Frustrating Cash Flow

Aug 13, 2010 @ 10:03 am by EMS

The months of July and August have been frustrating in regards to our cash flow.  In addition to paying for our vacations, we’ve had all 3 kids in daycare, which is raking up weekly bills of $280.  In addition, this hot summer has led us my wife to keep the air conditioning on nearly 24/7 resulting in $125+ electric bills each month.  Additionally, we started the process of the water line installation with a $500 deposit to an excavation contractor, and will will have to save an additional $800-$1,000 from what I had originally expected because I underestimated the cost of installing the line to the house.

We’ve been faithfully saving 15% of my paycheck each month, but I’m afraid that I’m going to have to pause that plan for at least this pay period to get caught back up with things.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel though.  In 3 weeks, our middle child will begin full-day kindergarten, which means that we’ll have only one child in daycare, which hasn’t been the case in nearly 7 years.  I also finally installed an outdoor clothes line which will hopefully significantly decrease the amount of electricity we are using to do our laundry.  I’ve been trying hard to exclusively use our debit card in order to keep our credit card debt to less than $1,000 for the September billing cycle, at which point we should be pretty good shape again.

Prayers Going out to Virginia Tech

Apr 17, 2007 @ 11:16 am by EMS

Sometimes we focus so much on money, jobs, etc… that we forget about the important things in life. That’s how I felt yesterday because some nut-job went crazy at Virginia Tech and killed at least 30 people. This world and country have become a scary place in a lot of aspects. I guess this tragedy hit home closer than most because I visited Blacksburg not so long ago and remarked how similar it was to the area in which I live. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen in small college towns.

But what can we do to stop it? If someone goes nuts and wants a gun bad enough, he/she can get it (with our without gun control laws). I visit a lot of universities, and I generally can walk into any academic building without question, much like the shooter did. At what point do we start limiting access to “public” places? Can we do that? Should we do that? Do we stop living our lives and become cloistered in a cement basement? I don’t know and don’t have any answers.

All I know is that when I got home last night, I spent more time with my kids and told them repeatedly that I loved them. It’s days like that that almost make me feel guilty for bringing more life into this world.

I can’t imagine what the victims’ parents (or any parent of a victim of violent crime) are going through right now, but our prayers are with you.

Consumer Whore Weekend

Feb 12, 2007 @ 09:29 am by EMS

This was one of those weekends where I deviated from my normally fiscally responsible ways. It just seemed that since we had nothing else to do in the freezing weather, we decided to buy things. Nothing that we purchased was too terribly wasteful or not needed, but we just seemed to head to the stores in abundance these past 2 days.

  • 2 (actually 3) humidifiers/vaporizes – The air has been extremely dry as of late and both of our kids have had colds. We previously only had 1 vaporizer that we swapped between rooms of whichever child was sicker. Now that we have another one coming (yes, my wife is pregnant again, our third should be arriving in July!), we decided we needed to get one more. I went out Friday night and picked a new humidifier. However, it was too noisy for our 3 year old who seems to require a sensory-deprivation chamber to sleep. So, we decided to keep the humidifier anyway, and get a quiet vaporizer for his room. We did so, my wife didn’t like the one I bought, so she returned it and bought another one. The total damage for these items was about $50.
  • New coffee machine – My single serve coffee maker has been acting up quite a bit lately, so I deemed it time for a new one. I found an open box Senseo at Target and bought it for $40 (marked down from $60). I think I could have done a bit better from eBay.
  • On Saturday, I decided to test my skills as a plumber and replace a bathtub faucet. This normally mundane task became a big weekend project. Long story short, I managed to twist the copper pipe that the faucet connected to until it broke off. This pipe, as well as the elbow joint it connected to would require replacing. Since I had never worked with copper plumbing before, my dad had to come down and give me a soldering lesson. While I did learn a new skill which will hopefully be an asset in the future, I did end up spending close to $60 on a new faucet and the necessary tools/piping to finish the job.

The one fiscal aspect this weekend where I think I actually did prevent us from spending was that I fixed our garage door opener. It had stopped working last Monday and at first glance, it appeared that the motor had frozen up with the cold weather (the high on Monday was around 5 degrees).  After things warmed up, the door still didn’t work.  I took apart the casing for a closer look and lubricated all the moving parts.  It still didn’t work, so I figured that the motor had gone bad.  In a final move of desperation, I removed the chain and lubricated it along with the track that it runs on.  That solved the problem, and probably prevented us from buying a $150 replacement.

I guess these weekends will happen from time to time, so there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.  I’ll just have to convert back to my cheap ways starting today!

The High Cost of Vending Machines

Oct 31, 2006 @ 10:48 am by EMS

I’m pretty much addicted to Starbuck’s Frappucino.  I swear they put crack in as one of their ingredients.  The problem with this is that that the stuff isn’t cheap.  It generally goes for at least $2 in convenience stores.  I’m guess I’m lucky because I can get it for only $1.50 at a nearby vending machine.

Well, today I forced myself to do some math that I’ve been dreading.  Given that there are 22 work days in October, I found that if I indulge every day like I have been doing, then it’s going to cost me $33.  Not such a big deal I say to myself.  But then I multiplied that by 12 to find out an estimate of how much I spend per year and was a bit shocked – $396. That’s close to what I pay yearly for Internet Service, about 2 or 3 months of gas, or about 6 months worth of cable TV!!

My solution – I don’t think I can give up a “treat” during the work day, so I went to the local Sam’s Club and picked up a case of “upscale” hot chocolate packets at a price of $10 for about 50 packets.  This will be a heck of a lot cheaper alternative to the Frappucino, but I think it will suffice, and save me about $300 a year.

Custom Personal Finance Web Search

Oct 24, 2006 @ 12:41 pm by EMS

Google announced Google Co-Op today, so I thought I’d give it a try. Co-Op allows you to create a custom search form and gives you the ability to limit what sites Google gets results from. My search bar is at the top of the left hand sidebar of this blog and searches through some of my favorite personal finance blogs. If I missed some that you feel should be added, please list them in the comments section!



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