How Much Did the Strong Money Household Spend in 2019?

It’s that time again.  Time to peel back the curtain as I share the juicy details of our household spending.

Believe it or not, last year was the first full year we’ve actually tracked our spending, and I only did it because of this blog!  Before that I used to just estimate our annual spending, but there was no ‘proof’ as such.

You can check out last year’s numbers and thoughts here.  But don’t worry, I’ll compare the numbers and provide commentary to put it all into context 🙂

 

Surprise!

Now, when you see the numbers and compare them to last year, you may be a little shocked.  I know I was!  This year didn’t feel much different at all, but the numbers tell another story.

During the year, we didn’t really bother looking for things to optimise.  And even though last year already seemed high, we actually went out for food/coffee even more often.  But despite this sloppy behaviour, our spending actually fell.  A lot!

Although to be fair, by now it’s possible that some spending improvements are subconscious, meaning I’m making more efficient choices without thinking about it.

The name for this type of person is an OG Optimiser:  someone who has become a veteran of the frugality game.  Never heard of it?  Well, that’s because I just made it up!

To re-cap our situation for new readers:

  • We’re an early retiree couple, with one dog.
  • Mrs SMA works part time these days, and I stay home with our Bulldog and do some blogging.
  • We’re renting in Perth.  If you’re curious, later on, when we’ve sold all our properties and decided where to settle, we’ll probably buy a place.
  • We enjoy our free time and live comfortably.  Travelling is generally local, so we can take our dog with us!

So you know, I’ve condensed categories to make things simpler than last year.  The table looks different to last time, but don’t worry – everything was included!  Okay, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

 

Strong Money Spending for 2019

Here’s the summary of our household spending for the year…

Category 2018 2019
Rent $20,800 $20,800
Food $5,892 $4,947
 Groceries (incl. alcohol, vitamins)  $4,997  $3,718
 Café/Restaurants  $895  $1,229
Car/Transport $3,225 $2,179
 Public Transport  $810  $823
 Petrol  $729  $804
 Rego, maintenance, other  $1,716  $552
Utilities $1,447 $1,711
 Electricity/Gas  $1,306  $1,357
 Water  $141  $354
Travel $5,571 $1,320
 Country Trips  $2,648  $0
 Interstate Visits  $2,923  $1,320
Medical / Health $1,455 $1,390
 Doctor, Physio, Dental, Glasses  $1,455  $1,050
 Prescriptions  $0  $340
Miscellaneous $7,792 $4,579
 Pet (Insurance, Vet, Bulk Food)  $2,633  $1,038
 Gifts (Us and others)  $1,557  $764
 Phone & Internet  $704  $569
 Garden  $1,154  $560
 Other  $619  $543
 Charity  $423  $508
 Personal/Beauty Products  $335  $419
 Clothes & Accessories  $367  $180
TOTAL $46,182 $36,926

 

Our Spending in Charts

For those who prefer things in a visual form, here is our total spending in charts.  One for everything, and one for non-housing expenses.

 

Strong Money Household Spending 2019

Strong Money Non-Housing Spending 2019

 

Comments

Clearly, there were differences vs last year.  So here’s some commentary to go along with the table…

Food:  Went to Aldi a little more.  Took full advantage of Coles offers to stock-up big and then use Bonus Points for free groceries.  Related post:  Our Grocery Strategy.

Cafe/Restaurants:  See what I mean?  Shameful, sloppy behaviour 😉

Car/Transport:  Traded in our car just before Rego was due (win!).  One speeding fine this year (oops!).  Public transport is for Mrs SMA’s part time job, so in normal retirement this would be zero.  Related post:  Frugal Car Ownership.

Electricity:  100% electric-powered house.  And sadly, no competition here in WA.

Medical/Health/Prescription:  Some dental work and a number of physio sessions.  Plus prescription for some nagging nerve/pain issues for Mrs SMA (maybe I’m the pain that gets on her nerves?)

Travel:  As mentioned in our Year in Review, we got slack and didn’t organise any road-trips in 2019.  Also a more-normal one family trip each.

Pet:  Cancelled pet insurance half-way through the year – costs have increased 20% per annum for 5 years straight and is no longer worth it.  Happy to pay out-of-pocket (yes, even many thousands worth).  Luckily, no swallowing of toys this year – good boy!

