How Do You Control What You Spend?

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Alex G
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How Do You Control What You Spend?

#1 Post by Alex G » January 24th, 2017, 7:53 am

This month we took a trip to Napa and Sonoma and bought from NINE wineries.
Then last week I bought from the Outpost and Rivers-Marie releases. And some of the Carlisle too.
Today, I bought heavily from the Maybach release, our favorite wine.
And then, Berserker Day on Friday will be a heavy spend.
Of course, Mike Smith's Syrah's and Semillons come out today, and Littorai releases today as well.
This means I've already bought from 14 wineries this month, BEFORE Berserker day, where I expect at least six more. Probably more.
I'm avoiding looking at my CT for actual total $$ spent.

I know January is a brutal month for releases, and we should have planned our trip better, and it DOES settle down after this. But, the fact is, many wineries will have many more releases throughout the year.

What do you do? How do you control your wine spending? I've never set a budget on wine, but perhaps it's time? Or perhaps I'll simply feel better in 45 days, after the credit cards are paid off...
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#2 Post by scamhi » January 24th, 2017, 7:58 am

Simple answer- I don't buy everything I am offered.
You don't need to buy from 14 winery offers.
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#3 Post by Alex G » January 24th, 2017, 8:01 am

Well, nine of the 14 were because we were IN the wineries, but your point remains: don't buy from every damn winery we visit. Problem is, it's fun, and a great memory, and the wines are really good!
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#4 Post by Joe B » January 24th, 2017, 8:10 am

Is there still room on your credit card? If there is, I don't see the problem.
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#5 Post by Alan Rath » January 24th, 2017, 8:11 am

Wines always taste "better" at the winery. It's OK not to buy something, particularly if it's an established tasting room, and not a small producer-host. Can't tell you how many bottles of wine over the years I opened and asked myself "why did I buy this".

Everyone has their personal limits (and finances). Myself, I buy almost nothing (particularly from California producers) over $100. It's a rare purchase that exceeds that limit, and then not by much. Multiple bottles, multiple times, at $150+/bottle adds up very fast. And there is so much good wine out there from great people who don't charge that.

I do have the advantage that we can drive up to Napa or Sonoma any time we want for a day trip, so you get little bit of a pass for being in half way across the country [cheers.gif] But be very careful about signing up for clubs and automatic shipments. That will kill your budget, and load you up with a bunch of wines you don't necessarily want over the long term.

Ultimately, you're the customer, you can't be shy about buying selectively.
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#6 Post by Fred Bower » January 24th, 2017, 8:11 am

Glibly - when I am out of money, I stop buying.

A little more reasoned answer...
Map your purchasing to your consumption. If you drink a bottle of Port per year, don't buy cases. If you drink 10 cases of Champagne a year, then it is likely more of a budgeting problem you need to manage unless you have a lot of income.
As for the advice to not buy everything offered, I see no problem in buying small quantities from lots of places on a visit trip in order to have souvenirs. Buying 3 bottle or more quantities of everything will add up quickly. Even 3 bottles per visit is over 3 cases on a 14-winery tour, so be mindful of the fact that you aren't obligated and can avoid the excessive shipping expense of a single-bottle shipper in that situation. For list purchases, you need to factor the delivery costs into the purchase decision.

At the end of the day, it's a 3-axis budget. Dollars, cellar space, and liver capacity/preference all have to be factored into the purchase decision. Good advice I received early on in this respect -- slow down. There are many vintages to come and discoveries to be made.

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#7 Post by Anton D » January 24th, 2017, 8:19 am

Lucky for me, the wineries tell me how much to spend.

Without allocations, I wouldn't know when to stop.
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#8 Post by SeanHarding » January 24th, 2017, 8:35 am

This is the first year I've tracked it (focusing primarily on lists). I made a spreadsheet of all of the lists I'm on, when (approximately) they come out, and how much I spent on them during the past two years. Then I kind of arbitrarily said I'd like to cut the spend by 25% this year, so I set that as an annual target, and set target spends for each list this year (including several that I decided to stop buying from). I'm not being super strict about it, but I feel better at least trying to impose some discipline. And it forced me to think about which wines I enjoy the most, so I can allocate more budget there, while allowing myself to stop buying things I no longer really love.

