Monthly Archives: August 2012

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So after yesterday’s post, I decided to dig a little deeper into my spending habits of the the past.

Having tons of data at your disposal can make things a lot easier to visualize, remember, recall, and repeat when you have to, like, well, um…

Basically, I’m on the verge of a BIG purchase and I’m not real certain that I can afford it or if I’m willing to make the sacrifice required to get it NOW.

That’s where looking at my past comes in really handy. I can’t stress enough how many times I’ve patted myself on the back for keeping such accurate financial records.

I used to be an advocate of Microsoft Money for this sort of thing (until they bailed on me) and have since made the switch to Moneydance.

Again, though, data is key. The more you have to work with, the better. I’ve got every transaction from my checking account logged back to April 28, 2007.

Yeah, I’m a hardcore.

I wasn’t until around 2003, though, that I started tracking my credit cards, loans, mortgage, and “other” things. These days, there isn’t a penny that goes unaccounted for.

Sure, that might be overkill but it’s great to have an accurate financial picture.

Anyway, since my super duper totally complete records pretty much begin in 2004, I’ll start there.

Here are my yearly expense totals and the monthly average since then:

2004: $55,594.06 or $4632.84 per month
2005: $66,791.22 or $5565.94 per month
2006: $78,530.31 or $6544.19 per month
2007: $81,046.25 or $6753.85 per month
2008: $49,342.55 or $4111,88 per month
2009: $48,665.80 or $4055.48 per month
2010: $80,810.52 or $6734.21 per month
2011: $68,196.61 or $5683.05 per month
2012: $32,369.51 or $4624.22 per month

2012 is obviously a work in progress…but with just a little over 4 months to go, it appears as if I’m on a pretty decent path.

The “per month” numbers makes things look pretty level but here’s a chart of that same data:

Yearly Spending Chart

The googley eyes really add a certain “something”, don’t they?

Well, the brow line clearly shows that I was out of control in 2006, 2007, and again in 2010. All three years, though, had pricey renovation projects within them.

And that’s where we’re headed again for 2013…

I just wanted to make sure we could afford it and the numbers don’t lie…

Well, the per month numbers don’t lie.

The unibrow still kinda sorta concerns me.

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Matt LauerMy 3 year old son said that the other morning while watching the Today Show.

It was a pretty profound statement from someone who’s been known to ask me to “Put the thing on top of the other thing under that thing that’s over there or something…”

While I don’t think I could have put it so eloquently, the “Big Pile of Wind” remark pretty much sums up what I think of Matt Lauer…

Moving on…

Okay, so now I’m going to take on the role of Matt Lauer and deliver a lot of hot air regarding my spending.

I spent the morning (okay, maybe 10 minutes) putting together a spending chart using the numbers I’ve reported here on PIAC in my monthly spending reports.

The first one was back in February 2009 and the most recent was just last month, July 2012.

A 42-month span should be enough data to show “something”, I thought, so here it is:
PIAC Spending Trend

So the blue line represents my spending each month and the dashed red line is the trend line. I labeled the highest point and the lowest point too. No real reason for it — I just though it made the whole think look a bit more technical.

Yeah, I know, I’ve got some “mad skillz” with Microsoft Excel…

Fine, so pretty charts aren’t exactly a strength of mine…

Anyway, the red line is what I found very intriguing. Fascinating, even.

Sure, I’ll concede that I’d expected it to trend upwards. I mean, in February of 2009, we were a family of two and now there are four of us.

That makes perfect sense — day care is wicked expensive.

What I did find surprising, though, is that the upward trend is so subtle — I’d have expect a far steeper line.

If I were to omit the expenditure spikes (which were mostly due to our 2010 home renovation, I’d bet the line would be flat.

Maybe even a downward trend?

That makes me feel good as it clearly displays (charts are great!) that my spending hasn’t really grown.

My income hasn’t grown really either but that’s a whole different animal

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Sesame Place$3016.75 : Property Tax
$1320.00 : Cash
$1000.00 : Day Care
$615.31 : Mortgage
$483.08 : Gasoline
$228.27 : Auto Insurance
$188.49 : Auto Repairs
$186.43 : Clothing
$186.06 : Sesame Place
$176.31 : Electricity
$160.00 : Family/House Stuff
$150.00 : Dentist
$146.18 : Cable/Internet
$113.72 : Hockey Jersey
$93.98 : Business Expenses
$40.08 : Life Insurance
$37.09 : Natural Gas
$29.67 : Lego Set
$21.24: Ratchet Set
$3.00 : Coca-Cola

All told, I spent $8195.66 in July.

Yeah, eight grand. No big deal.

Seriously, though, like I said in my last post, Taxes and Vacation (the cash, the gas, the repairs, and Sesame Place) define this month (and the current month too, unfortunately) as outside of those two annual “events”, most of my spending was, well, pretty much normal.

Did you know it costs $59 to get a toddler into Sesame Place? I mean, seriously?

Further, did you know that having a AAA membership will save you $3 on admission?

Yeah, that membership is totally paying for itself this year… Ugh.

That said, as something to do in between countless hours in the car, Sesame Place, while expensive, was a great side trip. We all had a lot of fun.

And I should do a whole post about the ratchet set — it’d be a long winded rant about incompetent design — but it’s tough to find the time to rant about such unimportant things these days…

Even so, making a long rant super short (I can’t help myself), one of the front wheels on my lawnmower is wonked out so that it’s not really perpendicular to the ground anymore.

The only way to access the nut holding the cheap plastic wheel on was with a long socket rachet thingie (I’m not a tool fanatic, so I don’t know what it’s really called), which I obviously had to buy.

So, after purchasing it and taking the contraption apart, I realized that the front wheels of my lawnmover aren’t even on an axle.

It’s almost like it was designed to function like the latest Batmobile or something so… basically, my problem isn’t even fixable without a lot of metal work (and more money) on my part.

Metal work that I most certiainly won’t be doing on an old push lawn mower. Seriously, though, why isn’t it just an axle with two wheels attached?

Cheaper to manufacture, less likely to fail, and far easier to repair…

I don’t get it…

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August 2012 Net WorthThere are only two words needed to describe the month of July…

Taxes and Vacation.

Overall, besides moving a bunch from savings to cover the costs of vacation and my local property taxes, pretty much everything else was business as usual.

I did, however, start some extra payments on the mortgage. Nothing major and nothing that I plan to continue in the near future.

Basically, my mortgage company claims that they allow “one” extra payment per year and any additional payments will come with a $15 fee.

I was testing them — four extra payments were made and there wasn’t a fee to be had. Yet, anyway…

So I’ve concluded that it’s one of those e-payment scenarios where if you initiate it on their end, there’s a fee, but if you initiate it on your bank’s end, it’s free.

Lastly, you may have noticed that I carried a credit card balance this month. That was because I was on vacation — had I been home, I’d have paid the balance in full at the end of the month like I usually do.

If you’re truly worried, don’t be. There won’t be any finance charges! :0)

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Rule of Thumb: If you ever purchase anything over $1000 and keep it for less than a year, chances are, it wasn’t a wise financial decision to purchase it in the first place.

Here’s a little backstory…

A friend of mine, who has run into some financial hardships in the past, recently found some stable footing and decided to “start fresh”.

A new place to live was the first step and a new car followed soon after.

At the time, I was a little unsure about the first step — how they could possibly afford it?? — and when the new car showed up, well, I was floored.

Until today.

Not two months into owning that new car, they’ve traded it in for an even newer car using the “my car payment is the same” justification.

Sadly, I see dark financial clouds on the horizon.

Some people just don’t get it, I guess…

Can You Dig It?