Is our household budget crazy?

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e5116
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by e5116 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:54 pm

I think your food budget is okay if you guys enjoy eating out and having nice food. I personally get a lot of happiness from those experiences (and eating out with a toddler to me IS enjoyable/fun - we didn't want to change who we were completey just because kids came into the picture so still try to eat out sometimes and travel), so we're okay spending that. It's a personal decision.

But as mentioned above, I'm confused as to where things like property taxes, insurance (life, car, home), etc. are as they seem to be completely missing and could be significant. And utilities/subscriptions definitely seem high unless you live in Alaska and have a high heating bill...

Given you have a paid off house and car, your expenses do look pretty high, but you're saving a lot due to high income, so think you're fine. Most people at your income level would have a gigantic mortgage and you don't have that so you should be afforded a lot of extra flexibility.

miamivice
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by miamivice » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:04 pm

e5116 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:54 pm
I think your food budget is okay if you guys enjoy eating out and having nice food. I personally get a lot of happiness from those experiences (and eating out with a toddler to me IS enjoyable/fun - we didn't want to change who we were completey just because kids came into the picture so still try to eat out sometimes and travel), so we're okay spending that. It's a personal decision.
I don't disagree that eating out is a personal choice, but $800 a month pays for a lot of meals. i don't know where the OP lives, but in my neck of the woods, a nice dinner at a nice restaurants runs us about $70. That would mean the OP would be eating out maybe 10 or 11 times a month, or 2-3 times a week. I'm not sure the happiness from eating out 2-3 times a week is much greater than eating out a couple times a month.

The OP did mention that he/she eats at work a lot. I am not sure that cafeteria meals bring a lot of happiness to anyone, and would sure encourage bringing leftovers from home in lieu of cafeteria meals.

michaeljc70
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:10 pm

I didn't read every post, but as pointed out it seems like there are things missing from your budget (like property taxes). Also, the car(s) is paid for but what about when it needs to be replaced? I suggest budgeting for that. Even though I pay cash for cars, I amortize it over a reasonable period so my expenses/budget aren't so lumpy.

stoptothink
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:11 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:04 pm
e5116 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:54 pm
I think your food budget is okay if you guys enjoy eating out and having nice food. I personally get a lot of happiness from those experiences (and eating out with a toddler to me IS enjoyable/fun - we didn't want to change who we were completey just because kids came into the picture so still try to eat out sometimes and travel), so we're okay spending that. It's a personal decision.
I don't disagree that eating out is a personal choice, but $800 a month pays for a lot of meals. i don't know where the OP lives, but in my neck of the woods, a nice dinner at a nice restaurants runs us about $70. That would mean the OP would be eating out maybe 10 or 11 times a month, or 2-3 times a week. I'm not sure the happiness from eating out 2-3 times a week is much greater than eating out a couple times a month.

The OP did mention that he/she eats at work a lot. I am not sure that cafeteria meals bring a lot of happiness to anyone, and would sure encourage bringing leftovers from home in lieu of cafeteria meals.
I know families that make a lot less, that spend 2x-3x more eating out (my brother's for one). It's all relative. Our family of 4 spends ~1/6th of what OP does on food (eating out doesn't increase our happiness at all, so we don't do it), but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter.

I really like the OP's responses, suggesting that they are really examining how their spending impacts their quality of life (even if they have the income to support even more spending). That's how I personally try to examine all our spending, and we have less than 1/2 the income. My goal is greatest amount of happiness per dollar spent.

miamivice
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by miamivice » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:13 pm

bluejello wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:45 pm
  • Mortgage / Rent: $0 (We own our home outright)
    Home Maintenance: $1,100
    Childcare: $3,100 (Nanny and preschool)
    Travel: $2150
    Food & Groceries: $1800 (About $1000 of this is groceries and $800 is eating out)
    Health: $1400 ($750 is for health insurance and rest is for out of pocket expenses)
    Utilities & Subscriptions: $580 (electricity, water, internet, mobile phone)
    Shopping: $560
    Car & Transport: $100 (We own our car outright so this is just gas, parking, and Uber)
    Uncategorized: $250 (Cash spending and a few miscellaneous items like presents for other people)
Total Monthly Spending = $11,040
As others have said, a few items are missing

* Taxes & Homeowners Insurance
* Savings (529, HSA, 401k/403b, Roth IRA, taxable, etc)
* Income & social security taxes
* Auto costs seem low.

