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Running Errands = Big Expenses

August 19th, 2010 at 08:38 pm

Yesterday we had a couple of nice big expenses, and there are just more to come. I took my car in for maintenance yesterday. I have a dentist appointment next week. We also will be making reservations to attend a film festival that my brother-in-law is in. This is his first one, and we are the stars of the movie so really we should be there. Thankfully I have enough in our Frivolous account to take care of this.

I hate that we aren't saving anything right now. I don't really count the student loans as that just represents more debt. We won't put anything away next month either. Our dreams just get pushed back every month we have to delay. Hopefully in October we will have a big enough paycheck to actually save.

Reminder: Get DH to change allowances at work.

Summer Break is Over

August 17th, 2010 at 02:55 pm

So summer is basically over in our house. DH is back to work which is a blessing. He was offered permanent substitute positions at his old school and another in district school. We still have hope that he can work in our county, but this is the best backup plan.

Over summer we have had to stop all our saving to retain positive cash flow. This is upsetting. It means we still haven't started contributing to our Roth IRA. We should be able to start up again in October. When we do, I will be adjusting our contributions so that they = money needed/months to achieve. I disregard interest for this so hopefully I can adjust the contributions down in the future to make room for other goals. Any extra money will go into the soonest, most urgent goal.

This month has been hard as DH needed major dental work. He maxed out our dental coverage! He still needs his wisdom teeth removed, but that will have to wait for next year. I think I will have to take over choosing the medical coverage this year. I am not pleased by that.

Furlough Days

May 9th, 2010 at 08:04 pm

Hello all. Sorry for being silent. I was away at a conference for 5 days and then was crazy busy catching up.

So we received DH's paycheck, and they have taken out money for the upcoming furlough days. Somehow they justified taking out a higher pay rate than he actually gets paid. Don't ask me how they justified it. It's all Union contracts. So this month's budget is going to be $300 tighter than normal.

I'm pretty sure DH is going to be changing his specialization for his Masters. We looked at possible Education Technology jobs and he could easily earn 1.5-2x his current pay. This should also mean that we will hear if he is accepted by the end of the week. Hopefully that will mean hearing about financial aid sooner.

I started our Roth IRA this week, though I'm still waiting until the beginning of next month to fund it. We were delayed by the name change.

We have a lot of big expenses coming up from exciting weekends and planning for summer vacations, but I think our Frivolous spending account will cover it.

Resolving my Crisis

April 15th, 2010 at 02:53 pm

So DH and I sat down last night and discussed how much we had to get us through the end of the month and still stay within budget. We decided that we are still in the testing and adjustment stages of our budget and so we are still going out on our little date night on Friday.

I really do want to try to live off $4600 a month. It is our goal, but it makes no sense to try so hard if it is not livable. We are not in debt, but we have lofty savings goals. I just cannot wait until May when we find out our summer plans, June when we find out about DH's financial aid, and July when I can adjust our insurance savings (I started saving late).

Budget Crisis!

April 14th, 2010 at 09:51 pm

So we've been chugging along this month feeling pretty good about our budget. We avoided buying groceries by eating what was left in the fridge until last weekend. We then went out last weekend and spent exactly $200.00 at Costco and then a bit at the grocery store. This was a big part of our budget, but now we are restocked on meats and other basic ingredients.

Then two nights ago we had a major birth control emergency. This led to a horrible worrying night and a trip to the pharmacy for Plan B. This ran us $54.36. Then in addition I had to buy another prescription this month to finish off my birth control. Thankfully I have two insurances right now through DH's work and my school. That cost another $30. Not a happy situation.

Then today I was going over our budget. As I have said it is divided into Savings, Billed Needs, Flexible Needs, Billed Wants, and Flexible Wants. Under Billed Wants I have added $300 a month to save for DH's Masters. Somehow I forgot to take this money away from our Flexible Wants.

So as of now thanks to all the problems, I have no more money budgeted for Needs and only $116.49 in Flexible Wants. This money will have to go towards Needs, especially since I have to go to Denver at the end of the month for a conference! Ugh! Looks like we will be going over budget and putting less towards the Down Payment and Frivolous Spending accounts to cover our monthly budget. That was supposed to be for trips this summer...guess not so much.

