Monday 130: What’s Been Happening

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Monday, 9 January 2016

Back to work today!  That’s not a bad thing, as I have a job I like 95% of the time, and work with great people.  Certainly that is an advantage.

2017 Goals

Last week I mentioned that we are doing the Uber Frugal Month Challenge with the Frugalwoods.  This is a good place to start off a year which will be, I hope, better in the finance department of savings and debt reduction.  The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is a good thing after the holiday season, and a good way to begin a new year, especially one that looks to be quite different politically and economincally than the past.  So, to begin, we will answer the questions posed by Mrs. Frugalwoods:

1.  Why are we participating in this challenge?

We are participating to jump-start the new year.  With some new financial situations brewing this month (The Student’s school loans and a hopefully good house refi), it won’t hurt to rethink and re-imagine our finances.

2.  What do you hope to achieve?

We hope to achieve a greater consciousness about how we spend money.  We spend most of our money on bills and mortgages.  If we can curb little things, and bring our food costs and Amazon purchases under control, we will be richer and have less debt in an amazingly shorter amount of time.

3.  What are your longterm life goals?

My longterm goals are to retire in another 2 years.  We hope to have no debts left in 5 years except the mortgage.  We also hope to leverage every tax advantage possible, and for that we need to continue to learn about how not to pay taxes!

4.  Where do you want to be in 10 years?

As I said, I would like to be retired, and still alive enjoying it.  DH would probably like to be debt-free and possibly retired, but we haven’t talked about that one too much.  One thing at a time.

5.  What about your current lifestyle might prevent those goals from coming true and what can you do about it?

Our current lifestyle has one big problem:  Amazon.  Oh, how we love Amazon!  And so does our credit card company.  So for now, Amazon spending will only be for necessities.

To begin this challenge, Mrs. Frugalwoods would like a challengee to:

  1. Examine all of your spending.
  2. Categorize mandatory vs. discretionary expenses.
  3. Identify areas where you can reduce or eliminate spending–and then do it!
  4. Go as frugal as you possibly can for one whole entire month.
  5. At the end of the month, identify what level of frugality is feasible for YOU to embrace for the longterm.

I think all of this is great stuff.  We made big changes this past year, and I hope we can go further.  I would like to watch our food costs more, as $350.00 for two people should be more than adequate.  If we spend nothing at Amazon, our highest debt (lowest interest rate) card would go down by quite a bit.  These questions will help us focus more closely on our lives smaller details as we can control some of the bigger ones much better than we did a year ago.

A bit of austerity never hurts, and I would rather pretend to be poor than to really be poor.  Money is not the problem, it is the lack of money.  For people with our income, we are in pretty bad shape.

December Report

Not all our gory details will go here, but here are some costs, culled from the December 2016 expenditures in YNAB:

Credit Cards: $1711.67
Car Loan: $320.00
Student Loan: $363.00
Electricity: $167.00
Household Gas: $22.09
Water / Trash: $239.54
Insurance (Life, Hazard, Auto): $615.04
Landline: $80.36
Mobile Phone (4 Lines, Unlimited Data): $274.67
Gardener: $100.00
Gasoline: $53.22
Groceries: $437.52
Dog Food: $6.98 (we had lots in stock!)
Gifts: $350.29
Auto Maintenance: $49.99
Household and Personal Supplies: $259.80
Medical: $112.53
Holiday Meals: $36.61
Dining Out: $29.78
Hobbies: $48.31
Cash: $135.00
Total: $5413.40

As you can see, a lot went to overall bills – what we pay every month. We would have about $2300.00 more each month without the credit card and student loan. I look forward to that day . . . sooner, I hope, rather than later!

So, we need to do the work now so we can enjoy ourselves later, or, as Dave Ramsey likes to say:

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

Amen to that.

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