I should probably also do something similar to track non-list purchases, but I had to start somewhere.....

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#9 Post by NED VALOIS » January 24th, 2017, 8:39 am

CONTROL ?
HA, HA ! VERY FUNNY !

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#10 Post by Scott E. » January 24th, 2017, 8:41 am

I feel your pain. Over the years I have developed a list of my favorites and I have tried (pretty successfully) to limit my purchases to only those wines on the list. However, costs were still growing as some of the favorites continued to increase in cost every year. I finally had to do a major reset this year and arbitrarily crossed out every wine over $100 on my list. It wasn't fun saying goodbye to those old favorites, but I felt it was necessary. Like Sean, I also maintain a calendar of when list offers come out and what I have spent in previous years - it helps me keep focused on what I plan to purchase over the year. Cheers!
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#11 Post by CWun » January 24th, 2017, 8:45 am

I control spending by reading threads in the Asylum and Epicurean Exploits instead of Wine Talk

neener [stirthepothal.gif]

Seriously though, wine talk threads often introduce FOMO (fear of missing out)
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#12 Post by Howard Cooper » January 24th, 2017, 8:47 am

You are always going to buy more when you visit wineries. It is not just that the wines taste better at the winery. Also, when you come home, the wines taste better because you remember the visit. And, I assume you are visiting wineries you already like or for some other reason are interested in - your visits are not random. Budget accordingly.

One way to budget is to buy fewer wines from each winery.
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#13 Post by Paul Miller » January 24th, 2017, 8:50 am

I got married

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#14 Post by Chris Tuttle » January 24th, 2017, 9:14 am

My wife thinks I like denying myself things more than indulging. I fear she's right.

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#15 Post by M@tt G. » January 24th, 2017, 9:19 am

I find it easier to come up with a budget in terms of # bottles rather than cost. Understand your consumption history and then look at your top 10 favorite producers and figure out how many you want to buy from them. The rest is exploration but track of how many you have purchased for the year and how many you have left to buy. Also I have a self-imposed rule that I never buy more than 3 bottles of a wine I haven't tasted.
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#16 Post by Scott Butler » January 24th, 2017, 9:27 am

I gained control by getting off all the mailing lists, it was stressing my wallet to spend on their schedule instead of mine. I can still get my hands on 90% of the wines I wish to buy, via retail, auction, friends.

I cannot offer much in regards to the travel part, it can be tough to limit purchases while taking winery visits. They are so much fun, and when a winery representative gives me that one-on-one attention, I feel compelled to buy. I do try and stop at a case though, and ship it myself. I guess that helps keep it to 12 bottles.
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#17 Post by Alex G » January 24th, 2017, 9:34 am

Thanks everyone for the honest and candid insights.

My wife and I find the wine tends to taste BETTER at home than at the winery, mostly because we're able to concentrate on the one bottle rather than it being one of 50-75 (usually very good) wines tasted on a trip -- and a sip or two at a time. We've found this repeatedly over nearly a dozen trips to California wine country.

I think the spreadsheets and tracking are a great idea, especially with it being the beginning of the year.

Sometimes the sheer absurdity of the quantity of bottles purchased stuns me into a temporary buying freeze.
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#18 Post by Scott Brunson » January 24th, 2017, 9:38 am

Joe B wrote:Is there still room on your credit card? If not, ask them to raise your credit limit.
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#19 Post by Alex G » January 24th, 2017, 9:42 am

Annnnnnd, the Littorai offer just hit my inbox...
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#20 Post by Anton D » January 24th, 2017, 9:46 am

Chris Tuttle wrote:My wife thinks I like denying myself things more than indulging. I fear she's right.
Sounds like you live on the lonely island.
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#21 Post by S. Stevenson » January 24th, 2017, 9:57 am

Alex G wrote:This month we took a trip to Napa and Sonoma and bought from NINE wineries.
Then last week I bought from the Outpost and Rivers-Marie releases. And some of the Carlisle too.
Today, I bought heavily from the Maybach release, our favorite wine.
And then, Berserker Day on Friday will be a heavy spend.
Of course, Mike Smith's Syrah's and Semillons come out today, and Littorai releases today as well.
This means I've already bought from 14 wineries this month, BEFORE Berserker day, where I expect at least six more. Probably more.
I'm avoiding looking at my CT for actual total $$ spent.

