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rated:
Updated 10/25/16.

Since I've started my new job, the salary adjustment has prompted me to review all of my bills and find ways to reduce fixed expenditures wherever possible. †Some strategies involved paying upfront to reduce the monthly payment where I had a breakeven within a couple years (refi and solar). †I'm curious as to how much you all pay for your monthly bills?

What is a fixed expense? †A fixed expense is any bill that occurs at regular, scheduled intervals. †For me, all of my fixed expenses are set up on autopay. †Anything that's on autopay is a fixed expense. †Everything else is discretionary including gas and groceries. †

Here's a paste from all my fixed expenses (averaged monthly) rounded to the nearest $5. †Use this as a template for reporting your fixed expenses:

Fixed Expense Monthly
Auto Insurance 100
Averaged Annual Exp. 70
Car(s) 0
Cell Phone 65
Charity 1,000
Gas/Electric 35
Garbage 25
Gym 45
Internet 40
Media (Netflix, etc) 15
Mortgage with Escrow 1,860
Water/Sewer 110
Total Fixed Expenses 3,365
As a % net income 48%

'Averaged Annual Expenses' include any annual bills, averaged monthly. †For me this includes two car registrations, Amazon†prime, costco membership, and xbox live.

I knocked off about $400 a month on my bills over the past few months by doing the following:

  • Refinanced my mortgage 1/2% lower than before. Payments are $200/mo lower including escrow.
  • Shopped around for a better homeowners insurance rate. Knocked 20% off. †I plan on doing both home and car insurance shopping annually to see if there are better rates.
  • Called car insurance and reviewed all discounts. †Turns out they missed putting 'good driver' discount on wife's record. Knocked off a little bit extra per month.
  • Purchases solar using the lowest of 10 bids (all bids were from reputable installers). †Payback is 5-6 years. †Save $150/mo in electricity.
  • Reviewed my company's corporate discount on my cell phone plan and found a better deal. Took an extra $5/mo off.
  • Called comcast and got a better rate for internet-only service.† Cut the cord with cable and use antenna (thanks to www.tvfool.com†for optimization). Save $20/mo.
  • Put entire yard on timers and drip system where necessary. †Should save $$$ compared to hose watering the plants which I was doing before. †Also installed low-flow showerheads. †
  • Spotify on a 50% student discount. †Only $5/mo

Other things I may do:

  • Our city sanitation service offers smaller trash cans at a reduced rate
  • Finish outfitting my home with LED lighting.
  • Get one of these Kill-a-watt things to Target†power hogs for additional conservation:†https://www.amazon.com/P3-International-P4460-Electricity-Monitor/dp/B000RGF29Q
  • Replace my 20 year old water heater. Still works but has been slowly dying
  • This may be useful for somebody: Consider buying an unlimited data plan on eBay†for your cell phone. †The savings over your existing plan may set your breakeven closer than you think. †I've had a grandfathered unlimited plan for years, and my bill is like half of my friends who have to pay for data.
  • Set up autopay to a 2% cash-back card on everything except the mortgage, and put the return in my daughter's 529 college fund. †I plan on using the Fidelity 2% back since my employer is affiliated with them.


Anything else you guys recommend? †I'm curious as to what other people's monthly expenses are and what tricks they've done to keep things low. †If I can knock $5 off a bill I'll do it

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Maybe you could sell what you cut off for profit? †

Pakaderm (Oct. 29, 2016 @ 9:37p) |

I am also in Portland and my favorite place to shop is Everyday Deals on Stark. †It is a nick and dent store but it's gr... (more)

luvbugium (Oct. 30, 2016 @ 9:45p) |

family of five plus a renter friend in the basement

Auto Insurance 58
gas: 40
Cell Phone(s) 30 for me. hubby has his but ... (more)

luvbugium (Oct. 30, 2016 @ 9:59p) |

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rated:
It does't look like there's much or anything at all you can cut from your current expenses. †My suggestion would be to focus on how much you're saving for your family if you have any children or a wife, which I'm guessing you don't, and for retirement. †

Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. †

rated:
Find a less expensive religion.

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vadeltachi said:   Find a less expensive religion.
† I agree with this. †I don't think anyone is trying to be insensitive, but you are looking for ways to save $5 a month here and there, as well as getting solar panels with 5-6 year pay back, but you're okay donating $1k every month?

rated:
This is a rough breakdown of my monthly costs, excluding food, clothing, gasoline, and repair/supplemental costs.

