I have done a poor job of tracking money and I've changed my tracking system a bit to help with that. I am not comfortable with excel and Mint doesn't recognize our credit union, so I track money with paper and pen. I do enjoy that, but I need to be more consistent or it just slips away and I don't know how well/bad we are doing.
I've been reading the "yields and flows" exchange from my Wheaton 2/3 level and really gleaming only a little bit from it. However, Jacob's comment about the buy nothing year experiment and the articles he posted have been rolling around my head. DH actually is on board with a six month or year long buy nothing experiment. I was pretty surprised he said he would do it. I read a different woman's account of her buy nothing year, it was okay. And she gave herself some pretty big exceptions, travel and eating out were okay during that year. She tracked her savings and seemed to max out at 50%. Anyway, I think we'll start in Nov and I have to come up with our 'rules'. I also have to decide if that means no travel at all. That one is hard as both of our parents are in the their late 70's and far away. And Thanksgiving with my sister is a sacred holiday. I'll think on it and see what makes sense. We also have two house projects that need to be completed so that would mean buying supplies. I think the point of doing this is to see how it feels to be voluntarily without the option of money to solve problems. And to get to the point where it is perhaps painful/uncomfortable to not spend money? And then be able to dial it back up to what is more appropriate?
Two events happened to make me think we are having some impact in creating a lending economy around us. Our friend who also has a wood stove called and asked if we had the chimney cleaning brush. It seems pretty specific to the task. We don't, but she wondered if we wanted to go in on one together. I was able to talk to another friend who does have one, and we can borrow it and clean both of our stoves. That's a small but excellent step in the sharing economy!
DH told me he was looking into our local auto parts shop's tool rental program for an upcoming project on our Suburban. It is diesel and it's charging system needs to be updated before it gets too cold around here. Usually his normal mode is to buy a new tool or two for each project and justify it for future projects. Sometimes that is totally true, but he has tons of tools in a messy disorganized garage. It might make the project a little more expensive, but then there is one less tool to store, maintain and misplace. I got a thrill of excitement that he is starting to think in a different way about tools! I've tried, with no luck, to start a tool exchange with friends. But, maybe it will happen organically over time?
Going forward, I want to continue to focus on social capital (friends helping with tools and kid watching), and money tracking. I think it is reasonable to be able to save easily 50% right now. I still have my dad's debt to pay back but it is only $150/month and I think I'll just pay it off in the spring with a big check.
Each paycheck I have around $190 going to the 401K, $185 to the HSA, around $90 from the employer match and I'm left with around $1800 for living. Our mortgage is $890 (includes taxes, interest, insurance) and the renter is paying us $400/month. So, he is covering close to half of the mortgage (basically paying the interest
). Utilities are fairly fixed around $150-200 depending on electrical usage.
So, in a normal two paycheck month I should be able to save $1320 effortlessly. It would only be a little effort more to save another $1000, I think. We've reduced our groceries, phones and are in the process of selling our huge, inefficient Suburban. That truck costs us a lot of money. There is always something that needs fixing, it is TERRIBLE on mileage and so on. I know that not having a car would save us a lot of money. I am not sure we could do it. Or want to do it. If we still lived in an urban area it would not be a problem at all. Out here, well, it seems very constricting to not have a car. I have talked with a nearby friend about car sharing. He has an older matrix and an explorer with a trailer. He rarely drives and is an easy going guy who is really frugal. So, while it makes me nervous, I'm going to open the dialogue with him about car sharing. I don't know where it will lead and how long it might last, but it could interesting to pursue.
Tl:dr I am going to be better at tracking money, we're considering a buy nothing year and a car share experiment, I think we're only our way to saving 50% at a minimum.