cmonkey's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
spoonman
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Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:15 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by spoonman » Thu May 28, 2015 1:36 pm

DFU! AAHAHAHAH. I love it! I never envied the work that our IT folk were on the hook to do precisely because I knew the got a lot of flack from some idiots. I think it's good to write down what motivates you to reach the finish line. I wrote similar articles, they were very cathartic.

Btw, it's great to hear the birds like to spend time on your lap. That's a huge intangible.

Tyler9000
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Location: Austin, TX

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Thu May 28, 2015 1:43 pm

This is why I could never raise chickens for anything other than eggs. Your birds are far too beautiful.

cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu May 28, 2015 2:00 pm

@spoonman, Yes I feel quite good having written all that out this morning. Had one of my more productive days and I attribute part of it to that. I love that DFU term and have never forgotten it. My first week at my first internship out in LA 8 years ago and this is what my boss taught me. It was a defining moment. :twisted:
Sitting with the chickens is the highlight of each day. :) Nothing more relaxing.

@Tyler, Thanks! We know exactly what you mean. It's turning out to be very challenging for us to choose which roos we are keeping. :( We only have 3 of the 6 picked out for the freezer. They are the more bland of the group.

cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Fri May 29, 2015 8:40 pm

Here are some updated pictures of the veg and flower gardens. We have been quite busy and go to bed exhausted (and happy) each night.

A reminder of before.
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Now. This is our largest veg patch and it is divided up into 5 north-south oriented beds set up for crop rotation. So nightshades in bed 1, brassicas in bed 2, etc....
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The south veg patch. It is a little smaller but set up in the same 5 bed rotation pattern. Makes planting a lot easier. Those are potatoes in the front...early and late.
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Between the two veg patches we have a large wildflower/perennial bed. It is really useful as a pollinator attracter. This is actually an older picture, it is really in bloom right now! Also that is the chicken coop in the center, in case you couldn't tell :P
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Foxglove, shasta daisy, centaurea montana, and a peony in the flower bed.
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Some of the bearded iris coming into bloom last week.
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Last edited by cmonkey on Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dragline
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Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by Dragline » Fri May 29, 2015 8:55 pm

I always find these kinds of pictures incredibly pleasant and relaxing to look at, even though I'm not a gardener at all. Thanks for putting them up.

spoonman
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Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:15 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by spoonman » Sat May 30, 2015 9:46 am

Absolutely beautiful. Your garden is quite spacious and well organized.

LOL "Bearded Iris". I love it when anything that can't grow a beard is given the name =).

cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Sat May 30, 2015 10:19 am

@Dragline, Thank you for the kind words. We put a lot of effort into it. I will post more photos as the summer fills out.

spoonman wrote:Absolutely beautiful. Your garden is quite spacious and well organized.

LOL "Bearded Iris". I love it when anything that can't grow a beard is given the name =).
Ha, agreed. We have bearded iris and a bearded chicken to go along with the beard I am growing. Haven't shaved since early March I am considering going for a John Michael Greer look but haven't settled on it yet.

cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:14 am

Monthly update, May 2015 -

Lending Club

Balance - 4174.18 (+49.76)
Deposits - 0
Principle Payments - 91.77 (-6.47)
Interest Payments - 50.88 (-2.64)
Reinvested - 104.49 (-7.13)
Income Withdrawal - 38.16 (-1.98) (Right now this is still being re-invested, this would be our income if we were FIRE)

NAR - 14.53%
Total Charge Offs - 0

Dividend Fund

Balance - 69.08
Deposits - 0
Dividends - 0.94
Dividend Increase - 0.94


Truck Loan - 4,714.09(-3949.89) We made a couple of huge payments on the loan this month. Hoping it will be gone by August 1 now.

No changes to Lending Club. I still have 2 loans in the 31-120 day late category so these are probably going to be charged off.

