2017 Expense Report

Categories The Numbers

2017 Living Expenses

Category

2017

% of Total Notes
Property Tax

9707

Home Insurance

1791

Electricity

699

Heat

1070

Home- Total

13267

28.1

House paid off
Auto Insurance

1843

Fuel/ Bus

2423

Maintenance

576

Parking

296

Auto- Total

5138

10.9

Car paid off
Food & Entertainment

13143

27.8

This is embarrassingly large but it is highly enjoyed.
Clothes

2907

Haircuts

360

Gifts

3000

Kids’ Activities

1382

Health & Dental

3400

Pet

1828

Cellular

1747

Internet

1075

Total

47247

66.8%

For the big three

These were my household expenses for 2017.

Note that 2/3rds of my expenses are for the big 3 of housing, transportation and food. Notice that huge amount spent on food.

Our expenses was even lower in our previous home as the property tax was significantly cheaper. This is a budget where we actually try to be spendy. But I have run my numbers long enough to know that this falls within the range of what my baseline expenses would be.

I keep about 5K in cash regularly for home repairs, unexpected travels, etc.

What About Travel?

We generally like to travel locally since my husband loves to go fishing. I don’t fish but I tag along for the hiking and lots of reading time while waiting for him. We keep the rolling 5K per year in the background to use for any international travel. I have also used Aeroplan points for multiple flights simply because that is linked to the Visa card I already use. Generally we travel to see family and good friends who always insist that we stay with them. As it turns out, we use our previous duplex to allow guests who visit to stay there for longer term. I think we have become our own AirBNB but without the need to fill out paperwork.

Budgeting

I have never really budgeted. I tried for about 3 months with the envelope system. And it works well. But I already knew that I was well within my spending range so it wasn’t worth the bandwidth. I simply download my Visa card and bank statements once a year and see where the totals end up. I might try budgeting again with my food expenses. Even though I will always be dining out, perhaps I could tone it down a bit.

Off The Books

There will always be items off the books since that would not be representative of normal living expenses. What I have outlined above constitute what our family spends to live regularly. However, we also pay for all the housing expenses for my parents who still live in our first duplex. They own one half and we still own the other. But we continue to pay for all the property tax, insurance, utilities, etc. My parents worked extremely hard when I was younger, this is the least I could do to repay them.

I also do not show the office overhead expenses since it’s kind of NOT relevant here. I think most physicians’ overhead expenses would look differently even to one another within the same province. Plus there are so many different work arrangements that it would be almost impossible to compare.

Financial Independence

Back in 2004, I had saved over a million dollars and had my duplex paid off. I also had the 25% down payment for my other house which we had rented out. I knew that my living expenses were about 30K per year. And I really wanted to stay home with my children. I did not know anything about the 4% SWR, but I knew that a 5 year GIC was returning 3%. I also knew that I could live on the same amount ongoing. I had still planned on working one shift a week just to keep my skills current. As it turned out, I did not even need to save that much since my husband ended up training as a surgeon and he continues to work full time to this day.

However, as a female physician, it was very important that I accomplished this. I had tracked that before my husband became a surgeon, I had earned over 60% of the household income. I did not want to FI depending on my husband fully. We made sure to reached FI together. Actually, my husband did not even know what the heck I was planning. That is why we have a large savings rate now. We had FI’ed by the time he had finished his residency. My earnings were always higher when we were in general practice together since I was always busier as a female doctor.

I suppose the current vernacular might be physician leanFIRE? I had no desire to increase the FI amount any further. Time was slipping away on me to spend time with my kids. I had already missed enough time with them as it was. That was always something that I knew intuitively. I could always make more income later if needed but the time with my children was an hourglass which was running down at an unforgivable pace. I knew I would regret not having spent time with them. I paid attention to senior physicians along the way. I have not met any older physician who did not wish that they had let up on the gas a bit and spent more time with their young families and a little more time for themselves. I spent many hours with older surgeons who would regularly lament these regrets to me. I was more their therapist than their student since many would confide in me during those long hours on call.