As far as your income, I am confused as to why you pay yourself such a high income rather than paying yourself a more normal income and reinvesting in the company that you own. It would seem that if you have a profitable business model, growing that business model would be a great way of increasing the company's worth (your net worth) while delaying taxes until later.

alfaspider
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by alfaspider » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:41 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:13 pm
bluejello wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:45 pm
  • Mortgage / Rent: $0 (We own our home outright)
    Home Maintenance: $1,100
    Childcare: $3,100 (Nanny and preschool)
    Travel: $2150
    Food & Groceries: $1800 (About $1000 of this is groceries and $800 is eating out)
    Health: $1400 ($750 is for health insurance and rest is for out of pocket expenses)
    Utilities & Subscriptions: $580 (electricity, water, internet, mobile phone)
    Shopping: $560
    Car & Transport: $100 (We own our car outright so this is just gas, parking, and Uber)
    Uncategorized: $250 (Cash spending and a few miscellaneous items like presents for other people)
Total Monthly Spending = $11,040
As others have said, a few items are missing

* Taxes & Homeowners Insurance
* Savings (529, HSA, 401k/403b, Roth IRA, taxable, etc)
* Income & social security taxes
* Auto costs seem low.

As far as your income, I am confused as to why you pay yourself such a high income rather than paying yourself a more normal income and reinvesting in the company that you own. It would seem that if you have a profitable business model, growing that business model would be a great way of increasing the company's worth (your net worth) while delaying taxes until later.
Savings isn't an "expense" - it is what happens when your income exceeds spending.

As well as paying yourself vs reinvesting- some industries aren't particularly capital intensive (professional services, for example) so may not benefit from reinvestment. Alternatively, OP may not want the extra complexity and risk that comes with an expanding business, or might not have identified opportunities for growth that make sense.

As far as the original post: There's no use stressing about this budget when spending is coming in so much below income unless you are looking to retire as soon as humanly possible. Sure, you can cut down on eating out and vacations, but that won't drastically change your aggregate savings percentage.

Topic Author
bluejello
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by bluejello » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:54 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:13 pm
As others have said, a few items are missing

* Taxes & Homeowners Insurance
* Savings (529, HSA, 401k/403b, Roth IRA, taxable, etc)
* Income & social security taxes
* Auto costs seem low.
Good point, these are missing. I don't consider IRA contributions, taxes and insurance in our budget because I have no control over them. IRA contributions are what they are. Taxes are what they are, so there's no point in thinking much about it. Same with insurance — we shop around for a good plan at a reasonable price, and then I just don't think about it any more.

The reason I am looking at our budget is to figure out how I can change the areas we can control.

Topic Author
bluejello
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by bluejello » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:57 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:04 pm
I don't disagree that eating out is a personal choice, but $800 a month pays for a lot of meals. i don't know where the OP lives, but in my neck of the woods, a nice dinner at a nice restaurants runs us about $70. That would mean the OP would be eating out maybe 10 or 11 times a month, or 2-3 times a week. I'm not sure the happiness from eating out 2-3 times a week is much greater than eating out a couple times a month.

The OP did mention that he/she eats at work a lot. I am not sure that cafeteria meals bring a lot of happiness to anyone, and would sure encourage bringing leftovers from home in lieu of cafeteria meals.
For reference, where we live a "nice meal" is about $10 - $15 appetizer or dessert, $30+ entree. Date night dinner for the two of us where we split an appetizer and dessert, and each get an entree and one glass of wine + tax and tip is about $120.

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celia
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by celia » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:40 pm

bluejello wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:33 pm
What I've noticed is that a lot of my spending urges are based on resolving some emotional need...
Have you ever heard of a "financial diet"? I challenge you to go one week without spending a penny. I know you can do it, but you have to plan ahead.
whereas my husband's spending urges tend to be about a failure to plan ahead.
How about having him put a cardboard box in his car trunk and throw some of the hats he owns in there. Also add other things he "forgets" that he buys frequently. That or organize, with him, where he keeps his wallet, keys, and phone so they and other things he needs to leave the house with are all together, somewhere near the door.

Thegame14
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Thegame14 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:41 pm

bluejello wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:57 pm
miamivice wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:04 pm
I don't disagree that eating out is a personal choice, but $800 a month pays for a lot of meals. i don't know where the OP lives, but in my neck of the woods, a nice dinner at a nice restaurants runs us about $70. That would mean the OP would be eating out maybe 10 or 11 times a month, or 2-3 times a week. I'm not sure the happiness from eating out 2-3 times a week is much greater than eating out a couple times a month.