I know January is a brutal month for releases, and we should have planned our trip better, and it DOES settle down after this. But, the fact is, many wineries will have many more releases throughout the year.

What do you do? How do you control your wine spending? I've never set a budget on wine, but perhaps it's time? Or perhaps I'll simply feel better in 45 days, after the credit cards are paid off...
As long as you can pay everything off, I see no problem at all.
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#22 Post by Markus S » January 24th, 2017, 10:09 am

If you give away all you have like the ancient Christians did, you wouldn't be worrying about "spending". Perhaps in this more secular age, you might insist on higher taxes for yourself to help the less fortunates out. [cheers.gif]
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#23 Post by Chris Seiber » January 24th, 2017, 10:18 am

This is something we all battle - the "collector" and "acquirer" impulses layered onto our love of wine.

As with the diet and wine abstention threads, the discussions tend to be dominated by posters who claim to be doing super awesome managing it ("I made a strict budget and cut out all my mailing lists and have reduced my inventory by 200 bottles in the last year and feel so great"), but I expect far more of us blunder our way through buying too much and just try to stop short of serious financial and marital consequences. Oh well, it could be a lot worse.

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#24 Post by Kirk.Grant » January 24th, 2017, 10:24 am

This is a great question. I think I tried to ask it once, but don't recall it going anywhere. However, to get at the heart of it all...when I try to review my cellar by looking at my annual budget I look for wines that I don't have enough of (less than 6 bottles), areas in my cellar that I want to grow, producers that I buy year-in, year out, and great vintages (2015 Germany, 2010 Barolo, ect.). Every now and again there are wines that come out of left-field and shock me. There's always a call to get more wine. However, balance demands that I maintain a budget. Do I go over-budget? Yes...from time to time. When I do, it comes out of other wants in my life. More wine = less travel. What are the things in your life that you take your money away from when you spend it all on wine? Is giving up new clothes, travel, vacation, ect. worth more wines in the cellar?
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#25 Post by Tom Gibson » January 24th, 2017, 10:51 am

There are a shitload of berserkers who are in the upper end of the 1% of income, don't forget that. Lots of law partners, doctors with private practices, heads of large business units, etc.

Trying to keep up with that lot is likely to get a middle manager like me homeless! That's how I do it: don't want to be homeless.

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#26 Post by Craig G » January 24th, 2017, 10:56 am

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#27 Post by dsGriswold » January 24th, 2017, 11:00 am

I buy the wine and my wife pays for the vacations. I may come out on top here. There are 4 wine drinkers in our household now and they do buy some daily drinkers. My purchases and consumption avg. $20/bottle +/- over the years I have been on CT. I buy few expensive wines, Cayuse and No Girls being the exception, passed on HP. There are plenty of $20-30 reds and $15-20 white/rosé wines than we enjoy, so opening a couple is no big deal. I also buy many on inventory reduction sales which gives the added bonus of previous tastings and a couple years more bottle age. I still buy more than I need. [cheers.gif]
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#28 Post by Steven Brown » January 24th, 2017, 11:02 am

As in all things in one's financial life, you could set a budget at the beginning of the year and then try to stick to it.

<insert laughter here>

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#29 Post by Peter Metzger » January 24th, 2017, 11:06 am

Stop reading Wine Berserkers and similar sites. Or find a less expensive hobby (like Bourbon).
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#30 Post by Chris Seiber » January 24th, 2017, 11:08 am

One practical suggestion I've heard and sometimes tried is the "cooling off period." When you see an offer or something at retail or auction you want, set it aside and come back to it in a few days.

You will sometimes have come down off your rush of enthusiasm and realize you don't need it. Or sometimes it's gone by then, and days and months later, not having bought it won't bother you in the slightest.

Just something to pass along.

