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Old 01-30-2021, 05:29 AM   #141
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Your example is what I mentioned earlier, people excluding insurance because it comes out of their pay automatically. But, it's still an expense, regardless. And so are home repairs. So is the carport. If you add sinking funds for future home repairs and future car replacements, the figures go up higher, as I mentioned earlier. People can play around with their numbers so much that these threads are almost comical at times.
I had stated something similar. My expenses were 72k last year including every penny and leaving out nothing. Usually higher expenses with normal pre covid travel.
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Old 01-30-2021, 06:02 AM   #142
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We live really well in SoCal in a 3,200 SF Home, 3 cars, 1 boat, no debt on 45K per year including health insurance, no vacation but add 20K for vacation.

You can live on the boat: assuming itís paid for and you anchor somewhere near civilization: almost no housing expenses, no car...just food and possibly health insurance if youíre not on medicaid or down in Mexico, be less than $15000 easy. Youíre always on vacation, and can move the boat when you want to vacation somewhere else.
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My 85 yr old mom
Old 01-30-2021, 07:01 AM   #143
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My 85 yr old mom

My Mom lives on 12,000 a year.
Lives in a 55+ Mobile home community in FL.
Shes too proud to apply for food stamps, but
Doesnt mind me going to the food bank for her.
She has always had to be thrifty and taught us kids
well.
Shes a very proud person.
We spoil her the best we all can, too!
She loves gift cards...lol.
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SF vs
Old 01-30-2021, 07:17 AM   #144
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My real estate tax is $15k a year.
We don't live in SF/CA, so let's leave it at that. We also live in a development of about 50 homes. Our house is a one story brick at 5000 sqft, on 7 acres of land, and our taxes are under $2K. Have never gone up in the ten years we lived there (technically in the first five year assessment cycle they went up $4 per year, but the second one dropped them $12, so we actually pay less).

Life can be good when you don't feel the need to live in a high tax area.
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Old 01-30-2021, 07:29 AM   #145
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No debt, no kids, no spouse and no expensive habits.
Many people in your situation would likely find it easier as well. I know that some high expenses would go away if my wife predeceases me, such as a lot of our restaurant costs, since I would be less likely to continue doing so on my own. But some things are worth it and I would rather be dining out with her, rather than having just the memories of doing so. Best wishes, my friend.
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Old 01-30-2021, 08:39 AM   #146
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We're not less than $60k a year but we are under if I exclude truly discretionary items like travel, golf, hobbies, dining out, etc..... and that is with two homes... one in LCOL area and another in a MCOL area.

Major items are $9k income taxes (manage to top of 12% bracket), $9k property taxes, $6k food & groceries, $6k for health insurance (Part B, Part D, Medigap), $4k for HOA fees, etc. Homes and vehicles are all paid off.
Is the $6k for medicare, medical, etc per person? I keep getting estimates of "you should budget $10k per year in retirement for health insurance!" And its keeping me from being able to pull the ER switch. Thanks.
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Old 01-30-2021, 09:11 AM   #147
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Is the $6k for medicare, medical, etc per person? I keep getting estimates of "you should budget $10k per year in retirement for health insurance!" And its keeping me from being able to pull the ER switch. Thanks.
This is going to vary from person to person (or couple to couple) depending on the type of coverage they have when they retire. Since I have retiree coverage to pickup where Medicare stops, counting premiums for both of us and MOOP, assuming we both hit our MOOP which is unlikely, the total amount we would pay in a year is $6,780 not counting prescriptions. But since neither of us are on any prescription meds other than my Humira, that prescription part is hard for me to estimate.
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Old 01-30-2021, 09:43 AM   #148
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Is the $6k for medicare, medical, etc per person? I keep getting estimates of "you should budget $10k per year in retirement for health insurance!" And its keeping me from being able to pull the ER switch. Thanks.
The amount is for two people on Medicare, but I realized that I only included one person's Part B so it really should have been $8k for two rather than $6k. Essentially $150/month for Part B, $10/month for Part D and $175/month for Medigap Plan G * 12 months * 2 people.

Before Medicare our costs were about the same but we had a special situation and were able to qualify for catastrophic coverage for $260/mo each and would have a couple grand of deductibles and co-pays in a bad year.

$10k for one under ACA is very reasonable. Have you checked out healthsherpa.com for plans in your area? Can you manage your income to qualify for ACA subsidies? Many people here do and end up with affordable health care costs.
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Old 01-30-2021, 10:48 AM   #149
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Thanks to little travel and very few expenses on things like theater, music, sports events, and eating out, I have some extra cash to burn. I did replace my 5 year old iPad Air with a new one. That's about it for extravagant spending. I have increased my charitable contributions also.