Landline Phone - $55
Car insurance - $166
Home insurance - $75
Property tax - $400
Natural Gas - $45
Electricity - $150
Vehicle tags - $17
Water - $40
Medical insurance - $60
Internet service - $90
P.O. Box rental - $7

Total of $1105
Mortgage was paid off eight years ago and I use a prepaid cell phone. I have a neighbor that installed solar panels on the house roof. Still on the fence about doing that. I could possibly reduce some of the costs if I wanted to do a lot of research. The bulk of my paycheck goes to savings and retirement.

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I have no idea but I'll strive to spend 10% on H&B because I'm inspired to follow OP's example.

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Funny how it's human nature to sweat small monthly bills rather than to go after someithing bigger. Like attacking the cable or cellphone bill instead of big picture stuff like going without a car or living in a much smaller house/apartment. I do it too.

I'd also reconsider how important it is to donate 12k/year to charity when you're pinching pennies at home. But he didn't mention the income side of all this. Maybe he makes 20k/month and just has a frugal nature.

rated:
What do you mean "paying upfront to reduce the monthly payment" ? How does that reduce the payments?

rated:
Chargum85 said:   
vadeltachi said:   Find a less expensive religion.
† I agree with this. †I don't think anyone is trying to be insensitive, but you are looking for ways to save $5 a month here and there, as well as getting solar panels with 5-6 year pay back, but you're okay donating $1k every month?

† Maybe I should have omitted that since I fear it will derail the thread. †Our (wife and I) charitable giving carries a minimum fixed expense, and it's well worth it IMO. †I'm looking to save $5 here and there because it's financial prudence - as is generosity. †It also happens to be oddly addicting once you're on the hunt for savings.

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lilicg said:   What do you mean "paying upfront to reduce the monthly payment" ? How does that reduce the payments?
† I mean things like paying for a refi or buying solar. †

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TravelerMSY said:   I'd also reconsider how important it is to donate 12k/year to charity when you're pinching pennies at home. But he didn't mention the income side of all this. Maybe he makes 20k/month and just has a frugal nature.
††
If he's making $20k/month, he isn't "tithing" according to Christian standards. †

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TravelerMSY said:   Funny how it's human nature to sweat small monthly bills rather than to go after someithing bigger. Like attacking the cable or cellphone bill instead of big picture stuff like going without a car or living in a much smaller house/apartment. I do it too.

I'd also reconsider how important it is to donate 12k/year to charity when you're pinching pennies at home. But he didn't mention the income side of all this. Maybe he makes 20k/month and just has a frugal nature.

† Bingo. †You'll notice I have no debt outside a mortgage - which I could pay off today if needed. †But this post is about focusing on the monthly payments and where to reduce. †Looking for tips and what other people do. †

rated:
Asking us to go over your financials and slash $5/month from your budget while you donate $12k a year is insulting.

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fedguy said:   This is a rough breakdown of my monthly costs, excluding food, clothing, gasoline, and repair/supplemental costs.

Landline Phone - $55
Car insurance - $166
Home insurance - $75
Property tax - $400
Natural Gas - $45
Electricity - $150
Vehicle tags - $17
Water - $40
Medical insurance - $60
Internet service - $90
P.O. Box rental - $7

Total of $1105
Mortgage was paid off eight years ago and I use a prepaid cell phone. I have a neighbor that installed solar panels on the house roof. Still on the fence about doing that. I could possibly reduce some of the costs if I wanted to do a lot of research. The bulk of my paycheck goes to savings and retirement.

††
Thanks for sharing fedguy. †Where do you live where you only pay $40 for water? †It's about $100 standard rate even if you use no water here. †Also, it seems like your internet bill is really high and potentially car insurance depending on type/number of cars. †And $55 landline? †I remember the base rate of AT&T was like $11 for basic service.

rated:
mortgage+escrow 1250
student loans (10 year plan) 255
car loan 283
insurance (1 car comprehensive 1 car liability only) 60
rental condo hoa 165
cable-internet-phone 120
health/dental/vision for family 130
0% CC debt I've been floating until I cant find a 0 fee/0% BT to push it to - 250
home alarm = 40
gardener = 100

too lazy to try to calculate out how much on average I spend on utilities

rated:
I bet you actually paying more for your mortgage consider closing cost and total interest compared to the original mortgage.
$1000/month could fed hundreds of children well in 3rd world country.† I don't think any God would need any monetary contribution to survive.

