How I Blew $39,000.

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roland
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How I Blew $39,000.

Postby roland » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:41 pm

I've been working on cutting unnecessary expenses. Today I took care of:

  • Cell Phone: Slashed plan should save $30-40/month.
  • TV: Killed TV should save $40-50/month. (Don't really watch things, and if I want to there's always the Internet.)
  • Charity sponsorship of needy children: Discontinued saves nearly $100/month.

Making those cuts frees up at least $158 a month. Not bad work for the day. Had I been smarter and done this at the beginning of the year, I would have saved at least $1,580 from that alone to date, and more realistically saves me around $2000 per year.

  • I've successfully quit smoking. (Finally!) Projected savings of quitting smoking are between $1-2K/year.

  • I set up a joint bank account that my wife can use overseas, with a debit card, to eliminates wire transfer fees and provides a better exchange rate without a middle-man. This saves me approximately $150/yr. (My bank doesn't charge for foreign transactions, but Mastercard does charge 1% of every transaction -- still cheaper and faster than wire transfers and money services.)

From these changes alone, that's between $3800-5000 that I've flushed down the proverbial toilet each year for the last 2-3 years. Money that could have been put to better use.

Aside: I took in a sick, abandoned puppy and nursed it to health. This has cost me $1000 in medical expenses alone. It was foolish, and I'm looking to rehome her.


I'm planning to downgrade my living situation...moving to a place that's a couple hundred dollars cheaper in rent. With savings on rent, utilities, and even the gas savings from the shorter commute of my target area, I'm likely to save around $4600 per year.

There is a difference between a need and a want.

By my calculation, not monitoring and holding myself accountable to this difference strictly enough over the last 5 years has resulted in wasting at least $39,000. The numbers are rough, but it's a somewhat conservative estimate. (Honestly, it's likely to be higher, particularly factoring in any other wasted money.)

I physically feel sick to my stomach thinking about this. What seems small or inconsequential adds up rather quickly. I don't think I'm done making changes, either; I think there's more fat to trim.

I'm beginning to feel or approach it as a game -- how much money can I save? There are some areas I won't compromise much...there's a minimum housing standard (and neighborhood) I want to tolerate as well as a minimum standard on food (I rarely eat fast food and most of my meals are made from scratch, which is sometimes not as cheap as cheap food). But I'm certain more could be done.

And that, folks, is how I blew $39,000.

There is a difference between a need and a want. When was the last time you evaluated your needs and wants?


shadowman024
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Postby shadowman024 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:26 pm

it adds up fast.

jeffysdad
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Postby jeffysdad » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:59 pm

I applaud you for cutting out luxury items (cable TV) and smoking (which I did myself five years ago), but if your income can support it, I don't think you should look at charity or rescuing the puppy as money wasted. I recently incurred several thousand dollars of veterinary expenses for a dog I ended up having to euthanize when his surgery turned out to not have been effective. Would I have done all that knowing the outcome from the start? Of course not, but it was impossible to know what would happen. Under similar circumstances I'd do the same again. As for charity, you should give wisely to reputable and efficient organizations that support the cause you most care about. I'd caution you against depriving yourself too much in order to save money. When people do that their spending can sometimes rebound as they rationalize a wasteful purchase because they've "deprived" themselves of other things.
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DoingHomework
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Postby DoingHomework » Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:41 pm

jeffysdad wrote:I applaud you for cutting out luxury items (cable TV) and smoking (which I did myself five years ago), but if your income can support it, I don't think you should look at charity or rescuing the puppy as money wasted. I recently incurred several thousand dollars of veterinary expenses for a dog I ended up having to euthanize when his surgery turned out to not have been effective. Would I have done all that knowing the outcome from the start? Of course not, but it was impossible to know what would happen. Under similar circumstances I'd do the same again. As for charity, you should give wisely to reputable and efficient organizations that support the cause you most care about. I'd caution you against depriving yourself too much in order to save money. When people do that their spending can sometimes rebound as they rationalize a wasteful purchase because they've "deprived" themselves of other things.


