How would you cut your household spending?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Let’s look at the unpleasant version of a question that was posed here recently.  Instead of asking what you would do with an extra $2500 each month, today’s question is about tightening your belt.

How would you deal with being forced to trim $2500 (or another amount) from your monthly family budget?  The reason could be a job loss, new daycare or college expenses, or any number of other scenarios.

Pick a dollar amount or percentage, and tell us what you would cut from your budget.  Also, how could you boost your household income?  A side gig, SAHP returns to the work force, sell valuables, or other ways to “find money“?

To inspire you, take a look at this comparison of two very different family budgets.  How could an “average family” trim their budget?

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323 thoughts on “How would you cut your household spending?

  1. By deciding to send the kids to private school next year, we just went through a similar exercise. DH being laid off in 2007 also forced us to take a hard look at our cash flow.

    BTW – In the example above, the NYC tax, property insurance and childcare numbers look low. Other numbers look high (clothing, vacations), so maybe it balances out.

  2. I’d rent out the California house, and I’d consider renting out a room in this house, although DH would fight me hard on that. I’d also start looking for work. I might sign with a temp agency or offer to drive/babysit someone’s kids in the afternoon. In my neighborhood there are always parents looking for someone to pick up the kids after school, take them either to activities or to home, get the started on homework and get dinner started. I could do that.

    I’d also start shaking my professional connections for a real job.

  3. Our income varies and I refuse to dip in to investments/savings for monthly expenses, so we often match our spending to the income, so I could do the $2500 cut pretty easily. If we had a big cut, I would go back to work. I need to decide soon if I am going to do this anyway. If I don’t do it soon, I think that door will be closed. I do have a side thing going on, but it is easy and doesn’t pay well though it is in my old professional area of expertise.

  4. We would move DH’s office out of the office building and rent it out – that would take care of about half. Then also get rid of all the subscription services (spotify etc.) and cancel the kids’ summer camps for this year, start eating out less, etc.

  5. I’m a nerd, so I put both budgets in Excel and tried to solve the average person’s budget. I get there total costs to match net salary by cutting childcare to $15K/year by assuming finding a cheaper in-home option or flexing schedules or getting family to help. Reduced food budget to $750/month. Cut out vacations. Reduced clothing to $2,500/year. Removed charity. And then I realized I had screwed up my calculation so am about $1,500 still short.

    I thought the $500K salary was fascinating in that their savings rate is 3.6%.

  6. How much do most people spend on clothing a year? Given my hatred of shopping, I’ll guess that we spend far less than most.

  7. The simple answer is to eat out less and cut back a little on travel expenses. We could use my parents’ house for free and call it vacation, and then if we want to see new areas and sights, make those our camping trips.

    The other option would just be to make no lifestyle changes but cease all retirement contributions beyond whatever is necessary for employer matching, and let the principal do the work from here on out.

    On the income side, I could earn more money if I were willing to travel. Or I could get a part-time job nights and weekends. I’d have fun working at Chick-fil-A.

    We could trade our house for two townhouses, make one of them a rental, and be no less happy. And that would be a nice little income stream.

  8. When DW was in elementary school, and her dad’s job took them to N. Va., in order to defray some of the increased costs (mainly the mortgage), her mom worked Saturdays as one of the people demonstrating and selling various fancy kitchen gadgets, like the Vitamix, at retailers.

    We’re not above, or very far removed, from such side gigs.

  9. Also 80k in PITI seems a little low. 30% of gross would be 150k or $12,500/month. Then again that could make sense if you had a doctor aggressively paying down his student loans.

  10. The clothing budget for the average family seems high. Maybe that’s what it would be assuming 1 boy and 1 girl and all new clothes.

    We would cut our discretionary expenses – eating out, vacation, etc. We don’t follow a budget but do track our spending in Quicken. I have a spreadsheet of our spending and which ones are discretionary to help plan if need be. I could work more if needed.

  11. We front load our 401k contributions for the year, because it makes the accounting easier if there is a job change mid or late in the year. So, last year when cash flow got tight in January – we had two big mortgages as we lived in one house and renovated a second – we stopped 401k, with the intention of ramping up when the first house sold. We also were paying for some renovations out of pocket, so the decrease in cash flow was more than just the second mortgage. It all worked out, but we are boring (and fortunate) like that. On the other hand, the two mortgages equaled about what 30% of gross PITI we were qualified for – I can’t imagine living with that much of a monthly outflow.

  12. Have we ever shared that information? Is it too personal? What is your PITI as a percentage of gross? I think we are around 10% right now.

  13. Trimming $2500 in spending would require moving in with a set of parents and paying minimal rent and pursuing insurance options under the Affordable Care Act/special programs.

    Earning another $2500 (gross) would be doable if I worked full-time and also worked a few more hours in my editing side gig. Since that’s only several hundred dollars after taxes/childcare, I would only do it if Mr WCE were unemployed.

    To cut costs immediately, we’d end our house remodeling plans and make do with our existing roof for at least another year. We might get rid of the Buick Century (to save insurance) with the knowledge that the minivan would not last as many years. We could stop piano lessons. Baby WCE could switch to a less expensive childcare option, but that would be a last resort.

    The arrival of Baby WCE was the most recent unexpected change to our baseline expenses of approximately this magnitude.

  14. You think $80k seems a little low? In real life?

    That’s 16% of gross so I’d say it’s on the low end.

  15. Some subscriptions / services:
    – lawn care (mowing & fertilizing). I could do this myself but boy do I enjoy coming home on a Thursday or Friday evening seeing the lawn mowed and knowing I don’t need to do that job this weekend.
    – landline. I’ve wanted to cut that for years, YEARS. DW no. Picking my battles.
    – housekeeper – reduce to every other week
    – daily (local) newspaper. This may be on the outs soon anyway with no one in HS sports after this school year
    – eat out at less expensive places. We don’t really eat out that often, maybe 2-3x/month.
    – actually look at a cheaper cell phone plan thru a non-mainstream carrier. Anybody have Consumer Cellular?

    Adding all that up, averaging the lawn care over a full year, the savings looks like about $600/month.

    Other things we’d definitely look at if we really needed to cut stuff out –
    – raising the deductibles on p&c insurance. We’re at $500 now, going to $1000 would definitely cut rates.

  16. We’re at 13.5%. We refinanced on 1/1 this year to a 10-year mortgage. I want to have the mortgage paid off before kids are in college.

  17. Ada – we’re at the stage where we’re only paying the “TI” part of PITI, so not really fair for us to play in that game. But 6%. Property taxes are killer here.

  18. I don’t think that is on the low end in reality for a $1.5m house. If they spent the approved 30%, they wouldn’t have much money for anything else. As it is they save very little.

  19. Not a quick fix, but we did refi our mortgage twice in the past few years and did not extend the term.

    Part of the difficulty with this analysis is trying to figure out how long the loss will continue. When DH was laid off, we knew he’d get a new job at some point, but it did take longer than expected. We kept our nanny throughout.

    Also helpful to know is the amount of savings available. We were able to keep our nanny because we had savings to tap.

  20. Have we ever shared that information?

    Yes. Many started with something like 30% when they bought their first house. The record was over 50%.

  21. Kate,

    Many folks, especially those at the higher end of % of gross, consider accumulated home equity to be a form of savings.

  22. Oh, and speaking of MBT’s kids with million dollar mortgages. House Hunters had a couple with 3 kids the husband was 29 and the wife was 26(?) and the youngest kid was 5. She stayed at home and he ran two home/web based businesses. One home automation and the other solar panel installation. They both said they “went to school in Utah” so I take that to mean they are Mormons.

    I thought it was interesting as they went the lucrative small business route vs. the typical totebagger who goes the professional route to a totebag level income.

  23. We would switch our kids to public school from religious private school. Also cut one or more of their activities. We could buy cheaper brands of clothes and shoes. Our landscaping service we could get rid of.
    Our mortgage is paid off, we own our cars and have low mileage on them. Our eating out is limited and so are our vacations.
    Seniors health insurance is probably our biggest monthly expense.

  24. I haven’t thought about PITI as a percentage of income in awhile. I was the one who had it over 50% and i just reran the numbers and realized it’s currently 37%. so it’s going down yay!

    I’m currently doing research on homeowner/car insurance and it’s a hot mess. There’s such variance so i’m not entirely sure i’m picking the right one!

  25. Our PITI is 20% of DH’s base, if he has a decent year it’s more like 16% or 17%. If we had to cut back I would start looking for a job, start shopping at Publix instead of Whole Foods ($3K or $4K), nix preschool for my youngest ($7K), stop contributing to 401K and let it just compound (DH still has to contribute to his other partner/counsel retirement plan, so after tax that may be $12K or $13K) and maybe ramp up selling Beauty Counter on the side.

  26. $2500 per month out of takehome? That would be a real hit. We would obviously cancel all travel plans, which would hit my career since I travel to present at conferences and am only reimbursed 50%. I would have to not do that until whatever crisis resolved. We would cancel all summer programs and lessons for kids. The oldest would lose his data plan for his phone. We would cancel the cleaning service. After that, the budget gets a lot more difficult because the other big ticket monthly expenses are one car payment and the mortgage, and stuff like car insurance and homeowners. We need Internet at home for our jobs, and right now the best deal for reliable service includes cable so it doesn’t make sense to get rid of that. We don’t spend much on eating out except when on vacation and that would have already gone in step one. So at that point, it would be a matter of nickel and diming – cut food costs, cancel gym membership, etc.

  27. We’re down on the peasant end of the Totebag spectrum, so there’s no way we could cut $2500 from the monthly budget – short of selling the house, all the livestock and small farm equipment and moving in (rent free) with relatives. What I do need to do though, is re-shop all of our insurance policies and threaten to cancel the cable. DH and have had quite a few money discussions (and a fight or two) regarding my pending maternity leave and the associated drop in income. PITI is 18%.

  28. Smaller cuts we could make – cut food budget which is luxuriously high (switch from Whole Foods to the ethnic market, eat less meat/seafood, buy cheaper wine/cheese/coffee & stop eating out at nice restaurants with alcohol on Fridays), cut travel budget, sell our sports season tickets instead of going to games (both teams are good right now so they would actually be worth money), cut premium cable, cut house cleaner, etc. The big cut would be public school vs. private of course. And if one of us was permanently out of work, we’d have to seriously consider it. We could also cut savings of course.

    As for a side gig – Milo’s example of doing the demos at Costco might work, driving an Uber on the side, being a runner for Postmates or Instacart, or something along those lines.

    Our PITI is about 10% of gross, and I like it right there. We’ve never been over 20%, and even then, it felt very tight when DS was a baby with a FT nanny. We also refi’ed to a shorter term recently, and hope/plan to pay it off before DS starts college.

  29. We live pretty lean (other than travel). If cuts to our travel budget were not enough, we would simply stop saving until the crisis passed. We are older than many posters here, so most of our financial obligations are complete. A drop in savings would not hurt.

  30. I am definitely thinking of a smaller house when the kids go off to college. It would be less space to maintain. Also, I want all new and nicer decor too, less maintenance in the short term once we buy.

  31. We may spend around that on clothes for 5 people but don’t travel as much and are definitely lighter on the charitable giving. DD’s summer camp would also be cut (a little over $3k, which I’m thinking about doing next year anyway..

  32. I could do Uber Black for some extra money. I also have every combo of car seats and boosters that any family might need, so I could do a combo of Uber Black and Family. I also like to drive, even around DC. So this could be perfect for me.

