A lot of you asked for it, so here we are. Today I’ll show you exactly how my wife and I, plus our 4-month old daughter are able to spend less than 1.400€ in total per month for our life in Austria.
Our low living expenses enabled us to invest the large majority of our income for the past 6 years. As a result, combined with some decent investment returns over this period, we’ve been able to grow our combined net worth to over 300.000€ by now, with the main pillar of our investments being low-cost, passive ETFs covering the entire global stock market.
This low cost of living, in addition to the size of our portfolio now enables us to be a lot more relaxed when it comes to work, so that we’re able to enjoy as much time as we want with our baby, together as a family.
We feel extremely lucky to be able to do that and when looking back, we’re very happy about the decisions we made to get to this point.
So in this post,
- I’ll first give you a bit of background information about how we got here and our mindset about what we spend money on
- and then I’ll break down our monthly expenses as a family of three in detail.
Who knows, you might even get a few ideas for something you can optimize in your own life. Or maybe you think we’re crazy by the end of it. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!
Our age and family income
So, here’s something you should know about the two of us.
I’m 32 years old and self-employed, while my wife is 29 and employed full time.
Ok, technically she’s still on parental leave until October, which is when our daughter turns one year old. During this time she receives 80% of her previous salary as an employee.
Yet, when we compare our situation to many of our friends, some of which earn a lot more money than we do every month after taxes, we have substantially more in savings and our life is less stressful as a result.
This is due to a few habits we developed over time and some conscious choices we made.
How we decide what to spend money on
Both of us are pretty minimalist when it comes to what we spend money on. We discovered the concept of minimalism in 2016 after listening to Joshua Fields Millburn on the school of greatness podcast, and it really resonated with us.
This doesn’t mean we’re cheap, we simply ask ourselves three questions before spending our money:
- Does the value we’re getting from a purchase or restaurant visit match the price we’re paying for it?
- Is whatever we’re buying worth a certain number of work hours required to pay for it or would we get more enjoyment by having more free time and needing to work less instead?
- If we’re buying stuff, do we really need it? So is it something we’ll be using long-term and that’s going to make our life better or are we making an impulse purchase simply because something is on discount?
This, in combination with our pursuit of financial independence, after coming across the concept in 2017 via Mr. Money Mustache on the Tim Ferriss Podcast, means we’re able to put aside the majority of our income every month.
The thing is, if your goal is to one day reach financial independence, meaning being able to live purely from your investments long-term, it doesn’t only matter how much money you make – what actually matters is how much you’re able to save and invest on a regular basis.
To be able to save a good chunk of what you make, it’s worth reviewing your monthly expenses.
My guess is, you’ll be able to find plenty of things you’re spending money on that could be optimized. These could be things that don’t really provide added value to your life and that might actually be worth cutting altogether or replacing with something that’s more important to you.
Obviously, you’re the only one who knows what you value most in life and what’s worth the price to you.
But maybe some of our thoughts on how we spend our money can provide some inspiration.
Our monthly expenses
Which brings me to our monthly expenses as a family of three. My wife and I, plus our 4-month old daughter, living in Vienna, Austria.
Let’s begin with our biggest monthly expense, which is housing. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, as I think housing is the most significant cost factor for most people.
Trying to optimize this part of your expenses can make a massive difference, as it has done for us.
Our low housing costs have been a major driver in us being able to maintain a savings rate of over 70% for many years now.
We currently pay a total of only 688€ in housing costs per month. That’s including rent, renters insurance, heating, electricity and internet.
We got extremely lucky with the 82m2, 3-room apartment we moved into last year, as we had been waiting a long time for an offer this good.
Rent prices on the open market in Vienna are normally a lot higher than what we’re paying (you usually pay at least 10-15€ per square meter for a nice apartment), but Austria has something that’s relatively unique compared to other countries:
There are a lot of housing coops that you can sign up for, you just need a few years of patience as well as some luck before you receive an interesting offer.
With these housing cooperatives you also need to pay a higher lump sum up front, in our case 10.500€ when moving in.
However, this money is not lost, you get it back when you move out. They only deduct one percent of the amount per year of you living in the apartment.
Obviously, me telling you how lucky we got with our rent is not going to help you in your situation in your country, so let me just say this:
The two of us lived in a much smaller studio apartment for 7 years, where we paid even less in rent then we do now. That’s despite friends and family members frequently encouraging us to move to a bigger place. They kept saying we could definitely use more space, we don’t need a child for that.
But this was a conscious decision and we loved our time there together. We both had the mindset that we would much rather have low monthly expenses trying to make it work in a smaller living space, if that means:
- We have to worry less about how much money we make
- How high our fixed costs at home are if we want to spend time abroad
- We have more money to spend on things that are more important to us
- And if it means we get to save a lot more money on our pursuit of potentially being able to retire early one day.
We only started actively looking for a larger apartment last year once my wife got pregnant (we were registered at several housing coops since 2018 though, which helped) and we luckily found this one.
It’s perfect for the three of us, so hopefully we never have to move out!
