What I Spend

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Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:35 pm

We mostly wander between the hot tub and the two pools. It's pretty leisurely and social. I did find an annual couples membership gets the cost down to $80 a person per month. That's better, but it's also a recurring cost of $1000 a year. We'll see.

I do decline activities if I don't want to be around the people, or if I just don't like doing them. Dancing happens to be one of those things. My wife tolerates it pretty well after all these years.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:51 am

I can't bring myself to lump sum invest the cash I accumulated last year. Given it is likely to lose value, there are probably better ways it can generate real benefit in day to day life. For me, allocating money this way is much, much harder than spending the minimum I can tolerate.

Justifying a financial outlay is my barrier. I am particular. Every purchase requires research, consideration, reconsideration, etc. Here are the changes I am trying:

1. I've agreed to the fancy swimming gym at $80 a month. Supposedly it is a month to month contract. I suspect this is a long-term recurring cost, in other words, especially expensive. We'll go at least 8 hours a month, and I might lift there occasionally.

2. As alluded earlier, I am eating more expensive foods - almonds instead of chips, berries instead of apples, etc. While I pulled back from high grocery bills late last year, the difference is a focus on quality. Previously, my extra costs came from higher-end grocery stores and packaged foods. I am still shopping at Aldi and heavily favoring unprocessed foods.

3. I am saying yes to eating out with people. Lunch with my parents this week, dinner with friends next week, lunch with my wife's family next week, etc. We go to $8-12 a meal places, but 4-5x a month can add up.

4. I started running out of ideas, so I am gifting $1000 to my wife's sister in celebration of her first child. As a rule, my wife and I do zero gifts of any type. No Christmas, birthdays, valentines day, anything. So this makes me a little nervous. She can use the money and has never asked us for anything. I won't notice it is missing. Hopefully, there is no fallout.


Those changes leave most of last year's cash untouched. Other ideas in pre-contemplation:

1. We have an 18 cubic foot fridge, but space for a 25 cubic foot fridge. Every week, when I get home from the store, I sit on the floor carefully fitting produce into the constrained space. Early in the week, I constantly move foods to get to other foods. But we eat well, and the fridge is working. I estimate $1500.

2. There are a few plumbing problems we've been living with / ignoring. I took a token stab at one of them a month ago. It has come back. I have very little interest or tolerance for this sort of work. But clean water comes in, dirty water goes out. I estimate $500.

3. The washer and dryer are closing in on 20 years old. The spin cycle on the washer needs an extra go now and then. The dryer needs a couple of cycles to handle bigger loads. All tolerable, maybe even fixable. Our clothes are clean, I do laundry 0-1x a week, and I wonder if new machines would be better. Maybe $400 for repairs would add another 10 years of life. No experience buying these. I estimate $1500.

4. Similarly, the dishwasher is from 1999. It doesn't always get stuff clean and crud accumulates. My wife does the dishes, so this causes me zero trouble :). I estimate $500.

5. A Nintendo Switch interests me. However, I am perfectly happy with my 3DS, sit on a two-game backlog, and know there are at least ten others I'd enjoy. Price will drop over the next few years, and Nintendo has a pattern of upgrading the hardware a couple of years into the product cycle. Including more expensive games and a controller, I estimate $500.


All of these require research on my part and dealing with shopping. I hate shopping.

jacob
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Re: What I Spend

Post by jacob » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:11 pm

There's a Parkinson's Law equivalent for storage space filling up any free space with stuff. One unintentional side-effect of a larger fridge is therefore potential food waste. We deliberately bought a small fridge for exactly that reason. This way the number of condiments and eventual compost stays low. The size is such that it would be semi-rare for us to be able to store so much we wouldn't be able to eat it before expiry. It's also hard for stuff to hide in the back, so this prevents having two open containers of the same thing in various parts of the fridge.

A larger fridge would be justified to reduce the number of grocery runs...but for that a freezer is often better.

PS: If you have problems with too much surplus cash, you can always send it to me :lol:

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:29 pm

I know it's a joke, but gifting (upon death) is the default "easy" solution to cash hoarding. I can't shake the feeling that accumulating a high score until then is wasted potential. Maximizing quality of life, by optimally deploying assets today, is an interesting problem.