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#31 Post by rfelthoven » January 24th, 2017, 11:13 am

I use CT to track my purchasing by quarter/year and it is often scary/shocking and leads me to buy less.
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#32 Post by Mike Cohen » January 24th, 2017, 11:24 am

In all seriousness...

Do you do the following:

1. Save 15-20% of your gross income?
2. Have 6+ months of liquidity?
3. Have the proper protection (insurances)?
4. If you have kids (and are so inclined), are you putting $ away for their education?
5. Pay off your CC's on a monthly basis (don't carry a balance)?
6. I'm assuming you're paying your bills in a timely fashion.

If these things are being met, then buy whatever you want. If not, it's time to rethink the buying habits.

For me personally, I still love wine, but it became much less important to me when I had kids and added saving for their education into my budget which meant that wine buying slowed down.

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#33 Post by KatrinaBI » January 24th, 2017, 11:33 am

rfelthoven wrote:I use CT to track my purchasing by quarter/year and it is often scary/shocking and leads me to buy less.
This exactly.

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#34 Post by Ken V » January 24th, 2017, 11:37 am

NED VALOIS wrote:CONTROL ?
HA, HA ! VERY FUNNY !
I agree with Ned!



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#35 Post by Pat Burton » January 24th, 2017, 11:48 am

I simply have a monthly budget, no exceptions.
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#36 Post by Alan Rath » January 24th, 2017, 11:58 am

Chris Seiber wrote:One practical suggestion I've heard and sometimes tried is the "cooling off period." When you see an offer or something at retail or auction you want, set it aside and come back to it in a few days.
I do this. I currently have 18 tabs open with "carts" ready for purchase [wow.gif]
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#37 Post by Ryan M » January 24th, 2017, 12:47 pm

I'm a liberal arts college professor with a large family, so the level that most folks around here are able to spend on wine is far beyond what I will likely ever be able to. I have a monthly wine allowance (most of you would consider it pitiful). Staying within it is simple matter of being responsible for the sake of my wife and kids. If I go over because of some incredible limited time deal, then I have to be prepared to spend less the following month.
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#38 Post by Bdklein » January 24th, 2017, 12:55 pm

Kids, Mortgage, Cars, College (Have 2 Teenagers), Life Expenses, etc. are all factors.
And what's our Checking/Savings Accounts are looking like when I go to take out the credit card.
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#39 Post by EricG » January 24th, 2017, 1:10 pm

rfelthoven wrote:I use CT to track my purchasing by quarter/year and it is often scary/shocking and leads me to buy less.
Similarly, I just click the 'Show' Button next to 'Total Estimated Value' on CT to keep my buying in check these days.
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#40 Post by Matt Latuchie » January 24th, 2017, 1:23 pm

I don't buy much wine directly from the producer, so one of my gateways to spending are the constant emails I get from businesses across the country. One thing I found that helped my situation was to unsubscribe from a lot of them - there were probably 35-50 wine shops that I was receiving mail from that I hadn't purchased from in years. \

Simply reducing the velocity of emails was a big help to me.
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#41 Post by Scott Jameson » January 24th, 2017, 2:06 pm

Conversely, I buy almost everything direct from the winery. I don't buy from in-state stores and out of state retailers can't ship to me (yes, the 2 are related - I don't want to support those who work to limit my choices). I will buy from retailers when I travel, but that's a small percentage of my purchases. All this is to say that CT and the "Purchases over time" report works well for me. I can see what's coming each month and what I've spent in the past. Looking forward, I can reduce or drop purchases entirely.

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#42 Post by Michael Martin » January 24th, 2017, 2:17 pm

I buy everything and anything I want all year...and then I do a dry January. [snort.gif]

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#43 Post by B. Jenny » January 24th, 2017, 2:27 pm

If it is a winery we aren't buying from we take notes on each wine and rarely buy on site. When we get home we put together which wines we really liked from our notes. If the list gets too long we make adjustments. Buying at the winery can get dangerous and you can get home and think why did I buy that wine.
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#44 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » January 24th, 2017, 2:37 pm

Matt Latuchie wrote:I don't buy much wine directly from the producer, so one of my gateways to spending are the constant emails I get from businesses across the country. One thing I found that helped my situation was to unsubscribe from a lot of them - there were probably 35-50 wine shops that I was receiving mail from that I hadn't purchased from in years. \

Simply reducing the velocity of emails was a big help to me.
This is key. I found this past year that I had inadvertently bought the same wine more than once. I'd get the email for the offer and simply reply back, my card was on file. It's too mindless. Need to make it where you have to reflect or at least enter something into fields for an order.