The OP did mention that he/she eats at work a lot. I am not sure that cafeteria meals bring a lot of happiness to anyone, and would sure encourage bringing leftovers from home in lieu of cafeteria meals.
For reference, where we live a "nice meal" is about $10 - $15 appetizer or dessert, $30+ entree. Date night dinner for the two of us where we split an appetizer and dessert, and each get an entree and one glass of wine + tax and tip is about $120.
my wife and I rarely eat out unless it is a birthday or we have a giftcard, and then it is a dinner or chile's or whoever has a 2 for $20 or 3 for $10 meal and If it costs more than $30 for the three of us, I feel bad....and I would never ever ever get alcohol outside of buying and drinking at home, for the cost of one drink, you can probably buy half a bottle in the store..... We consider any meal not eaten at home a "nice meal". once a week we order take out from local pizzeria with a coupon. or I will buy a groupon.

Starfish
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Starfish » Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:50 pm

e5116 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:54 pm

But as mentioned above, I'm confused as to where things like property taxes, insurance (life, car, home), etc. are as they seem to be completely missing and could be significant. And utilities/subscriptions definitely seem high unless you live in Alaska and have a high heating bill...
Only my electricity + gas is 500$ in the winter (mostly comes from gas). I have a 1600sqft house and I live in California. The temperature is set at ~68F when we are at home awake, 64 in the night, 58 during the day.
I have LED lights and there is nothing excessive going on.

Trader Joe
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Trader Joe » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:18 pm

bluejello wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:45 pm
Hi Bogleheads,

When I look at our total spending I feel like it's a crazy high number, yet when I drill down into each individual expense it all makes sense and I can't figure out where we're being wasteful. Any help from a second pair of eyes would be appreciated!

Family: 2 adults, 2 kids (age 1 and 3)

Gross Income: highly variable as we own our own business but generally > $500k

Average Monthly Expenses for Past 3 Months (from Mint)
  • Mortgage / Rent: $0 (We own our home outright)
    Home Maintenance: $1,100
    Childcare: $3,100 (Nanny and preschool)
    Travel: $2150
    Food & Groceries: $1800 (About $1000 of this is groceries and $800 is eating out)
    Health: $1400 ($750 is for health insurance and rest is for out of pocket expenses)
    Utilities & Subscriptions: $580 (electricity, water, internet, mobile phone)
    Shopping: $560
    Car & Transport: $100 (We own our car outright so this is just gas, parking, and Uber)
    Uncategorized: $250 (Cash spending and a few miscellaneous items like presents for other people)
Total Monthly Spending = $11,040

The things on this budget that cannot be changed are: childcare, health, and utilities. I think the areas where we can be less wasteful are food, travel, and shopping.

Home Maintenance: We did a lot of necessary repairs that had piled up in the last few months. Moving forward, I project this to go down to less than $200 per month.

Travel: really expensive because in the past 3 months, we took two weekend trips with the grandparents (one with each set) and we paid for everyone. During the rest of the year, we'll probably take another 2-3 trips.

Health: We pay $750 per month for health insurance (reimbursable by our company), but our health insurance doesn't cover a lot of preventative things like dental cleaning or vaccines for the baby so we pay those out of pocket. I had some health issues in the past few months so there were quite a few expenses here. This also includes gym membership.

Here's the thing that gets me — I don't feel like we are big spenders, yet when I look at how much we spend it seems like a crazy high number. For example: in the past 3 months, the only things we've bought are toys and clothes for the kids, a bunch of tennis equipment for my husband as he's an avid tennis player, some books, and $26 worth of makeup for me. It's not like I'm going on high-end shopping sprees every week. We don't have cable TV (or any TV for that matter, as we have a no screentime rule in the house). We shop for groceries at Costco. We don't drink alcohol or smoke, both of which are expensive.

So what do you think: am I wildly overspending, or just need to readjust my expectations as to what things cost?
No, not if you can afford it.

Topic Author
bluejello
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by bluejello » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:52 pm

celia wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:40 pm
bluejello wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:33 pm
What I've noticed is that a lot of my spending urges are based on resolving some emotional need...
Have you ever heard of a "financial diet"? I challenge you to go one week without spending a penny. I know you can do it, but you have to plan ahead.
whereas my husband's spending urges tend to be about a failure to plan ahead.
How about having him put a cardboard box in his car trunk and throw some of the hats he owns in there. Also add other things he "forgets" that he buys frequently. That or organize, with him, where he keeps his wallet, keys, and phone so they and other things he needs to leave the house with are all together, somewhere near the door.
Thank you celia, these are both wonderful ideas! I actually did the "financial diet" for one week last week, except for necessities like groceries. That was how I started to become mindful of when and how we felt spending urges.

SQRT
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by SQRT » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:01 am

Certainly a good idea to assess your spending to make such consistent with your values. Everybody should do this. It’s just that everybody has different values. We are constantly doing this reassessment. Values would include charitable giving and any legacy objectives in addition to current consumption.

