Still chipping away

Sorry it’s been a little while since I’ve posted. Everything is going great bill wise, I finally have my wife really on board with getting the house paid off early as well. She pays her last credit card off in May and then her plan is to help me put more towards the principal on the house. Each of us has been putting an extra $250 for a little while and she’s going to bump hers up.

Our next door neighbors are putting their house on the market in a few days so we’re really looking forward to what they actually get for it. They said they were listing it for $259k but the realtor said that there have been a lot of bidders’ wars lately and they may get $265k-$270k for it. The great thing about this is that the building is an old brownstone from around 1910 and we have the other half. So realistically our house should get whatever they are asking if not more. They were saying that ours was the last remodeled and actually had some upgrades that the other houses didn’t have. If there is a bidding war for their house we’re thinking about maybe putting it on the market while it’s hot and selling the house and getting an apartment for a little while. We could either invest the money in some land or hold onto it for up to a year to see if we find a place we really like. I think if we hold on to it and the market takes a dive again we’ll be bummed out we didn’t do anything when we had the chance to maybe make $70k-$80k.

We do know that once their house sells we’re calling up the bank to let them know so they can drop the PMI we have on the house. That money would turn around and go straight to principal, but an extra $70 a month towards principal helps.

We’ve also decided to do some exposed brick in a couple of the rooms where we have some plaster damage/issues and we still want to put in our working fireplace, something else none of the other houses have. There are other upgrades we want to do to the house and some issues that need to be addressed but I think our house would do really well with a fresh coat of paint and some minor maintenance.

So bills are looking great and one of the best things that I did was change my work IRA from a Roth to a Traditional. We had someone bring it up to us and when we looked at the numbers it made a huge difference. We did some research for tax reasons and found out that (based on our age and income) that we should be doing a traditional IRA right now because we’re in a pretty high tax bracket and it would be better for us to get the tax deferred right now as opposed to later when we’ll be a in a lower tax bracket since both of us will be retired when we start pulling money out. We had a spreadsheet that did everything and we’re counting on the fact that tax rates shouldn’t be crazy in the future. Once we changed everything I was able to put more money away and my paychecks were only slightly lower because my taxable income was obviously less. I’m investing about $110 more per paycheck but with taxes, my pay has only gone down about $60 per paycheck. So before I would give $81 per check and get matched that same amount plus an extra $27 for a total of $190. Now I do $190 by myself, they match up to $111 and the $27 for a total around $330 every two weeks. Luckily my wife’s company does matching as well so she gives about $400 every two weeks and gets matched a percentage.

Other than that work has been really good, the team I’m on has a couple of work trips coming up and I’m getting a bonus this year, nothing amazing but any extra money is good and it will all go towards bills. I’m also taking a certification test for my career field and while it doesn’t make me promotable in my current position there is a lot of potential in other places. I’ve been studying for it and have 3 months before I test so the next couple of months will include my studying on a nightly basis for an hour or so in hopes of passing this exam. Ash and I have also been working on our Rosetta Stone French. There are 5 levels and I told her that once we both get to level 4 we’ll book a trip to France for a vacation. My mom replied to that saying that enough people speak English over there so we don’t need to wait but I think she was missing the point of learning another language and going over there as an educated visitor as opposed to a tourist. Plus having a second language is always a good skill to have and could possibly open the door for other opportunities.

That’s it, don’t have my balance info to put on this sheet but doing good with paying the bills. We actually got a refund from Uncle Sam this year but they sent us a letter saying that they were putting our refund to our taxes that we are still paying on from last year.  Was kind of crappy to see that because my plan was to pay off two of my bills with the refund since my tax money comes out automatically. In the end it all works out the same, once taxes are done they’ll stop taking $350 a month from my checking account and that money will go to the house as well.

 

 

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Taxes and the IRS

So we had a little stumble this week. We received a letter from the IRS saying we owe $2250 in back taxes from 2014.During next tax season we’ll actually refile and hopefully get some of that back, hopefully. The good news is they gave us until 14 November to pay (yeah, not really good). So since I was close to paying off my credit card it looks like I’ll have to put that amount on it. I guess if there is a silver lining it’s that by putting all my paycheck on my card it really did keep from spending money on anything else unless it was a necessity. I’ll keep doing this and I know this will only set me back about 2 months.

