What I Spend

Where are you and where are you going?
Scott 2
Posts: 1343
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:17 pm

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.

Scott 2
Posts: 1343
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:03 pm

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.

Posts: 208
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Frita » Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:21 pm

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.

Scott 2
Posts: 1343
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:56 pm

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.

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