Slowly Sipping Coffee

April 2016: Where did our money go?

Hooray us, as it has been a nice and fairly uneventful month financially! Any questions? See you next month then! Kidding… Personally, it was a pretty exciting month though. Mr. SSC completed his first half-marathon, and Mrs. SSC is gearing up for a new job (hopefully, because so far only a verbal offer has been given, and the school seems completely bogged down in their bureaucratic hiring practice – but she is assured weekly a legit offer is on the way…). Only time will tell how that plays out, but is it an omen of disappointment and frustration that they’re that inefficient? Here are the highlights and how it all panned out. 

The 6 month policy for car insurance was due, at a whopping $741, yipe! However, we got a tax return of ~$2,200, so that large bill was nicely offset. We did spend $185 on home improvements, mostly related to adding a second raised garden to our backyard. We planted some carrots, beets, beans, and squash (from seeds no less) and they’re all doing great, except for the beans. I think I may have planted them too deep, so next weekend I’ll plant more if I don’t see any sprouts. Also, we have decided to cut back our bi-weekly maids, to once a month, so in the future this will save us $132/month.


The blue is looking good this month!

The blue is looking good this month!

In more shocking news, Mr. SSC (me) is considering cutting cable tv! GAH!!! I’d swore that I’d enjoy it while we were working because the extra $100 per month isn’t going to change anything related to our timeline and all of that jazz. Recently, I accidentally deleted all of our recorded shows, movies etc.. Double GAH!!! As I sat there looking at the screen seeing “100% of your storage is available” I had cold sweats. I’d stored the whole season 2 of Better Call Saul and was enjoying getting to binge it over a week or so, Elementary was all stored, all of the kids movies (sorry kiddos), and more, and now they’re just gone.


That got me thinking, “You know, I think the only reason I’m keeping this is football.” When last season got to the playoffs, I kind of felt relieved. With games on Thursday night, Sunday, Sunday Night, and Monday night I realized at a minimum I was watching about 9-10 hrs of football a week. I record the night games and then fast forward so the games last about an hour to an hour and a half, but that’s a LOT of time watching tv. I think I’ll probably cancel it when the $44/month discount comes off this month. Or at least until I find out I have another year on my contract and can’t cancel, lol.


That leads me to ADT – which I can cancel this month too. Yeah, one less bill. I signed a 3 yr contract when we moved here thinking, “Why wouldn’t we want ADT for the whole time we live here. There seem to be lots of break-ins.” Also, I signed a 3 year electricity contract thinking, “I don’t want to deal with this every year, we’ll just do a 3 year contract.” It ends this month and we can pick our new plan. If you don’t live in Texas you’re probably asking yourself “What the hell is he talking about?”


In Texas, you get to choose your own electricity provider, and since our contract runs out at the end of this month, we (Mr. SSC) are in the process of re-evaluating providers to see if we (Mr. SSC) can find a better deal. You can choose all renewable energy, or variable rate plans, or you can go with fixed rate plans, you can even find some plans that give you free weekends (they’re pretty horrid and I can’t find a good one for us), and any mix I mentioned above. Now that we have years of electricity use to compare, we can find ones that won’t charge us $10 if we don’t use 900 kW hrs per month, and ones that give us a rebate if we use over 1300 kW hrs per month (sounds backwards I know, but they exist). After going down the rabbit hole of plan comparison, and much like 3 years ago, finding out that I’m wasting time comparing plans that will most likely all be within $15-$20 of each other, I am going with an all renewable energy plan that goes to half price kW hrs between 9pm and 9am everyday. It’s hard to pass up 0.03 cents per kW hr… Riveting stuff isn’t it? It may be the same cost month to month but I can feel a little better about it from an environmental standpoint, and we can try to lower it by using the dishwasher after 9pm, and do laundry before 9am on the weekends, since we’ve usually been up at least 3 hrs by then anyway…


Grocery bills were down which is nice, and finally we have decided to create a new budget line item of “family fun”.  We’re cutting $50 each from our monthly allowances, to put into a “family fun” category. This money will be for fun little family adventures, like getting ice cream, going bowling, or the movies. Now that the kids are older, we want to do more stuff and instead of using the general fund or our allowances, we came up with this.


How’d your month go? Any thoughts on the potential new job situation or family allowance fund? Let us know!


35 thoughts on “April 2016: Where did our money go?

  1. Fervent Finance

    Great job being proactive and getting those expenses down. Luckily I have not had to deal with public employment, but the inefficiencies in the process are not surprising in the least. I hope it comes this week! The family fun fund sounds like a great idea.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That was my take as well, and just suggested she get to used to an even more slow, inept bureacuracy than the one at her current company. :)

      We like the idea of a family fun fund, so we’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. The Green Swan

    Sounds like you’ve identified a good couple options to cut expenses. We ended up cutting cable about two years ago and have never looked back!

    Have you considered actually buying your own solar panels to reduce electricity costs? I wrote a post about it if you’re curious. It worked great for us but there are a lot of state by state considerations to make.

