18. November 2012 · 3 comments · Categories: Life · Tags: , , ,

Have you ever calculated how much you spend to live every day?  We did, and it was sobering.  We live in a suburban town about 25 miles from Seattle, Washington.  We moved to this town because of the community feel and the top notch public schools.  It’s a good life, but it comes at a cost – $302 per day last year to be exact.

Curious what you get for $302 per day in our world?

Home:

Suburbia

  • 1560 sq. ft. attached townhome (15 year mortgage, top of market purchase in 2006, since lost 33% of its value – stop me if you’ve heard this before…)
  • Property taxes and homeowner’s insurance
  • Homeowner’s Association (HOA) dues
  • Utilities: water – sewer and drinking, trash, electricity, gas
  • Repairs & maintenance: we don’t spend a lot on this; the house was built in 2003 and is pretty low maintenance
  • Internet & land line phone (need both for my remote work arrangement)

Cars:

  • Maintenance for 9 & 11 year old cars (last year was an expensive maintenance year)
  • Gas for one commuter
  • Car insurance (full coverage on one car, liability only coverage on 2nd car)
  • Registration/tags for car

Kids:

  • Elementary school activities/fundraisers/supplies
  • After school sports (primarily soccer and soccer gear for both kids)
  • Allowance

Other:

Cute, but costly…

  • Two smartphone voice and data plans
  • Life insurance
  • Generous grocery & restaurant budget (note: includes some organic grocery; restaurant is not expensive fancy foodie restaurants… it’s family chain, small town restaurants)
  • A healthy vacation budget – because we love adventures and seeing new places; and we need to practice “getting away” from this life (includes costs to board the dog)
  • Hulu + and Netflix (online only) – we do this in lieu of cable or Satellite TV
  • Some charitable cash donations
  • Shopping (clothes, household and recreation items) – these are not extravagant, for example, we still watch an old, standard definition 27” TV
  • Recreation –we do a lot of cheap stuff, like hiking, so this category isn’t huge. However, many of our weekend adventures are captured in our vacation budget.
  • The dog (vet care and day care) – please don’t judge the latter
  • Gym membership – it’s a fairly inexpensive place; although not being used to its full potential
  • Haircuts (mainly for Ben & the kids; I rarely get my haircut)
  • Gifts (again, not extravagant)

Does not include:

  • Health Benefits premiums (these come straight out of our checks…so I did not count it as “spending” although I should…it adds up to a lot.)
  • Healthcare spending: also did not include as our out of pocket expenses are paid through a HSA (Health Savings Account, pretax “savings account”)
  • Retirement and other savings

Before doing this calculation, we took pride in living within our means and living fairly lightly. I think we still might live lighter than most, but it’s amazing how expensive a modern middle-class lifestyle can be.  In hindsight, I’d say we are full-blown consumers, who happen to live within their means.

Have you ever calculated your cost of living?  Any surprises for you?

3 Comments

  1. We spent 6 weeks last spring road-tripping around the Western United States. Even with eating out daily, nightly hotel rooms (between $80-140/night), gas, attraction admissions, and tchotchkies we still came out way under what we used to pay to house, heat, & maintain a home and urban/suburban lifestyle in the Bay Area. We saw 7 states and went 4000 miles for under $3,500 (and $1K of that was our Disneyland season passes). We decided a year ago to never go back to the Bay Area to raise our daughter. It all comes down to cost of living and quality of life!!! While we’re not going to replicate that wasteful spending we did last spring again ($1700 of our trip was hotel rooms to which we’re going to buy a travel trailer with our next tax return) it was great to know that we could live for a fraction of our previous lives and have greater enjoyment/happiness doing such.

    • Wow AdventureBee! That’s quite a statement – traveling within the US for less than cost of owning/maintaining a house. That gives us hope too, because we would love to do a lot of travel throughout the US but long term/slower travel seems almost cost prohibitive in the US (for a family of 4). But we will look more seriously into it!

      And, truly for what we spent on “vacations” last year (about 3 weeks worth), we could have lived abroad for a few months! When making those types of comparisons, seems silly not to! Thanks for commenting!

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  4. So you are saying it costs you $110K a year ($302 x365) to live a good life. I guess for some it may be the case, however, I think most people can live on half that amount and do OK.

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