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EXPENSES: Anyone feel like they are out of control?
Old 02-03-2014, 06:48 PM   #1
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EXPENSES: Anyone feel like they are out of control?

I am currently working on a budget and have discovered that my basic expenses are kinda crazy.

These are annual #'s.

Cell phones: $3,060 (3 smartphones, one dumb phone)
Satellite: $1,344
Internet/phone: $924 (We are kind of stuck with our internet provider and the phone is included)
Electric: $2,099
LP: $1,400
Garbage: $264
Rural Water: $676

Total: $9,768 ***Edited as I found a mistake in my spreadsheet

That's not including home or auto insurance, life insurance, taxes, mortgage, cabin payment, food, entertainment, health insurance (through wifes work) etc.

The kids are Sophomore and Freshman in college so hopefully, the electric and LP go down! The water will go down slightly.

I'm sure one of the first question will be location....We live in the upper mid west. In a small subdivision outside of a small town. Our house is only 10 years old but it is fairly large so that does help explain how high the electric and LP is. (just over 5,000 sq ft counting main floor and basement.)


what are other peoples expenses?
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:09 PM   #2
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I get my TV off the air waves - $0
Cell phone is $30 a year
No cabin
No home mortgage
Internet / phone is $600/ year
No kids at home.
Water from a well
Electricity about $750/ year
Trash $168 / year
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:15 PM   #3
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Your numbers don't really seem that high to me. I'm sure there are others who have found much lower cost ways to acquire those services. But if you want a full featured smart phone with voice and data plans, that is not that much for four phones.

Everything else looks about average to me. You could watch OTA signals if you live in an area where you can pick up free television with an antenna. But everyone has to find their dividing line between LBYM and downright austerity. I don't think anything you are spending money on in your post is unreasonable.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iibgdi View Post
I am currently working on a budget and have discovered that my basic expenses are kinda crazy.

These are annual #'s.

Cell phones: $3,060 (3 smartphones, one dumb phone)
Satellite: $1,344
Internet/phone: $924 (We are kind of stuck with our internet provider and the phone is included)
Electric: $2,099
LP: $1,400
Garbage: $264
Rural Water: $676

Total: $9,768 ***Edited as I found a mistake in my spreadsheet

That's not including home or auto insurance, life insurance, taxes, mortgage, cabin payment, food, entertainment, health insurance (through wifes work) etc.

The kids are Sophomore and Freshman in college so hopefully, the electric and LP go down! The water will go down slightly.

I'm sure one of the first question will be location....We live in the upper mid west. In a small subdivision outside of a small town. Our house is only 10 years old but it is fairly large so that does help explain how high the electric and LP is. (just over 5,000 sq ft counting main floor and basement.)


what are other peoples expenses?
A couple of questions about the HVAC: Is it a 90% efficient furnace? And what is the SEER of the AC unit? Also with kids not at home could you shut some rooms down i.e. put dampers in to keep them in the 50s in the winter etc?
Does the water include sewer? If so that is a bargin for a private system:
In Tx in an all electric house 1 person just about $1700 for electric (note the system is heat pumps) Water at 1500 gal/month runs about 390, garbage about 450. Phone and DSL about 720, sat tv about 900, and cell phone about 550. (Just a dumb phone).
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:33 PM   #5
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My annual numbers:

Cable TV/internet/phone: $2,868
Cell phones: $2,448 (2 smartphones, including one with a global plan)
Water/electric (including heating): $2,333
Garbage: $216

Total: $7,865

Location: 2-bedroom apartment, downtown San Francisco. I don't think my expenses are out of control.
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EXPENSES: Anyone feel like they are out of control?
Old 02-03-2014, 07:36 PM   #6
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EXPENSES: Anyone feel like they are out of control?

Those are crazy unmanaged expenses that most on this ER forum are not familiar with. You are badically playing what I aptly call poor defense. Or put another way "playing bend over defense".

You need prioritize as well as learn to negotiate monthly expenses too

My expenses are very similar to travelovers. I have OTA HD with TIVO and streaming tied to high speed internet and cell phones with a home Xlink bluetooth gateway. All those entertainment and phone services are about $90 per month.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:50 PM   #7
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Well, my expenses won't be a useful comparison for you, as my living situation is very different from yours. I'm renting a small (280sq ft) and cheap apartment in the East Bay area of San Francisco.

Cell phones - $0 (don't own one)
Landline, DSL internet, and landline long distance - $375/year
Cable/satellite TV - $0
Electricity, gas, water and garbage - $0 (included in rent)

Total for the year - $375

I am considering adding a streaming only Netflix subscription, which would add a bit less than $100/year to these figures. The cheapskate side of me might win though
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:02 PM   #8
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Looks to me like you could easily harvest some low hanging fruit by going with a prepaid cell service (we pay less than $45/mo per smartphone) and cutting the cord on your satellite. That should reduce your tab by at least $2,000 per year.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:10 PM   #9
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I'll try later to get back to some of the posters when I get more time.