Phone/Internet:  Phone is 2x Kogan pre-paid at roughly $200 each.  Internet is $150 Telstra 365-day charge for the laptop (tax-deductible for the blog, but included here anyway).  Related post:  When Frugality Meets Smartphones.

Water/Garden:  Less veggie patches this year and more water as landlord wanted grass restored.

The groups from last year vs this year may not be perfect, but the totals are accurate, which is what counts!  If anything doesn’t make sense, just ask and I’ll clarify.

Regular readers will know we also bought a car.  Would you include that here?  I don’t as it’s not a regular item.  It’s like the cost of moving house (buying/selling) or getting solar panels – something you might do every decade or so.

 

How is this possible?

You might be reading this and thinking, “What the hell is going on?  I just don’t get how they manage to spend so little and not be rocking back-and-forth in the fetal position.”

It’s probably fair that our spending this year was lower than average.  We cancelled pet insurance as the cost is no longer worth it.  And this year, we’ll definitely be going on a country WA road-trip or two.

Even so, our ‘average’ spending will probably come in at around $40k, including rent.  Yes, you could add in multiple thousands for each of the following:  insurances, more exotic trips, gadget upgrades, new clothing, home ownership, less home-cooking, more driving around and spending on entertainment.

Doing this would bring us up to a more ‘normal’ level of spending.  But then I wouldn’t be sitting here typing a blog during the week about how to waste less money, build your investments and retire stupidly early, would I?!

Because we’d be just another couple in the rat race, stuck in an office/factory/site all day, wishing we were doing something else and wondering why we can’t get ahead.

Back to the point.  Outside of rent, our personal spending came in at only about $16k.  To be honest, I’m quite pleased with that.  Especially when you consider many households spend that on restaurants or holidays alone!

So, even without conscious effort, our spending dropped by about 20%.  Almost to the level I used for an emergency situation in my FI Backup Plans post.  At the time, I’m sure some people read the post and thought, “Yeah right, he wouldn’t cut spending that far – it would affect their quality of life too much.”

Well, here we are.  Around that number, without pain or sacrifice (or effort!).  What this shows is, I was probably being conservative in that Backup Plans post.  We could certainly up the frugality game if need be.

By the way, this isn’t to show off.  It’s to show that life in Australia isn’t anywhere near as expensive as many suggest.  And that you don’t lose happiness by simplifying your life and focusing on what matters.

This even includes what I like to call ‘Millionaire Snacks’ like avocados and walnuts, as well as a near-embarrassing amount of cafe/restaurant spending 😉

 

Final Thoughts

To be clear, if we were still in full-time work and hadn’t yet bought our freedom, I would still look to trim a few categories.

Even in what appears to be a lean lifestyle, there are always incremental improvements to be had!  But life is good and we’re both earning some part-time income, so it’s okay to let a few things slide.

The truth is, this is possible because we just don’t need very much to be happy.  Once we hop off the Consumption = Happiness Treadmill, the ‘cost of living’ tends to magically melt away.  And as I detailed in Our Year in Review, plenty of good times can still be had without bleeding the bank dry!

Hopefully you found this behind-the-scenes look into our finances interesting.  Maybe it showed you some areas where you could improve.  Or maybe it highlighted some areas where you’re already killing it, and maybe ol’ Mr Strong Money needs to lift his game!  Either way, both are good news.

So, how was your saving in 2019?  Can you make your finances stronger in 2020?  Any frugality wins you’d like to share?  Let me know in the comments…

56 comments

  1. Love the post!
    So nice to read people’s honest experiences with no hidden agenda keep up the great work!
    We track our spending on a free app called MoneyBrilliant. I would love to have our cost down to your level. We are at $80306 annually we are a mum dad and 2 kids family near you (we are in Kinross).
    Our spending has a Similar breakdown category wise rent 28% groceries 12.5% transport 10% kids 9%[after school care,school fees etc] services and utilities 6.3% … by tracking it keeps us more accountable for our spending and keen to optimise savings. Looking to drop the second car this year as I use train to get to work and it should save some $.
    Simple things like changing from Optus 24$ per month to Jeenee mobile at $12.50 with more data was an easy substitution. Aldi as apposed to Coles and woollies and iga also saves us. also $1.50 hamburgers at McDonald’s for a family treat on the cheap! (“Hamburger “ is basically a cheeseburger minus the cheese)
    I would love a post on some of the affordable substitutions you use.

