The Monthly Downsizer: November 2016

In July of 2015 we moved from a 1,400 square foot house with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an oversize double garage to an 880 sq. ft. apartment.  Four months later, we downsized again and moved to a 670 sq. ft. apartment.  With the goals of shortening our retirement horizon and simplifying our lives, we jettisoned most of our belongings and took the plunge into an ongoing adventure in downsizing.

 

The Monthly Downsizer is a once-a-month post that documents our continuing process of intentional reduction.  Here’s a link to last month’s post.

 

Here are my Downsizing accomplishments for November 2016:

img_1593Stuff

  • A few DVDs. I previously downloaded all of my DVDs to an external hard drive and use Plex through the Roku to watch movies now. There are still a few DVDs that I haven’t been able to part with, but that will come in time. I will post about Plex and online video storage and access in a month or two.
  • An old pair of Salomon hiking shoes with probably 1,000 miles on them. I originally bought them in 2012 and definitely got my $89 worth.
  • Four t-shirts. This is going to be a challenging category. I have a lot of t-shirts that are freaking awesome (Deep Purple Machine Head, KC Monarchs, Johnny Cash flipping the bird, etc.), but I don’t need this many.
  • A few other things, including dress shorts and some shorts I never wore.

I was able to give up one of my three dresser drawers to Mrs. Grumby as a result of my purging.  <Mrs. G. here – thanks Mr. Grumby!>

 

 

 

Money Matters (because it does, you know)

HSA Account: It’s open enrollment time for those of us who are fortunate enough to have health care benefits. I always sign up for the Health Savings Account (HSA) because individuals can contribute $3400 and families $6750 per year, tax deferred, and withdrawals are tax free if used for healthcare expenses. And, it is yours forever, unlike FSA which must be used the same year as the contribution.  Mrs. Grumby and I will use our HSA savings to cover our out-of-pocket medical expense during our pre-Medicare retirement years.  If we don’t use it all by the time we turn 65, we can use the funds for any expense without penalty. Learn more about HSAs here.

ting

 

Switched to Ting Mobile Service: I downsized my bloated mobile service bill this month by switching to Ting, a low-cost provider I read about on another awesome FI blog. I was paying about $55 a month for cell service with one of the major providers and was eager to trim that cost, especially since there are so many viable lower cost options. My perfectly fine, completely paid-for iPhone 6 was compatible so I didn’t have to buy a new phone or enter into another two year contract of indentured servitude. Most phones from major providers (such as Verizon) will work, and you can check your phone on their website. My estimated savings will be $20 per month, which doesn’t sound like much but it is a 40% savings, and $20×12 is $240. Wouldn’t you rather have $240 than not???

After three weeks I can report that all is working well. Coverage and speed are good, and tracking usage is incredibly easy on the Ting website.  They have a slick tool that allows you to estimate your bill by making a few entries. There is no contract and switching was simple. I will provide updates in future postings and, if it does not work out, there is no charge for cancelling. If you click through one of my links and sign up for service, you and I both get a $25 service credit. So do it, NOW!

 

Beer: I received $60 for my birthday so I used some of it for beer. Mmmmm, beeeer. A 64 oz growler of delicious local (Portland) IPA from the grocery store downstairs is $10 if you buy it during happy hour, which is 4-7 pm every day. And a four-pack of canned local beer is about $9.00. So beer expense was about $30, all of it from extra money!

 

Breakfast: One of our favorite things to do is eat breakfast at one of the millions of Portland breakfasteries (?). However that gets expensive so we found some recipes to try. We invited a friend over for breakfast to try this veggie,sausage and egg casserole. I normally hate casseroles, anything that looks like a casserole, and even the word “casserole”, but this was good.

 

Some November Upsizes

Downsizing stuff, expense, and stress means that we have more time and resources to channel elsewhere.

Thanksgiving Trip to the heartland

Mrs. G and I normally stay put in sunny Portland over the holidays, mainly due to insane airfare prices and even more insane crowds. But we were able to snag some decent airfare with Southwest and so we spent a few days in St. Louis and then drove to Kansas City a couple of days before Thanksgiving. It was great to reconnect with the Grumby uncles, cousins, aunts, siblings, Mother, and friends. We even did an awesome Mannequin Challenge, filmed by niece Sally.

