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Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:11 pm
by Scott 2
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.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:54 am
by Scott 2
I ordered a moto g7, because of a prime day deal. I'm debating between staying on republic wireless or moving to mint mobile.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:01 am
by Scott 2
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.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:04 pm
by Scott 2
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.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:05 am
by Scott 2
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.

Re: What I Spend

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

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:23 pm
by Scott 2
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.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:36 am
by Scott 2
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.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:25 pm
by Scott 2
I re-input the allocation percentages for my accounts that are not automatically broken down by my tracker. I also played around with the retirement assumptions. The numbers all look in line with my rough estimates. The projections really hate that I am holding around 18% of my portfolio in cash, due to current market conditions.

I am annoyed to see more missing transactions. The worst is a 17,500 check I wrote to buy my car earlier this year. Also several thousand dollars in 401k contributions. The aggregate numbers are correct, but losing transactions seems near unforgivable. I'll see what happens with my initial support ticket before chasing these down. Maybe chasing transactions is part of the tooling price.

I can't say the transaction issues inspire 100% confidence in the other numerical projections. It's another way to slice the data though.

I also categorized spending back through the 1st of the year. General merchandise sources like Amazon and Target add a lot of noise, as does cash, which annoys me. It's only a few percent of my annual spending, so my easiest option is to ignore it. I am somewhat inclined to structure future transactions for easy categorization. I have been spending an offensive amount of money on food. To date this year - $4800 on groceries and $1800 on restaurants. It's a little overstated because some spousal spending is in there, but still indulgent.

The biggest source of obfuscation is separation of finances between myself and my spouse. Every month there's hundreds of dollars of un-tracked flow between us, whenever it's easy for the other person to pay for something. Also the projections are blind to spousal spending and income. I have rough cut estimates for those, outside the online tool. They are probably close enough, but I am aware of the problem.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:39 pm
by Scott 2
Customer service for my financial tracking tool resolved all the missing transaction problems. They were very responsive. Using this software correctly is an obvious feedback improvement over the manual tracking I have been using. I believe it will support ongoing behavior modification. The delay in transactions posting does mean I'll need to wait until next weekend to update September spending.

Now that I have my asset allocations and returns clearly documented, I took a closer look at the financial planning services offered by the tracking company. I can see advantages over my current lazy approach, but the expected returns are equal to the associated fees. Some of the discrepancy comes from my immediate term choice to overweight cash, which is not a permanent asset allocation.

The remainder comes from a variety of small optimizations that would be a part time job to sustain manually. It's not worth my time to screw with today, and if I bought their help instead, I would effectively be dependent on the service longer term. Assuming full mental facilities, I cannot find a way to justify their service, especially considering cost to move into or out of their recommended position.

Unrelated - as of two weeks ago, I made the choice to stop trying so hard at work. The past 6 months were focused on intensive learning and process improvement. After picking off the low hanging fruit, additional growth is proving much harder to generate. Resourcing and bureaucracy constraints are challenging my efforts. I got frustrated enough earlier this month to take a mental health day.

This past week, I raised the concerns with my boss. To me - the implication of efforts stalling out, is I am working on the wrong things. If the changes were valued, resources would immediately be reallocated and bureaucracy side stepped. He doesn't agree, is happy with the pace of change, and thinks I am working on the correct things. So all I really need to is relax, and the status quo is easily maintained.

I doubt this will satisfy me long term. We are far behind on the technology curve, and industry is changing faster than we do. I really want the pace of improvements to change, at least to the point where we are gaining on the curve. I do think I uncovered a major flaw in my approach to trigger this. I've been focused on productivity improvements - responding more quickly to business needs, getting more results out of the same resources, making future changes easier, etc.

