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Old 01-04-2009, 12:49 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
Shawn, my hat off to you. If I remember correctly, you live in LA area, not a low-cost-of-living area?

And how many miles do you have on your 1980 car? My 1995 minivan has near 140K miles on it, and if I had to pay a mechanic to maintain it, I would have to cave in and get rid of it (I am my own grease monkey to save money). Care to share the make of this wonderful car?
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (even expensive than LA). I have a 1980 Toyota Corolla, with almost 260K miles. I pay a mechanic for significant repairs, since I don't have the time/knowledge to do it myself. Hopefully that will change when I retire.

The car has been mostly trouble free. It will go a year or two with no problems, although it also has periods when multiple repairs are needed. Unfortunately, I seem to be in one of those periods. In fact, a turning noise started last night. I think it may be the differential.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:06 PM   #82
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I was thinking company cafeteria. Shawn, 'splain it? Enquiring minds are boggled. Maybe women cook for you because you take such good care of your cat? How's your cat doing now? Same cat?
Actually, I think $5.45/day is quite high. At least for me. I hope to be more frugal in 2009. I almost always cook for myself, if you can call it cooking. But Ha is right. A fancy evening on the town is the value menu at one of the local fine dining establishments. You can get a lot for $3-$5. I often grocery shop at a local chain called the Grocery Outlet. It sells food on the cheap, such as expired or nearly expired items, things going out of stock, food with bad packaging, trial products that were not successful, etc.

My current cat of 12 years is doing fine, thank you. That's one thing I don't skimp on. Cat food and veterinary bills.
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:58 PM   #83
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2008 spending: $40,000

2008 included some re-modeling costs, as will 2009. I've amortized some of it with a HELOC but some was accounted for when spent.


2009 plan: <=$40,000
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:49 PM   #84
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It's two years into my efforts to track our spending using Quicken, and I still struggle with the damn program. Right now it says we spent $47,516 on an "adjustment" which I cannot find and did not enter. It will also not let me import anything from my bank (Wamu/chase) without a fight. So I don't trust the info in there right now and it'll take me a while to clean it.

I think I'm going to start a new database for 2009; maybe a fresh start will be helpful.

It's frustrating, though --- I feel like I'm flying blind in the budget department.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:17 PM   #85
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I'm still working up the motivation to do my 2008 spending tally exercise. So you good folks keep posting your results and I'll extract some of that residual energy until I hit the critical mass to do my summary spreadsheet. Until then, I'm FIREd.
The spreadsheet is all set up from the preFIRE days. I just have to plug in the annual values, extracting the data from my folder of hardcopy statements of actual expenditures. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........
Please note that I did a lot of this type of budgetary tracking when I managed very large dollar contracts for everybody's favorite Uncle.
It's kind of like putting your finger into an old fashioned crank handle pencil sharpener when you were a little kid, just to see what happens. Once is always enough.
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:07 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by Urchina View Post
It's two years into my efforts to track our spending using Quicken, and I still struggle with the damn program. Right now it says we spent $47,516 on an "adjustment" which I cannot find and did not enter. It will also not let me import anything from my bank (Wamu/chase) without a fight. So I don't trust the info in there right now and it'll take me a while to clean it.

I think I'm going to start a new database for 2009; maybe a fresh start will be helpful.

It's frustrating, though --- I feel like I'm flying blind in the budget department.
U: Maybe a Spreadsheet program (Excel, Open Office (FREE), or other) would work. Personally, I like Excel (but use Money for tracking). A three Page Excel SS should work much simpler (Page 1 Income, Page 2 Expenses, Page 3 Total Income - Total Expenses = Savings (three numbers on page 3). Of course you can get as elaborate as you like with Excel - something most of the accounting programs do not make easy to do.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:22 PM   #87
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U: Maybe a Spreadsheet program (Excel, Open Office (FREE), or other) would work. Personally, I like Excel (but use Money for tracking). A three Page Excel SS should work much simpler (Page 1 Income, Page 2 Expenses, Page 3 Total Income - Total Expenses = Savings (three numbers on page 3). Of course you can get as elaborate as you like with Excel - something most of the accounting programs do not make easy to do.
Microsoft has a great forms template library, all FREE at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/te...s/default.aspx
You'll be amazed what you will find here for pre-set up financial forms and spreadsheets (plus hundreds of other templates for greeting cards, resumes for your kids not you LOL, letters, etc). Many of the forms have formulas already built into them.
This is where I got my original budget sheet (preFIRE) and then customized it for my own household expenses. Piece of cake and no software license costs or upgrades were involved.
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Old 01-06-2009, 01:04 AM   #88
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2008 spending: $34,823.77
2008 budgeted: $35K

2009 budgeted: $32.5K

We are both 53yo, FIREd one year, own our home, don't pay medical insurance (it is free as a retiree benefit). I am astonished at how well we lived on this amount of money! It was our first year of retirement, so we did a lot of fun stuff--RVing, hiking, camping, barbecues, 2 weeks in hotels, and lots of restaurants while traveling and at home).
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:13 AM   #89
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2008 spending: $34,823.77
2008 budgeted: $35K

2009 budgeted: $32.5K

We are both 53yo, FIREd one year, own our home, don't pay medical insurance (it is free as a retiree benefit). I am astonished at how well we lived on this amount of money! It was our first year of retirement, so we did a lot of fun stuff--RVing, hiking, camping, barbecues, 2 weeks in hotels, and lots of restaurants while traveling and at home).
Remarkably good job in sticking to your budget! Congratulations on that.

