What I Spend

Where are you and where are you going?
bostonimproper
Posts: 114
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by bostonimproper »

I think you're making the right decision with path 3. I spent a year-long period doing intense work travel like five years ago and I still have family members ask me if I have to travel a lot, even though I've changed employers twice since then. Clearly I was just that miserable that it stuck in people's minds. Sleeping in a hotel room alone and being thrown off from all your routines sucks.

bigato
Posts: 2360
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by bigato »

I like your choice. Hopefully that will free mental energy that you’ll then be able to use towards further improvements.

mathiverse
Posts: 64
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by mathiverse »

Hi Scott 2,

I read your entire journal. Thanks for suggesting it in the other thread I made! I often increase my spending due to work stress as well. I'm trying to curb and get past that though because I'm pretty unhappy with the whole full time lifestyle and I'm not sure it's sustainable for me under circumstances where I have a choice like I do. It was really interesting reading your story!

I hope your company let's you reduce your travel. That's one of the parts of my job that is the worst as well.
Last edited by mathiverse on Tue Dec 31, 2019 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Thanks, glad it was of interest.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Around 7 years ago, I ordered a king size bed that I hated. An exchange lead to one marginally less worse, but I was out $2k.

I slept on that bed for a year, before replacing it with a new king size bed, about $1.5k.

I couldn't bear to part with a near-new $2k bed, so for 6 years, I've had both king sized beds in my bedroom. The room was useless for anything else. Changing sheets and pillow cases was an enormous hassle, so I'd go months without doing it.

This week, we finally dragged the bad mattress downstairs, opening 42 sq.ft. of floor space in the bedroom. We also trimmed the pillow load down by more than half. I have clean sheets. I've used the extra space for pre-bed yoga multiple times. Provided I can sustain the yoga pattern, I think this move alone will be good for a point off my peak BS numbers.

There's some other changes we are working to make - reduce cat litter tracking, optimize kitchen usability, optimize bathroom usability. These are more time consuming and lower reward, but I'm hopeful that cumulatively they'll get me another point or so of BS reduction.


The king size mattress is in the middle of my living room for now. I am enjoying the novelty and working on fully letting go. It's still good!

reepicheep
Posts: 292
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by reepicheep »

I love this story.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

December 2019 Total (Couple) - $2,432
Groceries - $839.07
Insurance - $280.27
Home Maintenance - $250.00
Work Travel - $245.67
Entertainment - $222.14
Utilities - $207.72
Restaurants - $204.17
Clothing/Shoes - $83.28
Healthcare/Medical - $64.93
Automotive - $54.61
Education - $33.53
Pets/Pet Care - $5.63


Much better than last month - on track to my estimate. Unusual expenses - insurance, 20lbs of protein, year of online yoga classes, fancy eating, extra work travel. December is a high income month. Between meeting the 401k cap, dividends and year end bonus, at least triple normal. A couple treats slipped in as a result.

I think January will be closer to $2000. Food inventory is high, very little work travel planned and education queues are full. I've also decided to stop ordering restaurant delivery. It escalated to multiple times a week and is not a constructive pattern. The evening online yoga classes will help with this, because they don't work well if my stomach is too full.

The big spending risk, is if I finally take action on more expensive house problems. I suspect I'm too lazy, but the fridge especially is an issue. I am sitting on the kitchen floor multiple times a week, for 5-10 minutes a time, carefully packing/unpacking food to fit. The other option, of putting less in the fridge, is at odds with high produce consumption and bulk food prep. The fridge is also loud and can dominate the sound of our open floor plan. On the other hand, I've been living this way for about 7 years, since I bought the cheapest possible option. I can keep going by default.

There are similar issues with the dishwasher. It all ties in to managing the overall BS in my life. We did re-organize the bathroom to make things easier. My wife is setting up a taller litter box to hopefully help with the tracking issue, this weekend.

I made the mistake of looking at portfolio performance over the last 3 months, relative to the S&P500. Oof. My asset allocation is deliberate and was earmarked for buying a new house. But I missed out having so much cash! I'm not buying in now, so my strategy will stay the course, but it still hurts to look. At some point, I need to improve my asset allocation and investment income tracking, creating a feedback loop. Certainly it will happen whenever I finally FIRE. Before then would be smarter.