    1. Thanks very much Luke! Good to see another Northern Suburbs reader 🙂
      Nice job tracking it by the way, that really helps to highlight where it’s going and can spark ideas for optimising. Dropping the second car will be a huge bonus!

      Haha yes I used to love those ‘Hamburgers’ as a youngster when they used to be called ‘Junior Burgers’ – that takes me back lol. Thanks for the suggestion! What kind of substitution ideas are you after? Food, or across the board?

  2. Can you go into more detail in a later post on what you eat in the average week only spending $3700 per year (or $70 a week) on groceries? I just can’t get my head around it. I know you say you eat mainly vegetarian, but if you are eating avocados and walnuts like you say I’m really surprised your groceries are that low. Unless you are just eating rice and beans for most meals 😉

    1. Hey mate, I actually did give a rough outline of what we eat in the food post I linked to – here in case you missed it. There’s not much more to it than that. We’re not large people (small to medium in size) so that would make a difference. We put avocado in our salad but it’s not like we’re chomping down 1-2 each per day or anything, at Aldi these cost around $1.50 each. And my preferred nuts are walnuts and peanuts combined, while Mrs SMA prefers Cashews which are also expensive, but we get these from Aldi at a cost of around $15-18 per kg. Peanuts are ridiculously cheap at Coles at around $5 per kg from memory.

      Hope this helps. Or do you think I should do a full outline of a couple days eating and gave an estimate on costs as a blog post?

    2. Save on vegetables. I have reduced my working hours and reduced our grocery bill. I now have time for a vege garden. Initial layout can take time and money but its a good investment if you have access to plenty of water. Silverbeet, beetroot and lettuce grow all year around in the yarra valley. We choose to grow the more expensive veges. Do your homework. Its not worth growing onions. Google can give you cheap easy recipes for anything you can grow.

    3. I pretty much eat rice and beans most days. This is the way to eat! Think of the dozens of bean varieties and 100s of ways to prepare them thanks to India and Asia, Morocco, Ethiopia, Mexico, etc.

      1. Mmmmm thinking of rice and beans and all those possible spices and flavours is making me hungry! Cheers Mateo.

  3. We’re in a very similar situation to yourselves. Early, semi-retired couple working part-time. Ignoring the rent (we’re freehold) our expenses were a tad higher then yours, mainly because we do a lot of traveling. But still very similar, about $25k ex holidays. Because we live in the inner suburbs of Melbourne we don’t need a car, and this reduces transport costs considerably. I was actually very surprised to find how cheap it can be to have a pretty good life in a major Australian city if you’re willingly to forego ‘shopping’ as a means of entertainment. Thanks for posting this. It was nice to have a reference to sanity check my own numbers 🙂

    1. Awesome stuff! Thanks for your comment – great to see some other perfectly happy early-retiree low spenders around!

      You’re spot on, it could be a quirk of leaving the rat race and not being in the competitive environment anymore (which constantly encourages more consumption). Unfortunately sadsacks like John here don’t realise how good things already are and how little we need to live a great life 😉

      So many are still stuck in Maximum Spending = Maximum Enjoyment mode. The extras are nice and all but that’s all they are – optional extras. Thanks for reinforcing the message!

        1. That’s true. There’d be many more that’ll read this blog and think “what rubbish”. But most of these folks would just leave, rather than leave an unhelpful, closed-minded comment, questioning something which has been discussed many times here and elsewhere on similar blogs – that living a meaningful life doesn’t cost a lot of money in a modern-day, high-living standards country like Australia.

          1. Haha I like your thinking Chris. But I’m sure he’s too busy writing various complaints on other blogs/forums 😉

  4. Nice work, SMA.

    We are also a DINKS couple with a dog, now both working FT from home on building our own businesses. So, a good benchmark. Our spending compared with yours –

    Groceries: more than double what you spent at $8.6K. Mostly no-brand at Coles.
    Cafes & takeaways: $2k. Acceptable to us for quality of life.
    Cars & transport: <$3K. No longer driving to work (yay). Sold the indulgence car for funds to support myself while I follow my dream and create my own business. The Monday – Friday car reached the end of its viable life! Now share a smaller and more economical car with the wife.
    Bills: Still ridiculously high at $6.5K
    Health: $3.3K. Includes the unexpected removal of a wisdom tooth. The expense hurt more than the procedure.
    Without going into the entire list, other notable items are –
    Alcohol: still too high at $1.5K
    Entertainment: $25. For the entire year. We don't get out much, lol. And since we pay so much for council rates, at least we make good use of the library service!

