Month: January 2014

10 Ways to Make YOUR Kitty Fat!

funny-fat-man-boat-cat-life-of-pie-pics

Committing to our dream of sailing the high seas, has forced us to come up with some creative money saving measures. For Matt this is a dream come true (he’s so tight, he squeaks when he walks).  For me, it’s been nowhere near as fun, but I realize it’s necessary to achieving our dream ASAP. The following are ways that we’ve saved money:

1. Eliminate any and all debt (with the exception of the mortgage). Good for you if you CAN or HAVE gotten rid of your mortgage, but for us, every day Jo Schmoes, this isn’t always possible. Debt is baggage that you want to pop, lock and drop! Examples of baggage are: college loans, credit card balances, outstanding IOU’s, car/boat/motorcycle payments, and anything that accrues interest. Never buy a new car at a dealership. Never finance or lease.  Buy a late model, used car, and pay cash. Matt also talked about debt in THIS previous post.

2. Get rid of cable and reduce your cell phone and internet to the bare minimum.  I know, I know it’s devastating saying goodbye to Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty, but it saved us $120/mo.  That’s $1,440/year or a month of cruising.  We cut our internet back from a “power boost” to their lowest tier of high speed internet and we have no trouble streaming Netflix on 2 devices concurrently and surfing the internet. I CANNOT live without some form of television, so we have a Roku box and Apple TV that stream Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.  We also bought an HD antenna that we hooked up to the house so that we get free high def local network stations. As for your cell phone, don’t pay for what you don’t use…minutes or data.

3. Downsize your living space (when it makes fiscal sense). We live in Phoenix, so a year ago when we first discussed moving onto a sailboat, we considered selling our home.  We decided not to, because we had a feeling that the market would continue to rise.  We are so glad we made this decision. The market in Phoenix went up 36.5% in the past 12 months.  The market is starting to flatten out now and the expected appreciation for the Phoenix market is 5.1% for 2014 according to Zillow.  So it’s time for us to sell.  We are going to cut our housing expenditures (utilities, mortgage/rent, pool, insurance, taxes and mortgage insurance) by 50% and move into a 2 bedroom apartment for a few short months before moving on the boat. This will take us from $2000/mo to $1,000/mo.  $6,000 saved in 6 months. If you don’t plan on moving, consider refinancing.

4. Sell your nicer/larger items on Craigs List/eBay. eBay and Craigslist will maximize your profits. Make sure to include pictures to expedite your sale. Furniture, bikes, bedding sets, gaming systems and technological items all sell well on these sights.

5. Have a garage sale (for the items that don’t sell on Craig’s List/eBay). Items sell for pennies on the dollar at a garage sale, so only sell items that you know won’t sell on Craig’s List or eBay.  We tried to sell our Pottery Barn bedding set, at our garage sale, that cost hundreds of dollars when we bought it.  We were offered $25.  The same bedroom set sold on Craig’s List for $125. Don’t give your stuff away without trying to sell it first.

6. Cut back on the little things…they add up. Zoe was eating the most expensive gluten free dog food on the market.  We found a reasonably priced (still gluten free) food for her that cost 60% less. Groceries, pet food, gas, beauty expenditures, hygiene items and children’s activities can add up to thousands per month. Take stock of what you’re monthly expenditures are and cut back on as much as possible.

7. Re-examine your insurance coverage. Life, car, homeowner’s and health insurance need to be compared to other companies in your state first, and then potentially re-negotiated or cancelled for a better deal. It is very typical for insurance companies to get you enrolled with really good rates for the first year of coverage BUT keep an eye on those future renewals. The following years are when they stick it to you.  Raise your deductibles if you feel comfortable doing so. We even got rid of our life insurance. Matt assured me that if anything happened to him, I had his permission to marry a rich doctor. It saved us $400/year.

8. Get Chintzy on Entertainment. Do you really need to go to the swanky “Blue Martini” for a $10 well vodka and cranberry when you can kick them back at your local neighbor hood bar for half that price?  Or better yet, mix those cocktails at home or just enjoy some sobriety. For family fun, public parks and libraries are great for kids. Outdoor activities i.e. hiking, biking, skate parks, and splash pads are free. Libraries will often have free passes to zoos and museums. Most Home Depots and Loew’s offer free building classes for kids once per month.

9. Stop Gifting. Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and Valentines Day are BIG consumer holidays.  Agree with your spouse to stop buying one another gifts. Let your family know that you do not want to exchange gifts for birthdays or holidays. We told our family that we’d exchange gifts amongst the kids for birthday s and holidays and that was it! This also frees you from the stress of holiday shopping!

10. Make sure your $ is multiplying. A penny saved is a penny earned. Put that money into a savings account/money market or CD and let your money make money for you. For the more confident, how about some trading in the market?  Click HERE for a great book penned by a fellow cruiser, that gives you the basics of playing the stock market.  If you are spending on credit cards, make sure they are reward based credit cards that actually give you something in exchange…cash back or airline miles.

***Disclaimer – The above suggestions worked well for our personal situation but may not be good, healthy, or even legal for you.

Do YOU have any tips that would help complete this list? Feel free to comment below!

fatcat

Topless Hiking

It has been a brisk low to mid 70 degrees here in Phoenix for most of the winter. I know that’s the last thing our friends on the east coast want to hear, but hey, we suffer through 6 months of living in the devil’s kitchen. 5 minutes from our house is a mountain preserve.  So we decided we’d try to hike every day through the kids’ winter vacation. It became a great way for us to spend time together as a family and for our portly dog Zoe to get some exercise.

Every 5 minutes, Colter would stop and point out dog and horse poop on the hike.  He found it fascinating.

Every 5 minutes, Colter would stop and point out dog and horse poop on the hike. He found it fascinating.

These hitching posts are obviously for horses, but we hitched up our buxom pony.  Instead of staying put like a good dog, she nearly strangled herself trying to escape.

These hitching posts are obviously for horses, but we hitched up our buxom pony. Instead of staying put like a good dog, she nearly strangled herself trying to escape.

Bubs got hot and took his shirt off.  Presley followed suit and the two wound up hiking topless.  Reminded me of my college days.

Bubs got hot and took his shirt off. Presley followed suit and the two wound up hiking topless. Reminded me of my college days.

They are both very competitive! When they weren't holding hands, they were chasing each other down the mountain.

They are both very competitive! When they weren’t holding hands, they were chasing each other down the mountain.

The desert is so green right now.  This is my favorite time of year.

The desert is so green right now. This is my favorite time of year.

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