Author Topic: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014  (Read 8038 times)

Winston

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Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« on: March 06, 2014, 02:26:54 PM »
***First post!*** Woohoo!***

This is a little personal challenge I gave myself, that I thought I would share. If anyone wants to join me, please feel free. I started at the beginning of 2014, but you can start at any time.

Net Zero 2014

I'm fortunate to still have some money left over after bills and heavy 'stash building, to the tune of a couple hundred bucks a month. However, I realized just how much of this disappears to purchase unnecessary junk -- but could instead be going toward busting me out of this joint (job)! So, I challenged myself to a net zero discretionary spending plan for 2014.

Basic Rule: I can buy anything I want for myself or others as long as I offset the purchase by selling something else I already own.

Supplemental rules:

1. Only non-neccessity items can be sold (e.g. no selling the fridge to buy a sweet watch).

2. "Flipping" (buying to resell for profit) is not only allowed, but encouraged!

3. "Going negative" is allowed, but after that happens no new purchases are allowed until enough items are sold to bring the balance into positive territory. (I admit that this rule can be abused, but it is here to allow me to take advantage of deals and timing -- especially with regard to items I'm flipping).

I know that this isn't the most Mustachian challenge ever (that would probably be "don't buy anything unnecessary ever, AND sell off all unnecessary junk"), but this is something do-able for me and I'm already seeing positive benefits from it.

_____________________________________
EDIT: CommonCents asked to see a breakdown of what kinds of expenditures are budgeted on a monthly basis, presumably so that it's easier for others to see what the actual nature of the challenge is. That's fair, because this challenge sure would be easy if I budgeted a bunch of personal luxury spending :) Anti-mustachian alert: there is some fluff in here. I know that. The point of this challenge is to attack the fluffiest fluff first... the fluff that used to blow away on a monthly basis, leaving me wondering where it went.

Items I budget for each month:

Mortgage
Grocery and household items
Storage locker fee (roundhouse facekick time! See below for commentary.)
Lawn service (See below for commentary.)
Internet
Netflix
Home improvement stash (not considered savings since we plan on spending it)
Car payment (See below for commentary.)
Car upkeep (insurance, gas, oil changes, tolls)
Haircuts - got a Wahl and my first home haircut in May!
Occasions (birthday, holidays, etc.)
Eating out (See below for commentary.)
Supplemental cancer insurance (See below for commentary.)
Student Loans
Savings (currently 46% of net income!)

____________
Additional commentary on anti-mustachian items:

Car loan:    I should be able to pay this off by June if I want, but may not because 1.9% APR is far lower than the average annual return of the S&P500. It is a very reasonable car in excellent condition (2012 Mazda2, 24k miles at the time of this writing). 4/23/14 UPDATE: I elected to take the lump sum I had accumulated so far (about 75% of the payoff amount) and put it into the S&P500 index fund rather than pay off the loan early. Math wins.

Storage locker:    Yeah, it makes me sick, too. This will be going away before year-end.

Eating Out:    This is luxury spending, but is more like a family activity for us. There is a reason that Houston is one of the fattest cities in the nation: the restaurant food here is amazing. (Also, the outdoors are miserable for 6 months out of the year.) We've cut back on this, but are not cutting it out completely.

Supplemental cancer insurance:    I'm looking into whether we actually need this, but both sides of the immediate family have cancer history.

Lawn Service:    I talked about this in another thread, but Houston reaches miserable (even dangerous) levels of heat and humidity for a large portion of the year. As a past victim of heat stroke, it affects me even more now than it used to. I'll leave it to the guys that are acclimated to the weather and own/maintain all of the equipment. I do look forward to the day that we move away from here and live somewhere where I can xeriscape/naturescape and eliminate this activity entirely.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2014, 08:03:48 AM by Winston »

Winston

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Re: "No New Money" in 2014
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 02:30:03 PM »
I'll keep my running tally in this post.

I added supplemental rule #3 retroactively (after I had already broken it, sensing I needed a rule to protect me from myself), so here's what my tally looks like at the end of each month so far. Totals are cumulative, so the latest month is where I currently stand:

                    Spending           Sales       Fun Money Account Balance, YTD
January:       $   44.10          $   65.25                      $   21.15
February:     $    44.59                     0                    ( $   23.44)      <---- reason for Supp. Rule #3
March:          $   97.12          $ 380.15                      $  259.59
April:            $  305.81         $   62.47                      $    16.25
May:             $   25.38                     0                    ( $     9.13)
June:            $   70.63          $     8.20                   ( $    71.56)      <---- crap, failed.
July:             $   11.34          $   25.00                   ( $    57.90)      <---- failed again...
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 02:56:23 PM by Winston »

CommonCents

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Re: "No New Money" in 2014
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 02:31:06 PM »
The challenge title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Discretionary Spending" or something similar?

Winston

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Re: "No New Money" in 2014
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 02:46:00 PM »
The challenge title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Discretionary Spending" or something similar?

Yeah, you're right. Changed.

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 05:33:13 PM »
Sold about $60 worth of stuff today! Like AC/DC, we're Back in (the) Black!