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TravelerMSY said:   Funny how it's human nature to sweat small monthly bills rather than to go after someithing bigger. Like attacking the cable or cellphone bill instead of big picture stuff like going without a car or living in a much smaller house/apartment. I do it too.

I'd also reconsider how important it is to donate 12k/year to charity when you're pinching pennies at home. But he didn't mention the income side of all this. Maybe he makes 20k/month and just has a frugal nature.

† Since OP said it was a tithe, we can only assume OP is making $10K/month ($120K/year).

rated:
Mortgage PITI: $2540
HOA: $250
Vehicle 1: $530
Vehicle 2: $660 (going away end of 2017 since we won't need it (wife leaving job, me WFH)
Insurance: paid every six months in full ($2800/year = $233/month; will drop by about $1600/year once we get rid of vehicle 2)
Electric and gas: $150-$175 (avg; winter is sub-$100; summer can be over $200)
Healthcare: $1100 (medical+dental for wife and myself; employer does not offer healthcare)
Media: Netflix and PSVue (dropped Sling, trying PSVue): $39.99+$12.99 (share Netflix with family)
VZ Cell: $230 after taxes (mother gives me $40/month; grandmother gives me $10/month if she won't budge when I tell her "I don't want your money"; I get $50/month from employer; net bill: $130 for wife and I on UDPs)
Internet (100/35): $55 (employer gives $25; net bill: $30)
Water: usually about $110-140 every three months
Wife's student loans: $169
Grocery budget: recently bumped to $500 to "prepare" for daughter coming in December; previously budgeted $250
Gas: budget is $100; used to be $300, but recently took a job WFH so $100 fills both vehicles easily for a month or more
Misc: Amazon,†Citi DC, other expenses: $500 budget but sometimes goes over, sometimes is less than $100
Retirement: maxing both 401ks
Other misc: a few 0% offers that are the standard $25/month such as Best Buy (TV), Sears†(washer/dryer); cash in bank to cover PIF but why not take free money?

Total: $7200ish

This is all off the top of my head and is nowhere near complete. Sometimes we're a bit under that, other times we're $5000 over that depending on if we went on vacation, holiday season, etc. Saving all of the rest or investing it into new opportunities here and there.

rated:
Chargum85 said:   
vadeltachi said:   Find a less expensive religion.
† I agree with this. †I don't think anyone is trying to be insensitive, but you are looking for ways to save $5 a month here and there, as well as getting solar panels with 5-6 year pay back, but you're okay donating $1k every month?

† he's getting payback of ever lasting life when he passes

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
Chargum85 said:   
vadeltachi said:   Find a less expensive religion.
† I agree with this. †I don't think anyone is trying to be insensitive, but you are looking for ways to save $5 a month here and there, as well as getting solar panels with 5-6 year pay back, but you're okay donating $1k every month?

† he's getting payback of ever lasting life when he passes

††
The ROI is infinite. † Who wouldn't buy that?

rated:
Fixed Expenses:

*Natural Gas - $39
*Water/Sewer/Garbage - $55.00
*Internet - $52.19
*Electric - $175
*Mortgage/Taxes/Homeowners Insurance - $1091.71
*HOA Dues - $67
*My Term Life - $36.25 (Paid annually)
*Wife's Term Life - $17.92 (Paid annually)
*Umbrella Insurance Policy - $16.67 (Paid annually)
*Sam's Club†- $2.38 (Paid annually - includes sign up discount for 2016)
*Cell Phones - $51
*Professional Org Membership - $4.17 (Paid Once every 3-years)
*AAA - $12.33 (Paid Yearly)
*Amazon†Prime - $6.38 (Paid Yearly - reflects discounted rate)
*Auto Insurance - $77.25 (Paid Yearly)
*Vehicle Licensing/Emissions - $13.34 (Paid Every 2 Years)

Fixed Items: $1,717.59

Budgeted amounts for other items:
Auto Gas - $175
Auto Maintenance - $100
Gifts - $60
Clothes - $35
Food - $270
Misc/All Other Items - $592

Monthly Variable (Budgeted) Items - $1,232

Health & Dental is $80 per month, pre-tax from the paycheck.

