I’ll Never Be a Frugal Blogger

I’m what you might call a bad personal finance blogger. Or maybe just a bad frugal blogger (never said I was a frugal blogger though!) Anyways, yup, I said it. I like nice (and brand new) cars, big houses, vacations, cable and premium TV, and everything else. I don’t really talk about using coupons a whole lot either. I also use loans to my advantage by obtaining low interest rates (such as 0%) instead of paying for things with cash when I have the cash available.

Some of the things that I just wrote seem to be things that some bloggers and readers might frown upon. Yes, I would like to retire early and not have to worry about money. However, I do like buying things and having nice things also. For me, I don’t see it as me trying to keep up with the Joneses, I see it as I work hard for my money, so why not enjoy myself? I’m not the type of person who wants to retire early by being extremely cheap with everything that I do (no offense to those who do this).

I am not perfect, and if I have the income to support the things that I want, then why not? I’m all about increasing my extra income, and a lot of it is used to pay down my $38,000 student loan debt. After that is gone, a lot of it will be funneled towards savings but also for fun things in my life. I hope you all do not hate me by the end of this post by the way.

A couple of months ago I talked about my Budget Busters and My Plans. There are a lot of things on this list that I will be spending money on in the next 18 months. Big wedding? CHECK. Big house? CHECK. Paying off student loans? CHECK. Vacations? CHECK CHECK CHECK. Oh yeah and I plan on getting a new car also.

These girls said it best

These girls said it best

I agree with Cait and Leslie. Even though I am definitely not a frugal blogger, I am money conscious and watch my spending. I manage my money well (at least I think so) and make sure that I am able to pay all of my bills. I also make sure that my spending and expenses equal less than 50% of our income.

Yes, I have made mistakes. Probably way too many money mistakes, but I am human, and it happens. I do think frugal bloggers are awesome though. If you are able to save even more money, then why not? That’s awesome!

Being a personal finance blogger to me is not always about saving as much money as you can. It’s about enjoying life and reaching true happiness. If I’m happy with what I spend my money on and have a realistic game plan for retirement, etc., then I’m happy.

I like nice cars and I cannot lie :)

Right now my car is okay, not the greatest. But I haven’t told most of you guys something – I plan on buying a new car this spring. Yes, I do realize we just bought the Jeep last summer. And yes I remember that a lot of you were not happy with that purchase. But that’s why I blog! I rely on you guys to keep me in check. If it wasn’t for my blog, I probably wouldn’t think twice. With my blog I’m always double thinking my purchases and trying to think of what others would do.

W now works at a car dealership. He can get me a good deal. And while it’s not the most luxurious, I have been looking at the 2013 Chevy Cruze. He can get us pretty much the at-cost price (this is below MSRP, invoice, employee discount, etc.).

Up until last week, I’m not going to deny it, I was dead set on the 2013 Camaro 2SS. Yes, not the base model or even an SS. I was thinking about the super expensive one that is above all of that. The price was around $40,000 with the extras that I wanted (would be even more expensive if I wanted all of the extras). However, I kept thinking about the bad gas mileage it gets and how the Cruze gets around 2 times better gas mileage (38-42 for the Cruze versus approximately 20 or less for the Camaro).

P.S. Jen recently posted about how she bought a BRAND NEW BMW, I’m so jealous. With careful planning, just because you spend money on a new car does not make you bad with money. Haven’t seen any finance bloggers buy a brand new BMW yet :)

I like houses that are probably a little too big

I really want a new house, and W and I decided that 2014 is the year. We bought the house that we currently live in when we were at the young and at the not-so-smart age of 20, and we are ready for something nicer. And bigger.

We decided that we want a decent sized house. Preferably two stories, around 3,000 square feet, with a finished basement, large fenced in backyard, and so on. Right now our house is okay, and yes we could do with less space, but I do believe we would be happier with a nicer house. And if we can afford it, then why not?

I know that for a lot of people, a $300,000 or $400,000 house might be average because of the places that you live (NYC, LA, Vancouver), but in the Midwest, it usually buys a pretty nice house. You can have a pool if you want, half an acre of land, and a brand new 3,500 square foot house. And this is pretty much what I want.

Vacations are always nice and worth it

I like vacations. We all know this though, no surprises here.

Not everyone thinks vacations are bad, but I know that some may think it’s not a good idea to do this when you have student loans. I’ve had great vacations and haven’t regretted a single one.

Cable TV is always fun

My cable bill is around $60. We have HBO and a lot of other channels. Would I give this up? NO! I’m fine with watching it on TV the second it comes out and spending extra money on this.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of cable. It’s a relatively cheap form of entertainment and an easy way to relax. And I’m addicted to reality TV shows that I probably shouldn’t name.

Are there things that you want in life like me?

What splurges do you have in life?

Cheap or Frugal

I am cheap in many ways. I need to learn how to buy things for quality over quantity.

As you all know, last week I asked you all on Twitter if $70 was too cheap for unclogging our kitchen drain. A lot of you said it seemed cheap. I wasn’t sure because last year we easily found a plumber for $90 to unclog our bathroom sink.

Well of course it turns out that $70 is way too cheap. I chose cheapness over quality workmanship.

The $70 plumbers were young. The owner of the plumbing company was only 2 years older than me (yes I Facebook creeped). They also weren’t as knowledgeable as the plumbers who came to fix their mess.

We finally finished all of the plumbing yesterday. The new plumber we hired (who is our friend) came over and we decided to replace the rest of the copper piping in our house and it ended up costing $300 altogether. We still need to fix the wall and hire someone to patch it back in, but that won’t cost too too much.

