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s/o Oprah thread--frugality for the high income crowd - Page 3

post #41 of 141
Warning - harshness coming up!

It's not a budget problem. Line drying and using coupons won't do anything for you. You have a shopping addiction. You post your spending and see that it's negative every month, yet continue to walk into Target, make trades, and eat out. Until you come to the conclusion on your own that this is not the life you want to live, there is no helping your situation. Some of the very hard budgeting mamas here will agree that when you are truly frugal, you will agonize over every little purchase. I lost a $20 like a year ago and am still pissed about it.

Also, you are married, there should be no personal account and joint account. If nothing else, someone has to be there to hold you accountable for your spending. Maybe when you are spending DH's salary, you will rein in the shopping. As pp said, you need common goals.

To go along with what you intended this thread to be about... We're making $185K before tax and are living on $43K a year. How's that for frugal with a high income? I have to explain this though. DH is 6 months in working on a job site where his salary is almost doubled for 2.5 years. I'm quitting to SAH and my income is going away in January. So usual income will be $75K. No, I don't do frugalily like many on the board do like couponing, garage sales, and cook all from scratch because having a higher income we don't have to, but I do live on a budget. For instance, DH will say so when we're over budget on eating out. We have the money and could continue to eat out anyway, but our frugal nature won't let us spend more than $100 a month. My hobbies are things that save us money like gardening and sewing. We foster animals also, but I give donations (all budgeted) and then take advantage of the rescue group's access to cheaper vet care and meds (and 501(c)(3) status) by letting them pick up the bills.

DH and I have a common goal to pay off our mortgage. Then it's on to the next goal. I think about that every time I want to stop for a soda or slurge at Target (yes we all love Target) so I find it easy.

4 years ago we were making $50K and living like we made $75K racking up debt. We made a decision that we weren't going to live that way anymore. We buckled down, started budgeting and got better jobs. Luckily we did it in that order or else we might be trying to live like we make $300K right now.
post #42 of 141
you don't suck, take that silly idea out of your head woman. unless you are forced into it by circumstances you can't control, frugality IS a process. it takes time, mistakes, creativity and a new attitude towards wants versus needs.
post #43 of 141
Maybe someone wants to start a new thread for those with a high income who ar living frugally by choice. That would definately be us. $$ is no concern ( wha a blessing) but our values keep us living as simply as possible. Im not a great thread starter but will join in!
post #44 of 141
I'm looking at the OPs budget and my first thought is that you need to get your spending on eating out under control. When my DH and I were newly married and both working, we spent a similar amount on dining out. We also often spent too much on entertainment.

What we did was to come up with an amount each month - for us it is $55 each - for "mad money". This is money we can spend on dining out or whatever we want. This includes coffee, getting wine with a friend, pedicures, books, movies, shoes, random stuff at Target. Requiring dining out to come out of our "personal" money made us both much more disciplined about saying no to take out burritos or burgers and going home to cook.

We have a separate "date" budget to go out to nice restaurants or to do other romantic things together. We value having these times as a couple, but have decided that we don't want to waste our date budget on convenience eating. Instead, we go on real dates: sushi, french food, happy hour at our favorite bar. Whatever...but eating out when we're too tired to cook doesn't count as a date.

To make all of this work, we had to shift to meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking more at home. We also had to become smart about making lunches.
post #45 of 141
I can also relate to your spending on crafts and thrifting. I love to sew and in the past I've done scrapbooking, knitting, and card making. I don't usually go to garage sales, but I love Craigslist.

I wonder if you could try to make your crafting and thrifting pay for themselves? Meaning, only spend on crafts what you earn. Or only buy things used when you can sell something in exchange?

We've done this a lot. Recently we sold almost $1500 worth of household stuff on Craigslist and put that amount to some new things. I've made it almost a game for myself to "spend nothing" on redecorating our house.

With my sewing, I do spend some money, but it always has a place in the budget. For example, if I would normally spend $10 on a gift and this expense is budgeted, then I can spend $10 on fabric and supplies. Likewise, I try to only make things that are actually nicer than what I could buy for the same price.

For example I can make a very nice swaddle blanket for less than $10 that would cost nearly $30 in a store. Or I can make a sweet mobile for less than $5 that might cost $50. But other things - like some baby clothes - are usually more expensive to make than buy. To try to keep crafting costs down, I also like to recycle things. My husband's worn out jeans, for example, are plenty of fabric to make really cool kids jeans.
post #46 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by LukesMum View Post
Maybe someone wants to start a new thread for those with a high income who ar living frugally by choice. That would definately be us. $$ is no concern ( wha a blessing) but our values keep us living as simply as possible. Im not a great thread starter but will join in!
Not a thread starter here either. I certainly do feel weird at times and wonder how others deal with it.