  33. I always thought it might be nice to work in a library or BN for some extra money. The people seem cool and it would be great to be surrounded by books. I might do this in retirement as something to keep me busy, even if I don’t need the money.

  34. 14!

    Doing the math – We had two (newborn), and then 2 more and then 2 boosters (and don’t even own a car). Add one more kid and maybe different sets for different cars – is that how you get to 14?

  35. One of the things I like about being self-employed is that I have the ability to ramp my income up or down as needed or desired. Right now, I work a little less than full-time. If we needed more money, I could take on another client per month (maybe two), and still have the homefront be OK. DH and the kids would have to step up by taking over some of the cooking and housework that I currently do, but they could handle it.

    Also, DH could start working in the summers again. For the past few years, he has been a summer-vacation SAHP. That has allowed me to work (and earn) more in the summer months than I could if he wasn’t home. Now that our kids are older and more independent, though, it wouldn’t be hard for DH to pick up some summer work.

    Our budget isn’t that extravagant, so if we had to cut, we would probably cut my 401(k) savings. 11% of DH’s gross pay goes to his state pension fund, so between the two of us we would still be putting some funds aside toward retirement.

  36. 2 cars with 3, 1 car with 2. Each kid has a light weight seat for travel. 2 Bubble Bums (one for my oldest who finally weighs enough to use when we travel, both used for other kids when carpooling). Kept my daughter’s infant bucket seat for when family with babies visit. It fits in my stroller, too, so they don’t have to bring all of that stuff.

    We had more over the years. But that is the current stock.

    On the other hand, I have only had 2 strollers in those. A full size that also acts as a snap n go and an umbrella stroller. Both have been beaten up a lot.

  37. Kate, I’ve owned 6 strollers. Single snap ‘n’ go plus single jogger, double snap ‘n’ go plus triple jogger, single snap ‘n’ go plus single jogger. Bike trailer that converts to stroller not included in count. :)

  38. I didn’t notice the clothing amount when I first looked. We spent about the $6000 on clothing for 3 people in the last 12 months, according to Mint. That is definitely an area where we could easily cut back if we had a drop in income. $6500/year for 4 people seems very high on $75K/year.

  39. We haven’t thought much about car seats in a while. I keep a backless booster in each of my two non-minivan cars. It works for my two younger kids; if I’m with both of them, then #2 goes without.

  40. I’ve sold all but my last two strollers. As evidence that I live in a small area, the person who bought my double stroller was Mr WCE’s first soccer co-coach.

  41. Another day, another school shooting. This time in San Bernadino. Any Totebaggers around there?

  42. Ugh. Daycare starts next week. There goes some savings. But worth it.

    I have to think about how to cut out budget further. My job may be gone in a year if the President’s philosophy is turned to reality. So I have some time to procrastinate. I guess we could cut out gym, cable, daycare if need be. Most of our portfolio is tied up in food and shelter… but PITI declining… near 30 to 17%.

    Kate and WCE – baby gear rental is a hot market. I did it in ID and it worked out great. There’s a huge market in FL too. I could donate a car seat and stroller soon. But that’s it, we keep our gear to a minimum.

  43. For those of us who say we could just cut savings (looking at you Milo..) – the more difficult question is how you would cut $2500 off of your usual spending.

    In the medium term, we could easily save $1000/month on housing by moving to a lower cost of living area. I don’t know that we could save much on groceries, but we could certainly eat out a lot less ($300). Kids’ enrichment could free up another 200-300/month. I wouldn’t touch my childcare situation unless one of us was semi-permanently not working. We’ve got gym and a few other subscriptions that could save $200/month. Housecleaning, amazon impulse purchases gets us close to $2k. Travel could get us the rest of the way there, I suppose.

    I would be inclined to try to find other ways to increase. I would take in a student to our spare room ($500) before driving Uber. Substitute teach? Tutor?

  44. I can’t imagine spending $5000-6000 on clothing. I hate shopping for clothes (as does DH). I would have to buy at lot of $6 stretch pants for the kids to get close to that figure.

  45. I’m intrigued by the differing opportunities and methods for boosting income. Some people, whether by their line of work or their personal attitudes, would seem to be able to drum up significantly more money than others.

    I’ve mentioned a couple who are both teachers. In their off hours they can and have tutored (at $100+/hour) and done construction/contracting work. Their circle of family and friends include a number of contractors, so the husband can always spend part of his summer or weekends working with them. Also, they can take on extra school assignments (coaching, club advising, lunch supervision, department chair, etc.) to boost income.

    Some totebaggers have easily transitioned to consulting, something my DH could do. OTOH, other jobs like Uber driving or babysitting come up as viable ways to raise extra cash. I was chatting this weekend with someone whose daughter is a serial/multiple entrepreneur with various ways to earn a living ranging from boarding horses to contract court reporting.

    I could and would earn extra income if I had the motivation, but I’m not the “hustling” type if that makes sense. I can imagine myself working a retail job (which I did in high school and college) or in any number of other jobs.

    One of my friends is re-entering the work force after only a couple of years of early retirement from a demanding job with a long commute. She’s found she can easily slide into a less stressful government/contractor job in her related field of social services management, not doing exactly what she was doing but related. She lives very near a military base and other government facilities.

  46. “the more difficult question is how you would cut $2500 off of your usual spending.”

    We could knock $800/mo off our food budget each month with meal planning around sales, cutting premium meats/fish, stopping eating out 1-2/x week. Then maybe $100 with downgrading cable/cutting subscriptions. Cut the clothing spending from ~$500/month to $200/month – another $300. Cut vacation budget down – maybe another $500/month savings. $360/month for the cleaning people (oof that is more painful than the others). That’s only $2000/month. After that, it starts to get pretty painful, but I guess that is closer to our budget when DS was an infant, so I’m sure we could cut more if we had to. But I think at that point, I’d rather spend a few hours each weekend driving an Uber or something than cutting further. There is always cutting private school as well, I know, but that is a medium-long term savings – requires some planning & logistics. And while we’d save the tuition – which is sizable – our aftercare/babysitting tab would potentially go up with the public school calendar/increased logistical problems.

  47. Milo, lots of our friends and my DD friends live in NYC in apartments that are valued from 1 – 1.5 million, and they send their kids to public schools. We just visited one of DD’s camp friends and she lives in an apartment in midtown east that is probably valued around 1.5 million. Both kids attend public schools and the older kid is in HS. While you hear a lot of nightmare stories, there are PLENTY of solid, (sometimes excellent) public schools in NYC. A typical Totebagger would be able to navigate the system in Manhattan or Queens. I think it is actually trickier where Kerri lives because that borough became so popular with families, and I don’t think the public schools have kept up in certain neighborhoods. They can’t build the schools fast enough in some of the most popular neighborhoods for the Totebaggers, so the public schools might be crowded – or might not be the right fit if your kid isn’t a round peg in a round hole. Also, kids do travel all over the city in HS to get to a good, or very good public high school.

    I think the clothing budget is high, but you may have to dress the part to earn $500K in NYC. If you’re in Tech, you might be able to get away with a lower clothing budget. There are plenty of ways to cut this number substantially using sales, and coupons. I do think that this figure is not so high in NYC for a family of four at this income level.

  48. “I would have to buy at lot of $6 stretch pants for the kids to get close to that figure.” –lol! Yeah, that $6000 clothing expenditure for the average family seems too high.

  49. “I could and would earn extra income if I had the motivation, but I’m not the “hustling” type if that makes sense. ”

    Me too. This is what leads me to think that I would rather drive an Uber or shop for people on Postmates than make money in my actual line of work. Maybe I could tutor, but I don’t know. That might be more pleasant that shopping for people, but shopping for people doesn’t sound that taxing if I’m having to do a side job. Not sure that I want to spend my nights/weekends doing the same thing that I do all day.

  50. “I think the clothing budget is high, but you may have to dress the part to earn $500K in NYC. If you’re in Tech, you might be able to get away with a lower clothing budget. There are plenty of ways to cut this number substantially using sales, and coupons. I do think that this figure is not so high in NYC for a family of four at this income level.”

    Yeah, I don’t think the $500K clothing budget is really all that high for the income, but spending $6500/year for a family of 4 on $75K???? That seems nuts.

  51. We saw my cousin last night because she is in town for Passover. She is a teacher in a burb outside of Boston, and she earns $90/hour to tutor elementary or middle school kids in math. The going rate in my town to hire a teacher as a tutor for math is around $100. Some HS teachers get 100-125/hour to tutor chemistry, physics or AP math classes. A high school kid would charge around $50/hour.

  52. “For those of us who say we could just cut savings (looking at you Milo..) – the more difficult question is how you would cut $2500 off of your usual spending.”

    $2500 is a little over half of our monthly spending, not counting irregular expenses like vacations, or the boat slip fee.

    I’ll have to post rough estimates. If we cut out all restaurants, that would be maybe $400-$500. So:

    Restaurants – $400

    Boat slip – $300

    Fancier kid activities – $300

    Keep internet and VOIP, ditch “cable” I don’t even know how much that might save – $80?

    Cleaning lady – $200

    DW could get her hair cut where I go – $100? I don’t know what she spends. I don’t think my place does coloring, though.

    I’m at $1400, but it’s getting harder at this point.

    DW can shop at Target instead of White House Black Market. $50?

    Kids’ clothes can come from consignment/Target/Walmart instead of others $50?

    Spotify Premium – $10

    XM – $8

    Stop buying frozen shrimp, substitute chicken or beans – $30

    Use old rags instead of paper towels – $4

    Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese vs. Annie’s – $5

    Make DW use Keurig pods twice – $10

    Take shorter showers – $3

    Wash cars myself – $30

    Switch to Scott brand toilet paper vs. Charmin Ultra Strong – $4

    Switch to powdered milk – $12

    I’m only at about $1500 or $1600, and I’m running out of ideas.

  53. Our PITI is around 15% of gross.

    Cutting out $2500 in spending would be mostly lots of small cuts. More budget-conscious grocery shopping and meal planning; cutting out family trips; cutting out discretionary purchases; cutting out various subscriptions; and of course savings would take a hit.

  54. The teacher couple I mentioned in my previous comment put two kids through college without any loans and minimal financial aid. During the college years they got rid of one car (the husband walked to work), got rid of their cleaning person, didn’t go on vacations, and did not buy new clothes except if absolutely necessary. After paying college tuition they went back to a more affluent lifestyle, and I was chatting with the wife recently about her twice-weekly sessions with her personal trainer.

  55. “you could spend all of your dividends instead of reinvesting them”

    That’s another version of “cutting back on savings.” And most of our money is locked up in retirement accounts.

  56. I may also cut back on medical expenses by seeking free help from internet friends on how to deal with allergies (itchy eyes, headache). Zyrtec, Claritin and Sudafed all make me super sleepy (non-drowsy label notwithstanding). Any other recommendations?

    =)

  57. The tutoring numbers someone posted make me wonder if tutoring via Skype is viable. One of my friends is a SAHM who tutors ( she ranked first in her land grant engineering class) and she gets $20 or $25/hr for tutoring math.

  58. Tutoring via Skype is quite viable, maybe becoming more popular than in-person. I know a couple of tutors who charge $200 or more for Skype tutoring, mostly for NYC-area families I think. Your friend should check out Wyzant or other companies. I think you have to gain a reputation to charge the big bucks, or just find gullible customers. :) The list of tutors offered by our guidance counselor back a few years ago included one who charged at least $150 IIRC, and he had a waiting list for new customers.

