What I Spend

Where are you and where are you going?
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Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:52 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by Cheepnis » Sun May 19, 2019 7:12 am

Wow, $3k/y is intense. Can't really imagine yard care for a small yard being now than that.

Posts: 188
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Frita » Sun May 19, 2019 11:29 am

Scott 2 wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 5:46 pm
If I were to do the yard work or exterior maintenance, it'd definitely be an uptick in effort. It's likely I'd hire it out, especially while working.

I am accounting for that in my estimates. Town home living is surprisingly cost inefficient. Association dues are $3k a year. The board spends like our neighborhood is a botanical garden.
Having lived in two places with HOAs and now being back in a home without one, yes, HOAs are inefficient at best. When you make your own decisions, you can analyze and plan. You are not subject to others’ poor decisions and lack of money management skills.

You can save a ton of money losing the HOA. If you decide to go the DIY route, painting on rotation (a side per year, trim on the fifth) is manageable. Choosing plants and landscaping wisely, along with an automated watering system, also helps. Last summer while we were gone a friend’s 16 year old son cared for our place for $8.50/hour (The local wage for that work that would have cost $30/hour if we went through a company. Our young man didn’t have to pay tax so he netted more. Win-win!).

Scott 2
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Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Tue May 21, 2019 1:26 pm

I'm sure my home owner's association is paying more than $30/hr for lawn care. We pay a management company with a team of property managers. They pay a lawn company with a team of workers. The lawn company is constantly fighting nature, so the homes have "uniform" landscaping. Some trees are replaced annually.

So. much. overhead.

The arrangement with your friend's son sounds great.

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Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Frita » Tue May 21, 2019 5:03 pm

Oh, my, your HOA sounds like they are bleeding money. That bureaucracy tends to drive monthly fees up, so getting out sooner will save you premiums in the long run.

The other thing is that my friend made sure that her son did a good job because that’s the kind of person she is. When he had basketball camp for a week, he found his own replacement (his brother). It was a total win-win.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:11 pm

Frugal stuff
My wife cut my hair and it turned out great, as good as the best barber I've found locally. The process did take us about 2 hours, but we were both nervous to screw it up. We think things can get much faster. I actively dislike the good barber, so this is a very welcome change.

About 2 years ago I bought a conditioning sled on black Friday. My intent was to use it in front of the house, but I learned it was very loud on concrete. Since I don't like loud noise, that stopped me from using it. Over the 4th, I drove it to a local park and found it's great fun on grass. Three sessions in, the impact on my conditioning is obvious. The only ongoing cost is gas to drive a couple miles.

I dealt with chronic plantar fasciitis for most of the past 18 months. Over the last couple of months, it seems to have gone away. I stopped doing daily exercises, but started doing more conditioning and getting 2 weekly sessions of swimming at the fancy gym. Those typically include a cycles of hot/cold between the sauna or hot tub and the lap pool. It's welcome relief and ultimately cost very little.

My wife reached out to an electrician about our broken kitchen light, and he pointed us to different light bulbs that fixed the problem entirely. Turns out very specific bulbs are required due to the dimmer, because of changes in light bulb technology over the past 20 years. Fortunately this was before he came out, so cost to fix was minimal.

I've introduce my wife to the wonder that is podcasts while driving. Our fancy new car connects to the phone over bluetooth. We are enjoying free entertainment on the drive to go swimming.

My wife had been sitting on some cash in a low interest savings account. I helped her move it to an alternative several months ago, that promised a $500 bonus for keeping the money in for 3 months. That paid out, in addition to the higher ongoing rate she is now getting.

A work trip will offer my wife another opportunity for cheap luxury travel.

Comfort afforded by wealth
I sent my wife to Portland for a week, while my oldest friend came to visit. She's wanted to go her whole life and had a great time. My friend and her do not get along, so we all were able to avoid unwanted conflict. My friend has drifted to some expensive lifestyle choices, especially dietary, but I was able to accommodate him without any real stress. It was a little sad to see the divergence in our values.

I really enjoy having multiple gym memberships. This weekend alone - I played with my sled at the park on Friday morning, went swimming at the fancy gym on Friday evening, lifted at the cheap lifting gym on Saturday and Sunday morning, then went swimming again at another location of the fancy gym on Sunday afternoon. It's all super fun and positive for my health.

Since my wife isn't working full time, she's been able to spend a bunch of time helping her sister, who's dealing with a tough medical issue.

I might replace my 5 year old phone. Still deciding.

I continue to highly value food delivery. What a time saver.

