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Tax planning

October 5th, 2014 at 06:55 am

I decided to try to get us some more tax money back this year by putting my husband's IRA contribution in a traditional instead of a Roth. Which is great but when I forecasted our taxes this year, it became clear that the last contribution to his IRA will have to wait until after I know exactly how much we made. We are in the phase out of the deduction so part of his 2014 IRA will need to be Roth after all.

Its a good problem to have and we still make a significant amount of money back from taxes, just shocking that we tripped it. I thought we would have more room this year.

Our variability in income has always proved a challenge in tax planning.

Checking in with an update

August 28th, 2014 at 07:04 am

I transferred my husband's IRA to his 401(k) which has expense ratios that make Vanguard look expensive and transferred my IRA to Vanguard to lower my expense ratios as well. I will have maxed by 2014 IRA contribution by November and will have half my husband's contribution for 2014 in September, the rest of it will be in the beginning of next year or December depending on cashflow.

We have made progress with the food budget but there is still a lot of progress yet to be made. We have saved over $1800 YTD over last year's food budget but I still am struggling with being motivated. I suspect dropping this expense will also be a goal for next year.

End of May Update

June 1st, 2014 at 12:20 pm

April was on track but May was a big spend month for both food and miscellaneous expenses. June however is a new month and I will be aiming to get the food budget back on track (miscellaneous expenses hit a couple times per year and tend to take care of themselves, no shopping addicts in this house).

My brother is employed once more so I don't have to worry about that expense now.

Its looking like the auto loan will be paid in full at the end of August and then I can start on the 2014 Roth IRA contributions.

I still struggle with how much do I care about the food budget being low but even attempting to cut it has resulted in saving $914 this year so far. So I figure I will keep trying since its the easiest area to make a dent in and by far our most ridiculous expenditure. Sadly, all of that savings was ate up by my brother's period of unemployment. This, however, was my brother's final bail out for stupid decisions so further savings should go towards our actual goals.

End of March Update

April 3rd, 2014 at 07:00 pm

While we are averaging $900 per month on the food budget, it was up in March. April will see us focusing once more on keeping this down. I am okay with averaging $900 per month instead of meeting $900 every month but do not want us to start trending up.

Helped the brother out a little but gave more advice than money. His budget was a lot better than I was fearing which was nice.

We are still doing the daily breakfast shakes, have started adding more vegetables to them which is interesting. It helps to cut the sweetness of the fruit (why on earth people sweeten fruit smoothies is beyond me).

I appear to have essentially given up soda, which was more than I was hoping for when I cut back so I will take the victory.

Food budget update and dietary changes

March 8th, 2014 at 06:56 am

Only spent $736 out of the $900 goal amount in February so doing much better than expected. I am not going to change the goal amount, however, as some months we may have a hard time staying under $900.

We have undergone a major revision to our diet which should be interesting long term. We do breakfast smoothies (plain greek yogurt, a splash of milk, massive quantities of fruit and leafy greens) every weekday morning. I have never eaten this much fruit in my life. I have always been big on veggies but never much cared for eating fruit but even I have been consistent in my breakfast smoothie (helps that I keep changing each day what fruit is in the smoothie). I have been doing them for 2 weeks, hubby has been doing them for 3 weeks.

Another revision I have made is that I am drinking unsweetened tea and water during the workday. So coffee (with its creamer and sugar) is only allowed in the morning (usually half a cup) and is not drank all day either. I think I am going to try giving up buying mountain dew for at home as well as I just ran out earlier this week.

During the transition from eating out a lot to eating almost exclusively at home, I made a lot of sweets, kept mountain dew at home and was willing to make some pretty high fat meals to ease the transition. The key was breaking the eating out habit. But since we are now used to eating at home, I have noticed that the high fat meals are getting rarer, the craving for sweets is diminishing (thank you breakfast smoothie) and we are eating a huge variety of vegetable based dishes (I have never been a bread and pasta fan so veggies tend to dominate in my house).

I think we still have a lot of changes to implement but I think we have made a tremendous amount of progress nonetheless.

This and That

January 30th, 2014 at 10:10 am

My taxes have been filed (and accepted boy was that weird). Apparently I was part of a test batch sent early to the IRS, no early refund though, processing doesn't begin until the 31st. Don't much care either way, just glad I was able to check that chore off my list. First year I didn't have to do it in late February though because all the forms reached me early.

