Okay so it's been bad year for spending.
I was perusing our spending. Big budget categories
$25k traveling - big was the WDW trip that was about $10k. Seriously awesome though and I got a christmas card photo out of it. This year I'm not sure we are going to spend less I'm feeling around $20k I usually predict.
$15k dog. Seriously unexpected. He had surgery for $6k, then all his visits to vet with every other week blood measurements. Then his $500/month medications. He turned 2 in May and yes he's a rescue. I'd have probably been better off with a purebred bought from a breeder. But he's our third rescue and honestly he's a GREAT dog. Last night our husband teased the kids and said our best kid is the DOG. Hahaha. But I must admit that when my kids are pissing me off the dog is sometimes the only person listening to me. He goes on walks while I just think and talk. He lies on the couch and bed with me and kids. He guards the house when my DH travels. I'll admit to being very attached again. Sigh. I did tell my DH because of his disease I bet he won't live as long as we thought. And we'll likely get one more dog.
Home - $27k mortgage interest, $11k property Taxes, $10.5k new driveway, Yard $2k, closets $500. Homes are a money pit. Next year I am thinking we are maybe doing a new shed and I'm going to work on the addition I wanted.
Groceries and Eating out $24k about $1k/month for both. I am trying to rein in eating out but the groceries well what can I say? Our eating out is about about $50-100/meal 2x/week. The real budget buster for eating out is when family/friends visit and we pick up that check. Thanksgiving and Christmas looking at it we spent over $1k during those weeks both times. Then we're spending $100-200/meal plus a week in the summer with my inlaws and two weeks in Hawaii. It runs up our eating out amounts fast.
It was a crazy year.
Viewing the 'spending' Category
Okay so it's been bad year for spending.
So it's been almost 2 months since we ended amazon prime. It finished end of January 2019. Have I missed it? Not one bit. I've ordered 1x from there Natori Bra $70 (that's another topic OMG) and hands free blue tooth. Free shipping over $35.
But otherwise have I or my DH bought anything? Nope. Makes for saving money. Yes we buy stuff. We got to the store.
Like today I need toilet paper and paper towels and groceries. We bought stuff for science project for kids.
But I suspected we didn't shop much and we don't watch TV, so I guessed we didn't need prime. I was right. We haven't missed it a bit.
Shocking. But it confirms what I suspected too. That a lot of "frugal" finance people probably don't shop a ton online or in the stores. You buy things with regularity and purpose. Very little is wanted and you buy a lot of needs.
At least that's my take. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm losing money but I'm pretty sure I'm not spending by not buying and I'm coming out ahead of those who shop a lot online. Of course I'm not sure if that's because I don't shop versus shop poorly.
It's been a long time since we got a tax refund. It's a bit surreal. Anyway we got back $4500. I know it was an interest free loan to uncle sam but I thought we were going to be owing so it was surprised.
Now what to do with the money? I don't have a clue. Guess just pay our bills.
I know doing taxes a lot of people were surprised both ways. Some were shocked by how much they owed. Mostly because the IRS changed the withholding tables. So people who didn't change anything owe a lot unexpectedly. Then there were those expecting to owe and getting larger than expected refunds. People who normally owe so they kept on paying.
I think all these new tax laws changes shocked people.
As I finished my holiday shopping and as I bought stuff in stores and other online merchants this year I confirmed we don't need amazon prime. I still bought some stuff from Amazon. But we certainly don't need the 2 day shipping. Nothing we ordered did we need rushed. And we no longer watch the TV shows for the kids downloaded on their kindles.
We do have kindles for them bought $50 last year. We do travel more. However now we have a DVD player in the minivan and we can download netflix shows. At $13.99/month Netflix is expensive but we don't pay for it (it's a gift from the girls uncle LOL). But for $170 a year we'd rather do that than Amazon prime anyway. We also use it daily to watch the kids shows instead of TV.
So what do we need amazon prime for? It's certainly not the cheapest. I bought Calico Critters Lakeside Lodge Gift set on Black friday from Walmart. From Amazon? $73.50. No thank you. The Dog crates? From Chewy for less than half the price. Dog food? Cheaper from Petco. Couple of items we did buy from Amazon I don't need asap so slow shipping so what's the difference between waiting from regular $25 shipping?
