Five Money Updates – July 2017

How’s everything going in the money world?  I realized that I’ve been talking more on the lifestyle side of things and not as much as money.  I guess that happens after writing for so many years!  I just don’t like repeating myself.  But we have had some money updates over the past few months.  Here’s a few things going on.

We Refinanced Our Mortgage

We were in a 15 year mortgage with a payoff date in 2026.  This let us pay off a good chunk of our balance.  However, it wasn’t leaving us a good deal of cash flow, so I thought of a refinance.  I wasn’t interested in a home equity loan because of the cash flow issue.  With rates practically the same as our original loan, we decided to move forward with a refinance.  Since we used the same company, we also got $1,000 off of our closing costs.  The process was very smooth.

We Got New Appliances

We’ve been looking at new appliances for a couple of years.  Our fridge space was too small, so we were looking at an upgrade.  We ended up pulling the trigger over Memorial Day.  Sales were really good and we ended up getting a stove and microwave as well.  Why?  So we could have matching stainless steel in our kitchen.  I guess this probably means stainless steel will officially go out of style now after all these years!

Our House Needs Painting

The exterior of our house is primarily brick and vinyl.  But the trim around the edges and soffets is wood, and it’s looking pretty bad.  A number of pieces are rotted, so we need to find someone that can do light carpentry, caulking and painting.  I’ve got two referrals and will be looking for a couple of more.  Hopefully we can get this done before fall.

We’re Going To Mexico

It’s hard to believe but we’ll be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary in September.  It’s been an amazing

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

journey.  We started saving a couple of years ago so that we could do something special.  We never decided just what that was until we settled on a trip to Mexico!  We booked at an all inclusive resort through Costco, and will be using accumulated Southwest points to take care of our airfare.  This is the first trip out of the country together.  In fact, we both needed to get passports, which we recently did!

I Got A Raise

It was nice to get an announcement last week that I’m getting a 3% raise.  That won’t turn me into a mogul or anything, but it’s nice to keep up with inflation.  This is the largest raise I’ve received in a while, so I won’t complain one bit!

How are things in your neck of the woods?  Post your money updates in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Making Our Craigslist Selling List

Have you used Craigslist for buying and selling?  We have used it occasionally, but I think it’s time to consider stepping it up a notch.  As I look around the house, I realize that we have a lot to sell.  It’s time to make our Craigslist selling list.

Early Returns

We have a garage full of kids riding toys that we have no use for.  Tricycles, smaller bikes, and scooters for young tots were great.  But they’re not needed anymore as our kids are way too big.

I’m of the opinion that toys are meant to be played with and to bring kids joy.  These things aren’t happening with toys that sit collecting cobwebs.

There were eleven such items in the garage.  I noted their condition.  I went online to look at what the items would cost new.  In most cases, I settled on a price around half of what it would be new.  And, I listed ten of them.

Within a week and a half, four of the items sold.  We sold a boys bike, a balance bike, a tricycle, and a Cozy Coupe.  Nobody haggled on the price, so I think the method I used was fair.

As for the other six items, I’ve got two ideas.  I may lower the price.  I also may use Facebook Marketplace, which I guess is pretty popular for kids toys and such.

Either way, it’s nice to have even four items gone and some money to take its place.

Expanding Our Reach

In the past, I haven’t used Craigslist to do much selling.  And, when I did it was for about the most complicated items you could sell.  Cars.  I’ve sold several cars over the years.  While the transactions always ended up well, it wasn’t easy.  You had a lot of crackpots or easily spotted scammers.  There were a lot of lowball offers.

I guess I assumed that’s how it was for just about everything.

But these toys went so quickly and the sales were so easy that it gave me hope.

I started looking around and realized that we have a lot of things around the house that are serving no purpose.  These seem like they would make great Craigslist items.

A First Glance At Our Craigslist Selling List

Just off the top off my head, I can think of a whole slew of items we’d like to sell.  Here’s a few:

  • An old couch and chair just sitting in the basement.  It’s nothing fancy but could probably fetch $50.
  • An exercise bike that works but that I just don’t care to use.  I would guess I could get $75 or so.
  • A brake controller that I used to tow our RV in our previous vehicle.  These are at least $100 new so I would think at least $50 could be had.
  • A little plastic slide in the backyard that was great when the kids were two but now looks ridiculous when they try to play with it.

And those are just the items I can think of.

My goal is to walk around the house and look through each room and write down any items I can think of.

To keep my sanity, I would not list every item all at once.  But keeping 5-10 items listed at all times seems manageable, doesn’t it?

I also need to decide on a strategy of what to do if something doesn’t sell.  Do I offer it for free?  Do I take it to Salvation Army? These are things I need to have a plan for.

I think Craigslist or the similar sites can be great for us to clear out some of the clutter that we have.  I’m hoping to get moving on this now that I’ve had some early success.