When I get the refunds, that will top off my 2013 HSA contributions and I will have finished that goal (my HSA contributions being after tax is the only reason we are getting a refund from the feds).

We are coming in under the $900 mark for our food budget for the month and we are coming in under the $1k mark for our vacation.

Since the markets have been down for a little bit, I took the opportunity to scrounge up another $1k in the budget for a 2013 Roth IRA contribution. Thanks to massive overtime and a lower food budget, we had the wiggle room. It wasn't one of our goals but I always make a point to add more when markets are down as a sort of game to increase my retirement savings. It would be nice to max my 2013 Roth contributions but I doubt I have that much wiggle room. Still, having accomplished the 2013 HSA, my 2013 Roth is the next up for savings prior to April 15th.

2014 401ks and family HSA (since we changed my insurance as of January) are already on autopilot for the max so after April maxing 2014 Roths for both DH and I and then upping our emergency fund will be our next priorities.

2013 Year End Review - Real Numbers

December 31st, 2013 at 06:18 pm

Category Amount
Home $17,886
Food $14,951
Credit Cards $11,879
Shopping $10,601
Car $8,275
Student Loan $7,991
Brother $4,800
Health Ins $4,183
Utilities $2,555
Pets $2,152
Personal Care $1,867
Travel $1,063
Spent Total $88,203
Savings $35,698
Taxes paid $33,842

Retirement Savings 23.36%
Total Savings 41.29%

Amount spent in 2013 on obligations that don't continue = $25,556. This includes the brother category (money given over the year for transitioning to his own), credit cards, student loan and about $900 of health insurance expense because my new premiums are much lower.

1st category to explain is shopping. Way more vague than many people may like but includes most non-food household items and $6000 in big ticket, one-time purchases. As I am not particularly concerned about this category at this time, I feel no need to break it down further.

Personal care can be translated as massage and hair cuts. Travel is low because it only includes air fare, hotels and airport parking and we did mostly day trips this year.

Now the category I have been avoiding, Food. See that awful number up there? That is why my big project for 2014 is going to be averaging under $900 per month by year end. For the curious, I started this goal in December and came in at $805 for the month. Hold the applause though, my goal is to get that consistent and one month does not a pattern make. I managed low numbers at the beginning of last year as well and we had already sprung back up to $1400 per month by the time I decided to cut it again.

I use gross income not net for calculating the savings rates since we have pre-tax and post-tax savings. Total savings includes debt payoffs and disappearing obligations as this money is freed up for savings goals.

Contemplating 2014 Priorities

October 27th, 2013 at 10:46 am

So I expect October to end at 82.39% increase in networth YTD (~187k networth). November and December of this year are as planned as they can be given the huge variable of income so I decided to turn to next year's priorities.

The for sure priorities include maxing DH's HSA and 401(k) and my 401(k). I would also like to max both Roths and my HSA. Looking at the yearly total on that amount however, is very intimidating. Especially since I would like to build up our cash reserves as well. That said, despite the scary yearly total, its really not much more than we were able to accomplish this year when you add in the debt payoff we did.

Temptation - Do I or Don't I?

July 16th, 2013 at 06:01 am

Despite the variability in our income, I am pretty good at projecting it out. I have reached the point where I know by December we will have enough to pay the car loan in full. If I do, one of the Roths will need to be funded in the beginning of 2014 instead of December 2013.

The benefit is that a payment of $409 would immediately disappear. Its the last of my non-mortgage debt (come December). The con is that it delays building the EF and delays putting money in the Roth.

Really it doesn't matter tremendously either way. It is more a psychological victory than anything. It would certainly fit with the theme of 2013 as debt payoff year.

On the other hand, I am wondering what I have against saving up cash. This would not be the first time I delayed building a more robust EF (we have a small one built in to the budget already) in order to payoff low interest debt. Maybe I just really hate monthly payments, hmmm... I seem to have no problem saving to retirement accounts so its not that I can't save money.

I do think a part of it is that I like a simple budget and I like seeing big changes quickly. A car loan disappearing and then being able to save up more money quickly just works for me.

I figure I will probably debate it for a little bit and see how I feel come December.

Halfway through the year

July 10th, 2013 at 06:40 am

Since the end of June gives me a nice clean set of data for 6 months, it makes it easy to track where we are headed for the year.

