{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "$130k is not enough to cover living expenses for me and my wife in N. Va. We always overspend by around $300 every month.\n\nWe are doing this thing where we live on my income (the 130k) and save all the money my wife makes, because I was naive enough to think I made a lot of money.\n\nI feel like we are relatively frugal, so I was surprised to find that $130k was not enough for two people. Just wanted to share. Thoughts?", "post_id": "60538ce7f56337001c538687", "reply_count": 146, "vote_count": 18, "bowl_id": "59064a3cb12379001006592c", "bowl_name": "Personal Investment Chatter", "feed_type": "bowl" }
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$130k is not enough to cover living expenses for me and my wife in N. Va. We always overspend by around $300 every month.

We are doing this thing where we live on my income (the 130k) and save all the money my wife makes, because I was naive enough to think I made a lot of money.

I feel like we are relatively frugal, so I was surprised to find that $130k was not enough for two people. Just wanted to share. Thoughts?

likefunny
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Very similar salary and lifestyle here, but my mortgage is 1200/mo (low, not realistic in some areas) - we used to live very frugally and a few raises later, we’ve paid off debt and kept the same house and have tons of financial freedom. We’re homebodies, but we like having the freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want and I don’t feel bad because it’s the lifestyle we wanted. We also max out my employer Roth 401k and two Roth IRAs (one in each of our names) and are building our regular savings now (goal is $100k). We’ve kept our emergency savings at $10k for years to prioritize retirement goals and we live in a modest house with our kids. Every time I think about “getting more house” I do the budget and realize that like you, something would have to give, and we like our financial freedom. If you can get away with cutting your housing expenses and paying off the car, you’ll be golden. Also.. hope you don’t mind me saying, pick a cause and give $2000 once per year to a local thing you really care about. My utilities are also a bit lower, but I’m guessing there’s some Netflix and what not padded in there.

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It’s certainly been a compelling reason to not take part in lifestyle creep for us. Bought 7 years ago but in today’s market we’d be buying a shack for that mortgage amount 😅

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You already have a lot of opinions here, so I'm not sure you need any more, but I so much relate to this. I make a decent salary, never felt like I was extravagant but could not figure out why I couldn't save more. I finally found a budgeting app/philosophy that works well for me and was like *aha* that's where my money is going, and really helps me think about it I'm terms of my priorities for life and lifestyle. Something my fiancee and I are doing now, with this additional information we learned, is going on mini-spending diets. They are essentially short term sprints where we identify an area we want to cut back and really focus on that for three months at a time. At the end, we evaluate if we felt deprived, restricted, etc and adjust future budget plans accordingly. It's been super helpful to move us from spending 80-90% of take home to 50-60% each month

likehelpful

I use YNAB for budgeting

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Buddy, your TC isn’t the issue here, your financial literacy/responsibility is. You spend 300 on charity, have 3x the utility cost as a normal couple, spend 100 more on your pet than you should, spend 2x on food then is appropriate, and 2x on entrainment. That’s a total of $1200 per month that could be put towards investments. You mention you’re saving your wife’s money but didn’t mention any investments outside your 401k/HSA. You’re not only spending irresponsibly, but you’re also (seemingly) not focusing on investing to improve your long term outlook. Not financial advice in anyway just pointing out areas of improvement in my opinion. Also, charity is nice but if you can’t afford your own living situation and you’re still giving tons of money to charity that doesn’t seem very diligent (or you’re mother teresa). Watch some Dave Ramsey on YouTube

likesmart

Dave Ramsey is only good advice if you’re buried in debt.

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You're not living frugally if you're spending more money than most Americans make. If you want to save more / spend less, then you have to decide where you want to sacrifice. A frugal person buys a used, but reliable older model, small and not fancy car. They get the base model cell phone. They buy just enough house to be comfortable in the less expensive neighborhood (unless they have kids). They cook most of their meals. They use coupons or wait until things go on sale. They do the chores themselves. And so on. That's what I think as moderately frugal, not even extremely frugal.

If you're happy with your life style and how much you are saving, don't worry about it. Sounds like you are being very financially smart if you're only living on one salary.

Figure out what your enjoy now vs enjoy later (retirement) goals are and plan accordingly.

likehelpful

I actually like this point. If you enjoy your lifestyle now, just pull $3600 from your wife’s income to break even. That’s at least an option

likesmart

You’re telling me that 2 people can’t live on $6-7K/month in NOVA? (After taxes, maxing 401K and HSA)

That doesn’t sound right. You need to provide a breakdown of your expenses.

likehelpful

.

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likefunny

Think you guys are spending too much. What is your rent?

like

Mortgage - $2900
Car - $330
Insurance - $120
Charity - $300
Utilities - $400
Phone & internet - $200
Pet - $150
Food - $900
Shopping & entertainment - $400
Car tax, home/car repair, gas, etc. - $200

My take home after HSA and 401k is $5500. I think my budget comes out to $5800 in spending.

We live a good life, but anything seem unreasonable?

likefunnysmarthelpful

We do the same—basically save/invest/pay debt with all of the money my husband makes and spend what I bring home. I’d say your two biggest expenses are house and food.

