220k and counting

car dashboard

No, that’s not our current net worth. That’s how many miles we have on our 2006 Toyota Prius, and we have no plans on replacing it. We could replace it if we wanted to and go buy a newer vehicle with all the bells and whistles…

…but we won’t

When you start to look at a vehicle as a tool to get you from point A to point B, you realize that any tool will do. Any car will fit the bill and any newer car we might purchase will do pretty much the same thing as our Prius.

The joy from a newer car (or new anything) will wears off in time and you’re left with the realization that the money is gone, never to come back. We’re not going to magically get better gas mileage or lower cost of ownership by buying a newer car and the fun will wear off in about 6 months or so.

 

Benefits of driving our current car

You may be thinking, “new cars have these great features that make driving so much better!” But really, driving our existing car has a ton of great “features”.

  • We’re no longer losing much, if anything, in depreciation
  • When we get a dent or scratch, we don’t fret over it
  • Newer cars have issues too, but over the course of having ours, we’ve put in a relatively small amount into repairs
  • Car payments are a thing of the past
  • Money saved from not buying a newer car is worth a lot more later
    • $10,000 invested at 10% is worth over $16,000 after 5 years! That’s an extra $6000 we can make by not buying a newer car.

But what should you do?

I’m not sure what your car situation is. Maybe you’ve got car payments or have been without car payments for a long time. We made a decision several years ago that we were never going to have car payments ever again and so far we’ve stuck to that.

The best place to start is decide what you want your future to look like and then take the necessary steps that will move you in that direction. If you want to retire early or save more money, you should ask yourself if purchasing something moves you in that direction. “Stuff” will fade away, but relationships and special experiences that create memories can last a lifetime.

Final note

If you look above, I didn’t say “new” car very often, but instead used “newer”. That’s because we plan on only purchasing used cars in the future after they’ve lost a large portion of their value in depreciation. We also purchase vehicles know for reliability which ensures they’ll be problem free well into the future.

That being said, you don’t need to be like us. Someone needs to purchase the new cars that we will buy a couple of years later at a discount on the used car lot.

You budget how much for gifts?

gift

In this post, I’ll be discussing how much we budget for gifts each month.

Get to the point already!

We budget $100 for gifts each month. Over time, this amount started around $50 a month and has increased to $75 and now $100. We’ve kept it at $100 for quite a while now.

How do you stick to it?

Given what this category covers, we can generally stay under this amount pretty easily each. Sometimes we’ll have an amount that carries over and other times we might spend slightly over this amount.

What all does it cover?

As you would expect, this category covers gifts.

  • For birthday parties our daughters are invited to
  • For extended family members
  • Random acts of kindness or pick me ups for people
  • Cards and gift bags

It does not usually cover Christmas or birthday presents for the immediate family. We oftentimes use savings for that.

Checkup

How much do you spend on presents each month? What other categories would you like me to cover? Let me know in the comments below.

You can also see how much we spend on other budget categories here.

March 2018 – Mortgage Payoff Update

At the end of March, our remaining payoff balance is at 17.73% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 2.19%.

How much longer until the mortgage payoff?

Once all of February’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $2971 this month. That brings our balance to just above $24k. According to our schedule, we have 5 payments left. That means our mortgage will be paid off on September 1, 2018.

We didn’t have anything extra of significance to throw at the mortgage this month, just some small amounts here and there.

I’ve had some projects wrap up with my side business and have gotten paid for them. That’s how we’ve been able to cut off an extra payment. In order to reach the September 1 deadline, we were going to have to use some money from savings. From this point forward, anything extra we throw at it over what is planned, will reduce what we take out of savings to achieve the September 1 goal. Once we don’t need anything from our savings, then we’ll work towards cutting off an extra payment.

Budget Series

I’ll be publishing an update on this soon!

February 2018 – Mortgage Payoff Update

shack

At the end of February, our remaining payoff balance is at 19.92% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 3.46%.

How much longer until the mortgage payoff?

Once all of February’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $4713 this month. That brings our balance to just above $27k. According to our schedule, we have 7 payments left. That means our mortgage will be paid off on October 1, 2018.