  59. @Kerri – I switched to Allegra last year & it helped me. Claritin didn’t do anything for me, and Zyrtec made me woozy.

    Can a professional person easily get a job as a tutor on the side with no educational background?

  60. I think the ability to tutor for $100 an hour is a regional thing. I know people do that in NY, maybe DC, but I’ve never heard of that outside those areas. We live in a neighborhood not far from a flagship university. I think I could get very good tutoring for $25 per hour.

  61. Flonase is amazing and under utilized. It makes the respiratory system less reactive, so even if your symptoms are not runny nose, it can really help with allergies. It’s worth really understanding instructions on how to use it (you should point towards the ear and will taste flowers if successful) appropriately and giving it a 5 to 7 day trial before making a judgment on whether it works for you.

  62. A lot of people say they would make up the money driving an Uber or tutoring or some such. That presupposes that you have that much extra time. How much does Uber pay? Tutoring might be easier if you can get that many clients – you would need about 30 hours/month of tutoring time at Westchester prices ($75/hour). I know I don’t have 30 extra hours a month and neither does my husband!

  63. $6000 is high for clothes. We spend about half that each year for our family of 4. However, we are past the “changing size every 6 month” growth spurts for kids, so many things last longer. Plus, my kids tend to have smaller wardrobes than most of their peers.

    We would likely make DD start contributing to her car insurance and gas if money was really tight. We put about 10% of Gross Income into non-retirement accounts, so we would pull back there if needed before reducing retirement contributions. I could likley go back to work full-time or add on another part-time job to my current one.

  64. I know I don’t have 30 extra hours a month and neither does my husband!

    In a crisis you couldn’t free up 30 min a day each?

  65. The average American spends 2.8% of their income on clothes which would be $2200 not $6k. I wonder where they got that number?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent $1,700 on clothing in 2010. With the average after-tax income of $60,712, clothing expenses equaled 2.8 percent of average annual household income.

  66. And this guy’s a Georgia Tech engineering grad in Queens charging only $35 per hour ($30 if you pay in advance).

    If I can find this sort of thing in a five-minute search, then why are all these people paying $100? Do they just like paying that much, or telling everyone they’re paying that much? Do they prefer going through the agencies?

    https://newyork.craigslist.org/que/lss/6077860565.html

  67. I pay $50/hour for math tutoring. Of course, the tutor comes to the house. He has a regular Saturday route working with 6-7 families in the area, and would have more clients if he had time. We regularly send him off with baked good, and if he wants to drive a tractor, we”ll set that up too.

  68. This would depend if this was a short term or long term cut. Here we go:

    Eating out as a family
    Entertainment (books, movies, poker, date nights,)
    Incidental stops for drinks/snacks (Starbucks etc)
    Personal luxuries (drop massages/facials $70 per month, hair coloring every 6 weeks between $75 to 150 depending on foils, cut & blow dry)*
    Groceries (delivery of organic fruits/veggies, milk delivery, better meal planning and watching prices with minimal extras)
    Non essential child care – would juggle more to accommodate schedules
    Any additional child activities not already paid in advance of the season then if needed dropping currently scheduled ones
    House cleaners
    Child tutoring
    Monitor and use less utilities, for example, no turning on the gas fire – get on a sweatshirt, less watering of grass, subscription services
    Slower savings rate

    If this needed to be a long term adjustment then we would look at downsizing because removing all the above does not equal a happy life and really we would need to live within our means. With two adults and two same gender children, we can always downsize to a two bedroom town house if we want to own or apartment if we need to rent. One thing we have going for us is that we live in a very desirable location with equity in our current home.

    *Since I’m covering gray I can either extend out the time between using root concealer or do it a home. Long term the home dye gets very artificial looking after multiple uses for covering gray. I did this in the past during daycare years and I have more gray now so would probably forgo all together.

  69. If I can find this sort of thing in a five-minute search, then why are all these people paying $100?

    I assume the $100 comes with referrals and a proven track record.

  70. Were this to happen to us right now, the first thing I’d do is contact all the colleges that have accepted DS and ask them to reconsider their financial aid offers.

    If none of them increase their aid offers to something in that ballpark, we could make up most of the loss by having DS accept the half-tuition merit aid offer he still has on the table.

    Another thing we could consider is having DS start a tutoring business. If he can put his modesty aside and hang out his grades and test scores, I think there’d be a lot of parents at his school willing to pay him quite a bit to tutor their kids. Perhaps he should think about doing that this summer anyway.

  71. Our piti is about 10%. I would have to stop going to WF, costco and starbucks to start with. But if we cut eating out, we will be halfway there.

  72. Yes, it depends on long or short term….

    Short term

    Cut back/eliminate vacations
    cut back discretionary clothes spending (teenage daughter’s I’m looking at you)
    extend length of time we keep cars
    change cropping mix
    decrease savings/investments
    use equity

    Long term

    Go back to work

    We’re actually in the midst of short term cutbacks….kid in college, commodity prices down, planted a crop that will take a few years to provide income. We’ve done this before, would like to not do this again, but income swings are part of the game. I try to minimize the fixed expenses, which means that in the good years, we aggressively pay down debt and go on extravagant vacations. In the tough years, we pare back on expenses, can use equity if necessary and wait for opportunities.

  73. Perhaps he should think about doing that this summer anyway.

    I don’t know. Entrepreneurialism and doing things the easy way just isn’t the totebag way.

  74. We will have to stop eating out soon anyway as we are looking to get a new house. We aggressively want to start paying off the mortgage on our first house.

  75. That car insurance is not for 4 drivers. My current insurer, with no claims but with accident forgiveness, was raising my rate to $8k. I shopped around and found $5K without accident forgiveness.

    We would cut eating out back drastically, including kids with friends (I pay some of DD costs because she had unpaid internships for summer and fall), I would cut my charitable contributions in the short run, meal plan better, and cut the vacation budget. After that it would be more nickel and dime stuff, and probably cutting back on savings until we could make larger changes.

  76. We aggressively want to start paying off the mortgage on our first house.

    What’s the rationale behind that vs. directing it toward savings? Is the appeal of the risk free rate of return higher than the risk inherent in the lack of liquidity and lower ultimate return?

  77. I doubt Milo’s link is a real bargain. His ad says he has 10 years of tutoring experience but his low rate is “Introductory pricing until I have full schedule!” I don’t think I would take a chance on him.

    I’m sure good tutors are available at $50/hour, but the rationale for higher prices can include good reputation, convenience, references, or other reasons. And if your kid is struggling with only a few months left in the school year, you may be willing to pay more for a sure thing rather than take a chance on a bargain.

    Only Finn has proposed child labor to help the family make ends meet. My kids are older now, but they tutored and babysat when they were younger.

  78. “I don’t know. Entrepreneurialism and doing things the easy way just isn’t the totebag way.”

    Ha ha!!!

    Now that I’m thinking about this, Dh had a less than stellar year of $ in the door (just didn’t fall right this year) so he won’t get his deferred salary this year which is about that $2500 per month after taxes so we’re actually in this hypothetical. I suspect most of us would just not save as much rather than have to do serious cuts. We did some landscaping ourselves rather than hire it out and we probably won’t go to Disney this year like we originally talked about but other than that life goes on and we’ll still save some just not as much as we had hoped.

  79. “Only Finn has proposed child labor to help the family make ends meet. ”

    By this summer, he will not be child labor.

  80. Tutoring question: Would it be a conflict of interest for DS to tutor kids at this school when he is also employed by his school as a TA? I’m thinking that since he’s not the teacher and doesn’t give grades, it would be OK.

    One of DW’s friends is a public school teacher who used to supplement her income during summers by tutoring, and she avoided CoI by only tutoring kids who went to different schools than the one at which she taught.

  81. “But if we cut eating out, we will be halfway there.”

    There’s more than one way to interpret this. I hope you would not have your family stop eating.

  82. The smartest financial decision we ever made (for risk-adverse us) was to always live on just one person’s salary. We have managed to do this all our married years, and I think the key was that we have always done it, so there was never a feeling of having to cut back to do it. Granted, in some grad school years there was only one salary.

    Right now, DH makes more, so we live on his (in the past we have reversed). His covers all daily/monthly bills, including school tuition, plus maximum contribution to 401k.

    My salary we use only for accelerated debt (mortgage) payments, travel, home projects, emergency savings, and additional retirement savings. If we had to cut spending, the first things to go would be travel, then home projects, then, accelerated debt payments.

  83. In reality, our income drops or rises $50K or so every year, because the partners get paid some percentage of a rolling three-year average of their billables. Some years are good, some less so. Seems like the better years it all just goes to taxes anyway. Of course I’m grumpy because I have to send the taxes in this week.

  84. “One of DW’s friends is a public school teacher who used to supplement her income during summers by tutoring, and she avoided CoI by only tutoring kids who went to different schools than the one at which she taught.”

    From what I’ve heard, that’s mostly what happens locally. The teachers cross-recommend each other as tutors so they supposedly avoid a conflict of interest. I would think paying a TA of a class to tutor students of that class at the least has the appearance of a conflict of interest.

    I just heard on the radio that taking classes at an online trading “academy” can enable you to earn a “second income”. According to them, whether the stock market goes up or goes down you always make money. Sign me up!

    Also, when did the Catholic church start advertising for its confessions??? Apparently today is Reconciliation Monday and the ad gave a phone number to find the nearest church to have your sins confessed. Maybe the online academy teachers should call!

  85. On clothes: I probably spend $1500 total per year for each kid. $350/year each for uniforms, and probably another $350 each on shoes, athletic clothes, and 1-2 nice outfits. Actually, I probably spend a little more on #1 and a little less on #2, because some things can be handed down.

    My Excel price-per-wear spreadsheet tells me that in 2016 I spent $2,000 on clothes, shoes, and accessories for me (not counting running clothes/shoes). It also tells me that $600 of those purchases were mistakes not worn more than twice at the most. Ugh. I am not a great shopper – I hate the process – and keeping this spreadsheet is really helping me understand what kinds of things I get good use out of and what kinds of things are a waste of money.

  86. I know. I am such a nerd. But truly it is because I want my clothing dollars to be put to better use, and I want to better understand what mistakes I make.

  87. If it was short term we would cut out vacations. If it was long term I would probably go back to work full time. We are dealing with this question right now as we try to decide whether to send out DS #1 to a private high school in two years. Wondering if that will make the difference in his choice of colleges. Private high school would require a 1 hour commute each way. And need to consider whether we want to commit to private school tuition (35,000) x 4 years x 3 DS.

  88. RMS, I am glad I read your second post because I was about to call BS on having to rent out the CA house for a 30K annual drop in income. For us, cutting 30K from outflow would be either closing up the bank of Mom or doing nothing but Road Scholar North American travel. Probably a bit of both. Our PITI with no mortgage but we are retired, after all is 6% of gross – condo/HOA fee plus taxes. And my car insurance went from $58 a month to $87 when I traded in the jalopy for my new SUV. And cutting HBO would save 10 a month. Those sort of savings are like trying to reduce the Federal Debt by eliminating the NEA.

  89. I’m currently obsessing over a $175 sweater (lightweight for the summer) that is in a local boutique. I normally wouldn’t even look at spending that much on a sweater. The spreadsheet in my head tells me that I’ll wear it enough to bring the cost per wear to a reasonable level, but I still can’t pull the trigger. My work wardrobe is mostly from WHBM.

  90. No discussion on the United passenger forcibly removed from his seat? I sided with the airline (same airline, right?) about the leggings, but not this time.