March Zero Out

April 1st, 2010 at 06:07 pm

So I "zeroed out" my checking account for March yesterday. I always keep $4000 in there, but I like to move any excess to savings at the end of the month. I opened our "Frivolous Spending" account and put 25% of the zero out in there and 75% in my home downpayment. So that means $568 to frivolous spending and $1706 into the home downpayment! My little ticker says we are 43% of the way to the downpayment and that doesn't include the interest on our CD!

We talked again about starting a Baby Savings Fund. I'm thinking that might just involve adding $10,000 to the Emergency Savings instead of opening a new account. I'm torn if we should start one right after we finish the downpayment fund or wait until the car fund is ready also. We decided to reassess after we hear back about DH's financial aid. Right now we are contributing to savings for a car, auto insurance, DH's Masters, and the downpayment.

Savings Allocations

March 20th, 2010 at 07:18 pm

Today H and I sat down with our new fancy budget and decided some savings allocations. This money will be directly pulled from our checking into various ING savings accounts (I love the subaccounts!).

Retirement: $300 (for now it's out of gross)

Net Pay: ~$4600

House Downpayment (Due 6/2013): $800
Car (Due 4/2012): $580
Car Insurance (Due Yearly Aug): $400
(This one will decrease next year as I save over 12 months not 4.)
H's Masters (8/10-6/12): $300

So $2080 allocated into some sort of savings!

After all of that, I will balance our budget at the end of the month and transfer out any money not spent on Needs & Wants and any extra money we earn (including H's overtime and my side projects). Basically I always try to keep a $4000 buffer in our checking account and anything above this will go out. 75% of it will go to our top savings goal (right now the house) and 25% will go into what H has deemed our "Frivolous Spending" account. This will pay for vacations, concerts, or any other extravagant thing we want to do.

Future changes to the budget will include:

- Reducing the insurance allocation next year to 12 months of savings, not 4
- Reducing H's Masters allocations once we get his financial aid (I hope!!)
- Reallocate money to save for my deferred undergrad student loans
- Hopefully reallocate money to a baby fund for after H graduates!

I just have to say, this really shows the power of planning far into the future. We can easily save towards all these goals. Even better, I've over-allocated money to these accounts so hopefully we can rollover the leftover Cash to boost other savings goals (like baby!). Snowball Savings!

H Loves the New Budget

March 19th, 2010 at 02:51 pm

So I uploaded our new Needs/Wants/Savings budget to Google Docs and H loves it! He has never been able to understand any of my previous budgets, but he loves this one. I've decided to add 2 columns to it for Needs and Wants that I can predict such as bills. We can also use this column to record money going into savings for future Needs/Wants like the yearly Auto Insurance (Need) or H's tuition (Want). He liked that now he can have a clear answer about if we can afford to go out to eat with friends. Yay a budget that leads to less guilt, not more! So for now here are my budgeted amounts:

Income: $4600
Needs: $2300
Billed Needs: $2010.44
Rotating Needs: $289.56
Wants: $920
Billed Wants: $105
Rotating Wants: $815

I know already that we need more for our "rotating needs" including gas, laundry, and groceries. I plan to reduce our rotating wants. I'll also be adding more items to the Billed Wants category. Specifically I need to start saving for H's Masters. We still haven't heard anything from them, but the application period isn't even over. We are both just getting very impatient.

Trying out Budget Systems

March 18th, 2010 at 04:30 pm

So I set a goal for myself to try out the envelope system this month. I can safely say that it did not work. I totally ignored it and it did not change any of our habits. Today I modified the system to work off of the Needs/Wants/Savings ideas. This might work better. I definitely noticed that by the usual 50/20/30 standards, we are spending too much on needs and not enough on wants. Either that or our groceries can largely count as wants. I decided that I would roll over any over-expenses of Needs into the Wants category because if I'm spending so much on Needs, they probably fall under Wants anyway.