Yearly spending with debt payments is $68k, $20k worth has been dedicated to debt or other payments that won't outlive this December. Another $18k in spending services debt that will be around at least one more year (read mortgage and car loan). There is something disturbing about spending more on debt payoff than actual spending but we have been making large payoffs of our debt so not too surprising.

We have only 2 more months before the credit card is wiped out so August is the final payment. We already have less credit card debt than at any other point since college.

Our networth increased 52.47% YTD as of end of June so we are still on track with that as well.

I revised our expected income up this year. Even though this is our first year breaking the 6 figure mark, we will surpass that by a decent amount. In fact, barring layoffs or job changes, DH will probably break that barrier all on his own.

Added a spending goal

April 19th, 2013 at 07:38 am

Because I don't have enough goals to work on, I am planning on buying DH and I road bikes this year. It's my fault because I mentioned wanting to get road bikes again and DH went and researched the ideal ones for long distance travel (we think of 30 miles as a quick bike ride). Long term its a fairly cheap hobby and we got our use out of our bikes we bought last time (sold them awhile back because they were too small long term and we knew we needed larger frames). Fortunately with all the overtime DH has been working and the raise he got, it won't actually slow our debt payoff.

If you include debt payoff, we are saving 45% of our gross income this year (25% gross to retirement savings). While I would have preferred to wait another year, I think we are doing well even with this big purchase.

End of March Surprise

March 29th, 2013 at 05:27 am

As we get DH's pay stubs the Wednesday before payday, we thought we had the final tallies for March. It appears though that the quarterly match from his employer hits in March, not April. Not only that, they matched his new salary for the entire quarter instead of the old salary. Nice little surprise.

So retirement is revised to 60962 for this month which increases our YTD networth increase to 33.05%.

That's what I get for jumping the gun, lol.

End of March and beginning CC payoff

March 27th, 2013 at 06:57 am

We have increased our networth YTD by 31.6% which means we just beat 2011's entire networth increase.

Assets Debts
Checking 3097 Mortgage 113362
Taxable 0 Student Loan 7189
Savings 300 Credit Cards 11279
Retirement 59470 Car Loan 10013
Home 200000
Car 11000
HSA 2786

(Ain't that savings amount the most pitiful amount you have ever seen? Mind you the checking holds a part of savings as a cashflow cushion but still...)

The next 3 months will be all about the credit card payoffs. I just scheduled the first payment for April 22 for $2100. May will see the payoff of the 1st card and probably a payment to the second card and June will finish the second and final card payoff. July we will allow the coffers to refill and then August and September will finish the student loan.

That just leaves October through December to stash money in our Roths which is doable. Any excess cash will go into our EF which needs to eventually get to 24k.

For the curious, even during the payoffs, we are keeping about a 2k "cushion" so our EF is technically larger than my savings but its definitely not large.

Just when I was starting to understand our income

March 20th, 2013 at 06:39 am

DH goes and gets himself a 9% raise, lol. The big issue with that is not the salary change but the calculation change for bonus and overtime. Base alone, that is another $5k per year. Though to be fair, they are changing the bonus structure here shortly in a way that will benefit us so I was never going to get an idea on those. However, this does mean that funding the EF might just be possible this year.

I currently think this will be around an extra $250 per paycheck (ignoring bonuses). It does not actually change anything before June though. The big difference is that the student loan payoff will move to August. At that point, I will probably have to ask myself if I would like to max my 401k for the year (because I don't have enough savings goals for this year) as it will be doable at that point.

End of February Update

March 1st, 2013 at 08:56 am

Finally gave in and upped the value of the house. Its still $50k lower than Zillow's estimate but I think that is as accurate as I care to get. My previous value was starting to look ridiculous given the home sales in the area. Glad I don't have to buy a house in this area for those prices though.

Total networth is $127k now. Excluding the house value increase, we upped our networth by 11.49% year to date. Hardly surprising considering the massive increases to our retirement accounts. Should be quiet for awhile as we rebuild our savings for paying off the first credit card.

I do not expect as much progress in March. We have a vacation, a new (well, restarting an old) hobby and spring fever to contend with in that month so I suspect our biggest accomplishment will be minimizing the increase in spending.

