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Old 01-05-2011, 05:48 AM   #181
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No health insurance?
I'm still working therefore I get it through my employer and I spend nearly nothing out of pocket because I almost never go to the doctor.
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:27 AM   #182
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I don't know a single person that went to a private school.
No Catholic schools in your area?
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:27 AM   #183
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There's still a lot of things that I don't see in some of the very low budgets that people are posting, some may have ways to get these things for cheap/free but even a moderate cost across these categories adds up fast. Maybe they're all in the "misc" category. I think it's easier to get away with a barebones budget if you are a single male.

- Doctors visits and prescriptions (the co-pay)
- Hobbies
- Entertainment (books/movies)
- Household furnishings
- Road tolls
- Haircuts
- Clothes
- Dry cleaning
- Gifts for family/friends
- Travel/vacation
- Charitable giving/donations

There is still fat in my budget that I would like to cut, but personally, would not want to live at the poverty line in order to get to ER sooner. That is a hard road to hoe.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:47 AM   #184
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I fully believe that single people and couples with no children living in inexpensive parts of the country can live on the minimal amounts stated. And others may be able to do it in more expensive areas by practicing extreme frugality or paying off their homes and other debts extremely early. Whether others want to live that way is a personal decision. I do not. There are many publications touting the benefits of being extremely frugal and give many practical examples. If you don't have the income, frugal living becomes a matter of necessity .

I grew up is a 2 bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood in NYC. My parents were blue collar never made more that about $5 to 7K a year when I was growing up. This was during the 50's and 60's. We paid $60 a month in rent, a few dollars for utilities and heat and water were included (one window A/C that was used sparingly - we had an odd device called a screen in the windows). No car - lots of great, low cost public transit. I went to public schools all the way through college, which was essentially free for residents. We had a TV and pretty much everything else that makes life nice. Of course, I had no idea what suburban living in a big house was and didn't know what I was missing (if anything), so I was a happy kid.

For the most part, I don't believe that type of life is available in most metropolitan areas any more. Even in very low cost cities, rents are $800 or more for a 2 bedroom apartment (not NYC, SF, LA, etc.). It's less in run down and dangerous neighborhoods, but I doubt anyone who can afford not to live there would.

I really don't care how others want to live. If they have a desire to be like Jack Benny or Scrooge McDuck and run their hands through their piles of dollars, that's fine with me. If their only goal in life is to retire by 45, that's also fine. For me, life is too short to deny myself things that I would like to have or do and that I can afford. I'm not a believer in the Protestant work ethic of working for the sake of it, nor do I feel that it's good to become so focused on saving money that it becomes an end in and of itself. No 25 year old cars here - 15 is the oldest and 10 is the minimum before replacement .
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:56 AM   #185
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There's still a lot of things that I don't see in some of the very low budgets that people are posting, some may have ways to get these things for cheap/free but even a moderate cost across these categories adds up fast. Maybe they're all in the "misc" category. I think it's easier to get away with a barebones budget if you are a single male....
If you look back at some of aaron's posts you'll see he's our poster child for lbym (and he doesn't have the level of means a lot of people who post here do, either). Over on the weight loss thread, we had to encourage him to gain weight, to eat more to get his BMI up to the normal range .
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:29 AM   #186
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I think it's easier to get away with a barebones budget if you are a single male.
There is no doubt about it. Marriage, having children, and acquiring pets are all responsibilities in the financial sense, as well as in the emotional sense.

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There is still fat in my budget that I would like to cut, but personally, would not want to live at the poverty line in order to get to ER sooner. That is a hard road to hoe.
Yes, it is. Some here are working very hard to get to ER. Many or most of the expenses that you list are discretionary and not necessities of life, and those who do want to lower their expenses can drop them.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:31 AM   #187
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If I was not married and did not have kids I would have been retired for 7 years already. Having said that, I would not trade my kids even for all of Warren Buffet's billions............
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:33 AM   #188
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It's interesting not only to see what others in this forum spend, but also to read some of the comments that indicate attitudes to various spending levels.

I'm particularly interested in the folk who spend the least for a number of reasons, the main one being that if I can emulate these people and get/keep my spending down, then I can retire (or at least semi-retire) fairly soon.

The other reason is that I'm interested not only in keeping spending down, but also in doing it while not feeling that I'm living the life of an underprivileged soul. This, to me, is the real art of living on a very modest income. There was a thread here a few months ago in which a lady (I forget who) said that she knew when she was spending too little when her soul "felt pinched". That was brilliant.

