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Old 01-11-2019, 10:35 AM   #201
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
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, 10:47 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, 11:00 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, 11:21 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, 12:13 PM   #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, 12:18 PM   #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, 01:22 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, 01:50 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, 03:50 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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