Friday, December 28, 2007

December Update

Christmas has come and gone and with it a modicum of indiscretions. I'm not so much worried about them at this time, as the goal for the moment was to simply survive through the end of the year without any major money mistakes. Although there are three days left of 2007, I feel confident in saying this has been accomplished.

My main issue right now is that our expenses are at an all-time high, while savings are at an all-time low. I'm going to be working on our budget for 2008 over the next couple of days and I'm hoping that I'll find a few categories that can be squeezed to the minimum levels to give us more discretionary funds for savings and fun things.

One big issue that I'm having with our budget currently is unaccounted-for expenses. When an expense comes up that hasn't been previously accounted for, we either try to shortchange other categories in an attempt to pull the money out of our already tight budget, or just pay the expense and hope for the best. Both practices end up knocking our budget on its ass, leaving us grasping at straws for the last few days of the month.

Two practices that I've been introduced to by reading other personal finance blogs have been budgeting every income dollar, and the emergency fund. These are those really smart ideas that you know you should be doing but aren't. I know both of these ideas are touchstones for PF guru, Dave Ramsey, who I haven't listened to yet. I guess I'll have to track down his broadcast and take a listen.

*PS - thanks to JW for leaving me a comment -- my 1st! I somehow didn't have email notification on, and with the holidays I didn't see it til today, so I wanted to let you know I wasn't ignoring you! Have a great New Year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Plugging the Leaks

This weekend I plugged a leak in our budget, literally. We had a toilet with a faulty flapper, so handle jiggling was necessary to get the flapper to close and let the tank fill back up. Eventually jiggling didn't work any more and removing the lid to tap the flapper down was required. Even then, the flapper didn't seal completely and there was a constant stream of water running down one side of the toilet bowl and the annoying sound of slightly running water constantly audible.

We'd been seeing our water bill creep up a little at a time, but told ourselves it was the watering of the garden or other things we were doing that was making it rise. A huge water bill came as a result of leaving the outside hose running for a day or two after forgetting to turn it off in the evening, and we suddenly became much more diligent about our water usage.

After plugging all the wasteful water habits except this annoying tiny (it seemed) fix, we expected the water bill to be down significantly - at least as low as it had been this time last year, when there was no garden watering being done. But while it was much lower than the forgotten hose month, it was still high for our average. So the hubster did a little sleuthing. No water was being used (except the leaking toilet) and he went to check the meter. It was spinning around out of control with the amount of water that was being used!

Needless to say, that fix was processed within the hour. After the new, improved, and functional flapper was in place, he checked the water meter again -- even with the dishwasher going, it was only moving at a trickle compared to before. YAY! Hopefully next month our water bill will be much, much lower and our checkbook will be much happier.

What tiny fixes have you been letting go because they seem too insignificant?