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Old 09-12-2014, 10:22 AM   #121
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"Surviving" is also a matter of perspective. I personally have never had more than $40k/yr to spend(gross was never more than 40k). So, I look at things like a new car or a trip as blessings rather than givens. I now live on under 20k/year as a retired person with no car payment and a paid for small(1300sq foot house). I stay busy with pleasant, to me anyway, things to do. Usually go on a trip once and sometimes twice a year.
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:16 AM   #122
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"Surviving" is also a matter of perspective. I personally have never had more than $40k/yr to spend(gross was never more than 40k). So, I look at things like a new car or a trip as blessings rather than givens. I now live on under 20k/year as a retired person with no car payment and a paid for small(1300sq foot house). I stay busy with pleasant, to me anyway, things to do. Usually go on a trip once and sometimes twice a year.
That sounds like a great retired life to me. It is so nice to read about someone enjoying retirement without having to spend a lot.

I notice on your public profile that you live in South Dakota. Are the heating expenses high, there? I hope you don't have to suffer from the cold during the wintertime.
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:35 AM   #123
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How to live well without spending much money has become a hobby for me. Not because we are broke but just because I'd rather invest my money for now and eventually leave some to the kids and some to charity rather than see it go to a Maserati dealer or even the utility company.

My hero these days is Juliet Schor, the person who wrote the Overworked American and Overspent American. She also has a book called Plentitude that is how we try to live - work less, spend less, buy used, lower our ecological footprint, have multiple sources of income, focus on increasing free time, social relationships, and use high tech self provisioning to live well without spending a lot or working dawn to dusk like the Amish -

Synopsis | Juliet Schor
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:39 AM   #124
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"Surviving" is also a matter of perspective. I personally have never had more than $40k/yr to spend(gross was never more than 40k). So, I look at things like a new car or a trip as blessings rather than givens. I now live on under 20k/year as a retired person with no car payment and a paid for small(1300sq foot house). I stay busy with pleasant, to me anyway, things to do. Usually go on a trip once and sometimes twice a year.
Congrats on being able to live on less than 20k/year while being content and happy in retirement. Each person's lifestyle, location, family size, family support, hobbies and wants are so different it makes it impossible to have a universal ER budget/spending.

Our retirement budget for two is 80K before taxes with an additional 5K accrual for unforeseen expenses and we have no debt. We could "survive" on 60K but it would negatively affect our quality of life. DW retired two years ago but I delayed my retirement until last June to insure we sustain this level of spending.
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:21 PM   #125
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W2R, My heat bills are probably higher than yours, lol. I have always lived in colder climates,(I grew up in eastern SD, lived a while in Minnesota, lived almost 30 years in Montana and then moved to Western SD) and am one of those odd people who doesn't like heat. This summer was pretty mild but I suffer from the heat much more than from the cold. We broke an all time record yesterday and had snow. It was all gone this morning,lol

Daylatedollarshort, I just checked out that web site and bookmarked it for more reading. I will have to see if I can get the book from the library. I too find it a game to see how low I can comfortably go.

Corporateburnout, how I see it is someone whose retirement budget is `160k for 2 could see your 80k budget as barely surviving. It is how you look at it.
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Realistic expenses over the long haul rant
Old 09-12-2014, 02:55 PM   #126
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Realistic expenses over the long haul rant

Some excellent perspectives. As stated, everyone's different.

We lived frugally in our working years so we could retire early, and not have to be frugal for 30 years in retirement. We bought new cars, but inexpensive new cars which we kept until it was no longer feasible. Didn't spend much on entertainment - we entertained ourselves. Bought a larger house than necessary, but a private sale from a seller in distress and paid less than the other smaller homes we were looking at. Never kept up with the Jonses, but outperformed them over the years ( savings wise).

I'm not sure we could survive on $20k a year, though, without downsizing or such. I'd have to look at that. Our recurring expenses are about $1900 a month - not including food, clothing, entertainment, or fuel. I could quickly cut that down to about $1000 a month basic subsidy ( no truck payment, cable, cut cell package in half. Add $800 back for food, fuel, clothing... That would be close. Suppose I could get rid of life insurance policies at $65 a month (total). Cut my own grass during the summer, because I wouldn't camping across the country anymore...

Yea - we could survive on $20k. Wouldn't want to, though.


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Old 09-12-2014, 06:14 PM   #127
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So what's the difference between you and I? Why is your $70k budget tight and ours generous? That's the important question. How do our lifestyles differ?
I've been wondering about this too. We have zero debt, a gross income of a hair over $50k/year and don't want for anything. Three years ago when I was still working at the post-retirement job we were a bit over $120k/year but were banking ~75% of the "unplanned-for" income. Also when I turned 62 the pension dropped by what I would have been eligible for SS then, about $1500/month or $18k/year.

