Welcome To Money Beagle 2.0

I’ve been taking a break but I’m back. I’ve decided to move my blog to Blogger. You can still find me at the same address (http://www.moneybeagle.com) but I’m now hosted here. I’ve moved over most of my articles, but I think that the links are different.

In any case, I’ll be posting a little bit more about my absence and my decision to move the blog here in a bit. Meanwhile, please be patient with me as I tweak things around. Thanks!

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.

No Kung Fu For You (OK, Really For Me)

Wow, I wish I had an extra $130 per month. But it’s disciplined spending and a dose of reality that makes me keep a level head and not blow $130 per month.
My wife and I were walking around our local downtown area a week or so ago when I walked by a new place and stopped. It was a martial arts academy, and it reminded me a lot of a martial arts academy that I had participated in for a few months years ago.
Back a number of years ago, I can’t even remember, but I’d say probably 10 or so, a friend of mine brought to my attention a martial arts academy that he wanted to try. I was looking for something fun so I tried it out and I loved it!
The academy featured kung fu as it’s main discipline. It was taught not so much from the perspective of physical combat as it was for self-defense, self-discipline, and to achieve grater peace. Taking part in mediation practices along with the physical training was highly encouraged, especially for those who were working at higher levels.
I never got to the higher levels. As much as I loved it, there were a few drawbacks at the time. It was pretty far away from where I lived. It was probably 30-40 minutes away, which made getting to class as often as I liked difficult. It was also expensive. After the initial sign-up deal, the prices went up to a pretty steep price per month. I don’t remember exactly but it was probably $90.
But back to my story.
Walking by, the logo and the name looked familiar, though it was quite a few miles away from where I practiced.
I ventured in just to see what was happening, and after a minute of conversation, the person I was talking to indicated that it was familiar to me for a reason: It was a second location of where I used to practice!
How awesome. I instantly had thoughts of picking up where I left off. I don’t do as much physical training as I should, and I really enjoyed what I was doing back then. Now, I wouldn’t have the location issue, as the current location is only about three miles from where I live. Getting there and back would be a cinch.
However, there are two things that would simply make this prohibitive. First, is cost. It’s now $130 per month. If I were to use it, I would certainly get benefits of going. And paying that much, I’d definitely be motivated to go and to get as much out of it as I could. But, that price tag is way too rich for our budget. We simply don’t have the wiggle room in our budget with everything else.
The second factor in the way is time. My wife stays at home, but our life is certainly much more busy now that we have a newborn. He’s eight weeks old now and our evenings and weekends are pretty full as it is. As it is, from the time that I get home until bedtime, or from wake until sleep on the weekends, I’m not even sure where all the time goes. I think it would be completely selfish to take the four or five hours a week that I’d be pulling out to go do that.
I think the way I have to approach it is this:
Maybe someday I can do that. It’d be a ways away according to any budget I can come up with, but one can hope, right? But in the mean time, this should serve as motivation to use the workout tools I have. We have a treadmill right in our basement. We have sidewalks around our neighborhood. I have a perfectly good bike in my garage. I could probably take 2 hours a week to engage in these activities, and do them for free. Admittedly, I don’t do much of those now, so I should at least start somewhere.
This is definitely motivation. It’s a bummer that I won’t be able to pick up my martial arts, but that’s simply a luxury item that there isn’t room for, neither from a time nor a budget perspective.

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.

Our Water Bill Is Going Up Less Than I Thought

I was excited to see that our water bill will only be going up about 5% total for the next twelve months. We have been hit with 10-15% increases for the past couple of years, and I had been expecting a similar increase this year, but the increase was less than I had anticipated
One of the things that our city did is fix a problem that I complained about as soon as I moved into the city. Not that I had anything to do with changing it, but it was still nice to see. The problem: They went from collecting water bills four times a year to collecting them six times a year. But in doing so, they kept the ‘base fee’, which is a fee you pay just for having service, the same. This resulted in a 50% increase in revenue in the base fee structure. I didn’t think that was very fair, and was happy to see that they actually lowered the base fees by about 30% this year. Though that only represents a small portion of our total bill, it’s still nice to have even a little bit of savings!

