I’m a perfectionist. I like to fidget with things. Some times, this can be good, but other times, it can be detrimental. So I’ve declared that April is the month of no manual money moves. Why is this possible?
- My cable, cell phone, and electricity bills are all on auto-pay, as are my HOA dues and my property taxes. (I set my property taxes up to pay in the online bill pay once I get the bill.)
- My credit card bills are on auto pay.
- I have no pressing concern to open a new checking, savings, or credit card account.
- I’ve already made my 2012 Roth IRA contributions and I don’t know if I can make any for 2013 yet.
- I’ve already made my April mortgage payment and I will make my May one on May 1st instead of earlier this time. (I usually schedule it once I know the exact amount of my paycheck.)
- I’m expecting no bonuses or other windfalls in April.
- I only get paid once a month, on the last business day of the month.
- My 401(k) contributions and allocations are set up for the year.
Forcing myself to not fidget with things is good. This is sort of like my rule of no selling to re-balance my investments.
I’ve been eyeing another credit card lately. The American Express Blue Cash Preferred looks pretty intriguing. It has a $75 fee, but you get 6% cashback on groceries, up to $6,000/year. I will most likely spend about $2,500/year on groceries, which is the tipping point at which the Preferred card makes sense over the Everyday one that only gets you 3% cashback on groceries. With the Preferred, you also get 3% cashback at gas stations and department stores, versus 2% with the Everyday. The tipping point is that I can buy Amazon.com gift cards at my local grocery store and then use those for my Amazon.com purchases, netting me 6% cashback on Amazon.com purchases instead of the 3% that my current system gets me. The catch on that is that I’m spending a lot less on Amazon.com these days than I was. If you’re just looking at flat-out grocery spending, you need to spend $75 /(6% – 3%) > $2,500/year on groceries for it to make sense to pay the annual fee.
Both cards have sign-up bonuses, $150 for the Preferred card and $100 for the Everyday, if you spend $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months. That makes the cost of the Preferred card in the first year -$75 versus the cost of the Everyday card -$100 in the first year and then $0 thereafter. So you would net $25 more with the Everyday card upfront, but with $25 / (6% – 3%) > $833.33 in grocery spending over the course of that year, the Preferred card would make more sense and then you can always switch to the Everyday one after a year to avoid the fee if you don’t think it’ll make sense going forward. I’m pretty confident that I will spend more than $69/month at the grocery store, lol! I’m not so confident that I would spend more than $208/month consistently though.
Another cool feature is that both cards come with Roadside Assistance. My car offered that for the first 3 years, which will be up by the end of this year. I did resolve though that I would wait 6 months from early January to apply for another credit card and it’s only been three, so I guess that means I need to wait until early July.
BUT I am not making any manual money moves in April. I’m tracking my spending, as per usual. My (bimonthly) electricity bill went down $50 from the last one, which is a good improvement! I’m hopeful that the next one will go down another $50 since I hopefully won’t need to run the heaters for much longer.
The last six months have shown me that life is still changing constantly. In the last year, I have made many life decisions: bought a condo, moved into said condo, started a relationship, changed jobs, and ended said relationship. I’m so thankful that as I navigate my twenties, I now have a stable home environment in my condo and I do have a pretty stable job that lets me not worry about money. With > $2,000 in spare cash flow each month and enough in savings to live off of for 12 months, I don’t really worry about money any more, which is a really nice feeling as I figure other things out.
I’m also trying to stop relating everything back to money. This is especially important as I adjust back to a single person’s social life, in terms of spending habits. I think I should still be able to keep my social spending under control though since my ex and I had somewhat different priorities on how much to spend on various things.
Readers, are you doing any challenges with your money lately?