Sunday, May 26, 2013

Killing your electric bill

Most of us are responsible for paying our electricity bills.  For many, these costs can be ridiculously high.

According to the US Energy Information Administration census, the average monthly bill for residents in the US in 2011 (most recent study) was $110.14.  This means that most households are spending around $1,321 in electricity costs per year. 

Our average electricity bill in our 2 story 2500+ ft2 home over the last 6 months has been $30.21 a month.  Our average electricity bill over the last year has been $35.09.  Our most recent electricity bill was $26.89.  This is awesome considering that we use electricity constantly at home.  We do all our cooking with our electric oven and stove.  Our laptops are always on (not charged only when necessary).  We keep our refrigerator stocked with food.  And we maintain a comfortable temperature in our home rarely using air conditioning.  
Why are these numbers important?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saying goodbye to JP Morgan Palladium

I’ve written about my personal experience with the JP Morgan Palladium card a few times (here and here) before.
There’s no doubt that the Palladium card is a very unique and interesting credit card.  It is probably the most beautiful credit card ever created.  It is constructed with Palladium, has 23K yellow gold accents, has my awesome signature laser etched on the back of the card and it feels very hefty in your hands.  

The mystique of the Palladium card is what makes many individuals drool over it.  My articles on the Palladium card are some of my most popular posts. 

The Palladium card is also a credit card that draws an unwanted amount of attention. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bike riding update

Motivated to exercise and save money at the same time, I have decided to ride my bike more and drive the car less.  I’m happy to report that my wife is also on board with biking more. 
Last week I rode my bike to work for the first time.  It wasn’t easy: it took 40 minutes to ride to the office, and 44 minutes to ride home.  There were plenty of hills for me to climb and plenty of hills for me to coast down.   It was hot after work.  By the time I got home, I was all sweaty.

Still, it felt great riding my bike to the office.  I felt like I was a kid again riding my bike to school.  I got a great workout and saved some money on gas and vehicle wear.  

During the weekend, instead of driving to the grocery store, my wife and I decided to ride our bikes.  The grocery store is only about 1 mile away, and it took us 9 minutes to get there coasting downhill without effort.  I can’t believe we used take 2 minute drives to the market like lazy fat-asses.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day

Where would we all be without our wonderful mothers?  Well for one thing, we wouldn’t have been born! 
My father left our family when I was in elementary school.  It was just my mom taking care of my sister and me.  She took several jobs ranging from bank teller to jewelry sales.  No matter how bad things got, she never failed to put food on the table every day.   

We moved around frequently and at one point, we lived in a cockroach-invested apartment.  Imagine coming home at night, turning on the lights, and seeing several cockroaches scuttle away into the crevices of the couches.  Imagine pulling open a drawer in the kitchen and seeing a cockroach crawl away on top of the utensils.  We used to wash our utensils prior to using them.  I still shutter thinking about that.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Improve your health and wealth at the same time

Does this look like your daily commute?  I hope not.
Three years ago, I moved closer to my workplace.  This has truly been a wonderful blessing.  I cut my then 23 mile (50-minute) daily freeway commute down to my now 5.7 mile (15 minute) short commute on surface streets.  Moving closer to work and cutting out 70 total minutes from my daily commute has been one of my best, most life changing personal decisions.

I absolutely hated the traffic on my previous commute.  Stop and go, bumper-to-bumper, mind numbing, soul draining traffic.  Counting the time spent in my car, my 8 hour work day was effectively transformed into a 10 hour work day.  Traffic jams would delay my travel time by up to 30 minutes.   I will admit I even “cheated” the system by hopping in the carpool (HOV) lane by myself on many occasions.  By the time I would get home, I would be physically and mentally exhausted.   

Monday, May 6, 2013

I just found a new barber: my wife

I’ve always been meticulous about tracking my spending.  Without tracking your spending, you will have no idea where your money is going

While trimming my budget this month, I noticed a glaring fact: I’ve budgeted $56 a month for haircuts over the last 2 years.  Let me say that again:  I’ve paid $56 a month for haircuts.  Consistently.  For 2 years.

In Thomas J. Stanley’s book Stop Acting Rich, I learned that real millionaires paid about $16 (tip included) for a haircut at a traditional barbershop – no appointments taken, no coloring provided. 

I’m not a millionaire (yet) and somehow I’ve justified that it was “worth it” for me to get a $28 haircut every 2 weeks.  When I was in high school and college, I used to regularly get $8 haircuts at the local barbershop.  Sometimes a few of my friends who cut their own hair would cut mine.  Then as my income started increasing, I experienced some lifestyle inflation and upgraded my barber.  I thought:

“I work hard for my money, and the money is good.  I deserve to go out and get a nice haircut.  I’ve earned it.”

Sunday, May 5, 2013

2% this time

It’s hard to turn a spender into a saver overnight, especially if they have been conditioned by our society to want to spend on consumer goods, even if that means taking on years of retirement-postponing debt.  It's even harder for a working individual to start putting real sums of money away into their retirement account(s). 

If you’re serious about a comfortable retirement at any age, retirement accounts offer significant tax benefits. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Having the “money talk” with your significant other or spouse

I’ve worked with several couples and have spoken with enough friends who are in serious relationships to realize one common denominator across the board: couples simply don’t talk about their finances.  Most just assume their money problems and retirement goals will simply work out on its own.

I’ve noticed that people in general would rather talk about anything than their finances.  People would rather talk about their sex lives, medical conditions, and family problems than share how much debt they have.  Talking about money seems to be the most taboo topic out there.  I imagine it’s because practically everyone has debt. 
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