Tuesday, July 31, 2007

August Budget

I had posted last week about our July net worth updates, here's our budget for August (this one my wife put the numbers together and I just gave her current balances on things):


200 On-call Computer Job (so far, we have $100 guaranteed, the rest is uncertain)
$1050 Rental Income (3 roommates)

$350 Possible Rental Income (new roommate)
$2698 Day Job
Total: $4298


$430 Tithe
$1150 Mortgage - This went up this month due to taxes and homeowners insurance, will be our monthly payment for the next year
$240 Gas - This has gone down from $300, with me using a hatchback to get to work and back, we're saving gas and a second vehicle allows my wife to stay home instead of taking me to work when she needs the car
$145 Natural Gas
$140 House Phone - They came out and repaired our Internet, which cost us. I REALLY need to argue with them since it was their fault the modem got fried (not grounded outside).
$50 Water
$89 Electricity
$158 Cell Phone - Yes, I know, high.
$95 Life Insurance
$10 Small monthly debt payment
$30 Her Fun Money
$30 My Fun Money
$30 Dining Out
$30 Toiletries
$500 Home Maintenance - We need insulation everywhere, I'm going to do the parts I can this month and in September we'll have a professional do within the walls. In addition, I have some work to do around the chimney (convincing myself to go up there and do myself) as well as install some gutter guards so I don't have problems this fall with leaves.
$250 Car Maintenance - My car needs a radiator flush as well as a connector from the engine to the muffler pipe. I'll be doing the flush on my own, I'm going to see if I can get a friend to do the connector.
$1000 e-fund - We're down to $100 in it right now, so we're going to need to build it back up this month.

As you can see, this coming month there is not much attacking the debts, but if we don't take care of these problems now, they will cost us a whole lot more later on. The insulation seems more like a "want" than a "need" to most, but they haven't lived at our house for 2 winters. I don't want to lose any renters due to the cold, so we need to invest in the insulation.

One item I leave out (which maybe I should include) when I post my budget is that this is just the outline. We also generate a second version where every check is allocated based upon the first budget. That way, when we get a check we go "OK, time to pay X" instead of trying to guess as we go along which one should be taken care. It's mainly been the 1st and 15th we take care of the basics (mortgage, utilities, gas, etc) and the other checks through the month take care of that month's goals (e-fund, maintenance, debt snowball). That way if one of the smaller checks is delayed in any way (which happens almost every month), we're not relying on it for a basic.

Monday, July 30, 2007

No Money Weekend

Well, without any planning, we had a no-money weekend this past weekend. On Friday, I had to work until 8PM, so I got home and we just read until we fell asleep. Saturday we took a long walk, I organized my CD collection (only took 4 years to get started), my wife baked an angel food cake, spoke to friends on the phone, played with our daughter and watched some movies we had again. Sunday we went to church, had afternoon tea at a friends house for a couple of hours, put together a small shelving unit our friends gave us while watching some more movies.

This coming weekend will be a no-net money weekend, but we're going to be spending some money in order to get money. One of our neighbors is going to be babysitting for us on Saturday night (and in exchange my wife is teaching her how to sew). We will be going to Texas Roadhouse and spend $25 and secretly review the bar service. After that, we go to a nearby movie theater and see if they got their act together from our last visit a month ago and get everything paid for. Beyond that, I'll probably just be working on the yard.

Still Roommate Hunting

We're going into another week without a replacement roommate. I'm not worried too much yet since the previous roommate paid until the 6th of August (and her stuff is still in the room, even though it was to be picked up this past weekend). Normally at $350/month, we would have received 5+ different people contacting us in a week. We had three this week:
  1. One told us he was seriously interested, since his 2 jobs are about 10 minutes away from our place and his current living situation wasn't working out. He rescheduled our first meeting and then no-show-no-call for the second meeting. I sent him one e-mail letting him know it was available and that it would be our last e-mail.
  2. Received another one by phone, called them, left voice mail, no call back.
  3. Received one last one by phone, had called about 6 months ago regarding the room but the problem being is that she has a dog. With 6 people in the house, the last thing we need is a dog. I informed her we still were not willing to take a dog in.
The lack of response may put a kink into our budget a bit (will post it up tomorrow), but it may mean I will need to start tutoring sooner (was planning on September). We'll see what this week brings.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Broken Car Gone!

Well, we've been trying to get rid of a broken station wagon that has been sitting in our driveway for 3 months and had one guy that was going to give us $200, but it was impossible to get him to come out to pick it up. My wife found another person that would pick it up for $100 and was quick at responding, so we went with them. They were supposed to pick it up yesterday, but they were swamped, so they picked up tonight at 9 PM. The vehicle had 195K miles on it and not worth trying to put more money into it...

The $100 will be going into our emergency fund. It's at least $100 we didn't have yesterday.