My gross is $180k, but after retirement and health care saving, it’s closer to $160k. Husband makes about $42k. My goal is to eventually get it so that he can literally direct all of his wages into a 401(k)—or some kind of equivalent. Right now, that extra $42k after tax goes to building an emergency fund, some retirement, and some debt (we did some renovations that are almost paid for!).

I just got our mortgage in Minneapolis refinanced from $2000/month to $1591/month. We probably spend close to what you are spending on food each month, but I wouldn’t say that’s very frugal. We order out a fair amount; I also order SunBasket meal kits to help take away some of the mental work from cooking. Before big law, we spent about $400/month on food but I cooked everything, shopped at Aldi, etc. But now I prioritize the extra help I get in the kitchen and the higher quality produce and meat.

As with all budget questions, it really depends on what budget cuts won’t make you crazy/feel deprived. If a refinance or cutting food isn’t something that is possible for you, I wouldn’t sweat the extra $300/month.

When someone says they can’t live off a household income of $130K and pays a mortgage of $2900/month 🤦🏻‍♂️

likefunny

Y’all just spending too much unnecessarily

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But you’re saving all of your wife’s income. I think that’s pretty good... how much is she making?

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Are you maxing out 401k and HSA for the year ?

If it’s just $300 a month, and you’re saving an entire salary besides, what’s the beef? Pulling $3600 out of an entire salary saved is not make or break unless your spouse is making peanuts

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I think it's more about lifestyle creep..not spending extra money just because you can.

But on the other hand, living on one salary is more about being financially secure (if one partner loses their job). But OP's salary increases, and their partner takes a pay cut, are they still going to budget around one salary?

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Everyone saying OP spends too much is nuts... he and his wife make somewhere between a decent amount and a lot of money between the two of them, and are saving all of wife’s income. If the pandemic has taught me anything, life is for living.

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$900 for food for two people is a lot. I live in the DMV area, about the same salary, only life off my salary and feed three adults a month on $400. They could reallocate some of the wife’s money into the budget but at least the food and entertainment spending should be reduced.

like

What is your definition of relatively frugal? What are your monthly obligations (rent/mortgage, car payments, student loans, etc)? Those will bev the biggest factors combined with what your spending on nonessentials. Your monthly take home pay should be somewhere in the $6-6.5k range, so it would stand to reason that you’re probably overpaying for something.

like

Looks like you may be house broke living off your salary alone. You’re blowing over half your cheddar on home expenses

likesmart

Right that’s why I said “living off your salary alone”

likeuplifting

People don’t realize northern VA is one of the most expensive places to live (behind SF). Maybe use a budgeting app to analyze where all your expenses are actually going and then decide what you want to do but overall if you’re maxing 401k and saving your wife’s whole salary you’re probably fine. I recommend YNAB - it’s the best budgeting app out there.

likefunny

But here's the thing, most people make $50k or less and certain ky many of them live in the area and have figured it out, right? Same with SF. How much is the waiter/waitress making, the school teacher, the fireman/woman? How are they surviving? Smaller house? Longer commute? Fewer luxuries?

The point being, that if you want to save more when living on $130k, there are hundreds of ways. People are reacting to that inherit fact, and the fact that OP used the word frugal.

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Yeah no offense but it seems like your spending too much. I have basically the same household income for two people in a two bedroom apartment in Arlington and usually have a couple hundred left over at the EOM. What’s your budget look like?

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Differing opinion - you’re doing great!

401k and HSA is 27k per year right there. That’s 20% savings off the bat on your salary. Assuming your wife makes 50k bad taking home 80%, that puts you at 67k in savings per year on 180k HHI. That’s a split close to 40% expenses, 40% savings, and 20% taxes which is 50% savings rate post-tax!

Sure, you could save some money here and there but you are ahead of 99% of people out there. Keep crushing it!

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3300 a month on housing expenses to a not frugal, no matter where you are.

like

This is a terrible arrangement since the incentives are not aligned for both you and your wife. Have her split the mortgage with you and watch your discretionary spending drop.

funnylikesmart

Are you married KKR1?

likefunny

Hm, so for a little perspective, I make $106k living in DC (with a car) and have basically covered all expenses for my boyfriend and I over the course of the year with the exception of his half of rent and utilities (~$1160 per month). So if I added that in it would require about $15k more than I make now, which is still under your 130. If I then took out my own allocation for savings (with the understanding that a spouse’s salary is covering that), then I’d have even more to work with. I’m sure your insurance and phone bill are a little more than mine with two people on them, but they can’t make too huge of a difference.

I obviously don’t know what you spend on and everyone’s different, just thought this might help provide a picture of someone else living in the area.

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I live in nova too and I think what you’re saying is reasonable. Although $400 for utilities seems really high but I’ve never owned a house.

A good exercise to go through is track every single expense for a couple months. I track my expenses in a Google form and Google spreadsheet. Tracking things manually (as opposed to using mint or personal capital) helps me be more conscious of my spending

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