Two new projects

January 29th, 2013 at 06:20 am

Project number one is that DH asked me how much we had made through the years. Was surprised to discover we could go back to 2003 with only having to recreate 2 years of income. Mind you, this is only adjusted gross that we were able to track but its only recently that there has been a significant difference between gross and adjusted. It was interesting to see that tracked next to the net worth increases. As I remembered, 2008 was a high point before a significant dip in income which lasted the next three years. Nothing too shocking, just a reconfirmation that its how much we spend more than earn that dictates our net worth increases.

Project number two was importing all our information into mint. I wasn't very impressed with it at first because some of the imports took work to get mint to find the right website and their budgeting and goal making is on a monthly basis whereas some of our bills are more periodic as are our goals. But it did have two areas that won me over. Actual income over time data (useful when the swings in your income are huge) and having all the investments in one spot. I will still keep my old fashioned excel spreadsheet but the mint website has some fun tools that I think will compliment what I am already doing.

On an amusing note, my DH is becoming highly invested in my long term goals for the household. I had decided I wanted to make sure he understood my goals and plans so that he could have input and own the process despite not being the one who takes care of the financial picture (he always been on board with saving, but he tends to vague whereas I work on specifics). With him working with other peoples financial data all day, he has no real interest in messing with ours.

So I did a number of projections using data we had already generated in order to show him what was doable. Obviously, lots can and will happen between now and retirement but a lot of this is occurring despite any setbacks. Main thing will be reminding him its okay to live in the meantime as well. He loves going full bore on challenges so sometimes moderation is difficult for him. I figure this year probably will be full bore simply because so many debts are close to their ending point and the more we stash now, the less we have to stash later.

Upping the 401(k)

January 24th, 2013 at 06:55 am

I just raised my contribution rate from 10% to 20%. Its the only way to double the amount in our retirement accounts because we did so well stashing money in them in December. What a problem to have...

It doesn't interfere with any of our other goals so everything is still on track or even ahead of schedule.

The January statement for my paid in full card closed and we did extremely well. We had cut our spending in January by over $2k and plan to keep it low in February as well. We did have to buy DH some clothes since he waits until everything has holes before telling me he needs some but even that was pretty cheap so we still didn't go much above $700 (original goal was under $1k, secondary goal was $600).

December is going to be huge for us. Because of all the payoffs this year, our monthly expenses will have dropped by $800. Which is good, because while I think we will start funding our EF this year, I have a hard time imagining it completed by the end of December, just because we are tackling a lot this year. So reduced expenses means less to save and more income available for saving. That said, I still see everything as targets in motion, probably because the idea of no salary interruption in a year seems foreign. We shall see.

Progress report on our austerity month

January 16th, 2013 at 06:45 am

We are more than half way through our "austerity" month and have already decided to do it for February as well. We have cut back on spending so much that I bet my paid in full card thinks I replaced them with somebody else.

My original goal was under $1000 on the card but we are now shooting for under $600 since the $1000 is guaranteed. We also expanded the original austerity to include cutting the cash allowance in half for the last 2 weeks of the month.

Part of the reason we are doing this is because work got crazy for awhile and made me realize I really wanted to have a large cash savings now and also partly because we have a couple of goals in sight that we want to complete at the earliest possible second.

Part of the reason we have been so uber successful at it is that we appear to have broken our out to eat habit. Our first thought for supper now is to go home and make something, not list all the restaurants we could grab food at. We still eat out and actually the meals tend to be more expensive since we have been only eating out at relatively healthy options but the frequency has dropped significantly.

I figure come March, the spending will go back up because of nice weather and garden prep but 2 months of practicing austerity should help us develop a habit of keeping the spending low.

Networth increases as a percentage

January 4th, 2013 at 06:21 am

I had been seeing people post their networth percentage increase for 2012 and decided since I have the numbers to go back and see the change for the past 5 years. Below is the list.

2008 48.15%
2009 75%
2010 1471.43%
2011 30.32%
2012 63.78%

Honestly, I was a little shocked at the outcome. 2008-2009 was paying off debt, 2010 included an updated appraisal after lots of fixing up of the house (we refinanced an FHA loan 15 year to a conventional 15 year and dropped mortgage insurance and the interest rate as a result)but the real shockers for me were 2011 & 2012.

2011 is the year that I felt I was treading water, we made no progress except on things that were on autopilot due to limited income. My main challenge that year was keeping our heads above water. A 30% increase is pretty dramatic for a period where I just tried to keep us from falling further in the hole.

