Washington, DC


Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe Flood

Ed. Note: If others are interested in submitting their budget diary please send via email to [email protected] thanks.

“Dear PoPville,

Last Friday I shared an overview of my expenses for 2018 and was shocked by the amount of responses. I’m grateful for those of you that have provided insight and tips in reducing costs for 2019, especially for our utilities. I know the total is outrageous, so I’ll provide a bit of background and a better breakdown.

The $900/month is our high average. It includes:
Electric $300 we have a whole-house dehumidifier that runs continuously.
Gas $100
Water/trash/sewer $50 paid to the county.
Verizon Fios phone, cable & internet including HBO & sport networks $170
ADT $55 we’re locked into a contract until February.
Cell Phones $180 includes “leasing” our phones for 18 mos. Contract ends in March.

The home is a 2100 sq ft 3bd/2b with garage in Arlington and was purchased in 2015.

List price was $750k. Purchase price was $675k. Down payment was $175k*. Monthly mortgage of $3100 includes insurance of $1900 (annual) and property taxes of $7k (annual). Within the first two years, we blew through $50k in savings adding insulation, finishing the basement, treating hidden mold issues (found during basement reno) and landscaping to re-route water away from the house. Additionally, we fixed a small structural issue in the garage that was not discovered during inspection, purchased energy-efficient appliances and installed a radon-system (radon testing is required at time of purchase and our levels were high). The home was last renovated in the 1980s. Our neighbors on both sides have similar humidity, mold and water issues.

I should have been more specific regarding the HVAC loan. We did not finance through the company, but through our credit union with the first year at 0% and the next four at 8%. We chose not to pay cash due to dishing out so much in the first two years. Included with our order was the installation of an ultra-violet system to kill mold and an energy efficient audit showing minimal leakage.

Some of you asked about income. Since spouse is in sales, it fluctuates, but we’re right around $180k annual. We both max out our tsp/401k and have portions of our checks directly deposited into a joint savings account. We like the idea of renting out the basement for additional income, but until the mold is resolved, it’s not an option.

As long as we’re both working in DC, we’ll be in this house. We moved nine times while renting cheap apartments in NE DC and south Arlington, so I’m over moving. Once our contracts with ADT and our cell phone are over, I’m switching to a less expensive competitor. I’m also changing our Verizon package to eliminate the home line and extra channels. And thank you to the poster that mentioned the points/rewards credit card. I’ll be looking into this since we only have one card and pay in-full after use. Might as well get something in return.

*If you’re wondering how we were able to save this amount, I was in the private sector before taking a significant pay cut to get into the federal workforce. We lived in tiny apartments keeping rent under $1200/mo, only had one old car and opted to use the money we saved for a large wedding (we had a $50 courthouse wedding and a $900 bbq for 75 people in my parent’s backyard instead).

Thanks all!”

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