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Monday, August 6

My Frugal Miser - July Expenses: $5,362

July was really expensive.  A few expenses were prepaid items:  $500 towards health insurance premiums, $99 for annual moped insurance, and a quarterly tax payment of $1,819.  I booked a 6 day all-inclusive vacation in Playa del Carmen.  For $1,564 I purchased two round-trip flights, transportation to the resort, and six nights at an all-inclusive resort.  Last, we spent way too much on food.  We've developed a bad habit of eating out.  I think after we move we will be eating at home more often.

July Expenses:  $5,362

$64 Auto ($96 credit for changing insurance coverage, $99 for moped insurance, $61 for gas)
$49 Bank Fees
$20 Clothing
$34 Computer
$118 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets) 
$631 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$0Household/Housing/Home Repair
$0 Homeowner's Insurance (annual payment)
$528 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid a portion of 2018 health insurance)
$0 Investment Expense
$109 Interest Expense*
$8 Medical/Dental
$7 Miscellaneous
$25 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$1,819 Taxes
$52 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$52 Unreimbursed Employee Expenses
$283 Utilities
$1,564 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.  

Saturday, August 4

Getting Simple, and the Hidden Benefit of Paying Off My Car Loan

I decided to pay my car loan early!  Besides dressing up my credit profile for the mortgage underwriters, I wanted to eliminate the comprehensive and collision coverage from my car.  I have so many miles on the Sonata that it isn't worth much, so why pay to insure the replacement value?  Once I updated GEICO, I saw a savings of close to 20% on my policy.  GEICO automatically and immediately refunded my credit card to reflect the savings.

Speaking of underwriters, we still haven't closed on the house.  Originally it was going to close by the end of July.  Getting a mortgage isn't as easy as it used to be.  Apparently the hold-up is the condo association at a property I rent in Birmingham.  I have complete records of every monthly payment I have ever made for the condo dues.  However, the underwriters want a statement from the association showing the payments being applied to the dues.  It's a small association managed by the owners, and all of them are elderly.  They don't create monthly statements.  In fact, the last time the dues went up, I got a phone call from a resident asking if I was okay paying an extra $10/month to cover increasing costs.  It's a very informal association, but the underwriters are hung up on it and want paperwork.  Talk about losing sight of the big picture!

More Simplifying

It feels great to eliminate things and processes that don't add joy to my life.  Here's what I've been working on:

Cutting out Recurring Costs

  • In preparation for the move I canceled my car wash plan.  That was $26/month.  I have a pressure washer and plan to use that at the new house to wash the car.
  • Getting rid of the car loan eliminates one large recurring monthly cost.  Finding other costs I can eliminate is a priority.
  • After we close on the house I'm going to consolidate credit cards that charge an annual fee.  This will simplify data entry (fewer accounts to keep track of in my new spreadsheet - see below) in addition to reducing expenses.

Saving Time and Eliminating More Stuff

  • I'm creating a spreadsheet to track all my finances.  It's fairly robust and I am building it from scratch.  Once I am happy with it, I will stop using Quicken and sell the computer I have dedicated to my finances.
  • I've been selling a few things on ebay.  We also have filled another box with charitable donations.
  • I've cut way back on mystery shopping.  When you account for preparation (studying guidelines, printing stuff out) and report time, the pay is simply too low.  I'll still do a few shops when it makes sense.

Keyless and Cardless

  • In preparation for converting our house to an AirBnb, I installed keyless locks.  Once we move into our new house, I'll change those locks as well.  
  • I'm using up my stash of gift cards and getting rid of plastic loyalty cards when I can store the card on an app.

More Focus

  • For the same reason I've cut back on mystery shopping, I also plan to focus my energy on work that moves the financial needle.  If the AirBnb is successful, I will do more of it.  This means I will do less of the myriad other jobs I have.
  • With meeting jobs specifically, I will take a closer look at each opportunity.  Some, for example, require unpaid preparation, which can be very annoying.  A job next week has already required a dozen emails, a conference call, and a couple of phone calls.  The pay looks okay when all I think about are the hours I will be onsite.  It's much less if I include all this other time and effort.
  • I'm going to reduce choices in my life.  This is part loyalty to fewer companies and part paying for time savings.  I need more routine, less shopping around for the best deal.  

Thursday, August 2

My Frugal Miser - July Income: $7,242

July was only a mediocre income month.  As meeting season slows, I took some lower paying work.  Rental income was somewhat higher than I reported, as I am netting out the expenses I had on 4 of my properties.  I had some expensive repairs including replacing a water heater, a large A/C repair, and some plumbing repairs.  I also did not receive rent on two occupied properties.

July Income: $7,242

$193 Mystery Shopping
$983 Meeting Jobs
$40 Reimbursed Job Expenses
$64 Uber
$53 Lyft
$0 Postmates
$2,027 Amazon Deliveries
$3,830 Rental Income
$23 Interest Income
$31 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $340

  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.