I never thought about quitting medicine completely. Therefore, I never really cared to wrangle with the concept if I had actually had enough money for retirement. When I was studying medicine, I thought physicians made 30K a year. That goes to show how little I knew of what doctors made. I recall telling one of my classmates that I would be happy earning 30K a year back in the 1990’s and she literally went purple and got extremely upset. I guess she knew how much physicians made. But at the time, I was living off 12K a year and I thought I was living pretty well. When I started practicing, in my first year alone I was earning six figures. I distinctly remember thinking that I would not have to work very long to earn enough to support my lifestyle.

I had been tracking my expenses since I went to university at 17 years old. I used to print out a monthly paper calendar and write in my daily expenses. It was simple but it worked. And yeah, even then one of my largest expense was eating out. Bar food was 99 cents when I went to university. And the portions were HUGE!! And all my friends and I went regularly. I miss those times…

The whole point of blogging is to show others that this can be done. To reach FI, we earned about 200K per year combined. We were working steadily but we were certainly not rockstars. I do not know how to show anyone how to quit medicine since it was never my intention even after I had saved enough. My plan was simple. I wanted to spend more time with my kids. It was obvious to me that I could delegate a lot of things in my life. But I could not do that with my relationships or my health. Those I would need to do myself. And thankfully those are also the best parts of my life so it has worked out well that I thought that way.

We can give inspiration but sometimes it’s just easier to see someone else’s numbers. Then you can pick it apart all you like.

But then again, I could reach FI simply by living how I wanted to. And I was not distracted by other people’s numbers. There weren’t any internet sites that I was aware of when I reached FI.

Anyhow, this is how one Canadian family with 2 docs and 2 kids have done it. Many of you will be much more efficient than we were and would be able to reach it faster. We barely used the equities market so your tailwind will be even stronger if you do.

6 thoughts on “2017 Expense Report

  1. Excellent Dr. MB! You have the comment section for your blog now. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your household expenses and your story about achieving FI. I enjoyed reading your decision to spend more time with your kids. I find that the hourglass runs down faster each year as our kids get older.

    Your expenses are Mustachian-like. Your electricity bill is really low – what’s your secret?

    We are similar to you in terms of restaurant expenses. We like to go out to eat on a weekly basis. Keep up with the great posts!

    1. Hello DN!

      I thought my electricity bill was high! My parents in a similar size home uses 39% of what we use and puts us to shame. I don’t think I do anything extra to save energy.

      And this whole Mustachian thing is funny since we have always lived this way. My husband would die a thousand deaths if we were ever outed. So no thank you!

      I LOVE eating out. And it’s “my precious”. [Gollum voice insert]

  2. I am enjoying your blog! We’ve never individually invested in real estate other than as a group purchase, so I’m finding your experienc informative. Makes me want to buy some duplexes or triplexes. But my husband says he is worried it will be too much work. We keep our expenses low but are not as successful as you in that department!

    1. Hello RD!

      If your husband already thinks it’s too much work. That’s a red flag. It’s that subconscious part again. I used to think that was all woo woo until I kept seeing it repeated.

      As a doc, if you keep your expenses reasonable it is much easier. We can all control that versus the equities market/ real estate markets/ commodities market, etc.

      I bought the multiplexes because I needed places to live. I am looking for another one now for my daughter’s future home. We plan to rent that out for decades hopefully. We find when we rent to quality renters, we rarely have to do anything. 👍

  3. I just wanted to say thanks for doing this. We have a 1 year old now and we’re pushing 500k net worth together right now earning… 200k? between the two of us (husband is non-med and I’m working in public health at the moment). It’s crazy I already don’t know if I have the stamina to push to 1m net worth, I’m already super burnt out and thinking every day about how nice it would be to stay at home. I don’t like gender being front and center all the time but I do appreciate seeing it from the perspective of someone who also wants to have a better ability to stay at home for a while.

    1. Hi Danielle,

      I have never regretted staying home with my children for one day! Even when they drove me nuts at times. 🙂

      When you have a young family, you lack time. The child stage passes quicker than you think.

      My husband and are grateful that we carved out some time for our family always. No one will give it to you, must be vigilant to make it happen.

      Some folks who work with public health and pension systems could get 4 in 5 packages. That is work 4 years and get paid 80% and take the 5th year off. Then they come back and purchase their pensions.

      I am rambling but there are many options. Look into all of them especially if you are feeling burnt out. Taking care of yourself is absolutely the first priority.

      Best of luck Danielle.

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