Showing posts with label motorcycle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motorcycle. Show all posts

How We Spent Our Money in 2012

One of my favorite websites, makes evaluating your expenses much simpler at the end of the year. They actually have a pretty good app for smartphones too which I check everyday to make sure no one stole my identity, or money. One of my other favorite websites, Mr Money Mustache has posted his yearly spending so I feel compelled to also drop our drawers and lay it all out there.
I thought it would be interesting to see where all our money went last year and what opportunities there are for improvement this coming year. You might not really care what we spend, but you're probably nosy and will continue to read and see how you compare to us, a couple of cheap asses who recycle plastic baggies (not really). I think this may be a useful exercise to see where our money goes and to try to manage it so that when we retire we'll be able to fully enjoy ourselves on a limited budget. We learned a long time ago how fun it is to not have a car payment. And we learned a few years ago how fun it is to not have a house payment. And we learned last year how fun it is to not have to pay for food, gas or household products. So, just there we have three categories of expenses that have just went poooffff! up the air, gone to heaven and hopefully, never be seen again.
As you recall, we did a pretty extensive remodel of our home including all three bedrooms, dining room, living room and office. This ended up being our largest expense of the year and its worth every dime. Now our home is totally renovated and modern, and we're on our way to a clean, uncluttered existence as we sort through the outcast stuff we still have in our "green" room or the stockpile room.
Anyway, listed here are our largest expense categories of the year.
1. Home (Insurance, taxes, remodel, furnishings, appliances) $13,291
This was by far our biggest expense even though we have no mortgage or loans. The taxes $1000 and insurance $2500 are pretty much out of our control so that is a fixed expense. The remodel and new furnishings were a one time expense we  don't anticipate this again, although there are other projects on the horizon in years to come such as a new roof, fenced yard and we expect a new A/C unit will be needed someday since ours is over fifteen years old. However, we paid for everything and expect next years home expenses to be less than a third of what they were. There are opportunities to repair rather than replace, and preserve what we have so it lasts longer. My goal for 2013 is to spend less than $5000 for the year on this category.
2. Utilities (mobile phones, internet, TV, electric, water, garbage) $6,056
We are generally frugal in our use of utilities such as water, electricity and try to recycle to minimize garbage. I've unplugged one dorm size refrigerator and hope to empty our small freezer so we can unplug that as well. That leaves two full size refrigerators and a kegerator sucking down electricity at a high rate. In the warm weather, I unplug and drain the hot tub since we use the pool. Likewise in the cool weather I run the pool filter pump less hours per day since we don't swim in it for half the year (although the dog does - every day!) I was hoping to decrease our TV/Internet expense when our contract was up, but that didn't turn out and I feel fortunate to pay the same rate for another two years. Maybe by then DH can be weaned off cable and we can subsist on online streaming of sports events and TV programs. I'm looking to cutting our cell phone costs in half this year as I combine my smartphone with DH's account at only $40 a line unlimited everything. We are both eligible to upgrade our phones, but the frugal thing is to just keep them both as is. So there is definitely opportunity to cut expenses in this category, so my goal this year is to spend less than $5000 in this category as well.
3. Allowances $6000
DH and I each get an allowance monthly to pay for stuff that is not a household expense.This category would also include going out to restaurants which we only do a couple times a year - except for the Firehouse where we go regularly for wings and beer. These optional expenses like beer, cigarettes, going out to eat, massages, extravagent unnecessary expenses (Ipad, extra computers, music) are paid for with cash from our allowance. We both save a significant portion of our allowance being the frugal spenders we are. DH used to spend a good portion of his allowance on driving a race car and I purchased computers and photography equipment. If we decide to do something extravagent that the house "can't afford" we both chip in from our allowance. This category will stay the same next year.
