Monthly Review: July 2016

Welcome to our first goal update! Each month I’ll review the progress we’ve made on our goals and any frugal hacks I’ve been trying out for the month.

Goal Progress: The Emergency Fund

I go over our financial history on our About Us page. For a quick recap, Mr. Steward and I are working (for a second time) on saving up an emergency fund of 3-6 months worth of expenses. (The first time, we were nearly there and used a chunk of it for a down payment on our house.) The magic number is $15,000.

Balance on June 30: 9128.95
Balance on July 31: 10,675.95
Change: 1547

This was a good emergency savings month, thanks to a three-check-month for me. Next month should also prove to be a good one, since I forgot to turn in our daycare reimbursement statement for June (which would otherwise have been included in this month’s progress).

We’re getting pretty close to our goal, although the daycare reimbursements will dry up soon (leaving us with about $600 less per month for saving). Honestly, I’m ready to be done. Because of re-starting, it feels like we have been on this goal forever.

Improvements

  • Swapped out our life insurance: We switched term life insurance providers, adding sixteen  years to the policy and double the monetary coverage for almost exactly the same price. No net gain in terms of our budget, but the financial life of our family is much more secure.
  • Got on a HVAC maintenance plan: Our cooling system is original to the house (25 years old), and our furnace is also about 15 years old. We expect these two things to be the next major problems we face as homeowners. For $135, a local company comes out twice a year to perform preventative maintenance on our HVAC system. We also get 15% off of repairs and do not pay overtime charges if a repair is needed at night or on a weekend. Do I wish we could do this maintenance ourselves? Sure, but neither Mr. Steward nor I is good for changing more than an air filter. I feel the same as I do about our cars: better to pay for the preventative maintenance now than for a whole new HVAC system that could have been pushed off for a few more years by a professional looking at it periodically.
  • Paid off Mr. Steward’s cell phone: I am really unhappy that a payment plan (interest-free) on a cell phone existed in our home, but a reward check offered by Mr. Steward’s employer paid it off this month. Our bill will go down by $17 or so per month. More importantly, we can now look at moving to a discount phone provider.
  • No haircut: I am growing my hair out. I liked my short hairstyle very much, but it required a maintenance trim every 6-8 weeks at $25 a cut. (This is with me trimming my own bangs.) I’ve also had a hard time finding a reliable, affordable person to cut my hair. If I can stand having long hair again, I can reduce haircuts down to every six months or so. We’ll see how it goes.

Do-Betters

  • Amazon Prime Day: We got many things we had wanted for a long time (like the entire Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series on DVD–yassss!), but our spending money budgets are pretty shot for a while.

Frugal Experiments

  • I started using the habit tracker.
  • As a marathon shower taker (regularly 15-20 minutes in length), I decided to try out cold showers, inspired by this article over at The Simple Dollar. Or, I took a single cold shower and, while it was not insurmountably unpleasant for the two minutes to rapidly wash, I am unable to figure out how someone who needs to shave would be able to do it in a cold shower. Instead, I have been keeping the shower on the side of uncomfortably chilly. I do tasks better left for warmer water, like shaving, first. The cold is uncomfortable enough to me me keep on task. The pitfall is that my body acclimates every minute or two, so I have to keep turning the hot water down or it loses its effect.

That’s our financial month in a nutshell. Did you make any financial changes this month?

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