There's finally enough couple tracking data to get a quarterly total:

Q4 2019 Total (Couple) - $8,276
Groceries - $2,206.69
Entertainment - $995.06
Home Maintenance - $788.93
ATM/Cash - $703.00
Restaurants - $695.66
Insurance - $525.39
Utilities - $482.78
Work Travel - $478.44
Travel - $376.23
Pets/Pet Care - $258.25
Healthcare/Medical - $241.86
Automotive - $223.32
Education - $217.52
Clothing/Shoes - $83.28

Cutting $2500 from that top line number would be very doable. I guess that is our quarterly consumption of luxury.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Got my 2020 comp today. I'm not sure what to think. It's a weird thing. Higher pay means larger increases in pay. In absolute terms, the numbers seem unfounded. Yet, I have a rough sense of what a level or two above me is paid. Relative to them, I don't get much at all. I don't even know if my pay is "good".

On the other end, I joined an online book club related to my profession. Participants are from all over the globe. Some make double or triple what I do. Others make half or a third. The quality of contribution appears uncorrelated to geographic region, even though I know compensation is.

In many ways, my professional sophistication is well behind the curve. But, it doesn't determine earnings. I have a title, that corresponds to a level, which produces an industry and location specific salary. The biggest differentiators have little to do with my ability.

Tech claims to be meritocracy, but that's only true in the most immediately local context, if at all. While I've been able to work the system to my benefit, the arbitrary nature makes me a little crazy.

The increase in pay isn't going to make the travel conversation easier. I've requested a meeting with my boss, under the context of my overall 2020 plan. It'll be a few weeks. Faced with the problem, he might take months to find resolution, as well.

In the meantime, I am executing the 2020 plan, which includes aggressive professional development. I've also started paying more attention to the concept of remote-first companies. If the travel thing doesn't resolve well, they might hold interest for me. I like getting paid to be right on the internet.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Halfway through the month, spend is trending extremely low - $555 as a couple so far. I think we'll land higher than $1100, but it could be a PR.

Net worth changes seem irrational between my raise and the market run up. It makes me want to sell my stocks, even though I know I'm reallocating by pushing automated investments into a heavy cash weighting. Given that I also regret the gains I'm missing out on holding cash, my portfolio probably reflects my risk tolerance.

Work pressure has escalated, due to growth driven personnel changes. I've already pushed back on additional travel requests twice this month. I had to work from 5-8 Monday night. I'm on track to work from midnight to whenever we are done, each of the first two Saturdays in February. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Option 4 - (double down on career) is probably casually available to me, way sooner than I expected, with far less grinding than I anticipated. It's going to make the travel conversation (effectively declining option 4), that much harder.

While I can't stop thinking about it, I am also not looking forward to the discussion, not at all. I feel like I'm disappointing people, ungrateful, giving up, selfish, etc. So many people spend their career working towards the path I'm prepared to casually disregard, over an activity many people would love to do. I signed up for an extra recurring conference call, in an effort to feel like less of an asshole, when I refuse to come to the office.

It's bleeding into my non working time, for sure.

On the other hand, the online book club has been great fun. There are much better ways to build software than I get to today. I really enjoy learning about it. I binged an audio book Saturday, a paper book Sunday. Reconciling that with my current work experience confuses me further. Unilaterally hating it would be much, much simpler.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

Rather than force a confrontation on travel, I've decided to simply decline what I don't want to do, as it comes up.

I have a strong need to resolve cognitive dissonance, which I romanticize as going through my problems. It can express as turning a minor issue into a significant conflict. Based on my work week, that could be what is happening here.

So, I'm going to relax, say yes to what I want, no to what I don't, and assume everything will be fine. I'll have to fake it for awhile, but it's my best option.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

The shift in mindset has made an immediate impact. I was rebuilding my mental model with all my over-analyzing, but it's now working well.

I'd been struggling with how to approach my work goals for 2020. I was able to bang them out in about 20 minutes this morning. They seem obvious now that my head is clear.

Simplifying finances at home... Rather than carefully tracking transactions that are mine vs. my wife, I an getting her an authorized user credit card. That will encapsulate a bunch of easy to resolve, but annoying, passing of money back and forth. Especially with the automated online budget tracking, it's an obvious change. We probably should have done it earlier.

I'm going to try the audible year subscription, making a habit of some deeper learning. I'll drop my secondary podcasts to support the additional listening time. 12 audio books will be roughly 2 hours a week. Easy.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1260
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: What I Spend

Post by classical_Liberal »

Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:45 pm
I have a strong need to resolve cognitive dissonance, which I romanticize as going through my problems. It can express as turning a minor issue into a significant conflict. Based on my work week, that could be what is happening here.
I'm with you on this. I'm amazed how you were able to just "flip the switch", and a couple of days later feel so much better about it all. That is generally not something I can do. Distract myself for awhile, yes, but to so quickly accept the cognitive dissonance of an issue and let it go, that's impressive.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

That is the upside of my brain needing a systemic model of all things. Once the pieces fit, they fit.