For the month of October I put $1,725 towards my card. I did use it, but certainly didn’t use it like it was cash.I also have a $600 payment scheduled for the 1st of November and a $1,000 scheduled for the 4th. Then depending on what I needed to finish it off would’ve been from my paycheck on the 18th. Now it seems like all of my 18th paycheck will go and I’ll just keep chopping away at it.

Awesome time of year

So the weather just started getting cooler which is nice because it means for one, maybe two months, we can keep our windows open instead of running the AC. The AC is one of Ash’s bills but I obviously want to help her as much as possible. We dropped our AT&T for internet and TV and went with Charter. That saved her a little over $100 a month and the cool thing with Charter is that there are no contracts so we can drop them whenever but they locked us into the current rate for 3 years which is unheard of and we can cancel at any time. She also dropped our membership at the gym (which we haven’t used in a while) and another one of her monthly subscription services. All in all she’ll be saving an extra $200 a month now which is awesome.

I’ve been doing really good with my budget and I’ve been knockout out bills and just trying to be healthier and spend more time with the wife and dogs. We actually noticed that by both of us cooking and doing what we’re doing we actually have more quality time together and we’ve been drinking a whole lot less (not that we were bad before). We did go to a local cocktail bar this weekend but limited ourselves to three drinks each. The bartender was super cool and gave us the recipe for one of our favorite drinks on their menu. We had most of the ingredients but still need one before we can make them at the house, but it beats spending $8-$10 a drink down the street.

We did our shopping at Costco this weekend and unfortunately she didn’t have a lot of money in her account at the time so I picked up that huge tab. The total was $240 something but we stocked up on all of our protein for all of our meals for the next month. The main thing that she needs to get or worry about now for meals are the little things. So for breakfast I usually make my eggs in a muffin tin, 1 per tin, that I scramble up before dumping on top of some ham and cheese or sausage and cheese, this week was ham and cheese to use the last of my ham up. So I usually get my hash browns at the store in the refrigerated section but I figured I would try the Golden Grill hash browns that they have at Costco. I was actually really hesitant but when I got home and read the reviews I was really happy, and taste wise they are really good. They are at Costco for $6.99 for the 8 pack and and although it says 7 servings per container I only got 4 servings but that is perfect me. So that comes out to $0.28 a day for me and I got our eggs from Costco as well so my breakfast each day comes out to about $0.60.

With any luck I should be able to get an extra $200-$250 towards my credit card with what I have left after everything is budgeted for.

The Bills

Revolving Debt: $6,445.76 (last month $7,214.93)

Vehicle: $13,056.92 (last month $13,578.77)

House: $190,073.17 (last month $190,908.72)

Total: $209,575.85 (last month $211,703.42)

Difference: $2,127.57

 

 

It will drive you bats, literally

Ash and I have had a great month so far with our budgeting and meal prepping, etc. So our plan yesterday was to go Costco to do some shopping when I got a wild hair to clean the chimney. We bought our house a few years ago and the chimney has been blocked the entire time and in front of the chimney sits an old metal cover pictured below. So we noticed an unpleasant smell coming from the fireplace so I decided to take the cover off and see what was going on. Well the previous owner in all of his wisdom decided to block the chimney with some comforters, plastic rolls, cardboard boxes and a couple of 2×4’s that served no purpose at all. So I had to pull them all of that crap out along with some bat poop that was at the top of that heap. After that we had to go into super clean mode and sanitize everything in the living room, wearing me out and ruining our day.

Our metal cover, looks cool but we’re getting a gas fireplace insert installed so we’ll see how it works this winter as far as it directs heat, etc.

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After that and a shower all I wanted was a beer so we went to our local watering hole and had one beer and some food before I just wanted to go home. My stomach was jacked from 4 cups of coffee and very little for breakfast. Needless to say our day was ruined and I was in bed by 9:30 Saturday night after watching some Star Wars on TV.

So Sunday we planned to do our food preps for the week that included chicken marinated in some chili spices with a side of black beans, spicy Mexican rice, and some grilled peppers and onions. Breakfast was my usual eggs with hash browns. The funny thing with that is everyone loves the smell of the hash browns when I walk back to my desk after I zap my breakfast.

The lunches…delicious and only $3.00 per serving for me and half of that for her since she does half of the rice and chicken.

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Sunday we took the dogs around the corner to a fest that was going on and they loved it. Poor Charlie wore himself out though trying to pull me through the crowd and having the kids pet him. They had a lot of water stations set up for dogs but he was still wiped out. At one point he laid down underneath a bush to chill. After that we took him home and filled up the kiddie pool so he could cool off there.

