Category Archives: Budget


My wife did a great job getting insurance quotes from various companies and ended up saving us $1,113/year by switching from Farmers to Allstate. Here are the details:

$768 Farmer Auto
$664 Allstate Auto
$104 Savings

$1806 Farmer Home
$1043 Allstate Home
$763 Savings

$402 Farmer 20-Year Term
$284 Allstate 20-Year Term
$118 Savings

$528 Farmer 20-Year Term
$400 Allstate 20-Year Term
$128 Savings

Total savings per year: $1,113 – NICE WORK!!

2007 Income Taxes

We completed our 2007 taxes this weekend. This was our 2nd year using Turbo Tax and it was once again very helpful. My wife is really the one that completes most of the forms, I simply supply some numbers from our records and help with proofreading.

Thanks to multiple itemized deductions, include $22K in mortgage interest, my wife’s business expenses, and charitable donations, we only owed $387 to federal and $307 to state. That’s pretty close to hitting the mark of zero, neither owing a ton of money or giving the government an interest free loan until you get your refund.

It feels good to have our taxes done, even if we do owe a bit. We’ve scheduled the federal and state payments to be transferred from our checking account in a couple of weeks.

Spending Money To Save Money

Our savings account just took a big hit. The 16 months of prepaid gym membership that my awesome wife bought me expires this month. Thankfully, we were able to score the same great deal that she originally negotiated: 16 months for $828, plus a free set of boxing gloves ($50 value).

The membership is normally $65/month, but our special deal ends up only costing $51.75/month. That equates to ~20% discount! The gym is only a couple of blocks from our condo, allowing me to easily shoot of for a class or to lift weights after work.

At my heaviest, I weights 205lbs, but have been able to gradually whittle it down to 185lbs. So, not only do I really enjoy the training, but it is also slowly helping me shed some weight.

Decline In Our Net Worth On The Way?

I’m a bit worried that November could be the 1st decline in our net worth since we began tracking it in February. We have a number of large bills due this month including a $880 truck insurance bill, $416 condo insurance bill, and $1,842.84 for our 1st 2007 condo tax payment.

We have been saving $302/month into our Emigrant Direct account for our condo taxes, so we expected to have to pull it out when the bill came due. Thankfully, my wife receives an extra paycheck this month (3 total) which will help cover the truck and condo insurance bills. However, if any other large bills come up this month and/or it’s a bad month in the stock market, I’m afraid we may post a decrease to our net worth. It’s not the end of the world, but it would be disappointing. Oh well, 25 more days until we know.

Auto Insurance

For the 1st time ever, we plan to pay my auto insurance bill in a lump sum payment. We typically finance the 12 months of auto insurance thru AAA, costing us an extra $58.73 annually. Here’s the breakdown:

$1,041.73 12 months coverage
-$103.00 AAA credit for 12 years of membership
$880.00 balance due

$58.73 cost to finance payments for 9 months
$938.73 total amount paid if financed

An added benefit is that we will have one less bill to pay every month.

The Beat Goes On

Thus far, we have done a pretty good job of reducing our expenses while my wife is searching for a new job. To further help our cash flow, we have decided to postpone a $165 deep cleaning that my dentist wanted to schedule this month. Also, if my $1000 business expense posts before my wife has a new job, we will likely pay the minimum to preserve cash.

My wife has had many interviews with various companies and is seriously considering an offer from one. She has arranged a 2nd meeting to learn more about the company and the position before making her decision. The position is in a field that she is not experienced in, but the company has a training program to get her up to speed and she would receive existing accounts in a protected territory. They would like her to start Tuesday of next week, which is great timing for us.

The offer is a $35,000 base, 20% commission, milage reimbursement, laptop, cell phone, and 100% medical insurance paid for. Unfortunately, they do not offer a 401(k), but they are considering adding it down the road. I am only contributing $2,000/year to my 401(k) currently, so we have plenty of room to increase our contributions.

Stay tuned.

Delicious Savings

With my wife in-between jobs, we are working on stretching our dollars. One area we can have an immediate affect in is our grocery/dinning budget. We allocate $400/month to groceries and $130/month to dinning out.

Plain and simple, we waste too much food. My wife buys nice groceries so that we can enjoy delicious healthy meals together (she’s an awesome cook), but sometimes these ingredients go bad before we get around to eating them. I’m especially guilty of letting my workouts and surfing get in the way of a nice meal together. When I’m in a hurry, I’ll pick something up on the road, compounding the problem (wasting food at home + spending unnecessary money).

So, we’re consciously looking to see what food is about to expire, and eating it first.

Here’s and example: My wife bought ingredients to make Tex-Mex meatballs for a work potluck. Since her company laid everyone off, these ingredients have been sitting in our refrigerator. We also have a $50 Roy’s gift card that we’ve been wanting to use. Well, we spent Saturday at the beach and when we got home, Roy’s was sounding pretty good. However, we knew the Tex-Mex ingredients were close to expiration, so we did the right thing and stayed home for dinner. The meal was awesome and we have leftovers for today.

I know this sounds kind of a basic, but think about how much food you throw out each month. Stale bread, expired yogurt, moldy fruit, etc.

It all adds up.

Cash Flow

My wife’s 2nd to last paycheck arrived last night via direct deposit. We were expecting it to be somewhere between $1,000 and $1,100. It ended up being $1280.88! That extra cash is a God sent at a time when cash is critical.

One element of our finances that we have never included in our balance sheet is our checking account balance. This number fluctuates each month, depending on our expenses, and is not worth tracking in our balance sheet. With my wife currently searching for a new job, this number is important given that we’re much more focused on managing our cash flow.

We typically keep a few hundred dollars above and beyond our normal monthly expenses in our checking account. This “extra” money is usually somewhere between $300 and $600. Whenever this “extra” money gets higher than $600, it is moved into our online savings account.

Thankfully, it looks like we will have somewhere between $500 and $600 “extra” in our checking account at the end of August. This will help greatly as we manage our cash flow during my wife’s job search. In fact, our cash situation is looking so strong that, with reducing expenses and receiving unemployment benefits, we should be able to get well into October before having to resort to tap into our saving accounts.

That is a very good feeling.

I just received a subscription renewal notice from Surfer Magazine. Surfing is one of my passions. Living 3 miles from the beach allows me to indulge in my obsession multiple times per week (when there are decent waves).

I have subscribed to Surfer Magazine for years and have always enjoyed the content. That being said, I was preparing to send in my check for $37.97 (2 year subscription) when I decided to stop and think about my decision.

Lately, I’ve been doing most of my reading online (cheap, easy, and convenient). The Surfer Magazine website has tons of information, as well as an interesting forum. This realization, along with the fact that I seem to have less and less time for flipping thru a magazine has lead me to a decision to forego my subscription for now.

I realize that $37.97 is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I am trying to get myself out of the habit of spending money on auto pilot. I want to do a better job analyzing my purchases to ensure that I am getting the most bang for my buck.

So Far, So Good

We’re about 1/4 of the way thru July and my wife and I have done a good job thus far in keeping our expenses down. Our goal is for July to be our lightest expense month yet. That shouldn’t be too hard since we’ve spent an average of $7,110/month in the last four months. I’m hoping we can keep our July expenses in the vicinity of $6,500.

My wife and I are treating ourselves to a dinner date tonight, but to keep true to our goal, we’re taking advantage of a buy one, get one free coupon at an Italian restaurant in our neighborhood that we haven’t been to. We ordinarily spilt a meal when we go out, since the servings sizes in restaurants are usually huge. So, with a buy one, get one free deal, we’ll have a nice meal tonight and leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Got to love a deal.