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Old 01-25-2021, 04:56 PM   #101
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I consider myself frugal but am having a hard time believing you only spend $30k per year when $24k is rent and $2400 is food, That only leaves $3600 a year or $300/month for everything else in your life? Especially in San Jose.
I can see someone living on $30k annually pretty easily but not when $24k or 80% of it is rent.
Do you have any of the following: internet, cell phones, gifts, charities, a vehicle, clothes to wear, insurance deductibles, fuel, rental insurance, entertainment, pets, recreational equipment, audio/video equipment, shaving items, toiletries, utility bills, alcohol or other vises, vacations , income taxes etc.
You get the point. I am certainly not criticizing your lifestyle at all just can't get my head around everything else in life only being $300/month.
A few years ago I moved out of San Jose to SoCal for family medical reasons. Basically my mother and I share expenses pro rated to our incomes, so I cover rent and utilities while she pays for food and transportation. So my living arrangement is probably not comparable to anyone else here. In addition to 2k/mon rent, it's about $200/mon for utilities (electric, water/garbage, internet). Our shared cell is an old flip phone that was Virgin Mobile but moved to Boost when VM sold out last year-- we only have to put in $5 per 90 days to draw down a large balance that accumulated because VM forced us to top up at $20/90 days regardless of usage. For clothing I'm a fan of thrift stores for cost and to reduce landfill needs, this would be less than $100 per year. Entertainment, recreational equipment, and audio/video is my company-issued laptop PC along with my internet subscription. I'm still working so income taxes are much higher than everything else.

So overall we are over 30k/yr together, but it's way less than 30k/yr per person, my guess would be that 35-40k together would be an accurate range-- excluding income taxes, gifts, and health insurance. When I left San Jose, I had lived alone on 15k to 20k per year with the same exclusions (my rent there was a hair below 1k/mon but it's probably doubled by now).

Now that you bring it up, I remember my employer offered to pay for our internet to WFH and I never got around to filling out the forms. They also offer a free fancy i-phone but I don't like the obligation to receive work calls at all hours.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:12 PM   #102
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Sure, housing prices (which matters to the extent you're still paying a mortgage or are renting), home insurance and most taxes are likely to be higher near the coast, but the prices of cars, computers, groceries, clothes and other everyday items are within a fairly narrow band just about everywhere.
True....mortgage, insurance, prop tax are the big ones. My yearly total for those three is about $3500 (no mortgage).

I also have no HOA fee and do my own maintenance and upgrades so I'm well under $1000 a year on other home expenses. For example, this summer I shingled the house and garage for about $2500, and they should last 30 years. I replaced the HW tank myself 3 years ago for about $400. This summer I added a deck for $1000 and a gazebo for $1300. Had I paid someone to do all of the above it would have been at least $15,000.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:31 PM   #103
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Sure, housing prices (which matters to the extent you're still paying a mortgage or are renting), home insurance and most taxes are likely to be higher near the coast, but the prices of cars, computers, groceries, clothes and other everyday items are within a fairly narrow band just about everywhere.
Even if you own your home and don't have a mortgage, I think it still matters.

A married couple who owns a $1M home free and clear within 300 feet of an ocean could sell it, exclude $500K of gains from taxation, buy an equivalent house in Tennessee or Kansas or Arizona for $250K, and probably stick about $500K in a taxable account after all is said and done.

That $500K can throw off $20K per year based on the 4% rule. Add in the lower taxes and you're probably talking $30K a year delta.

$30K a year is enough to visit the Atlantic a few times a year if you really miss it But it may not be enough to make Tennessee palatable if you don't like it there.
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:59 PM   #104
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Even if you own your home and don't have a mortgage, I think it still matters.

A married couple who owns a $1M home free and clear within 300 feet of an ocean could sell it, exclude $500K of gains from taxation, buy an equivalent house in Tennessee or Kansas or Arizona for $250K, and probably stick about $500K in a taxable account after all is said and done.

That $500K can throw off $20K per year based on the 4% rule. Add in the lower taxes and you're probably talking $30K a year delta.

$30K a year is enough to visit the Atlantic a few times a year if you really miss it But it may not be enough to make Tennessee palatable if you don't like it there.
If I needed the money, your plan would be a good one. However, it still wouldn't drop my expenses to the low numbers I see some boasting about here.
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:15 PM   #105
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In threads like these, people clearly exclude some portion of their spending for all sorts of reasons.

