Thursday, September 22, 2016

August 2016 FrugalMaster Results

Exercising my muscles with the FrugalMaster is hard work especially when you go on vacation.  We headed to the beach in August and only ate out every other day.  This kept us within the budget I had set (and saved for).  There are some changes this month so let's see if I came out ahead.

Income was below normal

This is the change I was talking about above.  My company makes you wait six months before you can put money into their 401k.  Even after that they won't even do a company match until you have been there a year.  Initially I was not going to put anything in until next year but then I would miss out on any tax savings by reducing my income. 

With that said half way through August it kicked in and sure enough my income is greatly reduced.  Greatly because I am trying to max it out (20%) with the remaining paychecks this year.  I put on hold my emergency fund savings and all vacations are done so I am not saving for vacation until next year.

I am also doing this because my previous model of see what I have left over each month to invest just wasn't working.  The switch to a pay yourself first model does work.  You can't spend or budget for money you never see.  So with the reduced income the term budgeting will take on more meaning as there will be no money to pay bills if I overspend.

Needs were within budget

eSurance once again gave me more money back.  To the tune of $89.27 for adjustments after they came and looked at my house.  I guess to rebuild my house doesn't cost as much as it used to.  We did go over in food again by $20.  I attribute that to the week of groceries I bought while on vacation.  The cost of living in a tourist trap town is way more than my lovely suburb in Ohio.  I will say the Kroger grocery store we went to was kind enough to let us use their savings card without having to sign up for it.  That did save us a good chunk of change so it all worked out.

I think I about lost it with the water bill for August and the subsequent sewer bill in September.  The cost of water for a family of 7 is now running me a grand WTF of $267 a month.  I remind my family daily to take 10 minute showers and don't just let the water run while your day dreaming.  We had switched to a HE top load washer late last year with little effect on the water bill.  In fact I think my wife does more loads than last year.  Either she is doing smaller loads or the kids are dirtying their clothes at a faster rate.  That leaves the old toilets.  They probably use 3-5 gallons a flush.  I know I need to swap them out.  However with the baby and young kids it is hard to get time to do it.

In the end we were $500 under budget and our needs as a percentage of our income improved YOY to 74%.  I need to drop that to about 25% by dropping my expensive house.  Still working on my lovely wife on that one.

Guilt Free Spending Money (Wants) was under budget

GFSP was supper low this month at $55.  Mostly because my savings for vacation took care of that expense.  I look forward to the day when it is $0 knowing I will have attained enlightenment and a good mustache.
Even with the beach vacation my savings rate still remained positive at 13%

The lower income and vacation expenses didn't stop me from saving.  I will take it as a good chunk went into my 401k and I still had 13% left over.  I continue to sweep all savings into a cash account.  My eye is on the hunt for a large enough home for the family and meets approval from my wife.  The big thing for me is we have to pay for it with cash.  No longer will I bow down to debt.  My soul craves to be free and our mortgage is the last thing tying me down.

Hopefully you have the same feeling and that is what keeps you going.

Kind regards,

Dividend Family Guy

Monday, September 19, 2016

Murphy Oil Sale

Murphy Oil (MUR) is the first cut of the year for me and last one since KMI.  It was purchased when I was a Motif customer group together with 9 other dividend growth stocks in a November purchase (see Motif below).  There is always a risk when you play in the energy area.  Almost all have either frozen or cut dividends. 

Who would have guessed that oil prices would stay this low for an extended period of time.  My fuel costs for this year are at an all time low allowing me to save more.  Unfortunately my portfolio only has room for dividend growth stocks.  I used one of my free trades from Merrill so overall I broke even on my short run with them.  Bye bye Murphy Oil I won't miss you.

Did any of you drop them with the dividend cut?  I am curious if the yield was enough to keep you with the company.

Happy investing,

Dividend Family Guy


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Frugaling Too Much?

I had big plans for tonight's dinner.  Homemade sweet and sour chicken with veggies, rice and noodles.  The chicken was a steal at $1.49 per pound for boneless breasts.  Things did not go as planned but maybe it was a sign.

Growing up with 1 sister and 5 brothers food was a scarce thing.  I remember my brothers and I eating as fast as we could so we could be the first to get whatever remained on the stove.  Rarely were there any leftovers.  I had my limits as a kid though and would slide some Brussel sprouts or liver under the table for the dog to devour.  Growing up my plate had to be clean to leave the table.  So food is a precious commodity to me.  I try never to waste it and often take leftovers to work for lunch.

This chicken though was pushing my limits of frugality.  The sell by date was the second and today is the seventh.  In retrospect I should have frozen it when I brought it home.  But today I pulled it out and decided we must eat it (and hopefully survive).  I have done it before but this chicken wasn't smelling to good.  I cubed it up anyway and mixed it in some marinade to kill some bacteria.

While it was marinating I got out a glass bowl to hold my cut up green peppers and onions.  I went down to the basement and picked out an onion and headed back upstairs.  Then I grabbed the peppers from the fridge and set it all down next to the bowl. 

I walked over to grab a knife and BAM the glass bowl shattered right on the counter top.  I should have taken a picture as proof but I was too stunned and went immediately into cleanup mode as the kids, in their bare feet, were rushing over to see what happened.

As we were cleaning up I was looking around at the walls and windows thinking to myself that we were just shot at and I need to find the entry point.  Seems kind of silly but I had no other explanation. Alas my 4 pounds of chicken had glass in it and I had to pitch it all.  Luckily my wife's homemade banana bread was still in the oven.  I thought that the bread and rice in the cooker might end up being our dinner.

It was close to 7 PM by the time cleanup was done and the kids had school the next day. We haven't eaten out since vacation several weeks ago.  I broke down and we ended up getting Chinese take-out.  The kids loved it (hopefully not better than my cooking). 

In the end I think God was telling me to not put my family's health at risk to save some money.  Once I got a fortune cookie that said "next time order the shrimp".  We still have it pinned to our cork board as it was pretty funny.  Now I need to make one that says "next time freeze your chicken."

What do you think caused the bowl to break?  Keep in mind the bowl and granite countertop were both at room temperature.

Safe eating,

Dividend Family Guy