Trip-related Expenses:

  • $245 each on airfare for direct flights both ways! I love Southwest because they list prices per segment, without any bullshit multi-city fees or add-ons.  Plus, the flight attendants seem to, you know, like their jobs and often provide lively pre- and post-flight announcements*.
  • $125 taking some family out to lunch (two lunches)
  • $79 on groceries and beer for Thanksgiving gathering for 14
  • $110 for rental car- we split the cost with Brother Grumby and his family for the drive to Kansas City.
  • $100 for two tickets to the St. Louis Blues game with 10 cousins and uncles.
  • $25 for two soggy “jumbo” dogs (not jumbo) and a beer at the game. Not frugal to be sure, but going to hockey games is not a common occurance for us.
  • Total trip expense for 8 days: $850, including airfare, not super frugal but worth the upsize in spending to see the family.

 

*A couple of my favorite Southwest Airline announcements:

“If the cabin loses pressure during flight, secure your mask before assisting your child. If you have more than one child, pick the one you think has the most potential”

“Please be careful when opening the overhead bins, as objects may have shifted during flight. A bag might smash you in the face, and we don’t want that happen to some of you”.

 

Conclusion

Every small step taken to divest myself of extra stuff has resulted in a giant leap for mankind. Downsizing spending and does not mean deprivation. Getting rid of excess crap enhances freedom and reduces chaos, clutter and anxiety. And less crap means more room for the important things, like my bobblehead collection.

 

A Few Questions

  1. What are some of your favorite Southwest Airlines flight attendant announcements? Post them in the Comments section.
  2. Have you tried to downsize? Why or why not? What do you need the extra stuff for? Remember this bit by the late George Carlin? You don’t need that much stuff.
  3. If you’re still working are you enrolled in an HSA? If not, why the hell not?

 

Please feel free to sign up for updates to the blog and we would love to see your comments. Like us on Twitter @grumbys, and Facebook.  Also, check out some of these awesome FI bloggers:

Freedom Is Groovy – Mr. Groovy is a self-described “groovy freakin freedomist”, and, along with Mrs. Groovy, offer plenty usable and fun to read advice.

The Mad Fientist – An entertaining and informative look at early financial independence, and he has a great podcast

Frugalwoods– A 30-something couple who are living their dream in Vermont with their baby and greyhound.

ThinkSaveRetire– How to retire from your 9 to 5 job and start to enjoy the virtues that life has to offer.

Mr. Money Mustache – MMM inspired Mrs. G and I to rethink our strategy and shorten our Financial Independence timeline. There is so much information here that almost anyone can benefit from his badass wisdom.

 

Here’s a link to The Monthly Downsizer Special Edition: Our 2016 Expenses!

 

  5 Replies to “The Monthly Downsizer: November 2016”

  1. December 6, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Pretty good stuff! Every little bit helps, especially if you can do it consistently, like you have been! As for your downsizing question, I think you and I are in the same boat. A bit of the downsizing goes towards adding space for our partners, haha. We definitely have some more downsizing and donating to do. Thanks for giving some examples as motivation!

  2. December 17, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Nice! Seems like you are completely committed to the downsizing effort. I am definitely trying to simplify and reduce the pressure on my finances but I am not quite as committed as you . I could never give up my wonderful t-shirts. They are a chronicle of bars and restaurants from my travels over the years. The great thing about downsizing though is you can do a little or a lot and every bit has an effect. As you know, I went from 2500 square feet down to 1250 and we are jammed in. I do have 2 teenagers a 70lb. dog and a cat with one bathroom so I am skeptical we could could go smaller. Kudos for ramping up the downsizing. I wish you luck! Thanks for sharing!

    -Brian

    • December 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks for looking at our blog. I’ll stay tuned to your adventures as well.

  3. TJ
    January 9, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I like the idea of downsizing my DVD’s to a portable hard drive. Thanks for the tip!

    • January 9, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Yeah, it’s a bit time consuming but once you figure out the app it’s not too bad. I upload to my Plex server and watch through my Roku box or on my iPad. It’s pretty slick. Thanks for stopping by!

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