I can't get myself to spend money for the sake of spending money. And I don't want more stuff that takes up space and complicates life. The value per dollar for me is in experiences - some new, some old, some with friends and family. I'll keep my coins in the piggy bank dry and use them to upgrade the experiences, hopefully later this year. I still want to do my now twice postponed visit to the New England states. Perhaps, I'll use some of the saved coins to upgrade my hotel stays or add an extra few days in an expensive city like Boston.
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Old 01-30-2021, 11:35 AM   #150
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Katsmeow, some of the things you spend money on are things I wouldn’t no matter how much money I have. Subscriptions , updating electronics or appliances before needed. I have a iPhone but will keep it until I have to replace it. I get my hair cut and colored every 12 weeks. I did it every 8 when working. We spent a lot of money on our pets. At one point it cost us 450/month for medications for 4 old dogs. After they died we decided just to have 2 because of the work rescue involved. Since I got the 2 I have when younger I bought pet insurance. It’s very important to me that my home is nice so I spend there as well as my pets. My other priorities are travel, dining out and experiences.
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Old 01-30-2021, 01:27 PM   #151
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Katsmeow, some of the things you spend money on are things I wouldn’t no matter how much money I have. Subscriptions , updating electronics or appliances before needed. I have a iPhone but will keep it until I have to replace it. I get my hair cut and colored every 12 weeks. I did it every 8 when working. We spent a lot of money on our pets. At one point it cost us 450/month for medications for 4 old dogs. After they died we decided just to have 2 because of the work rescue involved. Since I got the 2 I have when younger I bought pet insurance. It’s very important to me that my home is nice so I spend there as well as my pets. My other priorities are travel, dining out and experiences.
Let's just say since Covid; as for my hair, I probably should be walking around wearing a hood.

We have "broken the bank" on vet bills in the past although in theory do not currently have a pet.

(We have partial custody of a granddoggie who cost out beaucoup bucks for an emergency surgery in the past, and more recently an out-door feral has been spending a few hours a night on our living room couch.)

Taxes have always been our biggest expense; Federal; State and Property Tax. DH retired 12/26/19, so a portion of the cost of health insurance now comes out of his pension check, and insurance has become another major expense. Then comes auto, homeowner's and umbrella insurance. (Not fun stuff.) Our taxable income should be slightly less in 2020 - but not too much. Expenses have not yet decreased, but we will need to work on that this year.
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Old 01-30-2021, 02:41 PM   #152
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Our grocery spend has been less than $200 per month for two adults, not that I'm on a budget, I know because I pay cash and monitor my ATM withdrawals for accuracy.

These days I try to minimize my trips to stay as safe as I can, so I now alternate between Aldi and 99c Stores. In my experience both offer a wide variety at favorable prices even though the major chains may win on one or two loss leaders. By contrast a shop at places like Bristol Farms or Mollie Stone's would run several times the cost, albeit you would be getting premium organics instead of just the basics.

A few years ago my brother told me that his family's grocery spend (two adults and one child) is well over 10x ours, and I know they're not foodies and they don't drink alcohol, so it really depends on where you shop.

Even though I don't aim for sales, I usually know a good deal when I see one, for example: https://imgur.com/a/Z3spZy9
So 2 adults eat for about 6 dollars a day? 1 dollar per person for each meal. I would love to see what your typical meals consist of because it is impossible to eat a somewhat normal diet for that unless you are growing a lot of your own food.
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Old 01-30-2021, 05:11 PM   #153
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Our current yearly budget is $66,000. In 2020 we spent $57,006.33. I applied the $2,400 stimulus funds against our expenses. That includes everything down to the penny. Anything left over goes into our sinking fund for auto purchase and home repairs/appliances but I have included in our expenses any home repairs made during the year. When we spend more than budget I will then use the sinking funds.

I use Quicken to track every expense. Been doing this for well over 20 years. Made it very easy to determine our expenses for retirement. I am as patient as a one particular blind cave salamander when it comes to finding a good deal. Never in a rush to buy. Our average annual expense over the last 12 years has been $57,660.61. This was for a family of 4 (DS moved out in May 2020) in MCOL area.

My DW just retired yesterday ��. Yay!! She has retiree medical where she only pays the same premium while she was employed. Kids will remain on her plan until they are 26. I fell off her insurance when she retired and will be on an ACA HDHP. As a retirement gift the company bought her a new dishwasher, washer and dryer to replace our 17-year-old appliances. Won't have to worry about some appliances for awhile.

