $5665.16 for 2015. Now, that also includes sundries household items like laundry detergent and toiletries, etc..., but I am sure we eat and drink much more than $100/month. The above amount was the total that we spent in grocery stores. I do not break out non-food items because it would take too much manual work.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:46 PM   #67
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I think the biggest difference in where you live goes beyond price to how acceptable the place is. I've tried Aldis, but the ones near me are dirty, gross, the food is often near spoiled or spoiled and most of the meat is frost bitten.. so it may be cheap, but I'm not that desperate to eat it.



I found the same in Chicago until about 2008 when food at Aldis started to improve. While I can go shopping with my parents in Appleton/Green Bay Wi and their Aldis are wonderful and I'd totally shop there all the time if I lived there.

When I first started shopping at Aldi's they were all located in 'working class' neighborhoods in the stores that the major chains outgrew. No fresh meat. No credit cards. Clean and well run. Now I can't believe how fancy the new Aldi's stores are. Purpose built with fresh meat prepackaged offsite. Excellent store brands and fresh produce. Aldi's was my goto when we had crumbsnatchers to feed and will be again if I gotta make it on 30k.


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Old 02-17-2016, 06:09 AM   #68
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When I first started shopping at Aldi's they were all located in 'working class' neighborhoods in the stores that the major chains outgrew. No fresh meat. No credit cards. Clean and well run. Now I can't believe how fancy the new Aldi's stores are. Purpose built with fresh meat prepackaged offsite. Excellent store brands and fresh produce. Aldi's was my goto when we had crumbsnatchers to feed and will be again if I gotta make it on 30k.
Nice observation. We walked out of a local boutique grocer on Valentines day. Very small cart was half empty. Cost was $150. My remark on the way out was that we could fill two full-size carts at Aldi.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:00 PM   #69
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No food? No clothing? Now that's what I call skimping! :2funy:
I don't actually have a clothing budget. As long as I just maintain my weight, my current clothes work just fine. Food, however, is a fairly big line item in the budget.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:52 PM   #70
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No way I could live on 30k right now with the Mortgage, 2 Auto Loans and a kid.

My mortgage and auto loans alone cost me 36,926.76 add gas and insurance and we are at 43,417.04!

I am really trying to lower my COL but its tough. I fight with the city, I fight with Comcast, I fight with State Farm...all to save some money...then I repeat this for every other company I deal with. I stopped eating out, no restaurants except for 2 nights out for dinner a month. That's our date night heh.

I realize one way I can save money is on Fees. I got a speeding ticket, a parking ticket, I paid for a lot of parking and I had some CC interest and bank fees as I plugged through a period of unemployment.

I figure I need to cut back in like 10 categories for it to make an actual difference. 1. Vacations 2. Food 3. Gas 4. Fees 5. Utilities(use less) 6. Clothes 7. Gifts 8. Discretionary 9. Diapers 10. Running out of categories to cut.


I ran the numbers if I didn't have mtg, auto loan and kids...and it looks like it would be around 31,485.22. My insurance would drop too as I wouldn't need full coverage.
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Old 02-17-2016, 03:29 PM   #71
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Trying to figure how low one can drop the expenses should be a common thought exercise among early retirees who live entirely on investment returns. Even when one has started SS or a pension, he may still rely on individual savings for a substantial portion of his expenses.

Instead of adding different categories up to see how much one needs, I go the other way. I subtract. I have been using Quicken with its auto-download to track my expenses, so I can easily get an estimate of what changes in lifestyle I can make when the going gets tough.

Looking at the Quicken summary table, I see that I spent $98,023 in 2015, and that does not include income taxes that I still have to figure out. The biggest category is Housing, followed by Gifts & Charity, then Healthcare, Travel, Food, Auto, etc..., in that order.

I had large expenses last year on home repair/remodel. So, what if I subtract that out from the total? And also the cost of carrying the 2nd home? No more Gifts & Charity. Out goes Travel. Wow, it's down to $32,682.

Now, at this point I still live in my main home, and become homebound as there's no travel nor the 2nd home to escape to. But I still have Internet access to BS here on this forum, still have satellite TV (I only watch it up in the high-country 2nd home, but now without travel I will need to be an armchair traveler) for entertainment. I still eat and drink the same food, drive the same cars, have the same healthcare.