    1. Thanks for sharing Martin 🙂 Love the honesty and humour here, with the wisdom tooth and also the bills being ‘ridiculously high’ haha.

      Nice job selling the car and working from home! Extra points for using the library – an underrated public resource. Hope you guys do well with your business endeavours!

  5. Hi Dave,

    One area in the future hopefully you can reduce your expenses is utility bills.

    If your landlord was open to installing solar panels that would be a huge win.

    There is trials in Queensland and I know of other initiatives in other states too.
    https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/queensland-rebates-encourage-landlords-to-install-rooftop-solar-for-renters/

    Might be worth investigating. Not just the expense but that feel good factor of clean energy.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Shane, I’m always open to improvements 🙂

      It’s pretty unlikely as we’ve asked for much smaller items that have been declined lol. The plan is that when we eventually buy a place, we’ll get solar panels and possibly battery storage as well. Looking forward to that time actually – clean, near-free energy, doesn’t get much better than that!

      1. its unfortunate mate. after renting for 18 years, i gave in to becoming a property ower. but the first thing i did this summer was to rack up as many panels as possible on my roof! between aircon and now my air purifier (due to air quality) its well worth the investment.

  6. Epic Dave & Mrs SMA!

    I’m in Perth (Northside woot woot) and hoping to achieve very low costs of living this year, thanks for the hashtag inspo!

    Bit surprised at your car costs, my rego is $700 then plus insurance & maintenance. But the fuel, woowee! I’m at $40 a week as I commute by car to work 5 days, love that youre filling up only every few weeks by the looks of it!

    When you say all electric for the house, does that mean youre not paying gas now? I get pretty miffed here at the connection fee, my usage is super low (its for hot water only). I thought going all electric would lower my utilities if I got to drop the $30 a month odd connection fee, but looks like yours have stayed similiar, is that about right?

    Nice one mate, might catch ya at the Perth meetup!

    1. Hey Lauren, thanks! Another Northern resident, wow there’s more than I thought. I’m going to organise a meetup up this way as they always seem to be held in the city (too far for this lazy man to travel) 😉

      We fill up the car once per month on average, but then again, there’s no car commute these days, so that’s the big advantage there. Rego we didn’t have to pay as we traded in our car just before it was due and the new car’s rego isn’t due for a few months. We also carry no insurance on the car (happy to pay out of pocket whatever happens).

      Yes that’s correct, no gas at this property, only electricity, which sucks because gas prices have come down about 30-40% in Perth in the last few years due to new competition!

  7. We are not in a similar position to you Dave. We are NOTRE. 2 adult children at home as well as an elderly parent and 3 pets. But my magic number is 30 (months to go till retirement – hopefully). So I have been spending quite a bit of time lately looking are our current spending ($61K) versus what I think we might spend in retirement ($39K – and I’ve been conservative and allowed higher values for some categories in retirement than I think we will actually need/want).

    So I like to see comparative figures to make sure I’m in the ball park.

    And it all lines up really well. Until that is, that I realise that your figures include housing/rent and my don’t 🙂 🙁

    Oh well. I think we’ll be good anyway. Dividends pa are already somewhat above $39K. And I’m fairly confident that the equity we take from our PPOR will cover our housing costs, should we decide to rent or buy.

    Appreciate the article.

    Cheers

    1. Thanks for sharing mate! That sounds like a busy household 🙂

      Great to see you’re so close to retirement, that’s pretty exciting. Looks like your numbers should be fine, and there’s always things to tweak if necessary so you’ll be good. Congrats, that finish line isn’t far away…

  8. Oooh, I love this stuff. The voyeur in me loves a sneaky peak so thanks for sharing Dave and all the commenters too! Big library user here also.

    2019 for us was fairly standard spending. We’re still working (he’s fulltime, I work 20hrs a week) and we have 2 young adults still living at home. We own our house and have 3 cars between the 4 of us – 2020 will be the last year of that though thank goodness!