If I would have kept searching for a plumber who had a good reputation, I most likely could have avoided all of this. But I am glad it’s all done! If the dumb plumbers wouldn’t have messed up, then we wouldn’t have noticed that our other pipes needed to be replaced within the next year. So thankfully we got to find out before our walls flooded from a busted pipe.

We found out that we do have roots growing in our pipe (the part of the pipe which is under the basement). The plumber said this is a common problem in many houses nowadays. Anyone else ever had to deal with this?

Another cheap thing that I’m guilty of is that I buy a lot of clothes from Forever 21. The clothes are cute, but not things that I’d wear for multiple years. The quality stinks and doesn’t last long, and usually the items aren’t “classic” pieces which will always look good.

This is something that I need to stop! Cheap clothing overtakes my closet but I should be going to better stores. I need to learn from Bridget badly!

Other things that I do that are cheap and definitely not frugal nor healthy, is that when I can’t find something healthy to make, sometimes I’ll just throw random crap in a bag for my work lunch and eat it all. It’s usually extremely random things and lots of unhealthy things such as lots of different chips.

This is definitely cheap. I’m foregoing my health for a couple of dollars of savings. I don’t do this often, but every now and then.

I consider myself not cheap (but yet still frugal) in many ways:

  1. I always make sure to tip well. I would never be so cheap as to where I leave minimal or $0 tips.
  2. I will always buy higher quality food for my dogs. They are worth it.
  3. I always take good care of my car. I want it to last awhile and that means that I have to take care of it.
  4. I always fall for warranties. This is something that’s bad though (and NOT frugal). I feel like items always break when I buy warranties for them, but when I decide not to buy one, they break immediately. So now I always buy the extra insurance (such as for a rental car).
  5. I do buy quality electronics and other items. Such as TV’s, cars, phones, etc. I do believe cheap and good quality items are worth it (except of course I need to learn for clothes).
Are you cheap or frugal? What are some cheap or frugal things you do?

How We’ve Cut Our Budget

While we haven’t found many new ways to cut some expenses out of our lives, there are many things that we have done. Every little bit adds up.

One thing that I don’t like when people talk about budgets is when they say “cut out the Starbucks everyday”, while I’m not a major Starbucks drinker (I get migraines from coffee and too much caffeine), if someone could do this, then they would’ve done this already (hopefully). I don’t think I have too many daily habits, so cutting something out everyday like Starbucks won’t work anymore.  The things that I have done are realistic for me.

Ways that we have lowered our budget:

  1. Stop Eating out as much- We have significantly lowered our eating out budget. We used to spend more than $1,000 on food every month. It was ridiculous. I am extremely ashamed by this number, and that’s the reason that I haven’t listed this number too many times on my blog. You can find the exact number that we used to spend by searching blog posts, but I feel stupid sharing it directly. We would eat out everyday (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I hardly ever cooked.
    • We used to have exact opposite schedules (whereas now are schedules are still off, but before, he would start work when I was going to bed) so this made it harder for us to eat meals because we were so busy that we would always eat on the go.
    • Now we find time to cook and have fun with it!
    • I’m going to guess that we’re saving around $800 per month now.
    • When we do go out, we try and use a Restaurant.com, even though we tend to go to a lot of Mexican restaurants, but hey they’re cheap!
  2. Meal Plan -This has helped us save money by having less food spoilage, and has also helped us save time. We are also more aware of what we already have at the house, and then we can plan meals more easily around what we already have. This coupled with above has saved us a lot of money.
  3. Cut our entertainment expense - Long gone are the days when we would spend tons on entertainment. We still spend some, but we are saving a lot.
  4. Lower Cell phone Plan -I recently lowered our cell phone by around $10 a month. Not a significant savings, but at $120 a year, it adds up. Also, we haven’t limited our phone usage by doing this. We had almost 6,000 rollover minutes, so obviously we weren’t calling people enough. And, I just checked our usage, and our plan is still too high for us, but now we are on the lowest plan, so there’s no more cutting in this area.
  5. Stop buying new cars -After I pay off my car loan in the next couple of days, I will have around $400 extra per month. What a great feeling!
  6. Unplug and watch electricity usage - We have greatly watched our electricity usage, and it used to be around $100 a month, but now it’s less than $50 nearly every month (except in the summer time). I’m going to guess our savings are around $300 per year.
  7. Lower Cable package -  We lowed our package. I can’t remember exactly how much this saved us, but I think it was $24 a month. We ordered HBO back because we were sad without TrueBlood, Boardwalk Empire, etc, so this added an extra $15 to our bill every month. Savings of $108 per year.
  8. We canceled Blockbuster Express – while it was only around $15 a month, we weren’t using it. Waiting for a movie to get to our door was too long.
  9. Car Insurance – I increased our deductible and save a couple hundred every year. Our car insurance rates are already extremely low (Less than $400 every 6 months for my fully-covered 2008 car) and I’ve never been in an at-fault accident, so I lowered it.
By doing these things, we have cut out approximately:
$15,308 per year or $1,276 per month

All of the things above are going to sound materialistic, but it’s true.  We were definitely wasting money before, but thankfully that did not go on for too long.  The majority of our budget killers were food and my car. I’m so happy that’s over with!

And another thing to add to this! When I got home last night, I noticed a bunch of letters from our mortgage lender and it turns out that they over charged us $270 last year (they sent us a letter last year saying that they were undercharging us, but it turned out that they were wrong), and we got another letter saying that our mortgage payment is being lowered by $64 a month! WHOO HOO

Even with all of these ways that we cut our budget, we are still living the exact same lives. We aren’t any less happy, more sad, or anything else. We are also much healthier now that we have been eating at home.

Since we have all of these savings every month, I am able to pay down my student loan debt faster, whereas before I barely even touched it.

In the next couple of days I plan on posting ways that we could possibly continue to cut, so watch out for that!

What could you cut out?