We do virtually no travel. I'd like to do a bit more travel than DW but it isn't a major priority for me so it's not a big deal. When SS starts in a year and a half that will put us in the mid $70's gross and I don't have the foggiest idea of what we'll do with that but I'm sure we can think of something.

To go to a $20k/year income would be difficult to say the least. But DW's father did it and he was a very happy guy so we know it can be done.
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Old 09-12-2014, 07:19 PM   #128
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Shouldn't have wasted my time Walt. Balance hasn't responded here for some time it appears.


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Old 09-14-2014, 01:22 PM   #129
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Oh now, come on, who does not like a good drive by shooting. However, I will not come spray the place then not stand my ground. My rant was directed at the 30 and early 40 somethings with young kids that are checking out of the rat race and professing to live on +/-40K but their budgets do not include capex. I question whether it is sustainable long term both without capex figured in. Also, what about lifestyle creep from the pressure of consumerism that occurs when kids get into grade school.

It is clear from the comments that many of you who have retired early (50 to 60 age), with kids no longer being factored, have mastered the ability to live comfortably and happily in the 30 to 50K range. It is the efficient living concepts you expound here in this forum that I have come to appreciate and in some cases adopt. For that I thank you.

As to those that feel my budget of 70+K is a little excessive, well, I guess you should know that I do succumb to some of the pressures of consumer world as my kids are provided music lessons, play on club sports teams (travel tournaments are not cheap). Summer international travel and summer education camps in marine biology, engineering and sports (surfing and sailing). I have owned a boat all my life to which my oldest has her captains license at 16 yrs old so she takes it out on her own. Great confidence builder. Where do I live? A little brain teaser for you, I have water front property, but I can also walk to the beach.

Yes, I am not going to win the frugal as sh*t award but I can live with that as long as I can look back at the memories and smile.
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Shouldn't have wasted my time Walt. Balance hasn't responded here for some time it appears.


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Balance seems to be a guy who doesn't post much (he might actually have a life other than online) but I do think he was jumped on a bit for sharing his opinions. He seems to be the kind of guy who enjoys giving his kids some great experiences rather than showing off with the proverbial Maserati crowd, and that does cost some money. Is it essential? of course not. Is it nice, fun? of course.

I was lucky having enough to be able to spoil my kids a bit too and able to spend time with them. And they turned out pretty frugal anyway. Myself, my parents couldn't afford most of the things other kids in my middle class neighborhood had, vacations, latest toys, etc. I had a good childhood, but do wish it had not been so severe. So when my kids were young I pretty much enjoyed giving them the opportunities that I didn't have. And it seems that Balance wants to do that too.

As I have posted here before I think there is a fundamental difference between retiring with young kids and retiring as empty nesters. A BIG difference.

Do I believe all the happy talk from folks who retire early with very young kids on a very low budget? Well I have learned long ago that we all tend to like to paint a bit of a rosy color on whatever we are doing. So I take it with a grain of salt.

Of course you do trade off some time being with your kids to make money, with time being spent with your kids. So there has to be a balance. Furthermore is it a bad idea to provide a model to your kids of actually working for a living and saving? After all at some point your kids will have to enter the job market, unless you plan to raise them as trust fund babies.

I think Balance had some good points, some balance you might say.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:15 PM   #130
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Having had a terrible couple of work weeks, which has confirmed my decision to retire next spring, I am comforted by the annual budgets here. We will have an annual budget of $76-86,000, depending on if we want to withdraw anything from our 403 b account. We don't owe anything and our area's cost of living is reasonable. Our biggest splurges are driving trips. Otherwise we are frugal. I wish I could get out of there tomorrow, but I am the director and need to tie up loose ends. Thankfully, our two children do much better financially than we did and never ask us for money, unlike our friends' adult children do. That has really hurt dome of our friends' retirement plans.


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Old 09-17-2014, 07:57 AM   #131
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Having had a terrible couple of work weeks, which has confirmed my decision to retire next spring, I am comforted by the annual budgets here. We will have an annual budget of $76-86,000, depending on if we want to withdraw anything from our 403 b account. We don't owe anything and our area's cost of living is reasonable. Our biggest splurges are driving trips. Otherwise we are frugal. I wish I could get out of there tomorrow, but I am the director and need to tie up loose ends. Thankfully, our two children do much better financially than we did and never ask us for money, unlike our friends' adult children do. That has really hurt dome of our friends' retirement plans.


