Browsing posts in: Emergency Fund

The Savings

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I received several questions about the $200 budget item towards savings that I listed in my last post.    The answer is a bit complicated.   We currently have have several savings accounts that are for irregular expenses…with the idea that we could also use those accounts as an emergency fund in a true emergency.   These funds are currently auto-drafted into the savings accounts every payday.  Each category receives $20 a month added to it.  However, the original thought was that some categories are close to being “fully funded” and then that money could be reallocated to other categories until they need “refilled”.    Here’s how I have things divided:

Savings 
Work expenses100.03
Home improvements133.00
fun/holidays55.00
Gifts5.00
clothing85.00
pets70.00
replacements55.00
Auto185.02
Irregular expenses (auto registration/costco/ AAA)39.53
Yard/garden/pest control70.00

Total: $802.58

In explanation:

  • The work expenses category covers things like continuing education, licensing and replacement items for Hubby’s work.  Once we reach $500 this will be considered fully funded.
  • Home improvements will never be considered fully funded.
  • The Fun/holiday fund covers everything from fireworks on the fourth of July, extra grocery expenses for Christmas baking, campground fees, and the occasional movie date night.This will be considered fully funded at $100 while we are still reducing debt
  • Gifts are a hard one.  I will have to think about what I would consider fully funded.
  • Clothing I will consider fully funded at $100, mostly because we do not have expensive clothing needs.
  • Whereas we have an older dog and an older cat that at some point in the future will need a greater amount of vet care, I would not consider this fully funded until we reached $1000
  • The replacements category is actually very new to our budgeting, inspired by needing to finance a fridge when ours died.  This is meant to be money for when an appliance dies, or a new mattress etc. is needed.  I am not sure where I would consider this fully funded, most likely at $1000+
  • The auto category is pretty self explanatory.  We currently own one vehicle out right and have a loan on our second.   These funds are used for maintenance and hopefully will eventually grow enough that we can replace a vehicle by paying cash.
  • The Annual expenses category covers things like AAA and costco memberships, and car registration.  I would like to grow this to be able to pay for six months of auto insurance at a time in order to receive the prepay discounts.
  • The final category is yard/garden.  I LOVE veggie gardening.  We just moved into our home last summer, so this will cover soil amendments, hardscaping, seeds and repairing the disaster of a sprinkler system that currently exists.   It also covers pest control to come out four times a year to treat for voles and the giant wolf spiders that we get here.  After this coming summer, the amount going into this account should be able to be reduced significantly as some of the much need landscaping is completed.

Obviously, If I wanted to keep putting money into these categories until they were all fully funded, I would be saving forever, and that would impact my debt payoff.   I am currently leaning towards continuing to save in them at my current speed until I reach a total of $2000 across all the accounts.   At that point I would simply add to the accounts if I had used the funds.

What do you think?  Am I making a mistake by combining my savings categories and emergency fund?  Is there something I should be saving for that I am not?

 

 

 

 

 


Small Goals Met – Emergency Fund, Credit Repair and more

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Just dropping in to share some exciting news…I’ve met one of my small financial goals on my road to getting back on my feet.  I now have $1,000 socked away in an emergency fund.  Woohoo!

With that goal met, my next goal is to clear up my credit a bit.  When I originally met with the mortgage company a few years ago regarding financing our build, they referred me to someone who came highly recommended.  At the time, I was able to qualify for the amount needed without it, my credit actually wasn’t too bad.  (Not good, but not too bad.) But now…yea, it’s in the pits.

Since I am able to pay my bills on time again and have relatively steady although fluctuating income, I decided it was time to get that going.  So I met with the company this past weekend, put down the non-refundable $400 deposit and now just have to wait.  Their work typically takes 2 months but can take up to 4 months.  So we will see.

Last small update…I am just a little over a month from having my ex-husband’s car paid off.  Sticking to him paying these last 2 payments.  I am looking forward to transferring the title and being rid of this last legal financial tie (excluding our kids but that is not at all the same thing.)

I haven’t forgotten about getting a real numbers update to you.  I will, I promise.  Thanks for your patience with me.

But I do have a question for you…have you ever used a credit repair service?  Experience?


May 2016 Debt Update

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Late is better than never! Plus, my debt payments are all scheduled for middle-to-end of the month so these are all still true numbers, no additional payments have been made in June yet. Here ya go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$725356.55%$980May$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20May$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$73500% (through April 2017)$300May$7650
Medical Bills$58110%$25May$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$94292 (April balance = 95,250)$1325Starting Debt = $145,472

The past couple months (April & May) had smaller debt payments than what I’d originally planed. One of our 2016 goals is to pay $30,000 toward debt in total. Here’s a table showing planned and actual debt payments:

Month 2015 2016 GOALS 2016
January $1678 Goal: $3500 $4013
February $1822 Goal: $1000 $1261
March $653 Goal:  $1000 $2134
April $1796 Goal:  $2000 $1521
May $1708 Goal: $2000 $1325
June $725 Goal:  $4000  
July $2125 Goal: $4000  
August $2250 Goal: $2500  
September $2575 Goal: $2500  
October $5513 Goal: $2500  
November $2751 Goal: $2500  
December $2522 Goal: $2500  
Total $26118 Goal: $30,000  

At this point (Jan-May), our goal was to have paid $9,500 in debt so far. Our actual payments put us at $10,254. So even though our recent payments have been below our goal, overall we’re still on track to hit our annual goals. Just as a note, the reason why the goal is set so high for June and July is because I get big checks from my part-time job these two months (instead of spreading out the payment across 4 months, which would be normal sized, I don’t get paid in May or August at all, but instead I get double-sized payments in June & July). Right now it feels scary/intimidating/impossible to be making a $4,000 debt payment (though, to be fair, I haven’t been paid yet this month so that’s probably why). I still want to be cautious and re-allocate some funds back to our emergency fund after having to raid it for life’s recent emergencies.  But I still think (fingers crossed) we should manage to make some pretty hefty sized debt payments, too. Time will tell and I’ll keep you updated! : )

Hope you all have a great weekend!

