September 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

mortgage blackboard

At the end of September, our remaining balance is at 29.84% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of .64%.

How much longer?

Once all of September’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $870 this month. We didn’t reach $40k like we had hoped by October 1. We’ve made some temporary adjustments to our payoff schedule that I’ll explain below. Right now, we’ve got 42 payments left with the adjustments we made. That means our mortgage will be paid off on April 1, 2021.

You might be wondering why the extension in time and increase in the number of payments. Essentially, we’re preparing for a potential transition in the future. We don’t know all the details on what it will be yet, but we’re preparing anyhow. One way of preparing is by piling up some extra cash. Once we’re through this time, we’ll take all the extra and apply it back to the mortgage. At that point, it will hopefully wipe out the rest of the mortgage or get us very close. For that reason, our large payments will be reduced for the next several months.

Budget Series

I’ll be continuing the series that covers our budget. The next category we’ll be covering is clothing. How much do you spend on clothing each month? What all does clothing cover? It sounds like an easy one, but we include some items in that category you may not think about.

Photo by Got Credit

You Budget How Much For Restaurants and Dining Out?

In this post, I’ll be discussing how much we spend on restaurants and dining out. Depending on where you live, the cost to eat out probably varies a bit. However, there is one way to make sure you stay under budget – eat at home! It’s healthier anyway.

Get to the point already!

Just like the fuel budget, we budget $200 for restaurants and dining out. This amount has been pretty consistent what we’ve used for this category.

How do you stick to it?

The short answer – we don’t. We oftentimes go over. That wasn’t always the case until about a year ago. Before then we’d sometimes go over, but could stay under more easily.

What happened a year ago that made us start going over? Volunteering at church. The group we volunteer with oftentimes gathers at Chick-fil-a for lunch and/or dinner various times on the weekend. That can eat up our restaurant budget pretty quickly with a family of four.

Under normal circumstances this amount is enough for us to eat out at a nice restaurant a couple of times a month, fast food 4-5 times, and maybe a date night.

What all does it cover?

Just like the grocery budget, the dining out budget can cover some items outside of just going to a restaurant. Whether it’s a sit down or fast food restaurant, it’s covered. It also covers quick visits to get some ice cream or frozen yogurt. Finally, it covers things we might buy while for immediate consumption. For example, if we were to go get a slush or pick up a bag of chips at a convenience store to eat right then, those would count towards the restaurant budget.

Checkup

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

Photo by Sean MacEntee

August 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

mortgage blackboard

At the end of August, our remaining balance is at 30.48% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 2.22%.

How much longer?

Once all of August’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $3020 this month. We’re marching towards $40k and will be there by October 1. We’ve only got 14 payments left! That means our mortgage will be paid off on November 1, 2018.

If you’ve followed this series each month, you might be wondering why we’re still at 14 payments and the payment date has been pushed back. I had originally planned on teaching a class at a local community college this fall. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (you wouldn’t believe them if I told you), I wasn’t allowed to teach the class. They’re going to try to correct the issue so I can in the future but hopefully, the mortgage will be paid off by then.

I had to put those adjustments into the forecast which pushed things back another month and added the payment back on. In addition, we started homeschooling this fall with our two daughters. That means they are involved in activities which have an extra cost. I’ve had to trim back the mortgage payoff by a slight amount ($115 a month) to fund those activities. Unfortunately, that means the margin we had to make sure that we don’t add any extra payments has dissolved. I’m hoping to recover it in the next few months by picking up more side work.

Budget Series

I’ll be continuing the series that covers our budget. The next category we’ll be covering is restaurants and dining out. Everyone likes eating out, but how much is too much? What do we consider dining out versus groceries? You’ll learn soon in the next blog post.

Photo by Got Credit

Wireless Plans from Total Wireless Improved!

Total Wireless Logo

I originally reviewed Total Wireless a few months ago and we have been pretty happy with it overall. The service is good (it uses Verizon’s network) and the price is right ($57 for 2 phones). So I was surprised when I recently went out to see if any competitors had anything better to offer. To my surprise, Total Wireless got even better!

