Friday, January 5

My Frugal Miser - December Expenses: $1,643

I was happily frugal in December.  We enjoyed a week vacation in Las Vegas and Phoenix, where my winnings at the blackjack table more than paid for the trip.  I bought new brakes and rotors for my car, purchased $200 in restaurant gift cards, and prepaid some of my 2018 health insurance premiums.

December Expenses:  $1,643

$337 Auto ($79 for gas, $258 for service)
$0 Bank Fees
$72 Clothing
$0 Computer
($1055) Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol) - gain this month
$620 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$0 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$0 Homeowner's Insurance (annual payment)
$1,027 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid a portion of 2018 health insurance)
$0 Investment Expense
$54 Interest Expense*
$26 Medical/Dental (income)
$0 Miscellaneous
$0 Personal Care
$31 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$52 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$172 Utilities
$307 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 December, I paid $38 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of stock. 

Wednesday, January 3

My Frugal Miser - December Income: $11,529

My income was solid in December.  I received the bonus on the mystery shopping route I finished in November and worked a few meetings.  Most of the work I did though was driving for Amazon.  Two of my rental properties aren't producing income still.  I also realized some healthy stock gains.

December Income: $11,529

$1,583 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$16 Uber
$0 Lyft
$0 Postmates
$2,007 Amazon Deliveries
$5,720 Rental Income
$185 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$1,987 Realized Gains (Losses) on Investments
$31 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. 

Monday, January 1

My Frugal Miser - 2018 Goals

It's time once again to set my goals for the year.  Publishing my goals will keep me accountable and on-track.  My 2018 goals will be similar to 2017.  Why change what works?

Here are my goals for 2018

  • Simplify:  consolidate financial accounts and do business with fewer companies.
I will likely start over with Quicken.  I've been using the same database for years, and it's junky.  This alone will clean things up tremendously.  Doing business with fewer companies is all about reaping the benefits of loyalty and reducing paralysis by over-analysis.  I'm going to cut back on Groupon deals.  In the past we've gone to a restaurant 10 or 15 miles away because I got a good deal on Groupon.  Sure, I may have saved $10 on the meal, but I also wasted time and gas in the process, and had to worry about when the deal was going to expire.  When we travel, we will focus on Choice Hotels and IHG properties.  I still have a Marriott and Hilton credit card, but we will probably only stay at those properties when someone else is footing the bill (for work) or when I redeem points.  Basically, I want to spend less time making decisions when it comes to trivial things.
  • Debt:  Reduce outstanding debt to less than $125,000.  Pay off car loan and both credit card balance transfers.
I'm ending 2017 with about $163,000 in debt.  I have two large credit card balances from when I used 0% checks to pay off a mortgage.  Those will be paid off ASAP.  I also want to pay off my car loan.  Although the rate on the car loan is only 1.99%, the mileage on my car (over 130,000) is getting pretty high and I will probably need to purchase another car in 2018.
  • Spending:  Spend less on vacations and entertainment.  Cut spending on alcohol in half.
We drink too much.  Alcohol is empty calories.  The best way to measure whether or not we are cutting back on alcohol is to look at how much I spend on it.  For vacations and gambling entertainment, I don't necessarily need to cut back a lot.  I just don't want to spend more than I did last year.  2017 was a happy medium in terms of our vacationing enjoyment.
  • Personal Improvement:  Lose weight and get stronger.
My body is letting me know it is getting older.  I often deal with sore feet and a painful lower back.  My weight is close to an all-time high.  I have to do something about this.