My goal is to minimize my spending while maximizing my experience of life. I'm looking for that sweet spot.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:36 AM   #189
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Millions of people live on less than me in the US.
It is important to note that he lives in a LOW cost area of Wisconsin, and not in a major city. The housing costs there are much lower than other areas of Wisconsin, much less other parts of the country........
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:40 AM   #190
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This isn't a competition. People can and do live very inexpensively, even in expensive parts of the country, and don't feel like they're depriving themselves. Live & let live. Celebrate their achievements & yours.
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:01 PM   #191
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This is a timely post since I just completed my 2010 spreadsheet yesterday. Total was $72k without any income taxes (married, no kids). It doesn't make sense for me to track income taxes since they will be way lower in retirement, while my remaining expenses likely won't be that different. The whole reason for me to track these expenses is to figure out how much we need for retirement.

Biggest expense category was groceries at $9,600 (for two people) which seems way higher than anybody else here. I do enjoy good wine so that may be my downfall. Next year I may have to split out wine from groceries. Travel was the next highest at $8,700, but that's not surprising to me since we did have some good trips this year.
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:32 PM   #192
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Good reading thread! Thought I could contribute. Sorry for such general categories, but I do keep fairly common detailed records during the year.

Married, no kids, retired at 55 in April 2010. The expenditures below includes medical, horses, three months travel, mortgage (paid off with savings in April), and auto (paid off by term ending in March). Does not include taxes (except real estate), education expenses.

NEEDS: $57000.
WANTS: $15100.
TOTAL: $72100.

2011 should see the NEEDS amount come down some because of house/car payoffs. Can't say if there will be less travel. Retirement is good so far!
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:40 PM   #193
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....

My goal is to minimize my spending while maximizing my experience of life. I'm looking for that sweet spot.
Live Well Below Your Means has several meanings. I like both.
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:10 PM   #194
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NEEDS: $57000.
WANTS: $15100.
TOTAL: $72100.
I like how you categorize your expenditures into needs and wants. It can be a challenge differentiating which is which sometimes.
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:18 PM   #195
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If I was not married and did not have kids I would have been retired for 7 years already. Having said that, I would not trade my kids even for all of Warren Buffet's billions............
Notice he says nothing about the wife
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:19 PM   #196
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I think leaving out taxes, especially real estate taxes, makes the expense numbers unrealistically low for some of the posters. We have relatives who live in Long Island, NY and they pay upwards of $20K in RE taxes a year, yet they can honestly say they don't have a mortgage payment. They also pay 8.75% in sales taxes and a pretty hefty NY state income tax. Even when they retire, the RE tax and sales tax will continue and their IRA withdrawals, pensions and and SS will be taxed also (some is exempt from state tax). Even where we live, our RE tax is $5K a year and it's really not a pricey neighborhood.

If you live in a state such as Texas or Florida (and a few others), there is no state income tax. For us, our single biggest expense is the bundle of taxes most people pay - and, while it will go down in retirement, it will remain the single largest expense. Of course, if you don't earn very much, then you won't pay a lot in taxes. I don't consider that much of a virtue - I'd rather make more and pay the taxes than earn very little and pay no or minimal taxes. But that's just my humble opinion.
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:37 PM   #197
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I think leaving out taxes, especially real estate taxes, makes the expense numbers unrealistically low for some of the posters. We have relatives who live in Long Island, NY and they pay upwards of $20K in RE taxes a year, yet they can honestly say they don't have a mortgage payment. They also pay 8.75% in sales taxes and a pretty hefty NY state income tax. Even when they retire, the RE tax and sales tax will continue and their IRA withdrawals, pensions and and SS will be taxed also (some is exempt from state tax). Even where we live, our RE tax is $5K a year and it's really not a pricey neighborhood.
I included real estate taxes in my $11,974. My annual RE taxes are just over $800. RE taxes are not cheap in Wisconsin at an average of about 2.1% of home value but home values are below average. My condo is only worth $41,000.
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:41 PM   #198
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Of course, if you don't earn very much, then you won't pay a lot in taxes. I don't consider that much of a virtue - I'd rather make more and pay the taxes than earn very little and pay no or minimal taxes. But that's just my humble opinion.
Agreed.

I don't understand folk who bemoan the fact that because they made more money in a particular year, they had to pay more in taxes. I know that tax rates in developed countries other than the US can be somewhat punitive to higher earners but here, you do get to keep most of your money - even at the higher rates.

You earn more, you have more in your pocket at the end of the day. Sounds good to me.
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Old 01-05-2011, 02:03 PM   #199
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Personally, I require very little and have arranged matters so I don't need much.
Small paid for house in blue collar neighborhood, 'new' car every 15 years or so, despise shopping, ...

We all make our own choices.
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Old 01-05-2011, 02:07 PM   #200
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Personally, I require very little and have arranged matters so I don't need much.
Small paid for house in blue collar neighborhood, 'new' car every 15 years or so, despise shopping, ...
I like your style.
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