Tuesday, March 11, 2014
A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair the rest of his life.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I get antsy to get out of my house...often. I have a lovely home, a large garden, and televisions in each room, but still wanderlust hits me most days.
And yet, I like most people pay or did pay, close to $77 a day for the privilege of living here. And with rent rates like that, I really feel I ought to be here more.
At the most basic, to live here, I pay electric, gas, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and until recently, a mortgage. In order of costs, it breaks down like this.
Our mortgage, when we had one, cost roughly $1200 per month. That breaks down to about $40.00 per day.
Our real estate taxes are $6000 a year, or a bit over $16.00 per day (you better believe our kids are going to public school;-).
Our electric bill averages $162 per month or $5.42 a day.
Our gas bill, averaged over the year is $4.50 per day.
Our house insurance is about $1.83 per day. .
Add to that, maintenance costs, which are suggested at 1% per year. http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=25490855
That means with inflation, your maintenance costs will continue to go up. Our house is valued at $250,000 so according to that estimate, we will pay $2500 per year maintaining it - that includes roof, windows, furnace, hot water heater, etc. And that would be minimum. My guess is ours is higher. But at that figure, we spend another $208 a month or $6.94 per day on maintenance.
As I mentioned, we are lucky to have paid off our mortgage, but still, that leaves almost $37 a day to be here. So what are the options?
We love our home and neighborhood so have no intention of moving, certainly not "buying up". At the same time, it does leave me pondering how to reduce the cost per day. At $37 a day, divided into six main rooms, we spend $6 per day, per room to live here.
Without a mortgage, we still pay $1110 a month or $13,320 a year for housing costs.
Tomorrow, before I hit the open road for some coffee house to settle into for a few hours of work, I will see if my own home may suit me as well. :-)
Knowledge + Action = Financial Independence!
Take fifteen minutes and add up the costs of your monthly mortgage, real estate taxes, electric, gas, and insurance and divide by 30. Now you know what your digs cost you each day. Maybe it's time to downsize, or simply stay in a bit more and enjoy those accommodations
Friday, July 19, 2013
Inspired after reading about how "stuff" keeps Americans from doing the stuff they'd like - spending time in the yard - I started on a new goal - 2,000 items out by the end of the month. The first 200 were frighteningly easy;-) Interestingly, the person at Goodwill who helped us unload told me he has "NOTHING" extra at his apartment. He said he sees people coming in with entire pick up trucks full of stuff and now sees it as just extra baggage so to speak.
Now, not only feeling lighter, I found three things I'd been looking for and realize we have doubles of quite few things, like pet medicines, that I won't need to buy. These are all financial savings. Out of curiosity, I Googled "Does decluttering save you money?" Here are a few links that say yes!
Decluttering saves you money: http://www.chieffamilyofficer.com/2013/02/10-ways-decluttering-saves-you-money/
Decluttering your home room by room: http://www.livingonadime.com/decluttering-your-home/
Thursday, July 18, 2013
If I asked you to quickly list ten happy moments you experienced today, would any of them relate to your "stuff"?
I, like so many Americans, own too much stuff, plain and simple. We have too many toys, too many books, too many clothes, shoes, etc. etc.
And I know full well, the stuff doesn't make me happy. I'd say the stress that comes from cleaning and organizing the basement, garage, kids' rooms, closets, etc. is one of my major sources of stress.
About six months ago, I started a nightly review of 10 happy moments that day. What surprised me was that 99 percent of happy moments were interacting with people: my husband, kids, friends, family, neighbors, the joke I shared with the check out clerk. For a self-confessed introvert, that was surprising. The only physical things that appeared regularly were nature and flowers in my garden.
Now I easily have 10,000 or more objects in the house if you include every pen, book, toy soldier, and screwdriver. Yet not one of those makes me happy. (Which is not to say the lack of say a refrigerator wouldn't negative impact my daily happiness). By and large, all this extra stuff costs a lot not only in dollars, but time.
I came across an article in the Boston Globe called Too Much Stuff, Too Little Time, which tells me I'm not the only one. http://www.boston.com/community/moms/articles/2012/07/10/new_study_says_american_families_are_overwhelmed_by_clutter_rarely_eat_together_and_are_generally_stressed_out_about_it_all/?page=1
According to the article, people have so much stuff they don't have time to be in their own backyards!
It occurred to me that rather than "investing" in another gizmo, I ought to invest in shared smiles with the people around me preserving both cash and emotional well-being So today, 7/18/2013 will be day one of a thirty day no buy except food goal. This sort of thing is always easiest day one;-). Best wishes!