Productivity is what I want (it's fun and makes me more valuable), but for all our talk of innovation, my boss is driven by risk aversion. The company is making a lot of money, he's very close to cashing in on that, and he doesn't want to screw it up. I think appealing to that motivation might significantly shift my ability to affect change. I'll chill out for as long as I can stand it, then re-engage with the new strategy.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:43 pm
by 2Birds1Stone
Is your financial tracking tool PC? If so, I sat through their spiel and was very unimpressed.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 9:51 pm
by Scott 2
Yes. I have not listened to their sales pitch, though they are persistent in bugging me to. I like a chance to make money, so I did do a little research. The experience level of my "adviser" was underwhelming. I don't need him to read a slide deck to me.

The investing approach is presented very transparently on the site. It aligns with how I understand the back tested math to work, and I don't have a better approach. But chasing those final tenths of a percent in a return seems very tedious - complexity for the sake of "winning", without considering the overall practical implications. It also ignores the messiness inherent in an individual's personal finances. And there is minimal acknowledgment that our future market could be nothing like our past markets. So when even their own curated data shows I'd come out about even on the fees, I have no interest.

I do believe there are superior players in the market. I don't think I can afford their help.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:42 pm
by Scott 2
September 2019 Total - $2179 of $2500 budget

Good – Accurate expectations. Setup tooling to simplify future tracking, which immediately impacted behavior. Having conversations with spouse about next living situation.

Bad – Manual tracking time consuming. Model is blind to spousal assets and spending. Learned my employer is switching insurance providers next year. Next living situation likely to be more expensive than current.

Next Month - Switch to more passive tracking model. Couple special events. Might looking into better spousal tracking, but more likely in November. Need to figure out insurance during open enrollment. Might shop some houses. Playing with habitica app to drive better behaviors, which may have spending impacts.

Food - $420 of 500 budget

Good – Even a small amount of effort brought this back to more reasonable (but still luxurious) amounts. I still have a lot of food inventory. Resisted a deal on two bottles of premium whisky.

Bad – Got sick. Depended heavily on convenience foods. Food waste.

Next Month – New tracking model. Special events will provide some free food and understate grocery spending. Some spousal spending will appear.

Eating Out - $133 of $200 budget

Good – Paying a little attention made reducing this easy.

Bad – Still eating out a lot. Understated since I missed a $40 dinner being sick.

Next Month – New model. Atypical month with higher eating out expected. Some spousal spending will appear.

Help - $90 of $200 budget

Good – As planned

Bad – $30 of clean and check for furnace is my own laziness. I should learn to buy the humidifier pad off Amazon. Maybe next year.

Next Month – $300 target. House keeper. Help from a family friend.

Shopping - $15 of $100 budget

Good – Too busy to shop, just a book and movie.

Bad – I worry I am missing out on easy ways to make life better when discretionary spending is so low.

Next Month – Around $100. New model.

Work Travel - $132 of $200 budget

Good – I reduced my hotel stay from 2 nights to 1, using my company's negotiated rate. That allowed a closer hotel with free breakfast. Expense policy changed to pay hotel if I find reason for meetings over two days.

Bad – I travelled when sick. It was selfish and I regret it.

Next Month – Around $100. It's gonna be an odd month.

Recurring Expenses - $1389 of $1450 budget

Good – Work agreed to start paying cell phone.

Bad – Insurance provider changes at year end. Given my wife's medical needs, could be hugely expensive or disruptive to life.

Next Month – NA. New model.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:48 pm
by Scott 2
And here are numbers from the new passive tracking model:

September 2019 - $1525
Groceries - $516.67
Home Maintenance - $339.95
ATM/Cash - $203.00
Restaurants - $155.39
Travel - $132.36
Utilities - $99.00
Healthcare/Medical - $51.51
Entertainment - $18.98
Education - $8.49

August 2019 - $1717
Groceries - $816.23
Home Maintenance - $250.00
Utilities - $245.59
Restaurants - $207.57
Education - $88.70
Travel - $52.50
Automotive - $32.11
Entertainment - $24.98

July 2019 - $2006
Home Maintenance - $574.00
Pets/Pet Care - $346.63
Groceries - $307.61
Telephone - $299.80
Restaurants - $257.62
Utilities - $92.02
Healthcare/Medical - $51.51
Automotive - $36.18
Travel - $26.91
Entertainment - $13.98

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:34 am
by Scott 2
Sorted out the spousal finances tracking, getting everything into the same tool. Initial look back for her transactions was only 90 days, so it will take roughly 9 months to have a fully accurate picture. This resolved a lot of weird tracking issues with my logged transactions.

