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Old 01-11-2019, 09:35 AM   #201
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But thatís the thing - your grocery bill may not be out of whack at all! It completely depends on your priorities and income.

I donít think we can judge ourselves by what other people spend. Iím not interested in feeling ashamed into spending less than I can afford. That doesnít seem useful and may lead to a reduced quality of life for me.
Oh, I agree re priorities and income! Iím pretty immune to the judging thing on spend. Everyoneís situation is different and I love seeing the big vacations as well as seeing the budgets some get by on. Itís good perspective and appeals to my frugal midwestern roots, even if I donít live that way right now.

I do find it really helpful to understand where the large divergences are. I know our house spend is significantly above average, but those are, for now, fixed costs and we live our home at this stage of our life. I think our property tax bill alone is higher than some annual spend! So on the more discretionary stuff, itís useful to understand whatís more Ďnormalí and what we could get by on, if we needed/wanted to.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:47 AM   #202
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I wasnít responding to your comment, but rather numerous comments made over the years on this forum. I get it - sometimes people are a bit shocked by other people spending more, just as working folks or regular retirees are often flabbergasted by someone they know retiring early.
I don't know about feeling shocked about other people spending more. I'd say living vicariously through others. One might wonder would I be happier with the funds to double my spending?

OTOH a higher spender might think my food bill is double per person of what many spend here, am I getting good value for the money.


I actually think sometimes just listing budget categories as a % of spend would me more useful and less intrusive .
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:00 AM   #203
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I’m curious: in reviewing your spend, are you motivated to change it, budgeting differently and so on, going forward in 2019?

We're motivated to qualify for $25K in ACA tax credits. For us that means keeping a close watch on our ACA-MAGI. Every $1 I optimize in expenses edges us a bit further from the ACA cliff. But even without the ACA I still like optimizing expenses. I'd rather the money I save with optimization go to our kids instead of corporate profits. Our expenses used to be 2 - 3 times what we spend these days. We weren't any happier spending more so we probably won't up our spending too much once we on Medicare and off the ACA.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:21 AM   #204
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We're motivated to qualify for $25K in ACA tax credits. For us that means keeping a close watch on our ACA-MAGI. Every $1 I optimize in expenses edges us a bit further from the ACA cliff. But even without the ACA I still like optimizing expenses. I'd rather the money I save with optimization go to our kids instead of corporate profits. Our expenses used to be 2 - 3 times what we spend these days. We weren't any happier spending more so we probably won't up our spending too much once we on Medicare and off the ACA.
It is impressive how much you particularly save for entertainment with seat fillers, free concerts, etc.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:13 AM   #205
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We live in an small HOA development. Everyone is retired or semi retired.

Some people say that we are fortunate that we can travel as often as we do and for as long as we do.

Our neighborhood, in the summer months, looks like a BMW, a Lexus, or an Acura dealership lot at times-with lots of late models. Our rides consist of a 2006 Accord and a 2007 Solara summer car... vehicle upgrades are not even in our thoughts.

People spend their monies based on needs, priorities, and wants. If it comes down to upgrading ours vehicles or a few extended trips the latter will always win out for us. We are fortunate that we have choice.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:18 AM   #206
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After posting my prior message about changes to budget tracking, I realized one change (a fun one) I can/have made to my tracking of ďmiscĒ expenses.

Alcohol purchases in my state, like others, are restricted to ďABC StoresĒ. Unlike my former state, you have to go only to those to purchase your favorite booze. Or I guess thereís also moonshine.

For lack of thought, Iíd categorized those under ďmiscĒ, but have changed for 2019 to ďgroceries:alcoholĒ, which better matches how I think of it. Itís a lumpy category, especially around holidays and major sport events.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:22 PM   #207
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I'd rather the money I save with optimization go to our kids instead of corporate profits.
Your kids may not have the same aversion to spending money and contributing to corporate profits.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:50 PM   #208
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Iím curious: in reviewing your spend, are you motivated to change it, budgeting differently and so on, going forward in 2019?
I've been a nerdy Quicken user for almost 20 years, so I have things pretty well dialed in in terms of spending in line with my values and priorities, eliminating what I consider wasteful spending, and knowing how much I spend.

