Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Joy of Paying Bills

I never thought I would be happy to pay bills but these days I am pretty happy because, #1, there is so few of them, and #2, they aren't expensive bills. Thinking back to when our bills totalled somewhere around $8000-$10,000 per month, I am positively giddy when I look at our short bill list! Here's what we pay now: Annually: private mail box (around $150), grandson's school ($480), car registration ($40) Semi annually: car insurance ($200 every six months) Monthly: cell phone ($85 per month), tithe ($50), have mail sent from PMB ($10), storage unit ($55 per month), health insurance ($35 per month) Notes:

  • A private mail box is way more expensive than a postal box but well worth the money when you travel because they will hold your mail for an unlimited amount of time and also send you all of your collected mail to where ever you happen to be (for a small fee; we usually have mail sent once a month for about $10).

  • We have committed to sending our grandson to school in the Philippines so this expense will be around for another decade or so. Currently he attends a public school but we told him that if he does well we will send him to a private school for high school and college so this cost will most likely increase. Since they don't have such things as Social Security or welfare in the Philippines, we feel his education will be the only thing that will help support his family in the future so it is well worth the cost.

  • Even though our car has been parked since early February, we still pay liability-only car insurance so we will be insured when we drive other people's cars. We also get to pay the annual registration to keep it street legal so the guy who is watching it can drive it around occassionally to keep it running.

  • Our cell contract will expire in December at which time we will go to no-contract cell phones since we don't use them much any more.

  • I used to tithe 10% of my income but since I am not working and don't have much income, I still feel it is necessary to tithe monthly so I have settled on $50 a month until I earn more.

  • Our storage unit is holding about $15,000 worth of stuff so the small monthly fee we pay for this service is well worth it. When we decide where/when to resettle this fee will go away.

  • We have an amazing health insurance plan for such a little bit of money; hubby has this automatically deducted from his retirement pay each month.

  • I really like paying bills on an annual basis so you can pay once then forget about it until the next year however some bills won't allow this (cell phone, car insurance). Since we are unsure of how long we will store our stuff, we have opted to pay for the storage unit monthly although we will pay some months in advance if we are out of the country.

  • Online bill paying and online banking are awesome! This makes it so very easy to keep track of your money and move it around to pay bills. Unfortunately my bank doesn't have a way to scan checks in order to deposit them so when we get checks in the mail (a nice after affect from the sale of our house--we still have small checks coming in for various things) I have to mail them to our branch in Washington, however it only takes a few days for them to post.

  • Money that comes in monthly (hubby's pension and Social Security, my small earnings from online stuff) is put in savings or used to pay for our daily needs (food mostly, make up and toiletries, and other small random things we need). Fortunately we don't have room to cart stuff with us around the country so we don't shop for many material items.

  • So far we have been able to trade services for room and board and the use of a car so that in itself has cut what would be regular monthly expenses to nearly nil for the time being.

  • I came across this blog post from Married With Luggage which outlines how much another set of travelers spend each month. Interesting!

  • We have talked about the possibility of buying another house and settling down again but neither one of us feels compelled to do so yet. We plan to keep traveling for another year or so, but, as we have learned with this lifestyle, you never know what will happen. Our plans have already changed significantly about six times in the last two months so we really don't know where we will end up next or what new adventures await us.

  • As Betsy said in the blog post above, when you get into the traveling (free!) lifestyle, you don't have many constraints and can be open to many more possibilities. We may look for house sitting opportunities, we may look into volunteer opportunities that provide room and board, we might camp for a month (a distinct possibility when I bike from Canada to Mexico later this summer)...you just never know. What I do know at this point is that I never want to be saddled with many thousands of dollars of monthly bills ever again!


  1. Wow, that's pretty inspirational that you have such few bills and can come and go as you please. I love that idea! Way to go :)

  2. I'm a big fan of online banking and I love it when I can pay a bill annually, especially if they offer a discount for doing so!