EDIT: And there's another $100 worth of stuff sold! Viva the internet, where you can make money while you sleep.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 08:10:28 AM by Winston »

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2014, 06:54:12 AM »
March is essentially in the books, so I'll go ahead an update my running tally. Discretionary spending almost doubled this month (to $97.12), largely due to the new bike I bought for my son this past weekend. It was on sale for $50... nearly as cheap as the cheapest used bikes I could find on craigslist, some of which would have required a long drive just to look at. Still, I was able to end up firmly in the black (+$259.59) due to strong sales during the month (including a junk car and some cards from a collectible card game).

                      Spent             Sold       Fun Money Account Balance, YTD
March:           $97.12          $380.15                  +$259.59

Anybody else taking up the gauntlet, or is it just me by my lonesome? :)
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 01:08:31 PM by Winston »

Paulie

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2014, 07:04:46 AM »
Anybody else taking up the gauntlet, or is it just me by my lonesome? :)

Im not joining you, but cheering from the sidelines!

Are you doing this for your whole family? And what is the definition of discretionary? Does that also include clothing for example?

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2014, 09:22:39 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement!

This is basically the spending money that I would normally have to myself after all of the budgeted items (bills, savings, date night budget, etc.) are accounted for. I'm the only one doing this; it's pretty extreme, especially if you don't have flipping or selling skills/time/inclination because it basically means you're not buying anything for yourself, ever.

In my case, clothing would be discretionary spending because I don't budget for it. I hate clothes shopping and almost never willingly buy clothes until prodded... most of my clothes are purchased with gift cards my family gets for me for Christmas, birthday, etc., or as direct gifts for the same occasions. Win-win, as it means I don't have to spend money on stuff I don't want to buy but need (plus, when they buy the actual clothes, they do a great job and I end up with nice stuff).
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 11:42:39 AM by Winston »

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 07:44:53 AM »
Watched the Astros beat up on the Yankees last night in the home opener... $50 less in the kitty but it was worth it! Also: baseball games are much less expensive when you don't buy beer and you sit in the cheap (but still pretty darn good) seats!

CommonCents

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 11:45:36 AM »
This is basically the spending money that I would normally have to myself after all of the budgeted items (bills, savings, date night budget, etc.) are accounted for.

Perhaps update your first post to list exactly what is included and what isn't?  For example, some might include clothing, but then there's a clothing gauntlet right now where people are going w/o buying any clothes for a full year.

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2014, 12:26:57 PM »
Good idea! I just wrote a book and added it to the first post, for everyone's reading pleasure :)

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2014, 07:39:53 AM »
If March was the month of sowing, April was the month of reaping. I spent a LOT of discretionary money this month, almost all of it on two baseball games (Opening Day for myself at $52.20, then another game the following weekend for the whole family at $235.50). I did have a few sales this month (my son's old bike and some more magical cardboard) that helped keep me in the black, though.

                    Spending           Sales       Fun Money Account Balance, YTD
April:            $  305.81         $   62.47                    +$   16.25

Four months in, and I'm pretty pleased with myself for keeping my head above water!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 09:35:00 AM by Winston »

dragoncar

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Re: "No New Money" in 2014
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2014, 01:29:17 PM »
The challenge title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Discretionary Spending" or something similar?

Yeah, you're right. Changed.

Title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Frivolous Spending" or something similar?  Netflix is 100% discretionary.

Winston

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Re: "No New Money" in 2014
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2014, 02:07:15 PM »
The challenge title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Discretionary Spending" or something similar?

Yeah, you're right. Changed.

Title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Frivolous Spending" or something similar?  Netflix is 100% discretionary.

Because this *my* discretionary spending for myself that I am limiting, and I defined exactly what is included and what isn't in the first post.

Netflix is for the whole family; I just pay the bill. Having Netflix is not only my choice.

The problem is that what constitutes "frivolous spending" is a matter of opinion. IMO I have made zero frivolous purchases this year, with the exception of a package of Twizzlers from Staples in January for the grand sum of $2.69. I see positive value in all of the other stuff I spent unbudgeted money on.

Do you have any real value to add to this thread, or just nitpicky bullshit?
« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 02:15:38 PM by Winston »

dragoncar

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Re: "No New Money" in 2014
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2014, 02:48:51 PM »
The challenge title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Discretionary Spending" or something similar?

Yeah, you're right. Changed.

Title is confusing to me.  How about recasting as "Net Zero Frivolous Spending" or something similar?  Netflix is 100% discretionary.

Because this *my* discretionary spending for myself that I am limiting, and I defined exactly what is included and what isn't in the first post.

Netflix is for the whole family; I just pay the bill. Having Netflix is not only my choice.

The problem is that what constitutes "frivolous spending" is a matter of opinion. IMO I have made zero frivolous purchases this year, with the exception of a package of Twizzlers from Staples in January for the grand sum of $2.69. I see positive value in all of the other stuff I spent unbudgeted money on.

Do you have any real value to add to this thread, or just nitpicky bullshit?

