2009, “A Year of Less,” but it was a good thing!

Friday, January 1st, 2010
Now, going into 2010, we have so much more!

In 2009, we were forced to spend more than 2008 on the following bills:
3780.20 Increased mortgage payment 2009 vs. 2008
687.11 Increased property taxes
167.29 Increased electric bill
121.64 Increased water/sewer bill
1.60 Increased trash bill

We chose to spend more in the following areas vs. 2008:
1972.25 Increased charitable giving 2009 vs. 2008
2310.10 Increased educational spending (class tuition)
125.91 Increased spending on books
165.61 Increased cultural event spending (concerts, etc.)
We chose to spend LESS on the following areas vs. 2008:
310.81 Less in homeowners insurance (better coverage, different carrier)
76.68 Less in natural gas bill (weatherproofing measures)
54.24 Less in phone bill (removed unnecessary features)
789.57 Less in cable bill (downgraded plan)
1319.61 Less in groceries
1357.16 Less in dining out
494.78 Less in car gasoline
592.26 Less in car maintenance/repairs (deferring maintenance to buy newer vehicle)
731.53 Less in car insurance (better coverage, different company)
108.00 Less in health insurance (same coverage)
314.75 Less in life insurance (Went from $200,000 in coverage to $2,000,000 in coverage!)
1,080.39 Less in dental work (no fillings needed replacement in 2009)
446.92 Less in eye glasses
439.52 Less in gym memberships (put membership on hold June-Dec)
705.26 Less in clothing purchases
119.87 Less on personal grooming
485.28 Less on consumer gifts (spent more time making personalized gifts)
129.35 Less on assorted online memberships
100.19 Less miscellaneous spending
31.61 Less on crafts
34.93 Less on antiques
416.43 Less on pet care (no "catastrophies" in 2009)
4409.32 Less on assorted household items
49341.29 Less on remodeling
504.90 Less on photography
81.41 Less on cake decorating
1574.84 Less on electronics
995.00 Less on uncategorized ATM withdrawals/blow money
449.81 Less on movies and rental fees
1565.57 Less on travel expenses
277.12 Less on credit card interest fees (stopped using accounts Jan. 2009)

We were blessed enough to have the same income in 2009 as we did in 2008, no cut there. However, because we CHOSE LESS, we freed up $69,338.40 of our income to pay off debt, give more, further educate ourselves and save for the future instead of reveling in consumerism with no lasting gain.

Our big milestones for 2009 were:
18115.76 Paid 2007 Mazda 5 in full!
15000.00 Emergency funds in savings
3259.45 Paid credit cards off in full; closed accounts
5457.63 Paid refinancing costs out of pocket; reduced mortgage interest rate by 2%
2310.10 Completed Project Management certification at PSU

Now we can focus on more goals in 2010:
Pay off Home Equity Line of Credit
Buy Jeremy a dependable used car with cash
Take additional classes at PSU
Increase charitable giving
Raise emergency fund savings from $15,000 to $20,000
Visit family in other states

In 2011 we will see:
Fully funding retirement accounts with at least 15% of our income
Swank European vacation for a reward to our delayed gratification :)

How can this be done? Follow the baby steps:
http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-steps/

We started them in January 2009 and have made better progress in 1 year than we could've ever imagined! You can do it to! :)