Original Plans

The single line plans haven’t changed, only the shared or family plans.
  • 2 phones – $60/month 8GB shared data
  • 3 phones – $85/month 12GB shared data
  • 4 phones – $100/month 15GB shared data

The 5% auto-pay discount applies to these plans as well. Finally, if these data amounts weren’t enough for you, you could get an extra 3GB of data for an extra $10/month. The plus side is that the extra data you buy would roll over every month so you keep using it until it’s all gone!

New and Improved Plans

The prices stay the same, but the data gets SO MUCH BETTER! Below is a summary, but you can view the details here.

  • 2 phones – $60/month 15GB shared data
  • 3 phones – $85/month 20GB shared data
  • 4 phones – $100/month 25GB shared data

You can still get the auto-pay discount and if you need the extra data, it’s now 5GB for $10/month instead of 3GB.

One of the things I hear the most when I talk to someone about changing their cell phone provider is that they don’t want to have less coverage. You can’t get better than Verizon’s coverage nationwide. If you haven’t checked out Total Wireless yet, what are you waiting for? (Tell me in the comments below.)

You Budget How Much For Gasoline/Fuel?

I’ll be continue covering our budget this month. In this post, I’ll be discussing our fuel or gasoline budget. This one is a little tricky because it can vary a bit depending on a number of factors, such as the types of cars you drive and the number of miles driven each month.

Get to the point already!

Here it is – each month we budget $200 for gasoline or fuel. There have been periods of time where it has been more or less depending on what gasoline prices are. On average, $200 seems to cover it every month.

What do you drive?

We drive two different vehicles in our home, and they’re somewhat opposites when it comes to miles per gallon. Our first car, and the one driven the most, is a 2006 Toyota Prius and gets almost 50 MPG depending on the weather. It has over 200k miles at this point and continues to run well. I commute about 50 miles each day to work, not counting additional driving on the weekend.

Our second vehicle is a 2011 Toyota Sienna. It averages anywhere from 19-23 MPG depending on the type of driving that we’re doing. My wife drives it a varying number of miles each day. Some days that might be a lot, and other days it may sit in the garage.

What all does it cover?

Unlike the grocery budget, the gasoline category is pretty simple. It covers gasoline and fuel for our cars and lawn mower. There is one minor exception to this – vacation. If we’re driving somewhere for vacation, we tend to not use the fuel budget, but instead use whatever we’ve got budgeted for vacation instead.

Checkup

How much do you spend on gasoline each month? Do we spend more or less than you do? I’d love to see in the comments below.

Photo by Adam Hinett

July 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

mortgage blackboard

At the end of July, our remaining balance is at 32.7% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 2.32%.

How much longer?

Once all of July’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $3158 this month. We’re marching towards $40k and will be there by October 1. We’ve only got 14 payments left! That means our mortgage will be paid off on October 1, 2018.

Luckily, these numbers are all using conservative estimates so it should happen unless something tragic or extraordinary occurs. I’ve also started doing travel planning as a way of bringing in extra income and doing something I enjoy (talking about Disney). You can get more information here: https://www.facebook.com/AdamOUAV/ I’d be happy to help you plan your next vacation.

New Series

I’ll be continuing the series that covers our budget. The next category we’ll be covering is fuel. It doesn’t sound exciting, but might be of interest to many of you.

Photo by Got Credit

You Budget How Much For Groceries?

grocery store aisle

If you’ve just started budgeting or planning to start, you’re probably trying to figure out how much to budget for each category. If you’ve budgeted for a while and you’re interested in seeing how your budget compares to ours, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, I’ll be covering our grocery budget.

Get to the point already!

Here it is – each month we budget $500 for groceries for a family of 4. We previously budgeted $475 just a few months ago, but recently increased it. We’ve got 2 adults in our house and 2 girls, ages 10 and 8. (Man, can they put away the food though!)

