Thursday, August 7, 2014

July Riches.

Hooray for five-paycheck months! I feel like a rich person this month, just wondering where it all came from.

QFC:        $1,592
Domino's:  $1,220
Odd Jobs:    $100
Tips:            $871

Total:        $3,783

Of course, in those numbers there's an extra $300 from QFC, and an extra $400 from Domino's. It all goes into savings-- we actually were able to move a whole $2,000 into savings savings for July!

We spent $210 on food, which is pretty good considering that we bought over $55 of nuts (stocking up at Costco), and about twenty boxes of pasta ($0.75/box!).

There have been a lot of fun trips to the lake and the beach this month, as the weather has been clear and sunny and perfect for playing in the water. The only cost of these activities has been out of the gas budget, which is perfect, and the Fund Kiddos love splashing and throwing rocks and wading. Unfortunately, weather for the Independence Day parade was less than spectacular, so we missed that.

I re-worked some electrical outlets in the living room, so that we can re-do the flooring-- spent maybe $45, compared to the $400 that the electrician quoted me ($115 an hour? Ay-ay-ay....).

We did have to pay our homeowner's insurance this month, so that was $553 of spending, but it wasn't unexpected and we'd been saving up for it.

In other news, the battery in the blue Civic died. Dead. We had to spend a majority of the funds in the Auto Maintenance budget; I know we'll be needing a set of tires for the silver Civic, so I've been trying to be extra-frugal in this area, and it was kind of disappointing to be set back. At least we didn't have to overspend our reserves, though; it's just discouraging that they're back to only $25.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Sorry there was no update last week. I've been both busy and lazy.

Last Saturday, I earned an extra $100! One of my regular customers needed someone to do (easy) handy chores in his yard, and wanted to know if I'd be willing to work for him and how much I'd charge per hour. I said that I'd want to make at least what I was making at the grocery store ($15/hour); he said he was thinking more like $20/hour. I said that was okay by me!

So I did 5 hours of pretty easy work (though hot, as it was a sunny day and none of the work was in the shade) replacing some lattice panels, painting the small arbor framing, and a couple other little things.

He also wants me to work for him again this coming weekend. That extra money will definitely help fund the Fund.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Utilities (The Budget, #4)

We live in the city, so we are billed for all our utilities through the City public works department. For our budget, "utilities" means

Electric There is a base charge of $16.77, and then on top of that we pay $0.0674/KwH. This is the largest single factor in our utility bill, and the most variable. We've done a few things to keep it generally low. We have fluorescent lights in the kitchen and dining room, LED lights in the living room; the bathroom is the only other room that regularly has lights on-- I'm planning on swapping out the incandescent bulbs for LED when they finally burn out. The water heater is set at the lowest possible setting (I think it's 115°F). We don't have an A/C unit, so there's no power wasted there; heating is all electric baseboard heaters, which aren't the greatest, but we try to keep the heat off or low as much as possible.

Water The majority of the water cost is in the flat-rate surcharge ($28.22), the variable rate ($0.02/CF) adding maybe $7-13 a month. So, while we do have a 2.5gpm showerhead, I don't worry too much about water usage except to try to keep it under 429 cubic feet/month, because usage above that rate-tier bumps up the cost per unit AND bumps the sewer rate to the next tier...

Sewer A flat rate for sewer usage, based on the volume of water used-- under 429 cubic feet, and it's $61.95/month, if we use more water than that it is priced at the next tier which is way more expensive (I think we did once, and I was not happy with the cost...).

Garbage We have the option to have our garbage can emptied weekly or every other week. Of course, less often = less expensive, and as a bonus, they give us the largest available residential dumpster size (96 gallon). We'll often forget to put it out on time, and it will often still not be full after a month. Every other week service is a flat rate of $18.50/month.

City Taxes Our city provides free fire and emergency medical (ambulance) services, for which we pay a few dollars every month. We also pay some tax for when the sewer system overflows (during heavy rains, etc.); a little tax on garbage; a few dollars for a study they're doing about the sludge in the harbour (or something like that); and a little bit for general city operations. All told, $11.38 every month.

And that's it. There are a few things we could do better, I guess-- we could find a clothesline instead of using the dryer-- but Mrs. Fund already hates doing the laundry, and the dryer makes that chore less of a chore. I've thought about a drying rack, but...neither of us wants to have to pick ALL the clothes up after the two little Fund toddlers pull it over.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We Saved $99 Next Year

Update on our homeowner's insurance policy!

I called Allstate and asked what the difference in the annual premium would be if we changed our deductible from $3,000 to $5,000. Answer: $99!

We have enough in our emergency fund to cover the larger deductible, so we won't be overspent if the trees decide fall on the house. I feel reasonably safe in thinking that the house is not going to break, so I'm willing to make sure to keep the emergency fund higher than normal to save almost $100 per year.

