An evaluation of our monthly expenses

I think once in awhile (at least annually) it is good to see what our fixed monthly expenses are and if we can decrease them. So I reviewed our monthly fixed expenses (I do this monthly) but sat down and thought of ways we could reduce them.

An evaluation of our monthly expenses

Cell phones

I currently use a work phone, so my cost is $0. I forwarded my old phone number to my current phone using Google Voice (I have no affiliate relationship with Google). Therefore I am able to have 2 phone numbers (my work and my old personal number) on one phone. My wife has retained her phone which runs us between $70 to 80 a month on Verizon. She uses an iphone 6 and has not updated it in 3 years.

I did some research and it looks like Project Fi from Google is the way to go. If we changed services, my wife would have to get a new phone. The cheapest is the Nexus 5X for $249. Then her monthly fee would be between $20-30 a month depending on data usage. So we would save approximately $50 a month. This would mean the phone would be paid off in 5 months, not to mention the $150 we could get for selling the iPhone (so really the phone is paid off in 2 months).

Seems like a no brainer. So what are the hassles. One is leaving the Apple world which means we could not FaceTime with parents and siblings. This is probably the biggest problem. The other issue would be moving contacts over, but if you are using gmail a lot of the contacts are already saved. Monthly savings would be $50 after 2 months to pay for the phone.



We lived without cable for 3 years before moving to California. We would use Amazon Prime ($110 a year) and Hulu ($120 a year). For some reason when I moved to California I started using cable again.  Currently I pay $100 for 200mbps internet speed and local channels (plus HBO). If I cut cable, the cost is $75 for 100 mbps. I am going to make this change with a plan to then switch to (I have no affiliate relationship with Sonic) when our Comcast annual contract is done (in June). Sonic costs $50 a month ($40 for the first year).. Total savings = $50 a month.

Eating away my cots…feed me!

We signed a one year contract with our gardener when we moved in. He has been taking care of the house for 10 years and the other quotes I received were comparable. One guy actually asked me what appliances I had inside the home, implying I was rich….Needless to say, I did not go with that guy and realize that my house does not afford me stealth wealth.

So come November, when is contract is done I am going to probably take over mowing duties myself. We already have a weed whacker and with the purchase of a leaf blower and lawn mower (estimated costs totaling $200-300) then I can do it myself. Currently I am spending $285 a month so total savings $285 a month. If I find that I am not doing a good job and prefer spending the time with my son, then I will pay someone but negotiate a $150 monthly rate. In that case my total savings will still be $135 a month.  


Currently this is worth the money. I go 3-4 times a week during lunch and likely would not be working out otherwise. Still,I am contemplating buying a electric bike so that we can go down to 1 car and bike to work. The distance is 3.6 miles (all with sidewalks) but it is a 778 foot elevation. Going to work (downhill) should be easy. It is coming back up that I am concerned about. That is why I want an electric bike. I am not badass enough to bike up 800 feet. At least not yet.  The upfront cost of an electric bike is between $3,000 to $4,000. I would keep my car at first, but if I sold it I would make approximately $8K and save $1,000 on auto insurance. Not to mention gas, etc.

So if I buy an electric bike, then I will consider that as part of my workout. I also am considering picking up either jui jitsu or kung fu again (both things I have done in the past and enjoyed) which would count as the other part of my work out. If these things happen, then I will cut my membership which will save about $80 a month.

My other fixed expenses are what they are for now

We have solar and our monthly electric bill is low (as is the gas). Water bill is relatively low. Then there is the mortgage. This is our biggest expense and likely delaying financial independence. This is why buying a house sucks. Still, I am paying off approximately $25,000 in principle a year due to my 7-year arm. Currently the plan is to stay a minimum of 5 years and then we can reevaluate where we are, how big our family is, etc. Finally, my student low payment is $500 a month but I am increasing it so that I can get rid of all of my non-mortgage debt.
So all in all I can save $315 to 450 a month with just the above changes. There is some up front cost with the bike and cell phone, but in the long run will pay off.

What about you guys? Do you ever make changes.

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I am a Dad and Doctor trying to find financial freedom by owning my dollars and debts. Helping dads with their finances so they can focus on the family.

14 thoughts on “An evaluation of our monthly expenses

  • May 10, 2017 at 4:24 am

    Central TN is very hilly but I bike to work here. I ride a maintenance free bicycle from Priority bikes. I bought mine online for $800.

    Try a regular bicycle, eventually you will get use to the hills. Then you can skip the gym membership, which isn’t as time efficient as bike commuting. I also consider mowing my lawn as part of my exercise machine, you should too.

