To be technical, going over our bank statement that was provided this past Thursday, $8,965.68 was added to our account from February 9th through March 8th, and $10,632.31 left the account during those same 28 days.
Beginning Balance on Feb 9 $11,807.50
Deposits / Credits 8,965.68
Card Withdrawals 1,726.98 – Other Withdrawals 5,898.90 – Checks Paid 3,006.53 –
Ending Balance on Mar 8, 2017 $ 10,140.77
I do not know how this looks to you, but it looks extremely Middle Class Guyish to me. If you struggle big time to make ends meet and only have a couple hundred bucks to your name at the end of the month, this may look like a huge amount.
If you are a Middle Class Guy with full-time, gainful employment and have a Middle Class Gal spouse with full-time, gainful employment and live in a nice house, own nice cars and buy nice things, the slightly-less-than-nine grand deposited into our account may not look like much. Also, some of that was not from income, but from savings.
I follow Frugal Friends 1 on Twitter and read a post earlier this year by a woman who wrote about getting by on about $1,500 per month total. I was flummoxed, but read that it is just her and her husband, they live in a tiny house somewhere cheap in the country, and they go on the cheap to the extreme with their groceries with Ramen Noodles, rice and such for most meals.
We easily spend $1,500 per kid, per month, all told. I am not complaining about it, just stating a fact. How much one earns from similar jobs and the overall cost of living varies greatly from place to place, as you know. A $100,000 per year job in San Francisco may pay only $40,000 in Nashville. Property taxes on a great house like my sister’s in New Orleans may be only $3,000 per year, while mine are double that for a house in need of much repairs and valued at only half of hers, but located in the Chicago suburbs.
On the other end of the spectrum, I know many people who spend way more than we do and live in beautiful homes, drive great newer cars, go on vacations to exotic locales, drop a hundred bucks per person at nice restaurants weekly, go golfing, boating and a few who even own and fly planes. My family is not in that tax bracket.
These families that we know can be summarized by these four groups:
- Both spouses are working at good jobs in the private or public sector making six figures each and spend as if they make even more than that.
- One spouse works, always the man, in a career like a doctor, lawyer, developer, software designer, successful business owner or financial person like in bond sales or trading.
- They made big money the old-fashioned way: it was passed down by their parents or grandparents.
- They spend like they make $250,000 per year but make $125,000 per year, fueling their consumption by debt and some day will have to pay the piper.
I also want to clarify a few things. One, we do not always have more going out than coming in because that would not be feasible over the long-run. We are not the State of Illinois or City of Chicago government, after all.
There were a few months last year when we took in a thousand or sometimes several thousand more than what went out, thus the ending balance for most of our statements somewhere between $7,000 and $15,000 depending upon a myriad of factors month to month.
Two, I do not say we “spent” over ten grand because the money that went out included the automatic $400 that I contribute to our daughter’s 529 Plan on the first of every month, and the $250 that I “paid myself” to my Roth IRA on the two pay days in this time span, to the T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth fund on February 17th and to its Capital Appreciation fund on March 6th.
We made a monthly payment of about $2,300 even to our son’s college on Valentine’s Day. It is due on the 15th of every month and I initiate the electronic payment on the 10th every month, as it takes about four days to clear.
Our mortgage payment of about $700 per month gets deducted automatically the first of every month.
Also, we do not escrow for our property taxes and live in Crook County. I had to stroke a check for $2,909.53 on February 21st, which alone made up about 30% of our “spending.”
Utilities came out to about $270, Comcast zapped us automatically for almost another $200, we ate out at least 18 times between the four of us for another $500 or so, and I spent about $400 on my co-payments at the dentist.
We paid over $1,200 between our three credit cards, paying each of the three off in full as I strive to every month. Those payments covered more meals out, some clothes at Kohl’s, the $200 monthly payment for our daughter’s braces, the $200 monthly payment to her dance studio and God knows what else.
Gas for our cars came to another couple hundred, private music lessons a few hundred, everything we did was a few hundred. Ultimately, it comes out to nearly eleven grand.
On the plus side, my wife and I each had two paychecks and I must report that two out of the nine grand deposited was a transfer from one of our son’s two 529 plans, also transferred on the 10th of the month to coincide with the transfer to the school on or about the same day. The two grand in from the 529 and the $2,300 out has become a routine monthly expense for us.
I am sharing this to put my money where my mouth is. I intend to write more about saving and paying for college, a subject near and dear to me. I hate almost everything about Crook County, Illinois and share the details of what is to me a painful expenditure twice per year when I have to shell out around three grand.
Just when I begin to feel like we are making a bit of headway and can pop for some much-needed car repairs, home improvements or even a new car or TV, I get walloped by the local taxing districts.
I understand the need for local taxing districts to collect taxes. It pays for local governments, schools, libraries, park districts and even Townships in Illinois. But it sure does hurt when you have about $10,000 in the bank and have to send $3,000 to the County Treasurer.
I hope to do another similar post some time later this year about how a few grand more came in then went out, but the way things are going, it may be a while.