We have no debt at all. Paid off home, cars, etc. Combined, we have hundreds of thousands of airline miles and hundreds of thousands of credit card points. Saved up over many years, some have been used for nice trips. I budget $5,000 for travel each year but since I don’t expect any airfare, hotel or car rental costs for at least the next 3-5 years, 5k is plenty. And I will still be accumulating additional points/miles.

Total vacation costs in 2020 was $61.80. LOL. A one-day round trip drive to the mountains.

This is just a part of how we are able to stay under an average 60k expenses per year. We never feel deprived and are very grateful for the retirement lifestyle we worked hard for.
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Old 01-30-2021, 09:08 PM   #154
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JJ, I doubt that they are eating 3 meals a day in retirement unless they have very active lifestyles. I eat a granola bar for breakfast, my main meal at noon and a evening snack. I just don’t require all that food anymore. I remember my mom didn’t either.
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Old 01-30-2021, 09:17 PM   #155
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The OP asks: "How low can you go?"

I think I can go quite low. As low as the thriftiest posters here, and still have a roof over my head, and decent meals. Just as they do.

I do not need to do that, so I don't.
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Old 01-31-2021, 12:53 AM   #156
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Our expenses, for 2 in in Silicon Valley, are around around 31-37k, plus 28k mortgage, so around 60 to 70. Groceries are about 3k at the local YuppieMart (not Whole Foods, but not too far off). Restaurants at about 2k. About 1-2k for house and pet things, 2k for transportation (down to 400 in 2020!). House repair / maintenance another 2-10k. Utilities about 3-4k, which are pretty fixed, trash/water/electric is 1.5k and pretty much 80% fixed cost, so it doesn't really matter how much we use. International travel 2-6k, though not this year! The rest is tuition, insurance, electronics, clothes.

If we pay off the mortgage then 30-40k would be a nice amount to live on, with our current status. We don't budget, buy whatever we want, travel when we can, etc.

I hear people say one place is HCOL while another is LCOL but they usually don't put numbers on and everyone has such a completely different and subjective definition of what normal expenses are, and for different numbers of people at different parts of their lives, and on top of that completely different standards of what "living" means.
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:21 AM   #157
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I could probably cut to a hundred grand a year, but it would be painful.
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:28 AM   #158
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Our grocery spend has been less than $200 per month for two adults, not that I'm on a budget, I know because I pay cash and monitor my ATM withdrawals for accuracy.

These days I try to minimize my trips to stay as safe as I can, so I now alternate between Aldi and 99c Stores. In my experience both offer a wide variety at favorable prices even though the major chains may win on one or two loss leaders. By contrast a shop at places like Bristol Farms or Mollie Stone's would run several times the cost, albeit you would be getting premium organics instead of just the basics.
I'm a fan of 99 Cents Only and Grocery Outlet. I've been spending more now because we're doing mostly stores that offer curbside pickup, but when there isn't a pandemic my target is $300 a month for two. Our 99 Cents Only stores don't have the selection of Whole Foods, but they always do have a large selection of nice specialty items and fresh produce, some organic, and a lot of specialty items like fresh herbs, microgreens and gourmet mushrooms. I spend an average of around 80 cents a pound for produce and buy 30 pounds or so a week. Add in some other foods like dried beans and rice for $1 a pound or less, organic chicken on sale, and mixed nuts and we eat what we consider pretty healthy for around $5 a day. The prices at Whole Foods and the local supermarkets near us are often 4 times the prices of 99CO and Grocery Outlet for the same foods.

We don't live super cheaply, but I think we do pretty good budget-wise for a high cost of living area with seven figure housing. Groceries are inexpensive where I shop and we eat mostly plant based. Our ACA plan is $2 a month, the kids went to community college, state schools, had paid internships and received financial aid that covered most tuition. We bought our house a long time ago so with Prop 13 the property taxes are under 1/2 of a percent of the house value. We've tried to make the house energy and water efficient to keep the utility bills low. Most of our clothes are from Costco and we try to keep those pretty basic.