    Housing $9,898.35 which includes electricity $399.46 (we have solar and are right on the coast so rarely need air con for cooling/heating. Plenty of competition here in NSW). $4,800 of that money was “saved” for maintenance and replacing furniture, so not technically spent in 2019 but it’s ready to go when needed.
    Groceries $8,193.94
    Transport $7,132.64 includes rego, fuel, insurance, public transport, tolls etc.
    Health $6,291.66 which includes private health. If I’m honest, at basically $4,000 it’s something we’re toying with altering.
    Everything else came to $17,113.72 and that includes any entertainment, subscriptions, clothes, gifts ($4,774.89 – it was a BIG year gift wise), donations etc as well as our own personal spending money.

    Total $48,630.31

    1. Haha glad you like the behind-the-scenes view Ang! Thanks for sharing your own expenses with us.

      Great to hear you’ll be dropping a vehicle soon, that’s fantastic. Wow that’s quite a large health insurance bill, is that for everyone or just you and the Mr? I take the supposedly ‘risky’ approach of investing the cash we’d otherwise pay in insurance compounds away and can still be used at any time in the future. It’s not for everyone tho.

      Love the solar panels, and being a library user 😉

      1. Health insurance covers the both of us and one kid that’s under 21. You’re giving me good food for thought about bumping this up my “need to review” though! We’ve done as you do before and it was fine but when we had more kids covered it seem a better option for us to have but the premiums keep rising and now with less people in our family covered, it’s definitely worth a re-think. Cheers for the reminder 👍

  9. Hi Dave

    Thanks for sharing all the details. We are looking to relocate from the UK to Aus as very early retirees in the not to distant future so have been eagerly following you (and some of the other great Aus blogs) for some time now. This type of post is incredibly valuable as we try and determine if our number is big enough to FIRE in Aus.

    One question on the car though. Surely, you need to include all spending even if it’s large and infrequent as it is real and a withdrawal against your wealth. Personally, I conservatively estimate the economic life of the vehicle and then depreciate its purchase price monthly within my spending accounts.

    1. Hey RIT, thanks for the comment. That sounds exciting, when are you coming to Oz?

      On the car, you’re right, it’s typically a real cost as the car would have to be replaced and the lump of cash is gone. Depends how people like to account for such things.
      So if we assume this practically new car will last another 12-15 years, I could depreciate it at $800-1k per annum for that time. I could add this to our costs, but I just don’t bother for simplicity. If you like then, our spending is either $38k, or $49k depending on how you look at it, and then next year it will dramatically fall. So I prefer to look at the smoother ‘average’ spend to get a better handle on things.

      I wholeheartedly agree that depreciation is a MASSIVE hidden cost that nobody bothers to think about. But given this will probably be the last vehicle we own (due to the future of low-cost autonomous vehicles making car ownership obsolete), it feels more appropriate to not include depreciation in our annual spending, as it won’t be replaced with another car in the future. Or maybe I’m just making excuses 😉

      1. Re: When are we coming to Oz. Our visa application is in and we’re now at the mercy of Oz Immigration. Best case end of year but give current processing times it could be sometime in 2021.

        I also bought my car second hand. I’m quite a conservative character and so am writing it off over 10 years so for me it has a noticeable impact (£150 per month).

        As you mentioned to Baz I also do not think cars, unless it’s a genuine ‘museum piece’ specifically bought for investment diversification, should be included in net worth / wealth calculations.

  10. Thanks for the dollar figures Dave, it’s very interesting to compare your figures to my own. For the stuff like food and eating out adjusting for household size we actually spend fairly similar amounts, slightly more on my side but not a huge amount. Same deal with car expenses.

    The things that make a big difference though are kids, insurances, travel, and owning a house. Between swimming lessons, sports, clothes and shoes, then kinder fees there’s a couple of grand spent on one kid (the other is too young for most of that). Health insurance and personal insurance are getting close to the 10 grand mark. We spent a lot on travel this year due to going to the UK to see family, renting a car over there and all the rest of it. And then owning a house means paying rates, more for maintenance, plus insurance, although obviously no rent which is your biggest expense.

