Multimillionaire Family Tracks Spending for a Year: They Spent How Much?!?

Set For Life
Do you know how much money you spend annually? How much would you spend if you were worth millions? Perhaps you are worth millions, and you’re just here to compare notes. Either way, be prepared for an inside look at the lifestyle of the rich and not famous.

I’ve been granted exclusive access to a detailed account of a full years’ spending by a multimillionaire family of four. Using free online software by Mint,  every outgoing dollar was tracked from September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016.

This was no ordinary year for this multimillionaire family. Of course, when you have millions, no year is ordinary, right? No, sir.

There were home renovations in the fall that necessitated the purchase of a new hot tub. Gotta have that hot tub to soothe those achy, wealthy muscles and complete the newly finished 400 square foot patio.

There were other “one-time” expenses. Their younger boy underwent a surgical operation last winter, and his older brother went under the knife in the spring. This family can afford to pay for unforeseen medical costs out of pocket, so they carry a high-deductible health plan and max out an HSA.

We all know that rich people love to travel, and this family is no exception. In the fall, he flew halfway across the country for a college football game, and she visited a close friend in New York. There was a couples’ getaway in Puerto Rico in November, where they kayaked in the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay, hiked through the Rio Camuy caves, and took in a college basketball game. In March, the whole family took a Disney cruise to the Bahamas, and spent a long weekend at Universal Studios in Orlando.


Puerto Rico Tipoff 2015Rio Camuy Caves



One home is never enough when you can afford a second one. This family used their cabin, a cozy lakeside condo most of the summer, and invited close friends in need of a place to stay to live in their second home throughout last fall, winter, and spring.


Second Home

second home blues. and beiges


This family recognizes that one of their most important assets is the health of their own bodies, so there is the obligatory family gym membership, and plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood filling up their grocery cart.

If you’re curious as to how I have such intimate knowledge of this family’s activities and finances, I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m talking about my own family. In the third person. Which is pretty annoying, so I’ll stop now.

Are you ready to see how much we spent over the last year?


One Year of Spending for My Family


Over the last year, our monthly expenses ranged from about $3,700 to $10,500. Altogether, we spent an average of $6,163 per month, which adds up to $73,959.

In six of the 12 months, we held spending under $4,700 and came in under $4,000 twice. Our three most expensive months happen to be the first three months we tracked our spending.

While that last piece of information might suggest that we made changes to our lives to decrease our spending, the truth is that there were a number of “one time” expenses that we didn’t incur in other months.

For example, our most expensive month included a hot tub purchase and Disney cruise for four. Subtract those, and we spent well under $4,000 that month. That first quarter included a fair amount of travel, a hefty check to the orthodontist, our very last preschool payment, and one of two property tax payments on our primary home.

Over the last 6 months, we spent $31,116. If we can maintain that level of spending over the next six months, our annual expenses will drop to $62,232. In fact, looking back at the last three quarters, we spend $44,387, or just under $5,000 a month. Extrapolated to a 12-month year, we could have spending of under $60,000 for this calendar year if our expenses are held in check over the remaining four months.

Looking at only the most recent three months, we spent $12,398, or $4,133 per month. While I’d like to stretch that lower level of spending out over the course of the entire year to say we could live this lifestyle on less than $50,000, it would not be realistic.

The summer months have none of the following annual or semi-annual bills: property tax on primary home, home insurance, or auto insurance. Those bills add up to about $6,000, or about $500 per month if spread throughout the year. Also, most of our summertime travel is to and from our second home, which minimizes our travel costs in the summer months. In the winter, we like to head south. It costs much more to fly south and pay for lodging than it does to drive to our cabin.


Where Did the Money Go?


Here is a breakdown by category.


Food and dining is the number one line item. 60% of this went to groceries, which cost us about $7,000 for the year. Restaurants and Alcohol were tied at 16%, while fast food and coffee shops accounted for the other 8%. Yes, we drink. We also host guests and entertain quite a bit, and homebrew supplies and equipment are categorized as “alcohol” for the purposes of tracking. Nevertheless, it was “an eye opener” to realize that we’re spending more than $5 a day as a couple on drinks.

Health & Fitness is the next category. We have to work off those empty calories somehow! With two surgeries in the family, this was an atypical year. We spent $4,000 out of pocket on surgery and anesthesia, and $2,500 at the orthodontist. Eventually, I will withdraw that money from my HSA, but I’ll let the money grow in there for awhile first. A YMCA membership and race entrance fees were the bulk of the remaining costs. My first and last Tough Mudder was not a frugal affair, and I am now in physical therapy for my shoulder that was separated not once, not twice, but three times in 30 minutes!