I currently have both an Amazon Fire Stick and a Roku connected to my TV, both 4k. I couldn't decide.

I am fully engaged in leveling my job as a skill, because it is fun. In the past 60 days I've picked up 4 books on the skill and finished 3. I continue meeting with my peers weekly, to both get feedback and have an audience for ongoing progress. I had to bring my boss up to speed, because there's been so much improvement his leadership decisions weren't making sense. The impact has snowballed enough that I spend most of my week on making things better.

I am working on finding community around the skill, beyond my current employer. I finished about 45 hours of related podcasts, provided by one of the authors I've been reading. I sold my boss on a conference hosted by another of the authors, about 4 months from now. Outside of getting exposure to additional ideas there, it is timed perfectly to motivate me for growth between now and then. I want to show up fully competent, so I can peer with and learn from experts, not just passively observe.

This time last year, I was very frustrated with work, because I had specialized all my expertise in the company. While it was valuable for them, it was extremly difficult to demonstrate that value in an open market. This is a complete shift in my position. I am rapidly developing one of the most desirable skills in the industry. I think leveraging it into higher pay this review cycle will be too soon, but there's much opportunity for a high score at the end of 2020.

Sadly, I did find because my new work is so technical, I have to choose between it and playing video games. I learned over a vacation that I can't have both.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:54 am

I ordered a moto g7, because of a prime day deal. I'm debating between staying on republic wireless or moving to mint mobile.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:01 am

Got the new phone setup on Mint Mobile. I jumped from a moto G on Android 5 to a moto G7 on android 9. Upgrades - 4x the RAM, 4x the processing power, 8x the storage and 6x the monthly cell data (over 4g lte instead of 3g). Same monthly plan price.

I promptly turned off all the other new features, making it as close to my old phone as possible. My bank had stopped supporting my old phone. Most apps hung and would not run at all if another was already open. The new phone fixes those two problems, which is great. It'll be cool to download podcasts over cell if needed.

Otherwise, I don't know if I'll enable and learn to use the new stuff. I am already too connected.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:04 pm

New phone is working well. I ran into hidden expenses of a case and extra charging cables. Another $25. If I want fast charging, I need to buy some more current usb to AC adapters as well. I'll see if it becomes a problem.

The effort I put into leveling my work stuff is starting to show results. My team is in a crunch mode and was able to deploy to various testing environments 10 times today. That never would have been possible in the past. The automation is letting us move faster. The parts that haven't been automated yet, we are needing to allocate additional people to, because they are falling behind.

I hit a big milestone with what I've been doing, and am now pausing to read more. Up until now, my efforts have been focused on whatever looks fun or useful. Since I am making up the work and doing it, I've had zero need to justify myself to anyone. I think with a more deliberate approach, I can quantitatively demonstrate value. That could help ensure I pick the right things to improve. It might also set me up to earn more, very quickly.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:05 am

Big work trip this week. The changes I've made are already gaining momentum:

1. We're moving forward on a direct report to help with the new skill I've been leveling. A strong internal candidate is lined up. During the conversation, I was able to plant seeds for a multi-year vision that would transform how 30+ people work, which would ripple strongly through the entire company.

2. With no prompting on my part, my boss suggested we nominate me for a designation that starts the partner path. That path takes 10+ years to play out. I'm unlikely to work that long, but it's nice to be recognized. I need to jump through the hoops and get approved by the board. It's very doable.

3. Another department supporting the skill I'm leveling has become a bottleneck. Two new people are being rotated in. Both privately expressed interest in doing things my new way. Once they get established, I think we'll see change there.

If bringing more people into the fold goes as I expect, it will snowball into a rapid cultural shift. I am pursuing a proven solution to a well understood problem. It is gaining traction and people love to join a winning thing.

A lot of this was unexpected. The last time I went to the office was 7 weeks ago. The meeting with my boss was sudden and unplanned. I anticipated an argument over my refusal to visit more than once a month. Nope, it seems that conflict has been totally absorbed. I am living a new normal. The gamble on aligning my lifestyle patterns with my personality is paying off.

On the frugal side of things. I got my bank to reverse an $36 overdraft charge on my checking account. All it cost was a phone call and a lecture. My rule of never paying a bank penalty fee remains unbroken.

Edit - I'm also going to track spending for August and September. I'm not impressed with myself for triggering the overdraft.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:05 pm

Tracking rules are mostly the same as when I started this thread. One change - I now pay for most of my spouse's expenses and am including them in the recurring total. Going into August, I have rough expectations of:

Recurring: $1450
Food: $500
Help: $200
Shopping: $100
Work Travel: $300

A first pass at the recurring numbers are broken down below. I'll review at the end of August.

