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Phobus

Finances

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At the end of last month, it turns out I had pretty much no money, but then got paid, so all was well. However, this concerned me enough to actually work out what money I had to spend after taxes (a big chunk in the UK), rent, bills and insurance. Obviously I won't talk actual figures here, but it turns out that, of my gross pay, only 32.13% of that is money I can spend on food, drink, travel, miscellaneous purchases (clothes, cleaning stuff, etc.) and leisure. This seems depressingly low, but to those of you out there also earning a living (even if you don't live independently), how does it work out for you? Do your fixed costs also leave you with a surprisingly low amount of money to actually use in a month? Avoid using anything other than percentages, as I'm pretty sure pay is generally meant to be kept private.

I think in my last job, the way rent and things worked out I actually had something like 50% of my gross pay to use in day-to-day life, so even taking into account the improved pay the current job entails, I'm functionally poorer.

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I live in a slightly smaller town (70k population) in Finland, in other words rent is much more tolerable than in Helsinki area. For the rent of my current two-room flat you'd be lucky to get a small studio in there:
28.8% of my income goes to income taxes and welfare fees
24.3% goes to rent and utilities
04.6% for student loan payments

Rest is pretty much free to use; I don't have a car so my insurance costs are minimal and I don't need to pay extra taxes or loans for that either.

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Food is a big expense, its best to be frugal with your groceries. I hate having to spend money in a restaurant or fast food place. Instead of spending $3 on two eggs, from the grease truck at my job, I can buy a carton for $2.50. Paying such high costs for food is a sin to me. I would rather starve than pay such exorbitant prices.

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I've been poor and homeless in California, living out of a tent and I've probably told the forum a few times.

Clothes and drink? No no. Cut that out. You're poor now. You don't need new clothes, unless you're wearing tattered rags. Booze? Nope, quit that man. Drink from the tap, buy a filter if your water is disgusting.

You can get a roommate or just plain move back in with your parents or someone, bike to work and back. Cut frills in your life. Heck even lowering the tier of your Internet will help. My net was like $75 and I thought oh fuck no. Called them up, lowered the tier of net, bought my own modem for $20 instead of renting theirs for $5. Canceled my cable... in fact a lot of my cousins have canceled their cable and live off Netflix.

In my life, I've calculated that I can get by spending $3,000 per year on food. To the previous poster spending $2.50 nope, do it all yourself. Never spend more than $1 per meal. Heck $1 * 4 meals a day (who eats 3?), * 365 = $1,460 per year. If you do Romen, you can live cheaper. If you do $2 per meal, then you'll be around $3,000 like I was.

2 bananas for breakfast, usually runs a quarter per day. Cereal runs about 50 cents per day with milk. Some breakfast sandwiches run $2. Nope, fuck that.

Got a pet? Nope, sorry to the pet, but you come first. Imagine if you have kids how far in the hole you'd be.

Dating someone is expensive. Several times I've thought about dumping my girlfriend, just because I spend far too much on her when I'm cheap. I have a reason to be cheap though, since I've been poor, I'm not going back. I don't want to have a red month because she's dragging me down. $150 per week on clothes? What the fuck is that? Oh places send her 50% discounts, so she buys out a store. Going out for food about 6x a week. What the fuck? I've become a great cook since dating her (to save money), but nope, she wants to go out.

The easiest way to save money is to not spend any.

For further crazy references, TLC has Extreme Cheapscates, but sometimes they're either too extreme or they end up spending more money than I would.

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Nope to the $2.50 carton of eggs? What's he supposed to do, raise his own chickens? You do realize what he was saying was $3 for eggs is dumb when he can buy a whole carton for $2.50, right? Sorry, just found that kind of amusing - advocating that he somehow make his own damn eggs or something.

I haven't been working since my illness, and I'm still trying to figure out what I'm gonna do from here now that I've greatly recovered, but I will say, I could never embrace the whole "no frills life" thing. Yeah, it's great to save up money, but at a certain point, I feel you kinda have to spend on at least some frills to remind yourself why you're saving in the fist place. You know, you gotta have a nice steak dinner once in a while (you don't have to go out to get it, but you know, even if you're cooking yourself, getting a good cut of meat is gonna cost you) to remind yourself why you're working so damn hard - to remind yourself that hard work means being able to get nicer things.

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I'm still doing my civilian service at the moment, so I don't have to pay taxes at all. My monthly income is roughly €500, and from that, most of my money, surprisingly, goes to games and whatnot. I can basically live an entire week on a single bag of bread, so groceries are not a great expense for me.

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geekmarine said:

Nope to the $2.50 carton of eggs? What's he supposed to do, raise his own chickens? You do realize what he was saying was $3 for eggs is dumb when he can buy a whole carton for $2.50, right? Sorry, just found that kind of amusing - advocating that he somehow make his own damn eggs or something.