On the Home front, we bought a hot tub and I struggled through a minor DIY bathroom upgrade. Home insurance was included here, along with many trips to Menards and Home Depot.

Travel could have easily been our top spending category, but I kept costs reasonable with some credit card travel hacking, CME travel, and being relatively frugal on our journeys. The biggest expense was a $3,000 Disney cruise booking. Tickets for five to visit Universal Orlando weren’t cheap, either.


Disney Magic Cruise Ship


Vehicles can be expensive to own, operate, and maintain. Vehicles also kill, which another unfortunate deer learned this winter, when in an instant, he met his demise and we met our deductible. Gas has been quite affordable lately, which accounted for 38% ($2,670) of our Auto budget. Repairs were another $2,400, and insurance on two high mileage vehicles was $1,325.

Utilities for our primary home ran about $450 a month on average. This also includes cell phone bills of about $25 a month for two lines on Republic Wireless, and $360 for a one-time purchase of two cords of firewood, which we used to supplement the furnace heat in the winter. I love me a good FIRE. I’ve also negotiated a much better deal on our Dish television service, and will save about $600 over the next ten months.

Property tax on two properties with a combined value of approximately $400,000 was about $4,600 or 1.15% of the value. Not bad! I more than make up for it in income tax payments, but that’s another story.

“Shopping” is an odd catch-all category @ Mint. Wal-Mart purchases default to this category, although we’re mostly buying groceries there. A detailed review of the individual transactions reveals that a few hundred dollars worth of groceries were probably mistakenly assigned here and not recategorized. Clothing, electronics, and toys end up in this category. I bought a $400 laptop, mainly to manage the blog from the road, and that falls under “shopping.” I didn’t exclude blog-related expenses even though I can count them as business expenses when the time comes to pay taxes.

Our second home cost us roughly $3,800 in dues and utilities, and it also accounts for $1,000 of the property taxes mentioned above. In a typical year, it is winterized rather than lived in year round. We’ll save about $1,000 in utility bills this year compared to last.

Education costs were for preschool and piano lessons. We recently added $15 a month for a subscription to a Spanish language teaching program for the family. Now that our younger boy has moved on directly to first grade, we are done paying for school for quite awhile. Thankfully, the public schools are quite good where we live. This next year, we should save about $2,500 in this category compared to last year.


2 boys play piano


Next was $2,900 on gifts, which includes some small donations that we paid for directly. Note that this doesn’t include the bulk of our charitable giving, which comes from our Donor Advised Fund. This seems like a good time to remind you that half of this site’s revenue will be donated to charity. How much revenue is that? To find out, subscribe via e-mail to receive quarterly progress notes, including how this young blog has generated a five-figure sum in its first eight months.

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The rest of the spending (note I don’t call it a budget; budgets are not sexy) is not terribly exciting. We spend a little on the boys, on entertainment (including tickets to theater and NCAA football games), and very little on our poor little dog. Not included in that line item is the dog food we buy in bulk at Costco, which gets categorized as grocery, as does the tick and flea preventer and heartworm pills. We only “board” her with family and friends, and we have arranged a dog swap with friends of ours, so sometimes our dog has a playmate when our friends leave town.


What Did You Expect?


If you have been a reader of this blog, there may not be too many surprises here. If you’re less familiar, you might have expected a multimillionaire family to spend a little more. Maybe a lot more.

Our spending is at a level where we are comfortable. When I say comfortable, I mean that in two ways.

One, we do have a pretty darned comfortable lifestyle. Plenty of creature comforts, travel, and experiences that make us happy.

Two, it is an amount of money that we are comfortable parting with on an annual basis. If we spent twice as much, it would make both my wife and I, two born savers, quite uncomfortable. Also, I would no longer be able to call us financially independent.

Did you notice any glaring omissions from the spending report? For one, we are completely debt free. We have no mortgage payments, and our student loans have been paid in full. With those big bills behind us, we are able to spend on things that bring us joy, while saving and investing a large majority of my paycheck. Using the Savings Calculator I created, I estimate that I’m currently saving 52% of my gross pay, and 77% of net.

You don’t see a whole lot of insurance there, either. While term life insurance and disability insurance are vital when others are dependent upon your income, they are superfluous for a financially independent physician. Being self insured saves me about $4,000 a year.

