Thursday, September 29, 2011

If you Don't Change Your Habits; You are Just Changing Geography

Last night was the first night in the fifth wheel.  Finally there.  We still have a few things to do to get completely out of the house.  Have one more load, sweep, mop, clean carpets and paint our room.  We are trying to get that done by Sunday night.  Wish us luck.

So now that we are there it is time to get to business.  The business of saving money.  When we first came up with this idea I ran it by a lot of people.  The person that I really wanted feed back was my cousin, Kevin.  He said something that just keeps playing over and over in my mind.  "If you don't change your habits, all you have done is change geography."  That was a pretty powerful statement.

Okay, so where to start......
1.  Our biggest drain of money was all the people that we had living with us for free.  Using electricity that they didn't pay for, taking showers, washing clothes with extra wash and rinse and......all the other stuff.  That drain on our wallets is done.  Please don't get me wrong we love our family and we are glad we could help, but it was time.

2. Eating Out - due to our job we tend to eat out a lot.  At least it was easy to blame the job.  There was a time that I cooked and packed a cooler.  We ate better, felt better and saved a lot of money.  I hate to admit it but I just added up the receipts in my wallet.  We spent $649 eating out and getting drinks and snacks at the convience store.  That was over the last two weeks!!!!!  That's nuts.  Goal for the next two weeks to limit our total food bill to $250.  That includes all eating out, drinks, snacks and even Woody's Coffee fix.  Going to get cash and put it in my wallet and when it is gone it is gone.

3. Sliding that little card - Do you know how easy it is to spend money when you slide a little plastic card?  It doesn't matter if it is a credit card or a debit card.  The money just seems to vanish.  We are going to sit down and discuss all swipes of that little card.  We have agreed that neither of us can swipe without talking to the other.  Impulse buying is the biggest drain on the balance on those little cards.  BTW we have no more credit cards.  We have a prepaid card that doesn't charge a monthly fee if there is a direct deposit made to it.  We have part of our paycheck going there and we are building up a balance to be used for an emergency.

It is amazing what you spend when you really sit down and look at it.  We spend $5.25 everytime we get coffee.  Sometimes we go twice a day.  A pound of the same coffee is $9.00.  Allowing for the cream and sugar a cup of coffee made at home is $0.22 and a cup at the coffee shop is $2.62.  That is a $1700 per year savings!!!!!

We are going to work on these for a month and master them.  The next big goal is to quit smoking. That would save us over $1500 a year.

Who would have thought that we spend more on coffee than I do on cigarettes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Drowning - I need a Life Rope

I felt like I was suffocating and couldn't breathe.  I was walking around in a funk, always biting everyone's head off.  I didn't mean to be nasty but I couldn't help it. I didn't know why.  I hated payday.  I knew that before the money hit the bank it would be gone.  The sad part is it wasn't on loans or credit cards.  It was on bills.  They has spirled out of control.

$789 for lights, $546 for water, $239 for cable and internet, $680 for cell phones and an ever growing grocery bill.  We were drowning in bills.  The bad part is that we didn't make most of them.  We allowed them to happen.  We had to take control of them.

We have cut out the water bill all together when we moved to the new lot.  We have a pump and a septic tank.  Savings $546.  Light bill down $150.  Savings $ 639.  Cable reduced to $39.  Savings of $200 and everyone has to pay for their own cell phone by the due date or they get cut off.   That was an instant savings and an increase to out bottom line,

I felt so much better once I admitted to and faced the bills that were sucking us dry.  Woody and I have a plan to get us out of this mud and are moving on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Making a Change to Reach Our Dreams

A few years ago Woody and I talked about giving up all of the comforts of a big house and moving to our paid for 5th wheel.  The idea sounded good at first, but within a few months we had moved from our 2200 sq ft house to a 3300 sq ft house.  We had it all, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, walk in closets, formal living room and dining room, den screened in porch and a pool.  It was a beautiful neighborhood with paved roads, concrete drive and well kept lawns.  We had kept up with the Jone's.

The strange part is that we weren't really looking for a new house, we just kinda fell into it.  We loved our new house.  We updated the paint, had a beautiful spare bedroom filled with antique furniture.  We bought a baby grand piano for the "Uppity Room", as Woody called it.  Neither one of us could play a note.  Just a few months after we moved in Woody's grandmother got sick. 

Our "Big House" allowed us the opportunity for the entire family to come together and spend the last few weeks of her life with her.  We played, swam in the pool, had family dinners and spent family time on the back porch. No less than 25 people at any one time, with showers, meals and dishes.  I thank God that he allowed us have a place where we could all come together.  During that time Seth moved back in with us,

Three months later when Woody's mom and dad came to help with the final arrangements for Woody's other grandma his dad was put in the hospital and was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  As a result of him no longer being able to work and needing medical care they moved in with us.  Three trips to Atlanta, two of the biggest U-Hauls they make and 2 storage buildings later they were moved in.

Fast forward to almost a year later.  David had moved in for about 2 months during that time and Meghan came and stayed so she could be closer to school, renting a room.  During the past year we saw our bills steadily climb.  The light bill went to $700 a month, with one or two over $900.  The water bill increased to over $250.  The cable bill more than doubled with the addition of cable.  Not to mention the increase in the grocery bill. 

During the late spring Woody and I started our own company, Woody's Range Wear.  A line of bullet jewelry and accessories.  The initial start up cost were not cheap and although within a few months we were no longer going in the red, we still have not recouped our initial cost.

After about the third time of Woody and I having run out of money with 5 or 6 days to payday we sat down and took a long hard look at out bills.  We quickly found out that we were spending over $4000 a month to pay the household bills.  That is a lot of money to spend for a house that we only stay in about 8 - 10 days a month. That amounted to $400 - $500 a day.  Think about the hotel I could have stayed in for that price.  It was then that we knew we had to make a change.

Let's face facts, we are in EMS and I really don't see me climbing into an ambulance at 65 years old.  We had to come up with a plan that would allow us to become debt free, and have a house with no mortgage.  While our plan may seem a little strange to most it is the plan that works for us.  We are getting rid of the 3300 sq ft house and moving into a 30 ft long fifth wheel that is paid for.  We have bought a 12 x 32 storage building that we have converted to Woody's Range Wear office and shop.  All of this is going onto an acre lot that a friend owns.  We will be paying $250 a month for lot rent, lights, water and trash. That is a net savings of $3750.  Allowing for unforeseen expenses we figure a savings of about $3500.  We will be using that money to pay off our vehicle loans and a few other bills.  We will be debt free in about a year or less.  We are going to buy a bigger 5th wheel to live in and we will use the other to take to our land.  We own 78 acres in the country.  Once we become debt free we will be saving to build us a house.  I am quite excited that we will have a home that is paid for before I am 50!!!!!

Along the way we are looking for ways to save money and increase out wallets.  Check back to monitor our progress.