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2018 Monthly Budget

May 23rd, 2018 at 10:12 am

INCOME

Cash on hand $410.00
Balance (NW) $228.28
(SSNW) $1,862.00
Balance (CO369) $200.00

Total $2,700.28

Billed Expenses

COMC1 ($1000 Limit) $30.14
Utilities $119.00
Wireless $53.02
Streaming $7.99
COMC2 ($3000 Limit) $265.16
Vet($53.50)
OMC ($1800 Limit) $0.00
Retail Card ($600 Limit) $8.99
ISP $32.81
RV Parking $45.00


Total $562.11
End Bal $2,138.17

Pension not included: Goes to spouse to pay rent, buy groceries & gas.
Budget set aside for all annual payments using tax refund (avg $3,200).
2018 Rewards Redeemed to date $202.81.

De-clutttering

May 19th, 2018 at 10:54 am

Minimalism & frugalism pretty much sums up my lifestyle since retirement. Realization that my life was in jeopardy because of my total disregard for proper nutrition, exercise & the acceptance of the 20th Century concept of overindulgence in all things, I had to make some changes. I shed my holdings, accumulations & desires from 'stuff'. After 9 years, I have reached a point now where things (stuff) are not that important to me.

I have never been materialistic & I was locked in a mindset just as my passed SIL coined the phase GAS, (Gear Aquisition Syndrome). So, I took stock of my ‘stuff’. Yard sales, donations, give aways helped me empty 2 large storage bays, my basement, closets & the clutter that I insisted I needed.

Whether keeping or buying more 'stuff' is controlled by these rules - how much can I get for it at a yard sale - if I need to borrow it twice, I purchase it - if I haven't used it in 3 years, out it goes - does it solve the problems I have with the currently owned item?

My Plan for off Grid Living

May 17th, 2018 at 12:32 pm

I own a small mountain plot (8 acres), forested - pines & quakies. I had planned to build a summer home but like many of my plans that was tabled probably not to be considered again. What I decided to do is pull a larger travel trailer, set it up with solar panels for power & carry my potable water to the property in my 1 ton van with a 325 gal potable water tank. Can be purchased from Amazon for about $350. My black water will be bagged & carried out, the gray water can be filtered in a sand filled 5 gal Home Depot bucket with drain holes. Power, water & waste taken care of, Bob's yer uncle!

The Van was purchased for $1,000, mechanical work & upgrades cost $1,100. Hitch installed for $600 & new heavy duty tires for $700. My original idea was to create a boon docking vehicle I could stealth park in the many camping areas throughout the northwest. That idea was also tabled after outfitting it with the mentioned improvements, then realizing that I had trouble moving around in a 6' W x 10' L x 54" H camper. I next purchased a smaller '19 travel trailer (cost $1,800), self contained, easy to pull but too small for more than one for any length of time. I tried it out this past winter traveling to Quartzsite, AZ to spend the winter.

I learned many things & how to live in a confined space for 5 months. I learned how 2/3 of the world's population take a bath/shower. I learned to cook things that only use one pan. Eat on paper plates (burnable) & make 'cowboy' coffee. All things considered I loved the experience got my sunshine (absorbing my needed doses of Vit D), walked a mile n half twice daily once to dump my garbage & in the evenings to socialize. Parking for the winter cost me $250 a month including free wifi, water, power & sewer. I met many people mostly seniors like myself & many solo 'snowbirds' from all parts of the US & Canada.

I was going to sell the van but after spending as much as I did I would have to come up with more than that to purchase a suitable used pickup. The van is in excellent shape for the year '95 Chevy 1 ton with a dependable 350 motor. I did have to replace the starter & a precautionary HD battery. The round trip and usage while there was just shy of 5,000 miles without a moment's problem. I was offered twice what I paid for it at least 3 times. Vans are in high demand for boon dockers. I figured that even paying maintenance, tires & oil I will be much further ahead by keeping what I already have & had gotten used to. It's scheduled for a paint job, new windshield & complete rubber seal replaced other than that I hope it doesn't nickel & dime me to death.

The larger trailer I plan for the property will be more of a permanent structure, I will have to build a solid storage shed for the winter months (solar panels, landscaping tools,,,etc). My costs for HOA fees & taxes is less than $400 per year. If the economy or something more drastic happens I will have a safe haven to homestead. Hope not! I want to put in a few grow boxes for vegetables & such. I had raised chickens, pigs & rabbits for meat when I had my little gentleman's farm back in the 80's so raising meat & eggs for the table will not be new thing for me. Anyway that's my latest plan.