    The Green Swan

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I am pretty sure I’ll be fine without cable, it’s just the lack of football viewing options that has kept me hesitant to do that until now. I looked into where we live and the broadcast range of local tv stations and we’re in an odd area where the circles don’tquite overlap, and some don’t quite get to. I’m sure the signal doesn’t stop there, but it could be poorer qulaity signal if i try that route. Who knows, we’ll see come August, I’m sure!

      As far as solar panels – since we want to move out of our house by 2019 or 2020 at the latest, I don’t think it would be a great option for us currently. I could look into it further, but especially losing Mrs. SSC’s salary (if the teaching gig happens) then we would have to take the funds out of our retirement stash, or not contribute to it until we saved enough to be able to pay for it. We do live in an area where we could sell it back to the grid if we generate any extra, so maybe it would pay out for us even in only a few years time. Since our time here is so short (hopefully), I don’t think we’ll go through with it at this point.

  3. amber tree

    Fun money is the best monthly budget there is. We each have a fun money budget. Our definition is a little bigger. It covers our personal clothes as well. In general, there is enough room for ice cream and other items.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah our personal fun money has to also cover clothes, restaurants, and generally anything that would only benefit one of us – which is almost everything in my case, lol. As the years ahve gone by, the things they cover get to be more and more… :)

      That’s why we thought we’d both “donate” $50/mo from those allowances/fun money accounts to be able to do things like movies or what not with the kids.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! We figured it would be a good way to have a category we could use and still have some kind of tracking and accountability for. :)

  4. Our Next Life

    Cut the cord! Cut the cord! Cut the cord!

    We’ve been cable-less for four years, and it is the rare day when we’re sad about that. Plenty of football games are available free and legally through streaming sites now, and worst case, we go hang out at a sports bar for a little while if it’s a game we must see and have no other options. Would the $5000ish we’ve saved on cable in 4 years push us over the line on FIRE? No, of course not. But, I can hardly think of companies less worth supporting, and we’ve spend much less time watching TV, which is a very good thing. :-)

    The delay in the official offer letter coming shouldn’t be too alarming — hiring is always the slowest process with any public entity. But yeah, still frustrating!

    Glad you guys had a good month — hooray for tax refunds! (Not that we’ve seen one of those in a while, but we remember what they are.) :-)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I’m not worried about anything but football, but even then, I have less free time to get to watch with the kids being more active and wanting to do more stuff. That’s why I tried to watch all the night games at least. They are definitely comapnies that I would rather give less money to rather than more, lol.

      Our first real year in our jobs, we got our taxes put together and owed $7700. Even though we had the max taken out, I was taxed at level X, and Mrs. SSC was taxed at level X, but combine the two and we’re in a totally different higher tax bracket, whoops. Ever since then, we’ve each had them take out extra from our pay checks just to avoid that situation again. Usually we’re right at breaking even, or we get a small refund. Always better than paying though. :)

  5. The Jolly Ledger

    $741 for car insurance! Holy cow, did you run over a gaggle of schoolchildren or something? Other than that it looks like you are really looking at some areas you can slash. I would cut the cable for sure and get together with buddies on game night!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      The car insurance is for 6 months, and for 2 cars, and no, we’ve both got clean driving records. :) So the average looks low, and every 6 months we get a big hit on that category, and when we renew our registration, but that’s usually minimal cost.

      If I ahd buddies to get together with that would be a great option. :) In LA it was easier because we were all within ~20 minutes of each other, but here in Houston, my closest buddy is ~45 minutes away – one way. Ugh… My other closest buddy just moved to Spokane, so that’s not an option. :) I’ll figure something out though.

  6. Dividendsdownunder

    Congrats on reducing most of your expenses and identifying even more that you can cut. Have you considered something like Netflix for your entertainment?

    The family fun sounds fun, we are living our lives right now, not just when we are financial independence. So have fun now, which is what you are doing :)


    1. Mr SSC Post author

      We use Netflix, well Mrs. SSC’s brothers account, lol. Since we’re Amazon Prime members, theya lso ahve a huge trove of videos and original content that the kids like, so I’m good as far as that all goes.

      We realized we were spending more out of our allowances doing things with the kids, and we should just make a different account to track that.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      (Sharp intake of breath…) Yeah teenagers, that’s going to hurt when that happens. :)

      We also shopped around, and between hurricanes and floods different companies had wildly different rates. For instance Geico had gotten hit really hard with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, right before we moved to LA, and the same policy for my 10 year old car was going to be north of $2k every 6 months. We found a great rate on a company that didn’t have quite the losses, but when we moved to TX the same thing happened, so we switched again. Shopping around is SO worth it.

  7. Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover

    Cut the cable, cut it! :)
    Go outdoors and enjoy family time, 10 hours in front of a TV.. mmhh kind of wasting precious time (and money).
    By the way congrats on your 1/2 marathon! keep up running! What’s next?


    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah that’s a lot of time. Outside would be better, except it’s almost always dark when i am watching tv, especially football which i usually only get to catch the night games.

      Thanks on the 1/2 marathon, I have a friend talked into running another one in his hometown, back on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain this October. Since that ones all flat, I want to target 1 hr 50 minutes, yeah!!