    They should have continued to raise the offered incentive for voluntarily giving up one’s seat, or (since apparently it was four airline employees traveling), made the employees take another flight.

  91. My 2016 best purchases were both impulse buys – bright orange/coral flats from JCrew that turned out to go with with everything, and a funky necklace from JCrew that got much more play than expected.

    My losers were expensive jeans that I resented the price of every time I put them on, and a pair of gorgeous heels that I just could not walk in. Also a dress that looks great, fits great, and has nothing to go to. She needs just the right dinner party, or possibly a daytime fundraiser. Alas, it turns out none of those have occurred. Never buy the clothes before the event.

  92. I know. I am such a nerd. But truly it is because I want my clothing dollars to be put to better use, and I want to better understand what mistakes I make.

    I am forcing myself to wear more of the clothes in my closet in order to help decide which ones can go. Today I’m wearing a teal button-down shirt. I just don’t like it. So after I wash it, it’ll go in the charity box. And I try but I cannot come up with a sudden emergency event in which I MUST have a teal button-down shirt or all will be lost.

  93. They should have continued to raise the offered incentive for voluntarily giving up one’s seat, or (since apparently it was four airline employees traveling), made the employees take another flight.

    Right?? How obvious is that? My favorite snarky Tweets so far:

    “Pepsi: Well, we’ve just made the worst PR mistake of 2017. No one is gonna top this.

    United: Hold my beer.”

    “To be fair to United Airlines security, they thought they’d be greeted as liberators.”

  94. RMS, I am doing the exact same thing. I find I am getting rid of about every 4th item.

  95. Rhett, I am going to drive Uber for 30 minutes a day???

    Obviously, if the need for the $2500/month cut was a job loss or job cutback, that would make a big difference. When my SIL was between her high powered exec jobs, she used to work retail – one time at a clothing store, another time at a kitchen gadget store – just to make a little money.

    But otherwise, I doubt most people could do enough Uber driving on top of FT jobs to make up that monthly hit.

  96. I have a good friend with a reasonably high up position at UAL. She must be so embarrassed. I haven’t asked her about it yet

  97. “cheaper cell phone plan thru a non-mainstream carrier. Anybody have Consumer Cellular?”

    We finally got DS a smart phone. We decided on a prepaid plan from Virgin Mobile, where we pay $31.42/month total (i.e., including taxes) for unlimited talk, text, and data, although only the first 5GB/month of data is 4G. That rate includes a $5/mo discount for letting them automatically bill our credit card each month.

    DD still has a talk/text only prepaid plan, but she spends most of her time at school and home where she can use wifi rather than her prepaid minutes/texts.

  98. Lark you’ve inspired me to institute a similar spreadsheet. I honestly have no idea how much I spend on clothes vs. other things and what I spend on the kids. I know I rarely spend $ on DS because he gets hand me downs from friends but I have a weakness for cute little girl clothes from JCrew.

    I’ve been into that Dressing Your Truth website lately and I’ve found I already had a decent sense of the colors and cuts that look the best on me, but it’s helped me hone it further. According to DYT, I should never wear black, white or gray so my little sister is now the lucky recipient of all of those colored items in my closet (and incidentally she told me she wanted to dress more French this a.m. so she’s in luck).

  99. “I should never wear black, white or gray.” What do you wear?! That would eliminate 95% of what I own.

  100. Lark you’ve inspired me to institute a similar spreadsheet.

    Oh goody, finally someone will play with me. Let’s compare in a few months.

    Also, at this very moment I am printing the return label for a dress that was Ok but not excellent, because I don’t want to face putting it on my chart only to have it get a 1 or 2 in the ‘times worn’ column. Yay me. Win already.

  101. Kate – Browns apparently. I just can’t wear bright white – it’s too harsh on me, it needs to be more of an ivory. I’ve never been a big fan of black, although I did just buy a DVF black dress for an event last month which is a little irritating. I may hold on to that one for a bit.

    I’ve just totaled up my ytd spending on clothing – $1300 which is actually not quite as bad as I thought.

  102. We live very much like Pseudo. Our income can fluctuate by 50%, so we keep our COL low and save like crazy during the good times. We live on one income because about 40% of our marriage, we were/are actually having to live on one income.

  103. Lark – I hope it inspires me to be more ruthless. I’m looking at this cost per wear on this sweater I got through Trunk Club and feel bad that I haven’t worn it more. I’ve also decided to abandon Trunk Club because it’s too annoying when I see the items that I’ve kept get marked down by 40% two months later.

  104. Rhett, I am going to drive Uber for 30 minutes a day??

    I was thinking more along the lines of skype tutoring.

    As for United, I can only assume the breakdown occurred when they let everyone board and then had to ask people to deplane. I bet the person making the bump decision was also the one who screwed up the boarding and the situation spiraled out of control from there.

  105. “I should never wear black, white or gray.” What do you wear?”

    I wear a lot of blue (e.g., jeans), in many shades. Then there’s browns, beiges (perhaps a subset of browns), yellow, red, pink, fuchsia, greens, ….

    OTOH, my closet and drawers would be a lot emptier if the blacks, whites, and grays were taken out. Especially the underwear and sock drawers.

  106. Finn, yes as of now the idea is to rent out the current house.
    Rhett, you are right. We should save that money really. But we don’t know how having a small previous mortgage will affect our rate for new mortgage. We are still a few months out, so our thinking is still in flux about it.

  107. “Rhett, I am going to drive Uber for 30 minutes a day??

    I was thinking more along the lines of skype tutoring.”

    Yeah, I’m thinking that for most totebaggers, Uber driving isn’t an optimal way to increase income, and for Mooshi in particular, tutoring, or otherwise leveraging off her professional skill set, would be more lucrative.

    WRT United, I’m wondering if the airline created the situation by setting a policy that prevented the gate agent from increasing the offer to get volunteers to give up their seats.

  108. We were on an overbooked Delta flight to Florida in 2016. Delta just kept offering more and more incentives. First, business class seats on next flight and $200 voucher. Eventually, they found a volunteer at $1200 and two free travel vouchers to any where they fly in US. I don’t know how high they would have been willing to go, but they raised in $200 increments and kept adding stuff.

    United made a big mistake, but does it really matter? I know that I will still fly them if it’s the right flight from Point a to Point B. I’ve had a really bad and really good experiences on all of the airlines. They never seem to care unless you’re one of their loyal customers, or if your paid full fare.

  109. We paid down our mortgage in part because the mortgage interest rate was higher than we could get in fairly safe, guaranteed returns. We also considered that had we saved the money instead, any earnings from that would be fully taxed, while we couldn’t count on always being able to get full value for mortgage interest deductions, e.g., deductions in general phase out above a certain income level, or are of little value if total deductions aren’t much over the standard deduction.

    It also made sense as a way to prepare for paying for college.

    OTOH, if you have a residential mortgage with historically low interest rates on a property that will become a rental, you might be better off using that money as part of the down payment for your new house, whose mortgage might be at a higher interest rate. The higher down payment might also help you avoid PMI.

  110. “United made a big mistake, but does it really matter?”

    Many of the people in my office who travel a lot have preferences for airlines, and try to avoid airlines with a history of poor service or other issues, whether in their personal experience or that of others.

    I don’t think a single incident like this will sway many people, but if it’s one in a string of such incidents it can lead them to avoid United.

  111. I’m amazed at how little some of you spend on clothing for your kids. I was able to do this when DD was 9 and under. Lots of hand me downs and great sales. She didn’t care much about brands except for her Ugg boots. I am thrifty and look for sales and coupons, but tweens/teens wear name brands in adult sizes. They like to wear current trends. She wants to look like most of the middle schoolers in her school. Her feet are still growing, and she’s growing taller too. Sneakers, shoes, boots, snow boots, flip flops, dress shoes, sandals, cleats, etc are not cheap in adult sizes that have to replaced frequently. She wore a hand me down northface last year, but she out grew it, and she wanted the same black winter jacket that most girls wear in her school. School clothes, jeans, sports uniforms, work out clothes, camp clothes, snow gear… it all adds up.

  112. While we’re on the subject of spending on kids’ clothing– What do you think is a reasonable amount for an annual clothing allowance for a HS DD?

    I need to get her onto a clothing allowance, and she’s not put together a proposal as I’ve told her to do. I’m thinking I’ll set a default amount and put her on that if she doesn’t have a proposal, perhaps around $300, keeping in mind it should be on the low side to provide her with an incentive to make a proposal.

  113. I was unaware that I could be booted off a plane after I had boarded, so this is good to know. Why wouldn’t they force the last passengers who checked in to leave? I thought checking in early offered some protection,but apparently not.

  114. Finn, $300 is low but makes sense if she won’t propose an amount. I excluded coats and shoes from the clothing budget since those items can be expensive and less predictable imo. Then I would reserve the right to approve purchase of those items on an individual basis. However, I don’t think coats and shoes are such a big part of clothing expenses in your location.

  115. De Blasio’s former press secretary in coma

    She fell while on a treadmill. Similar to how Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died. How common is this? Yesterday I was on a hike and a fellow hiker slipped while we were rock scrambling. She landed about a foot away from the edge of a steep incline. It could have been bad if she had rolled over that edge. Maybe for my health I should give up the treadmill and hiking. Being a couch potato may be better for me!

  116. “I need to get her onto a clothing allowance, and she’s not put together a proposal as I’ve told her to do.”

    Finn – you’re astonishingly purposeful.

  117. A Dad from our bus stop recently died from a heart attack on a treadmill. He was younger than Mr WCE and I. The second and third boys in the family line up with mine.

    Finn, I don’t know your school’s social rules and how many gifts your daughter receives. Any “special” items your daughter needs (I have flat, uneven feet and wear my shoes unevenly and wore a nonstandard size bra till kids) should not be included.

  118. Lauren – my kids are all 9 and under but I’m guessing I spend about $1500 total last year. I did buy the girls Uggs last year but my 3 years old’s were half price. My oldest DD lost the $100 Patagonia I bought her so I replaced it with a $40 North Face from the outlet. We probably also spend less because of the warmer climate and my youngest daughter is now mostly wearing hand me downs from her older sister. I’ve spent $430 on kids clothes ytd (I really should have tracked this a long time ago). This includes sneakers and flip flops for all 3, cleats for 2 of them and spring clothes for my oldest. My oldest will need some crappy shorts and t-shirts from Old Navy before camp and my youngest needs some pajamas, but other than that I don’t anticipate buying anything else until fall.

  119. My boy clothes are getting more expensive but clothes are lasting longer so it kind of evens out. Boy shoes are probably my largest kid clothing expense category. Nike is headquartered here and popular. Last year, I noted when Nike puts that year’s shoes on clearance (during my Veteran’s Day shopping week) and bought 5 pairs for ~$110 which I stash for when someone’s toe blows through his old pair. The boys have been in consecutive shoe sizes for years. Twin2 (smallest foot) has gotten shoes ordered just for him (sometimes) and whatever his brothers didn’t pick (sometimes)

  120. $300/year

    Bwahahaha! If that doesn’t get a counterproposal out of her, then she’d better buy from thrift stores on 50% day and learn to sew them into real clothes.

  121. Lauren – just yesterday I spent $300 in clothes for DD – a few summer clothes plus new bathing suits. It has become harder to find tasteful tween clothing so we went to an independent clothing store that had different brands (more expensive than going to a national chain).
    DD had already totaled up the bill in her head and then had a mental stop sign where she would not look at even one more item.
    I think I save quite a bit by having both my kids in uniforms. I have to buy fewer non uniform clothes overall. The kids school has uniform exchange program so uniforms for most part are free as there are a variety of sizes.