For fun I spend around $500 to $1K a year on passes for places like gardens, wineries, zoos, museums, parks, theater memberships and seat filler tickets, then a lot of what we do all year is free or cheap. Like we can go to Sonoma for the day, pack a picnic lunch, visit a state park, a garden and a couple of wineries and everything is free with the passes except gas for the car and tips at the wineries. If we wanted to see a specific play, symphony or ballet the tickets might be $200, but if we just do what pops up on the seat filler and discount ticket lists each week there's usually a pretty big selection of fun stuff to do that is free except for the membership costs.
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:37 AM   #159
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Our expenses, for 2 in in Silicon Valley, are around around 31-37k, plus 28k mortgage, so around 60 to 70. Groceries are about 3k at the local YuppieMart (not Whole Foods, but not too far off). Restaurants at about 2k. About 1-2k for house and pet things, 2k for transportation (down to 400 in 2020!). House repair / maintenance another 2-10k. Utilities about 3-4k, which are pretty fixed, trash/water/electric is 1.5k and pretty much 80% fixed cost, so it doesn't really matter how much we use. International travel 2-6k, though not this year! The rest is tuition, insurance, electronics, clothes.

If we pay off the mortgage then 30-40k would be a nice amount to live on, with our current status. We don't budget, buy whatever we want, travel when we can, etc.

I hear people say one place is HCOL while another is LCOL but they usually don't put numbers on and everyone has such a completely different and subjective definition of what normal expenses are, and for different numbers of people at different parts of their lives, and on top of that completely different standards of what "living" means.
What do you pay for property tax and insurance? Any kid expenses?
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Old 01-31-2021, 03:54 AM   #160
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We don't live in SF/CA, so let's leave it at that. We also live in a development of about 50 homes. Our house is a one story brick at 5000 sqft, on 7 acres of land, and our taxes are under $2K. ....

Life can be good when you don't feel the need to live in a high tax area.
I don't live in SF/CA either. I live in Texas and pay almost $6500 a year in taxes. It would be more if I didn't get some tax relief for being over 65. We don't live in a terribly expensive house. But, Texas has no state income tax and so you pay a lot in property taxes.

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Is the $6k for medicare, medical, etc per person? I keep getting estimates of "you should budget $10k per year in retirement for health insurance!" And its keeping me from being able to pull the ER switch. Thanks.
This is readily available information. Part B coverage is $148.50 a month unless you are high income and pay a higher rate (you can go to the medicare web site and see how much that would be if you are higher income in retirement). A supplement varies a bit depending on which one. DH and I collectively are paying about $360 for our supplements. He is on Plan F (no longer sold) and I am on Plan G. We have no out of pocket Medicare medical expenses except my annual Part B deductible which is about $200.

Part D (prescription) plans are mostly cheap. Mine is $19.50 a month. There is a deductible but I don't take a lot of prescriptions. Neither does DH. You can look up Part D plans and their formulary for medications you regularly take.

Some things are not covered by Medicare and are not usually covered by most private health insurance such as eye glasses, regular vision exams, dental. We have a private dental plan so really dental is only a major expense if we have something major wrong. FWIW, during my late mother's later years her main health care expense was teeth (she had to have an implant which was expensive).





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Katsmeow, some of the things you spend money on are things I wouldnít no matter how much money I have. Subscriptions , updating electronics or appliances before needed. I have a iPhone but will keep it until I have to replace it. I get my hair cut and colored every 12 weeks. I did it every 8 when working. We spent a lot of money on our pets. At one point it cost us 450/month for medications for 4 old dogs. After they died we decided just to have 2 because of the work rescue involved. Since I got the 2 I have when younger I bought pet insurance. Itís very important to me that my home is nice so I spend there as well as my pets. My other priorities are travel, dining out and experiences.
Good example of how people vary on priorities. I am with you on the pets, but travel is of minimal importance. We go on a vacation every several years. Last "big" vacation was 10 years ago. We did a trip for a few days (about $1200 as I recall) 3 years ago. We were actually going to go on vacation last year but.... Now we are thinking maybe next year.... But a lot of what other people spend on trips we spend on doing things at home that we enjoy....



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Let's just say since Covid; as for my hair, I probably should be walking around wearing a hood.
For the first 6 months or so after everything sort of shut down I just let my hair grow. I kept thinking I would get back to my hairdresser but it was never safe enough for me. Finally when my gray hair had grown out 4 inches (!) I contacted her and she mixed up color for me. I started out with dark brown hair but am almost completely gray now so blond works best for me. Anyway, I applied it to my roots with DH's help.

What I learned from this: coloring roots is very easy. I thought it would be hard since I am coloring it blond. But, no, it is really very very easy. Now, my hairdresser applied highlights every few months and I am not sure if I could do that. But, I am pretty sure that I will continue to do my own roots. I probably won't continue buying the color from my hairdresser. It is a lot less than having her do it would be but is a lot more money than it would cost for me to buy color and developer myself.
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