4. Auto & Motorcycle (insurance, maintenance, gasoline) $4,126
Our two old cars and two newer motorcycles are very expensive to insure in this state of Florida where almost half the drivers do not carry insurance, and I'm sure a good portion of them are driving on suspended licenses as well. It is dangerous and therefore we have probably excessive insurance compared to most people. But after DH was struck by an uninsured driver in 2010 and we received a nice settlement from our own insurance, we feel safer on the roads having sufficient insurance. But this is one area we can still cut back on insurance with the red truck since it sits in the driveway the majority of its life, and its the biggest boxiest safest vehicle we have. Of our auto expenses, over half is insurance $2470, $1657 was maintenance on all four vehicles. I've made a note to mention $1722 for gasoline even though this was paid for with gift cards we got at Publix from overage, and yard sale proceeds. So the opportunity here is to cut insurance a little and to ride my bike more this year, so this year we can spend less than $4000 in this category.
5. Travel $3,384
This category has suffered since we have been remodeling. Now that our home is updated, we plan to resume frequent travel. We already have booked a nice seven day cruise to the Virgin Islands this spring, and plan to book another for Fall 2013, in addition to our annual trip up North to visit our families. We have let all our season tickets to NASCAR races go unrenewed and we may attend these types of events at most once a year. I actually desire to travel to places I haven't been to before, or places I traveled to as a child. I would love to visit San Francisco, Hawaii, Yellowstone National Park, Colorado and Canada. We're actually in a holding pattern for extended long trips as long as we have our old dog. When she passes in a few years, we'll be able to take longer trips overseas without having to worry about finding a caretaker for her. So this year, I would expect this category to at least double, if not approach $10,000.
6. Shopping $2,793
Amazon is the death of me. It is way to easy to shop online and it shows up here in this category. We have way to many clothes and shoes and could easily go years without purchasing anything to wear. I see this category as an opportunity to cut in half to about $1400.
7. Health (Rx, copays, insurance) $1,722
This category just increased this year because of our Governor, for the first time in ten years we were required to pay health insurance premiums. I hope to just maintain the cost of this category in the future, not much hope of decreasing it until I hit menopause or quit having sex, and can quit going to the doctor for those little pills.
8. Entertainment (Busch Gardens, Concerts) $1,656
This category is actually not very much of our budget and I hope to be able to maintain that amount this year. We do go to a lot of free festivals and inexpensive concerts to keep this cost down. Actually, since we used to work concert events we have seen almost every performer we care to see and the cost is often not worth it if we've seen it. We did splurge and buy good tickets for an upcoming Lady Gaga concert this spring.
9. Pet $695
The love, companionship and protection we receive in exchange for vet bills and medications is worth the cost for our dog. Dog food and treats are paid for with overage at Publix so this is actually less than most pay for a pet. If we keep this expense under $1000, that would be good. In the future this expense will go away when the dog dies.
10. Personal Care $249
This category is probably low since DH pays for his haircuts with cash and takes out the money when he gets his allowance. So it really should be double, closed to $500 for hair cuts and perms. It helps being low maintenance people - no manicures, hair color, no pedicures or expensive massages. All that individual stuff comes out of allowance anyway, it is not considered a household expense.
The missing category -  Food & Beer
This category is one where we have eliminated the expense by using coupons and shopping the sales. We buy stuff we don't need, to use the overage to get what we need. We actually made $803 last year, spending $2951 in cash and gift cards to purchase $32,729 worth of products (including $3755 in gift cards and gas cards). The cash used in shops was proceeds from yard sales selling our stockpile from couponing. We also use the cash to pay for our beer kegs, and extra spending money when we travel.
So, in summary our goal for the upcoming year is to cut our spending by 10% overall.
How did you do?


