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Movin' on up :D

August 1st, 2016 at 06:42 pm

Hello! It has been a while since I have posted. Part of it is that I have been busy, a bit has been me just taking a step away from tracking our finances now that our income has increased significantly (with my finally getting a job!). Moving from living on a grad student salary (25,000 a year) to 62,000 combined has been a big shift! I feel so relieved, and it has been so nice not to feel like I needed to track everything so carefully. I've also been able to see the doctor about an ongoing medical condition I have that was a bit out of whack.

However, now that I've had time away from tracking our finances, I find I miss it! I also notice that in the last month or so we've been spending a bit more than usual--this past month, when I looked at our credit card statement (we always pay off our credit cards each month) and realized that last month we spent around $1,200 (so including rent--which was just raised $15--that was around $2,000 for the month). And we're only two people. With no major medical issues. Or car repairs. Or...anything, in particular. Wasn't even a month we had to pay insurance. Sigh.

HOWEVER, regardless of my semi-mindless tracking/planning of the spending, being used to spending so little (and continuing to make most meals at home) has helped us make good progress on our goals Big Grin! Most significantly, yesterday I sent our LAST PAYMENT to my student loan (*happy dance!!!!*). When I clicked "submit" I air punched at the computer monitor for a good five-ten seconds...DH looked at me all bewildered, and when I told him I was sending the last payment he was like "oh, cool!" and went back to his paper lol

So, progress! Our net worth is also no longer negative! Since December 2015, we've improved our standing by almost $20,000. Here's where we're at now:

August 1, 2016 ($17,585.83)

Debt: -$5,500
(My remaining student loan: BIG FAT ZERO as of July 31, 2016)
(DH's student loan: $5,500 - not in repayment, not accruing interest)

Non-debt: $23,085.83
(EF: $5,976.81)
(Checking/buffer: $550)
(Roth 403b: $13,219.84)
(Roth IRA: $297.05)
(House fund: $2,236.20)
(Early retirement fund: $805.93)

(Travel savings: 1,023.50 - I don't count this toward net worth, I consider it already spent)

I remember when I wrote the goals on my sidebar, and thought they were really ambitious. Now that we're 7 months through 2016, I feel like maybe I was too tame! We're going to kick the butt of those goals (it's been no problem stashing the $1,500 from my paycheck into retirement, since we're used to me not getting a paycheck at all :P and next month we'll hit our emergency fund goal, and we've already met the goal for increasing our downpayment fund), so I'm thinking about making some new goals...but my dental saga is still not over, so I don't want to set us up for failure. I'll have to talk it over with the marital unit and see.

In the meantime, for now, I'm just going to start monitoring our spending a bit and trying to trim wherever possible. I've got my eye on you, grocery spending! And I'm going to start walking/biking to work instead of taking the bus (I always walk home, I've just been lazy in the mornings)

OH, the BEST thing about me working again? Now that it's super hot I allow us to turn on our window AC unit when it gets unbearably hot. SUCH an amazing luxury in this heat and humidity. Oh, but this month I realized I was an idiot before, since using the AC last month whenever it was hot in the bedroom (where we have the AC) RAISED OUR ELECTRIC BILL BY LESS THAN $5. It's a new, small unit (our apartment complex provides and installs AC units as part of the rent) and we have thermal curtains in our small bedroom...so I guess that shouldn't have been a huge surprise. But I swear I thought the bill would have gone up like $20-$30 a month at least...DH has been teasing me mercilessly the last two days, since last summer I didn't let us have the AC installed lol

July wrap-up, overspending but still paid some debt down!

August 6th, 2015 at 01:45 pm

This month's spending was a bit higher than desired...but was somewhat expected because my mom was here for over half the month. Also, some health expenses and 6 month car insurance

Still no job Frown BUT I do have an interview for a position on Monday. Hopefully that pans out. I really put a hold on any job-hunt stuff while mom was here--it had been a long time since I'd seen her, so I don't regret it. Anyway, now I've been getting down to business! And I just got time to look over last month's finances. I tracked eeeevery single thing, so it was really depressing since we spent waaay more than usual because we took mom out to some activities (all free or low cost, but it still adds up!)

Heeere it is:
790 - Rent

34.79 - Electric bill

60 - Dental bill payment

50 - Our cell phone bill

52.43 - Gasoline (Uuuugh, we never have to fill up twice in a month! Hopefully we don't need to fill up again in August..)

312.33 - Groceries (food for three adults is more expensive than for two adults!)