On another note, I can't wait to start going to conferences. I'm attending three conferences this year, and I will be reimbursed for all of them. Sadly I have about $1000 tied up in conferences at the moment and will probably have to wait several weeks after I turn in my receipts to get any money back. This just makes me thankful that I have my finances in order, otherwise I don't know how I would have the money for all of this. I've decided to count the expenses as "Savings" and put the reimbursements into our savings account.

A couple of friends are coming to stay the night tonight as he has recruitment for a PhD program at my school tomorrow. I hope they come here because many of our friends will be moving away in the next couple years. We will cook for them tonight and then maybe go out for food tomorrow.

Money Planning Day!

March 16th, 2010 at 03:59 am

So H and I sat down tonight and worked a lot on our financial plan. Here are the changes:

1) We opened up a 36 month CD to for $15,000 of our house savings fund. This will earn us an additional $1,100 toward our goal.

2) We opened up another ING account. This one will be a Freedom Account to hold our savings toward large expenses such as insurance premiums and H's tuition. Now I don't have to worry about calculating that into my budget as a yearly expense.

3) We will be opening (tomorrow?) a Roth IRA. I feel kind of silly because we just went through a lot of trouble trying to open up a 403(b) through H's work and now we're going to stop funding it. I just realized (thanks to the forums)that with our income at a lifetime low, we would be better off paying the taxes now than when we retire. In addition we're unable to max out the IRA contributions right now as we save up for a house.

So I'm thinking we will use ING's ShareBuilder for the Roth IRA. Anyone got any experience or advice as to a good custodial company?

Riff Notices!

March 13th, 2010 at 08:07 pm

So yesterday FedEx came buy with the certified letter. H has been riffed again. He says I shouldn't worry as this year he is going to attend more job fairs and they are laying off less people. I hate Union negotiations because every year they cause this stress to our family. I really can't wait until he has enough seniority to be past this point.

On that note, I reassessed our savings goals. I often use the calculators at CalcXML (http://www.calcxml.com/english.htm) and they have a handy one for saving goals where you can increase your contributions every year and calculate your yearly contributions to meet a goal. I did this for all of our ridiculous numbers of goals. I assumed a conservative 2% growth in our income.

With this estimation, right now our extra income will only go toward the Downpayment and the Barebones Retirement goals. Barebones Retirement is for age 75-100 whereas my Goal Retirement is age 65-100.

Does anyone know of a good way to calculate our "snowball" savings using an increasing amount of yearly contribution?

This Week's Finance

March 7th, 2010 at 09:22 pm

We received a much belated Wedding Present this week. It was a $100 debit card. A day later, H brought home $100 from his coworkers to buy a gift card for another teacher. We pocketed the cash and used the credit card instead. I find those things to be horribly annoying unless you have a single large purchase to make. In our budget I usually treat cash as spending money as it is usually used on lunches, dinners out with friends, and the farmer's market. We are really frugal with out CC, but not very good with cash. Anyway, this delays my monthly withdrawal of cash from our checking account and hopefully we will only need $100 this month. That would be a great boon...maybe I should just force the issue.

I started using the digital envelope system this week. As this was the first weekend of the month, we will see how we come out on Monday. I think the extra cash is going to be the only thing that saves our budget this month. We went out twice this weekend for dinner. Too many birthdays in March plus Restaurant Week.

Pledges for a Distant Future

March 4th, 2010 at 03:56 pm

Right now my savings is wrapped up in getting a downpayment. Once I graduate my financial priorities will shift dramatically with new incomes and expenses. I pledge that after I graduate (these are in order):

- I will quickly pay off my student loans.
- I will reassess my Emergency Fund
- I will fully fund our retirement.
- I will fund 529 plans for my future children
- I will pay off my mortgage debt

See you in 3 years future plans.

Goals for March

February 26th, 2010 at 03:27 pm

[ ] Get me onto H's Rx insurance ($15 per month savings)
[ ] Try out a digital envelope system (we have no cc problems so we charge everything and pay the balance)
[ ] Get district to pay extra paycheck for H's extracurricular work
[ ] Make sure address is changed for Costco (coupon book)
[ ] Move extra money in no interest checking to savings
[ ] First paycheck going into retirement!!