We made significant progress this month thanks to a small tax refund and we kept our spending in check so we were able to put the full amount we plan on each month towards it.

We’ve had a project put on hold with my business, but nothing that can’t be made up with a new project or two. Once a project or two wraps up, we should be able to cut another payment off and be done by the beginning of September.

Budget Series

I haven’t forgotten about this, but the side business has kept me pretty busy. The next category I’ll be covering in the budget series is still going to be about gifts.

January 2018 – Mortgage Payoff Update

Home Interior

At the end of January, our remaining payoff balance is at 23.39% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 3.01%.

How much longer until the mortgage payoff?

Once all of January’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $4086 this month. That brings our balance just below $32k. According to our schedule, we have 8 payments left. That means our mortgage will be paid off on October 1, 2018.

We’ve been plugging away pretty steadily this month at the mortgage. We were given an unexpected gift that we applied. It helped to get us back on track and give us a bit of buffer room.

Any extra money that we’re finding is going towards the debt. Now that Christmas is behind us, the number of unexpected expenses has dropped a bit and should make it easier for us to stick to the budget.

On a positive note, several things are happening with my software consulting business, Adro Solutions. As different projects are added to the pipeline, completed, invoiced and paid, we may be paying it off sometime this summer!

Also, Julie has started a new business. I’ll hopefully have more information on that soon as well! Exciting times in our house.

Budget Series

The next category I’ll be covering in the budget series is about gifts. Do we budget enough?

Photo by brad.coy

You budget how much for personal care?

haircut

In this post, I’ll be discussing how much we budget on personal care each month. This group is pretty straightforward when looking at what it covers.

Get to the point already!

We budget $75 for personal care each month. This amount has been very consistent for a long time. It had been a bit less in the past, but we increased it a while ago to make sure there was enough for those in our family who don’t get their hair done as often.

How do you stick to it?

This is pretty easy. I get my hair cut once a month, so much it rolls over from month to month so that when my wife or daughters needs something, there is plenty there. The key is to not steal from it when other budget categories might be overspent in a month.

What all does it cover?

This category honestly doesn’t cover very much.

  • Haircuts for anyone in the family (including the dog)
    • For me this is roughly $19/month
  • Hair styling or coloring
  • Optionally makeup and cosmetics

Checkup

How much do you spend on personal care each month? What other categories would you like me to cover? Let me know in the comments below.

You can also see how much we spend on other budget categories here.

December 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

fancy home

At the end of November, our remaining payoff balance is at 26.40% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 0.66%.

How much longer until the payoff?

Once all of Decembers’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $895 this month. We successfully got the mortgage just below $36k by the end of the year. According to our schedule, we have 10 payments left. That means our mortgage will be paid off on November 1, 2018.

We reached our safe amount of padding in our savings account, so extra money each month will now go straight to the mortgage. We’re going to be pushing it kind of close to make the November 1 deadline, but I have a plan.

I’ve increased my goal of how much I’d like to bring in from side work. I also plan on ramping up selling items on eBay and Amazon this year. I’ve done this  in the past with various levels of success, but I think with proper coaching and guidance I will bring in $1000 a month.

This is important because we’ve already planned a celebration vacation in December which means we’ll need to save up extra to pay for that as well. I believe it’s all possible, it’s just a matter of planning and getting there.

Budget Series

I haven’t forgotten about the budget series and the personal care category. I’ll hopefully have an update for you on that soon.

How we got paid $11 for 3 months of cell phone service

cell phone

Let me start by saying this isn’t a scam. We were able to make money on a month’s worth of cell phone service using many of the things I’ve described in this blog.

We’ve used Total Wireless for our cell phone service. There is no reason to go into a lot of detail here because you can read about it in other blog posts (here and here and here). The result is that we pay $62.27 a month for 2 lines and 15GB of shared data.

You’re probably thinking that sounds like I’m paying them, and that’s true. However, I recently determined a way where I could get paid for a month of cell phone service.

