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Estimated Lifestyle Change Spending: Canyon Lake Edition

We’re closing on our lot out in Canyon Lake this Friday and we’ve been doing a lot of reviewing of the numbers and seeing if we can make them work to start our Lifestyle Change. It’s difficult to know what will come of all of this, and how accurate they will be, because they are all estimates based off of our current house/utility usage, current lifestyle, and some moving forward assumptions. We have tracked our spending for over 2 years now, so we have that to go off of, but again, they’re all just estimates. Since that’s the best we have to work with, it’s what we’ll move forward with in our planning scenarios. The short answer is that we’ll be right around break-even or living paycheck to paycheck. We’ll only need to draw off of investments for travel and unplanned items that pop up, assuming I make zero money.

Spending Assumptions

Looking at our spending tracking sheet we have some pretty good idea what most things average out to be on a per month cost basis. We’ve used those as estimates for our utilities, insurance, gas, groceries, etc… to get to what our total monthly and estimated yearly spend categories are. Below are the charts showing those costs as well as some categories that we just have to WAG (Wild Ass Guess). These categories are items like kids school and clothes (who knows what the cost will be, probably a bit lower on a per month basis, but that includes school activities and clothes estimate. Allowance is another one that is super flexible. We’ve reduced our allowances from $400/mo each to $250/mo and this is essentially to help make this budget work. Our allowances cover all sorts of things, a lot of which aren’t necessarily applicable anymore, like work clothes, lunches out with colleagues, and other things. I’m sure I may still spend my allowance as Amazon is only a click away, but I don’t see it getting spent like it has been over the past year, where the majority is going towards lunches out.

Income Estimates

Income Estimates

Canyon Lake Spending Estimates

Canyon Lake Spending Estimates

Ugh, Property Tax Assessment

Another big assumption is property tax and estimated house value. Texas loves to jack up the property values every year that they can, one of the few things I hate about this state. I’d rather pay state tax than be subject to a 10% property tax hike every friggin’ year. So who knows what they will assess the house value the house at, but I know whatever it is, we’ll be protesting it every single year. Thanks Texas…

You've got to pay for all this infrastructure somehow...

You’ve got to pay for all this infrastructure somehow…


True Work Costs

Since Mrs. SSC will still be working, we had to come up with her job costs and see how that factors in to the spending. Current assessments put it at about negative $10k per year once you factor in parking pass, gas, tolls, hotels, and supplies. This is a pretty big line item on our budget but we’ve taken that into account. We also realized we were estimating her taxes too high initially because she was being taxed as if I was still making 6 figures. Using the right tax rate helps in more accurately assessing her bring home pay.

SUCK-ville! Hope her commute isn't a lot of this.

SUCK-ville! Hope her commute isn’t a lot of this.

Big Zeroes

We do have some items that are estimated at $0, these include gym – no biggie there, blog – need to get it to break even eventually, travel – we’ll use investments as needed, and college. College has already been funded to the point that we’re funding it so this was an assumption we had in our plans way back when we first started out FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) planning. We’ve been working hard at topping that off so when we do pull the plug on work, the kids don’t get screwed on their college funds.


Treading Water

Right now with all of these assumptions we’re basically treading water and making it paycheck to paycheck. This might seem a little scary, except that our emergency cushion is way bigger than most families living paycheck to paycheck. We’ll still have to dip into investments for any overages and any travel, as you can see the line item is $0 in this scenario. We’re aware of that and are fine with it. The main reason is that this will let us ease into our Lifestyle Change scenario a little bit and see how we like it without jumping in feet first and needing to start withdrawing from our investments to cover everything. Plus, when Mrs. SSC does quit her job, we’ll already be accustomed to this spending lifestyle and it should be a pretty easy transition.

More opportunities for this sort of thing

More opportunities for this sort of thing

Extra Side Income?

All of this assumes that I won’t be bringing in any income, and that Mrs. SSC won’t be able to bring in any extra income thru research, grants, industry funding. Both of those things are not likely to stay that way as Mrs. SSC has some extra funding in the works for 2018 and I plan on getting some sort of side income coming in, even if it’s just $200/mo kind of money. If I could cover our allowances (yes, I know they’re more than $200/mo) that would provide a nice cushion to our spending assumptions. Another way we plan on “bringing in income” is by stopping the DRIP (Dividend Re-Investment Program) on our dividend stocks and actually get that paid out to us. That will also provide a little buffer in our spending, but we’re not sure how much because we may reallocate some investment funds to be more income generating oriented versus growth oriented. Look for those numbers and assumptions in a separate post where we discuss more long term plans, assumptions and what those numbers look like.



