Is it easier to save?

Whenever I have needed to save money, like large sums of money, it has always been something that has been fairly easy for me. Many years ago I had two months to save $2,000 for a vacation with my grandma. I did that and then some, no problem. When I needed to save money to move to Kansas City, no problem saving up the money in a few months. Saving seems to be the easy part for me.

Even now, just a few days after my husband and I decided that we needed a hefty savings fund to pay for his lawyer and medical bills that we know are coming down the pipeline. ONE WEEK ago and already our savings account is at $3,929. (And Mr Woodpecker has another $1,500 check that is a wedding gift in his wallet that we need to cash – so there is easily our $5,000 goal and then some.)

What baffles me the most about all of this is how can I so easily save  money on one hand – and then be terrible at paying debt off on the other. Surely paying off debt is no different than saving money. It can’t be “compounding interest working in my favor” on these savings accounts. I’m looking at ONE WEEK at a 0.9% annual interest.

Perhaps it is just that I’m more encouraged by the total going up than a total going down?

Perhaps the immediacy of knowing that we WILL need this money? Paying debt is “saving” for purchases I’ve already made and purchases in the future that I haven’t yet planned. Saving right now has a very specific  goal: Keeping us from being crushed by medical bills in the next few months.

Instead of trying to analyze why saving money seems to have such a simple nature to it and paying off debt so difficult, maybe I should just say “interest be damned” and just save money until I get a pot big enough to pay off each debt in full. I’d still be paying minimums, of course, but perhaps if I can easily come up with $3-5,000 at a time using savings as a goal that I can just then transfer these amounts in huge chunks to my debt rather than just paying off the debt little amounts at a time.

Who knows… perhaps I’m not better at saving than I am at paying off debt. Maybe it is just easier to see because it grows, and debt just gets little chiseling and then BOOM monthly charges that work is gone.

Either way, I’m happy to report that our savings is growing. Our debt is remaining steady. And hopefully we’ll have enough saved to pay the onslaught of medical bills we know is coming.

Advertisements

Insane 6 Months: Six Weeks Down!

Mr Woodpecker and I are working really hard to get all of the credit card debt paid off in 6 months. We’re now through 6 weeks and we’ve done an amazing job so far. In 6 weeks we’ve paid off $4087 in credit card debt!

It feels so good to pay it off! Here are the nuts and bolts of how we’re paying this debt off:

  • Living on my salary and putting his salary to debt payment.
  • I picked up two part time jobs: tutoring for $40/hr for 2-4 hours per week and working ~20 hrs/week at Kohls.
  • Mr Woodpecker has picked up my responsibilities at home while I work more.
  • Trimming the fat on our budget for things that aren’t necessities.
  • Sticking to our budget!
  • Talking regularly and openly about our budget and what we spend on things.

The stuff above is actually the easy part. The hard part I’ve found in the past is motivation. Here is what we do to stay motivated about getting out of debt:

  • Every time I get paid, I put it on the credit card immediately. I get texts from my bank everytime Kohl’s pays me. So as soon as I get that text I log on and put that exact amount on the credit card. On my way home from tutoring, I stop at the ATM and deposit the money. Then when I get home I put it immediately on the credit card. This keeps the money from being spent any other way. Last month I ended up with almost 15 payments on the credit card. Some large, some small. But all felt amazing!
  • I keep a record of our payments on the fridge door. Every time I make a payment I write it on a piece of paper that is on the fridge with the date of the payment. Seeing it there every time we open the door reminds us of what we’re doing and keeps us going. Mr. Woodpecker has told me that this is his biggest motivator because it is “right there” every time he goes to eat.
  • We celebrate every payment and milestone. By celebrate I mean high fives, hugs, and kisses. When I put a $58 payment on the credit card it is awesome to know that I have a partner who will congratulate me on that and be just as excited as I am about it.
  • We got engaged. Okay, not everyone can do this. But now we’re extra motivated to pay off this debt because we want to start our married life without it and we don’t want to have our wedding until it is paid off and we can save for our wedding and pay for it in cash. This is also another amazing motivation to keep us going.