There are other line items that are minimal or non-existent. I mow the lawn in the summer, and blow the snow off the driveways and sidewalks in the winter. I cut my own hair, and cut the boys’ hair as well. We’ll get them a professional cut once a year before school pictures, and my wife usually gets two low-cost haircuts a year. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a frugal physician. It works for me.

Can every physician live this way? No, and I don’t expect you to. We take advantage of geographic arbitrage, living in the upper Midwest where the paychecks, like all the children, are above average.

Meanwhile, the cost of living is low. But the east and west coast cities need doctors, too, and I know you can’t live this well on $60,000 or $75,000 a year in many large cities around our great nation. Of course, where you choose to live is a choice. It may be made for you by your partner, but it is still a choice. And it may very well be the right choice. Life isn’t all about the Benjamins, despite what Puff Daddy says.

One last comment on “one-time expenses.” They happen a lot. If you’re a homeowner, not many years will go by without at lest one significant repair, remodel, upgrade, or landscaping job. We’ll see “one-time” orthodontic bills at least a couple more times. We might not take a $3,000 cruise every year, but we will be taking frequent family vacations, and some will cost that much and more. One-time expenses might be unique, but they are not infrequent, as I learned when we tracked our spending.

Have you tracked your spending? How does it compare? Any suggestions for optimization? Let me know down below!


  • GirlyHospitalist

    What a great post! It’s awesome to see real numbers and see that you can still ” live” and be happy. That motivates me even more to get rid of my student loan and mortgage. I appreciate your blog so much. Thank you.

  • Hatton1

    Great post! Expense tracking really opened my eyes to lots of expenses I could reduce. It also lets you calculate the 25x or 33x or 50x expense number to declare financial freedom….Thanks

    • Appreciate that, Hatton1. A couple items I’ll have to add in to calculate my FI number: health insurance (currently taken out pre-tax / pre-paycheck), income tax (should be very low in retirement).

      Of course, there are many variables. Will we keep a second home? Or the first home? Replacement vehicles, etc… Best to shoot above and beyond 25x or have a plan to cover those needs.


  • Awesome post. Also loved the guest post @investmentzen. Looking forward to that light at the end of the tunnel…

  • The Green Swan

    Love the detail and break out of all the one-time and unusual items. Some of the expenses surprised me at first including the food spending, but realizing you are a family of four with two growing kids it makes sense. We’ll likely see ours grow to about the same size eventually.

    Also love that you are traveling to see your team play. Always nice to have an extra reason to go to Puerto Rico, sounds like it was a fun trip!

    • Thank you, Green Swan. The Puerto Rico trip was great. We drove the entire circumference of the island and took a puddle jumper over to Vieques, where we spent a couple days in Esperanza. An added benefit to traveling to a US Commonwealth, as compared to other Caribbean islands, is the availability and abundance of good craft beers from the mainland. So long Red Stripe, hello Stone, Bells, Victory, Founders, Smuttynose, etc… Hooray, [craft] beer!


  • Wow what a great post! Thanks for sharing in so much detail. It’s great that you all are able to live so comfortably & luxuriously on half your gross pay.

    • Thanks! I’ve decided to be more transparent with my numbers, and I think readers like you appreciate that.

      Just to clarify, my savings rate is over half my gross pay, and about 32% of gross goes taxes. We live on less than 20% of my gross pay, which isn’t difficult to do when you’re paid as an anesthesiologist.


  • I learned PoF’s spending and net worth in a 12 hour period! What a time to be alive for a personal finance and numbers geek like myself! I’m trying to think if I had any inclination to what you had spent. Maybe this was a little lower than I thought, but not by much. I didn’t take you as a six figure expense type of guy.

    It’s awesome that your spouse is on the same page. I know others would see those big paychecks coming in and want to get to spending. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow, awesome post – I love the detail! I’m in awe at your ability to get by on so little! We’re on the east coast and our food bill alone, just from grocery stores is $1,200 a month. That does not include the groceries that end up getting purchased as CostCo, Target and some from Amazon as well. Mostly organic and fresh of course. Our kids are high-school aged, so they eat a bit more than yours, but still.

    We also have travel soccer, piano lessons and Taekwondo lessons. In addition to clothing for a status-obsessed high-school girl (is that redundant?). It’s all choices of course, but that’s where we are.