Excellent point on food waste. There's a good chance we'll fill any size fridge. My wife and I have discussed that. I already open multiples of the same condiment. And there's the environmental impact of trashing an appliance. On the other hand, it would be nice to have more than one cold can of seltzer at a time. I am not avoiding groceries due to space, but it does influence when and what I cook.

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Re: What I Spend

Post by jacob » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:52 pm

Another suggestion would be to buy from local supermarket or hire local tradesmen even if it's not the cheapest under the theory that it establishes better/more interdependent relationships in the community; keeps money circulating (keep RE prices up/increasing by avoiding defaults in overleveraged small businesses); and keeping the optionality for the service level. (We currently have a couple of guys who will show up the same day if there's a problem because we're local (relative to their "office" so on the way between their jobs) and repeat business. That is very nice!)

I avoid [appliance] upgrade fever for environmental reasons. However, one option is to trade it in if it breaks instead of fixing it and use that as an excuse to get a new [used] one. Then they can fix it and resell it. Buying used avoids the environmental impact. We have a local appliance shop that will do this. They also accept haggling for prices :)

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:53 am

Service people - absolutely. My experience with the local tire shop vs. firestone, no contest. I'll pay every time. Our plumber lives 10 minutes away. If the service person's wife answers the phone, that's a great sign.

Independent grocers - I cannot justify the ongoing hassle of niche ethnic markets. Ignoring price, the loss of variety at any single store is too much of a trade off. I'm not willing to visit multiple stores. I greatly enjoy the spoils of our global food market. Some of these limitations could be another hidden cost of our expensive home.

The used appliance idea is intriguing. I've looked around a little, the obvious quality one is about 20 miles away. Environmental impact would be the primary driver. I'm not sure how important this is to me, relative to the added search problem complexity.

In looking around at used appliances, the argument to repair our mechanical washer and dryer seems strong.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:37 am

Decided to drop HRV as a metric. Two reasons:

1. It requires my phone to take a reading, and is best done immediately after waking. This means I have my phone in the bedroom. I don't have the will power to stay off it every night / morning. My hardest days, when I need rest the most, are the most likely to have problems with this.

2. I wake energized. The process of getting the HR monitor connected, settling back to a resting HR, and doing the guided breathing calms me down a lot. It's not a particular effective way to allocate that morning burst of energy.

I am casually shopping for a fitbit charge 2. I see they can get as low as $99. I like the sleep monitoring and silent alarm, at that price. It's a tougher sell at the normal retail of $150.

Had the plumber out due to an unrelated issue, got one of my lingering plumbing issues fixed, learned how he did it, and got some more information on the other. Plumbing is gross, I might pay next time anyway.

Mulling the Switch over, it's going to be at least a year or two. They need to un-bundle it from the dock, get game prices down, and possibly produce the 2nd version of the hardware, before I buy in.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:52 am

I invested the cash surplus in my HSA, mostly to get the sense that inflation was eroding it out of my head. The investment might be sub-optimal. The reality is it's only 1% of my net worth and does not deserve any more mental space.

I have committed to sitting on or spending my taxable cash surplus. This is 5% of net worth and shrinking. A big crash before the money is gone, similar to 2008, would be the only trigger to change this decision.


My mental space is too full, I am trimming the overhead.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:45 am

Got my various travel rewards accounts sorted and linked together to minimize tracking. Of the 3, one will notify me when I reach the redemption floor and one links to my amazon for redemption as accrued. Unfortunately, the one I use the most still has to be manually redeemed.

I managed to negotiate the urgent care price down to $99, as seen on their website. I was firmly told no, but after posting my experience on social media, they offered to retract the claim with my insurance and honor the self pay price. A well written negative review is one of the best tools I've found for leveling relationships like this. I did have to pay with my credit card because my HSA wasn't working properly, but I wanted to close while their offer was on the table.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:34 pm

January 2018 Total - $1284 of $1038-$1238 budget

Good – Acted on a variety of strategic level monetary tasks. Health is good. 2018 tax cuts cover my new, higher expenses.

Bad – Pruned expenses found their way back, with stronger justification.

Next Month - $1400 target.