Property Tax 366
Property Insurance 60
Assessments 250
Auto Insurance 47
Car Registration 12
Umbrella Insurance 21
Health Insurance 0
Dental Insurance 0
Life Insurance 0
Internet 0
Electric 64
Gas 50
Water 45
Garbage 11
Gym 110
Netflix 13
Cell Phone 20
Cat food and litter 88
Spouse Food 260
Cloud Data Backup 11
Garbage 12
Company Giving Fund 10

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:23 pm

August 2019 Total - $2881 of $2550 budget

Good – Reality check

Bad – Eating myself poor. Declined an offer from Chase that would have netted $400 in bonuses for 3-4 hours of work. The way I am tracking dollars right now makes it a trailing metric with very delayed feedback. It is also labor intensive and can rot away, causing me to lose sight of reality. It's a little crazy, but $500 of waste gets lost in the noise of my financial transactions these days.

Next Month - $2500 target. I'll ease up on work a bit, which should release some spending pressure. Maybe I'll find a better tracking approach.

Food - $758 of 500 budget

Good – My food has been easy and delicious. I am ending the month with a high food inventory. This is cheap time.

Bad – I've been feeding myself by buying whatever I want, from wherever I want. It's expensive. I paid $20 for 4lbs of cherries. They are half gone in 2 days. I tried an $8 bottle of olive oil, out of curiousity. I picked up a $45 whiskey sampler, despite having 5 bottles at home.

Next Month – $600 target. I think September will naturally be a little lower. I am going to use my food inventory and at least read prices.

Eating Out - $230 of $0 budget

Good – Zero time or energy wasted on the food problem.

Bad – Home food is superior, but I am not planning to eat it.

Next Month – $200 target. A lot of this is buying back time, I'm not going to press hard.

Help - $120 of $200 budget

Good – House is clean and we are treating the house keeper well.

Bad – Help costs are hidden in other expenses - food and work travel. There was a $325 charge in July to fix my AC, that didn't flow through to personal capital. Dunno if I am missing stuff.

Next Month – $200 target. Furnace clean and check. Buffer.

Shopping - $128 of $100 budget

Good – Most of this was books to improve at work.

Bad – Youtube tricked me into buying a month of premium. Not even remotely worth it.

Next Month – $100 target. I'll be surprised if I get that high.

Work Travel - $256 of $300 budget

Good – I was present and engaged while at the office. Unhappy with my hotel, I negotiated a penalty free cancellation for next month's travel with Priceline, so I can stay at a better location. I was able to tip an especially industrious Uber driver 200%, the max allowed via the app. I did not get sick from travelling.

Bad – I bought my August hotel in May, hoping to beat high Summer travel costs. I ended up overpaying by about $50.

Next Month – $200 target. Fall hotels are cheaper and will allow a preferred location with lower Uber costs.

Recurring Expenses - $1389 of $1450 budget

Good – Lowered membership tier at fancy gym and scheduled hold for 10/1. Adjusted recurring amount to reflect annualized cost.

Bad – NA.

Next Month – $1389 Target.

Scott 2
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:36 am

I spent a few hours this morning looking into better financial tracking options.

Most of the time was learning to use my current online tool for budgeting, and then reconciling transactions over the past 90 days. I think this is my best option for actionable feedback. Data still trails by a few days and has quality issues, but the process is very likely to persist through busy times in my life. Used as a relative measure, I think it can drive behavior.

Shortcomings - I found a few missing transactions. My spending tends to be bumpy, which makes some categories meaningless on a monthly or even quarterly basis. The trailing data capture prevents accurate, automated monthly reconciliation. Cash transactions cannot be added. When my wife and I split a transaction, I cannot easily account for it. I need to use the default categories to minimize administrative effort.

I still think about my money as posted in the journal, but I'll probably stop analyzing it this way after September.

Playing with the tooling also highlighted my income and investment tracking shortcomings. Essentially, I watch my net worth as a high score and verify no money has unexpectedly gone missing. Once a year, I make a rough pass at my overall income and expenses. Using that, I level accounts and adjust automatic allocation to investments. Otherwise, I blindly index and re-balance, with no tracking of performance or even expectations around it.

I originally setup my online tool in hopes of making income and investing side more transparent. However, the software could not automatically detect my 401k allocations. I manually input them a few years ago, but the settings were quickly lost, so I gave up. I am not sure my behavior would change much with better data, but I am thinking about it again. The online tool also misses the tax picture, which my manual process roughly gets at.

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