When somebody says “you spend a lot on eating out” how should you respond? We spend multiples of what you spend on eating out. So what? It’s our choice and consistent with our values. We also earn multiples of what you do and over time this has definitely had an effect on our values. For instance much more concerned about gifting both while alive and on our passing.

I certainly agree with the poster who explained the concept of diminishing marginal spending utility. This also makes it difficult to get consistent, useful spending advice.

In any event I hope this exercise has been useful to you. Good luck. I think you are doing exceptionally well.
Last edited by SQRT on Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

michaeljc70
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:23 am

Clearly you an afford what you are spending and whether it is "crazy" is very subjective. If you are seriously concerned (or just for you own personal knowledge) about your expenses, I'd suggest gathering better metrics. Three months of Mint is not typically going to be that accurate. That could be due to lack of cash spent, categorization of a lot of items (depending on the payees), one-time or infrequent expenses, etc.

Starfish
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Starfish » Thu Apr 04, 2019 7:10 pm

SQRT wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:01 am
Certainly a good idea to assess your spending to make such consistent with your values. Everybody should do this. It’s just that everybody has different values. We are constantly doing this reassessment. Values would include charitable giving and any legacy objectives in addition to current consumption.

When somebody says “you spend a lot on eating out” how should you respond? We spend multiples of what you spend on eating out. So what?
I think the observation about spending a lot on eating out comes from the correlation with the rest of the food bought from Costco.
It is hard to imagine how can a family with 2 small kids spend 800$ to eat out AND 1800$ at Costco AND not throw away food. It's just too much food (unless the eating out is 200$ per meal).
Also I find hard to imagine how one cam spend hundreds of $ on (paper?) books and more hundreds on toys and not just run out of space in the house in relatively short time.
My guess is these expenses are not constant and Costco expenses include a lot of other things besides food.

amillionshort
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by amillionshort » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm

Cycle wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:51 pm
On grocery, shop at Aldi, it's a fraction of the Costco cost.

Last week, I bought 12 24 packs of LaCroix for $1.99 ea, 12 lbs of boneless chicken thighs for $.89 a pound. blueberries were 1.29. avocados were expensive, at .89. frozen berries are always super cheap.

I buy mountains of berries, nuts, veggies, chocolates, cheeses, and meats and my grocery bill for a family of 3 is maybe $300 a month.
Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.

Monthly grocery spending around $1200 for family of four for us. I share the feeling with OP, huge spending in numbers but nothing to show for it, doesn't feel like luxurious lifestyle.

livesoft
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by livesoft » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:11 pm

amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm
Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.
Our store has blueberries for $4.99 a pint sometimes, too. We don't buy them because they have fresh blueberries for 88 cents a pint often enough.

In other words, just because a store has expensive out-of-season fruits doesn't mean one has to buy them. (And yes, I know that "out-of-season" is practically impossible now because of imports from south of the equator.)
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

TheHouse7
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by TheHouse7 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:39 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:03 pm
For your income = No. Compared to me and what I would be comfortable with = YES

In fact, I read this as more of a brag. Maybe that is just me!
Not just you, we live on a 1/4 of this, and can only dream of making 100k gross.
"PSX will always go up 20%, why invest in anything else?!" -Father-in-law early retired.

letsgobobby
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:47 pm

Deleted
Last edited by letsgobobby on Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

gamboolman
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by gamboolman » Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:33 am

OP
Your budget is very reasonable- at least to ms gamboolgal and I

We’re planning to retire at end of this year and we have very similar numbers

We know we have a lot of discretionary monies that we can trim if need be

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Harry Livermore
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Harry Livermore » Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:40 am

