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 Post subject: "unavoidable" budget killers
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:13 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:58 am
Posts: 231
I was going over our cc statement and it seemed high even though each line entry wasn't unusual. I realized that last month we spent $250 last month in gasoline. And this is with one commute. This seems like a lot to me , although when I told my mother, she said their gas bill was $498 last month. (A new job would likely pay less and negate any savings in gas.)

Our gas and electric is also set to increase by 50% in June. Judging by our past bills we have cut our energy consumption significantly, and my Dh is now calling me the energy police so I don't think we can do much more in that area.

These increases in fuel are really starting to cut into our ability to save and invest for our future.

Does anyone else have expenses that they feel are unavoidable yet affect their ability to save/invest?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:25 pm 
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Yeah, energy related stuff is a real killer right now, and it's just going to get worse (much worse, in my opinion).

Medical care is another unavoidable expense for us. We have four young kids, so we have very regular trips to the doctor to treat whatever illness seems to be running through the house at the time. The real killer is that once a bug comes home, it typically works it's way through everyone, so we end up with multiple visits/prescriptions across kids for every illness.

Most recently we had strep in the house. Our oldest (nine) ended up with three different antibiotics and multiple throat cultures before it was gone. Our five year old also got it and had two different antibiotics, plus multiple doctor's visits/throat cultures before all was said and done. Fortunately, we stopped it before it got to our other two kids.

I guess this doesn't technically fit your criteria, as we're now in a place financially where we can absorb this sort of stuff without trouble. However, it wasn't long ago when this was a much bigger issue for us.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:55 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:03 am
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Location: Tampa, FL, USA
We had a brief run where grocery prices were going out of control. Buying the same things every week was resulting in jumps of $50+ a month and more. We had to change a bunch of things we were buying to get it back down.

Energy costs have been going up badly as well. We're adjusting the thermostat, replacing incandescants with CFLs, etc. Rising gas prices, combined with the other member of my wife's carpool leaving, were instrumental in deciding we were better off with her not working. By the time you deducted gas and tolls, it wasn't worth it for her to go to work.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 7:19 pm 
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The other thing to keep in mind is that increasing energy costs are going to really start influencing prices of other goods, as well... It's costing more and more to get stuff to market, and stores are paying more to keep the lights on, etc.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:49 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:50 pm
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Location: Vancouver, Canada
Sandycheeks, perhaps you could look at buying a hybrid?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 4:11 am 

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I agree that it's going to keep getting worse.

Hybrids are expensive and I wonder if the fuel savings counterbalance the higher purchase price; I've seen a few lifetime cost analyses and some look good but others barely break even.

A better alternative might be to get a fuel-sipping conventional car, like a Honda Fit or a Toyota Yaris. The Fit has more room, especially in the trunk. Basically anything that gets over 35-40 mpg is a good choice these days; I refuse to consider any car that gets less than 35 mpg. I currently drive a Toyota Matrix that has been getting about 37 mpg on the highway, which is okay. A Yaris would get about 40 mpg but I frequently have to haul a sound system and needed the extra space of a Matrix. I drove last weekend from Montréal to Boston (a 7 hour journey) on less than a tank of gas. Small fuel-efficient cars are much safer than they used to be, and are usually quite powerful and fun to drive. I test-drove a Yaris and it felt much more zippy and powerful than my brother's Jetta. When I lived in Vermont (five miles up a steep dirt road) I had a little 4WD Honda Civic hatchback that handled everything just fine, including axle-deep mud, and I even used it one winter to pull a Jeep Cherokee out of a ditch at the bottom of our hill.

Transportation expenses are also an area where living in a city makes things more affordable (which of course is not an option for everyone). I normally fill up my tank only once a month. I spend about $40/month on gas, plus $65 on a monthly bus/Metro pass, so about $105 total for all my transportation needs. Plus my bus and Metro passes are partly tax-deductible so in the end I'm spending less than $100/month for transportation. When I lived in the country I drove 20,000 miles a year; here in the city I've had my car for two years now and it only has 18,000 miles on it.

On the other hand, houses here in the city are more expensive (and much smaller) than houses in the country. I don't mind small (and in fact prefer it), but when I see what $300K will buy in the suburbs compared with what it'll buy here, it's amazing.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:25 am 
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brad wrote:
I agree that it's going to keep getting worse.

Hybrids are expensive and I wonder if the fuel savings counterbalance the higher purchase price; I've seen a few lifetime cost analyses and some look good but others barely break even.

A better alternative might be to get a fuel-sipping conventional car, like a Honda Fit or a Toyota Yaris. The Fit has more room, especially in the trunk. Basically anything that gets over 35-40 mpg is a good choice these days; I refuse to consider any car that gets less than 35 mpg. I currently drive a Toyota Matrix that has been getting about 37 mpg on the highway, which is okay. A Yaris would get about 40 mpg but I frequently have to haul a sound system and needed the extra space of a Matrix. I drove last weekend from Montréal to Boston (a 7 hour journey) on less than a tank of gas. Small fuel-efficient cars are much safer than they used to be, and are usually quite powerful and fun to drive. I test-drove a Yaris and it felt much more zippy and powerful than my brother's Jetta. When I lived in Vermont (five miles up a steep dirt road) I had a little 4WD Honda Civic hatchback that handled everything just fine, including axle-deep mud, and I even used it one winter to pull a Jeep Cherokee out of a ditch at the bottom of our hill.