I admit to having a costco memebership for $120/year. Amazon prime is $119. But I get 6% back on cheaper gas than anywhere else and live 1.2 miles from a gas station and costco. I walk there on the weekends and meet my family for a cheap hot dog. So costco more than pays for itself. This year we spent $3000 on gas almost. That is $180 with 6%. That pays for the membership. Next year when we switch back to Ameriprise auto I'll save even more. That doesn't count the groceries we save on. Lactose free milk at $10/1.5 gallons is about $2 a set and we buy every week. So that's 2 * 52 weeks = $104 on just milk. I've given up on shopping for deals on toilet paper and paper towels because we only have a bartells nearby and no CVS. But truthfully shopping costco I know I get a pretty good deal
Last year I was on the fence at $99 to renew and my DH convinced me. I knew we didn't need it but he said one more year. This year he's on board we'd done and jettisoning Amazon prime.
Do you spend a lot on amazon? Our renewal is up in January.
So we did do some black friday and christmas shopping. I'm going to try and be better because I usually have no idea what I spend on christmas but it's typically I know under $500.
Lego Advents - $30 x 2 = $60
Razor Scooter DK2 - $20
Calico Critters DK2 - $40 Treehouse + $40 Lodge
HooverBoard DK1 - $100
Bath Bombs Costco DK1 and 2 - $18 x 2 = 36
Shopkins Bus DK1 - $20
Kidizoo Watch DK 2 - $30
Total = $346
That's it for kids except for stocking stuffers.
They each spent $5 on gifts for each other. Very cute taking them shopping this weekend.
Parents and grandma $20 making blanket and $20 each for stuff so $120 total.
But for DH and I? There isn't anything we want or can't buy so I'm unsure. As I type this I realized I didn't buy his usual beer advent calendar I make for him. Gotta get to work. I think we might go away for the weekend as a family so that's $1000 on the weekend with hotels, gas, dog boarding, eating out.
What are you spending for Christmas?
My thoughts on the tax reform? It appears the reform is going to hurt all families with more than 1 kid. If you had 2 kids before and took the standard deduction you had $12k standard deduction and $16k in personal exemptions for $28k. Now with the standard deduction raised to $24k but personal exemptions gone by the way side it appears to be less than the $28k the family with 2 kids had. Assuming a larger child tax credit is $600/per child for $1200 in tax credit.
It really depends on the bracket but if I had to guess most families will end up paying more in taxes with more than 2 children. The $600 tax credit won't offset the personal exemptions.
As far as the SALT I think they should keep it instead of the mortgage deduction to be fair. After all it's a double taxation. And honestly they should probably do away with the mortgage deduction period. But that's impossible with the lobby groups. I also have seen a lot of elderly people use the medical deduction and if you are in nursing home care the bills for that are astronomical and easily fufill the 10% income minimum to write off.
Something that does bother me is that estate tax going away. Seriously so $22 million tax free inheritance is not enough? And the middle class needs to give away inheritances above that tax free? And it's inherited at a step-up basis? Really those 5000 people who have enough to leave more than $22 million need the tax break?
I have to admit I'm pretty liberal. But I'm a bit stunned these tax cuts have come without really cutting the budget. That republicans are okay with increasing the deficit so much? I thought it was supposed to be cut taxes, shrink government and deficit? Seems resonable and responsible budgeting. But instead we're cutting taxes and still spending wildly?
I am curious what will pass. It'll be an interesting sell.
I started my christmas shopping. I bought the girls two lego advent calendars for $23 each from Walmart. I used google express and got 20% off for first order plus I also paid using my discover card for an extra 20% cash back up to $500 in spending. The max discount for the google express first order was $30 for a $150 order.
Things I ordered? I got the lego advent calendars, wipes, a new toaster oven (costco for $34.99), coffee beans, portable file box for girl scouts, and waterpik heads. Yes it was $150 on the nose.
Seriously the things I ordered were cheaper not on amazon. I don't get why people buy so much stuff from amazon when if you shop around and really look at the amazon prices it's a rip off. Plus walmart and costco both offer in store easy/free returns. Amazon you have to pay for shipping. People think it's free shipping but it's really not. They let you print a return tag but they take it out of what you paid if you look closely. It's happened to me a long time ago, so in general I never order ever from Amazon if there is a chance of a return. Besides recently it's come to my attention that the prices are so much cheaper elsewhere. But the 20% cashback from discover is what drove me to google express but I plan on using them probably entirely.
Do you most of your online shopping at amazon or elsewhere? Do you even bother to look at other websites?
Well since we bought the house our spending has been in free fall. Not unexpected nor unplanned. It just is something that happens. Everything we knew about but it's a bit insane to see the bills. We've never spent this way and I am going to guess most people on here haven't either. Otherwise they wouldn't be on savingadvice.
So we started with a playset for the kids. That was installed from costco for $1000. It was discounted when I ordered it memorial day weekend and set up within a week. They love it. They play on it daily. I wondered whether we should do it because they will age out of it. But then decided we might as well. We've been promising it for a long time.