I agree with others that many categories seem to be missing:
income/ FICA taxes
homeowners insurance
auto insurance
personal umbrella
property tax
school supplies
clothing
household supplies
...to name just a few. Maybe that's covered in "shopping". If you're not spending in these categories, then OK. Outwardly it looks like you are saving a high percentage of your gross income, so my hat is definitely tipped. I used to be "that guy" and wish to be, again. Soon...
I have am 8-category spreadsheet that tallies on a home page:
1. Taxes
2. Housing, Food & Clothing
3. Financial
4. Cars
5. Utilities
6. Business
7. Education/Recreation
8. Health Care & Miscellaneous
Within each category are a couple-three dozen lines. I put in an estimate at the start of the year, and enter an "actual" number in each line early in the following year. Our gross income (me, wife, rental properties, taxable div & cap gains/ investment income) goes at the top of the home page, and the expenses auto-tally below. Since my income and the rental income is variable (one property is a vacation rental), there is also "estimated" and "actual". A pair of pie charts showing income, and expenses. Data dense but not too complicated.
We have a similar income profile, and for the categories you listed, we spend:
Mortgage: $3,450 (not including insurance or property tax)
Home Maintenance: $100 (variable)
Childcare: $0 (kids are older)
Travel: $250 (variable, some years the actual is $0 but I put a number in)
Food & Groceries: $1300 (About $1000 of this is groceries and $300 is eat out/ take out)
Health: $444 ($404 is for health insurance and rest is for out of pocket expenses/ copays)
Utilities & Subscriptions: $1,030 (electricity, heat, internet/basic cable, mobile phones x5, ugh)
Shopping: $? (I have this divided into so many sub categories it’s hard for me to compare)
Car & Transport: $696 (gas, tolls, repairs, insurance on 3 cars, ugh)
Uncategorized: well, that’s the rest of my budget!
Total Monthly Spending: it's everything that comes in, because everything has a place on the spreadsheet, including taxes and savings.
When I was a single guy, and later, when we were DINKs, a super-high percentage went into savings/retirement funds. >50% sometimes. Even when the kids were little, we watched the $$$ carefully and saved, mostly retirement funds but also 529s. Later when my business had a few really great years, I put the maximum allowable amount into the Keogh. Now that the kids are in, or approaching college, and my business is a bit squeezed, we spend nearly everything that comes in. I only put $6K into my Keough's 401(k) last year. Wife put a bigger amount into the 403(b). But I would say that we are now at a <10% savings rate. Sad. Soon, kid #1 will be done with college, and the mortgage on the year-round rental property will be done (vacation prop is mortgage free), and things will loosen up a bit. But we are definitely in the crunch now.
If I could impart one guiding principle about money to my own kids, and other young people, it's "save until it hurts, and invest most of it, as early an age as possible, as cheaply and broadly as possible". It's what allows us to be as close to the edge as we currently are, without truly being in danger (I hope)
Cheers

Leemiller
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Leemiller » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:11 am

SQRT wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:01 am
Certainly a good idea to assess your spending to make such consistent with your values. Everybody should do this. It’s just that everybody has different values. We are constantly doing this reassessment. Values would include charitable giving and any legacy objectives in addition to current consumption.

When somebody says “you spend a lot on eating out” how should you respond? We spend multiples of what you spend on eating out. So what? It’s our choice and consistent with our values. We also earn multiples of what you do and over time this has definitely had an effect on our values. For instance much more concerned about gifting both while alive and on our passing.

I certainly agree with the poster who explained the concept of diminishing marginal spending utility. This also makes it difficult to get consistent, useful spending advice.

In any event I hope this exercise has been useful to you. Good luck. I think you are doing exceptionally well.
This. In particular, our values include spending more on organic and fresh food, a nanny, American made or vintage furniture, and lately charitable giving - including attending events. Find what you get value from. I would recommend reading Everything that Remains by the Minimalists. Because of the money stress I grew up with, I can relate to the emotional aspect of your spending. Personally, giving to charity has been very healing for me.

As an aside, we don’t budget beyond a savings goal and deciding major purchases, for example a car.

basspond
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by basspond » Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:15 am

Yes it is. What got our budget and our minds in line is when we decided to put charitable giving as our top priority.

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HomerJ
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by HomerJ » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:12 am

livesoft wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:09 am
For lunch today I am having a small portion of salmon broiled in a spicy sweet sauce over a little rice cooked in some coconut milk, a few florets of broccoli along with a small salad of fresh spinach, tomatoes, carrots, blueberries.
I'm having Peanut Butter and Jelly. :)

The classics never die.
The J stands for Jay

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HomerJ
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by HomerJ » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:21 am

livesoft wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:11 pm
amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm
Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.
Our store has blueberries for $4.99 a pint sometimes, too. We don't buy them because they have fresh blueberries for 88 cents a pint often enough.

In other words, just because a store has expensive out-of-season fruits doesn't mean one has to buy them. (And yes, I know that "out-of-season" is practically impossible now because of imports from south of the equator.)
This is the real trick. The stores send out flyers each week (or you can look them up online) for their sale items.

Don't just go to the same store every week, and buy the same stuff completely ignoring the prices.

I'm not saying you should travel to six different stores in one week, but you can at least be aware of the sales and take advantage of them. Stock up when things are cheap.

We don't buy 12-packs of Diet Coke until it's 3 for $10, and then we stock up.

Every time I'm at the store, I'll see people buy a single 12-pack of Diet Coke for $5.50, when if you just pay attention, you can get it for $3.33 some other week. (or at least buy the 24-pack for $7.50, guy! It's right there next to the 12-pack you just grabbed).

