Is it just me, or did the first month of 2012 seem to buzz past quickly? This winter has been unusually mild in Ohio, so maybe that’s why it seems to be moving so fast for me.
I haven’t reported on our emergency fund progress in awhile, so for those of you that have been eagerly awaiting an update — here it is!
In December I wrote about how we decided to skip a scheduled monthly contribution to our emergency fund savings and instead use the money to pay for a trip to Captiva Island, FL this spring. Even though we planned this for months in advance, I still have twinges of guilt over not funneling that money into our emergency savings.
At any rate, we just contributed our usual $2,000 to the account, plus an additional $365 we came into because Kirk’s company changed their billing system and did a one time catch-up, creating a larger than usual paycheck during the first pay cycle of January.
For those of you that enjoy the visual representation, here is a graph with our current emergency fund progress:
For those of you that don’t remember, our goal is to reach $20,000 in emergency fund savings, which is equal to roughly six months of our family’s living expenses. We have another $4,408 to save before we’ll have met our goal.
Note: Your family’s living expenses will be more or less than ours depending on how many monthly obligations you currently have. For help determining how much you’ll need to save to cover three to six months of living expenses, join thousands of others that have downloaded and use my free budgeting template.
An Unexpected $900
In January we also received a check for nearly $900 from the electric company (yes, you read that right) because of our drop in kilowatt usage for 2011. We used nearly HALF the number of kilowatts in 2011 than we used in 2010. Half!
This was quite a shock, as all we really changed were the following simple things:
- Insulated the exterior electrical outlets.
- Caulked doors and windows.
- Unplugged unused electronics.
- Replaced incandescent light bulbs with CFLs.
- Adjusted our thermostat by a few degrees.
We made the above changes near the end of February last year. I can honestly say that we never noticed a difference in our quality of living, but as you can see below, we definitely noticed a difference in the cost of our electricity!
Since we choose to participate in the budget plan our electric company offers, our monthly budget payment is calculated based on the previous year’s electricity usage. Because we used so much less electricity last year, we overpaid by $900 — as you can see above.
Not only did the small changes we made lower our monthly budget payment in 2012 by $74, but it also provided us with a nearly $900 refund. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on our monthly electricity usage this year to make sure we don’t end up owning money next January (our budget anniversary month).
Rather than put this unexpected windfall in our emergency fund, we used it to join our local Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) with Wayward Seed Farms. I had been looking into the program for about six months. We get to support local agriculture and for 25 weeks this year, we’ll receive monthly shares of fresh, organic, locally grown fruits and veggies.
The annual share costs $900, or approximately $36 per week. It’s a pretty large sum up front, but we’ll likely end up spending about the same on groceries once it’s all said and done. And like I said above, I’m thrilled to support a local organic farm and feed my family the fresh organic produce we’ll receive for half of 2012. Yum!
What savings goals have you been working on this year? How are they coming along? Is there anything I can help you with?
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