22.46 - Household (misc. toiletries and cleaners)

149.30 - Car insurance (good for 6 mos starting in late August), eye insurance add-on

20 - DH bus passes (DH has been busing instead of walking)

20 - Laundry

104.62 - DH's spending (including one expensive meal that he covered for his friend that I don't think we'll be getting back. DH thinks he will, but this isn't the first time, lol)

56.15 - My spending (mom and I went out of state to visit family, I covered some of the travel expenses, and purchased supplies for a volunteer project)

7.99 - Netflix (my favorite luxury after coffee!)

42 - Eye exam for DH...he needs new glasses, he's choosing now

187.06 - Entertainment and dining out (minor league ball game, entrance fees to nat'l parks, etc.)

Sooo... this month we spent $1,909.13! That exceeds monthly income by $141.13...meh. Could be worse. We did plan to use some of our travel money for while mom was here, but I'm trying to avoid that.

I'm already planning ways to cut back this month, but I know we have some other expenses--DH needs some books and glasses (~$300 total?). Sooo I'm trying to cut back on grocery costs and whatever else I can.

Of course, more than anything right now I'm just trying to get a job (that I enjoy). Ugh, it can be so discouraging

June wrap-up, no job progress

July 1st, 2015 at 01:07 pm

Sooo...I haven't been much in the mood to write anything lately, just been keeping up reading other blogs. I've started volunteering with two local nonprofits and attending workshops at an employment agency nearby. Those workshops have actually been very helpful! I learned a lot of things about how the job selection process works--especially the now widespread use of scanning programs to sift through resumes submitted (especially those submitted online). Apparently there are a ton of things that you can do to your resume that can get it "misread" or "rejected", so I'm working on re-formatting my resume (and also editing it based on other things they taught in the workshops). They have a ton of helpful (and free!) resources and counselors.

I feel a little more hopeful now. I know the best way to get a job is through personal/professional connections, but I have virtually no network here...soo having to slog through the less-effective methods (applying online, mostly).

Oh! When I met with one of the counselors, he asked if I'd put my student loans on deferment--I said no, b/c I thought I didn't qualify since DH has income. Apparently I was wrong! I was granted unemployment deferment, and since it is a subsidized loan, it isn't accruing any interest in the meantime. That's ~$58 a month we don't have to pay until I get a job! (Good especially b/c premiums are due soonish for car/renters/dental insurance)

Anyhow, my mom will be visiting soon, but I won't stop with the job-searching--just tone it down a bit while she's here. I've planned out some fun (and cheap) activities to do while she's here, but our weather has been a little unpredictable lately (rain!).

So June spending was better than I expected (I expected it to be baaaad). I knew we spent nearly $600 in unplanned laptop replacement and car repair (yikes! For many people here that's a tiny percentage of incoming funds, but for us that represents about 30% of our monthly income). I'm going to do a better job of tracking spending this month, because I can't properly sort our charges at the end of the month. I do know that we spent a ridiculously low amount on groceries (b/c of the pantry challenge, and generally trying to cook more frugal than usual meals, anticipating high bills at end of month)...oh, and I took 250 out of our travel savings to cover part of our spending while DH's friends were visiting. Even with all that, we didn't go too much below where we were before (partially because I deposited random cash from around the apt resulting from my stupid habit of taking cash out to go to the farmers market, not spending it all, then just put it down in random places whenever I realize it's in my pocket)

Debt: $11,645.10 ($100 down!)
(My remaining student loan: $5,254.10 - in deferment, 0% interest)
(DH's student loan: $5,500 - not in repayment)
(Dental bill: $891 - 0% interest until late 2016)

Non-debt: $8546.05 (-$9....booo!)
(EF: $5,000)
(Checking/buffer: $1,616.83 - this increased b/c I deposited the cash we had laying around the apt)
(Travel savings: $1,753.64)
(Retirement: $175.58)

In happy news, retirement savings is up! We're going to try for $75 a month.

Well, off to work on resume some more, I'm going to meet with a counselor tomorrow

Personal spending money changes and determination of monthly goals

June 19th, 2015 at 01:06 pm

So since I quit my job (in February), we decreased our personal spending money from $20 per week to $10 per week. I generally didn't spend most of this, and just threw whatever I didn't spend at the student loans (now just one loan). DH, on the other hand, likes to eat lunch out during the week and would often spend his entire $20 on eating out (his friends often spend 4 times this per week). Yesterday I was going over our budget with him to figure out how much we can save for retirement (from his pay alone), and he requested that we re-up the personal spending money to $20 per week. Personal spending money will now also be what we use to buy family/friend gifts/cards/postage (not including nuclear fam Christmas gifts--though I'm going to try to figure out some more frugal options for these) and clothing.

