End of April Wrap-up

So in the craziness that was preparing for court hearing, I never did post an update that highlighted all the little successes we had in the last week of April that moved us closer to the 2-year goal. Having this NMUD plan in writing has been an effective motivator for habit change, and things are just getting started.

Carpooling

As I did not have before or after school obligations after UIL contest was finished, Rachel had the great idea that we carpool to work. The only reason we hadn’t been is that my work hours are typically longer than hers, but in the last week of April we had no excuse. We carpooled five days straight with and were able to contribute $18.36 extra towards the Civic’s loan balance at the end of the month. Not only did we save on fuel, but we were well below our budgeted amounts for grocery, restaurant, and miscellaneous and ended up with a $123.58 bonus that we used to pay down the debt.

Cell Phones

It wasn’t easy for me to do, but I was finally able to find buyers to clear my inventory for a loss of $308.06. Although it sucked to lose that much on a deal, I’m just happy to have the extra $900 in cash, rather than sitting on what was essentially a bunch of paper weights. I’ve now got $1,700 in capital that can really be put to work. And using this capital, I set a new personal record for the most profit turned on a single purchase. I bought an iphone 4s for $170, sold it the next day at the market rate of $460, and walked away with $257.13 after shipping and online selling fees. This shattered the old record of $111.15 that I made on a Blackberry Torch, and I will not likely beat it until I start buying and selling in bulk. Not surprisingly, that weekend was also my best weekend Net with $335.32 made in 3 days. I’m right on track to meet my goal of $1,000 in cell phone profits in a month for the first time.

Bicycle

The plan was to save $200 a month and then buy a good bike this summer for $600 or less. I took a peek on craigslist one day, and literally the first ad I looked at was exactly what I was looking for: a large-framed road-bike in good condition for really cheap. Although the guy lived an hour away, he said that he collected these vintage Schwinn bikes and had a few large ones that I might be interested in. So Rachel and I took a road trip to Greenville, TX and met the collector at his unit in a local storage facility. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test ride the bike, because the tires were worn and the tubes deflated, but I took a gamble. I figured that if for some reason it didn’t work out, I could sell it for at least what I paid, if not more. The costs broke down as follows: $115 for the bike. $40 for two new tires. $16 for two new inner tubes. $70 for a full tune up, including tire installation, from the local bike shop. I hated paying that much to the shop, but I was too anxious to ride it and I justified that having the bike start out in top shape would be worth the money. In the future I’ll learn bicycle maintenance myself, and won’t have to worry about such expenditures.  With a grand total of $250, I soundly beat my goal of $600, and we’ll have $350 extra to throw at the loans over the next two months. Rachel and I biked 7 miles yesterday (our first bike ride as married folk!) on some beautiful trails in Waxahachie, and the thing worked great!

My new bike: a 1982 Schwinn World Sport.
This is before new tires and a full tune up.

The Woods’s

Rachel and I had dinner at our friends the Woods’s house last week. They are a married couple about 10 years older than us, and the husband teaches band in the district. Justin is HUGE into doing his own self-improvement, and their house is a veritable showcase of his projects: Shelves, remodeled closets, granite counter-tops, backyard shed, vegetable/herb garden, backyard grilling island/bar and the biggest project of them all: a full-size Italian-style granite and brick pizza oven. After hearing talk about all of these projects, and how he knew nothing about Do-It-Yourself stuff before he started doing it, I was inspired to insist on doing the same in my future. This is going to cost me time and energy, but will save me thousands of dollars.

Lunch

I’m proud of myself for resisting temptation to eat out at work the past couple of weeks. There have been a couple of opportunities to do so, but I turned them down. Knowing our restaurant budget is only $50 for the month, and that we’re going to spend a little more than that for Rachel’s birthday dinner (Sushi at Tokyo One), I stuck to the plan and it was empowering to do so. Also at work, I randomly received a $75 check from one of the middle school band directors. This was for hosting their UIL competition two months ago, and was a completely unexpected windfall. We now owe $75 less on the Honda Civic.

Music Gigs

I planned on making $150 a month in music gigs starting this month. I consider May a success because I’m playing electric bass with the Berkner High School percussion ensemble on their concert next weekend for $150. However, this was already set up months ago, so I haven’t really “found” any new music opportunities. June will be the true test of my ability to seek out new ventures.

Car Maintenance

I’m trying to learn car maintenance, but it’s a time-consuming process for me as I’m very uneducated in this area. Last week I changed my oil for the 3rd time since I’ve owned the car, and it was by far the fastest change I’ve done yet. I tried to change the gear oil for my manual transmission as well, but I ran into a road block when I didn’t have a big enough ratchet to open the fill hole. Unfortunately, this fill hole was only accessible after dismantling the car’s air-box, which meant that a lot of time was spent for no result, although I did gain more under-the-hood knowledge. I’ll finish this project next week, and probably change the oil on Rachel’s car as well. Every oil change saves me $10-$15 by doing it myself. This is not a huge amount, but right now we need to save every dollar possible.

Short-Term Goal

There is a remaining balance on the Honda Civic of $4,148.53, and I want this completely paid off by the end of June. That gives me the rest of May and all of June to work my butt off selling phones and saving money. Rachel and I want to get a small dog as our reward for completing this goal, so that’s an added incentive to meet rubber to the road every day. We hope to find a Dachsund and name it Pickles, although we will consider other breeds if one reaches out to us.

Summary

The wheels are in motion, slowing driving us forwards to our goal. These successes and achievements may feel small, but they will compound and snowball over the next two years. Tomorrow, I’ll post up the completed spreadsheet that contains our detailed two-year budget which will serve as our road-map during this journey.

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