I have a good friend who met with her financial advisor recently to see if she was on track for her dream - retire at age 50. She's 44 now, an 80 plus hour a week professional who's been burned out for the past ten years. Her advisor told her that her if she wanted to retire at 50, she'd need approximately 6.8 million.
When she told me this, my jaw dropped. Who has that kind of money? And did he know she wasn't planning to eat gold bars for breakfast?
The answer comes from the shocking ability of everyday expenses to erode retirement dreams. The advisor's basic look at it was a six percent return, her living to a ripe old age of 104 (which she has long said she plans to do), a 2 percent withdrawal rate and no worries of ever running out of money.
So why would she need 6.8 million? Her current lifestyle takes about nine thousand a month to support and the advisor bumped it up to 12 taking into account inflation and unexpected expenses.
Does that sound insane? She would say her lifestyle is not luxurious at nine thousand a month. They live in a 2400 square foot home in California, have two cars, and take one nice trip each year.
The nine thousand, very roughly is as follows:
$1600 mortgage/real estate taxes $1400 health insurance $1200 one major vacation a year - usually 3 weeks of foreign travel $1600 food - most meals eaten out $ 600 house maintenance $ 200 car maintenance/gas $ 400 clothes (very well dressed lawyer;-) $ 200 gifts $ 300 medical costs $ 400 entertainment $ 500 electric, heat, computer, phones, television, etc. $ 300 haircuts, hair color, acupuncture, massage, non-comped work expenses, etc. $ 200 pet expenses (including kenneling for long vacations)
The take away for me was how enormous is the cost of a dollar spent in retirement. For every dollar you want to spend, you need many, many multiples of that dollar working hard for you. And the fact is, sometimes those other dollars (your capital) go on strike or get sick - i.e. stock market crashes.
With no more in-flow, all the numbers change. Looked at this way, every dollar of expenses not used in daily living can do double duty on the road to retirement. Saving a couple hundred a month not eating out really does matter. First, those saved dollars can be added to your workforce (the final capital sum you need to retire). Second, your workforce has more breathing space as it doesn't have to support those lazy two hundred dollars that ate out.
So the next dollar bill you hold in your hand, ask is this gal going to enter my workforce or loll around living off the earnings of the other working dollars;-)
P.S I was shocked to realize I hadn't posted since January 2012 - where does the time go? I've finished my book and it is with a professional editor. That has been sheer joy. I'm about half-way through my second book. In the mean-time, I've been "frugaling" with enjoyment! Best wishes!
Monday, January 2, 2012
Happy 2012! Every spare moment these is spent on my book. I feel so blessed to do something I enjoy so much! As a result my blog has gotten the short shrift, but undoubtedly all those years of frugal choices have helped me be able to write now. I hope each of you is progressing toward much dreamed for goals and hopes and that 2012 is a fantastic year for all!! Eileen
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Kirk and I were reading the story of Louis Braille tonight. It starts out with a heartbreaking accident that causes young Louis to go blind. Then it goes on to explain that at that time, early 1800s, most blind people had miserable lives.
Since blind people couldn't communicate with others by reading or writing, it was considered useless to send them to school. As a result, they were cut off from such professions as teaching, law, and medicine. Many blind people had to live in poorhouses. Others begged for food and money on street corners. The lucky ones found jobs shoveling coal or carrying bricks in exchange for food and a place to sleep.
The story goes on to tell how Louis was determined to find a way to read and help others do the same. There was at the time a cumbersome system of raised letters, but it was time consuming to read, expensive to produce, and would never truly open the world of books to the blind. At fifteen, Louis Braille created the Braille system - though it was not accepted during his lifetime, this gift he gave to the future lives on today to millions of blind people.
When we finished the book, Kirk and I talked about how sad and troubling things we now accept will one day likely be changed, perhaps by one person, dedicated to solving that particular problem. In the future, we may not be able to imagine hungry children, ill children, people dying in wars or being sent to prison. All it takes is that one person determined to find a way. Good wishes! Eileen
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
One night, browsing the internet, I read about a person trying to improve his marriage by not complaining for three weeks. He referred to a 21 day no complaint challenge that eventually led me to the website http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/
I LOVED the idea. And I was successful for almost three hours. Then, ironically, I found myself complaining to a friend about my kids' complaints pertaining to four of the five food items on their dinner plates. Following the suggested practice, I switched my bracelet (my own though the site offers one) to the other wrist as a notice to myself I'd have to start the 21 days over again.
And thus I've gone on, once going three days before the switch. I will be delighted to hit a new high of four days but am benefitting from the mere attempt. The very process of editing the complaints, negative descriptions, griping, and whining from my communications makes me realize two things. First, negative talk is a complete bore. Second, when I talk about the "bad" stuff, I "re-infect myself" by reliving the situation and just bring myself and whomever I'm talking to down.
