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Archive for June, 2010

Buying used

June 20th, 2010 at 05:45 pm

This "Buy Used" challenge is helping me so much.

Here are some purchases I've passed up on so far this month, mostly out of laziness, because I wasn't motivated enough to track down a used version of it:

Wig $300
Teapot $40
Vermicomposter $90

The great thing about this challenge is that it allows me to continue saving money even when I'm ahead on my budget. For example, right now mint.com says I'm $240 ahead on my budget this month. (That means: if I were to spend $240 right now, the percent spent in my food/gas/fun category would match the percent of time passed so far this month.) If I weren't on this challenge, that $240 would be spent in a heartbeat on whatever urge happens to come up.

But even though I have $240 "available" for spending, I still don't plan to spend it right now. Why? Because spending it would involve effort. Research. Googling. Car trips to obscure places. I'd rather just relax with a nice cup of tea and enjoy my Sunday.

Buying Used - the best way for lazy people to save money! (I'm kidding of course ... by "lazy" I just mean people who value their time.)

A graph of my food spending

June 19th, 2010 at 06:30 pm

This is a graph of my food spending - including groceries and restaurants - since January 2010. Huge improvement as you can see. Smile

January and February were high because I was buying all of my groceries at Whole Foods - never again.

March was actually a really good month. I switched to farmer's markets and CSA instead of Whole Foods. March is high because it includes the $450 up-front cost of my CSA share, which gives me organic vegetables once a week for the entire summer and fall.

April was a good month for groceries but I was eating out pretty frequently (and my favorite restaurants are usually about $40 per person per meal including tip)

May and June I think I did great. I ate out once or twice a month and continued to buy 90% of my food from local farmers.

Even though I'm halfway through June, I actually don't need to spend anything else on food this month, and I probably don't need to spend anything on food well into July either - I have a freezer full of locally raised, grass-fed meat, and my weekly box of organic vegetables is paid for. Meat and vegetables are the base of the food pyramid for the grain-free, sugar-free eating plan that I'm following, so I'm all set for quite some time. (I'm following the Paleo Diet ... it has done wonders for my health and energy level, and it my completely cured my acne, but that's a story for another day!)

Anyway, I don't need to buy food for a while now. I expect food spending in July to be even lower since I already have so much food on hand.

I also have a variety of nice loose-leaf tea for work and home (which I include in my food budget because it's edible!) I think my tea stash should last a few weeks at least, although I'll probably replenish it in July.

I'm pretty happy with this improvement!

1-month emergency fund - done!

June 19th, 2010 at 03:39 pm

So I have $3000 in cash in my savings account at ING Direct now... a 1-month emergency fund.

To be honest, this $3000 will probably sit there until the end of 2010, and then it'll morph into an SEP-IRA contribution when I do my taxes. Optimizing my taxes is definitely a higher priority for me right now compared to stockpiling cash. I do that a lot ... if I have money lying around, and if it would lower my taxes for it to lie around in a different account, then I move it. Easy decision. Between the 401K and SEP-IRA, my tax bill will be about $6000-$7000 lower than it would be if I were stockpiling cash.

Also, I cancelled the future monthly payments to my brother. I felt so much uncertainty about whether or not I was helping him or making things worse. I wasn't even sure how to tell him "you're welcome" last month when he thanked me.

Do you ever get jaded about saving?

June 6th, 2010 at 08:10 pm

I do sometimes.

At the rate I'm currently saving for retirement, it's as if I've met the love of my life and we're lying in bed with our toes intertwined. You know how that is. Pillow-talking about sailing around the world when we're 50.

But in reality I have no such dream.

I'm totally, utterly, fundamentally single ... and more than that. I love my job. I love working. I love fixing things and solving problems, putting out fires and feeling respected.

If I picture myself retiring anytime in the foreseeable future, I can't help feeling like it would be boring and lonely.

The only savings goal I feel really excited about is helping my sister pay for college. That gives me a warm fuzzy.