ONE of the reasons I posted this was because I was reading the thread in the "young" forum that is now closed, from the young guy with a $1.6 million net worth trying to convince everyone that his TOTAL household expenses were $12,000/year.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iibgdi View Post
I am currently working on a budget and have discovered that my basic expenses are kinda crazy.

These are annual #'s.

Cell phones: $3,060 (3 smartphones, one dumb phone)
Satellite: $1,344
Internet/phone: $924 (We are kind of stuck with our internet provider and the phone is included)
Electric: $2,099
LP: $1,400
Garbage: $264
Rural Water: $676

Total: $9,768 ***Edited as I found a mistake in my spreadsheet

[...]

what are other peoples expenses?
I don't know how comparable my expenses are. Still, for my house and situation mine are not especially low, either! It's amazing to see how fast these bills climb. I keep posting that some day I will cancel my landline, go back to a dumb phone, and go back to basic cable TV or OTA, but I have not done any of this yet. It's not like I have to, but it aggravates me to just throw money away like this.

Anyway, here you go.
Cell Phone (one iPhone)$912
Cable TV/internet$1915
Landline$356
Electric$1120
Natural Gas$380
Water,Trash,Sewer, etc$264
TOTAL$4947
As for the fellow who spends less than $12,000/year total, you need to understand that we have a very wide range in spending levels here. We have some forum members who spend enough money to make your eyes water, and we have some people who spend nearly nothing. I am sure you could figure out a way to spend $12,000/year total, but would you really want to live that way in order to do it? My guess is no, but there is nothing wrong with that.

I suspect that some of us have lived on around $12,000 or less while struggling through school. We know that while this is not impossible, often it is not exactly what we had in mind for a comfortable retirement. So, we may not spend that little right now.
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:08 PM   #11
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I pay $1300 for 4 very dumb, very old cellphones (shared family plan) but that will go down to $400 per year when I retire.

Internet / Phone / Cable: $1800 / year which is crazy. This is on my "short list" of do betters once I retire and can convince DH that we dont need cable. I don't have the time or patience to try and show him how he can find everything he watches on the internet !

Electric = approx 2k. Home is 1500 sq ft all electric, in Florida. I will be researching more energy efficient units when it is time to replace which should be soon.

Garbage = $400 / year.

Water = $800 / year (including sewer) which is average for this area. That includes $150 / year for reclaimed water for the yard.

Total = $6,300.
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:09 PM   #12
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Here are the same line items for us...

Cell phones: $504
No TV but we do have Netflix for $96
Internet: $480
Electric: $1,200
Water: $396
No landline phone or garbage fee. I have no idea what LP is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iibgdi View Post
... guy with a $1.6 million net worth trying to convince everyone that his TOTAL household expenses were $12,000/year.
I didn't believe that guy either; not with a 4,000 sq foot home and kids. I figure that $25,000 would be near rock bottom for us (just rent, utilities, food, gas, auto/life/renter's insurance... all health insurance paid by employer... no travel, gifts, new stuff), and that's for two people in a low cost of living area.

Tim
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timwalsh300 View Post
I have no idea what LP is.
I'm guessing it's Liquid Propane.

Mine:

Cell Phone $360 (T-mobile 100 min talk, unlimited text, unlimited data, $30 a month).
Electric: $1800
Water: $1500 (includes trash, sewer)
Natural Gas: $600
Internet/Basic Cable: $720

Total: $4,980.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Al in Ohio View Post
Those are crazy unmanaged expenses that most on this ER forum are not familiar with. You are badically playing what I aptly call poor defense. Or put another way "playing bend over defense".
I think you are taking a lot for granted. Everyone's situation is different. There are differences in family size and in cost of living in different areas. Just because someone is spending more than you are doesn't mean that person's expenses are "unmanaged" or are "crazy." Further, different people have different priorities. I do think that people should examine their expenses to see what they can cut without changing their lifestyle to one that is not appealing to them. Last year we cut some expenses that didn't really impact our lifestyle and that was great. Other expenses we could cut, but we choose not to because we value what we get from spending that money.

To the the OP for the categories we mention, we spent the following last year. Note that we have 4 people living in the house which includes two of our kids who are in college. I do expect that several of these will go down once the kids are out of the house.

Cell phones: about $3,135 (4 smartphones, one dumb phone for my mother, 2 Ipads. We would love to use T Mobile or other cheaper alternatives but the only service that works where we are is Verizon)
Cable TV and Internet - $1727 (we intended to do OTA when we moved to our current house but due to the hilly area we can't get OTA channels even with an antenna. To have just internet and no TV would cut this about $500 a year)
Electric: $3360 (2800 SF house - we have no choice of electric provider since we are served by a coop - our rates are much higher here than where they were before)
Natural Gas: $504
Garbage: $244
Water: $881 (note that about $220 of this was from a water leak that lasted about 1 day)
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:35 PM   #15
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I feel like I live a pretty average lifestyle but recently found out my water/sewer bill is 20% lower than the average in the community I live in. Not sure what's up with that - maybe because there's only 3 of us (not counting fur-kids). Here's my expenses now including sales tax of 5% in the categories you mentioned:

