Budget Update January 26th, 2014 « A Pirate's Cents and a Pirate's Sense

Budget Update January 26th, 2014

And we need several of those pennies

Another Week, another update

It’s been a stressful week since I realized that the PirateCents family has unexpectedly found itself upside down on the budget front. It also doesn’t help that January is shaping up to be a particularly expensive month with many of our home products that we normally buy in bulk running low/out and having to be replenished all at once. Add in the fact that it’s been bloody cold here in the deep south in a home designed to keep the heat out, not in, and I’m expecting our natural gas bill to be unusually high, even with the thermostat turned down.

Goal: Make More Money

Looking down the road, things should improve by the summer. Mrs. PirateCents should be up for a raise (albeit a small once since she started there last summer). That’ll help. Further, she’ll be able to reduce her 401k contributions by 1% in May as she crosses the point where she’ll max out at the lower rate. It’s possible Mr. PirateCents will see a small raise too, but I doubt that since I literally just went direct with the new company in December.

I began the process of monetizing www.piratecents.com, but as you can see all around the website, the AdSense adds are not active yet and I’m unclear when they will be so. Further, I don’t anticipate any income from this website for months, so that’s a longer range plan, not helping to get to summer.

Prospects for making additional money at work are nil. I’m going to be putting in a lot of overtime starting early next month (roughly 72 extra hours in February and 40 extra hours in March), but that’s all unpaid overtime. It does destroy any hope of side gigs or recreation or even working out. I’ll miss two weeks of working out in February and one week in March, which sucks bad since I still have to pay for the gym. In general, I’m more upset that I won’t be able to work out than I am about the waste of money, but what can you do when you work 30 minutes away, are doing more than 12 hours of work in a day and have a family to take care of?

Goal: Locate “Found” Monies

Mrs. PirateCents and I found that we are eligible for some reimbursement for our Gym Memberships. All together, it could be as much as $300, which would help us cover some of our gaps, even for a few months. We wouldn’t see any of the money until March, but we have some gap coverage in savings that can get us there. The goal, as much as anything, is to mitigate the impact and catch up as quickly as possible.

I saw this article this morning:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/tompor/2014/01/26/did-you-cash-those-savings-bonds-you-got-as-a-kid/4824631/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=110940 A quick search of http://www.treasuryhunt.gov/ turned up nothing, however.

Tax time is coming up too, and while we didn’t make any large tax moves this year, I’m concerned we’ll be into the marriage penalty regime of the tax code and we’ll end up owing as opposed to getting anything back, even filing single and zero deductions. It’s another one of those facets of a progressive tax system that fosters traditional marital roles of a stay at home parent and a single earner. I certainly can’t count on a windfall here.

Goals I’m trying to avoid: Robbing Peter to pay Paul

I’ve been tempted to raid my www.scottrade.com brokerage account for some extra money. That said, with the market going down, the market may be opening for a buying opportunity for the couple hundred dollars I have in there (thanks to Berkshire Hathaway buying up my power company stock; screw you Warren Buffet). That said, my next acquisition target was Microsoft and when the rest of the market was falling Friday, they were rallying. Further, I’m hesitant to take money out of my portfolio. It’s so hard to get it INTO my portfolio. Further, in the 14 years that account has been open, I haven’t taken money out of it. I’ve lost A LOT of money chasing fads and timing the market wrong, but I haven’t raided it for cash.

I am counting the months to being able to cut the cord. That money would fill most of our budget gap, even with replacing it with Hulu. Mrs. PirateCents isn’t whole-heartedly on board; she’d prefer we just got a better service at a slightly lower price, like through DirectTV. We’re still in discussion on this and have 5 more month before we can make the decision.

Foreseeable new challenges:

Our recycling company just went bankrupt (not something that happens up north, but in the deep south, recycling doesn’t receive the same kind of priority). We’re going to have to apply to be reimbursed for the money we pre-paid for a year of service and put down a new deposit for a new (non-locally owned and operated) recycling service. That’s not showing up in January’s budget, thankfully, but it’ll have a detrimental effect in February.

Down into the details for January:

With regards to a quick snapshot on the budget, we’re not doing too bad. Our Incidentals (‘catch all’) budget was exceeded this month between birthday gifts for a cousin of my wife’s, haircuts and an eye exam that I needed for work. We opted for no vision insurance this year to save money (no one was due for new glasses), and it turns out I need prescription inserts for my respirator in order to do my job. The company will provide the inserts, but they needed an up to date prescription, so off to the eye doctor I went.

