It was still a little cold, but luckily it’s supposed to be around 75 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday. Don’t worry though because this awesome weather goes away and on Wednesday it is supposed to snow.
We plan on going to Elephant Rock (around 1.5 hours away) today, have you ever been? Do you know of any good hiking or outdoor spots in Missouri that we may be interested in?
We still have the squirrels. I’m sure everyone is annoyed of me talking about them, but it’s pretty much all I’ve been thinking about lately. I think we are going to ask for a refund from the pest company, because we thought the squirrels would have been gone by now and I’m really nervous that there are going to be babies soon.
Wes talked to a new person the other day (he used to work with this person at a different job) and he said he could get the squirrels the first day, and it sounded like he had a much better plan. Plus, this guy is going to do it for around $300 cheaper since he’s just going to do it on the side.
They are starting to get louder, and birds have moved into the soffits as well because they have destroyed so many, so now we are in an extreme rush to get them out.
It was another expensive week. Our annual personal property taxes for one of our cars came in, and it was expensive! It was over $1,000 just for the Jeep, and it didn’t even have the Camaro on it (it will be on next year’s personal property tax).
I also bought a new pair of running pants and a new pair of running shoes, because I haven’t done so in FOREVER. It’s probably been years since I’ve bought a good pair of running shoes, mainly because I was always so cheap about it before because I was never really committed to working out. However, I have now been working out almost religiously so I figured it’s time to splurge on a nice pair of pants and shoes.
We also bought a Sam’s Club membership and stocked up on a lot of food there. We noticed that a lot of things that we were wanting were significantly cheaper at Sam’s Club (we looked at their prices online) than the grocery stores near where we live.
For example, Sam’s Club had chicken for around $2.50 per pound, whereas at the grocery store near me it is usually $5 or $6 per pound. We were also able to save on many other food items (granola bars, nuts, fruit, drinks, etc.).
The membership was $100 though because we bought the “Plus” membership. They said we could get it refunded and get the cheaper membership for $100 if we found that we didn’t use it enough within the first year.
Do any of you have a Sam’s Club (or CostCo) membership? Have you found it useful?
Business has been really good in March so far, and I have a really good feeling about the rest of the month. I even have some short-term jobs (mainly short-term website management) already scheduled for April and May, which is awesome!
If anyone needs any help, check out my Hire Me page and let me know what services you are interested in.
I have been doing okay with being healthy, but I do think I could be doing a little bit better. I think I worked out two times last week, but that also doesn’t include the park walk (we walked our dog for over an hour) or the hour long bike ride over the weekend. I’m hoping to get back into the workout habit this week.
We also haven’t been doing the greatest with eating at home, which kind of stinks. If you have any delicious, but still healthy, recipes, please share them below! I just haven’t been in the cooking mood lately.
There are still so many things that we need to do. Our wedding is a little less than 3 months away now, and I can’t believe it. I still need to create a wedding website. If you were a wedding guest, what would you want to see?
I registered online at Target the other day, but we may head into Target to register for items that we know for a fact are in-store so that we don’t cause any problems for people who only like to shop in a store instead of online. I mainly registered for home office things because I couldn’t find anything else that we would need.
We are thinking about registering at REI as well, but a few people have told us that it is tacky and that we should only be registering for kitchen stuff. WE HAVE KITCHEN STUFF THOUGH!
Hello everyone! I have an article to share with you today from a fellow blogger. This article was written by Graham from moneystepper.com.
Moneystepper provides advice on taking small steps every day, which have a much bigger impact over the long-term. Daily posts cover every aspect of money, investing, saving, real estate, taxes & the economy: everything you need to increase your net wealth in the short, medium and long term.
When I first started taking more interest in personal finance, the learning was very theoretical. I used it all: personal finance blogs, money websites, podcasts, mainstream financial media, books, magazines, etc. Everything I read taught me something new.
All of my learning came down to two main ideas:
For the second part, I was provided with many practical techniques to increase my return. Whether in investments in property, shares, or many other asset classes, I discovered many ways to improve my ROI by 1% or 2%. I understood the massive impact that a 1% improvement could have. All good stuff, but something was missing.
