Tips to Save without hassle

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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akhilsam
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Tips to Save without hassle

Post by akhilsam » Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm

Bogleheads,

Recently I was shocked when I saw my annual expenses. I thought I was spending only 60% fo what I actually was.
Although I have 401K Maxed, enough cash, 529s full, HSA full still I feel spending was way to high.

So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?

Some ideas I have:
1)Limit visits to Costco- I can;t recall any visit less than $100 and average will be $150 (excluding any major electronics)
2) Online shopping- fix a day in a week (let is stay in amazon cart)
3)Allocate Travel budget on a single credit card

Please add your insights!
Thank you!

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whodidntante
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by whodidntante » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:00 pm

I tend to worry more about the income side than trying to limit everyday expenditures. But I do think expenses matter. Some principles I follow:
1) Don't buy too much or too little house.
2) Don't live in a HCOL area unless you're actually compensated for it.
3) Be tax savvy. You have to pay tax, but you do not have to leave a tip to the government.
4) Keep car expenses sane. I've owned a few hoopties and I'll own one again if need be. If buying used, buy something that has depreciated a lot. My last two cars were really nice, but I keep them for a long time (10+ years).
5) Live really close to work. Five miles if possible.
6) Don't pay people to do really simple jobs like cutting the grass and moderate difficult home and auto maintenance.
7) Don't hire accountants, investment advisors, and attorneys for situations you can handle just as well or better yourself.
8) Don't buy things you don't need or that do not generate substantial enjoyment. My house is relatively spartan compared to my friends and family, and most of the possessions in my house are not mine.
9) When you do need something, put a little effort into getting a good deal, and wait if it helps. Especially if item costs $50 or more.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:21 pm

This is a case where Dave Ramsey gives good advice. Develop a budget with every dollar having a purpose. Live within the budget. Since you seem to have more than enough I suggest the first item on the budget be contribution to a taxable investment account.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

sport
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by sport » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:23 pm

You can save money shopping at Costco. To control spending, go there with a shopping list and buy just what is on the list. Avoid impulse purchases.

delamer
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by delamer » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:31 pm

We have a budget/spending plan in Quicken. It is easy to download credit card purchases and checking transactions and track spending. You only need a few spending categories to track your spending and see where you are overdoing it.

Alternatively, go to an all-cash envelope system. For example, if you want to limit your eating out to $100/month then $100 goes in the envelope of the 1st. Once it’s gone, no more eating out that month. Repeat with other discretionary expenses.

PS We don’t have a Costco membership. Maybe you should remove temptation, especially if you shop recreationally.
Last edited by delamer on Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

radiowave
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by radiowave » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:33 pm

Just being home for the holidays I noticed I probably saved about a hundred by not eating out for lunch every day or heading over to the coffee shop for a chai tea. Multiply that by 50 or so weeks in the year, that really adds up for a lot of extra expenses.
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Watty
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by Watty » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:37 pm

One thing I did for a long time was to commit to myself to save half of any future pay increases I got. That allows me to increase my savings by a couple of percent per year and I never missed the money since I was not used to it.

Topic Author
akhilsam
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by akhilsam » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:53 pm

Good suggestions! Thank you all.

J295
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by J295 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:04 pm

OP ....

What are your top 5 expense categories, and $$$ amount for each? Which can be reduced?

bloom2708
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:09 pm

I don't see Roth IRAs mentioned. Are you filling those up each year? (front or back door)

I would transfer $X per pay check to Vanguard/Fidelity (taxable brokerage) upon pay day.

This requires me to "transfer back" if I have a big/surprise expense.

Save in all your buckets (sounds like you are doing good there). Spend the rest, but not for the sake of buying something you don't need.

I find that using Personal Capital to categorize every transaction helps. Know where the money is going at a glance at all times.
"People want confirmation, not advice" Unknown | "We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you" Unknown | Four words. Whole food, plant based. Bing it.

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climber2020
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by climber2020 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:20 pm

akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm

So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?
Working on the big stuff will make much more of an impact than the number of coffees you buy, setting the thermostat 2 degrees lower, or generic vs name brand canned goods.

