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.

April 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

House Jar

At the end of April, our remaining balance is at 39.91% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 1.15%.

How much longer?

Once all of April’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our mortgage balance by about $1558 this month. That means we’ve broken through the $55k barrier. Currently, with the new monthly figures in place, we’ve still got 23 payments left! That means our last mortgage payment would be applied on April 1, 2019.

This month we had some extra expenses which ended up adding an extra month to our payment schedule.My wife is going on a mission trip in June and final payments were due this month. Luckily, about $150 will get us back on track and remove that extra month’s payment. In addition, with the phone issues we had, we purchased a new Motorola G5 Plus for $229. At this point, we can certainly catch up on the mortgage payments, and hopefully cut a bit extra off. All that’s necessary is some extra work through the side business or some other unexpected income.

Photo by Tax Credits

April 2017 – Republic Wireless Bill

Republic Wireless Logo

The April payment to Republic Wireless was $25.79. The next month’s Republic Wireless bill will be a bit more due to some phone swaps we had to do this month.

Breakdown

  • WiFi Only Phone – $5
  • Wife’s phone using Sprint’s network on the Refund Plan (512 MB Plan) – $17.50
  • Taxes – $3.31
  • Refund for unused data – ($.02)
  • Total – $25.79

This month my Nexus 5X that I’ve had for about 18 months decided to die. I contacted Google Nexus support about it and surprisingly they decided to honor the warranty and send me a replacement at no cost. It took longer than usual to arrive, so we ended up buying a Motorola G5 Plus. That way I could get access to my messages and phone calls. I used the WiFi Only Phone for a couple of days and enabled data and cellular on it. They charged me right away for this, but it will likely be reflected in next month’s bill.

Now that I’ve got a working Nexus 5X phone again, and a Motorola G5 Plus, we’re going to switch my wife over to Total Wireless and take advantage of their 8GB shared plan for $60/month. We’ll then use my wife’s Moto X for the WiFi only home phone, and sell the Moto G3 that was the WiFi only phone. If you or someone you know is interested in trying Republic Wireless, I’ve got a great condition phone for sale.

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

March 2017 – Mortgage Payoff Update

House Jar

At the end of March, our remaining balance is at 41.06% of our original mortgage that we took out in 2007. That’s a reduction of 1.50%.

How much longer?

Once all of March’s payments are applied, we’ll have reduced our balance by about $2050 this month. That means we’ve broken through the $56k barrier. Currently, with the new monthly figures in place, we’ve got 23 payments left! That means our last mortgage payment would be applied on March 1, 2019.

There weren’t really any extra payments made this month other through the day job’s salary, a small job through the side business, and some other minor income amounts. We also had some expenses that took away from the progress this month, but it didn’t affect the number of remaining payments. It’s helpful to know we’ve got a bit of flexibility and still stay on track.

Photo by Tax Credits

Total Wireless Review

Total Wireless Logo

I’ve officially been using Total Wireless for 30 days now and I must say that the results have been very positive. My end of month bill ended up being $36.35 for unlimited calls, texts, and 5GB of data. I didn’t use anywhere close to that amount, but I also didn’t feel restricted or that I should conserve data the entire month. I also don’t feel like I’m paying extra for something I wouldn’t end up using.

Plans

The real cost of the plan is $35/month plus taxes and fees, but you get 5% off for doing auto-pay. For family or shared plans, the prices get even better.
  • 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. If you don’t want any data, you could do the $25/month unlimited talk and text. Finally, if these data amounts aren’t enough for you, you can get an extra 3GB of data for an extra $10/month. The plus side is that the extra data you buy rolls over every month so you can keep using it until it’s all gone!

Network

Total Wireless uses the Verizon network, so you get a signal pretty much anywhere. It may not always be as strong as it’s competitors (especially where we live), but I have yet to go someplace that I can’t get a signal of some sort. I couldn’t always say that for Sprint or T-Mobile’s networks. After popping the SIM card into my phone, it even showed up as being Verizon Wireless.
I’ve only noticed a few drawbacks so far. First, my download speeds are limited to 5Mbps and uploads are capped at 2Mbps. I haven’t found this to be an issue for anything that I normally do, but others might. Second, they don’t offer a mobile hotspot options. I don’t use this often, but when I need it it’s helpful. From what I can tell, they don’t necessarily prevent you from using it, but could take action if they wanted to. Finally, and most important to me, there is no visual voicemail option. I liked being on other services where my voicemail would download to my phone and I could listen to it at my leisure. Now I have to dial in and enter my pin code in each time to listen to my messages. I know, first world problems, right?
If you’re using Verizon, or any other carrier and want to use the Verizon network, this may be an affordable alternative for you.
Have you used Total Wireless or have questions about switching? Let me know in the comments below.

March 2017 – Republic Wireless Bill

Republic Wireless Logo

The February payment to Republic Wireless was $24.81. We’re back to just 2 phones on the plan, so our bill is now back around its previous levels.

Breakdown

  • WiFi Only Phone – $5
  • Wife’s phone using Sprint’s network on the Refund Plan (512 MB Plan) – $17.50
  • Taxes – $3.26
  • Refund for unused data – ($.95)
  • Total – $24.81

I’ve changed my phone to use Total Wireless this month, which uses the Verizon Network. In fact, it even says “Verizon Wireless” when connected to the network. I’ll expand on it in another post, but for now, I haven’t went without a signal at all, but have found that sometimes I don’t have as strong a signal in certain places as I did when I was using Republic (T-Mobile).

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