I won’t lie, the past 6 weeks have been exhausting. Working 45-50 hrs per week at my normal job and then going to my part time job in the evenings and weekends is just hard. I miss him a lot. And he misses me. The only way I can do this is knowing that he is taking care of everything at home while I’m not there and knowing that it is only temporary. It has definitely made us cherish the 1 or 2 nights a week that we get where I don’t have to work  all the more!

New Budget!

So I worked this weekend with BF to create new zero-based budgets for both of us. Now it is time to share!

Here is my new budget which will go into effect starting February 28th:

Click to make larger

To give a quick summary. The left side is what I will spend on each thing per month. The “Amount Spent” column is how much I’m budgeting for each particular thing. The column to the right of that “Amount Remaining” is how much money I have left after that expense. I have them saved in order of semi-priority. Savings accounts first, then bills and debts, then finally variable expenses. In the middle section is what I will pay towards to each thing from my first paycheck. The far right section is what I will spend on each thing from my second paycheck. You can see I pay my most bills with the exception of my rent and student loan bill from the first paycheck. All other expenses (savings and variable) are split equally between the two paychecks.

Based on my assessment of how I spend money in Kansas, I’ve adjusted my variable expenses to represent this. I am budgeting $80 for gas, $360 for food, $160 total for all pet related expenses (food, litter, daycare), $20 for clothes, $70 for miscellaneous and $30 for entertainment. I plan on using envelopes starting February 28th, so each paycheck I’ll remove $360 in cash from my checking account and allocate this to their particular envelopes and use only cash. I’ll be piloting the envelope budgeting system for the entire month of March to see if it is a practical way for me to run my budget.

For my debts I have my credit card (minimum is $400), a 0% interest mattress loan (I’m paying enough to have it paid off before the 0% interest date arrives, but not the maximum I could since I’m not earning interest on it but my credit card IS earning interest), and my student loan debt (2.5% interest, only paying minimum). So I’m paying $527 over the minimum on my credit card.

After my February 28th paycheck I’ll be putting the $50 each paycheck for my emergency fund on to my debt, this is why paycheck #1 shows me putting $50 in my Emergency Fund but paycheck #2 shows no money. That $50 that would go normally go to my E-fund will be redirected to debt since my E-fund will be full funded.

I’ll need to do some moderate money movement with my direct deposits to do this, but since March is a trial run I’ll just manually move the money around and if this budget seems to work for me then I’ll change my direct deposit forms to reflect these changes.

I also got BF to do a budget. It is similar to mine except his only debt is a car payment and he doesn’t have pet expenses and all his utilities are included in his rent. He also already has a fully funded E-fund, but doesn’t have any yearly savings – but is planning on starting doing this with his next paycheck. Since he doesn’t make as much as me he can’t save as vigorously for vacations and things of this nature, but I’m glad he’s starting. His car loan is for 3 years, so once that is paid off (he’s paying $100 extra each month) he’ll be in a really good place financially.

We should both be debt free around the same time – which seems like a pretty perfect place to begin a new life together. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge)

The Future of TV

I doubt that anyone under the age of 35 would say that how we watch TV is going to be radically changing in the next few years. With instant streaming available on many new TVs and BluRay players there is absolutely no reason for most of us to continue to use standard cable to access our favorite shows.

We’ve all heard the complaints before and have probably made a few myself “I subscribe to premium cable to get XYZ channel, but I also have to pay for 50 others that I don’t watch.”

What I love about the future of television is that in a sense it is/will be a purely Darwinian survival of the fittest. Only good shows will survive and we the viewers will chose, not some Neilson black box.  And right now there is a race for who will sit on top of streaming media.

Streaming Sports

When I told my dad that I didn’t think that cable television would last much longer he balked “How will people watch sports?”