    I was feeling great this morning until I read your post, now I just feel bad about myself – ha ha! (just kidding)

    Keep kicking butt on your expenses!

    • Thank you, Jon!

      I know these boys will become more expensive. The auto insurance when they’re driving, more activities and the equimpment that goes with them, weekend travel, bigger appetites, ordering off the grown-up menu… it’s all coming.

      Most of our groceries come from Costco and Aldi, some from the regional chain grocers and Walmart. We do quite well keeping costs low in that area, somewhat unnecessarily, since saving a buck or two on a bag of Honeycrisp apples isn’t going to alter my anticipated retirement. It feels good to save money wherever I can though. It’s how I’m wired.


  • Good to compare/contrast as we are a family of four also. Like how you framed each line item in terms of your specific situation, something many take for granted e.g. costs of a growing family.

    In terms of some of the bigger items, a few observations:

    1. Food and dining is separated out for us to groceries (including basic home supplies – where do you capture that?) and a separate bucket of restaurants. We will spend $950-1100 on that groceries line item for a family of four with two of them growing boys with voracious appetites – half a cow for dinner last night – that deer roadkill may have been devoured if offered to them!! . Restaurants – we spend about $300-400 per month and that is an intentional spend for something foodies like us just love.
    2. Property taxes – we own and run two homes in New England all year round and the total for us is $9000 annually. The larger piece of that ($6800) will go away when we relocate to our mountain home. Envy your lower property taxes and geo-arbitrage. We will get that benefit in two years.
    3. Autos and transportation – the price of commuting to work for two of us puts our budget there much higher (highway tolls, subsidized city parking, car maintenance and gasoline)
    4. Travel – I wonder if you may reduce that item further with even more travel hacking? Mrs. PIE is our Chief of Travel Hacking. This year we are looking like saving ~$5000 on our travel budget through hacking.Our $10K budget is projecting for ~$5000
    5. Where is your monthly expense to your suited up, Maserati owning financial advisor….?? :>)

    We have done the expense projections at FIRE also. At FIRE, an awful lot of stuff is going away for us – the biggest being running two homes, the cost of commuting to work and childcare costs (pre- and after-school care/summer camp for 9wks running at $1,050 per month in total for the boys). We will have no mortgage payment at FIRE and be debt free other than credit cards. Our future expenses are looking like $68000 annually with movement either way to spend a bit more or ratchet back a little depending on market winds. So in summary, darn close to where you are right now.

    • Thank you for the insightful commentary, Mr. PIE. It appears we will have similar anticipated FIRE budgets, indeed. I won’t have nearly as many expenses go away, unless we sell on of our properties, as you plan to do.

      1. Home supplies probably land in both the Grocery and Home categories, depending on where we bought them. At first, we were diligent about dividing costs from one receipt to different categories, but that grew tiresome. Our boys will be bigger eaters in 10 years, no doubt. We do eat venison, but didn’t drag that one home!

      2. We’ve got it good in some ways, like property tax. State income tax is running about $30,000 a year, though. #firstworldproblem.

      3. I either bike to work or drive 1 to 2 miles. Sometimes I’ll have to make three or four roundtrips in 24 hours, so it pays to live close to the hospital.

      4. You’re probably right. I got my feet wet with it last year, and it went well. With our level of spending, meeting the $3,000 and $4,000 spending minimums to get the points bonuses doesn’t take too long, for better or worse.

      5. 🙂


  • My first thought reading the title and intro was “Well, we’d probably spend about what we do now…” 🙂

    We’re in that same $50-$60k yearly spending sort of ball park. Once our daycare is done, and we buy our next house, there won’t be a mortgage either. We plan for about $50-55k although almost $12k of that is discretionary/fun money for the Mrs. and I. Things like home brew supplies, clothes, etc… go into that category for us. It makes it easier to spend on hobbies without having to justify every single purchase.

    We’ve got other expenses growing in later years, like food for the kids when they get older, more clothes for the kids, more travel, home expenses, newer cars every 8 years, but those are worked into the “Master Spreadsheet” to better estimate our FI number.

    It’s comfortable, but not lavish and like you if we spent double what we do now, it would just be uncomfortable thinking about all the waste associated with it.

  • You’re absolutely right about geographical arbitrage. Living on the coasts can be disgustingly expensive, with neighbors and friends who also buy into the lifestyle.

    The physician incomes also aren’t commensurate with the increased COL either. I’d roughly estimate that a relatively frugal physician family of 4 would spend closer to $150k out in the Bay Area. Don’t forget the CA taxes too!

