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Old 01-04-2010, 07:36 PM   #21
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I've never kept track of my expenses or made an official budget before but I figure last year I averaged <$1200/mo so i'll budget myself $1250/mo for 2010 and keep track of everything I spend.
In most years, I tabulate my annual expenses by going through my checking account and credit card statements on December 31. While this is an effective approach, it is incomplete since I pay most of my day-to-day expenses with cash. So in 2009, I tracked all my expenses to the penny. The last time I had done this was in 2001. I find this a good way to understand and control costs since it causes me to really think about each purchase.

I spent $23,878.13 last year. Not counting my mortgage ($9K), property taxes ($3K), and charity ($5K), $6973.99 was spent on general living costs (food, utilities, gas, home and auto insurance, home and auto repair, vet bills, and other items). Normally I spend about $10K for these items.

Notably, I was curious if I could spend less than $1000 on food for the entire year. By year end, I had spent $883.35, or $2.42/day. That includes everything (nutritious food, milk, juice, junk food, fast food, soda). And yes, except for a few freebies at work and 2 meals that were paid for me, I bought all my own food. It wasn't that difficult, although it's still a little hard for even me to believe that I could average only $2.42/day for the entire year.

Since I have yet to retire, I don't really have a SWR. However, if I was retired, I would have withdrawn about 0.82% of my total assets in 2009 (taking into account my financial assets, the cash value of my pension, and making adjustments for paying off my mortgage). When I do retire, I'm mentally preparing for a withdraw rate of about 1% (not including income taxes, which may add another ~0.5%). I don't know what the future will bring, so I'll be reluctant to spend more.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:52 PM   #22
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Notably, I was curious if I could spend less than $1000 on food for the entire year. By year end, I had spent $883.35, or $2.42/day. That includes everything (nutritious food, milk, juice, junk food, fast food, soda). And yes, except for a few freebies at work and 2 meals that were paid for me, I bought all my own food. It wasn't that difficult, although it's still a little hard for even me to believe that I could average only $2.42/day for the entire year.
Nice. There's got to be a book in there somewhere...
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:59 PM   #23
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Notably, I was curious if I could spend less than $1000 on food for the entire year. By year end, I had spent $883.35, or $2.42/day. That includes everything (nutritious food, milk, juice, junk food, fast food, soda). And yes, except for a few freebies at work and 2 meals that were paid for me, I bought all my own food.
Food is the 1 area I feel I overspend but am not willing to reduce spending. I'm 6'6" and barely staying above 160lbs. I don't want to give up any of my food money. Because I include household items in my food spending i'm not sure exactly what I spend but I think it's at least double what you spend so that would be about $150/mo maybe more.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:04 PM   #24
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Aaron is the King of LBYM, I think!! Pretty impressive...
And in the other corner, we have...

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Notably, I was curious if I could spend less than $1000 on food for the entire year. By year end, I had spent $883.35, or $2.42/day. That includes everything (nutritious food, milk, juice, junk food, fast food, soda).
It's tough to know who wins. While Aaron's performance is impressive, I suspect Shawn's ratio of total expenses to income is pretty low, considering how much he said he made in some much earlier posts.



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NW-Bound and his memory.


Er, about my expenses, well, I have to ask my wife who keeps track of that.

But I know my portfolio. It's up 24.7% in 2009, and to me that's more important. Hurrah!
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:15 PM   #25
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Notably, I was curious if I could spend less than $1000 on food for the entire year. By year end, I had spent $883.35, or $2.42/day. That includes everything (nutritious food, milk, juice, junk food, fast food, soda). And yes, except for a few freebies at work and 2 meals that were paid for me, I bought all my own food. It wasn't that difficult, although it's still a little hard for even me to believe that I could average only $2.42/day for the entire year.
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Food is the 1 area I feel I overspend but am not willing to reduce spending. I'm 6'6" and barely staying above 160lbs. I don't want to give up any of my food money. Because I include household items in my food spending i'm not sure exactly what I spend but I think it's at least double what you spend so that would be about $150/mo maybe more.
I don't economize on food. Last month I spent $188 at the grocery store, and $297 eating out, for a total of $485 on food. But gosh, it was great food. Love those little New Orleans Cajun/Creole/Italian neighborhood restaurants.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:32 PM   #26
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I know a guy who tried to do with $1.50 per day (or was it $2 per day? I can't remember exactly since it was a few years ago, but his food budget was shockingly low. And it wasn't like he didn't have money.) and I don't think he cooked much because I heard he was eating instant ramen noodles a lot. Last I heard, he got sick (he had seizures) and went back home. I don't know whether he was eating exteremly unbalanced meals all the time made him sick, but I wouldn't be surprised.