Easy dad. If you want to watch hockey, you can subscribe to Center Ice. Streaming online hockey games – and you can watch four at a time. I subscribed to this a few years back and loved the service I got. Wanna watch baseball? Football? ESPN3 offers digital streaming of many games. My dad was also able to watch quite a few of the bowl games on live streaming through the affiliate network sites. As well, those of you with XBoxes can get ESPN360. If you want to watch past season games you can always suscribe to MLB.tv, my LG Bluray player streams them as well.

I’m not so big on sports outside of hockey and following Box Scores online. What do I love? SHOWS.

Streaming TV Shows

Right now there are two major contenders for online streaming television shows: Hulu/HuluPlus and Netflix (note: there are other streaming sites, these are just the major players as I see it)

I currently subscribe to Netflix.

I get unlimited streaming to my computer and to my LG Bluray player (and to BF’s PS3) for $7.99 a month. No ads to watch. But I also don’t get current seasons of shows. Which is fine for me because I like going through shows in huge blocks of episodes at a time (I watched all of Lost Season 6 in 2.5 days) and I’m so far behind on most shows it doesn’t matter.

If you’re not like me and you want the thrill of being up-to-date with shows then Hulu or HuluPlus is for you.

Most of us are familiar with Hulu, you get a selection of streaming shows and movies through their site. Here is something that people don’t get, but Hulu only streams to you stuff that is already free to get on other sites. This frustrates the bajezzus out of me when I tell BF “Fringe isn’t on Hulu” – and then he replies “Well check on Fox.com”. Let’s get this straight people, Hulu (free service) only streams what Fox.com LETS it stream. And Fox.com isn’t going to let Hulu broadcast more than is currently available on it’s site for free. So if it isn’t on Hulu (free service) it isn’t on the networks site either. (That doesn’t mean you can’t find it elsewhere on the interwebz, you’ll just be streaming/downloading from a not-so-legal source my friends).

Hulu has introduced a new way of streaming shows HuluPlus– and I have to say – it is tempting me to switch away from Netflix streaming.

For $7.99 you get the ENTIRE season of the current show – including the current episodes. You also get the back seasons for most shows (which I’d get from Netflix). And their repertoire of shows available is pretty dang awesome.

Also, the number of devices you can stream on with HuluPlus is pretty extensive, especially if you’re an Apple user. From the looks of things I should be able to get HuluPlus on my LG BluRay pretty shortly. BF currently can get it on his PS3. I can’t wait for the Android app – one thing that I have wished that Netflix had was an ability to stream on my HTC Evo – seems like HuluPlus might be able to do it soon.

Of course there are drawbacks to HuluPlus. For one, you still have to watch commercials. One of the things that I love about Netflix is that we don’t watch commercials. With HuluPlus those advertisers are still going to getcha! Another is that it appears that seasons of TV shows that are post-airing, but just released on DVD aren’t available for HuluPlus. For instance, there are only 5 seasons of Lost available. The last season (season 6) isn’t available. However Season 6 of Lost has been available on Netflix streaming for at least a month.

But on the flip side, Netflix streaming only does a handlful of shows. It could be that your favorite network show isn’t streamed on Netflix – but most likely (if it is network) it is available on HuluPlus.

But a bonus for Netflix is that it DOES stream some premium shows. For instance Dexter seasons 1&2 are available on Netflix but only one episode can be found on Hulu’s site.

Streaming Movies

What about movies?

Of course Netflix and Hulu both stream movies. And for anyone who has ever used either service knows, you get maybe 3-4 decent options with a ton of really baaaaad movies. In my opinion Netflix has a far better movie streaming service than Hulu does (that isn’t saying much).

There are other movie streaming services though! For instance, Vudu is an HD movie streaming service that has many free HD movie streaming options – or you can pay $2 to “rent” a movie for two nights – also they have a 99cent movie that changes daily  (today’s is Million Dollar Baby). They have a great selection of movies making it even more convenient than Redbox in a lot of ways. I’ve never used Vudu’s service, but it seems like a great way to “fill in” the gaps of movies that are missing from Netflix or Hulu is a cost effective, streaming way. Vudu also has a multiple platform presence. I can access it from my LG Bluray player, my PC, or BF’s PS3. Now… if only they would get on Android!

