Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Updates - Spending Diet

April and May were absolutely awful months for the spending diet.  We had one emergency after another come up and I think I shared some of my discomfort with the amount of money that went out in the last few weeks for things I never wanted to spend money on, but couldn't avoid.  There was an unexpected vet bill when Max needed to have 5 teeth pulled, the personal property tax and life insurance bills came, Ben's car broke down, and my car needed both inspection and service, as well as new sensors of some kind.  It was not pretty, money-wise.

I have (gasp!) been thinking of getting rid of the cable and the telephone land line to see how much of the Comcast bill I can dispose of.  The timing on this thinking could not be worse, as we are going into summer and I can hear the screaming from the three teenagers already when they discover they no longer have access to the Cartoon Network.  In fact, I don't even know what it would mean to cut cable entirely.  Would we have television access at all, like back when I was growing up where we got only the network stations?  Or would we have a fuzzy screen?  Is there such a thing as totally basic cable that only allows clear picture for a small number of stations?  I mean, really, we all watch way too much television already, right?

When we had to redo our package a couple of months ago because our year was up (without being notified by the cable company, by the way...shouldn't they warn you when they will be increasing the bill by $30 or $40 a month?), I had a weak moment and decided that when they gave me the new HD whoo hoo whatever box box for the family room television, I would keep the digital box that was already in there and put it in my bedroom.  I wanted to get Cartoon Network too!  

Since I spend a good bit of my day during the week in the bedroom and like background noise, I figured it wasn't that much money and it would be entertainment during the day.  I checked the bill that just came and the three digital boxes we have in the bedrooms are costing us $21.23 a month.  If I just went to basic cable for all of the upstairs tvs, I could at least save that much every month.  But it's a matter of being brave and cutting it off.  I haven't had a lot of success with cutting off anything for my kids.  I never got to have a television in my room, or cable television, or video games growing up.  We didn't even have cable or video games or computers back then!  Of course, looking back, I kind of think maybe this was a good thing, as it forced me to do other things, like read library books and ride my bike and, you know, have a job.  I'm not doing my kids any favors by spoiling them with these things, I know it, and I do it anyway because I can't stand the thought of them not liking me...which is another post entirely.

But, after some fancy figuring, Justin and I have figured out that we can actually pay off the major "I Hate You" credit card within the next four to six weeks.  It's going to take a Herculean effort and some sacrifice, but once that debt is gone, it's going to be like a ten ton weight lifted off our shoulders.  And I cannot wait to see a zero balance on that card.  And once that is paid off, then guess what?  We'll actually have the money to pay up front for things like eye exams and car repairs and school tuition bills.  Win-win.  And we save $2400 a year in interest.  There's just no down side to doing this!  Now, if we can just get through a couple of months with nothing expensive breaking and no major unexpected dents in our we tackle the student loan and second mortgage!  In other words, this is notice to all three of my pets that they'd better not need anything major from the vet.

We bought new family room furniture before I lost my job and ever since, I've been trying to figure out if these stores that do the 24 months interest free financing are bills that I should keep and just pay enough to have it paid off by the end of the 24 months or something else I want to get rid of.  My goal, I think, is to owe nothing but my mortgage (and maybe be making progress on the student loan) by the time Jamie is old enough to learn to drive and needs his own car.  We have been saving my old Explorer for him because it has low mileage, it's a reliable car, and we've been the only owners.  

The idea is that then I finally get a new car.  I'd love to be able to walk into the dealership and pay half down because we've been socking money away in savings.  Am I dreaming?





  1. As you know, I went without TV for almost tow years. kind of bohemian i know. There is some kind of 'box' works like a cable antennae you can get from radio shack that will give you the basic channels ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox for free. You pay for the box just once. It was free when they were making the change over to do away with antenna's. Netflix, I find is more cost effective. You can watch movies for what $10/month. I did away with my land line as well. That was $40/per month. No great loss at all! Go for it! How much would you save per month without cable and land line? The kids will adapt. They have their x-box, play stations etc., How much TV do they watch?

  2. I'm not sure how much it would save. We have that stupid triple play thing and when I asked how much it would save to get rid of the land line, they said it really wouldn't make a difference on the bill. But I think getting rid of both the land line and all of the fancy cable crap might just save a ton of money.

    I am sure the kids would adapt. But I might not want to make them adapt until they are back in school next fall. It would be an extremely long summer, as they have never had to entertain themselves before. Even though they have the video games, I think eventually that would get boring and they would miss the tv. At least, Ben and Jamie really would. They both watch way too much television, as do I! It would not only be saving money, it would be breaking a bad habit. But I need to have a family meeting and figure out exactly how much we could save before I did it!


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