***Just so I am absolutely clear... These are things *I* have personally been convicted about, spending wise. I am in no way passing judgement on anyone who does not have those same convictions. These are things that I believe God would have me release in order to better afford the family we have been blessed with and the things that may arise in our future. ***
I have had such great interest in my first post on How We Can Afford Becoming A Larger Family that I have decided to keep going with this theme and fill in the blanks so to speak on what we are incrementally doing to accomplish just that.
Late this summer our lease is up on this big beautiful house we have been living in for the last year. David and I have made it a goal to work on our credit score between now and then so that we can apply for a mortgage and buy an appropriate sized house on a couple acres somewhere nearby. To do this we have a specific dollar amount to pay off of our outstanding credit debts to bring our credit score up the required range. (Advice of the sage CreditKarma.com and my sweet SIL who happens to work in the mortgage business.) The end goal here is to purchase a modest house that is as large as possible, with some land...and still pay it off in 5-7 years. I hear you laughing...but we believe it is possible.
What one other thing could we do for our family that would be better than getting out of debt? What could possibly insure better security if our boys never are able to leave home to work and start families of their own? I can think of nothing better than being debt free.
One of the first things I identified to open up our budget a bit to put additional moneys toward debt is to revamp our cellular obligations. The plan has been in place in my mind for a couple of weeks now. I willingly walked into the cellular store yesterday and asked about our contracts and what could be done to bring all our phones down to the cheapest point. Surprisingly they were very helpful and I walked out of the store less than an hour later the proud owner of two unsmart phones and with a bill less than HALF what it was when I walked in. The cost will come down even further later this year when the third contract on our line expires. We no longer need it and we will be able to delete it at that time. (David's company purchased his iPhone 5 and pays his cellular bill.)
The trouble is that before I even left the store I started to feel depressed. As if I had just lost something hugely important in my life. (It is not.) Smart phones have become so common place that ‘everyone’ has one. I began to think how only those who were really inept or destitute DID NOT have a smart phone. What would people think of me when they found out I didn’t have a smart phone? (Yes, this thought actually crossed my mind!)
As the evening wore one I realized it was absolutely ridiculous that I was sitting here feeling down and depressed over a PHONE. Because I have an iPad I didn’t even use my iPhone that much other than for calling and texting…and I can do that on my shiny new ‘stupid’ phone. Well, I did use it for GPS…and to check Facebook a dozen times a day. But really nothing important was accomplished by that little device.
It was THEN that I started to feel really bad about how much time and money I wasted on that silly little device. I started adding it up. Over the last five years I have wasted $1800 just on the data portion of my cell bill. (What did we blow to purchase the phones themselves? I don’t remember.) I kept one of our old smart phones for the kids for two years...that is another $720. Just. For. Data. Another $30/mo for unlimited text for the last $3.5 years. $1260. I'm sick.
When did these devices become necessities? How in the world did the corporate “THEY” convince us all of it so thoroughly? Worse…what ELSE am I nickel and dime-ing myself to death with?
Well just to start… My iPad has cellular connectivity. Left on, that charges our bank account $20/month EACH. (David has one too.) These we did not purchase with cash. We bought them with gift card that David received from his former company three or four years ago as a bonus. I’m pretty sure we bought my last iPhone at the same time…so at least this was not an out of pocket expenditure or purchased on credit. ($40)
I view our internet as a necessary expense because David must have it to work from home…and he does work from home a lot. Lots of nights and weekends go into being the IT rock star he has become in his industry. (I know no one else on the planet with the work ethic he has…but I am biased I guess.) HOWEVER what comes along with that internet bill? The cable bill. TV is sucking the life out of me and my children. I have felt it for years…and I just didn’t know what to do about it. It too has become this thing that lives and breathes on its own…and quite literally OWNS US. Depending on whether or not you are high def, how many outlets you have in your house, how many DVRs you have in your house…this bill can be astronomical. Ours currently runs $171+ with all the taxes and fees total. Only $54 of that is internet. I’m going to find out very soon how much of that we can pare down…or we may just pare it off all together.
Now this is where the rubber is going to hit the road. My Caffeine addiction. David and I have consumed about a gazillion cans/bottles of pop and cups of coffee since we have known each other. We could have financed a good portion of a house with the proceeds. I just did a quick scribble and figured out approximately what we spend per day in coffee (k-cups) and pop. Including the half and half we cream our coffee with and the Splenda packets I buy to put in mine. David and I easily spend five dollars a day between us on caffeinated beverages…even after carefully buying all the coffee, creamer, sweetener and pop cans at the cheapest price we can find we are STILL spending five dollars a day. That may not sound like much…I mean we have walked into Starbucks and dropped that just on two Venti Café Americanos…but let’s do the math. That is $1825 a YEAR for drinks…and that does not count the ones that might creep into the budget at the drive thru, at the gas station or a sit down restaurant. (Oh boy, don’t get me started on eating out.)
I am nauseated by this total waste all because I’ve allowed myself to become so spoiled on technology and gadgets. Whoever though of the Keurig was a genius. There again we have been lured into believing that speed, convenience and abundance of choice is better. We spend $25 just on a little whirl-a-gig to keep the little k-cups in for goodness sakes.
We first purchased a Keurig three years ago after tax time. (Even using filtered water we are now on our second machine!) It was a want that was not fulfilled at Christmas, and I made up my mind to have one when our tax refund came. I soon left my trusty coffee pot behind in favor of the choices and speed Keurig offered. At three cups a day over three years…I conservatively figure I have dropped no less than $1500 on k-cups just for myself. At the same time I was convinced this was something I needed, something I deserved. I’m feeling a little humbled by that thought today. What a waste…and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
What other details of my life can I find to examine? Many I am sure. I’ll make some notes and get back to you with that later on. Enjoy your weekend.