Officially Debt Free…

Mar 27, 2009 @ 12:04 pm by EMS

…other than the mortgage, of course.

Today I paid the final full payment for our van, making it two vehicles we own in the clear and no revolving credit card debt. While not the first time we’ve been free of any vehicle debt, it still feels good.

My goal now is to save up enough to put at least 50% down on our next vehicle purchase, which probably won’t happen until we get our second child out of daycare.

Electric Bill With New Hot Water Heater

Mar 13, 2009 @ 03:22 pm by EMS

Ever since I installed the new electric hot water heater and moved away from the natural gas water heater, I’ve been concerned about its operating cost.  Well, today the electric bill for February arrived.  It ended up being only about $17 more than January’s.  I have to attribute pretty much all of that to the new hot water heater.

Unfortunately, this month’s natural gas bill was an estimate, so I’m unable to tell how much my gas bill will decrease.  However, my gut feel is that I was definitely spending more than $17/month on heating the hot water based upon some of the bills that we would get during the summer months, when the house heating would have been turned off.

LED Light Bulb Experiment – Not So Good

Mar 03, 2009 @ 12:06 pm by EMS

In late December 2008, I purchased a 3 pack of LED light bulbs from Sam’s Club.  While the bulbs were expensive, topping out a $15 for the 3 pack, I figured that buying one pack as a test would be a reasonable expense.

The bulbs advertised that they use 10% of the electricity of a normal incandescent bulb.  The bulbs I bought were for a candelabra light, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to test that claim using the Kill-A-Watt.  The candelabra that I would be putting the bulbs in had room for 6 bulbs, so I would be replacing 3 of those with the new LED lights.

The first thing that I noticed after installing them was that these bulbs were no where as bright as the incandescents they were replacing.  Since I was only replacing three bulbs out of six, I was able to get away with it.  However, if I had bought six bulbs, I’m sure that they would not have had produced enough light to be a practical replacement.

The bulbs actually didn’t look too bad.  Unlike some of the florescent bulbs that I’ve tried, these bulbs didn’t look too cheesy in the candelabra.

The bad news is that within 3 weeks of installation, the bulbs started to die (unfortunately, I can’t identify a specific date because the bulbs are so dim that I may not have noticed that one of them had died right away).  After the first bulb stopped working, I emailed the manufacturer, Lights of America to see if I could get a replacement.  That was on February 6th, and as of March 2nd, I still have not received a response.

The remaining two bulbs both died within three weeks of the first failure.

As far as electricity savings are concerned, my electric bill did decrease about 10% in the given time frame, however, I had also purchased a new, more efficient, refrigerator which is probably more responsible for the decrease than the LEDs bulbs.

Given this experience, I cannot recommend these LED bulbs at this time.  They just aren’t durable enough or pump out enough light.

Disclaimer: I did install the lights on a lighting fixture that is controlled by a dimmer switch.  However, the dimmer control is incorporated into the light switch (not a circular knob) and is left on “full” at all times.  The LED light packaging states that they do not recommend installing the lights on a dimmer circuit.  If someone has had better luck with these LED lights from Sam’s Club, please post in the comments.

February 2009 Net Worth Report (-$719)

Mar 02, 2009 @ 11:51 am by EMS

Given the market’s performance in February, one might look at my $719 loss for the month and think that I dodged a bullet.  However, once you account that this number includes about $3,500 that I received as a tax rebate, then the picture doesn’t look so rosy.

I did have some out of the ordinary expenses this week, including a $700 hot water heater and a $300 Panasonic Video Camera.  While the hot water heater was not an emergency purchase, it had been something I wanted to install to increase our home’s energy efficiency.  The camera was something we’ve been thinking about getting for several years and the rebate check made it a possibility.

So, where did the rest of the rebate check go?

  • $1,500 went into savings for a new vehicle.
  • $1,000 went into a Roth IRA and bought PFE, which of course has lost some value already.
  • The balance went into kids college savings.

In March, I expect to pay off at least $4,000 worth of credit card debt which has been riding on a 0% interest deal for the past 10-11 months.  Additionally, March will be the month in which one of our vehicles becomes 99.99% paid for. We’re looking forward to going car payment free for at least 12 months!


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