Sirius Satellite radio went up in price again. That’s twice in the last 12 months, from $47.73 to $48.90 and finally $50.59. Not a huge increase, but definitely irritating since it busts that budget, ever so slightly. In mint.com, a busted budget shows up as a red line.

The household/grocery budget, as noted earlier, is heavily stressed. We haven’t exceeded the budget today, but we’re trending way over budget. I’ve asked Mrs. PirateCents to be cognizant when she does the shopping today, but she’s going to shop for feeding the family healthy, and I know that’s where her focus is. There is extremely little competition in our area for healthy food, so price comparing is going to be minimal. Due to the inclement weather over Friday night, there was no point even trying to go to the farmer’s market Saturday morning (not that we usually save any money going there).

I have tried shopping around to improve my food consumption costs somewhat. After a hard work-out, I was doing premade shakes for my recovery drinks. After consulting with the dietician at my place of employment, I selected a powder to make my own. It’ll cut that cost in about half, saving $20/month. We already buy greek yogurt in bulk to try and save there, but we are still buying single servings with fruit on the bottom. We may have to move to either making our own (has anyone tried that) or getting tubs and doing single serving. I’m really dependent upon the convenience factor of what we’re doing right now, but I’m just unable to comprehend how the food budget just ‘goes.’

On the good side, we didn’t eat out much this month (although we just did one family dinner at a steak and fish place, and despite no alcohol and just drinking water, the tab was over $100), we appear to be coming in under budget on entertainment (no date nights in January, but we did take PirateCents Junior to his first movie).

We put down our deposit for the Cruise in September this month. That had a detrimental effect on the budget, as we had just over $400 set aside so far, and the deposit was over $700. I’m still trying to convince Mrs. PirateCents that driving there makes more sense because flying there will SIGNIFICANTLY increase the cost that I’m already struggling with. It’s not as easy as it was when we were kids though, because PirateCents junior has to sleep sitting up in the back seat car-seat, as opposed to when I was a kid and just slept across the back seats laying down.

2014, a year of challenges

All in All, 2014 is turning out to be a struggle to close the gaps, and we’re always talking about additional expenses that are coming up that I’m struggling with figuring out how to pay for. Here’s hoping that they hold off until 2015!

Any new ideas of places I can find “found monies” or budget savings or ways to make money on the side? Looking for fast ideas, since time will be an extreme premium in February and March.

4 Responses to Budget Update January 26th, 2014

  1. Hopefully that work schedule will slow down a bit after a couple months. What do you do that you have to work so many hours of unpaid overtime? Hope that they give you a raise anyway, and that your wife gets a little bigger raise than expected!

    • Ragnar says:

      Working in a Refinery as a salaried employee requires unpaid overtime occasionally (hopefully no more than once a year or even every other year, but sometimes several times in a year if there are problems or bad luck). It’ll be a temporary time problem (should be over by the end of March or early April) and I’ll be able to explore more options then. That said, I’m considering investing significant time by then in a vegetable garden to try and control late season food costs. I’m dubious of the actual value of the garden, but it has been a ‘go to’ source of savings for many folks for a long time, so I want to try it personally and see what the actual value is.

  2. moneycone says:

    Have you considered selling stuff on CL, Ebay and Amazon? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

    • Ragnar says:

      Yeah. I have some DVDs I was given as gifts that I’ve never opened and a few other random bits, but I’ve got very little extraneous stuff. I lost everything in moving to the south about 7 years ago and then I’ve had a policy that all of my possessions should fit into my truck (right now they’d all fit in the Cab of my truck, incidentally). Originally it was to promote mobility and allow me to go where the work is. Now it’s more an excuse to not buy stuff. For the last several holidays, I ask for only things “that I can use” (as opposed to stuff to look at or decorate with or collect) and this year I asked that everything be American made (which cut down on the number of gifts significantly because many things i need are much more expensive when made in America, like Flint & Tinder underwear and any American made tools). So I’m really struggling on what I can sell.
      As for my wife’s stuff, we purged a *ton* of her stuff when we moved last year and she’s still in a rebuilding phase. The only thing we have extras of are my son’s old stuff, but my wife’s family are all having babies (and my wife wants another too), so everyone’s holding onto baby stuff (hence, eliminating that as a source of extra cash).

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