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Archive for October, 2012

Tripping

October 30th, 2012 at 09:09 pm

Over this last weekend, we took a small trip 600 miles to my wife's parents'. Her father funded our trip down there for her mother's birthday. It was a pretty good trip, sans the financial failings that went along with it...

First, we missed our junction without realising it. During this little detour of 143 miles, we were pulled over by a state patrolman. I received a speeding ticket for 15 over the posted speed limit. I won't go into details, but I am contesting it - I don't want to get too heated on here. Wink

So... 143 miles, a $144 ticket, and this trip has already turned out to be about $160 over budget.

We get in around 10 and are up late with the family. Smile The next day, we head out to see more family. On the way to one of our destinations, we are rear-ended by a college girl. I had myself, wife, mother in-law and sister in-law, and 19 month-old in her car seat.

We waited about 45 minutes for the slow-poke police officer to show up. He gets the other driver's account of the events and then asks me, Does that sound about right?. I would think he would ask both of us separately... Then he checks her license and insurance. Her insurance is expired. She says she doesn't know why because daddy handles all that... He runs her record and comes back with, Well, I don't see any reason for that to be expired. She's got a clean driving record and all. Who gives a flying...?! Yeah... Then he says he doesn't have to file a report for anything estimated under $1,500 worth of damages... Well, sweet, that probably means we are going to get screwed from insurance.

When we go to strap our little one into the car seat, we realise that the latch has broken. We were going to get a new one anyways, but still. So the wifey went over to Target and picked up a car seat we had been eyeballing for $166 (was marked $189.99). My wife, in her flustered state from the accident, failed to use our Target card, meaning we did not get the 5% off. Oh well. No biggie.

We stuck the old one in the trunk in hopes that that will be enough for insurance to get the other driver to pay for our it. It was $90 when we got it, but we do not have a receipt. >.<

So, needless to say, we aren't the happiest of campers, what with having to destroy our Emergency Fund... As for disputing the violation, that will be $250 for the attorney, instead of the $144 for the ticket. I figure, however, that the $106 difference will end up being less over the three years that that violation would jack up our insurance rates.

We get home, and today I am greeted with even more horrible news. For the months of November and December, no one is allowed overtime at work. Well, crap. So, there's two months I could have spent reimbursing our Emergency Fund, down the drain. >.<

---

In more positive news...

This week, I will be painting our new apartment's accent walls on my spare time. Next week, we are MOVING!

More Savings - Moving!

October 15th, 2012 at 05:47 pm

Most of you know that we have been looking to move out of our apartment and into something cheaper and more suitable to our lifestyle. We were mainly looking for a house.

Yesterday, however, we found a few apartments at the property that I work at (currently live at the property across the street run by the same company - a more expensive property). I checked out four of them, and then had my wife check out the best two.

We both fell in love with one unit. It is a different floor plan than our current unit. The one we are in now is laid-out in a somewhat cluttered way. You walk straight into the kitchen from the front door. From there, you go into the dining/living area, and then there is a bedroom and bathroom to the side. The new floor plan is set up much more friendly to those seeking hard lines between specified areas. You walk in and to the left is the dining area, in the middle is the kitchen, and just past that is the living area. The bedroom and bathroom are off to the opposite side. Hallway down the middle (with a bar where the kitchen is).

The dining area will serve as our daughter's space. Crib, toys, etc. will all go there. A much-needed improvement to the current layout, where all she has is a corner with her stuff jumbled about. We would consider putting her stuff in the room further from the entry, but the cable hookups are in the further room.

Probably the best bonuses of this unit is that it is; a) on the first floor, b) on a private courtyard (no pool, spa, etc. in the courtyard - just back doors from other units and a huge middle area), c) the patio is 3x the size of our current balcony. This means we may be able to start a garden if we build planter boxes, get soil, and get some seeds! Huge improvements there!

Now, here is the iffy part - it is only going to be $25/mo less. The other floor plan (same as ours) would be $65/mo less, but my thought process on this was that we would be happier in the other unit and therefore less likely to go looking to move as soon as if we were in the other floor plan. Also, this one will not get as warm in the summers as the other units, and the carpet is not brand new, so we won't be charged for carpet on move-out if we do decide to move out within the next year (doubtful). Also, it will end up being more than $25 less because of the way the W/S/G bill is set up. Residents split the rent of the rooftop boilers for hot water. Since there are always fewer vacancies at this property than the one we are currently in, the boiler rental fee will always be less. As well, our electric bill will be lower, as this unit will not get as much sun.

We are looking forward to this new change! We move on the 10th. Smile

Total Bills Cut This Month
Internet - $13
Auto Insurance - $20
Living Costs - $25-40

Total - $58-73


Not too shabby! Smile

Hard Times a'comin'!

October 13th, 2012 at 06:06 pm

Just when we thought we were doing so well! Argh!

Our food assistance is being cut by $45 starting next month. Our six-month review was last month, and my income was too great for our current benefits. So they dropped it. Unfortunately, this month is going to be pretty tight, as I will be missing about 12 hours of work to drive to see my wife's parents (they are paying for the gas and will provide lodging and food, thankfully).

So, we should be short our normal income and won't have all of our normal food stamps for the month of November. With how the pay schedule is falling the coming weeks, even if I do overtime, it won't make a difference when it matters.

I will be working normal hours, and we will be submitting my pay stubs to get our normal food stamps back.

I really wish we could just afford to get off of them now! As it is, I only make $12/hr and we only get (were getting) $175/mo in assistance. They know our rent and utilities are high, but I guess it does not matter. :/

Cut those costs!

October 9th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I thought I would update some of you on our current financial situation. It has been a while!