What I was lacking was actionable advice related to saving more money. I knew from my research that it was integral to reduce spending. However, the advice which followed was either overly generic, or overly specific:
Therefore, I would like to share with you three simple tips that I actually use to reduce spending on things that I don’t actually NEED. You can start using all of these tips right now, and they apply to all forms of spending.
The first cheat I use is to understand the cost of spending (and earning) in terms of how long I will have to work based on my current wage to afford a certain item. For example, let’s imagine that you are considering going out for a meal tonight, which will cost you £40. How many hours do you need to work to pay for this meal?
1.1 Calculate your hourly take home pay
Your annual wage is currently £26,500.
The first part of this technique is to calculate your hourly take home pay. You may get paid hourly, which makes this easier. If you get paid annually, then you will have to calculate this figure.
For example, perhaps you contribute 5% to an employer pension and you are repaying your student loan.
Your annual take home pay is therefore approximately £18,230.
Assuming we work 230 days in the year, which is approximately the average in the UK, and we work 8 hours per working day (probably an underestimate for most), t our hourly wage is £10 per hour.
You only have to work this out each time that your salary or working hours change.
1.2 How many hours do you have to work to pay for the item
This is the easy part. Simply divide the cost by the hourly wage.
Before: £40 for the meal, why not?
After: £40 for the meal. I’m not working 4 whole hours (an entire morning at work) to pay for that meal. Get the oven on!!
Voilà, £40 saved!
In my opinion, the second strategy is slightly more complicated, but even more effective.
The idea is to calculate the cost of something now not at its current price, but instead at its future cost.
Let’s use the meal example again. Again, we have two choices.
2.1 Calculate your investment returns
I want the calculation to be easy to perform on the spot. Therefore, I use the rule of 72.
-The rule of 72 says that if you divide your annual interest rate into 72, this is the number of years it will take to double your money.
Based on the historical returns of financial markets, I’m going to assume that I can earn 9% on my investments. If we then consider average inflation of 4% in the long-term, we would obtain a 5% net return.
Therefore, I calculate 72 / 5 to determine that it will take approximately 14 to double my money.
2.2 Work out the number years until a significant date in the future
The most commonly used date (and the data I would suggest using) is a retirement date. I currently use the period between now and my state retirement age (which I estimate will be 70 years old when I reach retirement). Personally, this is 42 years.
I will, therefore, double my money three times before retirement. So, £1 invested today with double three times when I retire – £1 x 2 x 2 x 2 = £8.
2.3 Work out your future cost
When I calculate the cost of something now in future terms, based on my prior calculation, I need to multiply its cost now by 8 (2 x 2 x 2).
Instead of the fancy meal costing £40, the true future cost of that meal is £320!
Suddenly, I’m not so keen to go out tonight!
I said in the title that I used this technique when I wrote this post. Whilst writing this post, I was tempted by some expenditure. We were thinking about ordering a take away curry. It was Sunday night, I was pretty tired, I was VERY hungry. It had seemed that the stars had aligned. I went online and the takeaway special was £25. Not too bad. However, when I then applied this strategy and remembered that this was costing my future self £200, I couldn’t justify spending £200 on a takeaway.
If you use this on every purchase, you suddenly stop spending money on everything other than those things that you really need.
This strategy is slightly more common, but it is incredibly effective.
For any major expenditure (my limit is £30), I will not allow myself to purchase an item immediately. Instead, I always wait 30 days.
3.1 Write down your items on a list
Keep one single list. Each time you want to buy something major (whether it is home improvement, a new TV or some new clothing), write it down on the list with 3 things:
So, today, I wrote down “New shoes – £40 – 24/02/2014” on the list.
3.2 Choose one thing from your list
Then, after 30 days, if you still really want the item, then buy it. No more instant gratification. You will save money and you will appreciate the product that you have bought so much more.
3.3 Reset your list
This is the part of this technique that I use, that I have never seen written elsewhere. You may have noticed that in 3.1, I said “keep one single list”. This is because I add everything I want onto one single list. Then, when I am about to buy something, I have to choose the item which has been on the list for over 30 days, and I cross everything else off.
I then restart my list.
Therefore, I buy the new shoes, but I don’t buy the ipad and new coat that are also on the list. I decided that the shoes were the most important purchase and the others will have to wait.