Got the backyard cleaned up for $1200. I'm going to try and maintain it and have spring and fall cleanups but apparently the people before us never took care of the yard in 3 years. The fruit trees are overgrown and in poor shape both neighbors and the yard guys told me. We've even got a fire pit that we've used for s'mores 4x already. The yard is fantastic. We love it. We have 2 cherry, 3 apples, 1 pear, 1 apricot, blueberry bushes and raspberry bushes. Seriously I never imagined having this opportunity.
Patio Furniture just got on Friday was $500 from Amazon. DH put it together in 2 hours and it's amazing. The deck is lovely. I had my morning tea out there.
New TV above the fireplace $600 from costco. Our last TV purchase was in 2005 when we moved to our last house. It's interesting to see how much bigger and lighter and cheaper it is now. We also bought our much wanted king mattress for $1000 from purple. We love tempurpedic. When we bought our last mattress 10 years ago a king didn't fit up the stairs and it didn't come the way it comes now. Technology has changed a lot since 2005. Can't wait to try it but we haven't got a bedframe. That's next on the list to order.
Those were our big ticket items of spending thus far and we aren't done. We're renovating our basement and garage and I'll explain with photos what's going on later and price and decisions.
I'm not sure how long we are staying in this house but it really is lovely.
Other items on our list to order is a gas grill Weber summit series $2000, new couch, dining table, bedroom sets for us and the kids, and building the closets. The kids have our old queen size beds we had and it doesn't fit in the rooms. Until we moved here we decided to just make it work and they barely played in their rooms anyway. And until recently they slept in our room a lot. Well it's time to make rooms for them and let them have a say and maybe they'll feel more adult and "their" rooms. So far we've spent $4300 and another $2000 earmarked already plus the gas line for the grill I'm seeing numbers around $1500 installation.
This is not going to be a cheap summer. But this is down the street from me. The location is to die for. Both how we live and DH gained a minimum of 1 hour a day back on his commute more like 1.5 hours a day. His commute is now 30 minute both directions instead of 1 hour and 1.5 hours. He's really enjoying it.
More photos to come.
I see a lot of gofundme pages for people. I get it that people are not financially prepared for something to happen to them. It's always unexpected.
I've never donated but now a friend has been diagnosed with cancer. And is really pushing donations because they are out of work. Being self-employed they don't work they don't make income. I haven't donated yet.
Do most people donate? If so how much? I have dropped off food every 3-4 weeks for the past 5 months instead. I felt it more personal it has certainly cost me more than $100. Should I have just donated cash?
I guess I get uncomfortable donating to all these things. I don't mind donating to organizations and I do. I also don't mind people's fundraisers. But this more personal donating to someone feels strange.
Do people really do it?
I find it odd. I appear to have two different sets of friends. Both are great but ones are savers and others are spenders. The savers are two other families whose kids go to piano with our kids. They both have two DK same age as our two and all 6 kids are in 2 classes of 3. We were with them last year as well and will be with them next year too. The kids love each other.
Parents #1 quit his job last May because he didn't agree with management. They are doing great and paying for private school and have a huge safety net. The Dad is deciding what he wants to do with his life. They keep up with all activities and I know live modestly. You can tell with the cars they drive and they still travel and eat out and live comfortably. The mom has said they probably have another 1-2 years expenses.
Parents #2 the mom just quit her job over the treatment from management. She applied for her own job it turns out they have been trying to hire since January. Well she tells me that they have a year of savings comfortably without worrying. The Dad owns his own business and has been the primary caregiver of the kids while she went out and was the breadwinner. She's going to take some time and reflect on what she really wants to do. Her goal is to find a job after the summer.
I gotta say it's refreshing to hear from friends that they are secure without jobs and not worried about the future.
On the other hand since I'm doing taxes, I got a chance to look a 3 different friends tax returns for free. Just in case they missed something. They all made $160k-$200k and all have some credit card debt, minimal retirement savings, and just spending everything that comes in. Making that much and saving $5k/year for retirement seemed nuts. And not having an Emergency Fund or down payment for a home. I did suggest they try to divert 5% of income into a saving account. But they said it was impossible. Where would they get the money from?
Truth is that finances no matter what you make is a mindset. You can make a lot and spend it all. You can make a lot and save a lot. I think that part of it is being satisfied with what you make and spending it wisely. The first sets of parents I think live simply and are happy. The second sets are constantly buying things, eating out, and spending on everything. Does it make them happier? I'm not sure but I know if they lost their jobs they would not be calm and happy the way the first set of parents are. Able to walk away because the job sucks. I wonder if people realize that sometimes the savings gives you the freedom of not worrying. It's not just about the money.