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Cash Poor at the Moment, 2014 Goals Posted

December 10th, 2013 at 02:45 pm

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 02:27 pm

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 05:46 pm

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 06:18 pm

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 02:02 pm

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 01:01 pm

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 12:37 pm

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 01:12 pm

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.

My latest research project

March 22nd, 2013 at 01:05 pm

So I know I want a smartphone eventually but am unwilling to sign a contract or spend a fortune per month. As a result, I have been studying up on my options. I have a couple of good leads but I have until late May (when my minutes are good through on my current phone) to decide which gives me time to hem and haw. I think I will end up with $14 per month per phone average which is actually cheaper than the $100 for 6 months per phone we pay now ($16 per month). Since both carriers use the same network, I know the new service will work at my house (an important consideration when your brick house neighborhood is too much for some carriers' networks).

It was bizarre how hard I had to work to find the resellers though. The main carriers were all ridiculous and even the big resellers were too high for what I wanted. Since I have been with my current prepaid carrier for 7 years I wasn't sure who was in the market anymore. A lot of times, it was the comments sections that had the info I needed on who the resellers were nowadays, not the actual article. Go figure.

I have to say though. After seeing the monthly expense of some of those plans, no wonder my coworkers are broke. My utilities combined don't equal the majority of those plans in monthly cost (2 people add up).

Now all I have to do is convince myself that I want to spend that much on a phone/mini-tablet/mp3 player/internet on the go connection. At least we are only converting one phone at a time. DH has already said he will let me figure it out and then make the move himself and his time is good through September.

Just when I was starting to understand our income

March 20th, 2013 at 01:39 pm

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 14th, 2013 at 02:58 am

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 02:20 pm

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 02:55 pm

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 02:34 pm

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.