Oh, speaking of cars, I have not subtracted out the savings from not having to register and insure the RV, but I think that does not help much. Also, my umbrella insurance may go down a bit without the RV and 2nd home, but again that is minimal.

So, what am I missing with the budget of $33K/year? Obviously, every so often I will need to incur some home maintenance costs. My cars will need some repairs, or even replacement.

Oh wait! I spent $1309 on clothing, shoes, etc..., last year. This outrageous expense was due to my daughter's wedding last year. That money can be used for something else, like paint for the home, a car trip, etc...

Anyway, the point is that I certainly can live on $33K a year, and would not be hurting at all. And as SS will bring in more than that when I claim, it certainly brings me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know I will always have the same roof over my head, despite my often saying that I need to keep the RV as housing of last resort. I keep mentioning living in the RV on New Mexico state land in hard times because it sounds more dramatic.
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Old 02-17-2016, 04:04 PM   #72
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I finished working for our favorite Uncle when I was a bit less than 30. A friend from high school invited me to stay with him in LA. I was always wanting to buy some cheap food and cook at his house, while he wanted to get Chinese or barbecue or Mexican. I told him I need to budget, and he replied that what kills is big purchases, not piss-ant stuff like a couple of burritos.

I finally understood that he was correct. Unless you have debt that you must get paid off, hobbies, cars, houses and expensive travel is what kills, not the stuff that costs<$100. In 13 years on this board I still believe that he was closer to being right than the extreme frugalista approach of squeezing every dime until it bleeds.

Also I believe that not getting over your head with volatile investments, or downright stupid investments is also very important. Of course first and foremost is to realize that marriage can blow a bigger hole in your finances that anything else. Some choose to go with love, and of course love never lets us down does it? Some trust in technicalities like lawyers' papers. And we know these have never failed to work perfectly right?

A choose to say, "woman si, wedding, no". And keep a careful eye on sleepovers, and your relevant laws regarding what is marriage, how children can become your responsibility etc.etc.

And then go hog-wild in whatever grocery store turns you on, it really won't matter.

Ha
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Old 02-17-2016, 04:10 PM   #73
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Our average livings expenses over the last 10 years (after subtracting all taxes, charitable contributions, and kids college expenses) are around $77K. I don't know if we could easily get to $33K. Beyond the above expenses, the top categories:

Medical - this would be the wild card
Food - probably scrimp some and cut that in half. Also some of that cost wa buying food for others.
Auto - share a single car if forced to, would cut costs down 40%.
Home supplies/repairs/improvements: maybe cut that by half, repairs only and minimal improvements.
Gifts to others - we tend to be generous now because we can, so could cut this by 90%.
Mortgage - would be tough to get it any lower, we have a 2.875% interest rate.
Utilities - this has been on a downward trend, so likely by payng more attention we could reduce another 10%.
Vacation - stick to day or non-plane trips and use bargain hotels/points programs to cut by 50%.

Hmmm... that would knock things down to $55K. Drop spending on computers, electronics, golf only at the $8 course , etc... I think we could squeeze down to $45K. Tough to go beyond that, but if we had no choice, we could figure out a way. Medical, of course, would be the biggest uncontrollable expense that would impact us.
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Old 02-17-2016, 04:46 PM   #74
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Medical, of course, would be the biggest uncontrollable expense that would impact us.
As long as ACA stays more or less intact, engineer MAGI to at most 250% of FPL. Not only will that lower your share of the insurance premium, it also gets you cost-sharing reduction for out-of-pocket costs.
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Old 02-17-2016, 05:12 PM   #75
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As long as ACA stays more or less intact, engineer MAGI to at most 250% of FPL. Not only will that lower your share of the insurance premium, it also gets you cost-sharing reduction for out-of-pocket costs.
Tangent - not sure if we can "engineer" our MAGI when pension income by itself will put us well over 250% of FPL, before even considering other sources of income. Something else to study. If we can work it out it will certainly help, but for now we are planning for the "worst case".
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Old 02-17-2016, 05:26 PM   #76
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Tangent - not sure if we can "engineer" our MAGI when pension income by itself will put us well over 250% of FPL, before even considering other sources of income. Something else to study. If we can work it out it will certainly help, but for now we are planning for the "worst case".
Ah, if there's pension income, then not really much choice unless you've got tons of capital losses (not exactly something I'd want to have).
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Old 02-17-2016, 05:37 PM   #77
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... what kills is big purchases, not piss-ant stuff like a couple of burritos.