As a result 2012 was more spendy than normal. We had deferred some expenses and deferred our play money in 2011 so we cleaned that up in 2012. Nonetheless, we still increased our networth by about my income this year.

Out of curiousity I projected out 2013 and the minimum percentage increase is about 68%, well more than my expected salary and a lot closer to all of what my husband expects to make. That one was heart stopping for both of us. While we have always had a rule about being able to live on one person's income (preferably the smaller salary), this sort of drove home the fact that we do manage to do that.

Update on the Eating Out Less Goal and a January Goal

December 28th, 2012 at 06:55 am

We have been fairly successful in cutting back on the eating out. I have actually told my husband to skip my lunch money allowance a couple of times and am about to tell him just to put it on hiatus until I get low on money. We also eat at home most week nights so the weekends are our biggest eating out times.

On a related note, January is the month that I like to see how low our spending can go. We are usually burned out on people and its tends to be fairly cold and nasty so its a good month to challenge our spending to get below $1000 on our paid in full credit card. Time to be homebodies and hibernate for a little while.

Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and Happy New Year!

Met my networth goal

November 30th, 2012 at 06:30 am

We have broken 100k networth. Its amazing what a difference a year can make. When we first started this year, neither of us were making our current salaries and, while we were making progress, it didn't feel like it. Since I won't be meeting my credit card goal of less than 10k because I have decided to save up and pay off the balance in full on each card instead, that completes all of my 2012 goals.

I didn't have many because we had been holding steady for about 2 years due to previous layoffs. However, because of all the planning we have done, 2013 is when some of our bigger long term goals should be accomplished.

2013 Goals
All credit card debt paid off
Student loan paid off (you have no idea how excited I am about this one)
Max DH 401(k)
Max 2 Roth IRAs (1 each)
Double the amount of money in our retirement accounts
Fund 6 month EF

I contribute to my 401(k) but I don't get matching and maxing it out will have to wait until 2014 so that I can accmplish some of my other goals (though I will be upping my contribution next year at some point). This will leave us with the car loan at 1.7% apr and the mortgage with 4.375% apr. I also need a new roof and furnace in the next two years or so but that is more than I can accomplish in one year's time and I still haven't decided which one of those I will do in 2013.

All of the 2013 goals are doable as long as we have no more layoffs (something neither of us are counting on even though we are both doing well at the moment). This will probably be the last year where we can double our retirement accounts through contributions and I suspect our 2014 goal will be 100k in retirement accounts if things go according to plan or even mostly (ha!).

Upped the first 401(k)

November 28th, 2012 at 07:04 am

After considering where we were headed tax wise this year, I decided to have DH up his 401(k) contribution to 30%. I suspect that with bonuses and overtime that will max out his 401(k) contributions next year (we might even have to dial it back next year to avoid being too high). He's ecstatic since he loves to watch that number go up.

I have decided that since the credit cards are at 0% apr, I will save the cash to pay them off and just pay them off completely all at once. It will make it easier to plan with his income jumping around. We are already over a third of the way there for one of the cards and depending on overtime and bonuses, could have the rest in two months or less.

DH's June bonus will wipe out any remaining credit card debt (even if we pay nothing more) so that is why the priorities are shifting to saving cash and saving for retirement. When I worked a temp job, we always had 3 months expenses in cash and I would like to get to the point where we have 6 months which we have never had before. Once I have seen a month of his income with the higher 401(k) amount, I should be able to develop a goal time for that.

Constantly moving targets

November 14th, 2012 at 06:50 am

"Plans are useless but planning is indispensable" Dwight D. Eisenhower got it right when he said that. Somedays I try to imagine what it must be like to be able to use Plan A instead of Plan Q.

My houseguest moved out in November instead of January which is extremely nice but altered the financial plans since we were helping with the moving expenses and the initial one time expenses. Good thing we were running in austerity mode because it means we are still on track, just not as ahead of the game as we thought we would be.

We have been told of 2 very large bonuses for DH coming up next year so we now know that we will need to plan for those sums of money. I have been brainstorming but figure I won't know whether to put them to savings or debt payoff until we reach that point.

We are still on track to reach 100k networth by the end of the year and credit card debt under 10k as well. Until December comes though, I doubt I will have more exact numbers.