  • I was surprised the spending was that low! Under $75k, not bad given all the “consumption” you’ve got going on.

    I think you’re like me in that you get value for your dollars, even though our household spends about half to a third of what you do. No one believes we can get by comfortably on $25-30k per year including those “one time” expenses (like a new used car, roof/siding replacement, etc) that happen all the time.

    • I believe you, Justin, but I also believe it would be a challenge for us to cut more than half from our budget without making some sacrifices we’d rather not make. And that’s why I’m still working and you’re living on your own terms. To each, his own, and I respect what you’re doing.

      I also know you’re a fan of the “5,000 car,” a topic featured in the most recent Sunday Best. Well, I guess you spent $8,000. Good value, though.


  • Mary

    Very interesting and informative post, POF! I enjoy your conversational style of writing very much! A couple things to note which I believe allow your expenses to be relatively low for a physician lifestyle.

    1) Wow, your property tax is quite low! We live in Ohio and pay $16,000 In property tax per year on a $600,000 home.

    2) You don’t have older kids or teens yet. I thought the last preschool tuition payment would be mean a huge savings but the sports fees, sports equipment fees, sports camp fees, music lesson fees, etc. kick in and really ramp up as kids get older. We have two college age kids and feel that all of those expenses were well worth it because they kept the kids involved in positive heathy activities and enabled them to learn valuable teamwork skills and develop work ethic. Also, older kids from affluent families start to notice the brands of clothing their peers are wearing and that spending ramps up as well. You may say it won’t or that the kids will have earn money to buy their own clothing but that is not realistic if you live in a fairly affluent community and your kids are busy with school and sports or other extracurricular activities. It is difficult to hold a job during the school year for extremely involved teens who are on a college track. High school and college prep is much more competitive and demanding now than when we were teens. You can,however, teach them economic lessons along the way, We have continually talked to our kids about budgeting, saving money and spending wisely, buying things on sale and shopping at discount stores for name brands, eating at home and only eating out occasionally. At ages 19 and 22, my kids are well-grounded and not spoiled which we consider a success.

    3) You don’t have a girl who will turn into a teen girl (enough said!)

    4) You are fortunate to be married to a low maintenance spouse 🙂

    • You make some excellent observations, Mary.

      1. Property taxes and state income taxes tend to inversely proportional. I paid $30,000 in state income tax last year, so it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in the tax department!

      2. I would say you’ve done thing right — most families avoid talking about money. We’ve already begun those discussions (our older boy overhears money talk, usually blog related) and I fully expect those boys to cost more in ten years than they do now. One more reason to aim for more than 25x or anticipate an increased budget in the early years of early retirement.

      3. Praise the Lord! My wife is not a “girly girl” and does not regret the fact that we don’t and won’t have a daughter of our own.

      4. See #3. And Yes, I am.


  • Good post PoF. For only $75k you guys really live it up. It’s also impressive that you have a second home and no mortgage on either home. WOW! Or maybe HOLY CRAP is more appropriate!

    If you had mortgages (like most folks), your annual expenses would probably double!

    Our spending includes a mortgage, and we spend roughly $50k per year. Like you we have quite a few “one time” expenses that make this difficult to calculate with any kind of accuracy, but give or take a few thousand we come in around $50k.

    • Very nice, Mr. Tako. I knew I was one of the bigger spending FIRE bloggers, and one of the more frugal physicians out there. The two paid off homes are less impressive when you consider I would only expect to net maybe $400,000 if we sold them both. The variance in the cost of real estate around the country, and even from city to city is incredible.

      I’m anticipating finishing out the year with expenses closer to $60,000 for this calendar year, but we’ve got two cars with 130,000 miles each, and who knows what other “one-time” expenses will be on the horizon. I don’t know, but I know they’re lurking somewhere out there.


  • I love the mix of very frugal activities (self hair cuts) and wonderful family adventures. By being a bit frugal in some areas that aren’t so important, it makes the more expensive activities possible while still hitting your goals. I think a lot of folks get stuck because they feel the need to make everything expensive. Thanks for the report!

  • centsiblyrich

    Thanks for sharing! Your annual spending is impressive. I’m particularly impressed by all of the travel at such a great cost! Plus, I love that you enjoy frugal activities, even as multimillionaires. 🙂 We did a Universal Studios (and FL Keys) trip this year too – geez, Universal was sooo expensive!