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Overall, I think my situation is like Balance and Ally.....my budget will be similar to their's or a little larger. This is Parents weekend for my youngest....we're flying, paying for a hotel, renting a car, going out to dinner 3 nights.....all of this isn't cheap....even if he is going to a State (were out of State residents) college....tuition is murder but we saved for it. And our kids had piano, dance, martial arts lessons.....we drive fairly new cars and our house is middle class which in our town is mid six figures. Now, my parents lived on a lot less....but I've had a good career, my DW worked.....a PHD educator....hasn't worked in years but we saved, lived LBYM and now are ready to enjoy or we'll leave it to the next generation. We give a fair share to charity....what would we have done different.....why should we not spend it? And, doing what we do.....we don't think we're rich or money wasters couldn't be done for much less. Yes, we have more than many.....but we believe we still have to budget, watch our expenses and have taught our kids to be frugal....in fact, I believe we are frugal as well. In closing, wish we had more, glad we don't have less!
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:49 AM   #132
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The stream of consciousness method of posting is REALLY hard to read. Use real sentences separated by periods if you want folks to take it seriously (please).
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:29 AM   #133
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Balance seems to be a guy who doesn't post much (he might actually have a life other than online) but I do think he was jumped on a bit for sharing his opinions. He seems to be the kind of guy who enjoys giving his kids some great experiences rather than showing off with the proverbial Maserati crowd, and that does cost some money. Is it essential? of course not. Is it nice, fun? of course.

I was lucky having enough to be able to spoil my kids a bit too and able to spend time with them. And they turned out pretty frugal anyway. Myself, my parents couldn't afford most of the things other kids in my middle class neighborhood had, vacations, latest toys, etc. I had a good childhood, but do wish it had not been so severe. So when my kids were young I pretty much enjoyed giving them the opportunities that I didn't have. And it seems that Balance wants to do that too.

As I have posted here before I think there is a fundamental difference between retiring with young kids and retiring as empty nesters. A BIG difference.

Do I believe all the happy talk from folks who retire early with very young kids on a very low budget? Well I have learned long ago that we all tend to like to paint a bit of a rosy color on whatever we are doing. So I take it with a grain of salt.

Of course you do trade off some time being with your kids to make money, with time being spent with your kids. So there has to be a balance. Furthermore is it a bad idea to provide a model to your kids of actually working for a living and saving? After all at some point your kids will have to enter the job market, unless you plan to raise them as trust fund babies.

I think Balance had some good points, some balance you might say.

I didn't 'jump on' Balance. I asked him a question. Having slightly spoiled my son, And still occasionally assisting him financially so he can pursue a dream, I have no difficulty with those who spend a lot of money on children. I noticed however, that Balance stopped responding to his post several days after initiating it, so I assume he is no longer interested in a discussion. Hence, I feel I wasted my time responding.

I'm still curious about an answer.


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Old 09-18-2014, 03:47 PM   #134
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Seraphim, I apologize as I see where you asked how are lifestyles differ.

My best guess without comparing expense line items side by side probably lies in two or maybe three categories. 1) Insurance- We pay a total of 24K for Health, Home, Auto (3 cars), Boat, Life and Umbrella. This does not include any costs for Health deductibles. 2) Transportation - runs us $5,000 per year for gas, maintenance, etc on 3 cars and 3) Kids expenses - $9,000 per year for allowances, arts, athletics, and school extra curricular costs. As you can see I am at 38K before I add in Housing, Food and Travel/Entertainment which works out to 32K.

I have been following the responses and appreciate all who have contributed. Some, like California Man, have described my situation better than I could myself. Others like Fuego and Nords (both of whom I respect from following their posts the last several years) challenge me to look deeper at the cost benefit of my budget. All in all, I like the banter and it certainly has fostered me to do what I feel I do best and that is self evaluation and adjustment to create a better Balance.
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Old 09-18-2014, 04:48 PM   #135
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No problem I merely thought you lost interest. Turnabout is fair play lol:

Car (4 cars one truck - two are classics)/ RV/house insurance ( we cover our sons car insurance also) - $3840
Health and life ( we cover our sons health) - $10,400
Restaurants- about $6000 last year
Groceries - about $7200 last year
Diesel - about $6700 last year (estimated on 20k miles)
Gasoline - about $1000
Campgrounds - estimated $3750
Home taxes/maintenance - $3700
Assisting son - about $3600

This doesn't include a lot of incidental spending, additional money spent on our travels (about 5 months a year) gifts and donations, out of pocket health expenses. No mortgage.

About $46,100. In reality, we spend about $63k, which is why I said a $70k budget is excessive for us. We could drop $10k - minimum - by not traveling. We assume $1500 a month for travel.

Forgot truck loan - about $7200 a year. So about $54k. We still spend about $63k.