The Math

This might get a bit confusing, but essentially I found several deals that when piled up on top of each other, I actually made money for a month worth of cell phone service. To start, Total Wireless was offering 30% off of a phone and month of service bundle. I also was able to use eBates to get a 11% refund through the Total Wireless site. Here is how the math works out.

  • $199 iPhone 6
  • $60 2 line 15GB shared plan
  • $259 subtotal
  • -$77.70 30% off Total Wireless discount (Code found on slickdeals.net)
  • $181.30 discounted total
  • $13.99 taxes
  • $195.29 total paid by us to Total Wireless

At this point, we were out $195.29, but received a month of service and an iPhone 6 in exchange. Now comes the fun part.

  • $219 iPhone 6 sale on eBay
  • -$28.55 eBay and PayPal fees
  • -$6.50 shipping
  • $183.95 total received from the sale of the phone

If you do the math so far, you’ll see I’m out $11.34. Still not a bad amount to pay for a month of cell phone service.

The Missing Pieces

Remember how I said I used eBates to get a refund? That amount came out to be $15!

So when you subtract $15 from $11.34, you’ll see we were actually paid $3.66 for a month of cell phone service!

I didn’t just buy one iPhone 6, but actually purchased 3 of them and did this 3 times to get 3 months of service. The second phone I sold on eBay for a little less and actually spent $0.16 for the month of service. The third phone I sold through a Facebook garage sale site, and made over $8. When you add it all up, I made over $11 and got 3 months of cell phone service in exchange!

Experimenting

Before putting down this much money, I did a small experiment a few weeks earlier by buying a refurbished phone for $9.99 and using the same discount code along with eBates. I was able to prove that even if I didn’t sell the phone, I would still save $8.88 on a month of service. I did end up selling the phone for twice what I paid for it. After fees and everything, we saved $20.14 on a month of service. That’s when I decided to research doing larger deals to see if it would work.

Pretty crazy, right?!?! What do you think? Would you try something like this? Let me know in the comments below.

November 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

mortgage blackboard

At the end of November, our remaining payoff balance is at 27.06% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 2.14%.

How much longer until the payoff?

Once all of October’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $2910 this month. We are on track to be below $36k by the end of the year, which was the goal we set earlier this year. Like I said before, we’ve made some temporary adjustments to our payoff schedule. If we kept our accelerated schedule, we’d have 11 payments left. That means our mortgage will be paid off on November 1, 2018.

This month, I had some extra money come in from side work which helped us to boost the payoff a bit more. Once we’ve got a reasonable padding in our savings account, I plan on putting anything extra directly towards the house again. The padding should be built up by the end of December at the latest. After that, we’ll be making much larger payment against the principal.

Budget Series

I’ll be continuing the series that covers our budget. The next category we’ll be covering is personal care. What is “personal care”?

Photo by Got Credit

You Budget How Much For Entertainment?

movie camera entertainment

In this post, I’ll be discussing how much we budget on entertainment each month. Lots of things could fall under entertainment and depending on where you live or the types of things you value as entertainment, you may want to budget a more.

Get to the point already!

We budget $50 for entertainment each month. This amount has been very consistent for a long time. We decided to start budgeting for it to make sure we could plan a date night.

How do you stick to it?

We generally do a pretty good job of staying within that amount. Occasionally we’ll go over, and sometimes we stay under. We’re generally able to stay under it though because we’re usually pretty busy with other things, or find things to do that doesn’t cost anything. For example, we purchased season passes this year to Cedar Point. That can provide a lot of recurring enjoyment without affecting the entertainment budget.

What all does it cover?

This category covers A LOT! Below are a few of the items that would fall under this budget category along with some notes.

  • Movie rentals
    • Library movies are free and they can transfer any movie we’re interested in from another branch to our local branch.
  • Movie theater
    • We have a theater that isn’t too far from us that has tickets half of what you would pay at the “fancy” theaters.
  • Babysitting
    • We pay our babysitters pretty well because we want them to come back!
  • Other extracurricular activities, i.e.
    • SkyZone
    • Tickets to get into a park
    • Expenses related to entertainment like getting ice cream

Checkup

How much do you spend on entertainment each month? Do you have a hard time staying under budget? Let me know in the comments below.