3 In Advice/ Family/ Home/ Inspiration

Life will Nickel and Dime You: Time to get REAL

Crazy as it seems {just call us crazy}, my husband and I moved from the Seattle area and relocated near Dallas Texas. We brought two of our five children with us as the older three have graduated from high school and are off in the big world. We heard that Dallas is a great place to live that it is economical. The cost of living is low, there is a great job market, and we could create a nice nest egg for retirement here. The dream was to have Doug work full-time and have myself here with the children for what little time we have before they are off. Going from two incomes to one is not a very easy feat. But in Dallas we could do it, the plan was perfect. Then reality set in. Darn that reality!

First of all, for all you non-Texans out there, property taxes here are outrageous. Back in Seattle property tax on our $450,000 home was around $200 per month. Here in Dallas they are around $600-$800 per month depending on how much home you buy. Can you say OUCH?! In our circumstance we went from a large 4000 square foot home to a modest 2600 square foot home. The idea was to down-size and retire early. With interest rates so low we locked in a 2.8% mortgage with a 15 year pay-off. Between the 15 year loan and the taxes our house payment is nearly the same as it used to be.

So here we are, moving to Texas, and of all times we pick the very first week of December. We have moving expenses and holidays to contend with. I want to fly my college kids here…expense, expense, expense. By the time January rolls around and the bank account is running on empty reality begins to set in. And it sets and sets and begins to rear its ugly head each way we turn.  There is no running from this beast of REALITY.

So here we sit, Doug and Amylia, with blank stares on our faces. This is me getting real. This is my husband getting real. This is reality biting us in the butt for what we hope is the LAST time.  I decided to look through all of our past months transactions thinking “what we need is a darn good budget”. I found that life was nickel and dime-ing us. I wanted to share a list of just a few of the culprits I found, things I could instantly diminish with a phone call. I am not going to lie to you. Those phone calls add up to hours and hours. But I was on a mission to keep my money.

  • Best Buy Cell Phone Insurance  $17/mo.  I’ve had my iPhone for nearly two years. I was convincingly talked into this insurance.  At this rate I could have repurchased a iPhone 4 off of eBay for less money. Furthermore upon inspection they charge $50 for a back up phone while yours is sent off to get fixed.  They do not replace your phone (like I was told), and they don’t cover lost phones. You’re phone has to be intact. Did you know that Apple does the same service for FREE?
  • Capital One Payment Protection  $12/mo and $39/yr renewal fee. This is just a joke. I shouldn’t have to pay this to have a credit card.
  • Linkedin $37/mo. Okay this is great if you are looking for a job.  But now that we’ve had the new job since September–we are the fools to continue to pay for a service we no longer need.
  • Direct TV movie rentals from Comcast or U-Verse $5-6 each.  I know you are thinking what I thought…better price than going out to a movie.  But yikes.  Get off the couch and go to Red Box and rent the same movie for $1.29. You can even reserve them and have it waiting for you to pick up at the kiosk.
  • NetFlix $18/mo. Great service, but I had to ask myself when I last used it. Seriously it has been months.
  • Travelers Advantage $17/mo. This was a promotion over two years ago with our bank, Wells Fargo. Seriously each time I went to use this card or service it didn’t save me a dime. I always found my flights and hotels cheaper elsewhere. Why am I still paying for this?
  • Costco.  Okay I am a Costco LOVER.  Yes, I am keeping my membership. But why I am adding it to this list is because I need to shop smarter here. Now that I have two children instead of five living with me I found that I do not need the bulk items.  Most goes to waste because we do not want to be eating the same thing for days on end. Toilet paper, paper towels and fresh produce. That is my new Costco motto!
  • Eating Out $100-$150/wk. It’s all great fun. But really, that is $400-$600 a month. Buy some groceries and get real.

I am the first to admit that I am not a pro at this budget thing. But I can really see where my money was literally being taken right from under my nose without me even knowing it. Small nickel and dimes add up to dollars. And those dollars end up to hundreds of dollars. I’m thinking with a plan and some common sense Dallas might not be too bad after all. I’m willing to give it a whirl!

UPDATE 9/2016: Almost four years after writing this segment I have to say that our new budget has literally SAVED US many times. I learned along this path to simplification and elimination of bills that I WAS NICKELING and DIME-ING US. Oh ya, it was the things listed here, but first and foremost it was ME. You see, I’d give my last dime to a my kids or a friend in need. I just would. That is how I am. Facing my weaknesses and putting the stronger partner in charge of our money {however hard it hurt} was the solution for us.

I’ve had a few break-downs and cried about the NEW budget. I’ve been very sad because of the new budget. I’ve hated D because of the new budget {hahaha}. I’ve sold things I don’t want because of the new budget. I’ve found creative ways to earn money because of the new budget. We haven’t accumulated any debt because of the new budget. We have paid off all cards and cars because of the new budget. And now we are buying a second home because of the new budget.

A few years in and I kind of LOVE the new budget.

To read more on this subject click:

How We Changed Our Lives with a New Budget

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  • Reply
    May 30, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I found your blog via research into the book Visions of Glory. My family recently moved to Dallas. A series of circumstances led us to a decision we would not have otherwise made. My impression is that we are here to prepare for the times that will soon be upon us. We're in Frisco, where are you?

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