You're a good man my friend!

roland
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Postby roland » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:58 pm

jeffysdad wrote:I applaud you for cutting out luxury items (cable TV) and smoking (which I did myself five years ago), but if your income can support it, I don't think you should look at charity or rescuing the puppy as money wasted. I recently incurred several thousand dollars of veterinary expenses for a dog I ended up having to euthanize when his surgery turned out to not have been effective. Would I have done all that knowing the outcome from the start? Of course not, but it was impossible to know what would happen. Under similar circumstances I'd do the same again.


There is hindsight, of course. And had I not taken the puppy in, she likely would have died that night in the cold. So it's not a waste, per se...in the same situation I likely would have done it again. Knowing what I know now...I'm unsure how I would have decided.

(Not just because of the cost of care and the $1K medical bills, but the risk of future costs...for example, if the property manager finds out I have a dog here, the penalty is higher than the medical bills have been, and that's a devastating hit right now.)

jeffysdad wrote:As for charity, you should give wisely to reputable and efficient organizations that support the cause you most care about. I'd caution you against depriving yourself too much in order to save money. When people do that their spending can sometimes rebound as they rationalize a wasteful purchase because they've "deprived" themselves of other things.


I'm selective about my charities, and the one I selected is reputable, efficient, and works for a good cause. I've given them thousands over the last decade, and i know the impact that money has had. However, even if temporarily, I need to tighten the belt a bit.

I'll try to be mindful of not rebounding. I'm not apt to do that, based on the fact I can't even remember how long I've had items like furniture or half my clothes...suffice it to say, awhile. So far, to resist the urge to buy things, I've made myself wait a week if I feel like I want to purchase something. If I do, I consider it further; more often than not, I forget I wanted something. lol

jeffysdad
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Postby jeffysdad » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:20 am

Waiting to buy things sounds like a good plan. That's the kind of restraint I try to exercise but often don't.

I once took in a stray cat when I was living in my first apartment. The landlord went ballistic, so I understand how that is a concern.

Thanks, DH. Props to you as well.
American Express: Blue Cash Preferred (groceries, 6%; gas, department store, 3%); Gold Delta SkyMiles (Delta Air Lines, 2 miles/dollar, free checked bag).
US Bank: Cash+ (utilities, phone, internet, restaurant, 5%; drugstores, 2%).
FIA Card Services: Fidelity Amex (everything, 2%); Fidelity Visa (everything, 1.5%).
Chase: Freedom (rotating, 5%); Amazon (Amazon.com, 3%); PriorityClub (IHG hotels, 5 points/dollar); Sapphire (not in use).

*All cards are registered with PriorityClub IDine program for 8 points/dollar at participating restaurants.

Ramzo
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Postby Ramzo » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:15 pm

Congrats for that, it's not an easy thing to do. My big brother is in trouble financially right now and I don't know how to help him because he's a really proud man and gets a little agressive when anyone tries to give him advice or tell him what he should do. He's over $15K in debt (including car loan) and has very little savings. He maxed out his credit card, hates his job and is maintaining this status quo while being smashed by an eff load of fees (overdraft, overlimit, service, finance, everything you can imagine). It's a good thing you're doing something a bout it. Better late than never.

You should really checkout zenhabits.net (read the archives) if you want some really good advice on spending less and living more. It's an awesome website.


nwcdrfinancial
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Postby nwcdrfinancial » Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:20 pm

If we all learned to create budgets and sort things out on spreadsheets, we'd have fewer debt. It's great that people like you are out there. knowing their limits and needs not wants.

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Postby fantasy86dj » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:26 am

Well done on quitting smoking, I stopped smoking 8 years ago and the benifits financially and physically are amazing. With getting your money together it is a massive achievement in today's economy that encourages spending so much money in a buy n ow pay later world that we live in.
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FastSRT8
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Postby FastSRT8 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:23 pm

Wow kudos. Now how do I find someone just like you to work in my company? Sure would leave me with less headaches!
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