Readers, do you regularly use Craigslist or a similar site to sell items that you don’t need?  Any tips or tricks for me or other readers?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: Which Worked Better?

I add new mulch about every two years to the beds around our house.  Up until now, I’ve always used bagged mulch.  We had an SUV so it was easy enough to load up the back with as many bags as we could.  This was my first time having a pickup truck, so we decided to try getting bulk mulch.  This helped us evaluate whether bagged mulch or bulk was better for us.

We normally purchase bagged mulch from Lowes or Home Depot.  We found a place that sells mulch by the yard just a mile away from our home.  Basically, they just dump as much as you need (by the half-yard) into your truck.

Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: The Factors

image from morguefile via Kymmy
  • Getting The Mulch.   Driving up and having a load of mulch dumped in the truck took a few minutes.  Loading up the SUV with bags took quite a while.  Winner: Bulk.
  • Price.  I can usually get bagged mulch for $2 per bag.  It takes 13 bags to make a cubic yard, so it works out to $27 per bag.  The bulk mulch was $32 per yard, but I’m pretty sure they err on the top side.  Winner: Draw.
  • Quality.  This is probably too soon to tell.  People complain if the mulch breaks down too fast, loses color too fast, or actually grows weeds.  The quality of the bagged mulch has been OK.  In looking at the website of the place we got the bulk mulch from, they are very meticulous about what goes into making their mulch.  They also treat it for weeds and such.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Winner: To Be Determined.
  • Spreading the Mulch.  This was a total reverse of the first item.  Hands down, taking bags of mulch from the SUV to their needed location, then popping open the bag, was much easier than having to shovel mulch from the truck into a wheel barrow.  In fact, I felt that I gave up the advantage of the loading and then some.

Do We Have A Winner?

For the record we went through three yards of mulch this year.  That’s probably the most I’ve ever used.

So, if the factors above are equal, then right now it would look like I’d favor using bagged mulch.  But this is based only on three of four known variables.  Price is a draw, and the time to load and unload the mulch slightly favors the bags.  So if it was only on those factors, bagged would win.

However, quality is a pretty big unknown variable.  If this mulch knocks our socks off, then it might be worth the extra time it takes.  I guess the question is, can mulch really knock your socks off?

Readers, what do you think?  Is buying mulch in bags or in bulk a better option? Do you lay your own mulch or do you have someone do it?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Things To Do To Your Gas Grill

Ah, summer.  It’s here or right around the corner.  If you’re like me, then pulling out the grill is an integral part of the summer season.  I’ve always been someone who prefers a gas grill.  If you fall into the same category, here are some tips to make sure you’re ready for grilling season.

Check  Your Hose And Connections

The hose that carries the gas to the grill needs to be checked every year.  The hoses can crack, the fittings could come loose or crack themselves.  It’s important to make sure that you don’t have a leak.  Inspect the hoses for cracks.  To test the connections, use soapy water.  Put the soapy water over the connections and turn on the gas.  If any bubbles form, you have a leak.  If this happens, you need to replace your supply lines.

Inspect Your Grill Box

The grill box needs to be checked for any cracks.  If you find any, chances are it’s going to be time to replace the grill, or try to salvage a replacement box.

Vacuum Out Your Grill Box

Flakes of grilling sessions past will accumulate on the bottom of the box.  While many of these will burn off over time, it’s a good idea to clean the debris every so often.  A shop vac is a great tool for this task.

Check Your Gas Tubes

Our gas grill has three tubes inside that do the actual heating.  You want to make sure that these are working

Image from morguefile courtesy of ronnieb

properly.  One year, we had a spider build a nest inside one, and the line did not function properly.  If they need attention, refer to your instruction manual on how to disassemble the line for cleaning.

Clean Your Grates

We take off the grates and clean them.  This will remove grease and give it a fresh start to the season.  You can usually use a grill brush to keep them clear in between grilling sessions.  Depending on how often you grill, you may need to clean these monthly.

Check Your Gas Tanks

If you have a dedicated gas line, this may not apply to you.  But, we use propane and have 20-gallon tanks.  Check your supply at the beginning of the season.  We have two tanks, and try to keep one full at all times.  This ensures that you won’t run out of gas halfway through grilling up your favorite recipe.

Check Your Equipment

Grilling involves a lot more than the grill.  Make sure you have your full inventory of flippers, thermometers, brushes, basters and such at the ready.  Look them over and make sure they’re all ready to go.  The last thing you want to do is step away from your meat to have to find a needed accessory.

Nothing beats something fresh off the grill.  With a few minutes of easy work, you can make sure that you have a summer full of great grilling ahead.

Readers, have you used the grill yet?  What are your tips for a great grilling season?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  Happy grilling!

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.