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Cash Poor at the Moment, 2014 Goals Posted

December 10th, 2013 at 06:45 am

Between paying off the student loan and paying for the large irregular expenses that come with this particular December, I have an upcoming week (a Mon-Thurs period) where we will have less than $500 cash on hand. Youch. Fortunately after that we will return to normal levels almost immediately afterwards but, until then, I will be watching the cashflow like a hawk.

I am actually starting one of my 2014 Goals early because I have completed my 2013 Goals and because starting this one now will help me afford one of my other 2014 Goals. I am going to start cutting our food budget. We currently spend about $1400. I would like that down to $900 monthly on a regular basis by next December. This is really my only low hanging fruit left. While I can definitely do one month of reduced food spending, its the "on a regular basis" part that will be challenging.

It's my Christmas morning, just setup the student loan payoff!

November 20th, 2013 at 06:27 am

Its my happy day. I was able to schedule the payoff payment to my student loan to clear on Monday because we were able to peek at the paystub for this Friday's paycheck and its sufficient to allow the payoff. (I only get excited when I am setting up payments, not when they clear. That is because once I have scheduled a payment, I have moved on. Same as when I paid off the last of the credit cards as well.)

My student loan was never huge so you wouldn't think I would be this excited but I am. I have been paying on this loan for 8 years so I am thrilled to have it gone.

When I paid off the credit cards (0% aprs), it was sort of a let down because it just wasn't that big a deal by the time we made the last payment but the sense of victory I feel paying off my student loan is everything I could hope for. Probably because this goal was more in doubt as to whether we could finish it this year with everything else we had going on.

Hurray!

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.

Slow 401(k) deposit.

July 28th, 2013 at 11:18 am

It took almost 2 weeks for them to deposit my 401k money from my last paycheck. As in it showed up the day before my next paycheck. They have always taken their sweet time with depositing but that it ridiculous. They must mail the deposit or something because otherwise, how would you even get a delay? There is no rhyme or reason to when it gets put in either. I have had same day and multiple days later deposits.

I wonder how long it will take them with the paycheck I just got...

Course, the only reason I know all this is thanks to Mint. Ah the joys of seeing everything on the daily basis, you learn all the little things you never knew before but are now so obnoxious.

Going to start chipping away at student loan

July 18th, 2013 at 07:02 am

The last credit card payment is scheduled for August so I have begun sending extra payments to the student loan this month. $500 extra per month just makes the 2 large payments later a little less massive.

Thanks to the purchase of the road bikes, our summer spending has been very low, close to winter levels. We are too busy biking to spend money. Another month like this and the bikes will have paid for themselves in reduced spending.

Did the math and the car loan is not going to get paid off this year, it will have to wait till the end of next year as originally planned. It sets back too many of my other goals for 2014. You would think that freeing up the monthly payment would be beneficial but it just doesn't pay back quickly enough to justify it. Too many things need to be funded in spring 2014. Ah well, I knew it didn't make financial sense but it would have been nice.

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.

Reviewed a friend's budget

July 15th, 2013 at 05:37 am

She wasn't in as bad a shape as I was expecting, only needed to drop her necessities percentage by 14% and move that money to savings. She is no longer spending more than she makes though its still pretty close.

The jaw drop of the night was when I asked her what she was saving for in her extra savings account. I kid you not the answer was "Because you told me to". I explained what an EF was and that we were going to give her a goal of 3 months worth of expenses. We are also starting her on a baby step of turning on monthly contributions to her retirement accounts (the only reason she has one is again, I told her so but I already knew that one).

Since Mint actually tracks both of these goals, it will keep her aware that she needs to keep those items in mind. I think in a couple more years she will be in a pretty good place. Maybe one of these days I will even convince her to pay off her car loan before buying the next car. For now, I consider it a victory that her budget is net positive.

Another nice surprise

April 5th, 2013 at 06:12 am

I have only recently gotten access to my DH's 401(k) thanks to mint accessing everything for us. So imagine my surprise when I see another deposit to his 401(k) when we already got the matching. Turns out he gets a profit sharing contribution every April as well. I remember him mentioning something like this last year but didn't realize it was an every April type thing till I checked the account history.

And this is why I have one of my goals on mint as the retirement goal. Not because I don't know what I am shooting for, but because I need something tracking how much the retirement accounts are growing every month. My guess had been less than half of what we have been averaging...

You would think I would have had a better idea because I know what percentage I am putting into the 2 401(k)s and I know the actual dollar amount that is going into the Roths but...by the time you have 4 different accounts going and you are using different methods of contributing, it just seems that its hard to tell the actual dollar amounts, especially with market returns. Which is further complicated with his matching and profit sharing.

