Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cut Your Expenses! The Ones You Don't Have!

Classic example of why I'm writing this blog.

I picked up "You're Broke Because You Want To Be" by Larry Winget at the library the other day. He has some generally good advice as far as I've read, which is about halfway through the book.

I get to the chapter on "How to Cut Your Expenses and Increase Your Income", and I'm excited. The book's been decent so far, maybe he'll have some good tips! Here's what he says:

  • Give up cable TV. Save $100 a month!
  • Get a cheaper car. For example,  instead of one with a $900/mo payment, one with a $150-200/mo. payment.
  • Move. Somewhere cheaper.
  • Give up your high-speed internet.
  • Get rid of your home phone.
  • Get a new cell phone plan.
  • Cut your insurance expenses.
  • Stop eating out.
  • Stop going out.
  • Give up the salon.
  • Drop your gym membership.
  • Stop smoking.
That's it. These are great tips....if you're already a wealthy middle-class overspender. But excuse me for being responsible. Let me run through those again:
  • Give up cable TV. Are you kidding me? I've never even HAD cable TV in order to give it up!
  • Get a cheaper car. You mean one that's cheaper than my (paid-for) $2,500 Civic? Maybe you have a free one you'll give me?
  • Move. Good advice, except I paid $70k for a fixer-upper, and my mortgage is lower than anywhere I could possibly rent.
  • Give up your high-speed internet. I pay 21.95 per month for non-high-speed internet service. I suppose I could cancel it.
  • Get rid of your home phone. You mean my only regular phone?
  • Get a new cell phone plan. As opposed to the tracfone that I have only because my pizza delivery job requires that I have it. The one that I buy the minimum possible minutes for-- ultimately less than $7/month....?
  • Cut your insurance expenses. Check and check. We did this what seems like ages ago. Our auto insurance agent was super helpful telling us what reductions in coverage would net the most reduction in premiums, and our homeowners' insurance deductible is as large as our emergency fund.
  • Stop eating out. This assumes we eat out in the first place. Which we don't.
  • Stop going out. Because going out for drinks with your co-workers or friends doesn't count as eating out...
  • Give up the salon. Right. I'll call my stylist immediately and inform him/her that we won't be coming in. They'll be super-confused, since neither I nor my wife ever go anyway.
  • Drop your gym membership. Yes, the one I don't have...
  • Stop smoking. Good advice for smokers, I guess.

So much for cutting my expenses. Maybe he'll have better advice on how to increase my income. I hope so.


How to increase my income? Get a second job. Oh. Right.


Reasonably sound advice in the end, though:
  1. Know where you are.
  2. Take responsibility for the situation.
  3. Feel bad about it. Experience remorse.
  4. Make the decision for things to be different.
  5. Know exactly what you want your life to look like.
  6. Create an action plan to get there.
  7. Know what you are willing to give up to get what you want.
  8. Spend less than you earn.
  9. Figure out ways to earn more.
  10. Stop all unnecessary spending.
  11. Pay off debts as quickly as possible and only go into debt for things with long-term value.
  12. Build a cushion. Save!

All of which I'm already doing. As far as I know. I just want to do it better. WAY better.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Mean Retire.

My goal: Retire in 10 years.

By "retire", I don't mean "do nothing". I don't mean "party all the time". I don't mean that my standard of living will go up. I don't even mean "stop working".

What I do mean is that I will be able to quit my day job, and not worry about how to pay for my family's basic living necessities-- housing, food, warmth, light, etc. What I do mean is that I will have the time to do work (and play) that I enjoy. What I do mean is that I will do work that I want, rather than work that I must. What I do mean is that I won't be tied down to live somewhere I don't want to live, just because "my job is there" or "I still have a mortgage to pay on our house."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

More Money.

I'm richer now. I think.

Late last year, I told my boss at the grocery store that I would only be available to work three days per week-- monday, tuesday, and wednesday. I then got myself hired to work evenings/nights delivering pizzas the rest of the week-- thursday through sunday.

I haven't taken the time to compare exactly my (average) income now to what it was before, but I feel like it's more. This is the income level I'm working with, starting this year.

You'll get to see how much I make each month, where it comes from, where it goes, and what I plan to do with it. For now, let me catch you up on this year:

(Net) Income: $2,241
Spending: $1,579

(Net) Income: $3,276
Spending: $2,077

(Net) Income: $3,953
Spending: $2,079

I don't know why March and February are so high. I promise I'm not doing something else on the side. Tips were especially good-- I don't know what else to attribute it to.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I'm Not Rich, Guys.

There are a lot of people who write about achieving financial independence, and that's great. But I have yet to see one for whom I am the target demographic. You see, I'm technically "poor". All too often, I'll read a great personal finance book or blog or article, and they'll suggest a hypothetical situation just to show how their plan works. Invariably, it goes something like this:

"Let's assume you make $50,000 per year, and every two years or so, you get a raise...."

What? I can't hear you over your nuclear explosion of cash. If I had that income level, of course I could retire early! But I don't. I work at a grocery store. I make $2,500 per month on a good month. If I got full-time hours that month. If I had an extra payday that month. If I'm at journeyman pay rate (which I am *whew*). If I don't have a good month, if I don't have full hours (and I don't always), then I only have something like I did last April-- $1,820.88. Or less. In 2013, I had a total of $26,000 of income to work with. In 2012, I had $24,000. In 2011-- $22,500. There's no employer-matched 401k, a little bit of paid vacation hours (which are cashed out every year, and included in the figures I just quoted), and about $350-700 per year in some form of Health Savings Account in conjunction with the health insurance plan.

So I'm writing this blog. For me. Because I want there to be more helpful information for people like me. I'm good with money. I live on less than what I make. I don't need help making a budget. I don't need welfare to pay the bills. But I want to get ahead, and I want to do more than work 9 hours a day at a job I don't really like.

I'm going to retire in ten years. This blog is about how I'm doing that.
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.