[College-related rant follows; may not be interesting.]

One area that is somewhat messy is my kids' college-related expenses. I'm paying for (or will soon pay for) three undergraduate degrees. I am trying to track how much I spend on each of them to make it fair. I reimburse myself from 529s and ESAs for high school and college expenses, but some stuff is not reimburseable (like college visit expenses) or is variably reimbursable (like high school expenses, which used to be ESA-reimburseable only). There are scholarships, financial aid, tax credits, classes that get dropped, and how to handle room and board for the oldest who is going to the local university.

And some of these things interact. For example, the AOTC is only for out-of-pocket expenses, so I can't reimburse myself for those if I want to claim the credit. My oldest son will have to file his own tax return for 2018, which means he'll get the AOTC credit, not me. Etc.

I currently have all of their 529's and ESA's listed in my Quicken file, and I have a "College:<Kid>:[Tuition|Fees|Room|Board|Books|Other]" expense structure. It works OK but not great.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:50 PM   #209
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Your kids may not have the same aversion to spending money and contributing to corporate profits.
I don't have an aversion to spending money. I don't have a super low budget like some posters here. But I do like getting good value for the money I do spend. Our kids are grown and have good money habits so I doubt they are suddenly going to become spendthrifts. Even if they did blow it all I'd would still rather shop at Costco and have the money I save go to them.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:00 PM   #210
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Well I haven't budgeted, but I got my W-2 this week and tried to estimate how that money was spent, and this is what I got:

60 percent on taxes (this is with zero deductions and includes all withholdings and I have extra withheld : plus quarterly estimated tax, and the portion of property tax that I pay);
.
32 percent on saving for retirement;

3 percent non-auto insurance (life, liability, umbrella);

2 percent transportation;

The remainder is spent on kids, vitamins, gifts, clothes, charities, coffee. DH supplements my spending here out of his pay; and also gives me gas money, and buys me clothes/ shoes/ boots whether I want them or not.

Categories not covered, DH pays for that, i.e. utilities, groceries, auto insurance, home repairs, car repairs, cell phones, travel. And if I happen to need new tires, DH takes care of that.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:50 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by ivinsfan View Post
....

I actually think sometimes just listing budget categories as a % of spend would me more useful and less intrusive .
Wouldn't work for me, as we don't budget

We just spend, and track the spending. If I take $2,000 out of the ATM, I don't track it as I only need to track spending.

I like seeing what people who are comfortable reporting, report, it makes me think in comparison to what we spend. Should we spend more/less ??
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Old 01-19-2019, 06:01 AM   #212
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I've been a nerdy Quicken user for almost 20 years, so I have things pretty well dialed in in terms of spending in line with my values and priorities, eliminating what I consider wasteful spending, and knowing how much I spend.

[College-related rant follows; may not be interesting.]

One area that is somewhat messy is my kids' college-related expenses. I'm paying for (or will soon pay for) three undergraduate degrees. I am trying to track how much I spend on each of them to make it fair. I reimburse myself from 529s and ESAs for high school and college expenses, but some stuff is not reimburseable (like college visit expenses) or is variably reimbursable (like high school expenses, which used to be ESA-reimburseable only). There are scholarships, financial aid, tax credits, classes that get dropped, and how to handle room and board for the oldest who is going to the local university.



And some of these things interact. For example, the AOTC is only for out-of-pocket expenses, so I can't reimburse myself for those if I want to claim the credit. My oldest son will have to file his own tax return for 2018, which means he'll get the AOTC credit, not me. Etc.

I currently have all of their 529's and ESA's listed in my Quicken file, and I have a "College:<Kid>:[Tuition|Fees|Room|Board|Books|Other]" expense structure. It works OK but not great.
Easy under pets I have the 4 dogs 2 cats, 2 tortoise, and the guinea fowl. Each with their own expense line.

I mostly do it to keep track pf vet bills, vaccinations. While I also have a dog and cat separate line for spared food.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:24 PM   #213
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Spending
Total of $38,539. This is an interesting number because it's within 2% of last year's spending, but I didn't bother to track 2018 on an ongoing basis. This year really reinforces my belief that our approach to spending is sound. We spend what we need/want to, and we're not seeing much creep upwards. That number doesn't include healthcare or taxes, since both of those will change quite a bit in retirement. It does include $4000 of "car savings", as an expense, and $2500 each of discretionary spending for each my partner and I. Like last year that number includes an inexpensive European vacation as well as some domestic travel and some small home improvement projects. If we had to tighten belts and defer some wants, we could get down to $25k.