Not that I am complaining. Its a good problem to have. But this is definitely the first year I have gotten a good look at how our retirement accounts are growing as a whole.

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.

My 401k - Me vs. the Professionals

February 13th, 2013 at 06:58 pm

So my 401k likes to try to upsell me to the managed investments program versus my current do it myself. They ship me glossy, pretty brochures showing me what my current strategy produces in retirement income versus what their plan would provide me. They really should get a live person on the review board.

The last time they sent me a comparison, I was only contributing 10%. As a result, my plan only beat their plan by about $3k in retirement income per year (after all, I don't have to subtract their fees from my do it myself plan). This time, I am contributing 20%. They expect my current plan to make almost twice theirs in retirement income (my husband wants to frame that page).

You see, the managed program will never pull more than 10% of a person's income. Hard for them to compete with my larger contribution. So while they have a couple of questions at the bottom of the graph to ask those few whose current plan beats their plan if they are risking more short term loss (probably, but at my age, I should be) and whether I am willing to change my allocation on my own as I near retirement (why yes, I am), all they are really illustrating is that I am doing fine on my own and would do much worse with them.

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.

Side benefits to being lazy

January 18th, 2013 at 06:34 am

Since we have stopped eating out as much, we now have to go home and cook after work. But, we are lazy. So one of our staple meals has become a french baguette (take and bake loaves are wonderful)and cut up veggies. The baguette has either brie smeared on on it or we dip it in oil and balsamic vinegar and the veggies are whatever is in the house dipped in ranch. Our meal prep is the time to heat the oven plus the 10 min bake time for the bread so about 15 minutes. We eat this 2-3 times per week. We have been doing this for months now. Another thing we do is cut up veggies as a side dish to a main entree (we just cooked up hamburgers last night and had cut up raw veggies because I was too lazy to make a side dish).

The other day, DH and I looked around and realized we had been under constant exposure from our coworkers to a variety of illnesses and neither of us has caught anything. At this point, both of us should have caught something. In fact, December is my usual bad month because that is when the constant exposure usually wears me down. Given that work has been unusually stressful this year, you would think I would have been sick a couple of times. The only thing that has changed for the better is the constant healthy eating.

Because veggies are easy to prep and last forever, our grocery bill has dropped as a consequence as well (despite buying brie). So healthier and saving money. Go figure.

Progress on not eating out as often

October 23rd, 2012 at 07:04 am

I ate 4 meals from restaurants last week. Considering that included the weekend and during a cold (Pho is wonderful when your sick), I am actually quite impressed. During the heat of this summer, we ate out every supper (think salads and veggies but still) and weekends have always been the bane of the food budget (min 4 times per weekend).

We will always have a minimum of 2 per week just because of scheduling but I am surprised that we essentially went from 15 times per week to 4 in one to two weeks time (last week was the first complete week since we decided to cut back).

What is really surprising is that I think I was burned out on eating out. I haven't missed eating out this time which is surprising because usually I am the one wanting to eat out.

The amount of money that can go to paying off debt from cutting down the eating out is going to be tremendous. It already slowed the spending on the credit card we use to pay everthing (its paid in full).

Checking In

May 20th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I am still amongst the living, I just haven't been on this forum much.


I have been working temp jobs and have one job offer coming in the next couple of weeks. I finally had enough unpaid time to file for unemployment last week so like last year, I won't be filing for more than a few weeks. Financially we are holding steady (we would have been improving but time off is the perfect time to work on home improvement projects).

We finally finished the landscaping design in the front yard and now just have to add plants (and move some come fall since some of them got much bigger than expected). Still need to paint the front steeple of the house. We have had too much rain to do it on the weekends and I am not getting up on a ladder without someone else around. The kitchen still needs to be finished (I am procrastinating on that).

Overall, I have been enjoying the time off. Now off to catch up on the forums.

Changes

March 26th, 2010 at 10:53 am

Ahh the joys. While DH got hired full time, I managed to get laid off for the second time this year. They gave me severance so I can't file for unemployment for a couple of weeks (not that I am complaining) so I am taking these couple of weeks to figure out my next step.

I know I don't want to stay permanently home since I like the security of two incomes (especially since this past year has seen us leapfrogging each other in constant employment). I am not sure if I want to do part time or full time and I am pretty sure I need to apply to positions that are outside my current expertise since my current one is too much of a niche.