OP, almost forgot. Since you mention WW, I have a diet called the "DH looks at your bank statement now and you're so embarassed that you ate at Sonic three times this week that you stop eating fast food and magically lose 10lbs" diet. Patent pending.
post #47 of 141
Ok, one more thought...

The basic change you need to make is to live within your means. You are young and you do not have kids so now is the perfect time to get some serious roots planted financially. If I were you, I would step back and come up with an ambitious goal - say paying off your credit card debt this year and then saving 20% of your income.

You might also consider adding giving to a cause you value to your mothly budget.

Start making those choices now and they will become natural when your income goes up after your DH is done with school.

My husband and I have always given 10% of what we earn to our church and other organizations we care about. We have also always saved at least 10%. We've never been in consumer debt. This was true when we were struggling to make ends meet as a family in an expensive city earning about $50,000 a year - and it is true now that we earn more than twice that.

By living this way - giving generously, saving regularly, and living within our means - we can never keep up with the materialistic culture we live in. If we didn't give or save, or if we went into consumer debt, we could "keep up". But what would that gain us in the long run?
post #48 of 141
lukes mum.... i started up my own thread but it probably looks intimidating because i'm pretty much the only one who posts in there... but i put an invite in the first post for anyone who has frugal/finance goals and feel they do not fit in anywhere else, to join right in with thier goals and daily/weekly updates..

it's here.

post #49 of 141
We are in the same boat you are! DH and I now take in (after taxes... we pay a LOT of taxes) about 65K. That might not seem like a lot, but to me it feels like we've got a nice income. We thought we made a nice chunk of change so we spent like we did. Turns out that 65K doesn't go too far when you're eating out a lot, crafting a lot, and going to Target multiple times a week.

Now we have given ourselves an allowance of fun money for whatever we want. DH gets cash because he hoardes paper money like gold. I have a seperate checking account because I am much better about checking balances online everyday. We only get $80 a month, but that is plenty for Starbucks, fabric, lunch out everyone once in a while, DVDs, etc.

Target used to be a real budget crusher for us. Now we always shop from a list. Yes, maybe a new lamp or something for the kitchen is on that list. I'd rather have it on the list and consider it for awhile than an impulse buy. We plan out dinners at home and take lunches to work. This has helped, too.

We're finally starting to save more and cut out the CC debt. What makes this so rewarding is that we're moving soon and will be taking home 85K. That's a 20K raise! Now that we have started this frugal-ness, we want to continue it and hopefully can hurl that 20K at the CC and at saving for a downpayment on a house (our goals).

Good luck!
post #50 of 141
Wow, that budget is out of control. Ok, you already know that and that's not helpful so,

Why do you feel the need to buy these things? And your debt payments are what's killing you! After consumer debt, you're really only bringing in $2k a month, did I read that right? I would stop pretty much ALL 'wants' and only needs and really start paying down the cc debt. Can you check into a lower interest rate? Call and haggle with them? Call competitors and see if they'll give you a better deal if you transfer? Let that be your light at the end of the tunnel. The so strict budget WILL end when you get your cc paid off (then cut the up save for one emergency only card if you don't have much in savings).

You say your account is always in the red, or very close. We have a very strict budget and ours is too. I know i often buy things justifying to myself that it's ONLY x amount and if I don't buy it now it might not be on sale and then money won't be in the account. STOP that right now unless it's an absolute need. Tell yourself that if you really CAN afford it, the money will be there the day before your next payday.

Can you set up auto payments on some bills that happen on or the day after pay day? Pay all of your bills first (including your 'savings' bill - paying a certain amount to savings) then you'll see what you have left to 'play' with. If not, at least do online paymets. Make it a habit that on payday, pay all bills needed until the next payday.

I would stop fostering dogs for the moment after the ones you currently have have left. You can't really afford it at the moment.

Can you bundle your cable/internet. We have 'high speed' internet (not the fastest the offer, but definitely nothing like dial-up or anything) plus a basic cable package for $60. Possibly consider cutting out cable all together. And if you find yourself bored, join netflix for $10/month?