Saving
Total of $161,533. I didn't make a forecast for this year, but this is about what I'd expect it to be given pay raises and stable spending. That number includes 401k matching, but not capital gains or dividend reinvestment deposits. Eg, employment compensation savings.
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:26 AM   #214
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Spending Total of $38,539...

Saving Total of $161,533...
After retiring you might want to consider running for Congress.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:10 AM   #215
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I am really surprised about the low expenses. We live frugally as we only travel once a year to California for 2 weeks and hardly eat out - once or twice a week during happy hours. The house and cars are paid for. We have no cable TV service other than Internet access, landline and cell phone service. We could drop the landline costing $50 per moth. Our expenses, however, are more than $55K per year.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:20 AM   #216
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I am really surprised about the low expenses. We live frugally as we only travel once a year to California for 2 weeks and hardly eat out - once or twice a week during happy hours. The house and cars are paid for. We have no cable TV service other than Internet access, landline and cell phone service. We could drop the landline costing $50 per moth. Our expenses, however, are more than $55K per year.
~20% of those posting in prior surveys are spending over 100k annually. You just don't hear about details for this level of spending as often on this site for whatever reason.
So don't fret over your spending amounts.
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Old 02-22-2019, 11:42 AM   #217
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I am really surprised about the low expenses. We live frugally as we only travel once a year to California for 2 weeks and hardly eat out - once or twice a week during happy hours. The house and cars are paid for. We have no cable TV service other than Internet access, landline and cell phone service. We could drop the landline costing $50 per moth. Our expenses, however, are more than $55K per year.

A lot of people are excluding taxes .That is a big chunk of most people's budget .
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:03 PM   #218
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A lot of people are excluding taxes .That is a big chunk of most people's budget .
As they very likely should. Annual income tax payments also are easy to manipulate, if desired, by various sleight of hand when tax planning, implementing Roth conversions, and so on, so they could vary tremendously from year to year. And on the other hand they often can reflect portfolio size, taxable yield, and investment choices. Many of our wealthiest members are required by the IRS to pay huge income taxes even if they don't spend much at all on living expenses. While income tax payments are certainly a big requirement, in fact a necessity, when figuring out WR and doing computations for threads devoted to that or to income, they are not entirely relevant to computations on a spending thread like this one.

Spanky, did you compare category by category with those who provided their spending for each category? Hopefully the thread will help all of us to figure out where in our budget we can cut back, if desired, and where we can spend more.

How much does the two week trip to California cost? My uninformed wild guess would be over $10K, but I guess it depends on where you stay, what you do, and so on. Since I don't travel I can't even make a good guess about that.

Are your property taxes unusually high in your location? That can be a big factor too and has even inspired some people in high property tax locations to relocate. Once many years ago, Brewer12345 live in New Jersey in what was apparently a pricey house/location. I still remember years ago when he mentioned exactly what his property taxes were - - five figures IIRC!
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:16 AM   #219
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A
Spanky, did you compare category by category with those who provided their spending for each category? Hopefully the thread will help all of us to figure out where in our budget we can cut back, if desired, and where we can spend more.

How much does the two week trip to California cost? My uninformed wild guess would be over $10K, but I guess it depends on where you stay, what you do, and so on. Since I don't travel I can't even make a good guess about that.
Comparison by category is inline to others, I think.

Food/Merchandise: 10,476
Vehicle: 6,169
Health care/fitness: 7,900
Utilities: 5,040
Housing: 8,200
Entertainment/Restaurants: 3,400
Travel: 9,700

Estimated expenses ~ $51K (less than $55K as original posted).

If DD's tuition is included, the expenses will be $67K.

We need to see if we could cut down on merchandise. Thanks for asking.
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Old 02-24-2019, 03:36 PM   #220
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A lot of people are excluding taxes .That is a big chunk of most people's budget .
That's because we don't like to think about taxes and pretend they don't exist until April.
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