DH is back to unlimited overtime so what he brings home will be used to get the cards down even more than the original goal.

The Thanksgiving extra expense was able to be absorbed completely in the normal cash allowance for food despite being a little less well behaved with the eating out thanks to moving so we were happy about that.

Given how well DH is doing in the new position, I have already told him that the next raise due to job position (he is already testing for the next level up) means he needs to start maxing out his 401(k). Once the credit cards are gone, both of us will be doing that anyways. I still think we can pay them off by March but thanks to the upcoming bonus, we can guarantee payoff by June. If we both get Christmas bonuses, then the March payoff date will become feasible.

I fully expect with the ways things have been going to have a new and different plan by next week, lol.

Continuing Progress and Significant Slowdown in Spending

November 2nd, 2012 at 06:49 am

I ate out 5 times in the past week and our paid in full card is definitely showing a significant slowdown in the spending. We are basically taking a spending hiatus and seeing how little we can spend this month.

Our major expenditures this month will be my little brother's birthday dinner and Thanksgiving dinner. I am actually hoping that, with the drop in out to eat spending, our cash allowance will completely or mostly cover the increased grocery bill for Thanksgiving (the stocking runs have already begun).

The card spending slowdow has been dramatic. We only have $45 on the card that isn't part of the automatic spending (gas and bills are automatics) when our goal is under $200 per week. I think so far we are meeting that goal, lol. From September to October, we dropped $800 in spending. I am almost afraid to see how extreme a drop we will have for November. I suspect it will be over $1000 if we continue at this pace.

I think knowing that the credit cards payoff is so close after so many years is putting us in austerity mode. We are just ready to see them disappear completely. Despite the momentary hiatus on overtime, we are still on schedule to get the credit cards below 10K by the end of this year. Right now we are looking at a potential March payoff date for both cards.

Remaining Debts

October 16th, 2012 at 06:57 am

The Debts (as of early November)

Amount Item Interest Expected Payoff

$11554 credit cards (0%)(variable but 2013)
$11499 car loan (1.1%) (March 2015)
$7994 student loan (5.15%)(April 2015)
$115745 mortgage (April 2025)

I thought about posting a budget but its not really necessary. We earn more than we spend and that is true by quite a bit. We were spending fools this summer because of the long overdue items we had been holding off on and we still made progress (and that was prior to my husband's job upgrade). Our choosing to cut back on eating out just allows us to put even more towards the credit card payoffs.

We also have the additional promise of bonuses for my husband in the future. We figure these will go straight to debt or savings depending on which is the priority at the time.

While the credit cards are our lowest interest rate, we want them gone for convenience sake so this last balance transfer round is our final one (which is why everything is based on November, we just played the transfer game this month). Our main goal is to see how quickly we can pay these off. Currently shooting for July but may move that up if our extra income is much larger than expected (no, we still don't know the full amount of his pay increase by virtue of the bonuses and his overtime).

The car loan and the student loan vanish at a similar point in 2015 which is why we are thinking of letting those two run their course and build savings in the meantime (not to mention both are designed to make it difficult to make extra payments).

I think I would be happier having a full emergency fund which is something I haven't been able to justify while the credit cards are around. That said, I suspect that when my cash equals the remaining balance on either of those two items, I will just make one final payment and be done with it.

Also, after the credit cards are gone, I will have both of us ratchet up to 15% in the 401(k). I have a roth I contribute to as well though the amount is only 2.6% of my income.

So current goals

1. Payoff credit cards
2. Up 401(k) contributions to 15%

Its steps 3 and 4 I am not sure about. Should I up my roth, build my savings, payoff the student loan (car loan is kind of pointless other than to say its gone) or some combination of the above. I have plenty of time to decide so its not like I have to make up my mind immediately but I am not used to being so wishy washy on my goals. I think part of the problem is that I really won't know the full extent of our extra income until spring so I won't know how many goals I can work on simultaneously until then.

For now though, those two goals should be good. If I blow through the first one faster than expected, then I will probably have enough extra income to work on multiple goals which would change them anyway. :P

What would you do as your next steps?

Need to set new goals

October 15th, 2012 at 07:03 am

I have been lurking for awhile but not posting since I haven't had much to say lately. For awhile I wasn't making huge amounts of progress due to the change of jobs and drastic cut in incomes but since then both my husband and I have recovered financially to a point where we are both better paid than we were before the whole layoff fiascos.