    Being transparent with the actual numbers is something I struggle with, but I certainly do admire those who openly share. We track monthly and yearly expenses, down to the penny. My family lives on one income (under 5 digits), but still manage to save almost half.

    • Thank you, Centsiblyrich. I’d guesstimate we saved at least $3,000 in travel over the last 12 months via credit card bonuses. Some of that is for plane rides we haven’t taken yet, so those points are a point that will continue to give.


  • Soulrider

    Awesome post!! I was looking forward to it since yesterday!!
    My wife and I are currently spending around 9k per month – 6k goes to paying student loans/car loan and rent. We are also maxing out her 401k, and have our emergency fund fully funded. We are doing this on my fellow salary with a few moonlighting shifts here and there and her RN income, and per my calculations we will be able to pay all debt off within 4 months after I become an attending (so in 15 months).
    I can’t wait to eliminate all the debt, and then get to a monthly spending of 3k plus another 1500 – 2000 rent in our area (high COL).
    Thank you for the post and for continuing to inspire me!

  • grbkeb

    I recently did a similar exercise since I passed my 1 year of early retirement. I didn’t go into nearly as much detail but it ended up at about $9k month. Being a single guy it seems pretty excessive compared to a family of 4! The big expenses for me was healthcare $6k/yr since I’m funding that myself now, and my home expenses of over $36,000/year in just taxes/insurance/heating/cooling/maintenance is a little ridiculous I know. Thankfully the home is paid for but if you back those expenses out it seems reasonable. I’m actually significantly under what I budgeted for pre-retirement. I’m in the multimillionaire camp as well and targeted a 2% withdraw rate of liquid invested assets (excluding home/various stuff)…the math tells me I should be spending more but I’m happy as can be at my current level. A life well lived is not that expensive at all.

    • Daaayummm, that’s a lot of housing costs for a home you own outright. Over $3,000 a month!

      The good news is, and you obviously know this, that you can easily afford it. With a 2% withdrawal rate, you can expect to see your net worth grow substantially two out of every three years.

      The math tells you how much you can safely spend, not how much you should spend. If you’re happy, no need to spend more. If you want to spend more, spend more on others. Research says it can make you even happier.


      • grbkeb

        LOL, yep it does seem a little crazy doesn’t it? I think what is important to also consider in the “cost” equation is the return on capital that you/me and all the other responsible debt free people have tied up in their paid for properties. I understand it is a lifestyle choice and there would be costs to have a place to live anyway, but it should be factored in. If I sold my home and took the proceeds and simply purchased tax free municipal bonds it would net me lets say conservatively $70k year, subtract out a really nice but appropriately sized rental of $3k month (a cost I chose because it perfectly offsets my cost to live in the home, and would rent an awesome place in most cities)…now all of the sudden my costs plus opportunity costs look a little silly when you tack on $70k/yr. I could essentially double my spending at the expense cost of not having an awesome lake house….decisions, decisions.

  • Hey Doc! What a great example of not letting your lifestyle “inflate” with your income. You’re finding time (and $) to enjoy life and build memories now with the kids, while also socking it away for FIRE. We are kindred souls, as I spent $8500/month last year, but have now paid off our house and live on just under $7k/month. I’m <2 years from FIRE at Age 55, and the only way I achieved it was to live below my means. For a long time. You're a great example of how it's done!

  • I like reading other people’s expense reports, thank you for sharing the detail that you’ve put into your report! 🙂 I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on the little expenses in my budget such as food and utility costs. Since I preach so much on saving money, I should put it up to practice and put my actions where my mouth is!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Finance Solver. We set out to track it just to get a better idea of where our money was going. I don’t think the fact that we were tracking it had a huge effect on our spending habits, but being more aware did get us thinking about where we could cut back if we felt the need.


  • I appreciate you sharing this information and am impressed with your frugality. If I take away our debt payments and child care, then we are quite close. The biggest difference is how much we spend on skiing!

    • The only skiing our family did last year was Nordic style. We didn’t spend zero; my wife bought used gear on Craigslist and the boys rented equipment for the season so they could participate in the weekly cross country ski club. I was able to use my father’s equipment that he no longer uses. Even the shoes fit me.

      The snow will be falling before we know it!


      • Even though all of our debt is low interest, it is stunning to take our budget, subtract out the debt service, and then see how much more we would be saving each year if we were debt free. Christy and I go back and forth on whether we should pay off our low interest debt as opposed to additional investing (we fortunately can max out all of our deferred options). Your article definitely put her back on the no-debt bandwagon!