The Future

It seems to me that with a combination of streaming sports available, movies through Netflix and Vudu, TV shows through HuluPlus and Netflix – well, you can very much get away without ever having a cable box again. And you can even get your premium channels as well. HBO Go is now offering streaming through iPad and personal computers with a subscription to the cable premium station (includes HBO original shows, documentaries, sports, comedians, ect). It is only a matter of time before HBO Go will become a stand-alone purchase to gain new “streaming only” customers.

Where do you fall on the cable vs streaming see saw? We’re in the thick of change and I have a feeling that most personal finance bloggers may have already switched over to Netflix or Hulu to get a lot of their TV watching. Will you be sad to see cable go? Do you think it will go away? What are your thoughts on the future of television as we know it?

**Note, I did not receive money or any other form of compensation from any of the companies mentioned in this blog post. The commentary is purely my own.

Why I Don’t Track Spending

If you’ve been around the blogosphere for a while you’ll definitely notice that there are some PF bloggers who monitor every dollar spent. They give you weekly posts of all their money in and money out. They’ll give monthly summaries of where their money went. If you’ve been hanging around this blog long enough you’ll see that I don’t do that (anymore).

When I first started blogging I tracked spending religiously. I kept track of every dollar. I used Quicken to gauge where I was spending money. I made post after post of where my money was going so I could learn where I was overspending. And it helped! I learned that I lose the majority of my money to eating out. So in 2010 I gave myself a challenge to stop eating out in an effort to control that spending. Since that challenge began I haven’t needed to track my spending, since I don’t overspend on eating out anymore.

I have two checking accounts and two savings accounts.

Checking account #1 (through Bofa) pays for all of my bills. I deposit in it the money I need to spend that month in bills. I don’t use it for anything else other than bill pay. Period.

Checking account #2 (through ING) pays for spending. Food. Clothes. Toilettries. Gifts. Pet supplies. Everything that isn’t a bill gets paid for by my ING account. Why ING? First, there is no overdraft fees. Second, I don’t have a line of credit with ING, so if I go below $0 in this checking account it cuts me off. No more spending. Third, I love ING. If I could marry a bank I’d marry ING.

Savings account #1 (through ING) is for my Emergency Fund. I use ING so I can quickly transfer money out of this account to my spending account if I need to and can roll over unused money from my ING checking if I have extra at the end of a pay period.

Savings account #2 (through ING) is for my yearly savings. I deposit money in this account every month to pay for known once or twice a year occurrences. I transfer the money to the ING checking from the yearly savings account to pay for them.

So why don’t I track my spending?

Because as long as I come out EVEN in my spending account (or ahead) I don’t care where that money has gone.

Tracking my spending becomes a hassle for me. So I simply budget $555/month for EVERYTHING that I could possibly spend money on and that’s all I get. Since I get paid bi-monthly I end up with $277 twice a month. If I run out with a few days to go it isn’t the end of the world, more money is coming soon (but this rarely happens, if ever).

Perhaps this isn’t the best thing to do. Perhaps it isn’t even recommended. But I tracked my spending for over a year to figure out where it was all going. And now that I know I’m comfortable just giving myself money and trusting myself to do what is needed. I know that I should be aiming to spend around $10/day on food. I know I should be aiming to buy gas only twice a month. When I go over I know I have to cut back in other areas and I monitor my balance every other day to make sure I’m staying on track with where I should be.

It gives me a lot of flexibility to not keep track of every penny. And in some ways a lot of security to know that I don’t HAVE to track every dollar. I can’t overspend. I know (now) what I’m aiming for in each category.

Do you track your spending? Are you someone who has to double check every dollar? Or are you comfortable just knowing that as long as you don’t go over budget you’re fine?

The Good, The Bad, The Internet

Hard to believe it, but I’ve been in Kansas for two weeks now.

In an effort to be frugal, I decided to “hold out” on getting internet for as long as possible. So I shopped around for deals and the best service for what I need.