Transportation expenses are also an area where living in a city makes things more affordable (which of course is not an option for everyone). I normally fill up my tank only once a month. I spend about $40/month on gas, plus $65 on a monthly bus/Metro pass, so about $105 total for all my transportation needs. Plus my bus and Metro passes are partly tax-deductible so in the end I'm spending less than $100/month for transportation. When I lived in the country I drove 20,000 miles a year; here in the city I've had my car for two years now and it only has 18,000 miles on it.

On the other hand, houses here in the city are more expensive (and much smaller) than houses in the country. I don't mind small (and in fact prefer it), but when I see what $300K will buy in the suburbs compared with what it'll buy here, it's amazing.


When I bought my CR-V in 2005, I would've much preferred a Matrix. But alas, I couldn't carry my brood (we have four kids, and I need to be able to tote at least three of them at a time, with none in the front seat). So now I'm stuck in the low to mid-20s for mpg. The environmental implications actually bother me more than the financial consequences.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 9:55 am 

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Location: Taishan, Guangdong, China
brad wrote:
On the other hand, houses here in the city are more expensive (and much smaller) than houses in the country. I don't mind small (and in fact prefer it), but when I see what $300K will buy in the suburbs compared with what it'll buy here, it's amazing.


What about buy in the country for rental income and then rent in the city to walk/bus to work?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:21 am 
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MossySF wrote:
brad wrote:
On the other hand, houses here in the city are more expensive (and much smaller) than houses in the country. I don't mind small (and in fact prefer it), but when I see what $300K will buy in the suburbs compared with what it'll buy here, it's amazing.


What about buy in the country for rental income and then rent in the city to walk/bus to work?


Prices are lower in the country for a reason. Fewer people want to live there. Thus, there are fewer people who want to rent out there. Plus, because it's more affordable, the people that are willing to live there are probably more likely to be willing to buy instead of rent.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 5:09 pm 
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My Unavoidable Budget Killers

* Home repairs - We have a century-old house, and there's an ongoing list of projects that need to be done that run to several thousand dollars each year. Nobody has really ever cared for this house very well, so it's a mish-mash of modern and old. When we remodeled the bathroom two years ago, we completely redid the wiring downstairs. The upstairs is still knob-and-tube, though. The exterior really needs to be painted. Etc. Etc. Etc.

* Vacations - As I've mentioned, my in-laws are taking us on a vacation to Europe this year. That's great. I'm thankful for their gratitude and for the chance to go. But it's still going to cost me. It's going to cost me because I'll use all my vacation days. I'll have to put this blog on auto-pilot. We'll have to pay a house-sitter. We'll have to pay for food and for souvenirs (which will, admittedly, be minimal). My in-laws take us on a vacation every couple years, which is nice, but it does throw off my expenses.

* Things that are a priority for Kris but not for me - There are times that I could be saving for other goals, but Kris has a specific project in mind -- remodel the kitchen, do landscaping, etc. -- and I need to compromise with her.

I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones that come to mind...


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 12:54 pm
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Some thoughts...

* Hybrids are expensive, but you also get a tax credit (yes, a credit, not a deduction!) for the tax year in which it was purchased, which takes a bit of the bite away. We got an Escape Hybrid and the resulting nearly-2000 tax credit last year. Note however that the credit is pro-rated per how many of each model is sold, so you may not get a full tax credit for some of the more popular hybrids. More info: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax_hybrid.shtml

* Re: home energy consumption, I think others have said it here elsewhere, but get a programmable thermostat. If the whole family is out during the day, no need to keep the house so cool in the summer, or warm in the winter. They're easy to install yourself, and I think ours paid for itself within the first one or two months.

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 Post subject: My unavoidable expenses have to do with innate dysfunction
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:15 pm 

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My family does not get along and we contaminate one another. No one including me picks up after themselves in a responsible accurate fashion so each of us resents the others for being a slob when we have to do all the cleaning up for all three of us. Electrical usage is not efficient because some members actively refuse to turn off lights or heat/aircon in empty rooms in fact one member actually insists and throws a tantrum if the heat is turned off when she is not home. In the summer, she complains if aircon is not on in every room. I do the cleaning up but I am horribly inefficient about it. I am filled with resentment and negativity but I am the one who does not throw a tantrum when I have to clean up. Another member of my family gets angry having to clean up at all. We influence one another negatively and clean up less because we are living together. It's not just simple lack of teamwork, there is a history of emotional abuse that colors everything. There is also the not uncommon in America attitude of "treating yourself" i.e. medicating yourself with overpriced products like barely drunk Starbucks and takeout orders and using a large bath towel instead of a smaller towel for a quick shower. There's so much financial waste going on and it depresses me and I do it as well.


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