If it were me, I would go a VERY strict budget diet. If you don't need it, don't buy it. Make competitions out of it. My dh and I often see who can make the best 'cupboard' meal. You know when you're low on groceries and feel like you 'need' to go to the store because you can't possibly make a meal out of what you have. We've come up with quite a few interesting meals that way and a few favorites as well. Once you only buy things you NEED, I think you'll see how gratifying it is to see how much you've saved that you won't WANT to buy things just because

I have to say your gifts look a little out of control as well. Do you NEED to give these people gifts, or is it more like here, just because you've been a good friend lately type gift? I'd really pare down gift giving and just do birthdays for immediate family and close friends.
post #51 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoMe View Post
I've been trying to work through my stash of craft supplies and only buy new with a specific project in mind *that I'm ready to start working on*
I really need to start doing this . . . :
post #52 of 141
Stop going to Target and ALL box stores. Easy for me to say, we do not have a Target. The only box we have is Weevilmart and we boycott it so I am not even tempted. But seriously, there is nothing in those stores that anyone really needs. Nothing. I have not been in a box in 4-5 years and can honestly say I cannot remember why I ever thought I needed to go to them.

Also, if your dh is a great cook, stop eating out!!!!! Splurge on nice ingredients so you don't feel deprived. We can afford to eat out and do so occasionally, mostly for social obligations, but I am always disappointed. I can cook much better tasting stuff at home that is cheaper and healthier to boot. Even for "date nights" we try to get more creative....not really to save money so much as our gut. A nice bottle of wine with a simple tray of homemade cheese spreads, olives, bread chunks, and grapes (local, of course) at the beach is not only cheaper and healthier, but more romantic IMO. And it takes less time to throw together than driving to the restaurant.
post #53 of 141
My worry for you is that when your dh is out of grad school you will just increase your spending to your income and still have no money. This really is the time to get it under control.

Two years ago we were living on one decent income in a high cost of living area and had 15,000 in cc debt. I could justify half of it (family emergencies, death of parent etc) and then everyday shopping, eating out etc. Dh was saving for retirement, we were making all our bills so it looked like we were doing okay. But we were heading for big trouble so we commited to paying off our cc and are down to just under 3000 left and will be done by March. Dh's is turning 40 in 18 months so once the cc debt is gone I'm going to take most of the cc payment and send it to our longterm savings but also a chunk to a special trip for dh. Then we'll do the same for me, something I want. And so on. We can have it all, we just have to pay cash for it.
post #54 of 141
I have to write in defense of Target.

Target has great deals on a lot of things. The problem is that there is so much and it's all set up to make you feel like you need it. I actually wrote a long blog post about Target yesterday. We do shop at Target, but to prevent spending too much, I have four strategies:

1. Everything has to fit in the budget as something we need - there's no separate "target" category

2. Shop Target online. There are several different ways to save at least 10% online and get free shipping all the time. This also helps with impulse purchases.

3. Target has a great return policy. If you are not sure about something, take it home and keep it in the bag for a few days. Return if you don't need it or can't afford it.

4. Shop with a list.
post #55 of 141
Thread Starter 
OK, once again, thanks for the comments and I am going to try to address them one by one:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natsuki View Post
I can't fathom spending $70+/month on postage alone for swaps - but since you really enjoy swaps, so why not limit yourself to 2 swaps per month? It doesn't have to be all or nothing, it's about balance and that is something you don't currently have in your spending. Why not limit thrifting to once or twice a month and go with just a set amount of cash that you can spend and no more.
These are both excellent pieces of advice, and I think I definitely need to take them. While I am not really willing to cut out the things I enjoy completely, I need to learn to "budget" them, in regards to both how many I do and how much I spend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dachshund mom View Post
Some of the very hard budgeting mamas here will agree that when you are truly frugal, you will agonize over every little purchase. I lost a $20 like a year ago and am still pissed about it.
While that definitely works for some people, that's not a place I personally have any interest in getting to. I definitely need to get a hold on my finances, but as long as I am making a comfortable living, I don't want to be someone who worries about $20 a year later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dachshund mom View Post
Also, you are married, there should be no personal account and joint account. If nothing else, someone has to be there to hold you accountable for your spending. Maybe when you are spending DH's salary, you will rein in the shopping. As pp said, you need common goals.
First, no, I am not married. I am partnered. Secondly, I have a personal problem with not having personal and joint funds. I am in a partnership that I take very seriously, but I believe having fully co-mingled finances is dangerous and I am not willing to do it. Period.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dachshund mom View Post
We foster animals also, but I give donations (all budgeted) and then take advantage of the rescue group's access to cheaper vet care and meds (and 501(c)(3) status) by letting them pick up the bills.
We don't pay medical bills for our fostered animals. The only things the rescue doesn't reimburse us for are gas to pick them up/do home visits and food and toys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sbrinton View Post
I wonder if you could try to make your crafting and thrifting pay for themselves? Meaning, only spend on crafts what you earn. Or only buy things used when you can sell something in exchange?
I have tried to do this, but it hasn't been successful. While I do occasionally pick up extra cash selling thrift finds, it never amounts to much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sbrinton View Post
You might also consider adding giving to a cause you value to your mothly budget.
I actually do this, just not on a monthly basis (there are a number of causes I give to annually). And I guess it would be fair to consider the $$ we put into fostering animals charitable giving as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
After consumer debt, you're really only bringing in $2k a month, did I read that right? I would stop pretty much ALL 'wants' and only needs and really start paying down the cc debt. Can you check into a lower interest rate? Call and haggle with them? Call competitors and see if they'll give you a better deal if you transfer?
I paid extra on my debt last month--I usually pay more like $700/month on it. But yes, consumer debt is killing me. One thing that is good, though, is that it is already at 0% interest, so there are no extra charges accumulating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
I would stop fostering dogs for the moment after the ones you currently have have left. You can't really afford it at the moment.
This is not something I am willing to consider doing. Fostering dogs is one of the ways in which we give back to the world. I don't consider it a frivolity. There are lots of other things I should cut out, but I don't believe this is one of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
Can you bundle your cable/internet. We have 'high speed' internet (not the fastest the offer, but definitely nothing like dial-up or anything) plus a basic cable package for $60. Possibly consider cutting out cable all together. And if you find yourself bored, join netflix for $10/month?
We already have Netflix. I did check into bundling cable/internet, but it wasn't any cheaper than what we're doing now. There is kind of an expensive cable monopoly in my area, unfortunately. We did just cancel HBO, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
I have to say your gifts look a little out of control as well. Do you NEED to give these people gifts, or is it more like here, just because you've been a good friend lately type gift? I'd really pare down gift giving and just do birthdays for immediate family and close friends.
Well, does anybody really need to give gifts? I do it because I enjoy it, and because miserliness is not a trait I want to cultivate. But I also have a huge family, so there's that.