We use our grocery budget for a wide variety of items.

  • Food purchased at a grocery store or to be consumed at home
    • This doesn’t include snacks purchased at a gas station to be eaten the car (that would go towards dining out).
    • It would include milk bought at a gas station for use at home, or snacks purchased at a gas station if we were taking them to a party.
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Vitamins
  • Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc
  • Razors
  • Dog food

How is that possible?

We do the majority of our grocery shopping at Aldi. It’s quick, convenient, has great prices, and the options are actually pretty healthy without us having to think about it. They sell the majority of what we need and for everything else we supplement with other stores.

We also use Target’s subscription service which saves us 5%, with an extra 5% off for using our RedCard. This allows us to get what we need (dog food, razors, and vitamins) when we need them.

You might now be thinking:

“Do you eat a lot of processed food?” Not really.

“You must eat out all the time. Show me your dining out budget!” Patience, young Padawan. We don’t eat out that much, maybe a few meals a week.

Checkup

How much do you spend on groceries each month? Do we spending more or less than you do? I’d love to see in the comments below.

Photo by MinuteDreamer

June 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

mortgage blackboard

At the end of June, our remaining balance is at 35.02% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 2.21%.

How much longer?

Once all of June’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $3002 this month. We’re finally below $50k and marching towards 40k. We’ve still got 15 payments left! That means our mortgage will be paid off on October 1, 2018.

I recalculated everything to make them a bit more conservative. Unfortunately, that adds one more month. However, we should be able to more easily reach this deadline. Before we were really stretching it and didn’t have a lot of flexibility for when other things come up.

New Series

I’ll be posting a new series soon that covers our budget. My guess is that there are questions out there about how we’re paying off our mortgage so quickly and being able to still live life in general. When we started budgeting, we did a lot of research trying to figure out how much other people were budgeting for different categories. Hopefully it will give some insight to everyone who reads about it.

Photo by Got Credit

May 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

House Jar

At the end of May, our remaining balance is at 37.23% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 2.68%.

How much longer?

Once all of May’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $3648 this month. We’re almost below $50k. Currently, with the new monthly figures in place, we’ve still got 15 payments left! That means our last mortgage payment would be applied on September 1, 2018.

Where did the dramatic increase in our payment or the drastic decrease in our balance come from? I talked it over with my wife. We decided to go into extreme payoff mode to get this thing knocked out. In order to do this, we decided to delay some of our other goals. By lowering the amount we put into a couple of savings accounts, college savings, and Roth IRA, 7 payments are cut off!

It would be nice to do the savings, investing, and pay the house off all at the same time. However, not being able to do everything at once will encourage us to find new ways to pay it off faster so we can get to the extreme investing!

Photo by Tax Credits

May 2017 – Republic Wireless Bill

Republic Wireless Logo

The May payment to Republic Wireless was $-1.48. This is our last month using Republic Wireless for our primary phones. We’ll be keeping one line for home phone use.

Wireless Breakdown

  • WiFi Only Phone – $5
  • Taxes – $1.01
  • Refund for unused service – ($7.49)
  • Total – ($1.48)

My wife and I have transitioned from Republic Wireless to Total Wireless and are on a shared 8GB plan for $57/month. I really liked RW and their customer service. I noticed recently that they now offer chat support, which is a nice improvement. However, when we did the calculations, it works out better for us to get the extra data at a fixed price each month.

We changed our WiFi only phone to my wife’s old Moto X and sell the Moto G3 through Swappa. I’m continuing to use my Nexus 5X and my wife is using the Moto G5 Plus (which is really a nice phone for the price).

This will be the last month that I post a Republic bill. All of the future bills should be $6.01. Republic definitely ranks up toward the top of my list of inexpensive phone services. Others that rank up there include Project Fi, Ting, Cricket, and Total. Each one works well for a different type of user.

If you’ve used Republic or have any questions, let me know in the comments.