Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Mighty Thor presents "One of Those Months"

Thor smiting our finances
Did you ever have one of those months where the financial Gods are out to get you?  You know that month where everything breaks and every time you turn around somebody has their hand out for more and more money.  A month where it never seems to stop?

Well we are in the midst of one of those months (actually into our second month now).  It started with our furnace.  New furnace needed... thousands of dollars. Then we had an air conditioner go out along with parts to another furnace... thousands of dollars.  Then trees started falling all over our neighbors properties. Now I don't mean just a simple down tree that I can cut up and haul away for our firewood.  I've been chainsawing since I was a kid.  I can handle most trees.  No, we had huge masses of tangled twisted widow makers that need to be tended to.  Out of my comfort zone widow makers hanging over neighbors houses and property.  The kind that can only come from Thor's mighty hammer shooting lightning down upon our trees... thousands of dollars.  Oh and the kids are going back to school and need books and supplies and club fees and extras for the classroom... and Senior pictures... you get the idea, a whole lotta money leaving the iFreebies household.

While in the midst of this great struggle I have to admit I've become a little depressed.  Here we are just starting this blog and really getting serious about our finances.  We've been running over budget the last two months and were really focused on making a difference.  Then Thor comes down to smite our financial world and honestly it's been a little much.  As a result I haven't been blogging or really focusing on our finances.  We have just been trying to survive this rain of lightning and fire being thrown at us.  It has to end, right?

I've spent the last week or so reading some great posts by other financial bloggers and reading and re-reading some of the classic financial books.  I was hoping for some inspiration and I think I have found some.  In particular another read of Your Money or Your Life gave me some much need inspiration and clarity.  I've also been reading a lot more about minimalism.  We could definitely benefit from that.  The less we have, the less that can break (hopefully).  I think I'll cover that topic in more detail in some upcoming posts.

Well I'm hoping this post can set us back on track and help drive Thor back to Asgard or another Marvel movie, whichever he prefers.  Given everything going on in our financial world we have to get back on track and buckle down.  We have some expenses that will probably run through the Labor Day weekend but after that we are hoping to be free and clear of all of this angst.  We are looking for September to be a strong month for us.

With that in mind we are setting some September goals.  They are simple and twofold:

1)  Spend as little as possible.  See how low we can get our expenses.
2)  Challenge every expense.  We need to see if we can take $1,000 or more off of our monthly "normal" bills.

This won't be easy but Mrs. iFreebies and I are committed to try to stem this financial tide we are currently facing and getting back on track to an early retirement.  This must also include a focus on minimalism and we must find a way to start to embrace that as well.

How did you get out of this funk when hit with these type of financial months?  Would love to read your comments.

Photo credit:  Kostic Dusan 123rf.com

Monday, August 8, 2016

Prime Time Sunday August 7, 2016

Prime Time August 7, 2016
Time for another Sunday wrap up of some of the best posts in the financial blogging world.  It is summer and the blogs have been a little slower than normal, this one included.  Lots of vacations and outdoor activities before the weather turns colder and the kids go back to school. Even with less to choose from there were some posts that were great this week and one that thoroughly touched me.

A Life of Yes brought to you by OurNextLife.  They usually update twice a week and I enjoy every one of their posts.  This one is about being able to say yes to friends and the things you want to in early retirement.

Not Everybody is a Spreadsheet Wizard.  RetireBeforeDad has some great spreadsheet tools and top ten financial calculators.

To Pepper:  by Done by Forty.  This post really touched me and my sincerest condolences go out to him and his family as they lost their beloved family dog.  I too am a dog lover and this one had me in tears.  This was a beautiful post to Pepper and reminded me of what is important.  Again my most sincere condolences.

That's all for this week.  On to another week.  Please remember to take some time and enjoy summer. That is a reminder to myself as well.  We all only have so many summer days to yet experience and they seem to go by so fast as you age.

Photo credit:  zavulonya 123rf.com

Saturday, August 6, 2016

July 2016 Financials

A Storm Brewing in our Finances

I feel like there is a storm brewing. As I look on the horizon things just don't look good.  As I was preparing our July month end numbers for this blog post I could hear the thunder clap in the distance and the room seemed to darken as I double checked every number.

Yes, July 2016 is now behind us but I feel like the storm is still to come.  For the second month in a row we blew our budget.  Remember in our June update we had missed our budget badly and reset our graphs to account for our new realization.  Off we went into July with a reset real budget counting every nickel and dime for probably the first time ever.  Mrs. iFreebies and I sat down and set our budget and goals.  We knew we had a trip coming up that would incur some additional expenses.  We had learned our hidden outflows of cash from June.  We would beat the July budget.

Funny thing though, life reminded us that you can't always stick to a budget.  We had some unexpected and very costly home repairs come up in July that shot through our budget (sadly about half of the cost will still hit in August).  A sad month to be sure.  Let's take a look:

As you can see we adjusted our projected expenses up in July to reflect what our real numbers were and try to reduce the June spending we had.  Actual expenses came in 18% higher than our budget though.  Below is a chart showing all categories that we went over budget on:

As you can see Home Maintenance was the biggest overage, followed by Pet Care (another unexpected minor emergency).  Those two alone make up 60% of the missed budget.  However the remaining 40% was more controllable and we need to do a better job on these in the future.

On the plus side our investments had a nice month and brought up our 4% potential passive income number up a little.  This was however brought down by a poor month in our other passive income category.  These two combined to essentially leave our potential passive income number flat.  Overall a very disappointing month.

When I started this blog I had hoped it would help me focus and kick things in gear in the home stretch of our working lives.  Sadly I never thought I would find some of the sloppiness in which we had been managing our finances.  We had always earned and saved well but I had no idea how poorly we managed the outflow of our dollars.  Even this month I was very excited to see our Net Worth grow to a new all-time high.  When I look at our expenses though I realize how far we have yet to go.  Here's hoping to a better August update.

Photo credit:  oleksiy 123rf.com