December was a wonderful month for us! Hard, especially saying no to a number of requests to go out for a drink, but we did it. We cash flowed Christmas with no sinking fund in place and even had extra cash at the end of the month to deposit toward debt. Step back and think about it: are you going to be paying off Christmas next month or next summer? Not worth it!
The beau and I had a conversation about Christmas and what it means to us: we both agree that spending money on gifts is unnecessary. We both have families that are fortunate enough to buy as things come up / are needed, and having this added pressure is silly. Looking back at last week, my favorite part of Christmas was being together. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all saved our cash and instead saved it for a trip or vacation together? At least on my side of the family, there are no kids = gifts aren’t needed under the tree for that added Christmas magic moment. Do I sound like Scrooge? I don’t feel like one: I just enjoy being home for the holiday, having a special dinner and playing a couple games.
With the added gift expenses, I wanted to save as much possible in other categories. Here are some things we did this month to reduce our fixed expenses:
- We combined our cell phone plan: I opened my Cingular Wireless account back in 2003. Eventually AT&T bought Cingular and my plan never changed… until December 3rd! I feel silly for paying as much as I was each month (it was up to $79.29), I was admittedly nervous about getting rid of my grandfathered plan, but it was indeed outdated. The beau joined my plan, as I receive a discount via my employer, so we should save at least $25 per month (we haven’t received an invoice yet reflecting the change). With five days left in this billing cycle, we’ve used .8 of 6GB…. so we will most likely be changing our data plan to save even more.
- We did our research and changed our insurance company for both auto and home owners insurance. It took us about three weeks to make the decision, but it was worth it: we are saving $24 each month for our auto insurance (or $288 each year). Our home owners insurance actually went up $1 per month, but that’s because we opted in to an additional coverage line that we didn’t have previously (regarding water backup damage). But it wasn’t just about the money: we just weren’t happy with the representative that we were working with and as it turns out, our bartender also slings insurance. Or did, he got us set up before taking time off for the holidays.
- Ohhhhh Spectrum! I received our INCREASED December internet invoice and called to ask why it had changed (the promotion was over) without notification. They insisted it was on my November invoice, but when we both took a look, it wasn’t. So I negotiated our rate for one more month and saved $10. The cost will jump from $44 to $69.95 for 20Mbps (with Time Warner). But with Spectrum, you can get 100Mbps for $64.95… explain that one. AND they insist on saying I’m a TW customer despite logging on to the Spectrum website… but when I asked to become a Spectrum customer to receive the next promotion ($44 for 100Mbps), I was told I couldn’t because technically overall I’m a Spectrum customer. Talk about confusing. I’m just HOPING and SENDING POSITIVE VIBES that Massive Mesh will expand within the next couple of months so that I can officially DUMP Spectrum. I would cancel it altogether until their expansion buuuuuuuut the beau is taking a class that runs through February and he needs the Internet to do his hw. hw – remember when you’d have to write that little shortcut down in your agenda? Ha! I digress: either Massive Mesh needs to get their act together ASAP or we are going back to track phones to avoid that payment each month.
To save money in general, this month we:
- Installed a new condensate pump ourselves. And by we I mean the beau and his dad. The furnace service person suggested a replacement costing $346 – we had a gift card to Amazon and bought one for $45 – BOOM!
- Registered for a 2018 race at the early bird rate. I learned my lesson with the TTT, the earlier you register for a race, the better. $10 saved 🙂
- Switched around a dermatologist appointment. I’ll now have a deductible in 2018 for my health insurance ($50), so I changed doctors (I didn’t care for mine anyway) and expressed my intention to the new doctor to save money, and not only did she see me as a new patient, but she also performed a little procedure that same day. Normally that’s a second visit, so I saved $30 for a copay and essentially $20 extra dollars had I gone in January. And I no longer have a skin tag growing on my nose that looks like a booger. Win win.
I continued planning our meals but didn’t use the repeating method this month. I can tell you that it’s far easier shopping for repeat meals! It felt like chaos in the stores running around for a ton of different items, ha! We did use up all of our allocated cash for both food and eating out, with the help of some money won during the holidays on scratch offs for Chinese takeout. Not bad because I also bought some added ingredients for our Christmas dinner…
…which was a portobello wellington via Bosh! So so good! It was a tiny tad bit dry but definitely something I can tweak the next time I make it (just add more stock to the stuffing). A delicious gravy would be a great addition too! But paired with creamy potatoes, I didn’t mind one bit.
I also had two leftover squash in the house and tried three new recipes to use ’em up:
Creamy Pumpkin Marinara however I used an ugly squash via Field Goods and didn’t add the cinnamon or parmesan cheese. It was delicious! The beau isn’t a lover of squash but paired with pasta and made to taste like an alla vodka sauce, we both enjoyed this meal.
I had one other random squash lying around from Halloween and decided to make a spicy curry soup. It was bland despite smelling great and the texture was weird and now I can’t seem to find the recipe used, whoops! I must have deleted it from a Pinterest board it was that bad.
But I did attempt my first loaf of no-knead bread! I used this recipe and it came out okay – not bad but not anything to get excited about. It was what we ate with the soup, and just about devoured the whole loaf. I’m determined to master a good loaf of bread!
Now on to my most favorite part of the post – the total numbers!
In December, we reduced our total debt by $3,556.43 (or 4.65%)! *The smallest payoff month to date. Our remaining debt balance is $72,884.19! That means in just four months, we’ve paid off a total of $16,191.26 or reduced debt by 18.18%! That’s soooooo close to 20% or being 1/5 of the way done and sooooo close to being in the $60ks… which will happen in January! The remaining balance on the Prius (our current debt snowball account) is only $4,257.18.
Other random numbers I calculated this month that keep me motivated:
- We paid $322 in interest this month, NOT including our mortgage.
- Multiply that number by 12 and you’d get $3,864; that’s money that we’ll NEVER see again. That is WHY we are speeding up this process to get rid of our debt and pause our retirement contributions.
- On average we paid $4,047.82 a month! If we stay on that track, we’re projected to pay off $48,573.78 next year! Hint: I hope to BLOW that number out of the water by increasing our monthly income!
I know the month isn’t over yet, but the final payment has been made and we’re both in agreement that our bank account is frozen for the next four days (no pun intended – it was -6 when we got up this morning!). Our NYE tickets were purchased earlier this month and money is set aside for an Uber – we’re ready for 2018!