I then start a new list and add the ipad back on (but not the coat as I have decided that I don’t really need it after all).
This part of the technique stops me writing down everything I want and giving myself the permission to buy everything 30 days after I have written it down.
I hope these methods help you. Let me know what you think of these methods? Do you already use any of them? What other methods do you use to help you restrict discretionary spending?
I will tell all of you my story now. I’m probably one of the worst people in the personal finance blogosphere when it comes to cars because of what I’m going to tell you below, but oh well!
If you are new here, we have a Camaro 2SS that we bought last year.
We also have a Jeep Wrangler that we bought around 1.5 years ago as well.
We also used to have a 1961 Chevy Apache (click here to see the pretty picture of it – I miss it a lot), but we sold it two months ago because of a lack of garage space.
We spend a lot of money on our cars, and I know that. It’s okay though, we love them We are car fanatics, and it is one of the things that we work on making extra money for so that we can afford them.
We truly do love our cars and we get a lot of joy out of them. We DO NOT have them so that we can keep up with the Joneses. In fact, I actually dislike talking about our cars because of the judgmental looks/thoughts that we usually get. Wes is a car guy, and it’s a hobby for him. I love my Jeep because WHO DOESN’T LOVE JEEPS?
Everyone has something that they enjoy spending their money on, and cars just so happens to be our enjoyment. Just like if you are a stamp or coin collector, spend money on clothes, spend money on traveling, spend money on eating out, etc., cars are our thing (but we like traveling too ).
I don’t think there is any “right” or “wrong” hobby for a single person, because no two people are exactly alike. If you can afford it, then why not?
However, cars are expensive, and I do realize that!
ANYWAY, to get back on topic, according to a survey done by AAA, the average annual car costs are around $7,000 to over $11,000 (depending on your car – for example, if you pick something in the Volvo car range then you will probably be spending less than an expensive sports car that gets 11 miles to the gallon).
Below are some of the common costs of owning a car.
Usually buying the actual car is the most expensive category when it comes to your car costs. You can buy a car for something such as $500 cash (you can’t guarantee that it will work for a long time – however, we did buy a car for $500 once and it lasted us for quite some time, and we were then even able to sell it to another person for $500), or you could buy a brand new car where the price can vary greatly.
Not all cars are equal, and this is where you researching different cars that you are interested in comes in.
Certain cars have higher fuel costs than others. Your car may take only premium gas or it may take unleaded. Your car may run on grease (I have seen this happen with a few older cars), and then your gas costs are very low since you can usually get free grease from restaurants.
Then there is also the associated cost when it comes to fuel mileage. Not all cars get the same fuel mileage, and this is something that you may want to look at when you are trying to determine which car is for you. Some cars may get less than 10 miles per gallon, and others may receive over 50 miles per gallon.
Lastly, when it comes to fuel costs, it also depends on how much you are driving. If you are driving 100 miles roundtrip each day, then your fuel costs will be much more than someone who drives one mile away to their job down the street.
We don’t spend much on our fuel costs anymore, since we are both working from home. However, we do like to leave every now and then, with our favorite being to drive to Forest Park (around a 30 mile roundtrip drive).
We spend around $150 to $200 a month on gas. We could definitely be spending less though.
This is one area that we don’t spend a lot in, even though we have expensive cars. Your car insurance could be something such as $30 a month, or it could be something like $500 a month. It depends on your car, your driving history and so on.
For us, we spend around $50 for each car, or $100 altogether each month for both of us to be fully insured on both cars. Definitely not bad, especially since others have similar cars to us and they are spending somewhere in the $250 to $500 range each month in car insurance.
We did have to shop around for car insurance though. I don’t remember the exact amount, but if we would have stayed with our original car insurance company, I believe we would have been spending around $400 to $450 a month to fully insure our two cars.
Certain cars cost more to maintain than other cars. It’s that plain and simple. One car may only take the best oil out there, which may come out to $100 and over for just one oil change. Other cars do just fine with cheaper oil changes, and you may be able to spend a cheap $20 changing your oil yourself.
Also, certain cars are built to last longer than others. Others are made very cheaply and something may break every few months.