Are Motorcycles More Frugal Than Cars?

Since the price of gasoline has been creeping up all summer, I thought I'd evaluate the costs of our motorcycles vs car/truck. Assume all vehicles are paid for and comprehensive insurance coverage is equal for all vehichles. The only variable is gasoline, collision insurance coverage and maintenance which will increase the cost per mile driven, but then again the more miles each vehicle is driven will help decrease the cost per mile.
We have four vehicles and they all have different functions. The fourteen year old truck is used for towing and hauling and toting the dog around. The eight year old car is for commuting and travel. The big motorcycle is for the guy and the little motorcycle for the girl. Mostly the motorcycles are used for shopping, and riding around on weekends, but occasionally for commuting based on the weather. All vehicles are paid for and all four vehicles have full insurance including a high level of uninsured motorist coverage.  Our total cost to own and operate these four vehicles each year is about $4500. But in actuality the $1000 gas costs are paid with coupons and gas cards at Publix, so that doesn't come out of our household budget. The remainder of the cost is mostly insurance. You may wonder why we pay so much for insurance, and I can assure you its not because we are risky drivers. Neither myself or DH has ever been the cause of an accident or collision. It is because we have 100/300 uninsured motorist coverage on all our vehicles. Since over 40% of people in Tampa do not have insurance, we need to buy insurance to protect ourselves from them. Another large percentage also drive without a valid license, so it is risky just to be on the road with all these people. Especially on a motorcycle. Especially when everyone seems to have a cell phone in at least one hand.
Anyway, here is the average cost breakdown calculated from our actual expenses over the last three years. As you can see the big motorcycle costs ($1311) almost as much to operate as the car ($1756). But the car was driven a lot more miles, so the cost per mile is the lowest for the car ($0.21/mile). And if we drove it exclusively and got rid of the motorcycle and its costs, the car would be even a better deal for the household. But, if the little motorcycle was the only vehicle needed, it actually costs very little to have around and use as desired for riding or commuting. The surprising finding here is that the truck is the most expensive vehicle to operate since it is used so little, just a few hundred more miles each year than my bicycle.
annual miles
annual cost
MC ST1300
MC Rebel
Car Camry
Truck Explorer
So, what is more frugal? The motorcycle or the car? The answer will vary for each of you, but if you keep the motorcycle insurance costs down by getting a smaller less risky model it will be more frugal. Your safety is worth something too, and small motorcycles are not as safe or easy to see in traffic. It depends on your route and if you stick to day time riding. But the cost difference is not very much. Personally, I think the risk of riding is too great to justify it with being more frugal. Don't get me wrong, riding a motorcycle is adventurous and fun and satisfies that "defying danger" excitement we all need. But unless you stick with a small motorcycle, it's generally not more frugal than a car, but would be more frugal than a gas guzzling truck.
But the best choice which has more benefits than all the above, is to just ride your bicycle.


While out on a nice motorycle ride this weekend, all of a sudden my back tire started feeling like it was falling off. My backend started swaying back and forth, and I slowed down thinking the wheel was off the axle. My riding partner yelled STOP YOU HAVE A FLAT! Great. It actually could have been a hundred times worse circumstances, but we were on a back road with light traffic so we were able to roll the bike aside and assess the problem. It became obvious relatively easily, I was screwed. What bad luck to run over 2" screw and have it impale my new tire. The tire still have knobbies on, its only got 2600 miles on it. We're hoping we can plug it and fill it up and ride it home.  So I hop on the other bike and we ride two up back home to get the truck, tool bag and our air station. So we get back and realize our plug kit is a little old, probably since 2007 and its lost some of its gooeyness. The first plug didn't hold the air. So we did it again, this time it worked. We rode the bike home and have pretty much decided that the peace of mind would be worth just replacing the tire with a brand new one.
So I call the Honda motorcycle dealer and find out its $51 to replace a flat tire with a new one. Being the frugal pair that we are, we need to continue to investigate and we hope we ask all the right questions. Does this install include balancing and spin test, what about disposal fees. I wonder if I can sell the old patched tire on craigslist? How much would it go for?
It turns out the back tire on my bike is a Bridgestone Mag Mopus 130/90-15M/C G508 which is an import. Great. These are not sold that I can find in the US. The only available tires are Chinese brands like Shenka, or the domestic brand Dunlop. A replacement Dunlop is $72 plus $10 shipping. So will the dealer let me bring in my own tire and they install it? Will it be covered for any warranty, even 30 days?
I probably wouldn't bother to replace the plugged tire if it weren't for the fact that this is a brand new 2009 Honda motorcycle. Its still under warranty through October. I haven't had any problems with it, but would like the dealer to tighten the chain, and tighten a loose rattling on the front headlight. I figure if they replace the back tire, they have to adjust the chain anyway, and I could tighten the bolt on the loose rattle - so bringing this in right away is a little premature. Except, the first evening after the flat tire, we noticed the back tire was flat again. It had drained air. The old dried out plugs weren't working. So we got a new fresh pack of plugs ($2) and re-plugged the hole. It is holding up nicely after 48 hrs, so maybe no replacement would be necessary.
This is a lot of drama for me. Usually I don't have surprise things happen that I'm not prepared for. Actually, we were pretty prepared and didn't have any trouble getting home, fixing it and riding it back home. Its just the next, long term decision that I need to deal with now. Keep or Replace?