<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: Household Expenses
 

Viewing the 'Household Expenses' Category

So Mint has made some good progress lately

March 30th, 2014 at 08:58 am

I am playing around with it for the first time in quite a while, and they seem to have made some very nice improvements as far as automagically categorizing transactions. And that was one of my main impediments - it was so frustrating to have to make the same corrections every month. Now it does "rules", similar to Outlook, that will go back and adjust categories and descriptions, etc. So now I am close to seeing a reasonable breakdown of my monthly spending.

It is very nice to be able to cut through the noise and see spending patterns. Now my next big challenge is unusual items always upset the pattern - big payments, yearly bonus, etc.

So maybe now I can get back to better monitoring and therefore adjustment of the old cash outpouring!

So are there any other users of Mint out there? The usability is getting close to the old Windows 3.1 Quicken that was very slick.

First week in my new job - so far so good!

January 22nd, 2012 at 09:06 am

I just started a new job within the same company at another location, after the old location closed.

So far it is pretty nice. There are a lot of similarities with the old job but there is enough that is new and different to keep me well stimulated.

I got very lucky in that the first few problems I was assigned were right up my alley, so I was able to help and also help transfer some of my skills to other people to help them contribute. All in all, very satisfying.

The main downside is the distance - for now I am commuting a VERY long distance. I need to figure out how I am going to handle that.

On the finance side, I was able to keep a nice salary and benefits, but with the added commuting costs it is a minor net loss, especially when compared to how bad it could have been. So I need to cut costs NOW! Hence, I am back here! I am spending today cutting down my ever-present stack of mail! Two things I need to do immediately are refinance some CC debt to 0% and renegotiate my cable bill and get rid of my landline.

So has anyone else here moved from Quickenonline to Mint?

August 31st, 2010 at 06:26 pm

I have and it looks pretty similar. It makes some pretty stupid extrapolations from data it gets.

Goodbye to bottled water (almost) PURFilter is nice!

July 18th, 2010 at 01:54 pm

Our tap water has a bad enough taste (mainly from chlorine) that we used to buy those 2.5 gallon jugs of water. But since we started using a PURFilter oval pitcher, that has stopped, except of course for the portable bottles. So besides the substantial savings, we are generating less waste, and both are nice frugal things to do.

There only real downside is that sometimes the filtering can be a little slow, as the filter gets older. Being cheap as heck, of course I planned to replace the filter way less than the recommended 1-2 month interval, since it is just being filtered for taste. I figure I would taste any breakthrough. But that plan looks like it is being jeopardized because the filter getting slow as it ages is a problem because then the unfiltered water gets poured out before the filtered water when used if the top section hasn't drained down yet. And man, is there ever a difference in filter price depending on where you buy it. At our local Shop-rite, one is $12.99! Versus about $6.50 or so at Amazon.

I find this pitcher a lot more aesthetic than having one of those big contraptions on the faucet, but who knows, I may do that later. But for now, I am very happy with it.

Oh man! I only paid off a net $100/month over the last four months!

January 17th, 2010 at 06:45 am

This is despite thousands in payments. No, I don't have massive interest rates (although some have skyrocketed and need to be paid off badly, Capital One), but I do have massive Christmas costs that pretty much offset my payments.



I guess I need to get more serious - I think getting some Dave Ramsey books is in order. I have got the family on board more than before, but Christmas has ALWAYS been our Achilles Heel. I would like nothing better than to institute a no charge policy for Christmas. We have at least made most Christmas costs clothing costs which have come down somewhat over the rest of the year. For now I will go run some numbers on Quickenonline, my usual post-Christmas wallowing in grief.

The New Year, Debt, and Insanity...

January 9th, 2010 at 06:58 am

I always love the fresh start in January, and if you plotted my post frequency here, well.. (maybe I'll actually do that for fun!). You know, - a new year, fresh beginnings, all that crap. Smile

I love doing the small things I can do to try to crawl out of debt - mainly economizing on food and cars and other household expenses. But as I was doing the math on the new year, I realize that that ain't enough! While we do finally now spend less than I make (except of course for college), the margin is pretty darn thin! So small stuff ain't gonna' do it. Frown

I have no real point here, just thinking out loud. And you know the old saw about insanity is doing the same old thing and expecting different results. I think I have managed on some level to convince my girls that money is hard to retain. They both realize they need to cut back on daily expenses and they do very well on that for the most part, but they love their big somewhat expensive trips. I guess you are only young once, and at least they know the trade-off they are making.

I think my malaise has to do with how the US has become a place where it is very costly to live! That has to be leading to our non-competitiveness, when you consider that we pay WAY more than most places to support our government. OK, maybe Europe etc. does pay more, but they get more in return, like HEALTH CARE! I'm mostly looking at China and India who are both chock full of people quite willing to do jobs we used to do for a LOT less, and IMO that has to be mainly due to a smaller government tax burden, cost of insurance, etc. Maybe not, but I think it's a good guess!

