It’s Not Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Last year's tree... nothing like this around here this year!

Last year’s tree… nothing like this around here this year!

… and that’s OKAY!

It’s December 18th as I write this, aka t-7 days before Christmas and to stand inside the PoP home, you wouldn’t really know it.

For me, this is weird. You see, I LOVE a good Christmas tree (largely because I had pretty sucky Christmas decorations/trees growing up). I love sitting next to it and basking in the glow of the white lights as they reflect off of all the shiny ornaments that we’ve both inherited from our families and have collected together during our marriage, and inhaling the scent of the fir tree that I insist Mr PoP help me pick out and drag home from Home Depot during the first week of December each year.

It’s so nice, and calming.

But this year it’s not happening. Yes, I did get our outdoor lights on the house as part of my solitary Thanksgiving, but we’ve got enough chaos going on in the house at the moment that the idea of decorating beyond that felt not like a treat, but rather as an imposition – as a chore.

Continue reading It’s Not Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Prepaying For A High ROI

It has gotten cold down here this winter... folks are building sand men!

It has gotten cold down here this winter… folks are building sand men!

In November, we paid in full three different bills totaling close to $3,000 that weren’t due (or due in full) for 5 or 6 months.

Why did we do this? Quite simply, the pay in full or pay in advance discounts amount to some of the best ROIs around. How so? Let’s look at some examples.

Property Taxes

We get our property tax bills in November every year, but technically we don’t need to pay them until March of the following year. That’s 4 months that we could hold on to the cash instead of handing it over to our local government for them to hold on to. Four months when we could be earning interest on our money instead of letting our local government put it to use immediately (or earn interest on it themselves).

To induce us to hand over our hard-earned cash as early as possible our government gives us a nice little discount to pay in advance. For each month we pay in advance of March, we get a little more than 1% off of the total bill. So if we pay as early as possible (in November), we get 4.17% off the total bill. 4.17% might not sound like much, but let’s annualize it.

4.17% for 4 months becomes…

(1+0.0417)^(12/4)-1 = 13.03% annualized.

Unless your savings account is getting a better return (CAGR) than that, or you are using your funds to pay down credit card or other debt that’s at a higher rate than 13%, I really can’t see any downside to not prepaying this bill. And if you’re using an escrow account through your mortgage holder, make sure they’re paying it early to get the maximum discount, too!

Car Insurance

Continue reading Prepaying For A High ROI

Our Latest Insurance Dance

We go through a dance with our homeowner’s insurance company nearly every year.

Two years ago it was figuring out if it was worth it to self-insure our pool and lanai. Spoiler alert – since at that point it would have cost us an additional $2K/year to insure it for $10K, self-insuring was the better bet.

Last year, it was deciding if we were comfortable with the takeout of our policy from Citizens to a smaller insurer. We went with it and regained coverage on our pool and lanai for a nominal increase (just $20) in our premium.

This year, we ended up raising the deductible on our policy in order to decrease our premium. The way the math worked out, we have a seven year break-even on the risk for the hurricane portion of the policy (which now has the highest deductible we are able to take on according to our mortgage contract).

Why Did We Do This?

Continue reading Our Latest Insurance Dance

PoP Balance Sheet – November 2014

Welcome to our November 2014 Balance Sheet!

We use the structure of a monthly income statement and balance sheet in tandem to make sure we are keeping our expenses low and planting our pennies wisely. If you’re not already tracking your finances using these two methods, go to mint.com and get started today! If you have any questions about how we do this just post a comment and we’ll be sure to help!

There wasn’t a ton of excitement on our  balance sheet this month.  We had a couple of high bills outside of our normal spending (property taxes for the investment properties) that had us only adding about $5K to our accounts this month.  We also adjusted the value of our car down using the most recent Kelly Blue Book estimate.  Honestly that’s getting to be such a small part of our asset base that I’ll probably take it off completely the next time we do an updated valuation on our other less liquid assets, ie the real estate.

All in all, it was a pretty boring month.  But I guess that’s not a bad thing most of the time!

So for the month of November:

  • Our total assets went up by $12.2K
  • Our total liabilities went down by $0.5K
  • Net worth rose by $12.7K
  • Total net worth as of the end of November is $815.0K, which represents a 1.58% increase this month.

And for the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – November 2014

PoP Income Statement – November 2014

Welcome to our November 2014 Income Statement!

20141130-183337-66817715.jpg

Leaning tower of kitty litter

Mr. PoP and I put these income statements together for two reasons. First, we want to be transparent about our finances because we’re trying to be role models for other people who are trying to plant their own pennies (and end up with dollars someday!). Second, we do this to make sure we’re on track to meet our own long-term goals. If you’re not tracking your income statement and balance sheet, we highly recommend you start using a program like Mint to keep track of it all.

I’m finishing up my solitary Thanksgiving weekend here by wrapping up the month’s financials.  While they aren’t too terribly exciting this month, this weekend has been super productive.

  • A turkey was cooked (Mr PoP will have to report back on whether or not it was a success).  I also made some cranberry sauce from scratch and that was excellent!
  • 43 miles were run and I feel like I’m back on track for marathon training.
  • Lots of cuddling with Kitty PoP.
  • Amazing amounts of laundry were done.
  • Christmas lights are up on the outside of the house.
  • I actually went shopping, scoring 5 work shirts for Mr PoP ($57!), a tower of Kitty Litter and cat food for $44 (consider this picture to be the answer to how much Kitty Litter can you fit in a 2-seater convertible – might have been able to fit in 1 more but I didn’t want to push it!), and a few pair of running socks for a couple of bucks each (thanks AmEx for $30 in Small Business Saturday credits).
  • The closet and attic were cleaned out and two car loads (again, small trunk, so not really *that* much stuff) of stuff were donated.
  • Media binge went great – Serial is awesome and I followed it up with an 8-part documentary on the murder trial of Michael Peterson – The Staircase, which is like a video version of Serial only about a different murder (or was it murder?!? – no spoilers here!) that occurred in 2001.  The eight 45 minute videos are all on youtube, so check it out!  AND… there’s apparently another 2 episodes that revisit the case a decade later for sale on iTunes ($1.99 each).  I may have to buy those since it seems I can’t get them anywhere legally for free…
  • The only thing that didn’t get done was the weeding, but I got a lot more done inside the house (scrubbing showers, etc) and inside the garage including re-mudding the garage wall so we can get our laundry all back in place where it will live from now on, so the weeding is just put off for another week.  Ah well.

Income and spending were pretty good this month, which is nice as we’re closing in on the end of the year and we actually spent a decent chunk of change this month on travel and gifts.

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $5,169.

And here are the details…

Continue reading PoP Income Statement – November 2014