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Old 02-25-2011, 08:13 PM
 
1,890 posts, read 1,354,744 times
Reputation: 2023
Default Your monthly Budget-How Low Can YOU Go?

With all the talk about the need to live on a shoestring, Iím wondering what a shoestring looks like for some folks. There are some costs we can control and some we cannot control. I know the State you live in and the house you live in can be a big factor in costs. I have tried to trim my home cost by moving to a very small duplex house, which keeps my real estate taxes down and utilities down. But even with doing what I could to ready myself for retirement, there is just so low you can go. I definitely have some discretionary spending in my budget, and would give them up if I had to. Here are my monthly stats. What are yours?

Florida
Own home, 1000 sq. ft, no mtg.
Real Estate Taxes; Less than $100 month
State taxes: No State Income taxes
Utilities: (elec., water, sewer) $265
Car Insur: $120
Gas: $60
Home Insur (no hurricane coverage) $55
Medicare Supplemental insurance and RX Plan D $310
Medications $100
Part A&B Medicare $113
Gardner: $100 (this one I canít let go)
HOA $20
Housekeeper : $160 (this one I could give up if I had to)
Satellite TV : 100 (This I am trying to work up to letting go)
Internet: $45 (No way)
Phone: $40 (but soon to be $20 when I get rid of land line)
Food $500 (for two adults plus 2 dogs)
Total $2,138

Now this is only monthly re-occurring expenses. It doesnít cover:
Dental, vets, auto tags and other fees, gifts, clothing, entertainment, books, home repairs, appliance replacements, auto repairs, travel, take out food or pizza, expenses for elderly mother and brother, income taxes etc, etc. So now your up to over $3,000 a month.

I could get rid of TV, housekeeper, and maybe cut food budget back another $100 mo. Thatís a savings of $360 a month. But thatís it.
I canít get rid of car. I need a car where I live. I know all of you have similar expenses. I know a lot of you spend a lot more, but how many can spend much less? My expenses seem low to me. I don't know if it's possible to go any lower.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:37 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
74,365 posts, read 34,468,271 times
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Your utilities seem a bit high.
What is the breakdown between the three ?

I'm in Texas
water: $22
electric: $100 (summer highest bill)
sewer: $0 (I have a septic)

Now I do not water the lawn. I live on acreage and only water around the foundation by hand when needed at the height of summer (we have hot summers, no rain, clay soil)

I also keep my A/C set at 78-79 in the summer. That did not happen overnight..it was a 1-2 degree change over the course of time and the family got acclimated. Now when family comes to visit I do lower it for their comfort.

Got rid of cable a few years ago. After a month the withdrawal symptoms went away
Plenty to watch on the internet. I do watch my "Burn Notice" on hulu. For big sports games, if you are a fan, then treat yourself to Chili's as the bar section has 3-4 TV's all blasting the games or go to a sports bar to catch the big game.

As far as insurance (home & car) you can check to see what your deductibles are and raise them to what you could comfortably afford. That lowers your premiums.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:58 PM
 
4,749 posts, read 8,453,141 times
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My recurring cost is about $850-900 a month. I budget $300 additional for future expenses that I put aside. My total cost to live is then $1200 a month, but I do not reach that level often. Beyond that I am able to further save and invest some of my income. I give money away, just to keep myself balanced. I own my home, no mortgage; two cars; no debt. I can reduce my recurring cost to about $600 a month easily by not owning a car. Even below $500 with some other reductions.

Your food cost is very high. I budget $125 a month but I spend much less. I can easily feed myself on about $70-100 a month. I have no pets.

If you can afford what you spend then you have no problems, so why worry about reducing your expenses but if you are seeing problems then it will difficult. Once you live at a certain level, then is hard to live more frugally. I, on the other hand, have always lived well below my means. So, when I got disabled and lost my income--It was very easy for me to even live on less.

You would think if you are as frugal as I am that money is constantly on your mind. No, I hate thinking and dealing with money. It bores me. Looking at bank and investment statements makes me ill. Frugality and simplicity is freedom from desires. I am so happy that I have little money--the less to think about--that is why giving some away is important.

