Lessons Learned in 2013

Lessons Learned in 2013

As the sun sets on 2013 it’s time to look back on the year and reflect on the lessons learned.

This was our first full year as homeowners and we had a huge learning curve ahead of us.  The year brought some surprises as they usually do but nothing that we could not handle. Looking back I can see when some things started to become clear and were we had some lessons learned.




Lessons Learned in Personal Finance

Our first lesson learned was that we really needed to restructure our budget and track our spending.  We started 2013 trying to pay off some debt from our home renovations from 2012. We had transferred 18k to two 0% interest credit cards so that was under control but we were still incurring debt on another credit card due to some finishing touches we did on the house.  Our cash was running out faster than we could make it.

Another thing that affected our finances was the lack of overtime income. We were counting on that extra income to payoff the 18K but unfortunately overtime was cut extensively at work so our strategy had to change.  Lesson learned, you can’t always count on that overtime money.  I wrote about how we trimmed our budget to pay down debt.  Basically, we cut back on eating out, our bi-weekly allowance, clothing, concerts and vacations.  This resulted in $4k in savings.  Due to this and some emergency savings we had we were able to pay off $9k in credit card debt in 2013. The biggest lesson learned this year in our personal finance was to track our spending and make adjustments wherever possible.

Lessons Learned in Homeownership

Unfortunately, we had a few surprises in the home front that ate into our savings. First, our water heater died back in May and ended up costing us $800 to replace and install. Then, just a couple of weeks later our central air unit stopped working and we had to rush to purchase 2 window units costing us just under $600.  Six months later we had to deal with the manufacturer’s warranty on our water heater through GE because the unit had rusted.  It was not a pleasant experience but in the end we did get a new unit from them.

We made a few other purchases concerning our home such as a de-humidifier and outdoor flood lights but they were not as expensive. Actually, they ended up being excellent purchases so I’ll have to write a future post of those items. We also learned how to control our home heating and adjust our programmable thermostat to our needs. By the way, I recently received our gas and electric bill with a $77 monthly savings compared to the same time last year! We’re hoping the savings continue throughout the winter season.

We also learned that it takes a lot of work to maintain a well-kept home.  There are always projects to complete around the house for every season in addition to cleaning and organizing.  Many off these things can be easily brushed off but in the end it will cost you more so we do the best we can to avoid this.  Our biggest lesson learned in homeownership was to take pride in our home by preserving our investment.

Lessons to be Learned in 2014

In 2014 we’re looking forward to finding new ways to save and cut back on our expenses.  We have two areas in which we think we can do this.

1) Groceries – For the past six months our grocery bill has averaged $600/month.  We would like to bring this down to $450/month.

2) Cell Phones – Our current monthly cost for two smart phones is $193.  I know this is craaazyyy!  But, we have been under contract with Verizon for the past two years!  But now our contracts are up and after over ten years with Verizon it’s time took look for cheaper alternatives.

Overall, our biggest lesson learned in 2013 was that we could live just as well by spending less. 

Happy New Year Everyone!

What are some of your lessons learned in 2013?  Also, I would love some tips on reducing our grocery and cell phone bills. 







Lessons Learned in 2013 — 32 Comments

  1. As much as I hate doing this, meal planning really helps us save money. We only buy what we need to make those meals each week and we stick to our plan. I also look for meals that require less meat or meals that use beans because this is a very affordable protein.
    Liz recently posted…I splurged on Myself and Regretted ItMy Profile

    • Hi Liz, thanks for stopping by. I’ve been wanting to do meal planning and it is definitely on my list for 2014. I love beans so that’s not a problem. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Happy New Year to you too! I would suggest looking into Walmart Family Mobile serviced by T-Mobile (you have to go to Walmart to purchase it, though). There is at least a couple decent phones you can get with the plan and it’s month-to-month. It’s ‘unlimited’ though I purchased an extra gig of data (1 gig/month at 3g/4g is included then it throttles to 2g). We are saving about $75 a month between my wife and me and it’s really worked out well.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…Our Cat Just Got ExpensiveMy Profile

    • I was actually looking at the Walmart plans yesterday. I have to do more research on it to see what type of phones they offer. Thanks!

  3. We try to save on groceries by buying mostly what is on sale that week. Target, Aldi’s and Asian supermarkets also have good prices. We also use a credit card that gives us 5% cash back. As for cellphones, I have a family plan with 5 people (2 smartphones with data) and it comes to less than $193. We have AT&T but I don’t think that’s the reason. I’ve been reading a lot of bloggers talk about Republic Wireless so it might be something worth looking into. I might think about it in the future.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Shamed For My FrugalityMy Profile

    • Oh yes. I still have a little left on my emergency fund but i do plan to replenish what was taken out, hopefully with the savings from the cell phone and grocery bill. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I agree. I love to eat yummy food but for 2 people I think $600/month is a lot. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. We cut out most meat except when it is a “Treat.” That significantly cut down on our grocery bill. That, and we lived in Houston we would shop at a more “diverse” grocery store called Fiesta. Produce was about 1/3 the cost and just as fresh, if not fresher. We got our grocery bill down to about $250/month. Those days are long gone [….]
    Elroy recently posted…My Definition of RetirementMy Profile

    • I was just at my local “diverse” supermarket getting some of my ethnic ingredients. They do have great produce there, very fresh! I bought, green peppers, cilantro, culantro, garlic, onions, green plantains, and beans for $20 bucks! I made sofrito, which is the base we use in all puertorican dishes. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Holy cow, that is one heckuva cell phone bill! We’re on Ting and love it (save money by bringing a used phone over to the service). Only drawback is that it’s the Sprint network, but even that has improved lately.

    Happy New Year!
    Mr. 1500 recently posted…2013 is in the CanMy Profile

    • I know this cell phone bill is outrageous. I never heard of Ting. I know that is my concern with switching, not sure how good other cell provider services will be. I used to be on sprint many years ago and my sister is with them. I think I’ll check this out. Thanks for the tip.

    • That is great Fig. We did the same thing and we are so happy that we took a closer look at our finances by tracking our spending. Thanks for the tip.

    • Oh yes, I go to ethnic supermarkets to get produce I cannot find at other supermarkets. I do not go to butchers though. Thanks for the tip and for stopping by.

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