We are about to break the 6 figure networth mark (probably in January) and I am currently debating setting more specific goals for myself.

At the moment, our newest goal is to minimize eating out. We still have some credit card debt (11k) left from the bad old days when we were spenders and had significant drops in income so eating in will allow us to speed up paying this off. Basically, the less we spend, the more extra 1k payments we can put toward the debt. It will definitely take less than a year to pay them off but I am shooting for early summer payoff if I can.

I was thinking that once the credit cards are eliminated, I can focus more on building emergency reserves. We have a small one growing in the background right now but know that I will need a roof and furnace in the future plus I want 6 months expenses in the bank at some point.

Then there is also the retirement savings. We contribute over 10% at the moment but will up this after the credit cards are gone. Maybe up that to 15% and the rest of the extra can be to the emergency reserves.

Still thinking. Later when I have more time, I will post the debts and budget so people can see where we are at and weigh in.

Took some time off but I am back

February 18th, 2011 at 07:40 am

Everything was a little hectic while I was "unemployed" mainly because I did keep working just not full time. Which meant a lot of last minute calls to come to some job site, lol. I am a full time temp about to be made permanent now at my current job site so things are finally going back to a normal routine.

I was a little surprised to see that we still gained networth during my unemployment phase because my number one goal during that whole period was to keep large amounts of cash on hand in case things went south.

I will post more later on when I have more time but its nice to see some of the old posters are still around. Smile

Hired

March 18th, 2010 at 07:26 am

So no layoff, DH will be starting the new job in two weeks. Definitely takes some stress off the budget. April I will be doing an extra 2k payment to the big credit card in addition to my usual payoff amounts. With the new job, our original timeline for paying off the credit card debt in October still stands.

After that we start attacking my student loan.

Hmm how do you forget that? and new numbers

January 28th, 2010 at 06:17 am

I have had an HSA for a number of years but it seems I never connected that to my networth. While you can't spend an HSA on just anything, its the pot of money I use for all my medical expenses and its a decent sized pot. So from now on I will be adding that in as well since it is money I have access to and use on a fairly regular basis.

I went back and edited through November showing the account so the jump didn't occur at the same time as when I upped the house value.

New Numbers

Okay, I finally have enough pretax items to base things off of gross income. So here is the new budget.

Gross Income 6208
401(k) 475
HSA 83 (167 per month employer)
Taxes 1412
Utilities 103
Entertainment 115 (tv/internet/netflix)
Gas 150
Irr. Bills 100 (phone/car ins.,etc)
PITI 1140
IRA 200
Student Loan 194
Credit card 1000
Allowance 800 (tends to get adjusted)

You will notice this leaves a leftover amount which I alternate between building my savings, paying off credit cards or covering a new lovely car expense or other bill for things breaking.

Once the credit card(s) is gone the excess will go straight into Roths, then into savings for projects.

This puts Needs at 53%, Savings at 32% and Wants at 15% so pretty close to my ideal budget.

The New Plan

January 13th, 2010 at 06:50 am

As much as I wanted to pay off the one card by March, we need more breathing room. We can not be operating without a savings cushion while DH is employed by a temp agency (not that working full time for another company would be any better in his field, but I digress).

The new plan will require 36% (so less than before) of our income to go towards the debt repayment but leaves us both with a cushion and some money to spend (4.4% of the budget and includes all groceries). Our payoff will be in October (*sigh*) but the chances of needing to resort to the credit cards because something else happens (we just had 4k worth of something happen) goes down tremendously.

Strangely, the evaporated balance transfer offers have come back so I won't have to pay a high interest rate for the privilege of time (this is a mixed blessing since I know I would never pay over 10% apr for any type of loan but 1.99 and lower doesn't encourage speedy payoff).

Part of the additional setback is the access to the 401(k). We are putting 15% into it pretax and that is a big chunk out of the budget. On the other hand, the habit of saving has already begun to pay dividends for us. Our retirement accounts have been steadily climbing and our net worth with it. I wish we had begun these accounts back when we first moved out here. The delay in waiting for our debt to be paid off was a poor choice since it takes awhile to reform bad habits. And thanks to that 401(k), tax time will avoid being a big hit to the wallet.

Overall, I am more than a little disappointed by this delay but I am trying to be realistic with my budget.




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