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#45 Post by Dennis Borczon » January 24th, 2017, 3:18 pm

Peter Metzger wrote:Stop reading Wine Berserkers and similar sites. Or find a less expensive hobby (like Bourbon).

There is truth there. I dropped the Wine Advocate this year and pretty much hang out on this site only for wine news (and the occasional Decanter magazine). Limit your wine reading, limit your desire to consume many different types of wine. Also stay away for Napa for awhile. Yes the wines are very good, but the prices have become insane over time. There are lots of divergent wine regions who somehow seem to produce interesting wines, at lower prices, with less intense needs to market. I have tried to pick a few favorite producers in Napa that I really can't live without, and set an informal ceiling of X $$$. If they climb above that, I let it go unless there is resale upside in the future. It seems there is almost always the next up and coming cab producer who is making an interesting wine at a lower price. Larkmead became a typical poster child for this cycle here for many of us. The good PR and the potential to expand profit became too much for them and the prices escalated dramatically over the last 3 years. Many of us said "check please" and left the restaurant.

I would qualify the Bourbon comment. It seems they are going through the same insane cycle that California Cabernet went through in the '90s. Underappreciated domestic product that suddenly was recognized as a national treasure, fast run up in prices of hard to get bottles, and yes, they even have their own Screaming Eagle (Pappy Van Winkle) that is approaching the status of unobtanium. Still some great bottles exist at reasonable prices (Four Roses single batches for me) but who knows how long that will last?

Man it feels at times like we are living through 2008 all over again. Can almost EVERY house in San Francisco be worth a million dollars? Can every extracted Napa Cab be worth $300? I feel like there are strippers somewhere piling up cases of Harlan Estate waiting to sell them at the right peak of the market pileon

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Peter Simpson
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How Do You Control What You Spend?

#46 Post by Peter Simpson » January 24th, 2017, 4:12 pm

I do use a spreadsheet to keep track of what's in the cellar, and I found the easiest method to control purchases is to do it by wine variety.

For example back in 2010 I realized we had 350 bottles of California Pinot in the cellar. We drank on average two bottles per week, or 100/year, and those bottles stayed in the cellar for an average of about two years. So it was easy to figure out we needed at most 200 bottles of Pinot. So essentially I stopped buying Pinot and dropped off all lists from Pinot wineries.

Six years later we're down to 130 bottles of Pinot in the cellar, but that's because we now drink only one bottle per week so only need 100 bottles.

I do the same for Cab/Bordeaux, Chard, etc etc. I just started for Mourvedre and found we have 54 bottles and drink one a month at most. Looks like Champers only from D&R for the foreseeable future. [cheers.gif]
Cheers, Peter

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Jim Erwin
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How Do You Control What You Spend?

#47 Post by Jim Erwin » January 24th, 2017, 4:26 pm

My wife, who also loves wine, manages our charitable contributions. She sets her annual limit to match what I have spent on wine for the prior year. Win-Win

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Freelon F Hunter
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How Do You Control What You Spend?

#48 Post by Freelon F Hunter » January 24th, 2017, 5:09 pm

By thinking about where on earth this wine will fit into the cellar and keeping my Pending list current in CT to bring me back to reality!

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Victor Hong
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How Do You Control What You Spend?

#49 Post by Victor Hong » January 24th, 2017, 5:25 pm

How to deal with spending too much?
Just borrow. I recently opened a US Federal Student Aid loan account, and no longer need to worry about such mundane, trivial things.
https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm
WineHunter.

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Ed Steinway
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How Do You Control What You Spend?

#50 Post by Ed Steinway » January 24th, 2017, 5:35 pm

We don't control what we spend nearly as well as we could, but we have three factors that are contributing to spending considerably less:

1) Two college tuition payments
2) A full cellar
3) Drinking less

Thanks,
Ed

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