I wanted to get AT&T U-Verse again, since I was happy with their service at my last place. However when I went to their page to see if I could get service, my address was in there – with all the apartments in my building – EXCEPT mine. So I called up customer service. They said that I obviously would have U-verse service in my apartment, but that they needed to add my address to the system so that they could get the guy to install it. “We’ll give you a call Monday.”

Well…. Monday passed… then the next Monday…. and the next Monday after that. So I tried calling them back. Three times I tried calling them back. And each time I was just sent to department after department after department after department. Each person seemed to not know what I was talking about, where they should send me, or they would just put me on hold for 10-15 minutes.

Eventually I decided that AT&T didn’t want me as a customer. So I started exploring other options.

Comcast was also an option here, but I had them at my apartment before I had switched to AT&T and didn’t like them. I also had the option of Time Warner Cable – but they were more expensive than AT&T U-verse.

What I ended up getting was ClearWire internet. It is not as fast as U-verse. The website says I can get up to 6Mbps, but I only have gotten 3Mbps max so far. However, it is fast enough for watching Netflix – which is all I really cared that it did to begin with. I’m pretty sure if I were a gamer of any sort I’d be disappointed. The cost is $45/month. But the awesome thing is that it works off of 4G wireless signals. So that means I can take my router anywhere there is 4G wireless and I can connect to the internet. Which is the Kansas City area is just about anywhere.

That is a pretty big perk for me.

Also, there was no installation fee and I didn’t have to have any cable guy come and install it. I just picked up my router from Best Buy, came home, plugged it in, had internet. It was super easy.

Anyway, this isn’t a sponsored post by ClearWire, but I’m thus far pretty happy with the service and the speed and how easy it was to set up.

Also – it feels REALLY good to have internet again. I missed ya’ll!

Summer Budget 2010

As many of you are aware, I won’t be teaching over the summer. Also, tutoring slows down a lot in the summer. So I will be living on just my main job income for the coming few months. Essentially I’ll be making about $900 less per month that I am now. This may seem significant, but since all that extra money was going into either my E-fund or my debt, it actually won’t effect my day-to-day living budget – only how much I’m able to save/pay down debt.

My last paycheck for the spring semester at the community college will be May 21st. So this budget will come into effect starting June 1st. All the money that I get from the community college between now and June 1st will be saved away into my Emergency Fund – to help bulk it up in case I need to move in August.

So here is a visual representation of the budget that I’ve put together for the summer:

I know that it probably looks pretty confusing, but it isn’t really. I have 4 main accounts that I put my money into.

Account 1 (colored pink): Bill Paying Account. This is the account where I deposit money that goes to pay my bills. Rent, credit card, student loan, water, cable, ect. I don’t have any spending money that goes in to this account. I just use it to pay bills.

Account 2 (colored purple): Spending Account. This in an ING checking account. I pay for food, toilettries, dog care, entertainment, clothes, ect out of this account. You can see at the top that I have listed two different amounts. $146 for spending money and then $400 for weekly spending. How I have found to work  best for me is to deposit at the beginning of the month a small “lump sum” of $146. The $400 that is listed as my “weekly spending” is originally deposited in my ING Savings account and every Friday I have an automatic transfer of $100 into my checking account.  I do this for a number of reasons, but mainly that it helps me from blowing all my cash and having nothing for the rest of the month. Getting paid only once a month makes it easy to do this, so giving myself my spending cash in weekly increments helps keep crazy spending out of control.

Accounts 3 & 4 (colored purple): Savings Accounts. I have two different ING savings accounts. One is my E-fund which I will be depositing $100 in every month. The other is my year savings, which gets $190 each month. The yearly savings account pays for things that I know will happen each year: car registration, christmas, dog vaccinations, ect. I divide the total cost of each of these things by 12 and then pay for them little by little each month. This way when they hit I’m not scrambling for cash. The Emergency Fund is just that: for emergencies. I currently have $2,132 in my E-fund. My goal is $5,000 if I get a full faculty position starting in August. If I don’t then I’ll reign that back down to $1,200 for the remainder of the year and just put the extra cash on my debt.

