Wednesday, April 27

Taking Some Time Off

I've been terrible about keeping up the blog lately because I've been a little burned out with the restaurant. I've not taken a single day off. That's about to change. Tomorrow after work my partner and I will travel to Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting. I need my annual dose of Warren Buffett to keep me focused. Surprisingly it wasn't too hard to make these arrangements at work - our investor, who usually works a few hours a week, has agreed to fill my shoes.

We will probably close the restaurant anyway. I hate to do this so soon (we've only been open 100 days or so) but we are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of sales. Last week I told my business partner that if all we needed to do was grow sales by 20-30%, I would look at this as a challenge we could tackle. Instead, we need to triple our sales just to break even and pay ourselves a very modest salary. There's no way we can triple our sales, and even if we did I would still only be earning $500 a week.

In more positive news I am making steady progress at paying down my debt. All my tenants have stayed current on their rent for several months which really stabilizes my cash flow. More on this when I post my monthly financial update.


Friday, April 8

Frugal Sacrifices

My frugality seems weird to some people, but after a while the frugal ways become second nature and are hardly a nuisance, especially since I save money. Examples:
  • Wednesday is garbage day at my house. But unlike my neighbors, there's a bit more to waste removal at my house. Rather than spend $17 a month for the privelege of leaving my trash at the street, I find other places to dispose of it. Lately that place has been the dumpster behind the restaurant. I also have the key to the dumpster at one of my rental properties.
  • I stopped using my clothes dryer for everything but towels. I would air dry them, too, if I could figure out how to keep them from smelling. When a load of laundry is ready, I hang the clothes on a plastic hanger and then hang them on my back porch on my clothes line.
  • I haven't had cable TV in forever. And since the switch to digital TV, I have more channels to choose from. I even found a music video station the other night. Between that and my $10 per month Netflix subscription I don't see the need for cable.
I don't look at these things as a way to save money and just stop there. Saving money means I can retire sooner or not work as hard. Since I like to work I use the savings to pay off my debt.

Tuesday, April 5

My Frugal Miser - March Expenses: $2,560


I was reasonably frugal again in March. Since I am at work every day I am too tired to spend money. It's nice being able to pay down debt.






March Expenses

$565 Auto ($176 for fuel, $289 for depreciation, $100 for service)
$0 Clothing
$37 Food
$11 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$0 Gifts Given
$173 Household (annual termite bond)
$100 Health Insurance
$0 Medical
$143 Interest on Debt (not including Mortgage Interest)
$0 Miscellaneous
$420 Mortgage Interest (primary residence)
$798 Mortgage Interest (rental properties)
$0 Personal Care
$12 Subscriptions
$35 Taxes
$266 Utilities
$0 Vacation

Total March Expenses : $2,560

Notes

  • For the second month my food budget benefited from me working in a restaurant.
  • None of my other expenses were out of the ordinary in March.

Monday, April 4

My Frugal Miser - March Income: $8,956

March was an impressvie month for income, even though I only paid myself $500 for my work at the restaurant. I can attribute a large part of my income to one-time events, unfortunately. I gave my mom a large amount of money a while back when she had some emergency expenses. She came into some money in March and paid me back in full. One of my tenants (who is also a friend) also paid me back money I was owed (for some things I sold him and a loan I made, not for rent) after he received a lump sum.



March Income
$79 Mystery Shopping*
$3,837 Rental Income
$500 Salary
$4,539 Other Sources
$8,956 Total Income for March
*I did a fair amount of mystery shopping in March but will be paid in April.

Notes:

  • The category "Other Sources" includes non-recurring (or semi-recurring) income since I always seem to have a little something that doesn't fall into the other buckets.

Friday, April 1

Vehicles and the True Cost of Ownership: How Much is My Car Really Costing Me?

I drove more miles in my Pontiac G5 last month. The last several days I've been mystery shopping and merchandising in the evenings after work. Some of the gas stations I shopped entailed driving hundreds of miles.

I determined that each mile I drive costs me $.0867 in depreciation. In March I drove 3,333 miles. My vehicle depreciation expense was $288.97.

This month I will also do some shops to supplement my cash flow so I expect to drive a decent amount.