I finally beat a residual cough from my sickness in November, only to come down with something else towards the end of January. However, I am fighting this one much better. Maybe I can attribute that to higher quality food and rest. I am well enough to walk outside again, which is great for my mental health.

The doctor checkup yielded much cleaner blood work than I expected. Morning HRV and nightly breath work failed. I have a Fitbit on the way. I will try using that for metrics and evening relaxation instead. My goal is to monitor sleep quality and manage stress. I do still want blood pressure monitoring.

Work has been stable and positive. My decision to stop flying for conferences is known and did not cause any issues. Some other changes to reduce recurring stress were accepted as well. I did have more off-hours work than I’d like, but the other changes make it palatable.


Food - $332 of $200 budget

Good – The quality of my food has increased. Sometimes I eat an entire avocado in a single meal. I spent $30 eating out. I packed food for work travel three times, and I even ate it.

Bad – I spent $80 a week, instead of the $45 I planned. I like a variety of fancy food and can afford it. I don’t see this changing.

Next Month – $340 target. I plan four $80 shops and two $10 meals out. I will continue getting all food at Aldi.


Help - $210 of $200-$400 budget

Good – Insurance covered my annual checkup. I have a doctor. I’m dumb for skipping this in prior years. I negotiated the urgent care fee from November down by $80. Laziness pushed seeing the housekeeper to next month.

Bad – There is a disconnect between when I get help, and when I find out how much it costs. An unexpected plumber visit still hasn’t lead to a bill. I’ve guessed $90. Same for blood work related to my checkup. I’ve guessed $120. I will reconcile when the bills come.

Next Month – $180 target. Housekeeper. Vet.


Shopping - $154 of $50 budget

Good – Between credit card rewards and other refunds, I saved about $100. I bought my Fitbit used, paying $83 delivered, opposed to a retail price of $149. My PS3 was an acceptable substitute for the cheap computer.

Bad – Gym fees and Netflix have found their way back into my life. Reasons, excuses, whatever – they are shopping expenses this month. I’ll roll them into recurring next month. I don’t think they are going anywhere. I also ended up buying gas twice.

Next Month – $200 target. Haircut, new video game, possibly new blinds or an event.


Recurring Expenses - $588 of $588 budget

Good – Revised plan for 2018 was accurate.

Bad – Adding Netflix and the gym raises this by $91 next month.

Next Month – $679 Target.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:03 pm

I may have spoke too soon on work. As of today, my boss is gone. Ugh.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:48 pm

The fitbit is great. The metrics on sleep, heart rate and activity are exactly what I was looking for.

Work stress is up. Lots of uncertainty and increased responsibility. Spending is up. Pay is not. I am doing my best to patient and accommodating.

Membership at the fancy gym is worth the price. I didn't want that to be true, but there it is. The pools are getting used - we've been swimming 1-2x a week. I just resumed weekend mornings lifting at the gym, instead of at home, where motivation was waning. Getting out of the house and doing some actual cardio help justify the expense. I cannot believe I am satisfied paying $80/month for a gym membership.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:23 am

February 2018 Total - $1520 of $1400 budget

Good – This was not a great month financially. At least I can afford it.

Bad – Food costs high. Work changes may keep them there. Vet care is expensive.

Next Month - $1300 target.

The departure of my boss created a lot of uncertainty in my work life. I loosened food spending to both save time and provide mental release. Both cats had vet visits; the old one has a condition that changed, meaning more expensive care.

My non-monetary priorities are stabilizing sleep and exercise. The Fitbit and gym membership are helping. Work life will be interesting in March. We have our second biggest project ever going live, and I have applied to replace my boss. I expect work instability to keep food spending high.

I still need to do my taxes. I’m sure I’ll owe.


Food - $493 of $340 budget

Good – I ate great. Other than eating out, I kept my shopping at Aldi.

Bad – I spent $131 eating out - the bulk of my overage. I have resumed eating out when I travel for work, so I do not think it will come back down.

Next Month – $480 target. I plan four $90 shops and $120 eating out. I am getting ridiculous things at times. Coconut water after I workout, every “salt fee” spice variety at Aldi, etc. It is a fun and easy mental release.


Help - $295 of $180 budget

Good – My insurance covered the preventative blood work that I counted as $120 last month. I guessed the plumber right within $5.