So anyway, help me out! How can I stop being insane, live a good life and pay off this darn debt?! What hurts me is I LOVE a frugal life, but trying to live like most Americans is what put us in this hole. That debt is mostly clothes, toys (I HATE AMERICAN GIRL), vacations, years of swim and dance lessons with associated costs, and eating out, AFAIK. We have always been pretty darn frugal on cars, buying good ones and driving them until they drop.

Oh man - what a difference a year makes!

July 28th, 2009 at 06:51 pm

I applied for a private student loan for my college daughter, and I was turned down, even with me as a co-signer, they said because of my credit rating! And last year I got one at 1% over prime. So in one year I apparently went from a very good rating to trash? I think the credit crunch is hitting big time!

This really stinks. I had planned to use loans to get both daughters through, and then once I could withdraw from a 401k after age 59.5 to get them paid off. But I was concerned that this might happen. Why have I died and gone to hell?

Man, graduation/birthday season is expensive!

June 8th, 2009 at 05:01 pm

It seems like April/May/June are pretty darn expensive months! If it isn't graduations, it's birthdays. OK, that's my poor excuse for a post for June. Smile I guess I'll go update my Goals pages.

Help me decide whether I should get my daughter a car!

May 3rd, 2009 at 10:08 am

OK, for the hardcore here, I'm sure that the correct answer is no, since I do not have the money. Case closed!

So if we go with that, do we be really mean and make a senior ride the bus to school, or more realistically, have her mom take her as in the last two years since the bus leaves WAY earlier.

One big problem is that the darn high school parking lot is like a demolition derby for not just door dings, but MAJOR door dents! They just about ruined the beautiful 2002 Accord my older daughter took there her senior year.

The killer for me is I am a cheap car guy (yes, I know, definitely an oxymoron, especially with insurance and repairs). So one of my favorite things in the world is to get a nice old fully depreciated Honda for her to drive. The killer is the insurance. Ouch! But I'm still thinking of a REALLY cheap car with only liability. Help me decide!

The Winter Savings Effect

February 19th, 2009 at 02:03 pm

Has anyone else noticed that it is MUCH easier to save in the winter than in the other seasons? I think it is because cocooning is so darn cheap. I know with my wife and kids, if they are out somewhere, they are spending money. So the only time I ever come close to catching up is January through April - unfortunately a very short season.

So what is the Ideal Budget?

February 16th, 2009 at 04:20 pm

Does it look like this, the top Google hit?

[url]http://7million7years.com/2008/08/29/ideal-budget-alloc...

In lieu of anything else, it looks pretty close to me. I'd like to post my actual numbers next to it for a critique from you people, hopefully I'll have that ready in a few days. What I do know is mine is far from that! Oh, housing is dead on, but debt service is a TAD higher. Arghh.

So the numbers in descending order are :
Housing 30%
Transportation 14%
Food 12%
Entertainment/Recreation 7%
Clothing 6%
Misc. 6%
Debt 5%
Savings 5%
Investments 5%
Insurance 5%
Medical/Dental 5%
Total 100%

Some difficulties with quicken online are slowing me down, but luckily I found the help forums, and a fix for the problem I am having is due in February. In the meantime I'll probably just resort to Excel.

Man, budgeting is a bear!

February 15th, 2009 at 09:02 am

The good news is that Quickenonline FINALLY co-operated in accepting the CC data from my CU. I re-entered the login data and it finally started working, so now I have four months of CC data to work with. So it will pick up things like periodic charges for bridge tolls (it stinks having to commute over a toll bridge!) and anything else that goes on the CC and needs to be budgeted.

I guess it isn't telling me anything that I didn't already know, that our excess spending is manifested in a rising CC balance over the last six months or so. The trick I guess is annualizing things like auto maintenance and Christmas expenses.

And I have basically stopped using the CC, converting to cash for the occasional dining out so that I feel the pain, and it works! But my wife has not slowed down as much as I had thought. Arggghhh!!

Oh well, back at it.

Better to go Cold Turkey When Cutting Spending?

February 14th, 2009 at 11:56 am

A quote that really stuck with me from the TV series that I just discovered called "Maxed Out" was a woman saying it was easier to just stop spending money than to try to just cut back. This was in reference to eating out. Makes sense, sort of like alcoholism, you have to stop, not just slow down!

But realistically, severely scaling back can be a great feeling. Then it feels just wonderful to splurge once in a great while on very small things. It seems more special when it is unusual. The habit of eating out all the time drives me bonkers - what a waste of money!

We've still got a long way to go, and it is very hard for me because it's indirect, in that I'm trying to control my family's spending, although I still take challenge in making my frugal ways even more frugal. What I've realized is that my accounting sucks. It's not a be all and end all to know where the money is flying away, but it is a necessary first step to getting control and setting a realistic budget. It gives me a common language to use with them, like "we did very well on eating out last month, so we can go out once this month, etc." If it all just gets sucked up into the big black hole of debt, it's much harder to visualize. I think that is what most of America has lost with Credit Cards, that necessity of give and take to balance things out. It's like a cultural collective madness - I'm sure most people just follow the crowd, most of who can't afford to go out all the time either. That's why I've always appreciated the viewpoint of depression era people - they know the deal.