    Obviously some of that is optional, but it’s quite interesting to see that the biggest differences in our expenses aren’t due to different levels of spending within a category but simply that it’s an expense which one of us pays that is either completely or mostly absent from the other person’s spending.

    1. Cheers AHF. That’s very interesting to know, thanks for the info! Does that mean we’re both similarly frugal, or similarly sloppy? I’d like to think it’s the first 😉

      Holy moly, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night with such a big insurance bill! But for you it’s the other way round I guess lol. Surely your need for insurance would be declining every year due to increasing net worth and a good savings rate? Or is the cost of insurance going up?

      1. Similarly frugal, similarly sloppy, or both optimising our spend? I’d like to think it’s the last one!

        Of that 10k for insurance about half is health insurance, the other half is personal insurance so Life, TPD, Trauma and Income Protection. There is probably room to reduce the personal insurance slightly if we needed to due to our increasing wealth and excess income, but I’d rather be overprotected than underprotected especially while the kids are young and we still have a fair way to go till we hit FIRE.
        And yes, the cost of both health insurance and personal insurance is going up unfortunately which doesn’t help matters. Thankfully we can still fairly easily afford it and we sleep better at night knowing that if something were to happen we’d still be absolutely fine financially.

        1. Haha, I think of frugal/optimising as interchangable words. Intelligent spending really.

          Thanks for clarifying mate, makes sense.

  11. Impressive numbers ! We are a family of 4 and we got our grocery spend down from $15k to $11k. You have inspired me to go further. Target for 2020 is to get it under $10k. I will move to cash only basis , ie pay with notes only .. will be a bit embarrassing if I have to put product back at the til but it will be a fun challenge nonetheless. Thanks for your posts, they are awesome.

    1. Thanks Maria 🙂
      That’s a great improvement already, and I love that you’re creating the challenge for yourself. I bet you can do it! Next year, be sure to tell me how you did.

  12. Another great post Dave,
    It boggles my mind how much most people spend on food a year especially with the rise of food ordering apps like Ubereats and so on. I haven’t got the numbers crunched but there is no way i spend more than 50-60 $ a week on food.

    My staples are as follows:

    Chicken(around 1kg), Turkey Mince(1 kg), eggs, carton milk, Tasty cheese block, oats, wheatbix, honey, frozen veggies, legumes(canned),Tuna cans, fruits(apples,bananas,oranges), protein shakes. That’s pretty much all i eat all year long and i love it. I also make my own bread 90% of the time. Add a few sauces/herbs here an there but that’s really it.

    To me it’s simply sustenance/fuel and the fact that i eat simple foods all the time really makes me appreciate a delicious meal. That said, i love food and do eat out occasionally of course but It’s also very easy to make great food with simple ingredients, nothing to blow your taste buds but still, a very nice meal.

    My wine/Rum are the biggest expenses even though i don’t drink much but i prefer quality over quantity so i spend big when i do.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. Cheers Paul, thanks for sharing. Sounds like you’re well on top of things!

      Like you, I am very happy to prepare and eat simple food, though I do get spoilt as Mrs SMA’s parents are from Singapore so she’s got lots of tasty recipes up the sleeve.

      The UberEats thing is totally out of control. People’s laziness seems to increase every year, due to the the growing amount of convenience options. Madness!

  13. Always a good read Dave and interesting to the figures, I was only recently looking at similar on his/her money
    An outline of a couple of days eating would be an interesting post
    With the car as its an asset (depreciating) do any financial bloggers add in the value of their vehicle(s)?
    We’ve been slowly divesting ourselves of some properties over the last couple of years around the country, still a couple more to go, it’d be nice if Perth/WA picks up
    PS: Another NOR resident

    1. Thanks Baz, good to know. Wow, another Northie 🙂

      Should people include cars in their net worth (if that’s what you’re asking)? No, I don’t think so. It produces nothing and it costs money to keep and replace. If someone decides to sell it, go car free, and keep/invest the cash, then that money becomes real. But for most people, most of the time, a car should never be included in assets is my view.

  14. Hey Dave, thanks for being so transparent with your numbers as always. Those numbers are pretty good for a couple, would you ever consider kids? That’ll probably blow it up a bit I imagine! Question, you mention that you’re currently renting in Perth, would you ever be buying a place soon? The market has stablized a little bit recently no?