Rather than insist the housekeeper visit on my easiest day, I accommodated her schedule. Lucky her – cleaning on her day off, instead of after a 10 hour day at the factory. More evidence of the US wealth inequity. I try not to be a dick about it.

Bad – Pets needs vet care. My older cat has a chronic condition that is changing. No treatment that adds to her quality of life is too costly. The most expensive treatments usually aren’t for the cat’s benefit, but other care could add up. $275 in vet bills this month.

Next Month – $100 target. Handyman.


Shopping - $62 of $200 budget

Good – I was too busy to shop. My wife found a cheap solution for the blinds. I played a video game I already had.

Bad – Weather canceled my event. Plans with friends fell apart. My hatred for shopping prevents pro-actively replacing aging appliances and caring for the house. I just don’t have the motivation. So I’m sitting on cash instead of using it to improve my life.

Next Month – $50 target. Gas. Maybe a new video game. I already picked it out, but need to finish the current one.


Recurring Expenses - $679 of $679 budget

Good – Stable, as planned.

Bad – N/A

Next Month – $679 Target.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:44 am

This morning I adjusted my cash holdings to get an extra $700 over the next year. Not a bad hourly rate.

I've given up on spending the extra cash. I hate shopping. Belief that "value" is being offered in the exchange also stops me. My wife had to persuade me to buy a $6 cup yesterday. I had thoughts like - "That's plastic. Cheaper online. We already have cups." Yet $6 is nothing.

I stopped post-tax dollar cost averaging into the target retirement fund. I will gamble on building my cash position until the crash comes. The journal conversation between Jacob and Generation-X threw me over the edge. I have about 12% of investible assets in cash right now. If the market remains steady, that will grow a few percent over the next year. Here's to hoping I can buy at the right time.

Pre-tax, I am still dollar cost averaging into a mutual fund, that manages to a volatility target. My 401k waives the management fee for reasons. The underlying holdings are low fee index funds. I also have substantial target retirement fund holdings, which I am not changing at this time. So indexing remains the bulk of my investment strategy.

Taxes were a bummer. 2017 was my household's highest earning year so far, and my with holding was 3% too low. Better to have the money for awhile, but not fun to write the check.

My interest in tracking spending and summarizing at month's end is waning. I'm on vacation this week, so I'll probably do March. I'm not sure about continuing forward. The few hundred per month never mattered much, and my need for control is now being met in other ways.

Work was a wild ride. We delivered our big project. A promotion might happen. My home life suffered - sleep, exercise and family time. I always say this, but I expect more balance in April. I might table the video games for awhile.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:10 pm

Took a rough look at spending for March. I'm at $560 for food, $220 of which is eating out. I expect another $20 meal out this week, might top off groceries as well. The high numbers are a direct result of being over extended at work.

I end up busy, so I order delivery or don't pack food for travel. Tired and pressed for time, when I am at the store, I impulse buy (hello 14 yr. scotch) and lean on convenience foods. The cost is absurd, but there's no real financial constraint, and my will power is drained.

Very little spending in other categories. Lack of time stops me from shopping or hiring help.

Since my behavior is no longer influenced by the tracking, I am cutting it. I also put the video games away for awhile. I am re-prioritizing physical care - lifting, yoga, sleep. I expect that will cascade into less food spending. It's hard to have pizza and beer for dinner, then do evening yoga or lift the next morning.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:38 am

Felt like bumping this thread.

For the most part my spending remains in a holding pattern. Luxuries haven't really changed, though I am giving Aldi via Instacart a try. A roughly 20-25% premium on store prices is much easier to swallow than the crazy multipliers from Peapod. I'll pay that to remove BS from life.

Similar, work requires me to do some day trips that leave the house at 6:30 and return at 9. I've been picking up a hotel for a lot of these, just so I don't have a 15 hour day and can travel off peak. It's more about avoiding getting sick than anything. I also eat out all meals when I do this, again to minimize the BS in my life.

Applying for my boss's job didn't work out. I wasn't willing to take on additional travel and that was a deal breaker. New boss is ok, but the problems facing old boss still persist. I have been promised a different promotion, which would still position me to help resolve some of those problems, but I'll believe that when it happens. We have growing pains and are floundering.