Then, even worse, I'll watch people spend $1.00 per Diet Coke can every day from the vending machine at work (so now they are up to $12 for a 12-pack)

That's just one example. It doesn't take cutting coupons or traveling to multiple stores. It just takes being aware of what things cost and not overspending needlessly.
Last edited by HomerJ on Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
The J stands for Jay

michaeljc70
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by michaeljc70 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:26 am

HomerJ wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:21 am
livesoft wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:11 pm
amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm
Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.
Our store has blueberries for $4.99 a pint sometimes, too. We don't buy them because they have fresh blueberries for 88 cents a pint often enough.

In other words, just because a store has expensive out-of-season fruits doesn't mean one has to buy them. (And yes, I know that "out-of-season" is practically impossible now because of imports from south of the equator.)
This is the real trick. The stores send out flyers each week (or you can look them up online) for their sale items.

Don't just go to the same store every week, and buy the same stuff completely ignoring the prices.

I'm not saying you should travel to six different stores in one week, but you can at least be aware of the sales and take advantage of them. Stock up when things are cheap.


We don't buy 12-packs of Diet Coke until it's 3 for $10, and then we stock up.

Every time I'm at the store, I'll see people buy a single 12-pack of Diet Coke for $5.50, when if you just pay attention, you can get it for $3.33 some other week. (or at least buy the 24-pack for $7.50, guy! It's right there next to the 12-pack you just grabbed)

That's just one example. It doesn't take cutting coupons. It just takes being aware of what things cost.
Yes! When you have a specific list you will almost always pay more. There are so many different meats, fruits, veggies, etc. I may go to the store thinking asparagus sounds good for a meal but if it is expensive, I get something else we like that is cheaper/on sale/in season. I cannot speak to other parts of the country, but the difference in prices here varies greatly based on store and season. Asparagus can go from 99 cents/lb to 5.99/lb. A porterhouse can go from $5/lb to $20/lb. In other words, there can be huge savings - not just 10% or 20%.

stoptothink
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:29 am

amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm
Cycle wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:51 pm
On grocery, shop at Aldi, it's a fraction of the Costco cost.

Last week, I bought 12 24 packs of LaCroix for $1.99 ea, 12 lbs of boneless chicken thighs for $.89 a pound. blueberries were 1.29. avocados were expensive, at .89. frozen berries are always super cheap.

I buy mountains of berries, nuts, veggies, chocolates, cheeses, and meats and my grocery bill for a family of 3 is maybe $300 a month.
Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.

Monthly grocery spending around $1200 for family of four for us. I share the feeling with OP, huge spending in numbers but nothing to show for it, doesn't feel like luxurious lifestyle.
Are you saying that chicken breasts are $10/lb in the bay area? I'd bet a lot of money that with a little effort I could cut your grocery budget in half. All depends on how important it is to you.

michaeljc70
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by michaeljc70 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:37 am

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:29 am
amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm
Cycle wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:51 pm
On grocery, shop at Aldi, it's a fraction of the Costco cost.

Last week, I bought 12 24 packs of LaCroix for $1.99 ea, 12 lbs of boneless chicken thighs for $.89 a pound. blueberries were 1.29. avocados were expensive, at .89. frozen berries are always super cheap.

I buy mountains of berries, nuts, veggies, chocolates, cheeses, and meats and my grocery bill for a family of 3 is maybe $300 a month.
Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.

Monthly grocery spending around $1200 for family of four for us. I share the feeling with OP, huge spending in numbers but nothing to show for it, doesn't feel like luxurious lifestyle.
Are you saying that chicken breasts are $10/lb in the bay area? I'd bet a lot of money that with a little effort I could cut your grocery budget in half. All depends on how important it is to you.
True. Some people don't want to bother. Safeway has weekly sales and chicken breasts (boneless/skinless) are routinely on sale for $2/lb here.

amillionshort
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by amillionshort » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:03 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:29 am
amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm

Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.

Monthly grocery spending around $1200 for family of four for us. I share the feeling with OP, huge spending in numbers but nothing to show for it, doesn't feel like luxurious lifestyle.
Are you saying that chicken breasts are $10/lb in the bay area? I'd bet a lot of money that with a little effort I could cut your grocery budget in half. All depends on how important it is to you.
Less per pound, maybe $7-8 typically. I think I could also cut the grocery budget 20-30% but my wife usually does the shopping and she prefers to pick the organic/antibiotic free option which is probably the most expensive. Advertising based on fear works well...

stoptothink
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:22 am

amillionshort wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:03 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:29 am
amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm

Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.