Living Expenses

Rent, WSG and Electric have stayed the same. No improvements there. And last month we got a letter from our water provider saying they would be making it so that billing is current, rather than three months behind. They way they will do this is by rolling the extra months into other months. So, October and November are supposed to be larger payments than normal. (Great timing for the Holidays, people!) Unfortunately, we have yet to see the increase yet. I pay rent in two instalments each month, though, so I am sure it will happen on the next instalment. Unfortunately, that means that the $80 I was just able to send to savings will most likely have to be taken out again. >.<

Savings

I am now utilising a method suggested by users on the forum, that I am unsure as to why I had not thought of it before. Haha! Once you get paid, immediately move all unbudgeted "extra" funds to savings. I do have a question about this, however:
When should I reconcile my account and move the rounded monies to savings?
You see, I round up and down to the nearest dollar for all transactions. So I always have more in my account than my manual register says. And since I use my Chase Freedom card for all purchases and pay it each week, my checking account is almost never balanced, what with credit card payments taking three days to process and never knowing when to move rounded monies over to savings. Anyone have a solution to this? It is no necessarily an issue, since it currently serves as a small buffer. But it would be nice to fill that savings!

What I am doing currently is: Instead of paying only wha we spent on the Chase Freedom, I pay the rounded amount. This way it helps pay down the debt we accrued from moving over here for work.

Cost-Cutting

When we moved here, we got 20 Mbps Internet from Comcast for $29.99/mo for six months. Well, that six months went by quickly and, while 20 Mbps was sure nice, I decided to downgrade.

When Comcast kicked it up to $57/mo, I downgraded to their 3 Mbps plan for $39.99/mo with no contract. I then purchased our own modem (a better one) for $71, and was able to get rid of the $7/mo modem lease fee. So on the new rates, that modem will be virtually free after just four months. Not bad. So there is $17 more than before that goes to savings. Smile

Treats

If you remember, we were getting coffee once a week, as our only form of entertainment expense. I still don't think it was that bad, but we came into an opportunity to save more money.

A friend at work had a cheap espresso machine that he need could get a good shot out of. He also happened to be wanted a DSLR camera. I just so happened to have found a working DSLR camera body. He also just so happened to have lenses that fit it.

I think you can see where this is going. Smile

So, now, we have absolved most of that "treats" budget into groceries. Some is for coffee stuff for home, and there is room in there for one outing to a coffee shoppe per month ($6 total). Smile

I think a lot of you would be proud of us. We sure have done a log way!

Groceries

We have decided to go vegan, based on some personal beliefs of our own. We now make even more food from scratch than before. And by that, I mean all of our food except for food milk and flour. We buy everything in bulk (even agave syrup, farina, oatmeal, flour, etc.). We also get a Bountiful Basket every week. $15 for around 25 lbs. of produce every week!

Insurance

Some of you know a little about the insurance headache we went through when we moved over here. Switched from Allstate to Geico, Geico to State Farm. We have been with State Farm. However, in that time, they have cancelled our Roadside Assistance (with no drop in premium), and raised their rates "company-wide."

Today, we made the switch to Safeco Insurance. It would have been $10/mo cheaper had I kept the same deductibles and coverage. However, I decided to save a little more and raise the deductibles. I will most likely lower them again at a later date. Still no Roadside, but there shouldn't be a problem next year. Renters is also more affordable through them - $20,000 coverage at $100/year, $25 cheaper. Our monthly went from $147 to $127. I'll take it!

House Hunting - Maybe

October 8th, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Hello all. Long time no chat. Things have been pretty busy around here lately.

Recently, we have been thinking about purchasing a home in slightly nearby Tacoma. Doing so would certainly mean a lot of things. A lot of goods, some bads, and some so-so's.

The Goods
• Yard
• Own home
• Garden
• Lower housing costs
• Bedroom for our daughter
• Plenty more!
• At least $100/mo cheaper.

Bads
• 30-35 mile commute one-way. This equates to over 20,000 miles per year if I work as much as I currently do. Also equates to more wear on our vehicle. We don't put but maybe 250 miles per month on our vehicle now with living on-site at work.
• 1 to 1 1/2 hour commute. Time is money. Or so it is said. The commute time sure would be a downer. Also would not be able to have lunch at home like I currently do.
• Would leave wife & daughter at home without a vehicle.

So-so's
• We are responsible for all housing costs, including repairs/maintenance.

My number one concern is the increased maintenance/repair costs. More wear on the car. Home to care for. Even if I take that $100/mo and divide it, that's only $50/mo more to put aside for either category (Home Maintenance and Auto Maintenance). To me, that does not seem like enough. However, our car is low mileage (46,000) and I drive like a granny and maintain it, and the home we would get would be inspected to ensure that it is not a money pit.

We are meeting with an agent this weekend to help us look, get to know the market, and get to know better what we can do with our income.

I want to know what you all thought about it.

EDIT:
As per so many wise peoples' comments, a house is not the best idea. Now, what about our current rent? $945 for rent, $85-110 for WSG, and $45-50 for electric. Our WSG, we can't really do much about, as it is shared between the rest of the 440-unit property. We could, however, consider moving to the property next door (that I actually work at). It is cheaper by up to $145 (currently with the specials), and the WSG may be cheaper, as there are more residents there to divide the cost between.

Problem with that is that we would then have to pay for carpet replacement (around $300 at this point). That could be added-on to our monthly rent. Maybe worth doing, since after only three months we would be saving money?

I should get with our bookkeeper who is in charge of what residents get charged when they vacate a unit.

Opinions on this?

It is worth noting that I work in apartment maintenance. We would be able to do a lot of the work on a home ourselves, plus the cost of supplies.