I do have a budget but I rarely think too hard about money and what I spend; I have no idea what I have in my wallet, on a daily basis. Every month, I can see that I do live within my budget. I use credit cards every month and I always pay them off--I have never paid interest on a credit card. I never wrote a bad check and I have always paid my debts on time.

I have no wife and no dependents. If I did, then my life would be much more complicated, expensive and stressful. A woman would never tolerate my lifestyle---they seem to always want more and more and more.

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 02-25-2011 at 10:39 PM..
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:05 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW / CO / SA TX / Thailand
10,903 posts, read 17,967,210 times
Reputation: 7778
Quote:
Originally Posted by modhatter View Post
,,,I.E. now SR is speaking
WA
home, 4000 sq. ft, $350 @3.1%. (could write a check to pay off house, but for 3.1% I'm not gonna do that today)
Real Estate Taxes; $1000 month (Assessor says $1m, market says $500k, cost basis $100k)
State taxes: No State Income taxes
Utilities: (elec., ) $83
Car Insur: $30
Gas: $00 GAS-... I don't do GAS (fryer grease... 52 mpg since 1976 - StealthRabbit)
Home Insur --- $55
Health insurance and RX Plan $130 (PT job)
Medications $10
Part A&B Medicare $(age <60)
Gardner: -
HOA -
Housekeeper : -
Satellite TV : -
Internet: $45 -
Phone: $23 -
Food $100 (for two adults plus 1 dog 2 cats) Actually only $76 for Feb
Total $1,826 (55% property taxes... went from $800 / yr to $12,000 / yr)
Entertainment / Travel (my weakness... wanderlust, gone more than home if possible ... I travel for about $40/day, INCLUDING air, food, lodging, rental car (then there is GAS $40 / day for a 400 mile run )
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyTexan View Post
I'm in Texas
OK, lets have the Property Taxes (since we hear so much grief from TX residents. I have seen 3-5% as I was looking in TX) Mine would go from $12,000 / yr to $50,000/yr if I moved my shack to TX @ 5%. They would only be only $36,000 /yr @ 3% BTW, It is not my shack the assessor likes, 50% of my tax bill is based on my dirt (and I don't even have mineral (or water) rights ). I do think it is a bit over the top, that the state OWNS the 'run-off' from my rain gutters (and your's too). @ 120" rain / yr I could be bottling it and sending to CA and selling for $1/qt = $1.2M, just from my roof - that will just about cover my taxes when I'm age 65 and eligible for Property tax relief !
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:17 AM
 
6,151 posts, read 5,433,545 times
Reputation: 6093
Mine are pretty much under control.


I am seriously looking at dumping cable television and going with netflicks with my high speed dsl. Of any recurring bill we have it is cable television I hate the most. Our retirement income should be $3,608.00/month so there isn't a whole lot left over.

Medical for two is less than most and here we are lucky. My wife worked for state government (one of the states not in so much trouble) ending with a very small pension but worlds best medical. A gold plated plan that includes $5 pharmacy, $10 co-pay and $2,500 max out of pocket for couple we can purchase for $725/couple until age 65. After age 65 it converts to a gold plated medicare supplemental insurance that is free for her and less than $100/month to add me on. Her pension and benefits have survivorship so should she pass before me I still receive it. Here I recognize we are very fortunate.

The green items I could drop if I had to. The her money/my money is sort of walking around pocket money we could drop. If we dropped off yard service, my money, her money and the airplane we could both survive on $1,962.92/month.

The taxes are federal income taxes. My state exempts $35k per person or $70k per couple from state taxes on retirement income.

Our small town allows street use of golf carts as long as we stay off state highways which is easy enough to do. It really is a lovely way to get around for 9 months out of 12, we can get anywhere we need to be in 20 minutes and it is easy to see us go a month at a time without starting the car.