House, car, educational costs, misc vehicles, medical costs due to lack of adequate insurance. Minimize those big expenses and everything else won't make much of a difference in comparison.

stoptothink
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by stoptothink » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:23 pm

climber2020 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:20 pm
akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm

So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?
Working on the big stuff will make much more of an impact than the number of coffees you buy, setting the thermostat 2 degrees lower, or generic vs name brand canned goods.

House, car, educational costs, misc vehicles, medical costs due to lack of adequate insurance. Minimize those big expenses and everything else won't make much of a difference in comparison.
But, you can still save some serious money on "everything else". Simply not eating out saves us ~$5k/yr based upon food budgets for family of 4 provided by USDA.

KlangFool
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by KlangFool » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:25 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:09 pm
I don't see Roth IRAs mentioned. Are you filling those up each year? (front or back door)

I would transfer $X per pay check to Vanguard/Fidelity (taxable brokerage) upon pay day.

This requires me to "transfer back" if I have a big/surprise expense.

Save in all your buckets (sounds like you are doing good there). Spend the rest, but not for the sake of buying something you don't need.

I find that using Personal Capital to categorize every transaction helps. Know where the money is going at a glance at all times.
+1,000.

KlangFool

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climber2020
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by climber2020 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:48 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:23 pm
climber2020 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:20 pm
akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm

So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?
Working on the big stuff will make much more of an impact than the number of coffees you buy, setting the thermostat 2 degrees lower, or generic vs name brand canned goods.

House, car, educational costs, misc vehicles, medical costs due to lack of adequate insurance. Minimize those big expenses and everything else won't make much of a difference in comparison.
But, you can still save some serious money on "everything else". Simply not eating out saves us ~$5k/yr based upon food budgets for family of 4 provided by USDA.
Yeah you're right. Food is a big expenditure as well, especially if you have a largish family. We don't eat out much to begin with, so I didn't even think of that.

squirm
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by squirm » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:24 pm

What are you spending your money on? Did you that gets eaten is one thing, if it's thrown out, that's another. How about useless junk that clutters or ends up in storage, any of that?

brandy
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by brandy » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:08 pm

"Just being home for the holidays I noticed I probably saved about a hundred by not eating out for lunch every day or heading over to the coffee shop for a chai tea. Multiply that by 50 or so weeks in the year, that really adds up for a lot of extra expenses."

After my son-in-law discovered all the money in his pocket after a week of taking leftovers to work, He changed his behavior. He was spending $10 + every day. Since, he's taken lunch from home.

Working on the big stuff will make much more of an impact than the number of coffees you buy, setting the thermostat 2 degrees lower, or generic vs name brand canned goods.

Check out a few other sites: Here's one:
https://www.energyhub.com/blog/how-much ... gree-worth
"our Mercury data shows that if you live in Michigan, you could have saved about $10 (more
than 5%) off your monthly heating bill for each degree you turned your thermostat down. At $30 a month for a three-degree change, putting on a sweater starts to sound pretty
appealing."


Here's a few calculators:
http://www.hughcalc.org
http://www.hughcalc.org/investing.php

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yangtui
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by yangtui » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:18 pm

akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm
Bogleheads,
So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?
I verify that I am saving 50% of gross then spend whatever is left over on whatever I want. I supplement my consumption with travel credit cards and cc signup bonuses. As long as I am getting the big picture stuff right I try to avoid getting caught up in the little things (both financial and other).

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willthrill81
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:30 pm

I believe that the easiest, most foolproof approach for most is to automate your savings. Determine how much you want to save, automate those savings (preferably before you ever get paid, as in a 401k plan), and don't worry about the rest. Using this approach, you can't lose unless you go into debt with your spending, like accruing a credit card balance.

Most people invert this, spending first and saving last. It should be the other way around. Pay yourself first.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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fishandgolf
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by fishandgolf » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:36 pm

Grandkids! Our expenses were a pittance before those little buggers arrived! Good thing we only have 3 or we'd be eat'n beans and weeines every nite!

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cheese_breath
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:54 pm

fishandgolf wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:36 pm
Grandkids! Our expenses were a pittance before those little buggers arrived! Good thing we only have 3 or we'd be eat'n beans and weeines every nite!
That's what compound growth does for you. You start out feeding one kid until (s)he grows up. Then pretty soon there's two more. Add another generation, and there's another four more.