I must've misread that, I thought it was $2.50 from a food truck for lunch. My bad. I apologize. $2.50 for a carton of eggs is a good price.

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geo said:

I must've misread that, I thought it was $2.50 from a food truck for lunch.

I wish you could get lunch that cheaply here. If I wanted to eat out, the cheapest option would be a crummy 7€ pizza.

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Phobus said:

Avoid using anything other than percentages, as I'm pretty sure pay is generally meant to be kept private.

No reason why it should be. Keeping it private only helps company owners keep salaries as low as possible. People going into a job interview should know how much people working positions similar to what they're applying for are making so that they can demand fair pay.

I make around $1500/month after taxes, still living with my parents, usually end up saving around $1000 every month. $200 goes to my part of the bills, $300 for day to day expenses.

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geo said:

I must've misread that, I thought it was $2.50 from a food truck for lunch. My bad. I apologize. $2.50 for a carton of eggs is a good price.


Also buying store brand stuff is the same as buy the big named brands. I learned that from when I worked in retail many years ago. My boss told me the store just buys the surplus of what ever product, and repackages it as their own. Since they don't spend so much on the fancy packaging; the product is cheaper.

That's another reason for such high prices of commodities; a big part of it is paying for the damn packaging.

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Belial said:

No reason why it should be. Keeping it private only helps company owners keep salaries as low as possible. People going into a job interview should know how much people working positions similar to what they're applying for are making so that they can demand fair pay.

Good point... I have to admit I'd never thought of that, although I've always been aware that I'm being lower paid than my older colleagues, even if I've been in the job longer.

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There's a caveat to buying off-brand food I've discovered. If there's a brand cheaper than the store brand, do not buy it, it's not worth the extra savings. I discovered this a few years back when I first moved out on my own. I always knew to buy generic, but at the store I saw that not only was there the store brand, but there was this other, "cheapo" brand that was even cheaper. I'll use the example of tomato soup - the name brand was like $1.00, the store brand $.75, and the cheapo brand $.50. I figured it was all the same stuff, so I bought the cheapo brand tomato soup - which ended up being salty, tasteless, watered down garbage. At that point, I was no longer saving money, because I wasn't even getting the product I wanted in the first place. So be aware - if a food brand is cheaper than the store brand, it's probably because they cut corners in the actual ingredients, not just the packaging (seriously, store brand vs. name brand, literally packaging is the only difference).

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When I was destitute the biggest things I did to get buy was 1. completely change my eating habits and learn to eat cheap, 2. get rid of any excess 'fun' money. (I didn't own a computer or anything like that, no internet either, if I wanted that stuff I went over to a friends -only if they were in walking distance, don't need to waste gas money), and 3. move in with other people. (You'd be amazed how little money you can survive on when your living expenses are split between a bunch of people.)

Also don't have kids or pets.

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Jodwin said:

I wish you could get lunch that cheaply here. If I wanted to eat out, the cheapest option would be a crummy 7€ pizza.


Is that for a sack lunch or a lunch bought at work?

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I'd say 30% is pretty damn good. If my wife and I didn't agree to split expenses id probably have about 5%.

when you own a house there's a never ending flow of work to do that comes with it. Maintenance, updating, etc. Things that take two seconds to do in doombuilder take hundreds of hours of manual labor, take weeks before they're complete, and costs thousands of dollars. So usually spending money to alleviate boredom is pretty much completely off the budget.

the way I calculate a budget:

open up a separate checking account, start with about $200. Take all your monthly expenses for the year by saving copies of your bills, take the highest of each type of monthly bill and round up to the next $50. So for example my electricity/gas bill one freezing winter month was $233.42, so electricity gas expense is $250.

my expenses pretty much look like this:
Mortgage: $900
electricity/gas: $250
water: $50
food: $200 (~$80 biweekly)
phone: $50
internet: $50

so that's about $1500 in monthly expenses. Divide by how often you get paid, then set up your direct deposit so that the resulting number is deposited into your new account, and any extra money you make can go into any other account you want as your spending money. (pick up an extra shift or work a holiday or two if you want extra spending money) if you can keep your hands off it, you'll never have to worry about going under unless something wildly tragic happens I suppose. Get a checkbook made for it to pay bills with and a debit card to use exclusively for grocery shopping. Youll always accumulate a surplus over time which you can use to treat yourself, like get a new piece of furniture or a name brand product youve been getting generic for a long time. Stuff like that. Remember to update your budget every year or two in case things change, or immediately when you do something big like buy a new car or something. Just pretend like that money doesn't belong to you and handle it like it were some kinda charity. The excess stuff though is for all the strippers and ice cream and cell phone games you could ever want, assuming you can manage it.

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