  122. On the topic, if we would have to cut our budget, travel and eating out would be the first to go. We’d also cut back entertainment (concerts, sports events, etc – I buy the good seats because it’s not worth it to me to go and sit in crappy seats). After that it would be tough, because it would be a lot of little things.

    On clothes for kids, it appears that DD’s feet have stopped growing, which means she won’t outgrow the Uggs we got her for Christmas. She’s using the same pair of softball cleats for the third season in a row, which is freaking awesome.

  123. The United flight was delayed 3 hours.

    I’ve heard that flight attendants only get paid for actual flight time, and aren’t paid while their plane is on the ground. I’m sure they were thrilled about that extra 3 hours of unpaid work time because their employer was too cheap to offer up a few hundred more in vouchers (not even cash!!) to get people to voluntarily give up their seats.

  124. I was surprised there was no line item in the chart for health insurance/healthcare costs. That seemed like a pretty big omission to me since health insurance cost are our largest monthly expense, and even people with employer paid insurance have premiums deducted and are responsible for deductibles. The other item I thought was missing was car maintenance. Lots of people I know who are in the average income range struggle to pay unexpected car related expenses.

  125. I looked at our expenses yesterday, and healthcare is a major expense for us. I included our premiums, and all out of pocket expenses for medical, vision and dental. Our largest unplanned expense in 2016 was for dental care. We all needed major dental work, and our dental insurance barely covered most of the work because it wasn’t routine or preventative care.

  126. Those of you whose children have gotten drivers’ linsences, what were the biggest mistakes for your driver in training? We’ve begun Blindspot Bingo. I tell my driver-in-a-year when I think there’s a car in my blindspot & he checks me. He also tells me when I’m in someone else’s blindspot. (It’s not really bingo, I just like the alliteration). I point out when I look both ways even though I shouldn’t have to, like at one-way streets and when someone’s directing traffic and overriding the usual control.

  127. HFN, there is no line for social security either. The line “taxes” should really be “payroll deductions”. Both parties could get insurance from their employer, and have premiums taken out of their checks.

  128. Okay, so I’m intrigued by the clothing spreadsheet. How do you track the wearings? Do you go in and update it daily or keep some kind of hash mark system manually? I’m asking because I’d like to try it but I worry about serious follow-up fatigue in practice. I too am interested in the learnings about which pieces are actually the most productive purchases. I have lost a lot of weight and am buying an abnormal amount of clothing right now. My job requires business dress most days, so this is not an inexpensive proposition.

  129. would think paying a TA of a class to tutor students of that class at the least has the appearance of a conflict of interest.

    Many would expect the TA to be available for extra help for free.

    Kerri–Mucinex D has changed my life.

    Best United debacle line: he needs a Pepsi.

  130. The early-retired blogger Justin at RoG every month lays out a very detailed and straightforward plan for how a family of five can live very inexpensively ($1300 spending in March):

    http://rootofgood.com/march-2017-financial-update/

    I think my earlier post hit most of the key points that would bring us closer to them. The next step would be groceries: it’s not enough to just shop primarily at Walmart; rather, you’ve got to be shopping weekly sales on loss leaders to stock up on meat that you freeze, and then by shopping what’s available at Aldi. To a degree, you’re basing meal planning on price fluctuations and overstocks.

    The other line item of his spending that always shocks me is how little he spends on gasoline. Obviously, it helps that nobody in his house works. But we burn a ton of fuel in comparison.

    I’m not trying to get there. I’d rather work and be able to do costlier outings, like burning 30 gallons of ethanol-free gasoline in a day at the lake, then going out to dinner on the water. But it’s good to fully understand how to get there if necessary, or how to work in that direction.

  131. How the police reported it. Something to keep in mind when reading police reports of other incidents.

  132. My friend at UAL just keeps repeating the mantra that they were legally within their rights to do this. I guess that is the company line right now.

  133. Well, one bit of good news. As you guys might remember, DS1 had forgotten to fill out part of the demographic stuff on his PSAT (he forgot to write in his high school, for example) so they were saying he couldn’t be considered in the National Merit competition. Normally that wouldn’t be a biggie but he scored above last years cutoff. Anyway, after numerous phone calls, they finally sent a letter yesterday saying they had updated his info and he would be eligible to be considered. Now we just have to wait until fall to hear what the cutoff is

  134. One incident took place while we on board and waiting to take off in the home country. The pilots went on strike. We passengers were stuck on the tarmac, in the plane without electricity for five hours. It was early morning when we boarded and then the plane became sweltering hot. At that point the passengers (pre 9/11) just barged into the open cockpit and demanded that the pilots on board stop striking and fly the plane. It was a mutiny. The passengers wouldn’t allow the pilots to deplane. The pilots after a while agreed to fly the plane and we were the last aircraft to fly out. After a couple of incidents, airlines now have to bring the plane to the gate and not leave passengers stranded. I can well
    See that happening with the entire plane up in revolt.

  135. Well, we will celebrate if he is above THIS year’s cutoff! But at least he has the chance to be considered. Forgetting to fill out all the info is just SO typical of him

  136. Forgetting to fill out all the info is just SO typical of him

    Are you sure he forgot vs. rebelling/pushing your buttons?

  137. My kids school from elementary makes them fill out their name and class number on every paper they submit. Then in the 6th they take off 5 points for failing to put that information and teachers name and class in the designated spot. DS forgot to fill it out twice maybe and then got points off which he ranted was unfair but he hasn’t forgotten after that.

  138. Rhett, you clearly do not know my kid. Forgetting to fill out his high school name is classic for him. When he got his scores, the counselor notified him of the problem and he totally freaked out. He was so upset. He was the one who made all the phone calls, I am proud to say. So he mainly handled it, although with some reminders from the counselor.

  139. When he got his scores, the counselor notified him of the problem and he totally freaked out. He was so upset.

    So no chance he’s just trying to create drama?

  140. @ Sunshine – yes, I keep it on an Excel spreadsheet, so when I sit down at my computer in the morning I open the spreadsheet and update the number of times worn.

    Also, I only started this last fall, and I really don’t buy much, so I don’t have that much to update. In 2016, beginning in September, I bought 16 items total. So far for 2017 I’ve bought 8 items total. There are plenty of days I’m dressed in clothes purchased before I started tracking, and those are not included on the chart.

    I track clothes, accessories, and shoes, but not running clothes/shoes.

  141. Mooshi, that’s double-great news, that he took charge and that he was successful. That’s worth a celebration right there.

    Rhett, maybe he is actually as non-neurotypical as his mom tells us, and was not “trying” to do anything but do well on the test.

  142. Lark, how do you enter clothes purchased before you started? Since it’s been less than a year, I assume that’s most of your clothes.

  143. I’d rather work and be able to do costlier outings, like burning 30 gallons of ethanol-free gasoline in a day at the lake, then going out to dinner on the water.

    It’s also helpful to direct spending away from things that don’t matter and toward things that do. My issue is that I hate nickle-and-diming so there is a tension between the big picture value for money vs. the day to day focus on the bottom line required to make it happen. I’ve mentioned my friend with the boat and the summer house but in order to make it happen he needs a laser like focus on making the monthly nut. One one hand that’s appealing but the mental energy required to make it happen is just too much.

  144. $300 would work well for my son as a clothing budget. The hard part would be getting him to buy anything. If Finn’s daughter is similarly disinterested in clothing, and doesn’t need to purchase winter clothing, I think that sounds like a fine budget.

    United’s new boarding categories

  145. Lark, how do you enter clothes purchased before you started? Since it’s been less than a year, I assume that’s most of your clothes.

    I don’t. If something can’t be accurately tracked, don’t track it. This is for new purchases only, to help me better understand what clothing items are worth it, and what are not.

  146. Milo – the discussion of the many discounts on the pizza the RoG guy bought made my eyes glaze over, but then I see he is going to Europe for 9 weeks this summer so maybe I should start making more of an effort in the savings department.:)

    I think we probably spend about $15K on groceries every year instead of his $6K. I need to make a little more effort in this department.

  147. Finn, another thought on the clothing budget: do you want your daughter to purchase things that will last or fast fashion? You might want to ask her to do a spreadsheet like Lark’s either as part of the negotiating process or to keep track of how she’s doing.

  148. Going back to the original post, I once did a budget on whether I could live as a single person, in my current home, on my post 70 social security and tiny corporate pension, in the event that there was a major financial markets hit to my nest egg, which in a highly dwindled state would be kept in super safe investments for capital expenditures and non routine medical bills. I figured it would be easy without a car, and I just ran the numbers with the current new car. The budget, slightly less than project inflow comes to 3000 a month, 36,000 a year. No bank of Mom, no travel, no inheritance, but full cable and the senior citizen kayak pass is only 89 a year. At my age I have stockpiled shoes that fit, sometimes from ebay when they go out of production. I would need a few pairs of pants as they wear out and my Hanes outlet catalog necessaries, but I have dresses and tops for a lifetime.

  149. “the discussion of the many discounts on the pizza the RoG guy bought made my eyes glaze over”

    Same here. I don’t want to get into “travel hacking” and credit card points games. I sometimes think about regularly buying secondhand Walmart gift cards on that site he’s always pushing, but I haven’t gotten to it to see if it’s feasible without much effort.

    They travel in the summers for weeks at a time for ridiculously low costs because he seizes on every possible AirBnB promotion here or double credit card points for signing up, etc. But the other side of that is their travel involves seeing a lot of free stuff in their destinations: parks, fountains, natural sights. And that’s cool, but if one of them would just work a part-time job, then they could add in things that require tickets like concerts, excursions, parasailing.

  150. “I think we probably spend about $15K on groceries every year instead of his $6K. I need to make a little more effort in this department.”

    Personally, I think Whole Foods is generally just stupid and you’re paying for marketing and image. I would use it like we use Wegman’s: for a few irregular prepared foods. OTOH, you guys make a lot more money, so it doesn’t make much difference for you. But if you’re actually looking to cut costs, that’s what I’d suggest eliminating.

  151. if one of them would just work a part-time job

    Basically they do if you include all the effort they put into not working.

  152. I would use it like we use Wegman’s: for a few irregular prepared foods.

    We’ve started to go to Wegman’s because the prices at Star Market are 50% higher. Where do you shop that’s so much cheaper than Wegman’s?

  153. Many of the teen girls in my town work so they can pay for some of their clothing, or expensive sunglasses. They can earn $15-20 as a babysitter. 20/25+ to tutor in some subjects. Many of the seniors are tutors/drivers for younger kids and they can earn 25-30/hour for that work. It helps because they seem to spend a lot of money on clothing, and Starbucks etc.

  154. “Basically they do if you include all the effort they put into not working.”

    There’s some truth to that. The other serious problem in their situation is that a part-time job might seriously cut into their Obamacare subsidies (they pay $25 per month in health insurance premiums).

    So they should look for some income that pays in cash.

  155. “Where do you shop that’s so much cheaper than Wegman’s?”

    Walmart and Costco.

  156. Atlanta – eight years ago we shopped a lot at WF but when we moved here, there was no WF but there were farmers markets. The local grocery also started keeping WF like produce and products. Now, though we have a WF, I go there only once in a way. Our WF has very slow checkout. I would tear my hair out if I had to do my weekly grocery run there.

  157. Personally, I think Whole Foods is generally just stupid and you’re paying for marketing and image.

    Whole Foods profits are 3.1% of revenue and Walmart’s are 2.8% so if they are more expensive most of it is just higher cost of goods sold. They are selling higher quality and more expensive items for more money.