Monthly grocery spending around $1200 for family of four for us. I share the feeling with OP, huge spending in numbers but nothing to show for it, doesn't feel like luxurious lifestyle.
Are you saying that chicken breasts are $10/lb in the bay area? I'd bet a lot of money that with a little effort I could cut your grocery budget in half. All depends on how important it is to you.
Less per pound, maybe $7-8 typically. I think I could also cut the grocery budget 20-30% but my wife usually does the shopping and she prefers to pick the organic/antibiotic free option which is probably the most expensive. Advertising based on fear works well...
So, you are well aware of why you are paying a (significant) premium for your food. It isn't for lack of more cost-efficient options, it's a choice.

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JonnyDVM
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by JonnyDVM » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:26 am

onourway wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:50 pm
Yeah, some of the numbers are high, but in aggregate you are spending less than 1/4 of your gross income, so what's the problem?
Yah, I’m not following OP. These numbers are very very reasonable for your income level. Stuff is expensive. To be honest I’m not sure how the average amrercian family of four does it. You’re not average.
It’s not “just the flu”. Stop saying that. It’s really annoying. -me

Slacker
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Slacker » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:35 am

Aldi does have great prices... My wife thinks they are gross though, so I have to be very selective about what I get there. For example, something about their chicken breasts tend to have more scar tissue or other little tougher areas vs getting chicken breasts at the local Kroger branded store. On the other hand, some of their produce is better than the Kroger (apples and peaches always seem to be rotting internally at the Kroger).

Buying prepared meals at the grocery store will be expensive.
Not being selective when buying produce and meat can be expensive (as others noted, different items come up for sale at different times). One could easily set a "rule" for shopping at their local grocery store without having to look at the ads such as only buy fruits and vegetables that are under $2 per pound. This has you buying the sale items usually.

Costco pricing:. For meat it can be a bit high as they tend towards carrying mostly organic products. Eggs and milk are almost always cheapest at Costco (even the big box of 5dozen eggs are cage free now and my local Costco eggs work out to about $1.50 per dozen of cage free eggs). Aldi may have lower prices for whole milk, sometimes, but their prices rapidly change and we don't get flyers for any grocery store. Cereal prices are a little cheaper at Costco vs Aldi like for like. Costco clothes are terrible and fall apart, I'd avoid their clothes.

runner540
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by runner540 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:45 am

JonnyDVM wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:26 am
onourway wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:50 pm
Yeah, some of the numbers are high, but in aggregate you are spending less than 1/4 of your gross income, so what's the problem?
Yah, I’m not following OP. These numbers are very very reasonable for your income level. Stuff is expensive. To be honest I’m not sure how the average amrercian family of four does it. You’re not average.
There's another thread from OP (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=277873&newpost=4478747) where they clarify that $500k is not cash income, but estimated business profit. I think the cash flow is much tighter.
"That number is my estimate of the annual business profits that would belong to him (not including what goes to his business partners). Of course, business profits have volatility... this year the business is looking like it'll produce at least $1M for him. The amount of money we spend is closer to what he pays himself in salary."

PhoebeCoco
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by PhoebeCoco » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:10 am

stoptothink wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:22 am
amillionshort wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:03 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:29 am
amillionshort wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 pm

Oh wow. Normal local sf bay area grocery store prices (safeway, whole foods, nob hill): blueberries 4.99, avocado 2.49 each, bell pepper 2.49 each, chicken breast a bit under $10. Wish we had Aldi here.

Monthly grocery spending around $1200 for family of four for us. I share the feeling with OP, huge spending in numbers but nothing to show for it, doesn't feel like luxurious lifestyle.
Are you saying that chicken breasts are $10/lb in the bay area? I'd bet a lot of money that with a little effort I could cut your grocery budget in half. All depends on how important it is to you.
Less per pound, maybe $7-8 typically. I think I could also cut the grocery budget 20-30% but my wife usually does the shopping and she prefers to pick the organic/antibiotic free option which is probably the most expensive. Advertising based on fear works well...
So, you are well aware of why you are paying a (significant) premium for your food. It isn't for lack of more cost-efficient options, it's a choice.
I live in the Bay Area also. I shop at Safeway, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods. Here is what I spend on those:

avocado - 99 cents
bell pepper - 69 cents
chicken breast - organic, $6.99 a pound
(I don't buy blueberries, except as an occasional treat in the summer)

I hate to see the Bay Area mis-represented. What is expensive about the Bay Area is HOUSING. Groceries can be very inexpensive, and we have a wide array of grocery stores to shop at. I personally live less than 2 miles from 2 Safeways, 2 Trader Joes, and 2 Whole Foods.

Whole Foods has weekly sales; I often look at the sales flyer for my local stores and buy the sale meat: this week, for example, they have whole organic chicken on sale for $1.79 a pound, and beef short ribs on sale for $5.99 a pound.

