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Tuesday, June 6

How I've Become Less Frugal Since This Blog Started

Every time I write my monthly spending report, I ask myself whether I am being as frugal as I possibly can be.  Of course, the answer is no.  There's a tricky balance between spending as little as possible and paying for the conveniences that make my life better.

There are a handful of expenses I could do without, but right now I choose not to:

  • I pay $26/month for an unlimited car wash package.  When a new car wash opened up a mile from my house, I caved.  It's so much easier to run the car through the wash and use the free vacuums.  I'm more likely to drive for Uber in my spare time now that my car is always clean.
  • I pay $35/month for a Wall Street Journal subscription.  I want to make money from investing and need the proper tools to do so.
  • I pay annual fees on three credit cards.  While I recently canceled two credit cards that charge an annual fee, I've decided to keep the other three for now.  It's simple:  the value I get from these cards is worth more than the fee I pay each year.  With that said, I may get rid of the Marriott Rewards card.  I get a free night each year, but the annual fee is $85.  On the IHG card, I also get a free night but only pay $49/year.

Sometimes I wonder if I justify my expenses as a way to avoid the effort of getting rid of them.  I don't think I am doing that.  Most of these costs help me either make more money or save money.   Plus, we continue to be more frugal than most of our peers.  Some of the things we don't spend money on include:

  • cable TV
  • trash removal
  • drinking at bars
  • expensive cars
  • jewelry, expensive clothes, and other status symbols

Sunday, June 4

My Frugal Miser - May Expenses: $9,892

My spending in May is deceptively high:  take out the non-recurring expenses, and I was moderately frugal last month.  In May, I advanced another $5,000 to the contractor who is remodeling both bathrooms in my home.  I spent $975 for the crown over my implant.  I'm happy to report this implant is completely done now.  I also paid E*Trade $832 to borrow shares of Sears stock.  Absent these costs, I spent about $3,000 last month.

One bit of good news:  I have now fully depreciated the cost of my car.  That has been one of the biggest monthly expenses.

Food spending for the two of us was $254, and most of that was eating out.   We were out of town 13 days last month and we usually don't have a way to heat food, so eating out is easiest.  In June we will be in Europe for 13 days and I expect our food spending to be especially high.

May Expenses:  $9,892

$1,145 Auto ($12 gas, $0 repairs/maintenance, $598 depreciation, $535 6 months insurance)
$277 Bank Fees (2% fee on 0% cash advance offer)
$13 Clothing
$0 Computer
$122 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$257 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$5,135 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid 2017 health insurance premiums in December 2016)
$0 Investment Expense
$847 Interest Expense*
$1,109 Medical/Dental
$0 Miscellaneous
$80 Personal Care
$35 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$63 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$403 Utilities
$380 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  In May, I paid $832 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock. 

Friday, June 2

My Frugal Miser - May Income: $12,101

May was a solid month.  I worked two big meetings and a few dinner meetings.  I also did a good bit of delivery driving for Amazon.  I made some money on a realized gain when I covered a short position on Sears Holdings.  The gains were achieved in one day, which I was pretty excited about.

May Income: $12,101

$3,247 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$47 Uber
$50 Lyft
$0 Postmates
$1,049 Amazon Deliveries
$6,355 Rental Income
$29 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$1,077 Realized Gains (Losses) on Investments
$247 Other Sources

  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.
  • I include merchandising and hospitality work in the mystery shopping category since the companies that I shop for provide this extra side work.