That’s about it for our current iteration of our Canyon Lake Spending assumptions review. This is the most current one, however, they tend to get adjusted and tweaked fairly regularly. We think it is workable, even with Mrs. SSC being gone a few nights a week for half of the year. Some sacrifices will be made, but we don’t think there is anything that isn’t worth it or out of line on these spending assumptions.


Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear about anything we may have missed or didn’t think to take into account.

21 thoughts on “Estimated Lifestyle Change Spending: Canyon Lake Edition

  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Yup, unfortunately moving out to Canyon Lake is gonna cost a bit more. I’d add that vehicle costs are going to increase, like gas and potentially insurance coverage. Also, I don’t know what area of CL you’re in, but some parts are EXTREMELY hilly. My poor Honda went backwards on a hill once because it just didn’t have enough momentum. Most people out there have to own vehicles with four-wheel drive.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      We’re on the south side of Canyon lake, but I think our current vehicles should be fine. Both of our cars have been fine in trips there in the past and on our recent land searching expeditions. I didn’t have 4×4 the whole 9 years I drove around in the Rocky Mountains in CO, so I’m pretty sure we can get by without it in Texas, especially with no snow. 🙂

  2. Mrs. BITA

    That seems like a pretty solid plan. You will be so far below an SWR of 4% or even 3% that it is laughable. Your stash should keep growing in leaps and bounds while you start to live your ideal lives. This is really getting real isn’t it?

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Well, it would be nice if it grew by leaps and bounds during that time, but who knows what the markets will do. Those years our SWR will be 1% or less most liekly. Depending on what happens with the markets, our spending going forward after Mrs. SSC’s job ends, we’re looking at around 3-3.5% most years, assuming a 4% growth in the market after inflation. Some years it’s higher like when we estimate replacing a car or those sorts of things but for the most part we’re under 4% most of those years.

      And yes, it’s really getting real. Which will lead to some followup posts from me about, “am I crazy leaving financially secure (mostly) work to do this?” I still ahve the occasional waffle on it just thinking about what ifs. Even working you can’t plan for those things, so who knows, but man… It’s definitely getting real. 🙂

  3. Fervent Finance

    I like the plan. From what you’ve shared it sounds like you have a very well funded nest egg, which you’ll continue to let grow while living off of Mrs. SSC’s income. So I don’t really see too much risk there. How many years would she plan to work? Or is that just go with the flow for now? Take care 🙂

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yes, we will be moving out there with a pretty solid nest egg that could afford a “mostly funded” lifestyle if her work ended immediately. We’d still need something to cover a year or two, but it should still be pretty solid.

      Currently, her plan is go with the flow, but she sees herself teaching for another 3-5 years. Maybe longer, but who knows. That could depend on whether or not she starts consulting on the side, or if I start consulting as well, or what comes of the markets.

      Either way, we’re fairly confident that we’ll figure it out if something happens to upset the plan.

  4. The Green Swan

    That’s awesome you folks are about to make the transition! You seem to be going about estimating expenses the right way and even if you have to tighten the best for a bit of time to avoid dipping into assets you’ll be alright. Very exciting times!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      It is exciting, and how do you estimate things this far out into the future. I know even 5 years ago, we would’ve been way off estimating our current lifestyle costs. Granted, we would ahve been over estimating, but still things change so much, it is unnerving sometimes thinking about it in that perspective.

      We both are fine with having to do something if the markets get dire and our e-cash starts running low, because we plan on having ~2yrs worth of expenses liquid and available for such scenarios – even if yes we’re losing out on returns and all that for the time we hold that. It’s all about your “sleep at night” comfort level though. I think we’re honing in on ours. 🙂

  5. Mr. Need2save

    I didn’t realize the property taxes were so high in Texas. Like you said, the state is going to find their money one way or another. A couple of years ago we took a trip to Austin and San Antonio, our first trip to Texas. On the way from Austin to San Antonio (after a stop at the Salt Lick) we made our way through back roads and down 281. We were trying to get an idea of the area as a possible retirement area. I wish we would have gone over to Canyon Lake.

    It sounds to me like a few sacrifices are worth it. You seem to have a good handle on your monthly expenses and have all the bases covered. Wish my utility bills were as low as yours!

  6. Jason

    I know that Mrs. SSC might not want to work forever, but assuming she likes her job that much what possibility is there that she will have a tuition benefit for your kids. That could save also a ton of money. Not that I want her to work forever, but that is one of the potential perks of being a university professor.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yeah that could be a good perk. After seeing how much has changed in our plans over the last 5 years I can confidently say that neither of us has much of a clue what will be going on in 10-15 years, lol.