This challenge has made me very aware how much I complain to the kids ("Yuck! Can't you please close your mouth when you chew!"), about the kids ("You wouldn't believe how much the kids were fighting today!") and around them ("I can see why the postal service is going broke with those inconvenient hours").
So if you take out all the negative, what's left to talk about? I've started asking "So what's the good word?" when we sit down to dinner or I call my parents. I really enjoy hearing what's going well in others' lives. And talking about the good in my day: a hug from the kids, a perfectly toasted bagel, a kind check out clerk, the blue jay up in the Oak tree, the fact the kids ate all their veggies (even if open-mouthed), brings my mood up, reminding me of the myriad of happy moments in each day.
So far I've made it to 9:02, Wednesday morning, keeping it on the up and up. I had to start over again last night....not that I'm complaining...;-)Good wishes!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
To anyone kind enough to have checked in during that time, thanks and apologies for being so slow. It has been a wonderful few months. I made huge progress on my book. I have worked really, really hard to be a better mom (not always successfully) by listening more and being more in the moment. I got a lot done in the yard, finally tackling the weediest areas. And of my list of all the projects I wanted to tackle by October first, I made serious progress, including getting the 1980's wallpaper out of two bathrooms after living here for 14 years with plans to do so;-)
I love that line! I copied it and emailed it to myself as a reminder to create the life I want, I have to be the person I want to be and do the things that person would do. I get it wrong a lot, and get frustrated when I do something the person I want to be wouldn't do (over eat at the Chinese Buffet, yell at the kid over minor stuff, ignore my family, not call my parents regularly, let the dishes stack up till the ants all come back, etc. etc.) But I make baby steps to be that person and when I do something she would do, I pat her/me on the back;-).
I hope all of you are striving toward goals that will and are bringing you joy. Best wishes! Eileen
Monday, August 15, 2011
Admittedly, that's not as efficient as sticking to a budget, something I've slacked on this summer. That said, it was a fun, frugal weekend. We took our big quilts to the laundry mat because when we bought our washer I asked the guy for any advice on getting it to last as long as possible. He told me keep the lint traps clean and don't wash big blankets. He said that shaking thing you sometimes get when the blanket gets to one side is very, very hard on the machine.
We also biked to the beach. We live too far out to bike to most places so we drive part of the way, park, then bike part of the way.
Kirk had wanted swim flipper and goggles. We stopped at a thrift shop on our way to the beach and lucked out finding flippers that fit for $1.
We spent Sunday at a local park playing baseball, soccer, Frisbee and even a bit of tennis (almost all equipment gotten at garage sales through the years), so fun and frugal.
Cooked a big batch of pasta, then made three meals for the week ahead - mushroom, spinach pasta; ricotta lasagna pasta, cold veggie pasta.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Frugal Decision #1
Monday, August 8, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Spent three and a half glorious hours at Panera working on my book, mostly research to answer questions that occured to me when I was in Boston. I put on my headphones and get my large iced tea and delve into 1775 with enormous satisfaction. I haven't had much time to write this summer. With the kids both home full-time, by the time 9:30 p.m. rolls around and kids are in bed (supposedly 8:30), the dog has been walked, Greg and I have a chance to chat about our days, I'm usually ready to sleep and the thought of powering up my computer for research or writing is as unappealing as nighttime sit ups;-). So today, Sunday, was a wonderful time to focus.
The kids and I are biking a lot as I'm trying to exercise away about eight pounds. Now if they want a weekly bagel at Panera, we ride four miles round trip to get that treat. We have to drive to a place where we can all be on safe sidewalks first, but it's fun and the kids seem to argue a lot less when they get lots of outside exercise.
We found a tunnel for $2 at a thrift store (don't shop them much now with the kids to avoid the unending "I wanna xyz"" but we did this day and trained Brandi to go through it with treats. I often feel like she needs more interesting things to do; she's not exactly the obstacles course type Sheltie, but I've read dogs are happier when they are challenged to think and try new things. So this was a happy find.
I am always trying to find ways to get the kids to help out in the garden, not usually to much avail, but when Kai realized he could deliver some annuals we'd gotten on sale to the pot I was putting them in, he got into the spirit.;-)
Good wishes to all and to all a happy summertime! Eileen
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Just got back from a wonderful, wonderful trip to Boston to see all the historic sites from Paul Revere's home to Old North Church, to Lexington and Concord. The trip really gave me a new perspective on our history and corrected some important logistics errors in my book where I have characters doing things that were either on the wrong side of Boston or physically impossible due the time and mileage;-). These sorts of errors will now be corrected. The trip also gave me an appreciation for what a gift we've been given to live in a democracy. The birth of America was never a sure thing! Good wishes! Eileen