But how old are the buggers? If they're fairly young they might prefer beans and weenies to what grandma and grandpa are having. It's when they approach the teens when they want beans, weenies and whatever grandpa and grandma are having that it gets expenssive.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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fishandgolf
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by fishandgolf » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:02 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:54 pm
fishandgolf wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:36 pm
Grandkids! Our expenses were a pittance before those little buggers arrived! Good thing we only have 3 or we'd be eat'n beans and weeines every nite!
That's what compound growth does for you. You start out feeding one kid until (s)he grows up. Then pretty soon there's two more. Add another generation, and there's another four more.

But how old are the buggers? If they're fairly young they might prefer beans and weenies to what grandma and grandpa are having. It's when they approach the teens when they want beans, weenies and whatever grandpa and grandma are having that it gets expenssive.
:happy

The oldest is four........and yes they prefer beans and weenies more than anything else.......well....Mac and Cheese plays a close second.

The reference to the beans and weenies thing is not necessarily what we/they eat, it's more along the lines of all the STUFF grandma buys those little buggers :greedy .....Told my wife........in my next life.....I want to come back as one of your grand kids!! 8-)

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:04 pm

Pay cash for everything, you will see how quickly it goes away. I relied on just cash the first 2 years before retirement for that very purpose. When my husband and I lost our jobs, we also paid cash for everything, that’s how we were able to survive in the Bay Area with $25k spending back in 2000 time frame.

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yangtui
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by yangtui » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:10 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:30 pm
I believe that the easiest, most foolproof approach for most is to automate your savings. Determine how much you want to save, automate those savings (preferably before you ever get paid, as in a 401k plan), and don't worry about the rest. Using this approach, you can't lose unless you go into debt with your spending, like accruing a credit card balance.

Most people invert this, spending first and saving last. It should be the other way around. Pay yourself first.
+1

Put saving ahead of spending and life gets a lot easier!

2015
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by 2015 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:14 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:21 pm
This is a case where Dave Ramsey gives good advice. Develop a budget with every dollar having a purpose. Live within the budget. Since you seem to have more than enough I suggest the first item on the budget be contribution to a taxable investment account.
I've never read anything by Ramsey (and in fact would not have heard of him but for his mentions on BH). However, budgeting is what I have always done/do instinctively. It has done more to control my costs than anything else I've ever done. You can't measure what you don't count, and you must inspect what you expect.

goodlifer
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by goodlifer » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:15 pm

akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm
Bogleheads,

Recently I was shocked when I saw my annual expenses. I thought I was spending only 60% fo what I actually was.
Although I have 401K Maxed, enough cash, 529s full, HSA full still I feel spending was way to high.
If you have your savings maxed, why do you feel your spending is too high? Did you correctly estimate your expenses or have anything unexpected pop up and had to dip into savings, or is it more of the "I guess I don't really need to spend $125 on Nike shoes" kind of overspend?

It sounds weird, but I save by not budgeting. I have a certain price point I am willing to spend on everything I buy, but I don't say, "I'm budgeting $200 for groceries this month". I would guess that my average Costco trip is about $350, but that is because I will buy several months worth of meats or a year supply of paper goods at one time. If the price is great and it doesn't expire, I buy as much as I can. I just opened a box of Ziploc bags that had a Box Tops label that expired in 2013. I'm finally down to the point of needing to buy them again and will probably suffer sticker shock. But I couldn't buy 5 years worth of Ziploc if I limited myself to a certain amount every month and I don't have the hassle of going to the store every month to buy more.

Mr.BB
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by Mr.BB » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:22 pm

I'm a big believer in tracking expenses. I have done it 5 out of the last 7 years. I have found similar trends in most years, but it also showed me where there can be improvements (everyone is different in this case of spending).
Personally I would check your big ticket items (did you really need them or the upgrade)?
I have found food to be one of the biggest expenses. You will find if you do more of your own cooking, you can save a lot of money and food is fresher and healthier. We enjoy eating out, but it really does add up in the budget.

Somethings are worth the extra money, but only you can decide what items qualify for you.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Shallowpockets
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by Shallowpockets » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:33 pm

akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm
Bogleheads,

Recently I was shocked when I saw my annual expenses. I thought I was spending only 60% fo what I actually was.
Although I have 401K Maxed, enough cash, 529s full, HSA full still I feel spending was way to high.

