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Old 12-31-2013, 10:39 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
The whole ideal behind a safe withdrawal rate is the portfolio will sometimes generate excess returns, and these need to be saved to offset the other more difficult times when our portfolios decline.

Seems to me most retired people here have targeted a withdrawal rate and are sticking to it even while portfolio returns are rosy and might support a higher level of spending. That's the whole idea, and why the withdrawal rate is safe. How easily we forget the bad times when we lose sleep worrying about going broke.
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:58 AM   #182
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Originally Posted by F4mandolin View Post
Wasn't there somebody on here a couple years ago who only spent $800+ TOTAL for the year on food? That set off some people questioning how they could do that. I'm still not sure how they did it.
I've only been here a year so it's not me you're referring to, but that's about my annual food spend. I guess I don't see why it's difficult? By eating vegan and not drinking alcohol, the high cost stuff goes off the menu. Plus I cook from scratch and avoid anything packaged in boxes (including vitamins). It's for health reasons, my income sits in the top few percent of households. Also I don't eat out, I have relatives in the restaurant business and well let's just say I feel more comfortable shopping and preparing my own.

My 2013 expense breakdown (excluding income taxes) is 2/3 for rent and 1/3 for everything else. I thought I was ER'd this year but guess not, so income tax is still elevated. Plus recent stock market action has drawn my attention to unvested options, so I'm no longer in the drivers seat with respect to my work conditions. For me OMY has gone open ended.
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Old 12-31-2013, 11:22 AM   #183
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I started detailed tracking in 2009. I use an Excel spreadsheet and download my account (checking, savings, credit card) activity about 6x a year and then add a column for "category". As someone else mentioned, SuperWalmart and SuperTarget are causing me an issue - did I buy food or something else ? I may need to start saving receipts and breaking those down further.

The good news - excluding Income Tax I am underbudget. This I had $30k in home maintenance projects (we moved and the new 30 year old home needed new floors, a new roof, a new water softener and interior paint) against a $5k budget. The $5k budget includes an accrual for a new roof going forward and I hope I never have to replace the tile floors !. To offset this $25k overage I have a $20k underage in health care (still working so still subsidized) and a $5k underage in vacations (we never travel).

All other expenses are within a reasonable variance to budget, meaning that the data is sound and I can count on the 3.25% WR against todays portfolio to determine if I am comfortable ER'ing in March 2015.
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Old 12-31-2013, 11:53 AM   #184
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The next step to save money on food after becoming a vegan is becoming a breatherian. Takes your food budget way down. As well as everything else in a relatively short time.
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:15 PM   #185
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I've only been here a year so it's not me you're referring to, but that's about my annual food spend. I guess I don't see why it's difficult? By eating vegan and not drinking alcohol, the high cost stuff goes off the menu. Plus I cook from scratch and avoid anything packaged in boxes (including vitamins). It's for health reasons, my income sits in the top few percent of households. Also I don't eat out, I have relatives in the restaurant business and well let's just say I feel more comfortable shopping and preparing my own.
I have very little will-power these days. I spend a good $1500 a year just on beer and diet soda's. We only eat out once every couple of weeks for lunch.....but I nibble on crap food quite a bit. If we ever got in trouble financially we (meaning me) could drop most of $5,000 a year just on food we (mean me) don't need.
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:49 PM   #186
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I think that the real issue is not how much you spent but whether your expenses came in on, under, or above budget. Everyone has different income levels and different expenses.

We do not break our expenses down by any category. We simply add up all of our bank withdrawals/payments to determine if we are within the ball park for our estimated after tax expense budget. As at the end of this year we are on budget for the past three years. Cannot tell you where every dime went nor do we really have any interest in knowing this. We shop carefully for everything-with a focus on value vs. price. We have a high travel budget but we do not have any health insurance payments to make.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:29 PM   #187
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We don't eat vegan but I used to just shop at the local grocery store. That was a big mistake as we live in high rent suburb in a high cost of living metro area. Just shopping at ethnic stores, stocking up at Costco and a pack it yourself type place 3 miles away in a more blue collar city next door to where we live saved us thousands on our grocery bills every year.

When DH wanted to quit work I compared our food budget to the Consumer Expenditure Survey and we were so far over what most people spent on food it was actually rather shocking.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:46 PM   #188
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Our eating (food+dining) expense has been shocking....just the two of us and it's easily a mortgage payment (1300-2000/mo). We don't go to fancy restaurants and cook a lot at home, but we do eat healthy. Plus I need 3-4kcals a day, so I might as well be 3 people

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When DH wanted to quit work I compared our food budget to the Consumer Expenditure Survey and we were so far over what most people spent on food it was actually rather shocking.
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:34 PM   #189
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I posted my expenses earlier, we are vegan at home, veggies everywhere else we eat. We also buy as much of our food organic when able. Subscribe to 3 CSA's at different seasons. For groceries we spent $6800, for dining $1801, for alcohol $672. There isn't a lot of places to eat veggie where we live, but we went to Napa Valley for a week, and spent most of the $1800 there.