Yeah, I mentioned this earlier. I budget over $4000 for sinking funds, even though I'm not actually spending that money this year, maybe not the next, but eventually. So, I still consider it a current expense by estimating long term expenses and averaging them out on a monthly basis for budget accounting purposes. People sometimes neglect taxes as an expense when in the drawdown stage, although it's normal to exclude them during the buildup phase. Health insurance comes out of your paycheck before you get it, so you might not count it. And some people will not include discretionary spending, giving a barebones budget. I actually provided a few different spending ranges in my earlier post, depending on which of these I include, so it ranges from about $13,000 to $20,000/yr spending. And a $70,000/yr FIRE budget. lol https://www.early-retirement.org/for...ml#post2549078
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Old 01-25-2021, 09:00 PM   #106
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When I was a boy, the principal incentive I could see for becoming rich is that I would be able to buy anything I wanted in the grocery store without worrying about the price.
Except that the process of becoming rich develops exactly the opposite habit.
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Old 01-25-2021, 09:14 PM   #107
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Or a witch.
I'm much heavier than a duck.
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Old 01-25-2021, 09:46 PM   #108
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This ☝️. There is no greater feeling of financial freedom than knowing you can afford to do as you please.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:45 PM   #109
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Never spent more than $20k/year, except last year where I had a huge uninsured emergency cat surgery expense, from which I learned not just people need to have some inexpensive catastrophic insurance so I can keep staying under $20k/year. $15k/year would be possible today for me with 1+ roomate(s), but I like my personal space, that was something I did when I was broke, and it wasn't bad, but it had a few annoying days. I could also nominally hit that number when I buy a house, but am not factoring in the opportunity cost of home equity, according to the rent vs buy calculators that account for this and other factors, my long term expenses will actually be lower after 7 years, but it wouldn't be as much as $5k/year.

That said, it mainly comes down to the major lifestyle choices, and everyone can comfortably setup their working and retirement life around those, so it doesn't really matter whether you spend X/year or not, as long as you are spending on what you know you enjoy. The major ones include having a spouse, having children, traveling/other expensive hobbies, regularly eating out, wanting to live in an area where a lot of wealth has built up, wanting a large house/yard, having 1+ additional summer/vacation homes, having multiple/several cars, having a boat/RV, not wanting to think about the many smaller cost cutting moves life offers (e.g., phone plans, there are some sub $20/month plans out there that cover almost everything under 5+ gigs of data/month, but some people pay $100/month, I pay $6.09/month for instance), etc...
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:11 PM   #110
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What on earth do you eat? Ours is $500 a month for 2 people. I would hate to think what RobbieB's is?


If you buy only staples and chicken and eat the occasional meat/fish, it can be done providing you cook from scratch. Itís not expensive to cook nutritious food with just staples from scratch and avoid eating out. Lentils, rice, fresh or frozen vegetables, rice and chicken are cheap so definitely 2 people can feed themselves for $200 or less. As for very low budget, I donít know how others do it. I live in a MCOL area and have paid off house and car and I need at least $80K as a bare minimum. My car insurance for a family of four is over $600 a month, health insurance $2,100 (including deductible of $6K), property tax $7K and adding other expenses including discretionary easily put me closer to $100K.
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Old 01-26-2021, 01:54 AM   #111
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As mentioned before, many folks don't list their all in number. That is the number that is relevant for this discussion.
If there is a non budgeted one time cost of 25k for example, it might be good to list that expense separately, but should still include it in the overall number.
Just my 2 cents, worth 2 cents all in....
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Old 01-26-2021, 02:49 AM   #112
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People seem to think low numbers like sub $15k are impossible or being fudged. If you have paid off housing and car it is very possible. Low income and you get free or almost free medical, max OOP $200, with basic dental and vision. Average food per month for me is around $150. Low income Internet $15 a month. Low income electric about $25 a month. OTA TV is free, Library movies are free, Amazon low income Prime $6. I haven't paid Federal tax in years between low numbers and qualified divs. Walking to the store saves on gas and then the only costs are oil changes, tires, battery, etc. The less driving the lower the repairs. I'm in a Condo so housing repairs are minimal, but we do get special assessments now and then. If you want even lower then get a roommate to split costs. The smaller the living area the lower the costs.
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Old 01-26-2021, 05:27 AM   #113
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OK, I'll bite just under $40K required for the basics, 8 biggest categories shown, FireCalc 100% at $90K, 2020 spending for everything $47K, average over 10 years $65k
Medical $22K
Groceries *$8K* veghead lots of organic, booze not included
Pets * $3K
Auto registration $1700., bought 5 year tabs in 2020 for 2 vehicles
Electric $1100.
Property Tax *$1K
Telephone $730.* landline and 2 cell phones
Propane $650.
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Old 01-26-2021, 12:33 PM   #114
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I never made over $20 an hour, and when I made $20an hour the job was only 36hours. I’ve not worked for 12years.

I moved closer to family 16years ago. I was fortunate at that time because the house I owned there and still had a Mortgage on sold for enough that I bought a house outright here.. I lived in that house several years and then downsized slightly which further helped.