  158. Actually, I like Giant’s deli better than Wegman’s. They have Boar’s Head meats, and they have a really good rotisserie chicken salad. I also like their seafood better, and they always have huge shrimp on sale that they steam upon order. So we tend to use Giant for specialty things more than Wegman’s.

    Wegman’s has a way of annoying me, too. They’re just so full of themselves, and their layout is illogical and dark. I start to resent anything that gets too cult-like of a following.

  159. “so if they are more expensive most of it is just higher cost of goods sold.”

    No, they have inferior supply chain logistics, they don’t have the same economies of scale, and they don’t have the same negotiating ability with suppliers. They spend more money on fancy presentation of the food, their rents are higher.

    There are many, many reasons why their products cost more that have nothing to do with the quality of the goods. A box of Cheerios, a half pound of cheddar cheese, a container of sour cream, etc., are all the same regardless of what grocery store you buy them from.

  160. We do buy some of our groceries at Costco which is why I’m a little fuzzy on exactly how much we spend. Plus DH buys our meat from farms and so I’d also have to look at that. WF has my milk/yogurt/eggs but other than that I’m not tied to it. I actually mentioned to DH that we should see how much our grocery bills were if we shopped primarily at Publix for a month.

  161. Costco, hummm…

    For whatever reason I’ve been using the price of A1 as a benchmark. 10oz bottles are $2.40 at Costco, $2.86 at Walmart,$3.49 at Wegmans and $4.99 at Star Market. The key to Costco would be to not fritter away all the savings on impulse buys (which is their business model IIRC.)

  162. a half pound of cheddar cheese, a container of sour cream, etc., are all the same regardless of what grocery store you buy them from.

    Cheddar cheese is all the same regardless of price?

  163. One of those WF 365 stores is opening 5 minutes from us later this year so I’m curious what it will be like.

  164. No, they have inferior supply chain logistics, they don’t have the same economies of scale, and they don’t have the same negotiating ability with suppliers.

    It’s also true that vendor produce inferior products in order to meet Walmarts demands. IIRC they did this with TVs where they did custom runs using cheaper parts to meet their obligations to Walmart. So, it’s not like seeing a cheap TV at Walmart is the same as the one of at BestBuy. This is also the business model of outlet malls. The items you’re buying aren’t the same as the ones in the store they are cheaper versions custom made for the outlet malls.

  165. “Cheddar cheese is all the same regardless of price?”

    You can pick Kraft, Sargento, or the generic. I kind of go back and forth. Point is, the Kraft or the Sargento is the same regardless of where you buy it.

  166. I like the produce and fish at WF. The meat and bakery are terrible IMO.

    Wegmans has a great bakery, good meat and excellent produce. Not a fan of their fish. And I hate how I can never find anything. But whenever I am having a party/holiday, I always go there. I bought a spiral ham for Easter last year from Wegmans and it was really good and much less expensive than a Honeybaked ham.

    Giant is where I buy staples. Their checkout people are really mean, though.

  167. Point is, the Kraft or the Sargento is the same regardless of where you buy it.

    That may or may not be true especially at Walmart.

  168. “It’s also true that vendor produce inferior products in order to meet Walmarts demands.”

    I’d have to see some real and unbiased evidence of this in the grocery section. Considering that they’re the largest supermarket chain in the country, I’m doubting it.

  169. Not a fan of their fish. And I hate how I can never find anything.

    Use the app! Everyone can have the app on their phone and if everyone signs in the with same user anyone can add items to the list. Then as you shop, it puts everything in order as you walk through the store and tells you where everything is.

  170. Considering that they’re the largest supermarket chain in the country, I’m doubting it.

    They’d certainly be large enough to demand such customization.

  171. No. I am a germaphobe and don’t like to use my phone in stores. I would have to disinfect it when I got home and I dislike doing that.

  172. We found that the same farmers at the farmers market were supplying WF for meats.
    Also, our WF doesnt impress me, it has none of the wow factor as before and a lot less choice than my normal store.

  173. “And I hate how I can never find anything.

    Use the app!”

    Why the hell should I need an app to find things in the store? I agree with Kate that Wegman’s has terrible layout.

    Do you have any evidence of these separate product lines for groceries?

  174. Rhett – up by us we have Market Basket, Shaw’s, a the local chain, and the Whole Foods is 20 minutes away. Market Basket is cheap as can be for processed stuff, but I don’t like their meat or produce. We now go to Whole Foods for produce in the winter, and the farm stands in the summer. Costco is also good, but only for some things.

  175. Do you have any evidence of these separate product lines for groceries?

    Not off the top of my head. However, if they do it for the rest of their stock it seems odd they wouldn’t do it for food items.

  176. “However, if they do it for the rest of their stock it seems odd they wouldn’t do it for food items.”

    Don’t you think that other supermarket chains would be keen to point this out if it were true?

  177. I just added up our grocery/farm spending not including Costco food purchases and we’re at about $300 per week. This may be higher than it will be for the rest of the year because we just bought an 1/8th of a cow and some other meat that we’ll eat over the next six months but jeesh.

  178. Don’t you think that other supermarket chains would be keen to point this out if it were true?

    The same would hold true for Best Buy.

  179. Atlanta – after yesterday’s discussion, I checked my Amex spending from last year. We spent around $300/week on groceries. When you break it down on a per person meal cost, it isn’t so bad if you are mostly eating at home.

  180. “The same would hold true for Best Buy.”

    From what I’m reading online about that, the models would not be listed the same. They might both be a 50″ Sony UHD, but one will be SHP54118A and the other will be SHP54118B.

  181. I sense you all are more picky about your groceries than I am. I’ve enjoyed all these comments.

    Meme, I have also thought of how I would fare on my own in old age. I’m sure I could manage my food bill. Last night I made beans and rice with fried peppers for dinner. Including cheese for topping, I priced it at about $1/serving. (Name brand canned beans and rice no less.) The amount I made the last night could probably last me for a week, and I don’t usually get tired of leftovers.

    I just got around to reading Kate’s link from the first comment. OMG I’m hooked on those diaries, particularly average income families living in NYC.

  182. “their layout is illogical and dark”
    When we moved here, going on 30 years ago to the Land of Wegmans, that’s what we said about the stores. Much, much better now.
    My/our gripe with them is their shelf goods seem more limited than the other major grocery here. E.g. I can’t get the big (~26oz) cans of Mancini roasted red peppers at Wegmans; the 12oz jar is the biggest they sell. Wegs no longer carries the lower fat/salt canned Mary Kitchen corned beef hash, but the other place does. And it’s not really the brand name that drives me. If Wegs sold house brands of both, and in the sizes I want, I’d probably buy those. (Actually my preference for make-at-home hash is Nueske’s, but we are not on auto replenish for that item.)

  183. Do any of you shop at Aldi’s? I decided to try it out a few weeks ago. I sort of like it, but I will need to figure out what items make sense to purchase there. It reminds me of learning how to shop at Costco. I stopped going to Costco because it was 20 minutes away, and I hated having to store so much stuff.

    The Totebag inspires me to cook more. I love eating out. I know I should cook more at home, but like I said before I’m lazy compared to all of you.

  184. “The United flight was delayed 3 hours.”

    It only takes 5 hours to DRIVE to Louisville from Chicago. That’s what keeps blowing my mind about this story too. It probably would have been just as fast to send the United employees to Lville in a car than to delay the flight, call the cops, beat up a doctor, and cause a massive controversy.

    “I was surprised there was no line item in the chart for health insurance/healthcare costs. That seemed like a pretty big omission to me since health insurance cost are our largest monthly expense, and even people with employer paid insurance have premiums deducted and are responsible for deductibles. The other item I thought was missing was car maintenance. Lots of people I know who are in the average income range struggle to pay unexpected car related expenses.”

    I thought about that too. Neither item is a large expense for us. Our medical expenses for the last 12 months, including premiums and contact lenses, was less than $2000. We also spend very little on gas/car maintenance.

    “A box of Cheerios, a half pound of cheddar cheese, a container of sour cream, etc., are all the same regardless of what grocery store you buy them from.”

    I beg to differ on that one. There is a distinct difference in taste/quality between these items. And yes – you are paying for service and presentation at Whole Foods too. Which is personally worth it to me as I do use the service/expertise of the people at the meat/seafood/cheese counter, and I care about the difference between Kraft and aged cheddar cheese. I also don’t find WF to be significantly more for actual LIKE items vs. the regular grocery store.

  185. “There is a distinct difference in taste/quality between these items.”

    Placebo effect.

  186. Milo, it seems that when you optimize grocery shopping for financial reasons (which I did after the twins arrived), the strategy doesn’t change much and so doesn’t require much effort, and you know when you’re leaving savings on the table. I also remember the price of everything I buy, probably because I’m a numbers person who grew up with little money. Mr WCE had to explain to me that when he buys 70 items at the store, he doesn’t remember the cost of every one and I should just look at the receipt.

  187. WF frozen seafood is actually a good deal and some of it is good (the cod, salmon and scallops). A lot of the stuff at the fish counter, at least here, is previously frozen anyway. Just don’t buy the frozen tuna and shrimp as those are inferior to the stuff at the counter.

  188. Some things at WF are vastly inferior, like their house brand corn flakes. I got that recently – never again!

  189. A lot of the stuff at the fish counter, at least here, is previously frozen anyway.

    I don’t know if it applies to all fish but IIRC regulations require that tuna be frozen at some point to kill parasites. The “fresh” tuna has just been defrosted and the “frozen” is still frozen but it’s the same stuff of equal freshness*.

    * Technically the thawed is less fresh as it’s spent more time not frozen.

  190. “Placebo effect.

    Is very real.”

    Exactly. That’s when you’ve fallen for the marketing.

  191. “when he buys 70 items at the store, he doesn’t remember the cost of every one and I should just look at the receipt.”

    When my oldest was young, maybe 5 or 6, I used to be the one who did the grocery shopping and I usually took him. One day, he asked me how much things cost, so I showed him the receipt and helped him understand what was what. But also, I had happened to notice that the checkout screen showed how many items and the running total cost in the lower right corner and that at the time the average/item was about $2.00. Meat, rice, milk, 12-packs of beer, charcoal, bananas, diapers, lettuce, baby food everything in one big heap = $2/item. So that was kind of a running joke. Now for a broad-based shopping trip the number is more like $3.25/item. I’m sure our purchasing profile has changed a lot, but still. So, WCE, there’s another way to look at. (And, I, too, know how much everything that’s scanned costs).

  192. When fishermen catch fish on the boat, they toss it on a bed of ice, then they toss more ice on top of that. I’m just picturing “The Perfect Storm” here. If they did it any other way, it would quickly rot.

    What I’m wondering is whether that counts as “freezing,” or is that just chilling it down to about 32, 33, 34, 35 degrees, but it’s not actually cold enough to freeze it solid. So is it then subsequently frozen hard in an actual freezer? Are modern, larger fishing trawlers using freezers instead of just ice?

  193. @Rhett – It is true when negotiating with packaged foods suppliers for their house brand, Wal Mart is more concerned about price than quality, and would take fillers/cheaper methods/lower quality products to meet a low target price. Or at least they used to be 5-10 years ago when I worked in that industry. Costco is the opposite – more worried about quality & built the pricing from there. Heavy taste-testing by their buyers. Interestingly, Sam’s Club was somewhere in between. But I’m not sure that carries over to produce which is more of a commodity. I don’t know if they had “outlet” style items in branded food products. I suppose it is possible, but I know we wouldn’t have done that as it would hurt the brand overall to put out an inferior branded product. Private label/house brands are different.