  8. Apathy Ends

    Spent $100 on a raised garden bed this weekend as well, not as big as I wanted it but our yard is smaller.

    I have the same cable dilemma coming up, Vikings and the Wild games push me into “cable is required” even though I hate saying that.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, I hear you on the sports still needing cable. The 2 young kids have also cut into that “sports watching time” as well, so I’m going for it in another month. I don’t think I’ll miss anything really maybe Next Food Network Star, or Top Chef, but in the overall scheme of things, Meh… I’m curious as to how the football aspect will play out though. I’ll keep you updated!

  9. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Good job on cutting the cable (and you WILL cut the cable :-) )!! I think you’ll find it worth it if you do it. We’ve been “cableless” for 3+ years and don’t miss it one bit.

    Love the family fun idea too. We do that and it’s really kind of fun deciding what we’ll use our monthly budget on. :-)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      We like the family fun idea too! Seriously, it’s only been football as to why we ahven’t cut the cord a few years ago – but I’m willing to give it a go this year and see what happens. Gah!!! hahahahaha

  10. Mr. PTM

    Good work on cutting expenses. If you decide you want to keep a security system, I think SimpliSafe is a good bet. You buy the equipment up front and pay at most $25/month for their remote monitoring. We’ve been really happy with it and the discount it gets us on homeowner’s insurance. I’ve also seen a similar company called Scout that looks awesome too.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I’ll look into that one. Mrs. SSC also like the “doorbell camera” since our front doors are frosted and you don’t quite get the peephole sort of preview on whose there. I actually frosted them because we liked the clear glass that everyone could look through even less. :)
      I don’t think we got any discount on insurance for having ADT, but I’ll look into that. Maybe that alone would pay out for a Simplisafe type option.

  11. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    That’s pretty awesome you’re finding more ways to cut spending without sacrificing too much. I hope Mrs. SSC gets her offer soon! And I’ve heard of off-peak electricity rates, but we don’t have those here.

    1. Mr. SSC

      With the electricity being de-regulated here, the options are seemingly endless. Although, a reader pointed out something called energy ogre that essentially takes your past usage, and projects future usage and then calculates the best plan for you. And it renews when needed and shopes around everytime your plan ends. Win! I’ll update more as I see how it works, but I’m pretty excited.

  12. Steven

    Coming from someone who watches football here’s my 2 cents. I can watch whatever local channel I have with my current 10 local channels plus internet deal with comcast. So I can watch football, maybe not my team but it’s alright, plus Sunday night games. Anything after that I’m good. It actually reminds me a little bit of getting RW with no data plan, at first you think you will die a painful death and then like 3 months later it’s the best decision you could have ever made.

    I’ve had other ideas on how to hack my way to more games but in the end it turns out I’m good with my set up.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Unfortunately, in our neighborhood, we’re in the half that doesn’t have comcast. Our options are ATT, or some local outfit that gets pretty horrid reviews, so we’re stuck with ATT. Booo…. I checked our air coverage and we’re in “decent” zones to pick up local channels, so I’ll try out a digital antenna and see how that goes.

      We’ll see how it goes, and I’m kind of looking forward to a little football detox since it has become SO saturated in the amrket anyway.

  13. Prudence Debtfree

    The electricity plan you chose sounds a lot like ours. If you play it right, you can save a lot by running your dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak hours. I remember how this system changed our washing mode. I have no doubt it will do the same for you. And you’re down to cleaning once per month! After having been the catalyst to our taking on cleaners again once every 2 weeks!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Haha – on the cleaning catalyst, we also got ONL to get some house cleaners as well. :) We were planning on cutting them out entirely once Mrs. SSC either quit or got her new job, so this is a staged retreat, if you will. Because of the downturn, they’ve lost a LOT of business and were willing to give us a break on the once a month price. So instead of cancelling, we went to once a month. Like everything else, we may decide it’s not worth it and bump it back up in the future, but we’re going to try it!
      As far as the elcetricity plan, I’m going to try out a new site called energy ogre. Their estimate was that they could save us $700-$1000 per year, based off of the info I provided them on our past usage. They run some algortihm that shops our usage to the best match and rate for that and sign us up. Then whether its a 6 month deal or 1 yr contract, they automatically find a new one when that contract is over. More details to come as we test it out. Extra bonus is they believe you should be able to cancel at any time, so that’s a big reason to try it and it’s only a flat fee of $10/month to use them.

  14. Elephant Eater

    Cut the cord!!!!
    I hate to ever tell anyone what to do, but I dragged my feet on this one for a while for the same sports addiction as you and I promise it is never missed. We read more, listen to music and play games together, get outside, etc. Besides, if there is a game you REALLY want to see, I promise that 90+% of the people you know still have cable so it is a good excuse to go visit them and hang out.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      It will get cut, no worries. I figure I will get to see enough football without overdoing it like last year.
      Plus, there has to be a better way to spend time than tv right? :)

  15. MrSLM

    Gratz on the 1/2 marathon! I’ve done a few of those before, very satisfying even for a non-runner person like myself. Before you know it, you’ll be out training for the full 😀

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      We’ll see, I don’t have a desire to do a full, but a year ago I didn’t have the desire to do a half. :)

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