Expenses

I decided to completely redo how I am tracking expenses and ultimately reduced things substantially. The method I had before was about 10 years old now, I started it right out of high school. It was way too complex and involved tracking account balances past, present and future and didn't give me a quick snapshot of monthly expenses broken down in categories. This was handy back when I was paying off student debt and the mortgage as I could see where my balance would be in 6+ months, but it does me no good for checking/savings accounts and since I am about debt-free was not doing me any favors.

May expenses were down significantly from the past two months so I am happy with that. I am also happy to say that (counting debt payments as future ERE deposits, since that's what were' planning) we would have averaged a savings rate of well above 50% for the past 5 months had we been using debt payments as ERE deposits. That makes me pretty happy.

May was 69%.

Image



I also flipped around how I am mentally handling each paycheck I receive and I think it will help tremendously going forward. Previously I used each check as follows.

1. Paycheck received
2. ERE Deposit/Debt Payments
3. Living Expenses
4. Use leftover expense month for more ERE payments/Debt payments.

Invariably I was over paying on the debt payments because I wanted to contribute as much as possible and so would not have enough left over for living expenses and so would need to take a small amount out of savings quite often, which would then be put back into savings the next month. This flip flopping back and forth was just not working. By flipping 1 and 2 around I realized things would be a lot smoother. The only catch is that I need to be extra careful not to let expenses get higher.

1. Paycheck received
2. Living Expenses
3. ERE deposit at end of paycheck cycle using all leftover money.

I think this is probably the "natural" way we should be handling money and I'm not sure why I haven't been doing it previously.


I like having a quick snapshot of where I stand for the month so far, but I somehow feel like my expenses are too high each month. I think that I am subconsciously striving for par-Jacob levels closer to $800 to $1000 a month, but then I remember that I'm tracking for two people and not one. Two people spending at ~1700 a month isn't that bad. As the DW effectively said yesterday, "Honey, we're living a comfortable middle-class life on near poverty level spending......stop over analyzing it."

Well that is why I married her. :D
Last edited by cmonkey on Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

spoonman
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by spoonman » Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:44 pm

That's a very nice spreadsheet, it's a comprehensive snapshot of your ERE picture. Have you tried third party tools like Mint and YNAB? Just curious.

Btw, I totally agree that $1700/month/person is pretty good, specially considering the fact that you are in the accumulation phase.

cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:41 pm

Thanks spoonman. I have not tried them I just use Excel simply for the ease of use.

I like that I can quickly see where I might be overspending (such as takeout!?) and where I could stand to spend maybe a little more.
spoonman wrote:Btw, I totally agree that $1700/month/person is pretty good, specially considering the fact that you are in the accumulation phase.

That is 1700 for two people, not per person, so even better. :) Looks like we are on par with you and spoongirl. DW and I don't feel like we sacrifice at all either, in fact I am slowly reducing how much I spend over time.

spoonman
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by spoonman » Sat Jun 06, 2015 8:32 am

Gosh, 1700 for two people is hitting it out of the park by any standard! Your frugal kung fu is good!

cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:55 pm

Thanks for the words of encouragement spoonman. Our core bills are 578/month or 6400/year. Divide everything above that in half and that's really the per person amount. About 1138/month for everything {roughly} if I were not married.

I have plans for reducing the core bills even more. We are getting rid of garbage service when we ERE, and I am attempting to get cheaper internet. Half of our housing expense is home insurance which I am not convinced I need at this point since I don't have a mortgage anymore. The price has been rising +10% each year. I am going to get the opinion of this forum on that.

I think I can get our core bills to about 375/month, 4500/year in the coming months/years.

cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Azure Standard

Post by cmonkey » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:53 am

We decided to try out ordering some items through Azure Standard and picked up our order last night up in Davenport, IA. I was not quite sure what to expect but the entire process went very smooth. The semi stopped in a Cinema parking lot with plenty of room for people to park and get their stuff. We showed up and everyone was unloading all the cargo for the month and putting in 'rough' alphabetical order based on last name in the parking lot.