  7. Mr. PIE

    My goodness, what a lot of lifestyle changes I have missed by being away from the blogosphere. This is very exciting. 🙂

    Regarding your projected future spend, there are three areas to look out for and perhaps look at in great detail
    1. Groceries – kids chow so much more as they age and you will see that line item slowly ramp up
    2. Entertainment / fun. I think a lot here depends on types of activities that kids and family gravitate towards. We love skiing and that can cost a pretty penny if we are not careful. Maybe your allowance factors into entertainment / fun
    3. Home maintenance won’t be a biggie in the beginning since you are building new but as you know it starts to increase as you find out the nuances of a home. Heavy duty landscaping projects cost a lot but that may already be in your build plan. Unless you want to start to learn how to a operate heavy equipment!

    Good luck as this lifestyle changing project kicks into gear. Awesome times lie ahead….

    1. Mr. SSC

      I relaized that the whole idea of a “lake living” lifestyle change only came up 3 motnsh ago. I’m about to call a builder and get our house going sooner than later now. We realized, “Hey, we like our lives now that our schedule ahs calmed down. While we still want to pull the trigger sooner than later, we can afford to build now and shoulder the costs of 2 homes. Screw it, let’s do it!” so we’re hoping to ahve it ready for next summer, especially so Mrs. SSC and the kids can spoend a few months out there. 🙂

      Funny how life changes.

      As far as budget factors – our longer term budget estimates has groceries and other kid related spending increasing thru time. Our 5 yr old already can eat so much some days… Same with entertainment/kids activities/travel – it’s accounted for moreso in our longer term budget rather than this short term type of budget.

      Fortunately, we won’t have too many landscaping issues, because we’re going to keep the lot as native as possible, and it’s already covered in mature oak trees, so the biggest issue is placing the house without having to remove any of them. And figure out how to get a septic system in and among those roots…

      Except for some possbile boulder additions, most of the other landscaping enatils native plants, bushes and what not that will fit well and be LOW, LOW maintenance. Nothing like our current house. Eeesshhh…

      We’re really excited! If you couldn’t tell. 🙂

  8. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    I think you’re on a great trajectory, Mr. SSC!! Expenses look good, and you’ve got a plan for any unexpecteds. That pic of the rush hour traffic, that makes me SO happy I work from home now. 🙂

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yeah that rush hour traffic is something I’m glad even i get to mostly avoid nowadays. With the new schedule I’m at the office by 6-6:10 am and out the door by 3:30-3:40pm. Traffic is prettty light both of those times, well light for Houston. 🙂

      The plans keep changing as we’re now looking at building asap and using it as a vacation house. Surprisingly it won’t change much in terms of savings and costs, but why not enjoy it sooner than later? Plus, we’re aalyzing our current long term projections and thinking we might be a little eager, or at least running close enough to uncomfortable that maybe we should push the date back. There will be a post to come talking about that more, but for now we’re on track for breaking ground later this year.

      If Only I could get a work from home setup I’d be pretty excited. Even for just 2 days a week. 🙂

  9. Fruclassity (Ruth)

    I find myself feeling the kind of anxiety/anticipation that comes with watching playoff hockey as I read your post. (Maybe that’s because my husband is watching playoffs downstairs now. Our team either wins or is out tonight. I can’t take that kind of pressure – so I’m up here!) There are elements of uncertainty, but such promising possibilities. You’ve got this thing analyzed and covered from what I can tell. And I believe there will be side-hustle income to add some padding – that might or might not be needed. Things are looking good, Mr. SSC! (And our team is now ahead 2-1 : )

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Tough break for the Senators. 🙁 I mean they made it exciting at least right? I think there should be some side income even if it’s just a low/hr job. I just realized that if we each just “find” $250/mo in income it gives us a 10% financial buffer based on our expected spending. That should pretty easy to do with any sort of job. Always uncertainty, but the more I think about and plan for it, the more and more excited I get about the possibilities for sure.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting! It’s been exciting so far and doesn’t seem to be slowing down in that department. 🙂

  10. Miss Mazuma

    By now you will have closed so CONGRATULATIONS!! I can imagine you are nervous about some of those changes but it looks like you have an awesome plan to keep everything in check. There is no way to be certain of all the variables that crop up in the long run but that is the point of life, isn’t it? Got to keep you on your toes!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, and yes we closed early last month. 🙂 Woohoo, so exciting! Since then it’s been a whirlwind of talking with builders who want plans and trying to find a designer/architect to work with, and I think we’re just about there. We’ll meet with one other builder/designer hopefully this friday and are touring some “under construction” homes as a followup with another builder/designer. Barring anything crazy we’ll probably go with them for designing and then get bids for other builders when we get plans. Mainly to make sure we’re covering all bases. However, I do like these guys’ version of “builder grade” though, so it might be tough competing with their price from other builders.

      We’re trying to at least realize that we’re accounting for all these crazy variables so we don’t get a curveball thrown our way. But then what’s life without unexpected craziness popping up? Not one I’m familiar with, lol. 🙂

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