$100 in a year will let us reduce the budget by $8 every month. Or we may re-adjust that $8 into another budget category. I would hate having a budget of $1,792, so I'll probably rearrange something, though I might see if there are some other categories that can be trimmed so that we could add a few cuts together to reduce the total by a nice, round amount. I know auto insurance is coming up and might possibly be lower... we'll see.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In June...

Sorry the June totals are late. I've been lazy (and busy, but mostly lazy). We totalled everything up and got to move another $1,000 over to savings! Here are the income numbers:

QFC:        $1,367
Domino's:     $815
Tips:            $897

Total:        $3,080

Got full three-day workweeks at the Q, which was both good and not good. Good because, you know, lots of hours. Not so good because we're super short-handed due to two employees quitting and one transferring. So even working only three days a week, I got some overtime; plus pay for Memorial Day, which was nice.

The new phone service with Republic Wireless is working just fine so far. Century Link is officially cancelled now, and I really like the fact that the phone bill will be under $10 every month from here on out.

We went to the (Point Defiance) Zoo which the kids thought was absolutely great! $37.35 spent out of the activity budget, which is totally fine because we almost always find free activities to do, so it's been collecting up for a long while. Had to fill up the gas tank while we were in Tacoma, and we were both pleasantly surprised to see we had been getting 36 mpg.

Lots of fun (free) stuff planned for July, now that it's starting to be consistently sunny and sometimes even hot. Going to the beach, the lake, riding bikes, the local 4th of July parade, and maybe even some picnicking.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homeowners Insurance (The Budget, #3)

Currently, we budget $55 per month-- $660 a year. We insure our house with Allstate, for no other reason than they gave the best quote when we shopped around. There aren't a whole lot of things that I know of  that can lower this insurance premium, but here's what we did.

Our premium used to be over $900 per year; I wanted to get it as low as possible, so Mrs. Fund agreed that I could increase the deductible IF we also increased the emergency fund to match. So we did. We went from a $1,000 deductible to a $3,000 deductible, and that saved us on the premium. If you live in a high-risk area or own a high-risk home, this may not be the best choice for you, but for our house that isn't going to fall down or blow up or get flooded, it's a good place for us to cut back some monthly cashflow.

Maybe I should check into increasing the deductible again. What do you think? Any tips on how to reduce this expense?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An Out Of Budget Experience

We sometimes spend money that's not in the budget. *Gasp*

In May, we had a trip to the mall, shoe shopping. It's a 90 minute drive from home-- so for us, it's an all-day affair-- we packed some snacks and lunch for the kids, went shopping found some shoes (Yay!), and then went to Costco. We got gas, then went inside and wandered around, snacked on samples, browsed the aisles, and then Mrs. Fund and I ordered hot dogs for lunch/dinner.

The gas came out of the gasoline budget, the shoes came out of the clothing budget, and the hot dogs....didn't come out of any budget. At least, not exactly. We rarely eat out, and for the rare times that we do, we'll often use what we call "The Eating Out Fund" (though we could legitimately use the Activity budget category). Occasionally, I'll make a pie or cookies for a co-worker-- I usually charge $10 for a pie and $6-8 for a baker's dozen of large cookies. This money goes into the Eating Out Fund, for times when we want to splurge on eating out or some specialty/expensive/frivolous food. It is cash only, it's not in the bank, and if it's gone, it's gone; there's no real easy way to overspend it. It also doesn't get any very regular contributions-- if I make pies/cookies then it has money, and if not, then...nothing.

When we bought a new car-- while [i]technically[/i] I think this would/should come out of the auto maintenance budget category... it's such a large purchase, and much more like an investment or a capital expenditure than an expense, that it comes out of non-budget money (i.e., savings).

I ordered a CD player for the new car. Normally, this would be auto maintenance, except that I'm too cheap and if it actually had to come out of the budget, I'd just forgo the stereo. But when I first started delivering pizza, we ended up with a funky quarter-month's worth of tips. I wanted to start accounting for the new job and income situation with a whole month. So for a while, there was just an envelope with about $75 in it, hiding in the desk with no purpose. When I was told that I needed a cell phone as a delivery driver, I figured I'd designate that envelope for stuff that I should have for working at Domino's. So I bought a $10 Tracfone, and finally (6 months later...) found a CD player for the car-- a cost that came out of that envelope rather than any of the real budget. It's kind of like the eating out fund, in that when it's gone, it'll be gone. I'm hoping to stretch it out to pick up a nice car flashlight/spotlight, a good pair of sunglasses, and possibly a fuel economy gauge....

Sometimes, for our birthdays, we are given money-- this also doesn't normally go in the budget. We've been using it as "date night" money that we can spend on just Mr. & Mrs. Fund. When the Fund Kiddos receive money for their birthdays, it goes in their savings accounts.

What do you spend that isn't in the budget? How do you keep it from getting out of control?
It seems like everyone else has a disclaimer, so here you go. Consider yourself disclaimed. All I'm claiming is that I only claim what I claim I claim, and disclaim other claims I haven't claimed.

Does "claim" sound weird in your head now? It does in mine.