Our second largest monthly expense is food at 465€ per month. This includes a small breakfast we share on a weekly basis in a coffee place, which tends to be the only time we don’t cook at home.
We prepare everything else ourselves, as we both really enjoy cooking and we like the taste of our home-cooked meals more.
And no, we don’t live off rice, beans, oats or other inexpensive foods.
We’ve actually been eating low-carb Keto for about 8 years, as that resolved all the health issues we had and it makes us feel our best. Which means we eat higher priced foods like meat, fish, eggs, bacon, butter and goat cheese on a daily basis.
Then again, we usually just have two big meals per day and we don’t need a bunch of snacks every few hours. We tend to both skip breakfast and to just drink coffee instead, but since my wife is breastfeeding, she sometimes adds an extra meal in the morning.
When there are discounts on food items we use regularly, I usually buy a bigger quantity at once and if it’s something like meat, I then split it into portions and freeze it for future meals.
This way we’ve been able to somewhat mitigate the inflation we’ve seen over the past year as far as prices are concerned.
We also don’t drink alcohol and we’re lucky to have some of the best tap water in the world in Vienna. As a result, we don’t need to buy bottled water and we don’t drink fruit juices or soft drinks either. That in itself is saving us a lot of money.
This brings me to our third biggest monthly expense, transportation.
Since we don’t own a car – we’ve never felt the need for one in Vienna – we only spend a total of 61€ per month for our yearly public transport tickets.
Maybe we’ll need a car in the future and that is perfectly fine. But until then, we’re saving ourselves a ton of costs, time and energy that come with car ownership. And who knows, maybe renting will make more financial sense for those few occasions where we actually need a car.
Household items (57€)
Next are other items we need, like diapers for our girl, kitchen supplies, toiletries etc. Basically non-food items from the supermarket. These are about 57€ per month right now.
I’m also very lucky that my wife looks great without makeup, so she doesn’t use or buy any make up and skin care products, which usually cost a lot of money. All she uses is an inexpensive shower gel and shampoo from DM and an occasional perfume from Zara.
As for travel, we haven’t traveled anywhere yet with our baby, so we’ll find out this year.
That being said, we usually stay with friends in Croatia or family members in Italy when we go on vacation, so our biggest cost is usually just the flight ticket itself.
And yes, I also noticed flight prices have shot up substantially this year. As a result, for now I included flights back and forth to two destinations for the 3 of us based on current prices: One trip to Split in Croatia for 350€ and one to Rome in Italy for 200€. That’s a monthly average of 46€.
The first of the last three positions is a gym membership for 30€ per month, as I enjoy the change of scenery and the comfort of having a dedicated place to work out in twice a week.
That’s even though I found out over the past few years that I can easily work out from home for free using resistance bands with similar results.
Phone contracts (17€) and Subscriptions (5€)
Last but not least, we have our two mobile phone contracts for a combined 17€ per month and 5€ we spend on subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify, which we share with friends and family members.
Our total monthly expenses as a family
Which means our total expenses as a family of three are currently 1.369€ per month or about 685€ per person split between my wife and I.
We can even round up our monthly total to 1.400€ to account for remaining smaller, irregular expenses I may have missed in today’s calculations, some of which I’ll mention in a second.
What about haircuts, clothing and baby stuff?
My wife cuts my hair every week with a machine instead of me needing to go to a hairdresser. Yes I know, I don’t have a lot of hair to begin with, at least not in places were it would be useful!
Meanwhile she gets her hair cut in Budapest once a year, where she only pays 15€ for it.
I actually also cut her hair once, but for some strange reason she hasn’t asked me to do it since. To this day, I still wonder why…
We also spend very little money on clothing, I haven’t felt the need to buy anything new for myself in a long time. I have a few shirts that I really enjoy wearing on a regular basis plus my two favorite jeans, so I’m pretty much set as far as my clothes go.
Meanwhile, we bought our daughter’s clothes used for very little money a few months ago, and actually most of them are presents from friends and family.
We also bought all the other baby essentials like stroller, crib and baby carrier second hand for very little money, saving about 80% of what they would have cost us new.
Once she doesn’t need them any more, we’ll most likely be able to sell them for the same price we paid.
Family allowance for our daughter
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that right now we’re also getting 182€ in monthly child allowance in Austria and 2.000€ worth of tax savings per year via something called family bonus plus, which when combined average out to 349€/month of extra disposable income.
This would actually lower our current out-of-pocket cost of living to only 1.020€/month as a family of three.
Then again, I’m sure our spending will increase as our daughter gets older and she starts going to kindergarten.
Are we happy with the lifestyle we chose?
Now after looking at all of our expenses, maybe you come away thinking we’re crazy, cheap or something else and you’re free to feel that way!
Yet for us, we feel like we’re living a rich, luxurious life filled with everything that’s important to us and we couldn’t be happier about how everything turned out.
Of course your circumstances very likely differ from ours depending on where you live.
But I think being conscious of where your money goes and making sure those expenses align with what you value can have a significant impact.
What do you think about our expenses? How much do you spend every month (on your own or as a family)?
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