It is encouraging to hear that you are living such a nice life in retirement on just $35K (oops, $34.82377K! ). I can hardly wait to retire, later on this year.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:15 AM   #90
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My 2008 spending was 128k, that's down from 168k in 2007. That does not include taxes.

The breakdown is as follows:

Housing: $2,889
Utilities: $506
Cash: $1,583
Medical: $648
Food: $458
Entertainment: $670
Travel: $2,007
Consumer goods: $1,119
Gifts: $501
Misc: $234

Total: $10,614


Misc includes charity and (public) transportation. Food is at home only. Restaurants show up in 'entertainment'. 'Entertainment' also includes gym memberships, newspapers and magazines, etc.

'Cash' includes a lot of groceries and some transportation too. Basically anything I pay for out of pocket. (its somewhat of a flaw in my method)

I cut down 'cash' quite a bit from last year, and my 'housing' expense has fallen dramatically since I paid off my mortgage (4k/mo) in July.

I don't have an actual budget for next year, but my goal is to keep it under 10k a month. 8k would be great.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:29 AM   #91
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We were at $37,000 for 2008.

That includes $12,000 of travel, but excludes income tax, contributions, gifts to children, and depreciation on cars. We have a paid-for house and my former employer provided a big subsidy for health insurance.

I'm expecting most 2009 expenses to go up with inflation. The exception is health insurance where I'm losing the employer subsidy.

Excluding the travel, our expenses are fairly close to the government statistics for a "median" couple.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:32 AM   #92
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I just did some projections. Our yearly "nut" is now $60,000, give or take. However, that includes a healthy amount of investment funds.

This year, we are paying off our van and some other things, so my "nut" should drop to $50,000.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:36 AM   #93
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I'm expecting most 2009 expenses to go up with inflation.
Just a thought here: As much as people are talking about "deflation," other than energy prices has anyone really *felt* any deflation? Almost everywhere I look, prices are still going up, not down...
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:43 AM   #94
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Just a thought here: As much as people are talking about "deflation," other than energy prices has anyone really *felt* any deflation? Almost everywhere I look, prices are still going up, not down...
Absolutely. Gas and housing top the list. I have also noticed lower prices on antiques in my area. But you're right about consumables at major nationwide chains. These so-called wonderful Christmas sales were not all that good, IMO. A lot of the sale prices were the same as frequent sale prices last fall.

I am especially disappointed that new car prices haven't gone down more. I would love to get a brand new Camry for half price.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:44 AM   #95
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Absolutely. Gas and housing top the list. I have also noticed lower prices on antiques in my area.
Well, okay -- I wasn't really talking about housing prices because if you already own a home, you don't benefit from paying lower prices.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:48 AM   #96
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Well, okay -- I wasn't really talking about housing prices because if you already own a home, you don't benefit from paying lower prices.

Well, I am planning to move and downsize next year, and I am looking at real estate prices with a little bit of dread...

For a while, rents were coming down but they don't seem to be doing that any more around here. I've heard that they are in other areas, though.

Last month I bought a gorgeous, Italian marble topped, lyre design occasional table at my local antique/used furniture consignment place, for $250. Similar tables have cost $400 and up in the past. So, some people must be hurting. I have noticed used luxury vehicles with "for sale" signs on them all over town, selling at very low prices.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:37 AM   #97
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W2R,

I love antiquing too but in the past year I kinda took a break because antique stores in my area really jacked up their prices. Maybe I should stop by my favorite shop to see if they are hurting yet. I had my eye on a solid walnut wardrobe and chest of drawers for our bedroom but the store refused to negotiate a price (beyond the customary 10% Off). They might be more amenable now...
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:57 AM   #98
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W2R,

I love antiquing too but in the past year I kinda took a break because antique stores in my area really jacked up their prices. Maybe I should stop by my favorite shop to see if they are hurting yet. I had my eye on a solid walnut wardrobe and chest of drawers for our bedroom but the store refused to negotiate a price (beyond the customary 10% Off). They might be more amenable now...
They might be. I couldn't believe that I got such a good deal right before Christmas!

That walnut wardrobe and chest of drawers sound beautiful. Maybe now that the holidays are over, they will be more willing to negotiate. I must admit that I negotiated the price down a little (plus it was discounted due to not having sold in 60 days), but it wasn't hard to do.

It seems to me that some people in my area are getting a little more desperate and selling off their possessions for whatever the market will bear.

Try checking several stores.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:13 PM   #99
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My actual 2008 spending was $61,200. I'm renting in a big city, and this spending includes a $8k money gift. I don't do budgeting in the conventional sense, but my goal is to spend about 4% of my portfolio cash out value. This spending was 4.3% of my portfolio at the beginning of 2008, but 6.3% of my portfolio at the end of 2008.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:34 PM   #100
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To those of you who still don't know what you spent this year, I'll plug my system for tracking spending.

I have a checking account that I consider my spending account. Every dollar that I spend on anything gets deposited into this account and spent out of it. At the end of the year I get a year end spending report from my bank in spreadsheet form. I do a bit of data massage to manually remove any accidental transfers between accounts and some double entries (such as credit card line items and credit card payments), and after an hour or so I have a spreadsheet with all my spending for the year.

The best thing about this system is that it's totally passive: I don't have to do any recordkeeping work at all until the hour I spend at the end of the year. Because there's no way to mess it up I have a high confidence in the numbers at the end of the year, much more than I ever had when I was manually categorizing in Quicken.
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