    An hour away from your son won’t hurt him. My son loves to pretend now with a toy lawn mower. Kids eat this stuff up.

    What are your interest rates? You might be better off investing than paying extra on the loans, in my opinion. Mortgage interest you can at least itemize.

    • May 10, 2017 at 6:39 am

      Central TN? Where do you live? I am from Franklin and my family still lives down that way. We should get together on our next trip home!

      Biking in Nashville (for instance) would be way easier then biking where I currently live. Not saying it is not possible, it is just a really big hill.

      I agree that the time away won’t hurt the kid, but when I am already away for 8-10 hours at work, it seems silly for me to give up that time with him. As he gets older it will be less important for him, but right now I want to cherish every minute.

      As for interest rates, you are correct. Investing makes more financial sense. I have a 2.7% mortgage and a 3% school loan. Still there is some mental relief that comes from having debt paid off. I suspect part of it is knowing the total fixed costs would be much lower.

  • May 8, 2017 at 8:49 am

    A Google voice number saved me a ton of money until my husband and I decided to get a Verizon plan for $70/mo. Sometimes I also wonder what expenses I can cut or reduce to save money. It’s almost always our food expenses. I’m pretty good at it, but my husband is not so much -_-

    • May 8, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Food is a big one. We spend about $800 on groceries (organic, lots of good items, etc.) and restaurants. Other then that cutting things out become a bit tough. I think the gardner will be an easy one.

      I use Google Voice to bring my old number to my work phone, but I am wondering how Google Fi would be?

  • May 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I have 2 phones (1 for my personal life and one for work), so that costs around $190 a month. It sounds insane, but I got tired of receiving work-related calls at 2am. Now I can turn my work phone off at night and keep my personal phone on in case of family-related emergencies.

    • May 6, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Thats actually quite nice. If I am not on call I leave the work phone on vibrate. It does not seem to be too bad. Right now though I am struggling. One week straight on call with people waking me up at all hours is no fun….

  • May 4, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Cutting cable was the best thing we’ve ever done. I don’t miss it at all and It’s made watching a television show or a movie like a special treat.
    I can’t help you much with cell phone service because we have five lines in our family. We use cricket for that because it comes out to $20 a line for all of us and they use AT&T towers. If you have less lines it isn’t as good a deal though. So far so good with us.

    • May 4, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      Cutting cable is soon to come….maybe even tomorrow! I agree that choosing what to watch is great, instead of just putzing around on the tv.

  • May 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    I’ve been happy with Republic Wireless, but you have to be OK with Sprint coverage. There are places where I’m roaming while traveling– text and voice are still free, but data can be really expensive when roaming. Our bill is $25 to $30 for 2 lines.

    Definitely ditch the gardener. I recommend an all electric system — we’ve got the Ryobi 40V mower, chainsaw, and leaf blower. All I need is the weed whacker to complete the set. The mower is super light weight so very easy to push, even uphill. I had been used to the self propelled gas variety, but the electric is so much quieter and lighter, I don’t even miss the motorized wheels.


    • May 4, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Sprint coverage? Per the commercials the Verizon guy says they are great. My concern with switching is that we life in a mountain and valley part of the country. It’s so bad that I have to constantly change my NPR radio station to get good reception on my 3 mile drive to work.

      Gardner is out as soon as possible. I have the 40v weed whaker- But Dewalt, not Ryobi. We could share tools. I am thinking of getting the electric lawn mower (have had a gas and a non-motorized one in the past) and a leaf blower. I already have a electric chainsaw too but no trees I want to cut down!

  • May 4, 2017 at 11:37 am

    I guess your wife doesn’t use a lot of data? Looks like FI Basics is $20/month and then it’s $10/GB for data, so she only uses 1GB a month?
    It is interesting though. Wish they accepted iPhone.

    • May 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      She does not use a lot of data- stay at home mom = access to wi-fi! I wish they accepted the iPhone but alas they do not.

  • May 4, 2017 at 3:45 am

    I’ve been looking really closely at Google Fi now that my husbands contract is up, but I’m not sure which phones to get. Currently we’re using iPhone 5’s, and now that they ended the free phone with contract deal I don’t want to keep going with AT&T. I estimate Google Fi will save about $50-$75 per month but need to pick a phone and pull the trigger on the purchase.

    • May 4, 2017 at 7:12 am

      That’s my concern too. The phone (we use FaceTime a lot with grandparents) and the coverage. I assume it will be fine but we live in mountainous areas and I wonder if we would loose coverage. Verizon works pretty well. Google Fi…who knows.


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