... Unless you have debt that you must get paid off, hobbies, cars, houses and expensive travel is what kills, not the stuff that costs<$100.

... go hog-wild in whatever grocery store turns you on, it really won't matter.
When looking to cut expenses, whether for real or hypothetical as my earlier exercise, it helps to have a list showing where your money goes. In my case, for doing no work other than to click "Update all accounts" in Quicken, I have a complete summary table of expenses to contemplate.

Once one has identified the big items, he can quickly determine what to do to reduce the expenses dramatically. But a person with a lower budget would not have the extraneous expenses that I had to start out with.

In my case, I have convinced myself I could go down to $33K with no hardship, but what would I have do to go down further? It is going to be much harder to squeeze out another $5K from a $33K budget than cutting out the top $65K from a bloated $98K one.

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Our average livings expenses over the last 10 years (after subtracting all taxes, charitable contributions, and kids college expenses) are around $77K. I don't know if we could easily get to $33K. Beyond the above expenses, the top categories:

Medical - this would be the wild card
Food - probably scrimp some and cut that in half. Also some of that cost wa buying food for others.
Auto - share a single car if forced to, would cut costs down 40%.
Home supplies/repairs/improvements: maybe cut that by half, repairs only and minimal improvements.
Gifts to others - we tend to be generous now because we can, so could cut this by 90%.
Mortgage - would be tough to get it any lower, we have a 2.875% interest rate.
Utilities - this has been on a downward trend, so likely by payng more attention we could reduce another 10%.
Vacation - stick to day or non-plane trips and use bargain hotels/points programs to cut by 50%.

Hmmm... that would knock things down to $55K. Drop spending on computers, electronics, golf only at the $8 course , etc... I think we could squeeze down to $45K. Tough to go beyond that, but if we had no choice, we could figure out a way. Medical, of course, would be the biggest uncontrollable expense that would impact us.
We are empty nesters, and have no debts. We spend a bit of money on our homes, gifts and charity, travel, and little else. We are also healthy (other than my unexpected health problem which should be behind me now), so our $10K healthcare expense last year was mostly for insurance. Our auto expenses last year were $4200, and $2300 of that was for insurance for 3 cars and the RV (the RV operating and maintenance cost is listed under Travel).

But I would be fooling myself that my hypothetical $33K budget is sustainable. As noted, it allows for no home repair, nor auto replacement. I spent only $1200 on dental care last year, but our chompers could easily cost us more than 10X that suddenly.

So, in order to live on $33K, I would need further lifestyle changes in order to have room for non-recurrent expenses. I would move to a smaller home for lower operating and maintenance costs. I would not be able to host parties for my extended family, etc...
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Old 02-17-2016, 06:03 PM   #78
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I can easily live on $30k a year...I'm doing it now. In fact, I never even made $30k until 15 years ago. My house is paid off and I'm an avid DIYer, so save big there. I also was lucky enough to choose an inexpensive hobby that outside of the one-time cost for music gear ($3000), costs me less than $100 a year.
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Old 02-17-2016, 06:11 PM   #79
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Yes, my mother's income is in the low $30K, and she lives quite well in a modern paid-for 1700 sq.ft. home by herself. She goes on a cruise each year, drives herself to the mall to look for clothes all the time (she likes to dress up), and buys more food than she can eat, so has to throw away quite a bit.

My mother just does not have some of the recurrent expenses that I have, even in the hypothetical $33K budget which allows me no travel. Why, her Medicare cost is a lot less than my $10K. For cell phone, my brother lets her piggyback on his plan (probably does not even charge her the $10), while I am paying $125/month, etc...
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Old 02-17-2016, 11:20 PM   #80
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$100/month for 2, with booze? Is that sustainable even without booze, meaning, is it the monthly average for the entire year?

I thought we were frugal, but Quicken said my grocery bills were $5665.16 for 2015. Now, that also includes sundries household items like laundry detergent and toiletries, etc..., but I am sure we eat and drink much more than $100/month. The above amount was the total that we spent in grocery stores. I do not break out non-food items because it would take too much manual work.
Sorry I should have been more clear - my main grocery shopping so far for the month was $100 when I made that post. That was for half the month. I will spend more than that before the month is out. We also usually eat out a fair bit, so that lowers the grocery bill. But I do price shop plus we have many warehouse, discount, outlet and ethnic stores in our area, so there is a lot of price competition.
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