Mystery Shopping & Consulting Work

My wife and I must be darn good at mystery shopping or they must be getting desperate, because she received 2 calls yesterday with them begging for her to help them near our house and offering extra cash for it. If we didn't have our daughter, I would tell my wife to go for it if she wanted, but with our newborn baby, we have limited it down to the following types:
  1. Movies: We find a babysitter for the evening and make it a date.
  2. Dinner: Same thing as the movies
  3. Oil Changes: They are needed anyways, so why not get paid to do them?
  4. Things I can do on my way home from work: If it's not out of my way home, brings in more than $8/hr and doesn't take too long, why not? These have been very sparse, but they are an option.
This ends up freeing about $40-50/month out of our budget, which is pretty darn nice. That's like $500 more for Christmas! (or debt, which is where it's going these days)

For my consulting work, I have been a bit more lenient on the distance I am willing to work, just because in the past month it has been really slow. The one limit I do is that it cannot and will not interfere with my day job. They called me yesterday for the umpteenth time asking if I was free during the day to help someone near my house and I reminded them again my days are booked.

July: Minor Net Worth Change +$123

This month we had a fairly small change in our net worth for several reasons:
  1. We had wiped out our emergency fund and part of this month's extra funds to take care of a Bank of America debt last month.
  2. We had a $500 car repair to take care of.
  3. My on-the-side job in the evenings only brought in around $100, the month prior it had brought in $700.
  4. I had a ticket to take care of for $260 (ouch!).
Good reasons it didn't go down further:
  1. Our entertainment this month was paid for in full. We went to the movies 3 times and are going to be paid in the coming month through Mystery Shopping.
  2. We held off doing insulation work until our emergency fund was built back up to $1K, which meant we had funds to take care of the car emergency.
  3. We received a bunch of gifts for the baby shower and some we used on ourselves, such as a wet-vac (needed for spills to come from our daughter), a car power adapter (allows me to listen to Dave Ramsey pretty easily off my laptop as I drive to work and back), and a board game that I've been wanting for a couple of years now that I enjoy a lot (Sequence).
  4. Had a garage sale that took care of the repairs we needed to do on the house (leaking roof).
We pretty much stayed right on budget,I'm just excited about next month where we'll be building that emergency fund back up (again) and can start building up my weapon of cash to battle the credit card underlords. Muhahaha!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Losing a Roommate

Well, yesterday we received a call from one of our roommates that was visiting family for the week that she will be moving out on Monday. It was nothing wrong with our place or anything (right before she left she had paid 2 months worth of rent to be 1 month ahead), but the situation her grandkids were in was appalling to say the least. The parents were both working and didn't have enough money to send their 3 kids to a babysitter, so they put the 7 year old in charge of the 1 & 2 year old. I feel so blessed that my wife can stay at home with our daughter and not have to work. The roommate is going to move to a place close to them, found a different job, and is going to be watching the kids like a hawk to make sure they are taken care of.

We've posted on Craigslist a room for rent for $350/month, hopefully we will get some taker soon. The plan I have for the roommate leaving is that we are going to pay her back the $350 she pre-paid for August, but the remaining portion of July we will hold onto until we find a replacement for the room. If we find someone quick, she will get back an amount equal to the remainder of her month lease. If we don't find anyone within the next 2 weeks (her rent was due on the 7th of the month), she at least gets her $350 back. We figure this is a very fair arrangement since our agreement is month-to-month and we were given 48 hour notice of moving out.

Cleaned out the basement

This past week we cleaned out the basement and had a huge "free sale" in our front yard. We told people that everything was free, but if they saw something of value to give us what they thought it was worth. We ended up with a bit over $30, though I know if I had worked at selling some of the items one by one, I would have received a whole lot more. Many of these items though were things I would call "dead weight".

Here's a list of the types of things we got rid of:
  • Half-finished projects
  • Items we tried once (eg: unicycle) and were not as interested in it afterwards
  • Items being kept for projects for several years and never getting to them
  • Items from others that they gave to us to store and never picked up
  • Books & movies that either do not coincide with our moral beliefs or were good once but never going back to again for a second time.
  • Items that we had not used in the past year and doubt we're going to in the coming year.
The value of getting rid of that stuff is priceless, it feels like a dead weight has been removed off of our shoulders and I'm not so reluctant to go down into the basement anymore for items. The time spent trying to get rid of them one by one is time I could instead be with my family, working on growing my freelance business (at $30-40/hour), or helping others around me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

$700 Bank Error In Your Favor

I remember playing the game of Monopoly and loving that card that would give you extra money due to a bank error in your favor. I never thought about the poor cashier that made the mistake, the trouble they probably would get in for making such an error, and all the repercussions of that bank error. It's probably because it's just a game and no one is really hurt from that bank error. Maybe the card should have had everyone pay a higher interest due to the bank error.