So the losing the extra $900 I cut back on the following:

  • Credit card debt: Dropped down from $1100/month to $500/month
  • E-fund savings: Dropped from $500/month to $100/month

All in all lifestyle wise I shouldn’t notice a difference in my loss of income, only a difference in my rate of paying down my debt. Keep in mind that while I will only be paying $500/month on my credit card that my minimum payment is $330. So I am still paying more than my minimum and still making some progress. Just not as much as I ideally would like.

If I don’t end up moving, I will be teaching a class in the fall at the community college in the evenings. Likely half the load that I currently half – which means an extra $450/month. My first paycheck for the fall would be September 10th. So I will need to make up a new budget in September no matter if I end up moving or not.

Sometimes – Automatic Payments Suck

Okay, if you didn’t already know this, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’m Lazy.

In fact, just about every major decision of my life thus far can be traced back to some for of laziness. I went to graduate school because I was too lazy to try to find a job. I moved to the midwest because I was too lazy (/anxious/a whole host of other reasons) to find a post-doc in California. I got laser hair removal because I’m too lazy to shave my legs.

I believe that everyone has a quota of energy they are given in a day, and we allocate the areas in our life that we want to put that energy. I rarely use this energy to pluck my eyebrows, blow dry my hair or put on make-up.

I recognize that sometimes it takes a small amount of effort upfront to get a reward of laziness in the future. And this is why I use automatic bill pay for all of my bills.

My paycheck arrives every month the last working day of the month. My bills are set to go through the next day (if this is possible) or the same day (if it is not). This is all set up through Bank of America.

This got me in trouble in August, and the result was me having my interest rate on my credit card raised from 10% to 27%. I’ve taken care of the issue that causes this, and instead of my due date being the 3rd of the month it is now the 8th of the month.

It again got me in trouble this month. My paycheck was SUPPOSED to go through on December 31st. My bill pay was scheduled for December 31st (couldn’t do January 1st because it was a holiday).

I have set up my accounts so that I get a text message when my money has been direct deposited. And by around 3pm on the 31st I started to get worried – why hadn’t I gotten the text yet?

I go online to my work website, and my paycheck is set for January 4th. JANUARY 4th?! Well now I’m kinda pissed because I’m SUPPOSED to get paid the last working day of the month, so I’m not sure why they would change the pay day without telling us.

That is neither here nor there I suppose, because what I’m really more concerned about is the fact that my bill pay for $1,300 to various bills is supposed to go through and I have $5 in my account.

So I call the bank to see if they can cancel the bill pay. They can’t because it has already processed. Suck.

Thus, my bills went overdraft onto my credit card. I’ll have to pay $10 for the overdraft, which also sucks, but thankfully they pulled all the money out as one transaction instead of one for each bill.

I suppose matters could be worse. At least I have nearly $4,000 worth of credit on my card to take care of the payments and I’ll immediately be able to pay it off on the 4th with my paycheck gets deposited. It just isn’t an ideal situation as far as I’m concerned.

I kind of feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t with automatic payments. When I don’t have them I tend to forget payments – and when I do have them they get messed up when my paycheck doesn’t come when it is supposed to.

All that said – I’m not giving up on automatic payments. I’d rather pay $10 to have all my bills go on my credit card and then immediately pay them off than to have late fees on my different accounts because I forget to pay the bills. I’ll just need to remember at the end of the month to check to paycheck to MAKE SURE I’m getting paid on the last day, and if not to move my bill pay.

Honestly, if there were a way that I could direct deposit my paycheck to my billing accounts without it ever even going onto my account I would probably do that! Then the money would arrive as soon as I got paid, and that would be good enough!

Am I the only one who has this kind of trouble with automatic bill pay?

Thing that made me happy today: Watching the movie “Once” from the library. I think Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are two very talented singers. The song “If You Want Me” makes me cry nearly every time I hear it, it is so beautiful. (Link goes to Amazon.com page where you can hear a clip of “If You Want Me”)

Bill Overpayment

I mentioned a few months ago that I overpay on both my electricity and water bills every month.