I think with some work and a lot of personal discomfort, I could change employers and be earning 50% more in the next year. I am in IT and have been with the same employer for 8 years. Real smart, great degree, etc. My pay has not kept pace with the insane numbers I see others getting online. I am in a 2nd tier market, but working remote for an employer based in a 3rd tier market. That does not help.

My cab driver has a son who just started an internship at $28/hr. He expects the son to be earning $150-200k per year just a few years out of school. Maybe that is a sign the bottom is about to fall out of the job market :)

More money would not change my lifestyle at all. A new job certainly would. Outside of money, the upside could be faster change, working with and learning from new talent. Maybe less travel. Hiring at my current employer hasn't gone very well, which reinforces my thought that I am leaving money on the table.

However, I am currently in a _very_ comfortable, locally optimized, position in terms of hours, perks, work from home, reputation, relationships, etc. I both earn and have more money than I ever have in my life, so I feel wealthy.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:39 pm

Looks like the promised promotion might be happening in the next month. Cautiously optimistic.

I low key confirmed $150k/yr is viable with a friend of mine who hires people like me. At his company, a position like that is more work than I'm interested in. They are in the 2nd tier market I live in. However, they are not in a high margin industry and do not have wealthy customers.

I cleaned out my basement. It is no longer worth my time to sell things used, unless value exceeds $100. My optimal path is to gift or donate two car loads worth of stuff. The person who got me here struggles with this change. I posted a rare video game for $30. My treasures...

prognastat
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Re: What I Spend

Post by prognastat » Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:12 pm

Scott 2 wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:39 pm
Looks like the promised promotion might be happening in the next month. Cautiously optimistic.

I low key confirmed $150k/yr is viable with a friend of mine who hires people like me. At his company, a position like that is more work than I'm interested in. They are in the 2nd tier market I live in. However, they are not in a high margin industry and do not have wealthy customers.

I cleaned out my basement. It is no longer worth my time to sell things used, unless value exceeds $100. My optimal path is to gift or donate two car loads worth of stuff. The person who got me here struggles with this change. I posted a rare video game for $30. My treasures...
Congrats/good luck. Hope you get it.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:05 pm

Thanks, I ended up writing the job description for what should be a promotion. I have applied and expect it to happen in the next couple of weeks. I am skeptical that it will come with a significant pay increase, rather I expect a promise for money at end of year reviews. It'd be a good transition for new skill development though.

My spending remains chaotic and excessive. Anything to make working easier and buy back time. Aldi via instacart is a definite win. I have been dropping $70-100 a week on eating out when I travel for work. It seems unlikely I am going to reign that in, as long as the travel is required. Door dash while working from home is a mixed bag. It definitely buys back time at a reasonable price, but eating out more than a couple times a week is bad for my health.

I'll be re-evaluating work for 2019 at the end of the year. I have "enough" to get by, but more only helps. I need to see what happens with the new position. My current work experience is sub-par, but I expect a lot to change.

Scott 2
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Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:51 pm

Got the promotion, with zero raise. It bugs me more than I expected. I've objected strongly. If something doesn't change by the end of the year, I have an exit plan.

Along those lines, I haven't done instacart in about 6 weeks. I will resume packing food for work travel next week. I've dramatically reduced eating out, both frequency and cost.

Pulling back on the luxuries has been easier than I expected. I'm naturally cheap.

In an effort to find some patience, I've reprioritized lifting. It had become a casual affair due to competition from work.

I tested this weekend and am about 20% below the maxes I hit when working with the strongman. I am going to do a focused 6 week cycle, then retest early November.

Focus means eating 5 meals a day with at least 30 grams of protein, lifting on a program 4 days a week. I'll track lifting in the jefit app, food in the my fitness pal app.

I'm using projected maxes off 3 rep sets or lower. I avoid intentionally taking one rep maxes. Baseline lifts:

Trap Bar Deadlift - 289
Safety Squat - 192
Multi-grip Bench - 165
Standing Barbell Press - 126

Specialty bar heavy, but those are the lifts my joints like.

I think an increase of 10% by early November is highly doable.

Lots of vacation time in November and December will let me coast through to the end of the year. I just need to remain patient and see what happens.

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