Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What I've Learned From PF Blogging

I'm being interviewed tomorrow for the Chicago Tribune, so I figured I would write up what I've learned from PF blogging and reading other's PF blogs.

Increase my income

In the past 8 months alone my salary has increased by 43%. This took planning on my part (focusing on an area of expertise that pays well) and being willing to ask for more (told my current employer the amount I wanted to make when I started and negotiated a 6 month review for more money). I don't think I would have gotten where I am career wise without PF blogs causing me to think about these things.

Besides my salary, we increased our income by taking in roommates. A little over a year ago we had 4 rooms rented out, bringing in $1,400/month. That's like working a full-time job making $8/hr. We're down to 3 roommates at $1,000/month, but even that is $5.80/hr full-time.

Decrease my spending

We still need to do some work on this, but have streamlined our budget quite a bit. For a while our entertainment budget was down to $30/month. If we lived in a smaller place that we couldn't rent out rooms, I would have had us move closer to my job(s) to cut down our gas costs and housing costs.

We've been learning how to garden in order to reduce our grocery bills. We also started canning big-time in order to do the same. This year it was a bit expensive due to needing to get equipment, but next year our costs should be minimal.

The wood stove, insulation, and storm doors were also done to reduce our heating bills. We will see this winter if we were successful and if we need to make more changes to cut our costs.

Learn from my mistakes

I've made quite a few mistakes over the years (hence the reason we're working our way out of debt). Those lessons though have helped me make less damaging mistakes. For example:
  • I looked at where our debts came from and what can prevent them from occurring again. That taught me to pursue health insurance options, use cash when we notice our spending getting excessive, and not buy on credit.
  • When I shop for something that is going to be in our house for a while, I study it to see how durable it is. When picking out tools for our wood stove, I picked the ones that were single pieces of metal since those with joints can break easily. We started our research on the wood stove 6 months back.
  • I review how close we were to the previous month's budget and make a new budget based on that.
What have you learned from my PF blog or other PF blogs?

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