  194. “Some things at WF are vastly inferior, like their house brand corn flakes. I got that recently – never again!”

    Oh, the natural version of some items are vile. Corn flakes are one. I agree.

  195. Exactly. That’s when you’ve fallen for the marketing.

    So? If you perceive it as tasting better then what does the reason matter?

    The study concluded: “Using a novel application of structural brain imaging in combination with behavioural experiments, we are among the first to shed light on individual difference variables that affect marketing placebo effects.

    In your case presumably you perceive a Saturday on the lake as being more fun than it actually is because you’ve spent so much money on the experience. But, as long as it’s fun, what does it matter?

  196. Are modern, larger fishing trawlers using freezers instead of just ice?

    They use both. A good bit is flash frozen as soon as it is caught. Other catches are just iced/kept cold but never frozen. These are the ones delivered same day to restaurants on the coast (or flown daily to places like Atlanta Fish Market).

    Some things I can tell the difference – shrimp for sure – and some I cannot at all, like flounder.

    Salmon I can’t tell the difference between previously frozen, but definitely can tell a difference between the types (farmed, wild, etc.).

  197. For me, the joy of a Saturday on the lake, while still very high, is only diminished by costs. I’m a remorseful spender, and I don’t think I can easily change that.

    “If you perceive it as tasting better then what does the reason matter?”

    If you don’t mind being tricked… Ivy could have her DH shop at Walmart and just tell her it’s from WF. Or promise that one item is from WF.

  198. Do you all have Fresh Markets? I really like them. They are small, and they have coffee samples and play classical music. And nice flowers. A very pleasant experience. The one near me is a bit of a drive, but I like it.

  199. I don’t know about Walmart’s food, but I know that GE light bulbs and Scotch tape are two products that are not apples to apples comparison to the light bulbs and tape sold at say Target or Home Depot. The Walmart light bulbs have a shorter run time and the tape is less length.

  200. Wegman’s came to town just before we left Fairfax. I never got there, but had the impression from friends that it was upscale. I shopped at the WF on Lamar in the early 90s. Very different from the convenience food palooza they are now. I was new to daily cooking, doing a lot of experimenting, and they had things I’d never heard of.

    The budget Meme just posted is pretty much my standard.

  201. I’ve never been impressed by the outdoor markets around Tampa Bay. There was an expose on them one or two years ago. The food is mostly from the same suppliers grocery chains use.

    I’d rather buy less of good cheddar than more Kraft for the same price.

    Milo, “reluctant spender” is not a phrase I would’ve connected with you.

  202. “reluctant spender” is not a phrase I would’ve connected with you.”

    Why not? Based on what?

  203. Based on past comments. It’s hard to remember specifics, just that you seem very willing to spend money I wouldn’t and have scoffed several times about how I live, little things like reusing paper, boxes & foil. Your interest in MMM seems to have begun that way as well. What come to mind are multiple vehicles, lots of driving, getting (or considering) a trailer so your daughter can be the one deciding which girls get to ride at Halloween, And the well pump, of course. No big deal, the comment just surprised me.

  204. hmm. We recycle paper, boxes, and foil, but I don’t necessarily look to use them again. I think you make an effort to do so because it’s working toward reducing environmental impact; any cost savings is miniscule.

    My interest in MMM was based on financial independence, which is how he started out. His environmental shtick came later as he got bored.

    We have an extra car because I thought it would be cheaper to keep it and drive it for 250k-300k miles than to sell it at 100k. (It also allows us to use a less-expensive, independent mechanic who may have to order parts vs. the rip-off dealership.) That’s all purely for cost savings.

    I didn’t do the hayride trailer. Somehow a last-minute invitation came through last year. I also realized that they are available for rent; you just have to book in advance.

  205. Milo, no need to defend yourself. We are clearly pretty different people. I’m the one who hangs her laundry to dry.

  206. “Cheddar cheese is all the same regardless of price?”

    Blasphemy! I usually buy Irish cheddar – so much better than generic U.S. cheddar (Vermont and aged NY excluded)

  207. Milo – my friend knows him and yesterday posted on Facebook that she was sure more was going to come out and to stay tuned! Regardless, I don’t think airlines should be in the business of calling the (airport) po po to eject people who bought a ticket and boarded the plane according to your instructions. If you mess up and overbook, too bad, so sad. Make your employees wait or drive.

  208. Kate – ITA that the airline needs to deal with overbooking by continuously sweetening the pot and not eject anyone involuntarily.

    It’s just that, in this case, the guy was clearly a little bit nuts himself. I think he was telling the cops “kill me then.”

  209. We just got Fresh Market.They have the best fresh bread, the best selection of sausages, a good beer selection, and hot salsa that I like. The produce and deli stuff is sad, sad, sad. And that classical music – always the same piece it seems – drives me almost as bananas as the late 80’s soundtrack played at the Acme.
    Curiously, they opened next door to the Trader Joes. I rarely go to Trader Joes any more.

    Local Hmart opens Friday!!!!!

  210. Milo – clearly not all there. You or I would have deboarded and complained then. We likely wouldn’t have gotten dragged out with a bloody face. But, I kind of like his spirit. Airlines are awful and they should be careful not to mess around with the wrong guy, lest it spark outrage across the country.

  211. Chain store experience varies by region or even neighborhood. Our two nearby TJs are top notch for what it is and well priced. The big WF in the wealthy burb next door has an excellent butcher who does custom stuff, meh fish. The mini WF in my town is not worth the gas or walk, even for produce. The nasty Stop n Shop has certain brands we prefer, and the CVS has milk, almond milk and seltzer for emergencies. And of course there is the fishmonger…

  212. Why do I care about the history of the guy who was clearly wronged in this instance? It is as irrelevant as the criminal record of a murder victim, or whether someone who has been sexually assaulted/raped was a virgin. Not being a perfect angel does not make it ok for people to harm you!
    She says after picking her kid up at school. Sigh.

  213. “But, I kind of like his spirit.”

    I do, too. In this case.

    Saac – There are multiple facets. He was wronged by the airline. But at that point, the airline requested that the police remove him, and I presume such is their right, so then the question is how does it escalate to a situation where the guy is resisting ejection? This background information makes it more obvious that he wasn’t all there, and he does sound irate on the recording. So in a crowded and confined airplane, the police have a an obligation to remove someone, it’s not unreasonable that a weirdo like this would resist in such a way as to cause himself to hit and bloody his face on the armrest.

  214. Just posted this on the wrong thread.

    Right at the beginning of their story on it last night, Marketplace pointed out that
    “If you take the time to read the airline condition of contracts that you’re planning to travel on — not that anyone does by the way, because it’s 10-point mice type that only lawyers probably read or approved. It does, in fact, say that the the carrier has the final right to allow you to travel or not for what may either be marketing or operational reasons.”

    I think the “but nobody does” part should get more attention by the industry. They aren’t outright tricking anyone, but if you know people are unaware of terms of your contract, shouldn’t you do something to point them out?

    https://www.marketplace.org/2017/04/10/business/united-hotseat-after-passenger-removed-flight

  215. “I presume such is their right”

    Yep, we are very different people. I was surprised to learn about that clause. My assumption was that once they sold you a ticket, they had a responsibility to get you where you need to go, and compensate if they mess up.

    Continuing to raise vouchers offered for seats would’ve cost less than getting crew where they needed to be, which may have been less than this fallout (if people do indeed avoid the airline).

    Mooshi, does your friend have an explanation for why the crew was flying standby, if the need to get them where they needed to go was firm? Standby is uncertain by its nature. Why not just book them into seats to begin with?

  216. This background information makes it more obvious that he wasn’t all there

    I’ve seen a couple of adult meltdowns at the airport and I bet if you looked into the background of any of them you’d find issues. That said, I respect him for not putting up with bullshit like we all would have. Personally, I would have happily taken the $1350* in cash (and you can demand cash if you’re IDB) and left in first the next morning.

    * Technically it’s 4x the one way ticket cost or $1350 whichever is lower.

  217. More data showing how MM and I have different preferences. I like Fresh Market produce (I can get nice shishito peppers there) however I’ve only been in that store a handful of times. If we’re thinking of the same store, they’ve been at that location for about two years. They’re a bit pricey. Of course, I also like Trader Joe’s.

    United handled this clumsily, but I don’t want a passenger resisting a request to leave the plane in the way he did. No, I don’t like that kind of spirit.

  218. Why not just book them into seats to begin with?

    By the time they new they needed to be at the other airport they had already sold all the seats.

    My assumption was that once they sold you a ticket, they had a responsibility to get you where you need to go, and compensate if they mess up.

    They do, 4x the one way ticket cost (in cash if you ask for it) or $1350 whichever is lower.

  219. It doesn’t seem like the crew that needed to be transported was flying “standby” in any traditional sense of the term if they had priority to boot existing passengers. It makes sense that they would need to fly so as not to delay another plane, but again, just up the prize for giving up one’s seat.

    I’m guessing that the gate agents probably needed some special authorization to go higher than $800, or whatever they offered, and the person who had the authority to grant that was not immediately available, so under pressure, someone decided that they just needed this guy off.

    People tend to criticize these things under the presumption that the entire corporation had the opportunity to review the circumstances and reach a collective decision.

  220. Good to know about the involuntary!

    By the time they new they needed to be at the other airport they had already sold all the seats.

    How did they not know that months in advance? They know where their planes are going to be, when and where they need various services. Isn’t it just as easy, logistically, to know they need cabin crew? How is there any question about that?

  221. “but I don’t want a passenger resisting a request to leave the plane in the way he did”

    As my FIL is fond of saying, possession is 9/10ths of the law.

    And thinking of whatever gate agent decided to call the cops and request his ejection, my dad will point out that such is the very real downside of historically low unemployment.

  222. “How did they not know that months in advance?”

    Maybe someone called in sick. Maybe another flight was delayed due to weather or mechanical issues, and a previously scheduled crew could no longer work a subsequent flight without exceeding allowed hours. All sorts of reasons.

  223. “Standby” is the word I’ve heard in all reports of this story, but I agree it is not a correct label.

  224. How did they not know that months in advance?

    Because either the plane they flew in on was delayed or the plane they were supposed to leave on was delayed or canceled.

  225. People tend to criticize these things under the presumption that the entire corporation had the opportunity to review the circumstances and reach a collective decision.

    Oh it’s totally a decision made at the highest levels that $800 is the max and if no one takes then bump unwilling passengers.

  226. You don’t think calling the cops was company policy? I’m not assuming that they all sat around and discussed this case that afternoon. It has certainly happened before, enough times that they have the IDB policy Rhett mentioned. How do they not have policy for this? I assume they do, and that calling the cops was the next step in the book. Then the cops policy said to drag him out.

  227. “I have dresses and tops for a lifetime.”

    Back over 20 years ago, as DW and I were packing to move to the first house we bought together, I realized that I had more t-shirts than I could possible use up in this lifetime, so I decided to stop buying any more t-shirts. While I’ve pretty much held to that– I’ve bought a couple to support DD’s softball team, but I can’t think of any besides that– I think I have even more t-shirts now, even after giving a bunch away.

  228. Is there any way you can have yourself be the person involuntarily bumped?

    I’ve volunteered many times, but don’t think I’ve ever been taken up on it since I acquired a traveling partner.

  229. Keep in mind Jetblue has a policy of not overbooking flights. If you only base your buying decisions on price then you can’t get too upset when the lowest cost option turns out to have flaws.