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.

Financial Moves In The Event Of A Job Loss

With the economy the way it is, I think it’s a good idea to have preparations in the event of a job loss.
My job is what I would consider relatively safe. I recently transferred into a just created position that is fully funded for the foreseeable future. ‘Baseline’ positions, as they are known here, are considered the best type to be in, because the customer funds them for a year at a time, and generally funds them in blocks versus individually.
Still, even though I don’t feel insecurity, I’ve learned that it’s always best to be prepared.
So, I have somewhat of a contingency financial plan in the event that I suddenly found myself unemployed. This would require a lot of changes since my wife is (by our choice) staying home full time.

The Plan


Unemployment Benefits / Health Care

I would expect that any state unemployment benefits that I would receive would be eaten up by health care premiums, whether it be COBRA or a privately funded insurance policy.
Paying the Bills
We have an emergency fund specifically for events like this. The money isn’t earmarked for anything else. We would use this to pay essential bills. It is funded for about 4 months.
If unemployment were to continue for longer than that time, we would look into one of several options. First, we could sell some investments. We have non-retirement investment holdings that I could sell that would sustain us for another 6 months or longer. Second, we could re-evaluate some of our other cash holdings. We have additional dollars alongside our emergency fund that are earmarked for things like a new car, home repairs, etc. that could be re-allocated if necessary.
Concentrate on the Job Search
Due to having a fully funded emergency fund, I wouldn’t be panicked, as I know that we would be able to pay the bills for quite a good long time without running into financial difficulties.
This would allow me to focus on finding a new job.
Reducing Expenses
There are definitely some expenses I would look to cut as a method to reduce our cash outlays. Even though we have a fully funded emergency fund, the fact remains that with a job loss, it would no longer be fully funded after I found new work, and would need to be re-built. I would employ the following strategies to make sure that our cash lasts as long as possible and to ensure that we could get back on track as quickly as possible once I found new work:

  • Postpone student loan payment 1 – We have two student loan payments, once of which is paid ahead. We currently make at least the minimum payments, but we could suspend those if need be with no penalty for at least four years. I’m hoping that I would get a new job by then!
  • Eliminate Netflix – We’re currently on the barebones plan for $4.99 a month, but I’d still suspend that.
  • Eliminate eating out – We spend probably about $80 – $100 a month getting pizza, takeout, or going out occasionally. We would have to buy more groceries, but this would allow us to reduce this amount by a decent amount.
  • Unlevel some of our spending – I currently put aside an equal amount every month so that our monthly spending is fairly even. But, this has increased the amount of cash that is on hand. So, for example, instead of putting aside $35 per month for the cat’s vet bill, I would suspend doing that, although I would have to ‘catch up’ later on. There are other categories that would help us in this regard.
  • Let the lawn go brown – I admit I like having green grass. I don’t water nearly as much as some of our neighbors, but the sprinkler system would be turned off if I lost my job.
  • Reduce or eliminate the A/C – The design of our house and landscaping makes it where we run the air conditioning on most days when it goes over 82 degrees. I would increase this threshold as well as re-adjust the thermostat to reduce the energy use.
  • Cut back grocery spending – If the job loss was short term, we could get by pretty well by eating down a lot of the food we have in the pantry or freezer. I’m a big believer in stocking up just so long as you don’t waste food, but this would give a cushion for cutting back grocery bills as we could go through our existing food stockpile which would cut grocery bills down for a bit.

There are definitely other things that we could look at but I think that these would keep us afloat for a long time and let me concentrate on finding work.
In future posts, I will share some experiences in the past that gave me some of this knowledge. I’ve actually had to employ some of these in the past, but under different personal and financial circumstances.
What plans do you have in place that I missed discussing? I’m always up for ideas!

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.