After retirement and various other investments, we have a net $6.54 left each month.

--------------
For the OP. What do your variable costs look like? I wouldn't spend much more, if any time, on those fixed costs and trying to reduce them (well, outside of that obscene tithe - but that is non-negotiable for many people). There isn't really much left to do. Would focus attention to all other spending.

rated:
tennis8363 said:   Fixed Expenses:

*Natural Gas - $39

*Electric - $175


Monthly Variable (Budgeted) Items - $1,232

how do you have fixed gas and electric?

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
tennis8363 said:   Fixed Expenses:

*Natural Gas - $39

*Electric - $175


Monthly Variable (Budgeted) Items - $1,232

how do you have fixed gas and electric?

† Not exactly "fixed", but that is the monthly average for the last 3 years (for water/sewer/garbage, gas and electric). For example, electricity in the summer is $325 or so, but around $75 in the winter.

rated:
Some utilities have a pricing plan that will give you fixed monthly rates based on your previous years usage and then adjust it up/down every year. Our electric utility offers it.

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Spending $1,000 a month thinking itís a guaranty of getting into an imaginary place after death is the first thing to cut. More meaningful if you donate your time anyway, instead of trying to buy yourself in.

rated:
I'll say it... troll

rated:
jpfern15 said:   Where do you live where you only pay $40 for water? †It's about $100 standard rate even if you use no water here.Are you sure about that? How much of what you pay is the daily connection fee and how much water do you actually use?
Cell phone could be lower (unlimited family plans are closer to $50 for first line + $30 for second).
Gym membership could be lower (especially if you don't go to the gym).
The rest looks pretty reasonable to me (except tithe, which is unreasonable by definition, but if you make and save enough money for your family and retirement then it's your business).
You can look here for the non-FWF average Joe's expenditures: http://www.bls.gov/cex/home.htm.†
jpfern15 said:   Our (wife and I) charitable giving carries a minimum fixed expense, and it's well worth it IMO.What do you mean by "carries a minimum fixed expense" exactly? Are you in a fringe cult of some kind and will eventually leave this planet for a nearby comet? The way you say "its well worth it" makes it sound like there are actual (of this world) benefits attached.

rated:
atikovi said:   Spending $1,000 a month thinking itís a guaranty of getting into an imaginary place after death is the first thing to cut. More meaningful if you donate your time anyway, instead of trying to buy yourself in.
I was about to say the same. Stop paying other people to do a job you can do yourself. You'll feel great about it and you'll be 12k a year richer.

rated:
nwill002 said:   gardener = 100How big is your garden? Most people around here pay $30-$50 for bi-weekly front and back yard.

rated:
I think you've gone about it exactly the right way. I did exactly the same 13 years ago: first, actually calculate through receipts/CC statements (not just guesstimate) your recurring costs, then go line-by-line and find ways to reduce or eliminate them. So you've already mostly done that. Can I haggle with Comcast to get a better deal? Can I do without a cell phone or use a free service like RingPlus? Do I need cable TV? Etc.

The other thing I would do is look at your non-fixed (but regular) expenses like dining out, buying electronics or clothes or other stuff, etc. Those can really add up and take a big bite out of some people's budgets. When I've done this exercise with people, they are usually SHOCKED to find out they are spending $600/mo ($7,200/yr) eating at restaurants and buying Frappuchinos (not saying you are, just another place to look).

As for your tithing, I don't do it myself, but good for you if you want to do it. You haven't asked for people's opinions and clearly aren't looking to "save" money by reducing charitable contributions, but that doesn't stop people from giving them. I don't see any contradiction in wanting to waste as little money as possible by giving it to Comcast or Verizon, but wanting to save more and/or donate more to charity. I would probably remove it from the OP as it seems to veer some people off-topic.

rated:
jtroye32 said:   
atikovi said:   Spending $1,000 a month thinking itís a guaranty of getting into an imaginary place after death is the first thing to cut. More meaningful if you donate your time anyway, instead of trying to buy yourself in.
I was about to say the same. Stop paying other people to do a job you can do yourself. You'll feel great about it and you'll be 12k a year richer.