I’ve been paying $73/month towards my electricity and $40/month towards my water bill.

Originally my budget billing for electricity was $73/month – so I wasn’t paying any bit over or under. Then after 6 months the electric company recalculated that to break even I would only need to pay $53/month. Well, I still continued to pay $73/month anyway. Fast forward to my most recent bill, I now have a credit on my electricity bill of $122.50.

As for my water bill, I don’t have the option of signing up for budget billing, so I just made my own. I picked an amount that was higher than the highest monthly bill I had the previous year. For instance, my highest water bill in 2008 was $35, so now I pay $40/month to be sure I always pay over this amount. Typically, my bill is for only around $25/month. Well, I now have a credit on my water bill for $86.64.

That’s right, between my two bills I have a credit balance of around $200.

So what is the point of overpaying my bill?

There are five for me:

1) If I ever forget to pay my bill one month for whatever reason, I don’t have to worry about it because the credit on the account should cover the bill. This includes my family not having to worry about paying for this bill if some freak accident were to happen to me. Also, I don’t have to worry about CHECKING the bill each month for exactly how much I owe. I can just use my automatic bill pay and be done with it.

2) If I loose my job, I can breathe a little easy for a month or two knowing there is a credit on my account to pay my bill. It is a little bit like a utility “emergency fund”.

3) When I move, I’ll get checks from each of these companies. Since this money will have already been “spent” – it will be like free money.

4) It keeps me in good graces with these companies. I feel like the electric company and the water company are not people you want to piss off. =)

5) I get a psychological benefit from knowing I don’t HAVE to pay my current bill if I don’t want to.

Now, I know that it is silly to have A LOT of money siting in credit in a utility bill. So I’m cutting back on how much I pay to the water company each month to $30/month until I start to get back to where I have just a credit of $40. As for electricity, I’m not going to decrease my payment until we get through winter – having only been through one in the Midwest I’m still not comfortable with exactly how much it will cost each month.

Cable and Internet

As you may have noticed from my goals post, I cancelled my cable TV. However, as you’ll recall, Comcast was going to charge me $55/month to have JUST internet. Considering I am paying $75/month for cable and internet (plus taxes and fees) – I thought their rates were outright extortion – and told them so.

After going a month without watching cable in my home (to make sure that I wouldn’t miss it – I didn’t), on Friday I turned in my cable box and had Comcast cancel both my cable TV and internet. So as of Friday morning I’ve been without internet. It only took about one day to realize that I NEED internet. Not in an addictive sort of way (though that is part of it), but for work and making money I need internet.

I can’t do my work with Tutor.com without internet at home. And I can’t respond to my bosses late night requests and notices of early morning meetings that he likes to send out at least weekly around 11pm. I also can’t chat with my friends back in San Diego and Connecticut without internet access. The internet is not longer just a thing of convenience in my life, it is part of how I live each day.

So Saturday morning (not but 24 hours after I cancelled my internet with Comcast) I placed an order with AT&T U-verse for internet. I decided to get their $35/month package – since I’ve budgeted $40/month for internet. With taxes I should come at right about that. My speed will be less than what I had with Comcast (12 Mbps vs my new speed of 6 Mbps). I’m sure I’ll notice a difference in speed, especially watching shows online. But considering the price is also $20/month less – hopefully that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. This is the same speed that Mr. Cousin has at his apartment, and I haven’t noticed it to be incredibly slow when I’m there – but then, I didn’t try to watch TV shows either.

As you remember, since I’m only ordering one service with AT&T, I’ll have to pay a $145 installation fee. I’ve decided that I’m going to use the money that I’ll get from substitute teaching last week in order to pay for the installation fee. That was money without a home, but I think that getting internet will be a great use of the money. =)

So there you have it, that is what I’ve decided to do with my internet and cable – and the net result is that I should save around $40/month (my last bill from Comcast was for $80). The internet installation will be next Tuesday morning. I’m sure by then I’ll be going through serious internet withdrawal. 😉