December Spending Review

What is this “look at the camera” you speak of?

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe it’s already Frugal Paradise’s one year anniversary. We wish you all the best for 2017 and thank you for reading our blog!

CategoryAmountNotes
Total$8,121.89Total without mortgage and taxes was $3,857.99
Property taxes$2544.90We decided to pay our property taxes a little early this year so we could take the earlier deduction. Last year we paid in the second week of January which I felt kind of silly about.
Mortgage$1719.00Just principal and interest.
Piano moving$900.00Who knew piano moving would need its own spending category?
Groceries$584.39I actually thought this would be more. We paid $338.35 for meat from a local organic, cruelty-free farm which was the majority of the bill this month. Our chest freezer is fully stocked!
Gift$407.18As predicted, but I think January will calm down a little bit. Although Mr. Paradise's birthday is coming up!
Auto payment$353.60Yes, we have a car loan. But in our defense it is at 0% interest.
Auto$320.99$224 of this is registration for two cars. I was ready to pay the full price of ~$400 something when Mr. Paradise actually read the bill details and found out it might be less if we paid early before a rate increase happened. Sweet! We also needed some kind of alignment thing on one of the cars. I leave this up to Mr. P.
Doctor$260.55Some doctor visits and some other stuff that's none of your business 😉
Shopping$131.73This is our Amazon Prime renewal and also some glass tuperware for the chest freezer. Amazon Prime is awesome and I have no problem paying this every year. Have you checked out Audible Channels recently?
Utilities$128.73It's been SO cold here, I already got a warning from the utility company to say our next bill was going to be pretty high. Yikes!
Home$117.68I can't even remember what this all was. A bunch of trips to Target! At least some of it was holiday decorations.
Pets$110.84Well, Apollo decided that a three foot long piece of twine would be a delicious dinner choice. Cue me flipping out and taking him to the 24 hour emergency vet where they promptly made him vomit into a plastic container and let us pick through it to measure the string. Happy to report Apollo is alive and well, although he may have used up one of his nine lives. $0.40 of this is two 40lb bags of kitty litter from Amazon where I was able to get a sweet promotion deal for signing up for a trial of Audible. If you're interested in deals like this, I get many of mine from Fat Wallet. Check out the Front Page for the best stuff.
Finance$95.00This is the renewal fee for our Delta Amex. I have mixed feelings about this. We've had it for several years and it usually pays for itself in baggage fees, but I still hate paying for it every year. Before Costco switched to Visa, it was also the only card we had that we could use there. I might ditch it after this year.
Parking$91.00Whew, airport parking.
Gas$59.61What can I say, we drove to Canada.
Internet$59.42Our one year promotional price expired...but at least it's still not Comcast.
Website$56.58The renewal fee for Frugal Paradise! Happy website anniversary! This includes $16.99 for the domain, $13.99 for domain privacy, and the rest for hosting. I was originally horrified to see that they had billed us $150.40 for hosting. This was my fault because I didn't read the emails they were sending carefully enough. I went on their chat and talked them down to $25... If you're using iPage, be careful with your renewals!
Gym$39.00Monthly gym fee - still going three times a week!
Security System$35.99We are definitely due for setting it off by accident...
Clothes$27.29I got my winter coat dry-cleaned, something I hadn't done in, well, ever. A little expensive but cheaper than a new coat!
Cell phone$27.00Monthly refill for my phone
Pharmacy$19.60I'm still getting over a cold, this is mostly cold medicine, boo.
Alcohol$12.25Mr. Paradise celebrated the end of winter term with a six-pack.
Entertainment$9.99Netflix! We are also using the Amazon Prime 30-day free trial of HBO to watch Westworld. Speaking of which, I better jump on and make sure that doesn't auto-renew.
Garden$5.58My office plant was looking a little sad so I bought some fertilizer for it. I think it misses real light...
Personal Care$3.99Completely non-frugal makeup sponge.

2 Comments:

  1. Can you talk more about the property tax deduction by paying your property taxes early? I have heard a little bit about this approach but I thought the goal was to pay two years of taxes all in the same calendar year to have a higher itemized deduction for taxes? Is that right?

    • What we did was pretty simple, we just paid the February taxes in December so that we could deduct that $2,541.90 in 2016. In the end this reduces our taxes by around $600 this year, which is nice, but whatever we take for this year we lose for next year. We paid ahead because we had the cash sitting around, so there isn’t much lost opportunity cost. Over 30 years, getting that $600 one year early nets us about $300, not a lot to write home about.

      The two year thing comes from the fact that you can either take the standard deduction or you can itemize on your taxes each year. For most people, the itemized amount is only a little more than the standard deduction. If you prepay for next year in the current year, suddenly your itemized value becomes a lot higher. The next year when you don’t have any property taxes, you still get the standard deduction. The total deduction this way is higher. This does have the potential to save money, but the opportunity cost of prepaying often gets left out of the calculation. WSJ had a good explanation of this technique, but they basically said the opportunity cost was negligible, which I don’t think is fair. But it could definitely make sense for some!

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