  • Thanks for sharing, PoF! For a 7-figure net worth and mid-6-figure income household, that’s a very modest annual budget.
    Unfortunately, working in finance, there isn’t as much geographic arbitrage as in the medical field, so for the time being we have to just bite the bullet and live where the high-paying jobs are. Accounting for that, unfortunately, our expenses are much higher if we count our $500k+ mortgage, condo home owner association fees, higher grocery costs, etc.. But what really counts is what do we need to spend in retirement because we’ll be “outta here” in 2018. Taking out the housing costs we’ll end up also at about $70k, almost the same category by category. I computed that through our Quicken program. How old-fashioned, but Quicken gives you more options to customize and, for example, account for durable good depreciation. I also have a longer history (since before 2000!!!) than Mint or Personal Capital.
    We’d probably have to add a few $1,000 for property taxes and maintenance of a modest home (paid in cash) in a new tax-efficient location, add more for traveling, but also subtract some money for living in an area with lower costs in general. Probably a wash. Just to be on the safe side we budget $80k in retirement expenses. So, just like you, we’re living the frugal-luxe lifestyle = several times the MMM budget. That should give us some comfort in case times get tough: We can always go down to 2.0*MMM or even 1.0*MMM in case there is a recession and asset price drawdown.
    Cheers and good luck!

    • Good to hear from you, ERN. Finance, like most professions, finance requires you to live in busier, costlier population centers. Medicine is pretty unique with its higher salaries in rural America.

      And you’re abosolutely right that you should calculate your FI number based on anticipated expenses in retirement, not your current spending. Most retirees find that many expenses associated with working disappear. Even with some new expenses and increased travel costs, retirement living costs less than the typical working year.

      Since we are debt free, done paying for pre-school, already in a relatively low cost of living area, wear scrubs at work, and have a minimal commute, there aren’t many expenses that will go away for us. I will be responsible for paying for health and dental coverage, so I am anticipating increased costs. Growing boys will start to cost more as has been discussed earlier in the comments. All of this has been accounted for and worked into our plan, though.


  • Wow, thanks for sharing. At first, I thought the family would spend a lot more than $74k. That level of QOL would definitely cost more on the west coast. A second home alone would cost a ridiculous amount of money. I guess it depends where the cabin is.
    Yes, you have to enjoy the journey. You can’t be over frugal if it impact your family life. Great job.

  • Fascinating detail, thanks for sharing! Add me to the camp of jealous people reading about your reasonable property values. I have similar equity in my primary residence as you do in both your houses, but property values are so high here that I still have about $250k to go on my mortgage. :-/ And it’s definitely NOT a fancy house. I’m in a typical, mostly blue-collar SFR neighborhood built in the 1970s. Oh well.

    By the way, I am such a fan of your writing style. This line made me laugh: “Vehicles also kill, which another unfortunate deer learned this winter, when in an instant, he met his demise and we met our deductible.” Nicely done.

  • GXA

    Thank you for sharing. We are still at 20k a month of expenses. But as we are still working, the cash flow is not an issue, and the rates on the loans are low. We will be retiring in 10 years at the latest, by which time the mortgages for our home and investment properties will all be paid off. Without those and stopping the 529, 401k, 457 payments we will be down to about 8,000 a month (perhaps less without kids at home offset by an increased travel budget).

    • Thank you for sharing your numbers too, GXA.

      Your “outflow” might be $20k a month, but what I would consider “spending” is quite a bit lower. I didn’t count any of my investments as expenses. It’s true that you won’t be putting money towards any of those items as a retiree.

      $8,000 a month might be the equivalent of $10,000 to $11,000 a month in ten years, depending on inflation. Of course, currently, inflation is running well under the historical average. You can also count on your investment properties, and the cashflow from them, to increase over time.



  • S.G.

    I am interested in the details of your Disney Cruise. $3k for a family a four seems quite low to me and as I am looking into the possibility for my family I’m curious what kind of timing or other hacks you might have used, or if it was just an incredibly short trip.

    Other than that all of your numbers appear quite reasonable. I really appreciate your FIRE numbers. I like the super frugal people, but they all seem to have interest in being frugal. Doing without or for themselves becomes a bit of a vocation in itself with a blind spot that some people would rather attempt their own root canal than cook every meal at home and drive a 30 year old car. That doesn’t mean eat out every meal and drive a new car every year, but it looks like you’re demonstrating how a very normal life with everyday extravagance can be maintained once FI is achieved.