My big expense is flying but retirement has/will force me to step down from an Arrow to an C-150 cutting my flying costs in half. When I develop heart problems, diabetes or most any of the age related health problems I will lose my FAA medical certificate and sell the airplane which would be a huge cost savings. But hey, a guy has to have a hobby and as I told my wife it's the airplane or drinking at strip clubs.

Last edited by nicet4; 02-26-2011 at 04:41 AM..
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Old 02-26-2011, 06:51 AM
 
Location: New England
395 posts, read 349,356 times
Reputation: 325
Great thread. The following is a combination of what I actually spend (in black) and what I've budgeted (in green).

Monthly expenses/NY (Long Island):
monthly maintenance fee $811 (own my own co-op apartment)
electricity $62
cable $116 (includes TV, Internet, and phone)
gas for car $140
car washes $10
car repairs/maintenance $85 (two cars, one that daughter uses)
food $350
entertainment (incl. books, eating out, movies, etc.) $250
cell phones (family share plan for 4) $145
subscriptions/memberships $40
storage unit $96
car insurance $161 (two cars)
homeowners insurance $27
clothing $100
postage $5
home/office/personal $150
gifts $25
cat $25
transportation/parking $150
vacation $175
laundry $20
medical unreimbursed $20?

Vacation means trips to see daughters who live plane-rides away, not actual vacations. I'm not a "vacation" person. Real estate taxes on my co-op are about $3000/year and are included in our monthly maintenance fee. I am also paying off a car loan and a small home equity loan.

I recently got my cable bill cut from $147 to $116. I called the cable company to cancel my phone line and cut back on the TV package and they offered me a reduced rate for the next year. After a year I plan to cut out the phone and (if I can stand it) cut back to basic cable, which will save another $60/month. I realize cable TV is a luxury, but it's been hard for me to think about living without the Weather Channel, History, Discovery, and football!! Although, as HappyTexan suggested, I could go to the bar for football. I often do, anyway, because my team is not either of the NY teams and their games are not usually televised here.

I could also cut back on food cost and entertainment. I bring lunch to work every day and eat out a few times a month, mostly at Applebee's type places. I feel like I save a lot in my home bills, and it's nice to have a few small pleasures.
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Old 02-26-2011, 07:01 AM
 
Location: New England
395 posts, read 349,356 times
Reputation: 325
nicet, I'm a pilot, too, and I hear you about those concerns. I had to sell my Cherokee 140 a few years ago because it was just getting too expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis. And my flying has become almost nonexistent since...but that's another story. I did get my expenses under control, looking at the bright side.

Have you thought about going the LSA route? Stay away from the medical, sell the Arrow and buy one of those little mosquitos (maybe with a partner?). Or rent from time to time. Then you can continue flying and not be shut down by the FAA, provided your medical has not been denied or revoked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicet4 View Post

My big expense is flying but retirement has/will force me to step down from an Arrow to an C-150 cutting my flying costs in half. When I develop heart problems, diabetes or most any of the age related health problems I will lose my FAA medical certificate and sell the airplane which would be a huge cost savings. But hey, a guy has to have a hobby and as I told my wife it's the airplane or drinking at strip clubs.
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:34 AM
 
1,890 posts, read 1,354,744 times
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LiveContent: I still don't see how you do it. I know from your past posts you have the food budget down really low (I'm working on it) I know you don't have cable, and I know you have a small house. You live in colder climate, so you must need heat in the winter. Isn't that expensive? I know you have a car, so you must have insurance. Maybe you don't have medical. That is a real big part of my nut. I know you have real estate taxes, and personal income taxes, so I guess I just can't imagine how you do it. I do hear you when you say you grew up this way, so it's easy for you.

Happy Texan: Your water and electric is really low. I try and keep my thermostat at 78 too. Maybe it's the rates. Even called in electric company for an audit two months ago when I got bill for $179, and I had not turned my AC on one day during that billing period. They really had no answers. Just agreed it was "a bit high" for that time of year.

StealthRabbit: $1,000 a month for property taxes. That must be one nice house. I do know about Texas Real Estate Taxes though. It's amazing even with the high taxes your other expenses are soooooooo low. I know about your unbelievable food costs, but $83 for utilities and $30 for car insurance. How in the world do you do that?