I had hoped to use the tracked spending for ongoing real time projections of retirement status, but it's really not practical. There are major one time events this year, based on my current high salary, that nearly double our typical spending.

With the more accurate household asset picture, I re-ran projections. Income during retirement really complicates the picture. Obviously social security is a huge estimated question mark. How long my wife continues to teach yoga is another. Now that's it's easy to vary the projections, it's likely I am being too conservative in other areas. It seems we're on track to a mid-FIRE at this point, far from extreme. I should probably be banned.

One of the more unpredictable factors, is possibility of an inheritance. It's something I normally assume zero value for. I've encouraged my parents to retire early and spend everything they have ever earned. I feel no entitlement to their assets and want them around as long possible. However, they are financially conservative, especially my Mom. My Dad continues to work, despite them probably having more than enough. It's likely my Mom will insist upon keeping expenses below social security income.

Barring a significant long term care expense, I think it's highly unlikely they manage a full portfolio draw down. Including an inheritance in my model dramatically changes the picture. Ignoring it means any benefit is largely wasted. I guess that's the point of estate planning, but what an uncomfortable topic. "Hey guys, have you thought about life expectancy? Long term care? How's the portfolio doing..."

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:43 pm
by Cheepnis
I don't think your spending level is really that far off average around here. I vote "nay" on the ban! Even though the renaissance man is the purported ideal of this community I think many of us, myself included, have not yet attained it. There's very little argument that Jacob's approach isn't great, but some, myself again included, are short of it and are with the additional risk/cost that entails.

My parents have let me in on their financial picture a little bit recently. My mom retired earlier this year and my dad is still working until Medicare kicks in or my final grandparent dies, at which point that inheritance will have them pretty set. My grandma is pretty frank about it her health declining and seeing as my dad is the executor is already taking actions to make the process as easy on him as possible, which are not conversations my dad likes having. Similarly, my parents have stated they want to leave both my brother and I something, which are conversations I don't like having!

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:17 pm
by Scott 2
I agree with you on the spending - there has been a drift over the years. I observe it on all retirement / money forums. The strategies work, people obtain wealth, but they want to remain in the community. So the community changes.

My wife talked to my mom about will and estate stuff, but in the other direction. Our will is due for some updates. I'll get to the conversation eventually.

I've put some time and money into making video conferencing an option for when I work remote. I already had a decent webcam, but my lighting was awful. $60 on a ring light, and I'm in pretty good shape. I have a diffuser and a muslin backdrop coming, but that should be it. I'll be $100 all in and I am getting great video from it. I did spend entirely too much time learning about streaming.

I should have done this before gambling on reducing my office trips. It's not quite being there in person, but much much better than only a phone call. I am hoping to foster a more collaborative culture over time, including when everyone is remote. I will lead by example and see what happens.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:03 pm
by Scott 2
My wife and I have been thinking more seriously about our next home. The biggest debate is around whether we are willing to pay the premium for a house with yard vs. a town home. After running the numbers on some sample properties, even after accounting for association dues, financial demand for a comparable house is about 20% higher than a town home. It turns out the efficiencies of sharing land, structure and labor outperforms the general wastefulness of an HOA. Some of this is because I have zero interest in taking care of a home and would hire out work.

The extra cost for a house is doable, but represents around a year and half of additional savings. Geographic region and single story living are priorities. That means available inventory could strongly influence our path. We are not under external pressure to buy, but I am impatient. We do have who appears to be a decent realtor helping us. I was surprised to complete loan pre-approval in a single day.