We ended up getting 18, 40 LB bags of chicken feed, a 50 LB bag of oatmeal (for $45) and a 5 LB bag of cocoa powder (for $27) (all organic). The price per pound for the chicken feed was about .85 to .90 cents per LB shipped, which is MUCH cheaper than ordering through Scratch & Peck's site and significantly cheaper than purchasing from our local department store. We now have enough feed to last at least a year (I think) based on how much they've been eating. It was the first time we really got to use the pickup for what we wanted it for in the first place - hauling hundreds of pounds of load. Our load was about 785 LBS! Shipping costs are 8.5% of your total order amount and we ended up paying about $54 total for all our items.

In fact, everything we ordered was much cheaper even with shipping costs. Going forward we are planning to use Azure for staples like oatmeal, flour, sugar, etc... It's all organic and cheaper than conventional from the stores.

The drop coordinator was quite surprised at how much chicken feed we had ordered, stating "you can just order what you need each month and pick it up!!". Well, then we would have to drive 25 miles through rush hour/city traffic each month as well on top of wasting a lot more gas. Her answer was "well people drive 2 hours each month for their pickups and they get just a few things (essentially)". Wow! It wasn't surprising to hear, there were lots of 'soccer mom' types there in their Suburbans and Tahoes.

I think we'll be doing 2 orders a year based on usage of staples and such. I might try getting that down to a yearly order eventually. I'd like to order all staples (except dairy) through them. Dairy might eventually come from some goats, we haven't decided yet.

Highly recommended and interested in anyone else's stories of Azure Standard.

EdithKeeler
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:15 am

I love your journal, and especially love the pics of your place and the chickens! I'm also very impressed by the amount of work all of this represents.

cmonkey
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:35 am

@EdithKeeler, Thank you! We do put a lot of work into it, spending almost all our free time outside. Probably 3-4 hours in the evening for me and all day on the weekends.

spoonman
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by spoonman » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:32 pm

Sounds like you're getting a killer deal there. I assume the items you're getting have a shelf life of at least 6 months, that's the only factor that would complicate such as scheme.

Maybe now you're home grown food is substantially cheaper than a grocery store.

cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:54 pm

Agreed on the shelf-life. I have ordered in bulk from other places and haven't had a problem. Azure is simply the cheapest yet. The chicken feed should last a long time as long as I keep it pest free.

Once they start laying I'll let you know. For now they are the most expensive investment we've made in home grown food.....negative ROI. :roll:

thrifty++
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by thrifty++ » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:07 am

It looks awesome what your doing on your property. I am sure you will reach economies of scale to make it all much cheaper than buying your food with the size you have to use and the way you are going about it. I experimented a while back with growing my own food. However I live in the CBD and just have a little apartment balcony. So the costs I was experiencing were enormous. I was growing the most expensive produce in town. Now I only focus on growing things which look cool and that's it.

In addition to the savings you will be getting lovely aesthetics. Your place looks amazing. As well as health benefits, exercise a frugal hobby and amazing satisfaction in using your own fresh food.

cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by cmonkey » Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:13 am

Thanks thrifty++!
thrifty++ wrote:So the costs I was experiencing were enormous. I was growing the most expensive produce in town. Now I only focus on growing things which look cool and that's it.
I am curious what made it so expensive? We have a container garden on our deck that is pretty full and it didn't cost much. I suppose the soil wouldn't be cheap if we hadn't had compost.

thrifty++
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Re: cmonkey's journal

Post by thrifty++ » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:12 pm

It was a number of things. The soil was expensive. I tried to economise with potting by using plastic buckets from the Warehouse (an NZ version of Walmart - kind of) for pots but they still ended up costing a bit. I also had to buy trellises for growing beans which were very expensive. Ended up using tomato cages and turning them upside down (looked very cool at least). I bought some organic fertiliser to ensure the plants would be healthy (expensive). The plants also kept getting diseases and then would die so I didn't get a lot of food out of them.

I did try my best and grew everything from seed as well. It might have been my lack of gardening skill. Who knows. I would be interested in hearing from any one who has made a cost effective food garden on a small balcony though and how they did it.

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