So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?
Well, you DO have to count pennies. That is what you were not doing and why you were shocked. Why did you think you were spending only 60% of what you thought?
Pennies, dollars, it is all counting and all adds up. You don't know what you don't know, as you found out.
Spending way too high, you say. Where? There you go, you have to count. How many small things have to add up to what number before they become significant to you? You won't know unless you keep track.

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AerialWombat
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by AerialWombat » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:45 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:30 pm
Pay yourself first.
Probably the single most important financial paradigm of all time. "Richest Man In Babylon" should be required middle school reading, in my opinion.
“Life doesn’t come with a warranty.” -Michael LeBoeuf

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Sandtrap
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:03 pm

1. Maximize income stream. Do whatever is necessary.

2. Use one credit card and pay the balance off monthly. This way you will see the entire amount you spend.

3. Put extra money, savings, away where it can't be touched. IE: Short Term CD's. In this case, it's not so much the interest rate as the lack of convenient accessibility and discipline.

4. The best way to save on "sales" and "specials" is not to go. :oops:

5. Differentiate between what are you "needs" vs "wants". (big one).
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know

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Sandtrap
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:05 pm

AerialWombat wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:45 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:30 pm
Pay yourself first.
Probably the single most important financial paradigm of all time. "Richest Man In Babylon" should be required middle school reading, in my opinion.
+1.
Read every morning and evening for many decades.
Listened to (cassettes, cd's, etc) every morning and evening for many decades.

Takes time to sink in and saturate the porous and non porous areas of the brain.
:happy
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know

Ztx
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by Ztx » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:41 pm

AerialWombat wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:45 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:30 pm
Pay yourself first.
Probably the single most important financial paradigm of all time. "Richest Man In Babylon" should be required middle school reading, in my opinion.
Yes, it's a great book. One line from the book , when the main character was explaining how he got rich ("So I went to Nippur and took charge of his holdings, which were large."), however, reminded me of the joke below and made me chuckle:

A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old guy fingered his worsted wool vest and said, "Well, son, it was 1932. The depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents. The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5 pm for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I'd accumulated a fortune of $1.37. Then my wife's father died and left us two million dollars."

runner540
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by runner540 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:47 pm

akhilsam wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:44 pm
Bogleheads,

Recently I was shocked when I saw my annual expenses. I thought I was spending only 60% fo what I actually was.
Although I have 401K Maxed, enough cash, 529s full, HSA full still I feel spending was way to high.

So without counting pennies what techniques do you follow to ensure you do no overspend?

Some ideas I have:
1)Limit visits to Costco- I can;t recall any visit less than $100 and average will be $150 (excluding any major electronics)
2) Online shopping- fix a day in a week (let is stay in amazon cart)
3)Allocate Travel budget on a single credit card

Please add your insights!
Thank you!
40% of spending being unplanned/unknown is a huge delta. I usually have 2-3% differentials at the end of the year (hard to track cash expenses like tips, office gifts, etc.)
Are you trying to control just your behavior, or also a spouse/kids? You need a goal to save toward to motivate you to track and stick to the budget. Run everything through one debit or credit card so you can see it easily. Or load a prepaid card with the amount for online shopping and when it's gone, it's gone.
I suggest a full detailed budget monthly and annually that goes from gross income, through taxes, saving, giving, spending categories. Whatever the gap is, automate that to be saved from your account monthly.

JBTX
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Re: Tips to Save without hassle

Post by JBTX » Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:00 pm

We spend probably more than the average Bogleheads. And it isn't on the big stuff. We live in a comparatively modest house and tend to buy low mileage used cars and keep them to 150k miles or more.

If you aren't already, you need to know how you are spending. Where is the money going? We used quicken. Others use Mint or other tools.

Once you know how you are spending, you will have to make priorities and change behaviors. Eating out less. Less shopping for entertainment. Being more deliberate in grocery and other shopping for needs.

You may find apps for shopping helpful. I use them for groceries. Either kroger or walmart. Don't know if costco has one. Pick your items at home on the app, based upon what you need, and go get curbside delivery.

I play with cash back credit cards and bonuses to defray some costs

"forced" saving is always a good way to go. Put additional money directly into an investment account automatically. You tend not to spend what you don't have.

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