Just nitpicky bullshit.  Please exercise discretion.

ender

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2014, 08:43:22 PM »
What card game?

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2014, 04:31:43 PM »
What card game?

Magic: The Gathering.

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2014, 06:41:11 AM »
May came and went with a little spending (all on magical cardboard XD) but no sales. As I am now negative, I will need to sell stuff to get back in positive territory before I can buy anything else.


                    Spending           Sales       Fun Money Account Balance, YTD
May:             $   25.38                    0                     ($      9.13)
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 06:47:24 AM by Winston »

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2014, 12:46:49 PM »
Well, big spending failure in June. My son got a free* ticket to an Astros game as a school award (part of a partnership program they have... I forget if it was for perfect attendance or grades, but he would have qualified on either account). He was so proud to show me because he knows how much I like baseball, and of course we would go together. Turns out it was only good for one of a few select games, and there were only two dates left! I had to hurry up and get my ticket plus another for my wife (we all enjoy going), thereby breaking the rule of not spending while in the red.


                    Spending           Sales       Fun Money Account Balance, YTD
June:            $   70.63          $     8.20                   ( $    71.56)     

 * Not so free, as it turned out.

mooreprop

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2014, 01:37:55 PM »
Yep, kids are the biggest source of temptation to buy beyond what is budgeted.  Be strong!  lol

welliamwallace

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2014, 01:43:04 PM »
Hey! I'm a big MTG player as well, and have actually been working on a similar plan: Net Zero MTG Spending! I sold $175 worth of cards last month, and used that to fund my card purchases this month. Following your example, I think I will make this a conscious goal moving forward.

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2014, 02:27:10 PM »
Hey! I'm a big MTG player as well, and have actually been working on a similar plan: Net Zero MTG Spending! I sold $175 worth of cards last month, and used that to fund my card purchases this month. Following your example, I think I will make this a conscious goal moving forward.

Good for you! That's what my goal started as in January (net zero, MTG only), but I got psyched up and extended it to all discretionary spending. MTG sales have been my biggest single source of discretionary income this year, providing $258.44. I've spent $75.74 on MTG, so my YTD MTG net is +$182.70.

Angie55

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2014, 02:31:00 PM »
Where  and how are you selling your MTG cards? I have a ton of cards from when I was a kid (5th and earlier editions). Any place I could tell if any of my cards are worth anything? I doubt they are worth much. But they have to be worth more than the $0 they are worth sitting in a shoebox in my closet.

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2014, 03:22:00 PM »
Where  and how are you selling your MTG cards? I have a ton of cards from when I was a kid (5th and earlier editions). Any place I could tell if any of my cards are worth anything? I doubt they are worth much. But they have to be worth more than the $0 they are worth sitting in a shoebox in my closet.

You might be surprised at what some could be worth... and it can be difficult for a novice to tell which ones to bother looking up since they didn't print the rarity on anything before 6th edition/Exodus. If you have a lot of time, you can look up prices individually on magiccards.info.

I sell via TCGPlayer.com (I have a store there). They take a ~11% cut of my sales. You can also sell on eBay or (if you are adventurous) on forums like MTGSalvation.com. The last resort, in my opinion, is to sell to a game store that deals in MTG. They typically only offer 50% of what they can sell them for, and there are some bad shops out there that will try and screw you if they think they can (most are okay though).

About how many cards are we talking about here? A shoebox full? A 660 card "long box?" Too many to fan out and take a few pics of? I'd actually be pretty excited to help with an appraisal :)

« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 03:25:25 PM by Winston »

Angie55

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2014, 03:36:19 PM »
2 full rows of cards in a teva shoebox? I have no idea how much that really is. To be honest most are commons, a few "rare" (probably not actually rare) ones that I know of and can pick out. I wish I had kept my inventory sheet! I guess I always assumed because they were the older editions and primarily common cards that they were worthless.

I could definitely take a few pictures... Its figuring out how to upload later that is the tricky part! Thanks for the advice on a few sites. I'll check them out!

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2014, 03:49:11 PM »
If you want to snap a few pics and send them to the email address in my profile, I can give a look-see!

welliamwallace

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2014, 10:16:19 AM »
Angie, it's likely that 99% of your cards are worth nothing, 0.9% of your cards are worth $1-10, and maybe 0.1% are worth much more. It may be that you have one or two cards in there worth hundreds of dollars. It is probably worth the time to catalog them all and import the list to a website that will sort them by value.

I sell my cards individually (or in sets of 4) on eBay.

Winston

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Re: Net zero discretionary spending in 2014
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2014, 03:02:21 PM »
I was a bit lazy this month, and perhaps a bit of a cheater as well. I jumped through some hoops to get a free $25 gas card, so I credited that to my "sales" for the month. Cheating? Probably. Also, I spent money while still having a negative balance YTD, and I didn't actually sell anything even though I have some great stuff just waiting to be listed. Bleh.

                    Spending              Sales       Fun Money Account Balance, YTD
July:            $   11.34          $     25.00                   ( $    57.90)

Once I sell some stuff, I might take that gas card credit out. At least then I would just be a failure instead of a failure and a cheater.