    • Thanks, S.G. To answer the first question, we cruised in early March, which had cheaper sailings than late March (and happened to line up with our Spring Break). It was a 4 night cruise out of Cape Canaveral on the Magic, which is not one of the newest or largest of the four Disney ships, but was recently remodeled.

      I tend to be rather frugal (after all, we did find a pretty good deal on that cruise), but pick and choose where and how we spend our money.

      One reason I wanted to put this out there was to respond to the “You have to live a little” / “Hoarding all your money is no way to live” naysayers. Once you are debt-free, a pretty good quality of life can be maintained at well under $100,000 in many locations throughout the U.S. (and world).


      • S.G.

        I’m just impressed. $3k for all of you, AND during your spring break is awesome. I totally get why you shared. That spending level looks awesome. It’s probably close to what we’ll shoot for once we’re there, but we are engineers. Our peers are more likely to understand watching the numbers and making sure we’re spending efficiently.

  • S.G.

    Absolutely. I just think a lot of FIRE bloggers and their $20k per year expenses are unrealistic. Not that they misrepresent but I think they misunderstand that the trade offs they make aren’t for everyone. It’s not just spendthrifts that enjoy Disney Cruises and occasionally going out for lunch. I admire them and they work hard, but I think you have a far more mainstream lifestyle. Granted, it takes a higher salary up front, but I think it’s more realistic and definitely more appealing to people who don’t get a kick out of DIY everything and camping vacations.

    • Indeed. I might do a post comparing our spending with a handful of others who have shared detailed spending logs. It would make for some interesting discussion. I see things the way you do, and have respect for those who are happy with smaller budgets. If I didn’t enjoy an anesthesiologist’s salary, I would be more thrifty, I’m sure.


      • S.G.

        I would add that it’s also more reasonable, and appealing, to spouses who might not have bought into a FIRE plan. I have shared some of those spending and lifestyle details with my husband and yours is the first that he has said he admires and could be very happy living.

  • Nice budget!

    Any thoughts of ever leaving the Midwest? Once you’ve got a lot of money, you can move anywhere in the world!

    • Yes!

      and No!

      You have a good point, Sam. But my wife and I are from different states in the midwest, and we’ve lived in both of them. Most of our friends and family are up here. Long term, I anticipate our home base will be somewhere in the upper midwest.

      In the medium term, we have plans to spend several years exploring this great world and nation by spending a year or so each in at least a couple different countries, and touring the nation in a year of “road schooling” based in a motorhome, perhaps hitting each of the lower 48. I’ve discussed these ideas in a little more detail in the head-fake post, Announcing My Retirement.


  • Dr_JB

    POF, I found you from some of your comments on WCI (not to mention your guest post),. I’m a CA2 saving half of my salary and enjoying my family of six out East (MMM-style expenses) 2 questions: did you complete fellowship training? Will you stop practicing or cut to part time or Locums when you retire? PS first time on your site, I’m going to have to look around. Cheers!

    • Glad you found your way here, Dr. JB. Saving half your income with a family of 6 as a resident?!? You deserve a medal.

      I’ve got some grand family adventures planned (family of four) that I anticipate starting in 2.5 to 3 years with locums in NZ or AUS, and most likely a complete retirement after that, although I will likely hang onto my license and certifications for a year or two to be sure I am content to drop the laryngoscope for good. For more on my plans, check out fifty things I’d like to do, or if you’ve got more time, you can read All Posts from the blog’s beginning.


      p.s. Tell your friends about this site! Enemies too.

  • Michael @ Financially Alert

    Incredible post, PoF! I love that you live your life freely, but not outrageously. Your ability to balance is impressive. Thanks for sharing all the details. It helps to give us insight to your real life perspective.

    P.S. I just shared your awesome blog with my best friend who’s also an anesthesiologist. 🙂

  • Thanks PoF, you have provided me with some cover here. A few years ago Mrs. JF insisted that I segregate my craft beer expenditures from our “Food:groceries” line item in my obsessive Quicken expense tracking function. And thus the “Food:Beer” subcategory was born. My 12-month expenditure data report shows $1,018 spent on the nectar of the gods. You bested (or worsted?) me at $1,854. (But I do note that the home-brew inclusion muddies the water a bit.) Thank you sir.

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