Cell phones: $66/mo = $792/yr (1 smartphone) In my family, the kids paid their own once they were old enough to want a phone / have a job. The 13 y.o. figured out on his own how to turn his ipod into a semi-smartphone a couple of years ago. Not sure how he did it but he can phone and text on it for free.
Satellite: $0 or $96/yr - is this TV? The boys get everything via various websites (they can figure out how to get anything and everything!) and we have netflix at $7.99/mo plus loads of movies are available on youtube nowadays. However, none of us are into watching sports or regular shows, so YMMV.
Internet/phone: $55/mo = $660/yr- no landline since nobody but telemarketers called us that way
Electric: - ~$1,000/yr - no A/C (sadly, not required AT ALL)
LP: - ~$1,300/yr - Canada (a cold part) - I have a "semi-rule" that heat doesn't get turned on between May and as long as we can push it into October. However, I have a woodburning fireplace and south facing large windows. We're all gone during the day though and when I'm not working and at home, the heat is turned on more regularly.
Garbage/Sewer/Water: ~$960/yr - put in a new low flush toilet in place of a slightly running one last year. It made a surprisingly big difference.

Total a little under $5k/year. Our house is a little over 3000 s.f. and a little under 20 y.o. in a medium sized suburban community. Looking very forward to downsizing!
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:21 PM   #16
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One thought, if your cell phone plan has different data use levels, you might have a savings opportunity. Onavo is an app that helps you control your data plan. After I installed it, I learned I was using a tremendous amount of data just updating apps. Onavo allowed me to set many apps to be updated on a wireless network, It also keeps track of usage during the month. As I got use to it, I would switch my phone to wireless so I would need less from my data plan. In my case, leverging wireless providers, I found I did not need unlimited data from my cell phone provider.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:55 PM   #17
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Per month I spend roughly around:

$935 on rent (includes cable tv, and water)
$100 on electricity
$120 on cell phone
$45 on internet
$80 on gas
$100 on insurance (renters, car, and umbrella)

So that's $1,380.

Not sure on food, health insurance, disability insurance, taxes, and entertainment. I'd have to go look it up and I'm too lazy for that. Anyway when I have tracked it month to month I generally come out somewhere between $2,000 and $2,500 per month for everything.

My living expenses have really not varied too much for the past 10+ years. Rent and other bills have generally gone up a little each year. On the flip side I have spent less on entertainment. For example watching Netflix instead of buying multiple $20 dvds each month. Another example, I haven't upgraded my computer in forever because the games I play (ex: world of warcraft, civilization 5) don't need it anymore. I used to easily spend $2k every few years on new PCs. Another is using Spotify and Youtube for music instead of buying it.

Anyway, somehow it has all seemed to even out and my living expenses really haven't changed that much in a long time.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:32 AM   #18
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We kind of financially woke up a couple of years ago and realized a lot of our expenses were kind of crazy. We are still working on trimming our utilities. So far we cut our electric / gas bill in half, but they were really high so we had a lot to work with. The book The Home Energy Diet by Paul Scheckel was especially helpful.

Just switching to drying racks saved $40 a month. We live where it is sunny and over 70 degrees most of the year so I don't know why I didn't do this years ago. It is actually easier because I can put clothes on the racks and leave the house or go to bed and not have to worry about waiting for the dryer to finish.

We also went around tracking every thing we could that used electricity with a Kill A Watt, installed LED bulbs, and now cook mostly with small appliances instead of the built in cook top and wall ovens. We bought a table top convection oven that probably uses half the energy of the wall ovens and the food comes out better.

We got rid of the landline for Ooma.

We plan to get rid of cable when our current contract runs out. We bought a lap top to connect to the TV to watch the online documentary sites and network shows on their web sites or through Hulu. Plus we have Netflix and Amazon Prime.

For water we put in low flow shower heads and got a front loading washer. If we stay in our house long term we will xeriscape.

For cell phone plans we will switch to prepaid when our current contract runs out.

For the ISP we call to renegotiate the rate every 6 months or so. They will usually give us the new customer special rates.

Our big savings in utilities and many other expenses will come when the kids are launched and we downsize to a condo.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:22 AM   #19
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Seems high to me. I live in CA. 2 person household

Cell phones: 2 phones. Virgin Mobile. $840. $35 a month for each person
Satellite: 0
Internet/phone: $600 for internet. 24 MBPS
Electric: $700
Garbage and water: $400

$2500 annually
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:03 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iibgdi View Post
...what are other peoples expenses?
Cell phones: $240 (2 smartphones; $10/mo each; 2 cents/text, 4 cents/minute voice, 6 cents per mb data, no contract)
Satellite: $780
Internet: $600
Phone: $168
Electric: $900
LP:$1,253 ($1.79/gal)
Trash removal: $220
Water $0 (well)

Total: $4,161
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