I've agreed to the change, as he has been so good about honoring the rest of our budget (he loves to spend, so I know this must have been difficult!) and this way I can budget for gifts and clothing more easily. I need some new clothes, but since it isn't specifically budgeted for, I feel guilty to spend anything (since it seems like such a personal expense).

Soo...adjusting our budget. It looks like we will be trying to save at least $75 per month for retirement (more once I get a job). This past month was a little strange because of the car repair and the laptop purchase, but next month should be better. My mom is coming to visit in July, but she's pretty low-key and likes frugal activities (as a single mom of 3, she is very used to finding low-cost, fun things to do Smile!). She's not in a great place financially--especially retirement-wise--for her age, so we'll be paying for everything (she's covering airfare). I don't expect her being here to radically change our budget, though--and outings will be covered by our travel savings fund.

Next month I am going to try to track ALL of our expenses. I've been a bit loosey-goosey lately, guestimating the budget amounts and all...I was planning on going over our statements at the end of the month to separate everything out...but without receipts I can't categorize everything properly since I honestly can't remember what I bought at Target/Sams/wherever like two weeks ago...

Oh, also had an ahhh crap moment when I realized that our various insurance policies cost more than I previously estimated...it all works out to $910 per year (before I estimated just under $800). I forgot to include our roadside assistance in there and under-remembered our renter's insurance. So per month that's about $10 more than I estimated. I don't like "saving up" for these though, since they're staggered enough to where I can cash flow them.

In other news, I'm fairly certain I didn't get the job I interviewed for Frown...bleh. Time to start looking again. I guess the worst thing that could happen is I don't work in July and get to spend more time with my mom Smile

Also, not gonna lie, not working rocks. But it's also a bit rough--we would be able to save so much more if we were a dual-income household!


May 31st, 2015 at 06:26 pm

Hmmm…I clicked post, but the entry didn't show up on my page. Fortunately, I wrote most of it in Word so I didn’t have to re-write most of the below post--but if it shows as being posted twice, I apologize!

First some good news—we got a good deal on husband’s computer, which only cost $422 (we couldn’t just get the most basic, since he uses it for programming and stuff). I was hoping to keep this under $500, and it was! And since it’s a Lenovo, we’re hoping it lasts through the end of grad school. Also, our car repair ended up only costing $95—the struts didn’t need to be replaced, it was just something with the suspension! Since unexpected expense only totals $517 we won’t need to go into my buffer or the EF. Yay !

So now on to our budget—I’m super motivated to find at least a TIIINY bit that we can put towards retirement. Of course, what really needs to happen is I need to get a job (had a phone interview last week, and will hopefully be scheduling an in-person interview in couple days—fingers crossed!)

1769 Monthly income—husband is a grad student, I’m not working right now
-790 Rent—included in our rent is internet and all utilities but electricity
-40 Electric bill—this is usually upper 20s unless we use the AC, but I prefer to round up the budget to be safe
-332 Groceries—this is budgeted at 75 a week, but we’re usually closer to 65. Fortunately (for our budget), we don’t have any little mouths to feed (not for a couple more years, at least!), so it’s just the two of us.
-80 Eating out—in case we feel like going out! We’ll spend this at one go in special months like anniversary if we do a day trip. Other times we go out a couple times a month with friends or on date nights. I think we could cut back here…
-30 Gasoline—we have an old Saturn so it doesn’t take much gas(since it is basically made of plastic). We also don’t have to drive much—mostly just weekends for outings and groceries. Husband buses/walks to work depending on weather
-8 Netflix—we don’t have cable and like to watch movies! I’d really rather not cut this.
-50 Cell phones—we each have a cell phone…we consider this a necessary expense
-25 Laundry—coin-op in our building, we aren’t allowed to have a machine in our apt
-86 Personal spending—we each get 10 a week for whatever we want. Husband uses his b/c he likes to go out to lunch sometimes—I don’t usually use mine
-10 Cleaning supplies and toiletries
-118 Debt payments (student loan and dentist)
-65 Car, renters, and dental insurance
130 (usually closer to 200, depending on other expenses that come up)

Since I’m not working now, I just let this overage accumulate to pay for periodic expenses I’m not sure how to plan for like gifts and various necessary costs (like car repair, new computer, clothes)…but this builds up more than necessary. Somebody commented on my previous post about what a difference just $50 a month makes over time…so I think starting this month (June!) we’re going to try that. We have my buffer fund and an emergency fund, but for some reason it’s tough for me psychologically to have us cut it so close at the end of each month.

Anyhow, if you have any advice/suggestions, feel free to comment! The husband does NOT enjoy financial discussions, and any conversation I try to start about our budget and financial goals gets met with him saying he trusts me to figure it out and that he’ll go along with whatever. Ugh. I love the man, but he can be so frustrating sometimes.