    1. Thanks mate. No kids on the horizon – has never appealed to me, and my partner is quite a lot older than me in any case. But I don’t think kids cost as much as many assume. Mr Money Mustache has shown that’s not the case, and the most common answer I’ve read from parents is “it depends”… so it seems the amount kids cost is largely up to the parents.

      On the house thing, I don’t think we’ll buy any time soon. We already have 4 properties here so ultra-leveraged to Perth housing as it is. Trying to build our share investments and possibly with the last couple of property sales we’ll use to buy a place. Not sure yet, things are going pretty well at the moment.

  15. Thanks for sharing – I always love a little look into other people’s wallets.

    I love that you’ve said you have spent far too much on eating out when I’ve spent double and that’s just for 1 person ha! No wonder I’m not retired yet 😉

    It definitely shows where people’s priorities are when you break it down.

    Look forward to seeing what 2020 shows.

    B

    1. Haha I know you love this stuff so was hoping you’d read this one 🙂

      Everyone’s different for sure, and I guess we each have different thresholds for what feels acceptable or ‘high’. Now I’m worried 2020 will blow out again and 2019 was just a lucky year lol.

  16. Hi Dave,
    Can you please explain your $150 Telstra internet plan? Is this a separate Sim you hotspot from your mobile or a dongle? Tried to google a similar plan but they mostly seem to be month to month unless it is a sim you then put in a mobile.

    Love the blog. You have inspired me and put out content that is relevant and thought provoking. I still find it fascinating that people come onto someones blog and post along the lines of “this isn’t possible” or “you couldn’t be happy with that level of spending”. It is absurd to hold these views when held up against the frankness of your posts about mindfulness, how high the standard of living in Australia is, etc. A) why would you lie about being retired + happy and then blog about it? It’s not like you’re running a MLM haha. b) “my brain is not your brain” – people seem to forget that others may have different opinions, values etc.

    On a side note, I would love to hear your thoughts about the FIRE movement bordering on a cult in some areas. MMM jokes about how he started an ironic cult on FIRE, but I definitely see how it could be seen from the outside in a similar way. Having recently been approached by a group of MLM’s and researching what exactly they were, watching Betting on Zero, etc it was interesting to see parallels. From the outside it sounds awesome and promises the world. Once you look more into it you realise it is similar to any other cult. I believe the difference with FIRE is that it is more like a wholesome cult – it can bring happiness, freedom and purpose to many peoples lives.

    1. Thanks so much for this fantastic comment Ollie!

      The Telstra internet is pre-paid mobile broadband with a usb stick and sim. So it’s not the fastest but it’s good enough. It’s on this page, 12-month expiry, 40gb for $150. When I bought it last year the data was higher due to a special, but that’s the one.

      Really appreciate your feedback and support! I’d need to be pretty disturbed to say “yeah I’m retired, life is good” while being depressed and/or still working lol. I think some people are just used to spending so much that they can’t imagine life any other way, which is quite sad really and is pretty ignorant of the rest of the world and the history of how past generations lived.

      On the cult thing, I can see some similarities there. Not sure on the finer points of cults, but here are some differences… One difference is the complete transparency of people in the FI community – sharing experiences, advice, how it all works, personal approach, what it’s like on both sides, old spendy life vs new frugal life – so there are plenty of case studies at this point. Cults usually work on secrecy or cloudy information at best.

      The overarching theme is well meaning and good natured (cults maybe not?). We don’t promise guaranteed riches or that everything is easy peasy. There are tough choices to be made, a lot of uncomfortable self-questioning and sometimes an overhaul of someones values and habits needed – that shit isn’t easy. But we do suggest from personal experience and that of others, that by doing this stuff you’ll be far wealthier, have far more freedom, less stress, be happier and live a more meaningful life while being much kinder to the planet.

      So like you said, if it is a cult, it’s a damn wholesome and healthy one! But as a cult-member I would say that, wouldn’t I? 😉

      1. Thanks for that, I have found the plan now. $219 for 140gb, not bad!

        I couldn’t agree more, the ignorance part gets tedious. I have found it frustrating at times when it is someone close to you however. For example, my point of view is that if a close friend or family member found something that bettered their lives, I would want them to share it with me. Finding FIRE has bettered my life – therefore I want to share it. It is sad when your loved ones are resistant to the idea and essentially shut it down as an option in the first conversation. Everyone gets to choose their own adventure in life so you just have to hope that they decide to ask you about it in the future.