I’ve found a couple of websites where I’ve seen some families of 4 make all of their meals for the week for $30 which is great but we’re still nowhere close to that. I think since we’re trying to figure out what meals we want to do and what recipes work for meal prepping it will be a little while before we get there.This week was good though we did it fairly cheap.

The month isn’t over yet but we cut our going out for dinner money quite a bit. I spent about $600 less this month than last month and I know she saved even more. I think between us we spent easily $1,000 less than last month on going out. I paid off my Homeowner’s association dues so that $158 a month will go to my snowball and I that will give me $650 a month towards a bill; that should be paid off by December.

I negotiated with AT&T this morning on our cable and internet bill. I had actually signed up for Sling TV and was using the 7 day free trial when we decided we were going to cancel our TV with AT&T when they miraculously dropped our bill by $70 a month for the next year. This works out great because as willing as I was to go to Sling I was really going to miss some of my news channels. I hope in the next year Sling picks up the live news channels, Fox news, MSNBC, etc. Other than that I thought they had a great package selection and we were ready to do it.

Ash was kind of reluctant in the beginning with me watching the money as close as I do. Last night when I figured out what meals were for the week she laughed but when I told her she was paying about 80%-90% less for her lunches she gave a quick acknowledgment. I don’t want us to make sure every penny is accounted for, I just want to make sure we have enough to do the things we want.

So food, bat poop, and a paid off bill. There were highs and lows this month for sure and we still have a few days to go but the wife and I both put $250 each towards principal on the house and I put over $2,000 towards debt this month which accounted for 37% of where my money went. Cool thing is we spend more time together doing more family oriented things now since we cook together, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

The Society

So tomorrow is the last day to renew my local brewery beer Society membership…and chances are I won’t be doing it. The Society releases a series of barrel-aged beers throughout the year. Last year was the inaugural year and I was able to join; current members have priority when the new year comes up for renewing their membership, but at $300 it’s pretty hard to justify it right now. I told the wife that I have the money but it would leave me kind of short for the rest of the month and that is exactly what I’m trying to get away from. Right now I have around $800 left to budget for the month but I’m putting an extra $300 towards my HOA to pay that off. Once that is gone I’ll have an additional $158 monthly snowball. I’ve been to every release of these beers in the past and there have been plenty of options to buy and taste them so I wouldn’t be missing out too much. It’s just hard to tell the wife that she needs to put more money away when I’m pissing mine away on beer. I would rather get to the point where I have an assload of money available to spend on beer or whatever else I want and not have to worry about paying bills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bills

So I didn’t know if I would post this but I just looked at another site and they posted the amounts on their bills so I figured I would do the same. I also think it will help me keep everything going if I have constant reminders that the amount of debt is going down as well.

So we have it broken down by revolving debt plus my homeowners association. Next would be my vehicle and finally the house. This is just my debt and doesn’t include the house with the obvious exception of the house. She has her own debt which I told her I wouldn’t harp on her about paying her stuff down until I made some real headway with my own. Her car is paid off and I think she only has a couple thousand in revolving debt. She makes more than me but with the raise I’ll hopefully be getting in November/December.

The cool thing is that we are both putting $250 a month towards principal on the house. Just by doing that we knock 11 years off of the mortgage but I’ll be snowballing the bills so one year from now I’ll have a huge amount going to the mortgage. I’ll show the amount at the end of the month/after the first off the month.

So here they are, the bills.

Revolving Debt: $7,214.93

Vehicle: $13,578.77

House: $190,908.72

Total: $211,703.42

I have $1200 a month going to revolving debt and my truck and that will get bumped up to $1750 a month in December (hopefully). I am also using Dave Ramsey’s Everydollar app/website and have quite a bit of money left that needs to be budgeted. I plan to save some amount monthly for emergency savings and then put the rest or as much as I feel comfortable with towards my bills.

Crazy to think I could have this paid off in 6-7 years but I’m going to do my best. Since I started this quest last month I really need to see how I’m doing after a full month of working towards the goal. I think one of the big things is that we’ve definitely limited the number of times we’ve gone out to eat or to grab drinks. I’ve spent some more money buying alcohol for the house but it’s nothing compared to what we would spend going out. We’ve also done great this month with food as far as not letting anything go to waste. It seems like a lot of the time we have extras from meals that actually sit in the fridge until they go bad. For instance, we made tacos the other day with flour tortillas and when it was all said and done I had 2 tortillas left that would’ve sat in the fridge for a while. This morning when I made our breakfast I put my eggs and potatoes in the tortillas and had some breakfast tacos that tasted amazing. I have leftover hash browns and those will go get thrown in with my breakfasts for this week or at least the first day or two.