Nice4: Yours looks about normal. My medical is what messes mine up.

Sweepea: Looks right for family with two cars, but again your electric. What state are you in? Really beginning to question my electric bill (but it includes AC) But then I don't have to have heat in the winter months. Beginning to question cost of utilities here in Florida. Wonder if it's them or me.
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Old 02-26-2011, 09:42 AM
 
6,151 posts, read 5,433,545 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweepea View Post
nicet, I'm a pilot, too, and I hear you about those concerns. I had to sell my Cherokee 140 a few years ago because it was just getting too expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis. And my flying has become almost nonexistent since...but that's another story. I did get my expenses under control, looking at the bright side.

Have you thought about going the LSA route? Stay away from the medical, sell the Arrow and buy one of those little mosquitos (maybe with a partner?). Or rent from time to time. Then you can continue flying and not be shut down by the FAA, provided your medical has not been denied or revoked.
I've been flying for 40 years having started out in my much younger early days as a flight instructor and charter pilot. Flying is just something I've always done and the way I afforded it was to live down in other areas. One example is when I bought a house it was always half of what we could afford because I had the airplane too. Not a bad house, we never lived in a dump, but in a safe enough and clean enough middle class neighborhood.

The Arrow got to be expensive to the point of being ridiculous and with fuel going up like it is (Avgas is nearly double what is at the neighborhood pumps) even a 150 is becoming a concern. Keeps going like it is and and we will look like England where the only ones left that can afford it is royalty and politicians.

On the plus side if I do have to get rid of the airplane we'd have over $1,000/month to spend on other things because an airplane is something I always thought I would have and planned for.
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Old 02-26-2011, 11:13 AM
 
4,749 posts, read 8,453,141 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modhatter View Post
LiveContent: I still don't see how you do it. I know from your past posts you have the food budget down really low (I'm working on it) I know you don't have cable, and I know you have a small house. You live in colder climate, so you must need heat in the winter. Isn't that expensive? I know you have a car, so you must have insurance. Maybe you don't have medical. That is a real big part of my nut. I know you have real estate taxes, and personal income taxes, so I guess I just can't imagine how you do it. I do hear you when you say you grew up this way, so it's easy for you...

My food bill is low because I know how to buy good food cheap and prepare these foods properly. For one example, I like good whole wheat bread. One of my sources, I buy at the Hottess Outlet Store. The Nature's Pride, 24 oz., 12 Grain, is $1 a loaf and it is sold before the expiration date (Regular price at retail is $4.19). There is no way I can home bake this bread at a $1 a loaf. Hottess is Interstate Brands Corp, the largest US bakery and they manufacture other good products besides Hottess. It has 700 outlets across the country. I do not buy all the crappy little cakes--like twinkies, hottest cupcakes or Wonder Bread (agh) etc.

For example, I use the whole wheat bread, toasted with a nice homemade hummus (I have a large supply of dry garbanzos, that I bought cheap)--rarely do I buy expensive cured meats which would make the sandwich expensive and not as healthy. One slice with hummus gives me 8g of complementary protein, good fiber and complex carbs. and the multiple minerals, vitamins/nutrients from the varied grains.

No, I do not qualify for food relief, that is food stamps.

I do have a small house, not too old--built 1986. I have it is really well insulated with new energy efficient windows and extra insulation in the antic. I have a new energy efficient water heater which I keep on a low setting. My largest heating bill this season, during a very cold month, was $93, gas and electric.

I have two cars and I always have insurance. Rates are low because of my excellent driving record and my outstanding credit rating. The cars are old and I do not need collision. However, one car a 1994 has 73,000 miles and a 1996 has 42,000 miles. The cars are in good shape but the insurance would pay next to nothing with collision. I drive very litte about 2500 miles a year. Eventually, I will not be driving.

I have health insurance--Medicare with an Kaiser Senior Advantage HMO--$93 from medicare and $48 a month for Kaiser. I have many prescriptions, all generic.

I do pay taxes but they are low.

Livecontent
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