† The people I know that tithe on that level are already donating a significant amount of time to their community.

I'm not sure why everyone is so up in arms against tithing. Do you have a general hate of charitable giving, or just when it involves religion? You realize a significant amount of this money goes back into disaster relief efforts, social welfare, youth programs...?

rated:
scripta said:   
nwill002 said:   gardener = 100
How big is your garden? Most people around here pay $30-$50 for bi-weekly front and back yard.

††by gardener I meant landscaper who does front and back.† I'm on 1/4 acre with no grass but a ton of trees, shrubs, and bushes to maintain

rated:
zulugrid said:   
jtroye32 said:   
atikovi said:   Spending $1,000 a month thinking itís a guaranty of getting into an imaginary place after death is the first thing to cut. More meaningful if you donate your time anyway, instead of trying to buy yourself in.
I was about to say the same. Stop paying other people to do a job you can do yourself. You'll feel great about it and you'll be 12k a year richer.

† The people I know that tithe on that level are already donating a significant amount of time to their community.

I'm not sure why everyone is so up in arms against tithing. Do you have a general hate of charitable giving, or just when it involves religion? You realize a significant amount of this money goes back into disaster relief efforts, social welfare, youth programs...?

† Is that why church pastors drive late model Mercedes and Cadillacs while their followers drive old Chevys and Nissans? Guess charity begins in the home.

rated:
I'd suggest putting the $1000/month into a savings account. After a year, decide then if you really want to donate $12,000.

rated:
zulugrid said:   
jtroye32 said:   
atikovi said:   Spending $1,000 a month thinking itís a guaranty of getting into an imaginary place after death is the first thing to cut. More meaningful if you donate your time anyway, instead of trying to buy yourself in.
I was about to say the same. Stop paying other people to do a job you can do yourself. You'll feel great about it and you'll be 12k a year richer.

† The people I know that tithe on that level are already donating a significant amount of time to their community.

I'm not sure why everyone is so up in arms against tithing. Do you have a general hate of charitable giving, or just when it involves religion? You realize a significant amount of this money goes back into disaster relief efforts, social welfare, youth programs...?

Nothing wrong with charity. Just that if one believes in fixed seat in Heaven, then why worry about future and savings. Leave destiny to a higher being's hand. Why worry about saving a penny here and a penny there. You're secure since you are charitable.

rated:
I'd ask your church to see their 990 IRS form to make sure that money isn't going to the pastors Pog collection.

rated:
jpfern15 said:   

  • Our city sanitation service offers smaller trash cans at a reduced rate


Wait til you see the size of that thing. Saving money sounds great until you realize how much trash you actually put out.†

rated:
How can I save money, please ?†

$26.00 †phone [Verizon]
less than $2.50 cell phone †[Tracfone - should be $1.50/month for next 2 years]
$50.00 electric
$74.66 propane†
$9.95 Internet†† †[Nescape]
$91.00 car insurance [2 cars]
$43.00 insurance [Travel Trailer = our house]
$9.30 registration/tags/inspection
$65.00 RE taxes +Personal Property taxes†
$3.75 Sam's Club
$120.00 food for 2
--------------------------
$495.16 for 2

does not count †[very occasional] vehicle repairs or tires,†

clothes ? Thrift Stores [less than $3 a month ?] - we have more clothes than we can use - we just shop for entertainment .

rated:
jyzhang said:   I bet you actually paying more for your mortgage consider closing cost and total interest compared to the original mortgage.
$1000/month could fed hundreds of children well in 3rd world country.† I don't think any God would need any monetary contribution to survive.

† In my home country 1k would be enough to cover the monthly income of 5 different families!!!

Skipping 190 Messages...
rated:
family of five plus a renter friend in the basement

Auto Insurance 58
gas: 40
Cell Phone(s) 30 for me. hubby has his but it's under his business
Gas/Electric 120
Garbage free --- share a can with my elderly mother
Internet 30 negotiated from 70
netflix, hulu 18
Mortgage/taxes/insurance 1500
medical insurance 500
Water/Sewer 60
food 450
restaurants/ entertainment 200
alcohol 45 hey, don't judge me.
after school tutoring 125 too much, but the kids begged and who am I to say no if they want to do math after school
bus passes for kids 90
parking permit for work (carpool) 50

3350 total (rounded)

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