I figure I will get a bunch of our home improvement projects done while trying to make up my mind and have already set into motion the new budget. Our debt repayment is still on track as a result. The next two years should result not only in paying off all the credit card debt but the student loans as well. We don't even need to alter our savings plan since I just cut our spending back to compensate for the loss of income.

Now off to get some of those projects done. 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.

March Update

March 16th, 2010 at 07:08 am

Its not like me to go that long without blogging but things have been pretty peaceful here. DH has had mandatory OT which is a boost to the savings.

We have individual insurance for DH coming so whether he gets hired on or not, we will have health insurance for him.

We have already broke the 1k mark on his new 401(k) and rolled his old 401(k) into a trad ira so I am feeling good about my decision to fund the new 401(k). Everything is set up to roll smoothly over when he's done working for the temp agency.

Other than that, we are either waiting for a lay off for him or him to get hired on and it could go either way.

Refinance finished and preparing a new budget

February 24th, 2010 at 07:15 am

We closed on our refinance so I have updated the totals to reflect the new amount. I still haven't decided on my new networth goals since I blew past the break even point thanks to the equity in the house. Especially since DH just told me that his work situation is restructuring come this April so I am preparing for the potential layoff.

So credit card payments are only going to be 1k instead of every last extra dime we have. Its still progress but if he stays unemployed the whole time it will take us an additional 8 months to pay the credit cards off. At least we can still pay them down.

Waiting

February 11th, 2010 at 09:47 am

We finally know what repairs are needed for the refinance final approval (they don't like a light fixture in the basement due to exposed wires, easy fix). We will do that this weekend and be done with it.

I am waiting for the refinance to be finalized before I transfer one of my credit card balances so that it doesn't mess with our ratios (they are ignoring my husband's income for the refinance so that makes debt ratios much tighter). I basically have two balance transfers to do before all the debt will be paid off but since I am doing a slow but steady pace, I suspect we might finish off the credit cards sooner than expected.

DH is still a full time temp but has been ordered by a current and former manager to apply for a certain full time position so we shall see how that goes.

Overall, its pretty peaceful here. Our savings are building, our debt is going down and I am starting to feel like we are catching up to where I would like us to be.



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.

Appraisal came in!

January 26th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

There is something very validating about having a supposedly objective person look at everything you have done and tell you what a fantastic job you have done. I have updated my networth to reflect my current home value (minus the repairs needed in his report).

There is something shocking about seeing my networth jump like that. Nonetheless, the only thing it really does is validate all the money we have spent on repairs. I will update the mortgage value as soon as the new mortgage goes into play.

The other nice thing is this means that our FHA loan is flipping to a conventional because our equity is high enough. No more mortgage insurance premiums and a 1.5% drop in the interest rate. We are of course sticking with a 15 year and I promise not to grumble too much about being set back a whole year on the loan (especially to people who prefer 30 years).

The appraiser also confirmed what I had long suspected, our initial sales price had been under market value at the time we bought. Our neighborhood just doesn't have a lot of foreclosure activity (not even at the height of the market scare) and so no one wanted to deal with our property due to short sale when they could spend a little more and not have to wade through the additional time constraints. No wonder the seller's agent bought us a water heater to close the deal.

All in all, it will be nice having a slightly lower payment ($100+). I am afraid hubby is disappointed though. He hoped it would be 186 (it was 180) so that we could add my student loans to the balance. It would have lowered the interest rate and freed up the cashflow in the $200+ range. I was more worried it wouldn't come in high enough to flip to conventional since comparables are sometimes hard to find in such a small and unique area.

First 401(k) contribution

January 22nd, 2010 at 06:54 am

It didn't hurt as much as I was expecting but then they haven't cracked down at DH's work on overtime yet so that spared us a little. Nonetheless, its good to know that our savings rate is going back up to a somewhat decent level (7.8%). At the end of the year we will load up the Roths so it will jump to a healthy level at that time (depending on the constantly jumping income somewhere around 22% to retirement savings).

This year's goals are simple. Pay off the debt and max out retirement savings to best of our ability.

This will get a little bit easier if we do manage to refinance. The mortgage payment difference isn't huge but it would definitely gives us more to work with. Needless to say, I am waiting with bated breath to hear the appraisal number. They have to tell us before next Wednesday...

All in all, not much going on.

Random musings

January 11th, 2010 at 07:14 am

This weekend was fairly productive. We priced out some items and picked paint colors for the house so probably next weekend we will restart the house projects. The cork floor I want for my kitchen will only cost a little over $400 so we are going to start saving out for that. Retrimming the doors will cost $30 for each doorway side which means the trims with 6 coats of paint (that were never sanded) can go bye bye.