The journal does over-simplify two big factors:

1. Work events since the start of the year are significant. It could be 6-12 months before I can discuss them in a public journal.
2. Dozens of hours of discussion with my wife over the past month. I've been a broken record.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

January 2020 Total (Couple) - $2,191
Groceries - $692.95
Home Maintenance - $471.06
Healthcare/Medical - $383.54
Education - $131.43
Utilities - $129.64
Insurance - $125.00
Entertainment - $77.34
Restaurants - $72.16
Automotive - $59.21
Gifts - $35.05
Pets/Pet Care - $14.54

Lots of unusual expenses this month - $130 on audible, $90 on a smoothie blender, almost $400 on medical, $125 on my wife's yoga teacher insurance. My big indulgence was $180 on a couple bottles of premium whiskey. It goes on sale in January for some reason. I bought it when I decided my work travel issue will be ok.

The blender is only a week in, but so far I'm enjoying the novelty. I have a habit of missing meals while working. If it helps, the cost is easily justified. Restaurant costs are also down more than 50%. It's been a full month without any food delivery, which was my prior solution to busy work days.

Audible is primarily intended for work books, so classed under education. I am finding free entertainment books are available as well. Later this year, I'll get my library card re-activated, so I can use their audio books. I am finding them an efficient source of new ideas - a nice change from the more casual nature of podcasts.

Medical is an early symptom of insurance changes at my employer. The past few years, we've been able to use a drug assistance program to pay my wife's max out of pocket. The plan changed this year, so I'm expecting around $3500 of medical expenses for her. Boo. We're trying to work the system and get that down, but I'm planning for the worst.


Next month will run close to $2200 again. My wife has a couple day trips planned, and my gym membership is up for renewal ($275). Depending on how well the dental insurance works, maybe a few hundred there as well. I am hoping medical bills ($3k) and income taxes ($1-4k???) defer to at least March.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

I got a library card this weekend. I am setup on both Libby (Overdrive) and Hoopla as of today. There is a surprising breadth of audio content. I have a week to listen to Michelle Obama's book. It's like 20 hours. We'll see if I make it. I technically had a card, but it was 6 years expired. I made replacing it higher priority, because I was wasting time on the free audible originals (not good!), despite having book credits. Old habits die hard.


Work travel did come up during my review. I made my intentions and reasons clear. While my boss did not approve, I've been heavily involved in annual planning since then. I think it's going to be fine. I've also managed to snowball a culture shift around video conferencing, with my team literally cleaning out the IT department's supply of cameras. I am surprised how much better conference calls on camera work. It will make the travel shift much easier to sell.

I have mixed feelings about work on my terms. It's too good to walk away from, but I think part of me hoped to be fired. Last weekend, I worked from midnight to 7am on Saturday night. This weekend it was midnight to 5am. We're taking steps to stop the odd hours long term, but they really suck. In an effort to offset the health impact, I abstained from caffeine/alcohol and made yoga a higher priority. I am still running a slight cold.

On the other side, during annual planning, I sold a bunch of positive changes to how we work. I don't know how to do most of it. Learning is going to be very fun, and is something I cannot do without a team at my disposal. If the changes stick, we'll be a much more desirable employer, which will create a positive feedback cycle in coming years.


It seems likely I'll be changing gyms. My current box gym continues to degrade. Most recently, someone marked one of the heavy bags with gang signs. A more affluent box gym opened nearby (turf, platforms, chains, etc.). If that doesn't check out, I'll probably suck it up and pay for a premium gym membership year round ($80/month!). I'd gain ongoing access to swimming, hot tub and sauna. If not for the drive, I'd have already done it.

Scott 2
Posts: 1423
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What I Spend

Post by Scott 2 »

I got a deal on the new box gym. After a 35% discount, it was cheaper than my old one. I did pay for 15 months up front. There's always a chance they close and I'm out $275. The owners are new, staff gave up the discount very easily, etc.

I finished Michelle Obama's book. Audio content works really well for me. I've got Jocko's leadership book going now. It's over the top, but ok for a free library read. I can't tolerate his podcast, so this is a nice distillation of the ideas.

I worked the last 3 weekends. This weekend I don't have to work on Saturday or Sunday. It feels like a treat. I don't love that. Looking at my calendar through the year, I'm slated to work 3 holiday weekends. I am trying to change it. Even with travel improved, I remain conflicted about the energy going to work.

Net worth is doing great. The market rebound made an impact. I am sitting on too much cash and at a loss for constructive investments.

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