Leemiller
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by Leemiller » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:19 am

I’m really confused as to why in a thread where the OP makes 500k there is a discussion on the cheapest place to buy chicken. Groceries are a drop in the bucket at this income, even with a pure Whole Foods, local butcher, fresh seafood diet. In fact, while you’re hand wringing on the cost of avocados if you miss an opportunity for a 1% raise, that is time poorly spent.

runner540
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by runner540 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:24 am

Leemiller wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:19 am
I’m really confused as to why in a thread where the OP makes 500k there is a discussion on the cheapest place to buy chicken. Groceries are a drop in the bucket at this income, even with a pure Whole Foods, local butcher, fresh seafood diet. In fact, while you’re hand wringing on the cost of avocados if you miss an opportunity for a 1% raise, that is time poorly spent.
The income number is not really cash, it was an estimate of their share of a business' profits. Their cash flow may be much tighter than the headline numbers indicate.

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bottlecap
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by bottlecap » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:50 am

trustquestioner wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:19 pm
This board is insane sometimes.

You’re spending less than a quarter of your gross income. Saving is abundant and more than sufficient.
The OP is not insane. If she wants information about how to save on expenses, it is legitimate to answer and also not insane.

OP, I don’t think your budget is wild. Your food (and other) costs could also be a little higher because of where you live. Of course, you could cut by not going out to eat as much and cutting travel. Those costs are high for the average family of 4, but your family income is probably 8 to 10 times the average family income.

JT

michaeljc70
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:04 am

Slacker wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:35 am
Aldi does have great prices... My wife thinks they are gross though, so I have to be very selective about what I get there. For example, something about their chicken breasts tend to have more scar tissue or other little tougher areas vs getting chicken breasts at the local Kroger branded store. On the other hand, some of their produce is better than the Kroger (apples and peaches always seem to be rotting internally at the Kroger).

Buying prepared meals at the grocery store will be expensive.
Not being selective when buying produce and meat can be expensive (as others noted, different items come up for sale at different times). One could easily set a "rule" for shopping at their local grocery store without having to look at the ads such as only buy fruits and vegetables that are under $2 per pound. This has you buying the sale items usually.

Costco pricing:. For meat it can be a bit high as they tend towards carrying mostly organic products. Eggs and milk are almost always cheapest at Costco (even the big box of 5dozen eggs are cage free now and my local Costco eggs work out to about $1.50 per dozen of cage free eggs). Aldi may have lower prices for whole milk, sometimes, but their prices rapidly change and we don't get flyers for any grocery store. Cereal prices are a little cheaper at Costco vs Aldi like for like. Costco clothes are terrible and fall apart, I'd avoid their clothes.
You can get them online. At the stores website or I use the site Flipp which consolidates them all for my area (I think it is nationwide, but not sure of the breadth). It is also searchable across stores (like you can search for "ribeye" or "asparagus"). They also have them at the front door of most stores as you go in, but of course you have to already be there for that.

amillionshort
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by amillionshort » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:07 am

PhoebeCoco wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:10 am

I hate to see the Bay Area mis-represented. What is expensive about the Bay Area is HOUSING. Groceries can be very inexpensive
Yes you are right. After a few years here I have just become accustomed to the $4k rent. I still haven't gotten used to some other variable costs like groceries. Back in my home country (in Europe) the prices didn't have such high variance, you could just go to the local grocery store and get reasonable prices without having to hunt for deals. Sorry for derailing the thread :)

More on the topic, OP shouldn't worry too much about that food spending with their income. They can consider they are paying for saving time they can spend on more productive/enjoyable things.

josehde
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by josehde » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:08 am

You're spending more than what I would be comfortable with, but you're also earning more and spending for more people, so no, I don't think your budget is crazy. It's expected for someone of your income to have higher consumption so I would not sweat it.

Your budget on books caught my eye, though. Maybe try the library or ebooks? Clutter may not be your problem but opting for borrowing or a digital copy will keep that from happening, too.

stoptothink
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Re: Is our household budget crazy?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:53 am

amillionshort wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:07 am
PhoebeCoco wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:10 am

I hate to see the Bay Area mis-represented. What is expensive about the Bay Area is HOUSING. Groceries can be very inexpensive
Yes you are right. After a few years here I have just become accustomed to the $4k rent. I still haven't gotten used to some other variable costs like groceries. Back in my home country (in Europe) the prices didn't have such high variance, you could just go to the local grocery store and get reasonable prices without having to hunt for deals. Sorry for derailing the thread :)
There is extreme variance in food costs, which is why it pays to spend a little time doing the research. I could easily spend 2.5x our budget (<$300/month for a family of 4) getting literally the exact same food, just by shopping at other grocers.

Examining food costs are one of the easiest ways for most families to save a few hundred a month, but if it isn't a big deal to you, it isn't a big deal to you.

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