I also found out that we could possibly refinance the mortgage which would lower the interest rate and drop the mortgage insurance. Should be interesting to see what number they attach to the house. I know its worth more than the original sales price but how much more has never been established (which is why I use sales price in our networth calculations).

Its now or never with the refi though. And yes never is okay too. Mortgage insurance drops off in 3 years so it just wouldn't make financial sense to refinance closer to the drop off date because 6% isn't a very high interest and our loan is too small for interest rates alone to make up closing costs.

The car is at a different shop today. Decided that since the last two times, the shop had given us back a car with more problems than we sent it to them with, we would try someone new. It means we will probably pay more than we should to fix the previous guys mistakes but that is better than trusting them with our car again.

The new shop already sounds better. Instead of dismissing our change in transmission sound, they told us that the other shop probably used too heavy a weight of transmission fluid when they changed it. If they can hear that noise, they should have no problem hearing the clunking in the middle of the car (other shop told us they couldn't find that noise and then changed the transmission fluid and claimed that cured it, un hunh).
*Sigh* This is why I didn't own a car for a number of years. They are a lot of work.

On a slightly depressing note, my friend with the much newer car has had to send her car in for repairs even more than us (we have been mostly doing maintenance, hers is new things breaking) despite us getting a bad job the past two times. I'll pass on the new car thank you.

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it

November 18th, 2009 at 09:31 am

Yes, I am singing that song in my head. Blame the adrenaline rush of lifting weights this morning.

We finally have our new trikes! And this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous. Soo much fun. We plan on taking them down to the old trail that we used to ride all the time on our road bikes so that we can get an apples to apples comparison. Its going to be so amazing not to have a stiff neck and a sore tailbone.

The trail there and back is roughly 30 miles so we may find out that we can't do that distance right off the bat (or more likely, not with any great speed) despite it being relatively flat but its worth getting a good comparison in.

For those of you curious, yes my husband and I will bike all winter long when its not below 30. 40 and about is just fine, especially since 3 wheels means slush and snow are far less hazardous. Oh and no more diaper pants! Yeah!

(By and by, my buyer's remorse is gone, I only have buyer's remorse before paying for something, not after, go figure.)

Random Updates

November 17th, 2009 at 06:57 am

Spent $110 on groceries this past Thursday but that included stock up and Thanksgiving meal prep so its hardly surprising. Still feels weird to have it more than $30 though.

I rejigged my numbers again(I know, you are completely shocked, I never do that) and I can pay off one of my cards in December and another in February. After that, I will just be down to one which simplifies things immensely. Right now the numbers are pointing to a June debt free date but I wouldn't hold your breath, spring seems to expensive thanks to yard stuff but I am going to try to keep that down.

Still need to buy our plane tickets to our home state for my brother's graduation and make the hotel reservations but I figure I will do that in December since this month has been so hectic. That however, is the last of the big expenses till spring so that is nice.

1st Payoff.

November 13th, 2009 at 07:18 am

Today I am paying off the first of my remaining credit cards. $4344 going poof. This would be more impressive if it was my largest remaining but sadly it is not. However, we are in the final stretch of the pay off so all is well.

Hint of things to come

November 11th, 2009 at 10:11 am

So hubby suspects that his current workplace will be offering him a permanent position within the month, it was a condition for his manager to give up her best workers to another department. Should be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since base pay tends to go up when you go from temp to permanent. It would be really nice for him to have benefits again too.

We shall see. In the meantime I am anxiously awaiting the final payoff on one of my credit cards scheduled for this Friday which will be nice. We will be dropping from 4 credit cards to 3.

I am also waiting to hear this week how much the final price tag on our bikes are. At least it will keep us from spending a lot of money on the nice days. If you are biking for half a day to a day, its hard to spend money at the same time, lol.

Thinking of doing a budget diet...

November 10th, 2009 at 10:44 am

By that I mean, cut our allowance for the months of December and January to $100 per week (includes groceries). It would let us build up some more savings so that I felt more secure. I think I have just gotten used to having a set amount of money in savings and would like to keep it that way.

Those two months don't involve a whole lot going on so it would make it easier to stick to as well. I have also been cutting back on the eating out because I don't need to be eating all that junk food.

The advantage here is that since I am the big spender and instigator, if I cut back, our expenses go down. I will have to see how it works out...

Refund!

November 5th, 2009 at 03:10 pm

My TV just went on sale so I will be getting $100 + tax back. It pays to watch the sales online when you have a 60 day price guarantee.


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