        To articulate myself better, I guess it is more the profound change that finding FIRE has had on my life. As a non-religious person I can only imagine this is what finding a religion is like. I have a new found purpose, an appreciation for the amount of pressure society has on the way you live your life and the knowledge that working full time in a job I don’t love until I am in my 50’s/60’s is no longer a pill I have to swallow.

        Having such a dramatic change in my outlook on the world has been something I have been grappling with the last 6 months. I was always a confident, happy person, but I now have this sense of profound optimism, excitement in all things related to FIRE and an amusing lack of shame when it comes to choosing my own financial and general life path. For example, no longer caring as much about what people think about what I am wearing, doing, etc. When you realise that you are doing things because that is what society expects of you, it is liberating to pivot to your own path.

        FIRE is not a cult, however it has all the benefits of a cult for your wellbeing, without the traditional cult-y negatives.

        1. Totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s like reaching “Enlightenment” haha, and simply wanting to share the principles. Sadly, only a smallish portion of people will ever bother to take action and make changes – that seems to be the nature of humans.

          That’s the big thing, breaking away from the normal path and not caring about society’s expectations. Not an easy thing to do for most people. Thanks for providing your thoughts 🙂

  17. Hi Dave,
    Love this post. I find it helpful to give myself a benchmark for comparison. It’s also interesting to see it all added together like that. Some things shock me from being so low, some from being so high. When we added up our health spending for the year it exceeded $6000 (some chronic health issues and a wisdom tooth surgery) and that absolutely blew me away. We spent more on health than food! But these things happen and it comforts me to know that we could afford to address these health issues rather than let them get worse.
    I don’t find Aldi to be particularly helpful with groceries. We tend to buy our staples when they are half price at Coles/Woolies and stock up the cupboards so we mainly need fresh food from week to week and I don’t love the quality of fresh produce at our Aldi. But everyone swears by it so I may have to give it another go.
    Interesting question about the car. No, I wouldn’t include such a purchase in my spending, wouldn’t include a new house either. I got married in 2019 and didn’t include the wedding costs in my yearly spend but rather budgeted separately for it. It’s not something I’m intending to repeat so I don’t think it would make sense to include it.
    May your 2020 bring you even more indulgence and even less expenditure!

    1. Thanks for sharing Ms FAM!

      The expensive health events don’t matter so much like you say they’re affordable and they’re not a regular recurring expense. Yes those wisdom teeth are expensive, had mine done years ago – I asked them to leave the wisdom in and take the teeth, but I don’t think they heard me lol.

      For most stuff, I find Aldi to be about 10% cheaper. But we really go hard with the Coles Flybuys points offers and stock up big and then spend the points on free groceries which works out well. Fresh veg/herbs/fruit is either from Aldi or an Asian grocer nearby.

      So we agree on the car (and your wedding) not being included in ‘annual spending’ due to their once-off type nature 😉 Cheers, and same to you!

  18. Good on you Dave for being brave and chucking your spending out there for everyone to see! I enjoyed comparing our spending patterns and its great to have someone else on the path to FI to compare it to. Cheers

  19. Hi Dave, I came across your blog via your LIC posts (very helpful, thank you) and have explored further … loved reading about your journey, yearly costs, etc. I’m a mid-60s single lady (ex Melb) now living in country Vic and my costs are similar to yours, so I do understand that it is possible to live well on that income if you have sustainability in mind rather than extravagance/wastefulness. Maybe easier for those of us who don’t have children. I have just one dog, one cat now. Anyway, my main point is that it is delightful to read that there are younger people out there embracing the concept of living simply, enjoying life and escaping the rat race. You don’t know how many times I wondered why I was working when I hated it. I retired at 53, coinciding with my return to country Vic but wish I had done it decades earlier like you. Strength to Mr&Mrs SMA and long may you enjoy your lives. 🙂

    1. Hey Sue. Awesome to hear your story. One dog and one cat sounds like nice company to me!

      Yes, there are definitely younger people out there who see the joy of having a simple life – sadly there aren’t that many, so I’m trying to spread the message (clearly). Thanks for sharing and keep enjoying your well-earned retirement 🙂

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