Well, one of our roommates experienced a bank error this past week and it wasn't a small amount. She was cashing her check at a currency exchange and requested a money order for $700 at the same time. Well, the cashier was pregnant and had what we call at our house "baby brain" and gave our roommate the money order as well as the full amount of her check. Our roommate before meeting us would have kept the money and left, but the mix of seeing the girl pregnant probably reminded my roommate of my wife that recently had a baby and the troubles that girl would have because of the mistake. Maybe it was due to the positive morals we encourage in our home. I don't know the exact answer, but I do know that my roommate said to my wife that before moving in with us, she would have kept it.

I'm glad she didn't because I would suspect for such a large amount of money one of two things would have gone on. They would have either A. Fired the girl for stealing the money. or B. Put the $700 money order and check together (with our roommates name on it) and sought to locate our roommate, demanding the money back.

Rain Damage

This week we had a really strong rainstorm, which exposed some problems with our house. It first started in our sun room, where the ceiling started leaking. It was a good thing we were up late that night watching a movie and that it was hitting some hard plastic. It was sounding so loud when it was dripping that I had to investigate. The problem was that it was very windy and it must have lifted up some of our shingles, getting water under them. Tomorrow I'll be getting on the roof with some tar and sealing those babies up.

The other "fun" rain damage was in our basement. I replaced the water line in January (not fun) and the soil hasn't settled fully yet, so the rain soaked through the ground and went into the basement. Our house doesn't have the downspout extenders, which I'll be picking up as well to move the water away from the house. I also have some more topsoil to put down there to give it more absorption abilities. The large river of water didn't damage anything of importance (we store in the plastic bins anything important) and the basement is unfinished so it's not a problem.

This shouldn't put us too far back financially, but it's just another part of our adventurous life.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I've Been Gone...

Hello all out there, I've been gone and not wanting to face you all. A couple of weeks ago we did something we thought was wise and it ended up costing us $500. The idea was to use the newer battery from one vehicle that we are getting rid of in a vehicle that the warranty is expiring. The issue being that newer battery has needed to get replaced (not holding a charge) but we never got around to doing it. The towing place was coming to pick up the bad vehicle, so we quickly swapped the batteries early in the morning. Big mistake.

We didn't know it at the time, but we damaged the alternator by hooking the battery up backwards. We thought we had just blown a fuse, but didn't look into it. The battery died in the end with us on the road. We had it replaced the next day but with a brand new battery (had receipt, was free) but then a couple days later it died again because of the alternator. When it died, my wife was driving in a storm, couldn't see, hit a curb and got a flat tire.

I went and tried to change the tire, but broke the jack and got it stuck under the vehicle. We have towing insurance on our cell phone plan, so the towing to a shop we trust and they kept it for a week and we got it back after $500.

Lessons learned again:
  • Procrastination costs big time and money!
  • Trying to save a few bucks can be costly too!
  • Don't be afraid to post on your blog =)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Watching our expenses too much!

I've decided my wife and I our watching our expenses too much, ignoring the other half of the equation, which is my salary income. I'm making a nice $36K/yr, but am underpaid for the type of work I am doing (was hired to do computer maintenance, been doing mainly programming). I have checked the rates for programmers on a variety of salary sites as well as job postings. Here's my initial brainstorming session:
  1. My 6 month review comes up in 2 months, which at that time I'll be requesting for a large raise (bring my salary up to $42K/yr).
  2. Over the next two months, send my resume out for feelers on the job market for programmers. That way when my review comes up and they fight the large raise, I have something possibly to fall back on.
  3. Spend 2 nights a week working on improving my programming skills.
  4. Search out contract work to be done night/weekends in the programming realm at the $40/hr range.
I am no longer satisfied with $10/hour pay when with the right promoting of oneself I could be bringing in $30-40/hour. That way we can also say goodbye to our debts even sooner!

$60 Thrown Away

I've been trying to be good with our finances, and then I have slip-ups here and there and everywhere. This past Sunday my wife had a baby shower and I was hoping I could just sit there, relax, and let the ladies have their fun. They decided that a couple of the husbands were going to take me out instead. We couldn't decide, so we went to a computer store nearby.

On the way back, I and another guy were thirsty, so we stopped at Speedway and I used my gift card that I had $60 on to pay for both of our drinks. I was getting tired then and I was so certain I put the cards back into my wallet or at least my pocket. Tuesday rolls around and I'm looking to put some gas into my car and it's not in my wallet. Yesterday, I looked in all the clothes that are dirty, cleaned up the bedroom, checked the vehicle I was in from top to bottom, etc.

I'm classifying it into the "missing in action" category and I'm concerned I threw it away when I threw away the receipt for the drink. That's the only other explanation I have for it. The only positive thing out of the situation is that I talked to one of the guys and he is in need of someone to dig out his crawl space so that he can expand his basement, so I'll have a job to get the money back.