Once again, thank you for all of your thoughts and comments. I really am listening and thinking about everything you're writing.
post #56 of 141
We have a high income and as a result, I don't feel like I fit in much here. We don't have any debt and the choices I'm making are not the same choices as most of the folks here.

Invariably no matter what your income, there is generally something more you want to have, its just difficult I think to realize that someone with twice your income, no matter what that income is, will still have something more they want to have. There is always more to have, and not even wasteful silly consumer spending stuff, all things that will enrich your life, that someone who makes more than you has and you cannot afford.

And I think its important to realize that if one did have twice the income, it would be hard to avoid the pitfall oneself - you think it wouldn't change you, but its difficult to not change. It's very hard to choose to not buy something you know you can easily afford and really enjoy.

One of my biggest struggles is my grocery budget. I want to buy healthy, organic foods, but it gets out of control. I'm also not good at cooking and sticking with a plan, so I struggle with that. So I want to get it reduced, but I'm not sure how much I want to sacrifice in terms of health to do that, kwim?
post #57 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by dachshund mom View Post
Also, you are married, there should be no personal account and joint account.
I think that is a highly personal decision, one that only a couple can make for themselves. I will never, ever not have my own accounts (in addition to maintaining a joint household accounts). It has nothing to do with frugality- I am very frugal and my husband and I work on shared financial goals and have no debt other than our mortgage. But I also know the benefits of maintaining my own accounts for me are worth it.
post #58 of 141
Ok - for comparison, my dh and I make about what you and your partner do. We each have separate checking, a joint checking, joint savings and I have my own savings.

Mortgage - $760
Equity Loan $140
Utilities - $180
Cell Phones $80
Mothers Day Out - $140
Wireless/Cable bundled - $65
Life/Health/Car Insurance - $420
Gym membership $59
Credit Card $150
Car Costs $240
Groceries $650
Eating Out/Entertainment $240
Personal Spending dh - $130
Personal Spending me - $75
Savings Account - $680
Other Savings (christmas, vacation, clothes, special dates, charity, etc) $250 - $300

So our house payment is low because my dh convinced me several years ago that moving up our standard of living just because we could was a bad idea. He was right... but darn it all I would love 500 more sq. ft! The equity loan was made last year to renovate our home and bring it up to code (darn thing kept trying to burn itself down) we have spent every penny of it replacing windows, new ac, new wiring, new roof... yada, yada, yada.... we are still not done which is why you see the $150 credit card bill. (we charge it to a card with no interest, rack up bonus points and spend those points on christmas presents - and then we pay it off with the line of credit from the house - of coarse the equity payment then goes up but the credit card payment disappears. The $250 for car costs are just for gas - we saved up and payed cash for two decent, but beater cars. (not more than 5k each) My husband is a hobby mechanic so this works really well for us.