Money's not the primary consideration here, more what type of lifestyle we'd prefer. I like having the HOA worry about snow removal, exterior maintenance, lawn care, etc. I don't like talking to my neighbors, being told what to do, needing approval to change things, etc. A yard does open opportunities for things like a hot tub, garden, outdoor lifting, foster dogs. It's hard for me to say how all that balances out, even if prices were even.

One of the interesting aspects of this analysis, is finding my current town house is cost optimized for the area. While our association dues are a little high, relatively low taxes balance them out. I'd originally hoped to reduce ongoing living expenses in my next move, but that now seems unrealistic. At best I'll break even.

Real time tracking of spending is going well. I am at $700 for the month so far, well below prior months. I do expect some bigger purchases in the last third of the month, but that will put me on track to the planned budget. Part of this is due to a nasty cold I picked up at the end of September. I haven't been able to lift, which has my appetite way down.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:21 pm
by Frita
How interesting that you calculated the townhouse/condo option with the shenanigans of an HOA to be cheaper than a house. We found condo living easy to adjust to after having houses. Going back to a house has been tough for my spouse and me. Even our son is starting to see it.

Good job tracking your expenses. Before you know it, it’ll be Second nature.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:56 pm
by Scott 2
October 2019 Total (Individual) - $1485
Travel - $303.00
Groceries - $286.75
Home Maintenance - $250.00
Work Travel - $206.78
Utilities - $196.67
Restaurants - $160.64
Education - $44.03
Entertainment - $37.97

Work travel resulted in 6 nights away from home. Grocery spend is way down, both because of the travel and because it is being observed.

The passive model overstates my individual spending. Work ate a lot of my normal costs, including cell phone, which can now be expensed.

However, some spousal costs are blended into the groceries, restaurant and travel items. The picture is especially complicated because my wife came with to a work conference in Vegas. For around $1000, she was able to enjoy a fast travel (tours, eating out, etc.) 5 day trip, while staying at the 5 star conference hotel. We'd never budget for this otherwise.

Moving forward, I'm using combined spend for the tracking picture. Past two months data:

October 2019 Total (couple) - 2924
Travel - $777.19
ATM/Cash - $400.00
Groceries - $369.87
Entertainment - $259.50
Home Maintenance - $250.00
Restaurants - $232.34
Work Travel - $206.78
Utilities - $196.67
Automotive - $140.82
Education - $91.03

September 2019 Total (couple) - 2755
Groceries - $686.83
Travel - $559.19
Education - $416.49
Home Maintenance - $339.95
ATM/Cash - $203.00
Restaurants - $181.11
Entertainment - $165.03
Work Travel - $132.36
Utilities - $99.00
Healthcare/Medical - $51.51
Clothing/Shoes - ($79.05)

The couple numbers better reflect October's trip to Vegas. September shows high due to some yoga related travel and training my wife had. All the "exceptional" expenses are work driven (wife teaches yoga), so I am more comfortable with these numbers than might otherwise be expected.

I think November will be closer to $2200, largely depending on if we make any significant black Friday purchases. I am aware if every month has exceptional expenses, they really aren't, making our spend higher than estimated. That feedback is part of the reason to track this aggregated data.

We are watching for available housing in our desired area, but inventory has dried up for winter. In the meantime, my wife is going to arrange a couple foster dogs over the next two months. If it's something we enjoy, it would be a mark in favor of a house with yard. If not, a mark in favor of another townhouse.

Work is going well in general. They keep making it easier to stay employed. This week was a conference learning about something I enjoy, including $200 of free books. The next two months, I have a week off for each holiday. There's a nice holiday party coming. Video conferencing has improved my day to day engagement. My biggest challenge is chilling out and accepting the pace of change is slower than I prefer.

I am still tuning my exit strategy. I have no idea when it will ever be exercised, but having the plan in place makes life easier.