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Old 12-31-2013, 04:38 PM   #190
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Hmmmm, maybe 1.5 people. As a moderately active women, I eat about 2,000 calories a day. I'm sure a moderately active man would go 2,500. And a teenager...well, let's say you're probably equivalent to one 15-year-old girl, and a 15-year-old boy would be complaining of hunger

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Plus I need 3-4kcals a day, so I might as well be 3 people
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:05 PM   #191
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We track expenses in detail and have for decades - as Quicken allows us to do easily. And our "budget" is based on our typical spending. We set a budget for planning purposes, but nothing is in stone. It doesn't matter if we exceed it as we have "extra" funds set aside for splurges.
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:46 PM   #192
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I don't track my expenditure throughout the year. I just went through my credit card statements and added up the main expenses. Here's what I got -

*Rent (inc utilities) $7680

*Groceries + household goods
for me + 2.5 kitties $4420

*Vet fees $391

*Landline phone + internet + long distance $383

*Dining out $530

*Hobbies (electronics/ham radio) $551

*Postage $100

*Total transportation expenses
(bicycle maintenance + bus/train fares) $255

*Rolling Stones tickets (an absolute necessity) $300

*Computer OS upgrade $130

This all adds up to $14,740

The draw from my portfolio was $15,600 and income from minor part-time gigs was $2,575 for a total income of $18,175. I spent about $16,600 of this, leaving a little under $2K unaccounted for. I'm sure I could account for most of that if I went through receipts with a fine tooth-comb, but I'm not about to do that. A fair amount of it will be cash purchases at businesses that don't accept credit cards, and the rest will be miscellaneous expenses that I haven't already placed into a category. With total spending of <$17K, I'm not motivated to account for every last dollar. Am looking forward to being able to increase my income in a few years

Note - regarding the 2.5 kitties noted above. I adopted one in the middle of the year, hence the 2.5 average for the year
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:26 PM   #193
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Single, living alone, San Francisco Bay Area, 54, not yet retired ...

$20,104 Cat Veterinary
$09,765 Mortgage
$04,077 Charity
$03,250 Property Taxes
$03,111 Utilities (Gas/Elec, Water, Phone, Trash, TV, Internet)
$00,758 Homeowners Insurance
$00,495 Auto Insurance
$00,297 Auto Gas
$00,217 Bicycle Repair
$04,890 Misc (food, clothes, entertainment, recreation, doctor, dentist, subscriptions, ...)


Total: $26,860.47 (plus $20,104.22 in veterinary bills)

Previous Years:
1999 (30,915)
2000 (33,454)
2001 (27,325)
2002 (31,751)
2003 (29,757)
2004 (25,510) [plus 18K in veterinary bills]
2005 (29,424) [plus 5K in veterinary bills]
2006 (30,735)
2007 (29,703)
2008 (31,846)
2009 (23,878)
2010 (26,108) [plus 17K for a new car]
2011 (28,845)
2012 (27,539) [plus 15K in veterinary bills]
2013 (26,860) [plus 20K in veterinary bills]
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:37 PM   #194
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My expense was well over $100k with a couple of big ticket items (new car, travel, golf membership for 2). No doubt I need to bring it down when I RE .... or, I need to work few more years than I planned for.
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Old 01-01-2014, 10:17 AM   #195
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I just added up our 2013 expenses this morning. The totals are:

 
personal allowance DW & I ________7200.00
entertainment ___________________1972.50
travel & vacations _______________4987.93
groceries & household products ____4571.81
beauty shop ____________________507.12
gasoline ______________________1970.22
cell phone-trac phone _____________108.74
cable tv, internet, land phone ______2167.71
natural gas & electric ____________1923.74
life insurance900garbage collection___353.12
car insurance (2 vehicles) __________726.00
car repairs _____________________2903.08
license plates ___________________202.00
house insurance _________________556.27
property taxes __________________6644.22
clothes _______________________1845.07
birthday & christmas presents ______1816.25
medical & dental & drugs_________ 2055.10
lawn maintenance _______________1058.56
house maintenance ______________6156.24
miscellaneous __________________2673.98
Total _______________________53,299.66

The above is spending after taxes and employer health insurance. Total is padded since a lot of my personal allowance ends up going into savings. We are about $1,350 above projected budget for the year due to a bit higher car repairs and home repairs that we did not anticipate.

We record our expenses very carefully and have done so for the last 7 years. We have a good handle on our expenses.

If we throw in an extra $5,000 per year for car replacement and $5,000 per year for unexpected home repairs, and another $5,000 for extra travel and finally another $10,000 for ACA and $8,000 for taxes we appear to be in good shape to retire on an expected $86,000 per year. Firecalc says we are 100% for over $100,000 per year so 2014 should do it for me.
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:21 AM   #196
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2012 (27,539) [plus 15K in veterinary bills]
2013 (26,860) [plus 20K in veterinary bills]
Hi Shawn, Just curious - is this years veterinary bills for the same cat that you posted about last year ?
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:43 AM   #197
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Single, living alone, San Francisco Bay Area, 54, not yet retired ...

$20,104 Cat Veterinary
Is there a typo in there?
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:56 AM   #198
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Is there a typo in there?
There's not a typo. If you look at Shawn's expenses for previous years, you will see he is a very devoted cat-dad.

I am just sorry to see from his 2013 vet bills that one or more of his cats is still so sick.
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:58 AM   #199
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Our burn rate has been $6K (after tax) per month for the past 3 1/2 years.

This include a great deal of travel but 9 months with absolutely no home expenses or rent.

We expect it to remain constant, adjusted for inflation, until our health dictates a change in travel habits.
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:59 AM   #200
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My expense was well over $100k with a couple of big ticket items (new car, travel, golf membership for 2). No doubt I need to bring it down when I RE .... or, I need to work few more years than I planned for.
Or simply have a larger portfolio to begin with ...
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