I spend right around 25k a year and have for quite a few years. I think for me it has a lot to do with the friends and family you have. My friends for the most part live on less than me. They’re. Fine with shopping bargains, matter of fact many call and let me know a good deal. We meet to socialize mostly at each other’s houses. My family has been good dyi, if I can’t figure out something usually I can get help/advice from a sibling.

I have a twin home that had a hail damaged roof that needed replaced, my neighbor is a rancher and knew someone who did farm buildings for him. We hired him and he did the whole roof including materials for less than 1k over the insurance payment. I got a high quantity steel roof, which should last as long as I’m here for the deductible and 1k. My fire insurance decreased which will gradually repay the 1k. Having friends and family really helps. I also feel fortunate that if I really needed something I have the money to get it

Honestly I don’t feel deprived. I keep trying to come up with things to spend on and have a hard time. I would rather spend it on myself than have my nieces inherit it.
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Old 01-26-2021, 12:54 PM   #115
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I think for me it has a lot to do with the friends and family you have. My friends for the most part live on less than me.
You are right. In fact, there was a "happiness study" that I read a while back which asked a lot of questions about why people were happy. One of the top reason people cited: They though they were better off than lot of their neighbors. Of course you can take the conclusion in positive or negative light.


But for me though, knowledge has empowered me to think differently. As I grow, I am beginning to understand that I don't need much to be happy. I need a good company, food on the table and roof over the head. We have been blessed with enough money to buy everything we ever want and then some.
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Old 01-26-2021, 01:45 PM   #116
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My core expenses for 1996 the first year I was retired were $14,000. For fiscal year 2020: $16,400. This includes co-pays and deductibles for medical but not policy premiums because I am covered by former employer. So, "real world' costs would have been on average $4000-$6000 a year more give or take.

I noticed long ago that I didn't need much to be happy. That's what sparked the whole "FIRE" thing originally. Once I realized that paying the bills is relatively easy, anything needed above that was largely caused by "what turns you on." Simply not being forced to do anything in exchange for living and enjoying the day was about 80% of what turned me on.

Isn't the main cog of Buddhism "Life sucks and the reason it sucks is people run around wanting sh1t all the time." You can be happier if you stop burdening yourself with desires. Or at least that's one of the translations I remember. The story of the two Greek philosophers also made an impression regarding "wanting stuff" although I was probably naturally tilted towards the moral of that story already.
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Old 01-29-2021, 04:45 PM   #117
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From layoff in 08 to selling house in 15, I averaged 4k a year, beyond mortgage taxes utilities and insurance. I had additional spending to repair and renovate the house, but that was part of the investment cash bucket. That was downtown Raleigh. I am living large now in new hampshire, I spend almost 24k a year! And thats all in, everything. Perhaps next decade I will get a vehicle...
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Old 01-29-2021, 04:55 PM   #118
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Heck....even in my current (non retired) life, my wife and I live very comfortably on $60K.

HOUSEHOLD ANNUALLY
RENT $21,900
INSURANCE (RENT/HOMEOWNER) $384
HOME SUPPLIES $1,200
INTERNET $540
MOBILE PHONE $900
UTILITIES $1,680
TOTAL HOUSEHOLD $26,604

FOOD ANNUALLY
GROCERIES $6,000
EATING OUT $3,600
COFFEE SHOP $540
ALCOHOL $540
TOTAL FOOD $10,680

TRANSPORTATION ANNUALLY
CAR INSURANCE $1,560
GAS $2,040
MAINTENANCE $600
MISC (PARK/TOLL/TAX) $300
PUBLIC TRANSIT $60
TOTAL TRANSPORTATION $4,560

PERSONAL CARE ANNUALLY
HEALTH (INS/DOC/PHARM/EYE) $3,600
LIFE INSURANCE $396
HAIRCUT / SALON $300
SHOPPING (CLOTHING/TOILETRIES) $2,640
GIFTS $960
TOTAL PERSONAL CARE $7,896

ENTERTAINMENT & TRAVEL ANNUALLY
AIRFARE $6,000
HOTEL / AIRBNB $1,500
RENTAL CAR $600
ENTERTAINMENT $516
TOTAL ENT & TRAVEL $8,616

SERVICES ANNUALLY
FINANCIAL $720.0

In retirement, we plan to move to our beach house in Portugal (paid off already) and our expenses will drop to about $35K annually.
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Old 01-29-2021, 04:57 PM   #119
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I have no idea. We have no debt, no mortgage, kids are grown and of the payroll and we still spend $100k per year in low cost Arkansas with Medicare covering our health insurance.
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Old 01-29-2021, 05:07 PM   #120
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all you have to do is live in a paid for RV... off the street... no taxes with that
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