We shopped yesterday for our food and our menu this week includes pork tenderloin for a couple of nights and thai red curry turkey meatballs. A friend that does paleo made these and they looked amazing and since we have a lot of ground turkey we thought it would be cool to do these. For tonight and tomorrow we are doing a grilled chicken that I have brining right now. She likes the white meat and I like the dark so it works out perfect for us. I’ll throw it on the grill later on tonight but I did a lemon pepper brine with garlic, onions and thyme also thrown in.

I really think that is it for this week, quite a bit I know but still working through what I want to put down on here.

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful weekend

So this weekend was pretty chill for us. On Friday when I got home and tried to relax but Ash insisted we walk the dogs before we did anything else. So I changed and we walked the dogs around Lafayette Square, which is close to our house. I think the route we take them on is around 1.5-1.75 miles. The dogs love the park and Lafayette Square is really beautiful with a few monuments scattered around.

I think the rest of our Friday night was pretty chill and we just had drinks at the house while we watch some TV and ate some pierogies we had picked up in Chicago and had sitting in the freezer. They were awesome and I was kind of bummed out we hadn’t eaten them earlier. They were filled with potato and cheese and we ate them with a huge 12 oz pork chop we had. Pierogies, in case you don’t know, are polish dumplings filled with any combination of meat, cheese, potato, veggies, etc. We picked up about 8 packs of 12 last time we were in the Ukrainian village up in Chicago and put them in our chest freezer in the basement.

Saturday morning we got up early thanks to the dogs and after eating some breakfast and coffee we made a trip to the St Louis Art Museum. The museum is free except for certain exhibits but we joined a few months ago so it was free for us and we really enjoyed going there. Afterwards Ash was feeling a little hungry so we went to a place call Mission Taco and had some really awesome street tacos. Since it ended up being a late lunch we were actually stuffed for dinner. Around 8:00 we started getting hungry so I made some spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino, which is nothing more than pasta with garlic, oil and red pepper flake. It’s the Italian version of dude-food where you have nothing in your cupboard or you’re too lazy to make something real but…it still taste amazing. The first time I made it for Ash she thought I was making the recipe up and I had to show her in my Italian cookbook that it was real.

The rest of the weekend was extremely chill if that wasn’t a lazy enough weekend. We did our grocery shopping and then we did our food prep. Since we’re both getting burned out on our egg white muffins I decided I would just do bagels with cream cheese, and fruit for breakfast this week. She did bagel thins with egg white, cheese and Canadian bacon. I figured my costs for breakfast and it came out to about $1.50 a day for the 6 pack of bagels, tub of cream cheese and an apple a day.

For lunch I made red beans and rice with andouille sausage. I picked the sausage up a few weeks ago and pulled it from the freezer. I just used a Zatarains box of red beans and rice instead of making it from scratch this time. The good news with that is that once I portioned everything out my lunches only cost around $1.50 per meal as well. For dinner we pulled some chicken from the freezer and are making chicken tacos for 2 nights this week and then making gyros the other two nights. We picked up all the sides on Sunday such as tortillas and pitas, plus all of the other ingredients but the cost for both of us for the week was less than $100 for all meals or $50 a person.

I would say without a doubt that planning your meals is so important in helping to help realize cost savings. If we didn’t plan it out we would’ve gone to the store every night picking up extra crap that we really didn’t need. Instead we have everything at the house and I’ll grill the chicken for the tacos tonight and I’ll grill the chicken for the gyros on Wednesday.

We also found out we could order dog food through Amazon’s subscribe and save. I placed it on order along with my coffee. The good news is that we don’t have to go to the store anymore and I don’t have to lug the bags around. I put one bag on order and the wife puts one bag on order so the amount I actually had factored into the budget for dog food went down from $100 a month to $55 a month. When I set up the budget I was just taking a wag at what it would cost but after looking at servings per bag, etc it comes out to where we only need 2 bags a month between both dogs. It’s not a lot of savings overall but in the dog food department my budget dropped 45% so I was happy.

Anyways, long weekend coming up and I think our plan is to grill out and drink beer (and wine) and hopefully have some friends over. Probably won’t be a lot of saving this weekend but holidays are holidays.