Anyhoo - its a great budget for us, we have made it work - I feel like we have plenty of money for whatever and since we got serious about savings we have now socked away a good 3-4 months of expenses and have another 7 months of expenses locked away in investments if things get really bad.

One thing that we had to get over was the feeling of entitlement that the higher (but still not high ) income brings... Once that mindset hits you start justifying unnecessary purchases under the catagory "but I deserve this!"

PAY YOURSELF FIRST. Pay BARE MINIMUM 10% of your income to your future self - she's the one that deserves it. How about a 3 month reprieve on crafting and thrifting and targeting? How much could you save if you gave yourself a 3 month break? (don't worry - it will be there when you get back!)
post #59 of 141
I agree with PPs who say that when you make a lot of money it is sooo easy to slip into over spending, because at the moment that you want that coffee or dinner out or fun new thing, you can afford it... at that moment. It's easy to live in the moment and forget about 30 years down the road when you'll need to be able to afford retirement. It's easy to get into the line of thinking like, "We make X dollar amount and people who make X dollar amount can afford to get coffee every day. I see it all the time. That's just the way it is. They're not worried, why should I be?" Well, as we have seen in recent days, it is a skewed perception of reality.

DH makes over $100k and we are pretty much always broke. That is the reality we (mostly me, but he's working on it) choose to see. I tell myself "We can't afford it" all the time. We put 20% away into savings, retirement, 529 plan, etc. And, honestly, it still doesn't feel like enough, but anyway. So we run out of money to spend for about a week at a time every month - yay! That means we don't spend anything for a whole week! We had to change our perception of reality and like a PP said, it is a process. One step at a time.

I've learned to hate the mall and big box stores. The time consumed driving there and finding parking and with the gas consumed it's an $8 round trip to the mall. Ugh, who needs that. And the crowds are so annoying. And while you're there you see all the cool, new styles and the "must haves" then you start getting the itch to buy, buy, buy! So I've been to the mall and to Target once in the last 4 months and I got to keep my money I also learned to hate having extra stuff around the house. If I buy stuff, then it's just more stuff around the house and it just stresses me out.

We used to eat out or get take out a lot. I do not like to cook. It seems like such a chore to me. But we can't afford to pay other people to cook our food and serve it to us. We wanted to start keeping that money for ourselves so I learned how to make cooking easy for me. I feed my freezer. I spend one evening cooking something, like minestrone or chili or pizza (all so easy, it's not even funny) and I make a TON of it and stuff the rest into the freezer in meal sized portions. Thaw and heat. Steam some veggies. Voila. Speaking of pizza, I used to buy pizza sauce and pizza dough, but now I make my own and freeze it. It costs pennies per meal. Pennies!! The toppings can be pre-chopped/pre-cooked and frozen, too.

We recently cancelled cable and found free internet (don't ask, it's through DH's work). And now we're on to our next steps of actually budgeting gas money, keeping the cars parked and taking the bus. I want to sell our second car and stick to one tank of gas per month. Now that it's down to crunch time, I don't know if DH will go for it, but we'll see. It is a process. One step at a time.

This has been a fun thread for me, because I can certainly relate.
post #60 of 141
I know we get into this joint vs separate accounts discussion all the time here. How does it work if one partner becomes a SAH parent like I'm about to do? Do I no longer get any discretionary spending money or get put on an allowance? Does the partner making more get more fun money? Sorry you have that huge medical bill this month honey, I'll be at the movies. I do more housework because of his long hours, so does DH give me a monthly bonus if I get all my chores done? It's the logistics that confuse me and on the surface look like a constant source of conflict.

Before we were married, I was making $20K working on my PhD and DH was making $30K. It was a stressful 60+ hours a week and very draining time for me. I remember a particular tense moment when I could barely make my car payment, buy $300 in textbooks that month, make a student loan payment, and then DH came home with a new toy. So I guess that's why I keep looking at this from your partner's perspective. Sorry to be coming across so harsh when you;re clearly working hard to fix the situation.

Back to original topic. $300+ a month on food, gas and toys for dogs? You've maybe got some of your own that you pay vet bills on, but that still seems high. I've got three who are well fed, groomed, and one on meds and it's a fraction of that. It might help to look at buying food in bulk (feed store? or buy through the rescue group?) and doing your own grooming if you don't already. Don't forget to deduct all the fostering expenses on your taxes. An option is to go to wellness clinics for shots - they don't charge the $40/dog exam fee (just to look in ears and at teeth) and the money helps support low cost spay neuter programs. I understand not wanting to give up fostering - it is very rewarding.
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