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Old 09-18-2014, 05:47 PM   #136
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Overall, I think my situation is like Balance and Ally.....my budget will be similar to their's or a little larger. This is Parents weekend for my youngest....we're flying, paying for a hotel, renting a car, going out to dinner 3 nights.....all of this isn't cheap....even if he is going to a State (were out of State residents) college....tuition is murder but we saved for it. And our kids had piano, dance, martial arts lessons.....we drive fairly new cars and our house is middle class which in our town is mid six figures. Now, my parents lived on a lot less....but I've had a good career, my DW worked.....a PHD educator....hasn't worked in years but we saved, lived LBYM and now are ready to enjoy or we'll leave it to the next generation. We give a fair share to charity....what would we have done different.....why should we not spend it? And, doing what we do.....we don't think we're rich or money wasters couldn't be done for much less. Yes, we have more than many.....but we believe we still have to budget, watch our expenses and have taught our kids to be frugal....in fact, I believe we are frugal as well. In closing, wish we had more, glad we don't have less!

I don't think think anyone said you shouldn't spend it. We were discussing realistic expectations, specifically those of retirees who have budgeted a lower amount. Balance was concerned they were being unrealistic. Your lifestyle has been no different than ours - our son travelled the country and beyond since 5th grade singing with tour choirs, has individual vocal training since that time, went to a private expensive college we paid for out of our pay checks, and we now travel to various cities watching him perform, which includes nice hotels. Our portfolio grows n retirement. So spending your money isn't the point. I brought up lifestyle differences to argue that living on, let's say, a sub $40k income, is not unrealistic - assuming one has planned for it. Even $20k would be doable. We spend about $63k (see above post) but it's obvious we could do with much less. We could also spend a hell of a lot more without depleting our investments. Just no need to, as we already spend a great deal indiscriminately, and do everything we want to do.

So spend what you want, and be happy. You don't have to justify your lifestyle, and no one's questioning it. But, out of curiosity, what's the minimum you COULD live on? That's more to the point of the OP, I think....


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Old 09-18-2014, 07:42 PM   #137
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With low housing and transportation costs and no kids to support, the retirees in the following story have realistically low expenses. One couple lives in a mortgage free $100K house (looks like maybe a park model?) and another retiree lives on a boat:

The Retiree Next Door: How Retirees Stretch Their Savings
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-re...163042598.html

"This could be comforting news to many workers who are feeling behind on their retirement savings. A recent report by the Employee Benefit Retirement Institute found that only 11% of workers have managed to save more than $250,000 for retirement outside of their defined contribution plan."

The reality is many retirees are going going to have to find ways to live like this because most won't have pensions or huge amounts of investment income.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:49 PM   #138
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With low housing and transportation costs and no kids to support, the retirees in the following story have realistically low expenses. One couple lives in a mortgage free $100K house (looks like maybe a park model?) and another retiree lives on a boat:

The Retiree Next Door: How Retirees Stretch Their Savings
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-re...163042598.html

"This could be comforting news to many workers who are feeling behind on their retirement savings. A recent report by the Employee Benefit Retirement Institute found that only 11% of workers have managed to save more than $250,000 for retirement outside of their defined contribution plan."

The reality is many retirees are going going to have to find ways to live like this because most won't have pensions or huge amounts of investment income.
A few things in that stand out. They say 2/3 of retirees manage to live on less than $100,000 annual income. This implies that 1/3 of retirees have more than $100,000 a year to live on. I had NO idea current retirees were that rich.

Also, what does it really matter if you have not saved more than $250,000 for retirement outside of your defined contribution plan? Our 401K already has $600,000 in it and we are in our early 40s. Exactly how much would you need by age 59 in your 401K such that you do not need outside investments? If we kept working until 59 and did nothing but continue our 401K, it would be near $2,000,000.
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:08 PM   #139
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A few things in that stand out. They say 2/3 of retirees manage to live on less than $100,000 annual income. This implies that 1/3 of retirees have more than $100,000 a year to live on. I had NO idea current retirees were that rich.

Also, what does it really matter if you have not saved more than $250,000 for retirement outside of your defined contribution plan? Our 401K already has $600,000 in it and we are in our early 40s. Exactly how much would you need by age 59 in your 401K such that you do not need outside investments? If we kept working until 59 and did nothing but continue our 401K, it would be near $2,000,000.

Maybe it's true, but I can't fathom that a third of all retirees live on above 100k a year. The median SS benefit is $16k for a man and less for a woman and fat pensions aren't that common. Too many poor people here for a third of population to be six figures a year. Maybe I am wrong but I won't admit it until we line up every retiree and ask individually their annual spend rate.


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Old 09-18-2014, 09:44 PM   #140
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Maybe it's true, but I can't fathom that a third of all retirees live on above 100k a year. The median SS benefit is $16k for a man and less for a woman and fat pensions aren't that common. Too many poor people here for a third of population to be six figures a year. Maybe I am wrong but I won't admit it until we line up every retiree and ask individually their annual spend rate.

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33% live on 100k or more a year but only 20% do not have SS as their main source of income. Something doesn't seem quite right here.
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