If you can actually eat well balanced meals with $3 per day, all the power to you (although I don't consider soda, some fast food and junk food nutritious). I guess if you shop wisely, it may be possible to eat well with $3 per day, but I'd like to indulge a bit more than that, and I don't wanna rack my brain trying to do extreme bargain shopping either. (My food budget is more like $10 per day... Actually, $110 per week if I include going out for lunch and such.)
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:37 PM   #27
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Aaron seems to make the original John Galt look like a spend thrift.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:42 PM   #28
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I don't economize on food. Last month I spent $188 at the grocery store, and $297 eating out, for a total of $485 on food. But gosh, it was great food. Love those little New Orleans Cajun/Creole/Italian neighborhood restaurants.
You're in a much different stage in life than I am. You are definetly able and seem to be willing to spend that much on food. I say go for it! Just make sure you're not forgetting to go to the gym before or after those yummy meals
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:47 PM   #29
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You're in a much different stage in life than I am. You are definetly able and seem to be willing to spend that much on food. I say go for it! Just make sure you're not forgetting to go to the gym before or after those yummy meals
True, that is a problem for me! When I was in my 20's, I couldn't eat like this, you're right. Maybe that's why I spend so much on food now.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:07 PM   #30
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It's tough to know who wins. While Aaron's performance is impressive, I suspect Shawn's ratio of total expenses to income is pretty low, considering how much he said he made in some much earlier posts.
Looking at past posts, it looks like he makes at least 4X what I make but only spends about 1.5X what I do overall. Pretty impressive to limit yourself to <$25K/yr spending when you make nearly $200K.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:24 PM   #31
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I took a look at my cc bills online. It appears we are 7% over the original budget for 2009. Since there was a little income and six months of pension payments, we took approximately 2% from our portfolio.

This year both of us are fully retired and our WR will be 3% plus a pension.

2 adults, no mortgage, no kids
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:31 PM   #32
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9% under budget. I did not feel deprived.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:35 PM   #33
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Looking at past posts, it looks like he makes at least 4X what I make but only spends about 1.5X what I do overall. Pretty impressive to limit yourself to <$25K/yr spending when you make nearly $200K.
Well, he does not bring home all of that. They kill you with taxes when the income is up there.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:41 PM   #34
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20.3% over budget
6.1% USWR
Spending like a drunk sailor
We're not getting any younger
It's only money
You can't take it with you
YMMV
Yadda yadda yadda...
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:45 PM   #35
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2009 was the first time I've ever created a budget and tracked my spending closely. Ignoring a small tax issue I came within 1% of my budget and saved 47% of my gross income. Hooray! I think I'd like to get it up to an even 50% in 2010 but that may be difficult.

Like many others my biggest discretionary weakness is food and dining out. I think I'm spending $500 or so per month on both. Ouch.

Tracking my spending and saving so much did make me realize one thing. I spent a fortune for short-term disability. After I looked at the benefit I concluded I'm better saving the $1K this year since I'm now self-insured. I kept the LTD of course.

It's also a motivator to defer replacing my car. I don't want the higher insurance to bite into my monthly expenses since I'm now down to liability coverage only.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:48 PM   #36
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20.3% over budget
6.1% USWR
Spending like a drunk sailor
We're not getting any younger
It's only money
You can't take it with you
YMMV
Yadda yadda yadda...
Heh heh heh... It won't be long until this forum is dominated by Live-Beyond-Your-Means-gas-guzzler-RV-driving types of retirees. We, the economy stimulators.... Whoo hoo.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:52 PM   #37
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20.3% over budget
6.1% USWR
Spending like a drunk sailor
We're not getting any younger
It's only money
You can't take it with you
YMMV
Yadda yadda yadda...
Whew...I'm glad you posted this. I don't feel like such a brazen hussy now...
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:17 PM   #38
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If you can actually eat well balanced meals with $3 per day, all the power to you (although I don't consider soda, some fast food and junk food nutritious).
You are correct. Junk food isn't very nutritious. That's what makes it more interesting. I spent $658.58 on nutritious food, $153.82 on junk food, $27.04 on fast food, and $43.91 on soda. If I cut out the junk food, I could have spent even less. I believe my meals were relatively healthy and well balanced, probably more so than usual. I had to think about everything more. For example, I can't remember eating lentils before last year. And unlike the guy you mentioned, I'm never sick.

Quote:
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Food is the 1 area I feel I overspend but am not willing to reduce spending. I'm 6'6" and barely staying above 160lbs. I don't want to give up any of my food money. Because I include household items in my food spending i'm not sure exactly what I spend but I think it's at least double what you spend so that would be about $150/mo maybe more.
I have the opposite problem. It's difficult for me to keep the weight off. I lost an inch or so off my waist in January/February of 2009, but essentially zilch after that. And that's after running/bicycling 5-7 days/week throughout the year.

In a normal year, I probably spend about $150/month too (2010 will be back to a normal year). In 2008, I tracked food separately and spent $1995. I thought that was a lot, which motivated me to see if I could spend under $1000 last year. Incidentally, for comparison, the food stamp budget for a single adult is about $175/month, assuming they have no other resources.

Yes NW-Bound, your memory is impressive. My expenses to income ratio is pretty low. (And yes, I spend more than twice on taxes than what I spend on myself.)
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:46 AM   #39
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I overspent my budget by 1.7%. No trips but I did buy a few pieces of furniture. I received a sizable tax refund last year due to over estimating quarterly taxes from the year before, so I have no guilt in over spending my budget for 2009.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:13 AM   #40
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I spent $23,878.13 last year. Not counting my mortgage ($9K), property taxes ($3K), and charity ($5K)

....

Since I have yet to retire, I don't really have a SWR. However, if I was retired, I would have withdrawn about 0.82% of my total assets in 2009
Wow, wow, wow!!!

Shawn, you must love what you do more than anything in the world, correct? If not, I'm having a hard time imagining why you're still working.

Sam
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