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Archive for October, 2007

Something you may want to consider...

October 22nd, 2007 at 02:25 am

Well this has to do with finances only in a round about way... but in any case, I will post it here.

If you live where you have a clothes washer without any water overflow drainage next to it (or even if you do), you may want to consider turning off the water before any long (or even short) trips.

I came home late Friday from work and found the water hose burst sometime during the day and half the first floor was flooded. The burst was on the top of the hose, so water was spraying upwards into shelving full of things, including some cardboard storage boxes, so the mess was imense. Obviously this wasn't a trip, but I can only imagine if this had happened while I was away for a week (as I have done twice this summer). Using a carpet water vac, moving furniture, ripping up carpet - oh yeah, this weekend was fun.

(Finance note: I needed to clean up as fast as possible, otherwise there could be damage to the house and then the cost would sky rocket)

One thing of note. Some time back I was thinking about something like this happening, so I had the water turned on just enough that the tub could fill properly. So I only needed to make a quarter turn to turn off the water. What would have happened if the water was on full blast??? Lets just say I don't want to go there.

November is the cruelest month

October 19th, 2007 at 12:08 am

... at least for my savings accounts. Of course it really is my fault, so I'm not going around blaming November.

It started last year as I read about one way to maximize the power of your reitrement savings by putting in as much as possible early as possible during the year into your retirement accounts. It also mentioned that in case you felt you couldn't afford it normally that you could change your federal tax withholding so that you paid much less then you normally would earlier in the year, then later in the year when your deductions for retirement are done, you could pay extra taxes to make up for the early part of the year. This way your money worked longer for you and less for uncle sugar.

So I tried it this year, and I am on pace to max out the retirement deductions for the year in mid November. Problem is I now needed to up my withholding for the remainder of the year so I wouldn't get penalized for underwitholding in 2007. So the extra withholding will start in November and those two November paychecks will have both extra taxes taken out (over $800), and the last of my retirement money taken out. I'm happy I did it as my return so far this year is almost 20%.

So in the end it worked out excellently, and will just need to buck it up for November.

How I cut my electric bills

October 15th, 2007 at 10:57 pm

Since I wrote my prior message, I figured I should go over some things I do to save on electric usage. Soooo, here goes...
Use power strips with instant on items like TVs and computers.
I use window AC units and only cool the rooms I will be using. I mostly use them upstairs and let the cooler air drift downward
Use CFL bulbs through most of the house. I still have some incandescent, but I using them until they run out.
I run my clocks on batteries - OK, not a big saver, but it just happens that is what I have
When I am away I make sure everything is off except the fridge, even work days.
As I use my stove maybe once a week, I turn off the gas pilot light. Saves on gas, and electricity to cool as well.
I have no dryer, but use a rack to dry my clothes.
I have grown shade trees in useful locations around the house. Shade trees can really help with cooling costs
I rarely if ever watch TV - ok that may not work for a lot of people, but I use the internet almost exclusively now.
In the summer I let my gas water heater set on "Vacation". Since I use little water, it heats it more than hot enough. And as it heats less, I pay less to cool the house as well.
When I bought the house I insulated the walls and attic, and replaced the decades old windows with double paned argon filled window inserts. Doing it myself save me tons of money.
When I re-roofed the house, I got light colored shingles. I'm not sure how much that saves, but its got to be some.
That's all I can think of. I really do believe the window AC units are where I save the most money. Try some of these, and the savings will appear.

Some day I plan on owning a house with solar power

October 15th, 2007 at 02:51 am

... but until the price to add solar to a house is more economical, I think I will work on keeping my electric usage reasonable.

After looking at this summer's electric bills, the thought above came to mind. Not that I am complaining about my bills, its just that if people use some sensible techniques, your electric bill can really be small. I have a 4 bedroom house in the DC area, so summer can be hot and damp. The summer wasn't awful, but it wasn't cool either. With that said, here are my bills for June-July, July-Aug, and Aug-Sep (mid month to mid month) - $42, $42, $37. I used AC as I needed it, quite often over night. Still, the usage was minimal.

Anyhow, I thought I would brag about that for a minute. If you want to see what I have done to allow this type of usage, check some of my older entries. If you have questions, just ask.