Introduction

May 16th, 2018 at 06:50 am

New to site, been on a 6 year journey out of debt. It was 2012, I was aware that I was having health issues and my working days were at a cross roads. I felt that something physically was wrong. I decided to retire, I always wanted to take an early retirement but was not a great financial planner. I volunteered for the ongoing RIFs that my company had been offering to downsize/rightsize or whatever you want to call it. I was given a severance package, tenured into the pension plan & was a few years away from Social Security. I had invested somewhat in the 401K plan so I wasn't destitute.

After I retired, took a nationwide vacation for almost a month, paid off some of my debt, less than I should have but thinking I was bullet proof I figured my income would sustain me until I could add SS. Health issues raised it's ugly head. It was Sept '12, subsequently I spend the next 9 months having surgery, doing treatment & attending rehabilitation. June of 2013 was my release date. I took stock of my finances, I had no mortgage, 2 auto loans, 1 personal loan & a group of credit cards, VISAs, MasterCards, AMEX & 2 retail stores along with 2 gas cards. All told with the medical bills, (2 years of co-pays because the timing of my treatment) I was in debt to the tune of $63,000, 40% of it was medical co-pays,remember I had no mortgage. Of the remaining $39,000 half was unsecured the rest was secured.

I was dumbfounded & looked for any relief I could find. To make a long story short, I read Dave Ramsay, Suze Orme, Clark Howard,,,etc. Everything I could think of. I cut up my cards, canceled accounts with no balances (not many). Started my first real dedicated budget. It now has become my lifeline, changed many times over the 6 years, after deciding to go on a cash only basis I started on the 'snowball' path but needed more motivation so changed over to pay the lowest balances first (ignored the interest rates). I did pay a little more than minimum on the higher balances but worked to pay the lower ones first. I found it gave me more satisfaction to see the closed sign on them as I progressed. The gas cards went first then I worked on the retail cards next. Following success with those I started working on the credit cards, they were all about the same interest rate so I paid the lowest balances first.

It took about 2 years to wipe out 7 cards ($14,800). I was left with my auto loans & 1 large personal loan (household goods) the auto loans were low interest & bank financed so I wanted to show a longer term for credit reasons. It took 14 months to pay off the personal ($5,400) leaving my auto loans ($16,000) for last. I finally paid them sold one (didn't need 2 being retired). It's been since my payoff. My credit had taken some dings at first because of the medical I had reached an average of 580 at all three bureaus. I had swallowed my pride, I had called my credit cards, but only one would work with me. Luckily it was the largest. The other 6 refused & I believe that they may have been the reason my credit was dropping. All I was asking was a break on my rates & a workable repayment plan. My income was limited but at least we could eat, no vacations or extras. I had set aside an emergency fund to avoid disaster. Watched my health, exercised, ate properly & limited my entertainment.

Over the last year and half I had decided to re-enter the credit life once again. I was approved for a low limit ($500) card. It was a rewards card, I kept it paid off, usually only used for my utilities. I did pocket about $75 in rewards my first 12 months but the card carried a $39 annual fee. I still have the card, now with a higher limit but still pay it off monthly. I learned to carry a 10% utilization rather than zero, it would ding my FICO because of the debt to limit ratio was always zero. They want you to have a little debt for a good score. I opened another card 6 months ago it is also a rewards card. It has a much higher limit & no yearly fees. I buy all the groceries & dining with that card getting 3% for dining & 2% for groceries, over the six months I was able to pocket a little more that $100. I now get about $5 from the first card & $12 from the monthly close to $200 yearly. No interest, that equates to about $150 annually after the $39 fee.

Last month I opened an Amazon Prime account I applied for & was accepted for a Amazon store card that gives 5% back on all purchases. Something I use pretty regularly. I also opened an on line bank account to pay off all the credit balances along with keeping my current Credit Union account (Social Security, pension & 401k) away from possible hacking, still get all the cash available at the end of the month for my savings account (another local Credit Union), emergencies & petty cash fund. Just this AM I applied for and was approved for my third card MC from a national issuer, it will also be a rewards card. I cut the cord 3 years ago for my TV went to on line streaming saved another $80 a month. I have a wireless account that has no contract with limited talk/text/data cost is less than $50. It's turned into a bookkeeping nightmare that I understand.

My FICO scores are all now in the low 700's, Not having a mortgage or auto loan does hinder the FICO scores a little but the benefit of not having massive debt is reward enough. Lessons learned was use only debt you can afford to pay off each month. Use the rewards to offset the prices & fees, pay cash when it's convenient. Saving for big ticket items, avoid long term loans. Keep auto loans to a 3 year maximum, buy used. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, definitely do comparison shopping when able to. STAY OUT OF DEBT!