More Goal Tracking

It has become apparent that if I’m going to make progress on my goal of losing 20 pounds I need to have some accountability. To that end I have decided that for the Month of February I am going to keep track of all the food I eat and my calories per day. Since I’ve spent too much money this month on food I’m also going to be tracking how much I spend on food each day. If I eat all the food I already have at home plus take advantage of my free food opportunities I should be able to cut my food bill in half for the month. Rather than bore everyone by posting this daily I’ll post summaries once or twice a week.

Blogging Hourly Wage

Most small PF bloggers such as myself don’t make much money from blogging.  I would guess that last year I didn’t make minimum wage for the hours I put into blogging.  I’m not sure since I didn’t keep track of how much time I spent on blogging.  Making a return on my time invested isn’t much of a priority since I do this for fun more than for profit.  I make most of my money from my blog Bank Bonuses.  This blog is barely monetized but it still makes a profit since it costs me very little to run.  This month has probably been my best money making month for blogging yet.

I’ve decided that for February I’m going to keep track of my hours spent blogging so I can calculate my hourly blogging wage.  Then I’m going to see what I can do to increase my blogging income.  Since I won’t be working the next few months any increase in blogging income will be helpful.  I like having the home page of this blog ad-free though so I’m going to try to keep it that way or at least keep any ads as non-intrusive as possible. I’m open to any suggestions and I’d be interested in seeing if there are any other PF bloggers that share their income.

Festival of Frugality #110 Is Up

The latest edition of the Festival of Frugality is being hosted by Mrs. Micah.  It includes my post “Drive a Hoopty“.   I’m apologize for not having any picks but I’ve had insomnia the past few days and don’t have energy to do anything more than the minimum required for law school.  I did want to make sure and link to the festival though.  If I can get a good night’s sleep tonight I’ll put up a substantive post tomorrow.

Reducing Heating Costs Experiment

My latest gas bill was for $103.  This is much more than I paid last year.  My highest heating bill last year was $61.  The gas customer charge is $15 higher than last year but most of the increase in my bill is from using more gas. I know the apartment I’m in now is poorly insulated but so was the apartment I was living in last year.  The furnace in my current apartment must be extremely inefficient.

Being a tight-fisted miser I don’t like paying this much for heat so I’ve decided to try an experiment to reduce my heating bill.  I’m turning down my thermostat to 55 degrees and am going to use an electric space heater to take off the chill in the evenings.  I won’t need it when I’m sleeping because I use my down sleeping bag as a blanket and it can keep me comfortable at temperatures much lower than 55 degrees.  Also I’m going to try to take my showers at the fitness center.  I still haven’t gotten into the habit of working out this year but this will give me one more incentive to get to the fitness center.

I have no doubt this will work to cut my gas bill.  I’m just not sure I’ll save enough on my gas to make up for the extra electric cost.  I receive my electric bill a couple weeks ahead of my gas bill which will give me an idea if this will pay off.

Drive A Hoopty

Next to a house, a car is probably most people’s largest purchase and spending category.  That makes it one of the best opportunities to save money.  I think the best way to save money on a car, besides not having one at all, is to drive a hoopty.

There are several advantages to having a hoopty.  The first is you won’t lose much to depreciation.  New cars often depreciate 20-40% in the first couple years.  A hoopty won’t depreciate much because it is already so cheap.  I plan to drive my hoopty until it only has salvage value so I’m not worried about depreciation at all.

Another advantage is that I was able to buy my car with cash.  This allowed me to avoid paying interest on a loan.  Also, since I didn’t have a loan I was able to get liability insurance only.  This is a significant savings over comprehensive insurance.  My liability insurance runs just $20 a month and that is for more than the state required minimum coverage.

Still another advantage is I don’t have to worry about the appearance of my car.  This car has picked up various door dings and other minor dents and scrapes.  Since this car is a hoopty they don’t bother me at all.  If I had a new car these would have upset me and possibly required expensive repair.  Also besides washing the car to remove road salt there isn’t really any point in washing and detailing the car which reduces that expense.

Some hooptys also have the advantage of being green.  My car gets 29-30 mpg doing pizza delivery.  That is better than most new cars.  It is estimated that production of a car contributes 10-20% of its total lifetime CO2 emissions.  By keeping the car on the road longer that percentage is reduced.

Many people think that all of these advantages are wiped out by the need for repairs.  The need and cost of repairs can be reduced by by buying a car known for reliability.  Knowing an honest, good, and inexpensive mechanic is also extremely helpful.  My car has needed several repairs but has always started for me.  Even if you buy a new car there is a chance of being stuck with a lemon.  With a new car you have a warranty but that lasts for a limited time.  If you trade your car in every time the warranty is about to expire you drive up your cost of ownership even more.

Even with the added cost of repair the cost of my hoopty compares very favorably to a new car.  I paid $1750 for my car and have driven it over 80,000 miles.  I estimate that I have paid about $1000 in repairs on the car not including standard maintenance.  If my math is correct this comes to 3.4 cents per mile.  If you buy a new car for $20,000 you’ll have to drive it hundreds of thousand of miles without any added repair expense to come close to that figure.

I know that hooptys aren’t for everybody but if you can put aside your vanity this is one of the best ways to reduce your expenses.

Tax Rebates Are Coming

It has just been announced that Congress and the White House have reached a deal that will give most taxpayers rebates from between $600 to $1200.  Individuals who pay income taxes would get up to $600, working couples $1,200 and those with children an additional $300 per child under the agreement.  I’m not sure if this deal is a good idea but I will cash my rebate check.  It will be used to either pay down debt or invested in my IRA.  That probably won’t provide much of a boost to the economy.