  230. UAL friends said they were crew needed on an outgoing flight at the next airport. she says that the gate agents are limited in how much they can offer in reimbursement, but that they can (and they should have) gotten a supervisor in, who can offer more. She thinks the gate agents will get fired.

  231. I try to fly JetBlue whenever possible. Their sane boarding policy alone makes it worth it. I will pay a certain amount more to fly them, and also Cathay Pacific

  232. Jetblue is supposedly the budget option.

    As you and Milo have said, this wasn’t overselling; there may have been legit reasons that they didn’t know they needed to put that crew on that flight until it was already sold out.

  233. S&M – Crews are moved all the time at last minute. A delay means that a previous crew needs to be switched out, plane changes, cancelled flights. There is a huge and complex machinery that works to have the right people in place for a flight. I don’t doubt that they needed to get the crew there, they just needed to find a more palatable way to do it (Uber! Buy a car and let them drive it! Put them on a competeing airline!)

  234. “Oh it’s totally a decision made at the highest levels that $800 is the max and if no one takes then bump unwilling passengers.”

    Local news covered this last night, and mentioned that last year United involuntarily bumped something like 3700 passengers.

    So it seems what was unusual was not the involuntary bumping (and the apparent cheapness of United in setting the max compensation), but the passenger reaction.

  235. So it seems what was unusual was not the involuntary bumping (and the apparent cheapness of United in setting the max compensation), but the passenger reaction.

    Also that they didn’t do it before boarding. Usually they would ask and ask, bid up to $800 and then call people up to the desk and tell them they’ve been bumped. The whole pulling people out of their seats is something I don’t recall ever seeing.

  236. “Is there any way you can have yourself be the person involuntarily bumped?”

    Oh yeah. Back before kids, DW and I used to do this, especially around the holidays. We’d book a morning flight, and pack our bags such that we’d be OK with the checked baggage staying with the airlines for a while, and hand carry stuff to keep us comfortable. We’d set our price point beforehand, and let the gate agent know that we might be willing to volunteer. Several times, we got to our destination a few hours later, but got vouchers for at least the cost of our flights. If we were put on a flight on another airlines, we’d usually get mileage credit on both airlines.

    There were online groups that regularly discussed strategies for getting bumped and maximizing the vouchers received.

  237. I try to fly JetBlue whenever possible. Their sane boarding policy alone makes it worth it. I will pay a certain amount more to fly them, and also Cathay Pacific

    It’s very important that you do. Cathay is going from 9 abreast seating on their 777s to 10 abreast because customers weren’t willing to pay more to get the more comfortable seat. Personally, I think it’s a marketing problem in that people don’t know that airlines differ.

    For example, Spirit’s seat pitch (the distance from one point on the seat to the same point on the seat in front) is 28″ and on Jetblue is 34″.

  238. Finn, reread the question. I know all about volunteering. My question was about being the person who got the higher sum for being IDB

  239. “We’ve started to go to Wegman’s because the prices at Star Market are 50% higher.”

    How long has that Star Market been around? We used to have a local chain called Star Market, which FIL said had the best produce here.

  240. Saac – That’s a bit of a stretch:

    Anyone can, however, have some Black-ass shit happen to them. And David Dao, the Chinese doctor recently dragged off of a United Airlines flight — who we’re sure is in fact Chinese because he reportedly literally said “I’m selected because I’m Chinese” before being dragged — wasn’t quite a nigga for a day, but was definitely treated like one. And then United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz added to the niggafication of this ordeal by describing the doctor as “disruptive and belligerent” and apologized for having to inconvenience the other passengers.

    Except that the officer who pulled him out of his seat is the one who’s black, not the passenger.

  241. No. I am a germaphobe and don’t like to use my phone in stores. I would have to disinfect it when I got home and I dislike doing that.

    So you never use your phone in public? You’re picking up the germs everywhere, not just in stores.

  242. Personally, I think it’s a marketing problem in that people don’t know that airlines differ.

    No, it’s that the vast majority of people want the lowest fair, period. That’s why there are all the fees – they aren’t included in the fare searches. People find that Frontier or Spirit is $15 cheaper, they take it. Then they find out it’s $7 to reserve a seat, $10 if you want an aisle, $15 for a carryon bag, etc, but then they are too far into the booking to bother changing it. They don’t even think about the seat pitch or width until they are on the plane, and then they forget about it as soon as they are off the plane.

  243. Cathay is going from 9 abreast seating on their 777s to 10 abreast

    Terrible, especially on long international flights that are never ending.

  244. If people want the lowest fare, then why are airlines so successful at charging for things that used to be taken for granted? A fee for enough legroom (Even More Space ™, a fee for an aisle seat (Premium Coach Seat, tm) a fee for choosing your seat in advance, a fee for early boarding. People are clearly willing to pay more for comfort.

  245. When I book a flight, I look for nonstop first, then look at schedule (don’t want to arrive at midnight if possible), then preferred airline. I will pay $100 to $200 more, depending on the length of the flight and so on.

  246. If people want the lowest fare, then why are airlines so successful at charging for things that used to be taken for granted?

    Because it looks lower on Expedia and as DD said people don’t think it all the way through.

  247. “Because it looks lower on Expedia and as DD said people don’t think it all the way through.”

    True, or we just don’t know what’s coming afterward. Rhett’s right that it’s a marketing failure because if one airline is better than another, I’m certainly not aware of it. And I’m just not going to bother researching yet. another. thing. before booking a flight. I’d rather just get the flight over with.

  248. “When I book a flight, I look for nonstop first, then look at schedule (don’t want to arrive at midnight if possible), then preferred airline. I will pay $100 to $200 more, depending on the length of the flight and so on.”

    Me too. I just paid almost $400 vs $200 to fly out to visit a friend at the end of the month because I was not willing to fly at 6am or 8pm or change planes. Or to fly Spirit.

  249. The whole pulling people out of their seats is something I don’t recall ever seeing.

    I’ve seen it once or twice over the years, but yeah, in general, it all takes place at the gate. SO much easier to bump someone before they even board.

  250. Denver to Santa Cruz is an 18-hour drive. That’s juuuust long enough that I don’t want to do it. And the damn Greyhound takes about 36 hours, for unclear reasons. Otherwise I’d totally take Greyhound. I don’t hate them nearly as much as others do.

  251. Saac – Anyone can be racist. But your blogger is claiming that an African American police officer and a Hispanic CEO are treating as Asian American like a “nigga” because he’s not white. Come on.

    Is that a term you generally use?

  252. Rocky – You can get a private bedroom on the California Zephyr from Denver to Emeryville.

  253. Milo,

    It’s plausible that it’s 90% United’s fault, 8% the fact the guy is a nut and 2% that he’s both Asian and a non-native English speaker.

  254. “Finn, reread the question.”

    Oops, I grabbed the wrong line to quote. I was following up on your volunteering.

    I’m not sure why you’d want to be involuntarily bumped, but from what I’ve read, you can increase you chances by being able-bodied, an adult, not a member of the airline’s loyalty program, the last person to check in, and the buyer of the cheapest ticket.

  255. “Milo, look at some of his other posts. He is addressing a specific audience.”

    I really have no desire to read more of his posts. He’s an idiot who uses racial slurs.

  256. DD – not usually unless I have washed my hands. Or I clean it when I get home.

    So when it rings, you wash your hands before answering? I’m not trying to be persnickety, I’m just genuinely intrigued by this.

    What about shopping carts – do you wipe down the handle before using one?

  257. “2% that he’s both Asian and a non-native English speaker.”

    In what way? Isn’t it a computer that selects who gets bumped? Is the software programmed so that 2 times out of 100, it will seek to bump non-native-speaking Asians?

  258. I almost never answer when I am out. But if I do I clean it off when I get home because washing hands isn’t really possible.

    I always wipe the handle and actually try not to touch the cart at all with my hands. Same with door handles, when pumping my gas, using an ATM.

    I am aware I have problems. 😄

  259. My MIL always gets selected for extra screening. It totally pisses her off. She doesn’t want to fly because of this. She is not a native English speaker and she wonders if there is profiling going on and if so why they would pick her profile (elderly woman traveling with family).

  260. Louise, has she ever tried politely asking why she’s being selected? I have a friend, a white Canadian woman, who travels frequently between Ottawa and Jamaica (her husband is from Jamaica). It drove her crazy that she was always pulled out for screening. Finally a kindly agent told her it was because her travel patterns were similar to those of drug mules. Still irritating, but somehow easier to tolerate if you know the reason.

  261. RMS – we got randomly selected by computer. Now she is sort of tagged and most likely will be selected.

  262. In what way? Isn’t it a computer that selects who gets bumped?

    In terms of how the situation escalated out of control, not the mere fact that he was bumped.

  263. “In terms of how the situation escalated out of control, not the mere fact that he was bumped.”

    Other than his yelling, what aspect was out of control?

  264. Other than his yelling, what aspect was out of control?

    Rather than stop and page the duty manager at O’Hare to authorize the offering of $1000 or $1250 they paged the police instead.

  265. “In terms of how the situation escalated out of control, not the mere fact that he was bumped.”

    Yes, several things happened to create this situation:

    -Not offering enough to have volunteers give up their seats (not uncommon).
    -Seating the passengers before bumping them.
    -Selecting a passenger who didn’t go quietly.
    -The particular airport cops who showed up– perhaps other airport cops might have handled the situation differently, with different results.

  266. “Laugh. Find something that will make you laugh.”

    Yes, a good laugh always makes me feel better. I appreciate all the humor and attempts at humor undertaken here.

  267. Kate , I take my phone in public, but generally avoid a lot of the things you mentioned. One of the things I love about my DH is he just accepts I’m that way and always fills my car up for me. Now that both kids drive, he makes them do it if he’s busy. It’s the little things…

    I agree that the United situation was handled wrong, but what should an airline do when a passenger refuses to comply. Assuming there was a valid reason for them to make a request of that man, and he refused, what should they do next?

  268. “Do you have this T-shirt?”

    No, no one has given it to me. I did see it in the MIT bookstore, but the shirt we got there for DS was the one on the left:

    BTW, this looks like the exact rack from which we bought the shirt.

  269. “I agree that the United situation was handled wrong, but what should an airline do when a passenger refuses to comply. Assuming there was a valid reason for them to make a request of that man, and he refused, what should they do next?”

    They should never have let it get to that point.

    First of all, the employees who needed to get to Louisville should’ve shown up at the gate before the plane was fully boarded.

    Whether the bumping was going to happen before or after the plane was boarded, the compensation offer to get people to voluntarily give up their seats should’ve been increased until they got enough passengers to voluntarily give up their seats. And keep in mind, the compensation given is typically in airline vouchers, not hard cash.

    Apparently the lack of takers to was largely due to the offer including being put on a flight at 3pm the next day. That sounds to me like United didn’t try very hard to come up with any alternative flights.

  270. Decades ago, a friend went to MIT and came home with a sweatshirt bearing a parody of the Harvard shield with the Veritas motto. Instead of “Harvard” and “Ve Ri Tas” in the shield it said “Harvahd” and “Was Ist Das?” I kind of liked that one.

  271. During our Caltech tour, we were told that one year, some Caltech students went to MIT during new student orientation and handed out a bunch of T-shirts that said MIT on the front. On the back they said, “because not everyone can get into Caltech.”

    There is also a cannon in the yard at Caltech that was moved by some MIT students to their campus, then subsequently moved back by some Caltech students.

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