 


Rain Cloud

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I feel like Eeyore, with the tiny rain cloud following me around. It’s not that I have a negative outlook on life (I like to think I’m a pretty positive person),  but I can’t shake these sad life “happenings” that seem like they’re going to persist…at least for the foreseeable future.

Let me back up. Guess where I am!!!

Hint – I’m not at home or work. I’m not even in the state of Arizona. I’m back in Texas. Flew in (on a $700 last-minute flight, no less) for a funeral. My maternal grandmother unexpectedly passed away. I should say “unexpected” in quotations because although we weren’t anticipating it, she has been in a nursing home for 4 years, is 84 years old and in only mediocre health, so these things don’t come entirely by surprise.

Her death comes right on the heels of Rocky’s death and the sting is real. Guess what else – Chris’ grandfather was just placed on hospice. So he may be making a last minute trip back to Texas for a funeral soon, too.

For a number of reasons, we decided we would each go back solo to attend our respective grandparents’ funeral. In addition to the funeral trips, we’re also planning a trip back up to Utah. For newer readers, my Dad used to live in Utah and still owns property there. When he was diagnosed with his incurable disease, we moved him to an assisted living facility in Texas closer to family. But his Draper home sits unoccupied. The goal is to go up, completely empty the thing out, and get it placed with a property management company that can take over its management and care. Originally we were going to sell the home, but when we actually looked at numbers we realized he didn’t have as much equity as we’d thought. After accounting for closing costs, etc., the house would probably just about break even or net a tiny amount of profits. I’ll outright say that I really wanted to get rid of this property simply for my own sanity – I don’t want to keep dealing with it!!! But I was outvoted amongst the siblings and I respect the group decision to keep it and hope to build up some equity as we get some renters in there paying all the bills and upkeep (plus extra for profits). It feels like a scary risk to me (what if the roof needs repair? the foundation cracks? some other huge $$$ disaster occurs?) but, again, not my decision.

So that’s what’s up on the old summer 2016 docket:  three deaths, two funerals, and a trip to Utah. Oh, and my brother is going through a horrific divorce, the likes of which I’ve only ever seen before in movies (I mean, it’s D.R.A.M.A.). So there’s that.

I don’t know why this little rain cloud won’t leave our family alone, but I’m totally over it. I’m really trying to refocus my priorities on work and family and to keep a positive outlook on life, making the best of even bad situations. On that note, I’m excited to see a couple cousins who will be flying into town today (my grandma’s funeral is tomorrow). We’re going to have a swim and pancake party tonight at my brother’s house and I can’t wait! Wish my kiddos were here (they’d love it!), but given all the circumstances I don’t regret the decision to fly back to Texas solo. I’m happy to spend time surrounded by extended family, love, support, and fun stories of our sweet Nana.

Financials…

I can’t just end this post without getting to the meat of the matter. Which is to say that I’ve taken another $700 from our emergency fund in order to cover the costs of this unexpected last-minute trip. I owe you lots of posts soon (May budget update; May debt update) to fully update you on our whole money situation. The Cliff’s Notes version is that our May debt updates were small, we had NO savings in May, and we ended up having to raid our EF to help cover the end-of-life expenses for our beloved dog. BUT (looking at the positive) – NO NEW DEBT and I was still able to make a little dent in our current debts, too. I have to call that a win with all things considered!

Let’s not dwell on the negatives. Tell me something POSITIVE about your summer:  some fun plans, exciting activities, new debt milestones or debt payoffs, etc. etc.  I’ll tell one of mine:  We took our girls up to Sabino Canyon last weekend and had SO MUCH FUN! We rode a little tram thing, hiked around, and “swam” (waded) in some bodies of water that result from the snow melting up on the mountain. Being the desert, we don’t have a lot of water in Tucson so it was a real treat to get to play in a natural body of water (not a swimming pool), and it was the girls’ first ever “hike” (a very light hike). I love making these types of memories with the kiddos!


A dog’s worth

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Rock3

 

Rocky was our first baby. Years before we ever had human children, he was our “child.” Yes, we were those people. The kind who refer to their pets as children. We treated him as well as you’d treat a human child, too. He had it made. Dog parks, long jogs, lots of love and affection. He moved with us cross-country two separate times. He’s been with us through thick and thin. Richer and poorer. All that stuff.

Having kids changed all that, to some extent.

IMAG4179

 

He still remained our “child”, but now we referred to him as our “first born.” He was no longer the baby, having been displaced by two human babies. The trips to the dog park became less frequent. The jogs became shorter. And, in general, he realized he’d been replaced on the food chain. Our two new human babies came before him. He accepted his new position in the family like a champ. Never acting out or misbehaving. In fact, he rather liked having these two tiny humans running around. Although they were loud and he didn’t like having his sleep disrupted at night (omg, they didn’t reliably sleep through the night until they were nearly 3!!!), he LOVED all the table scraps he suddenly started gaining access to as the girls would drop things from their high chair trays (or purposely throw down food, on occasion).

Rocky turned 11 this year.

As a large dog, I know his days are numbered as it is. He’s starting to slow down, show signs of arthritis, etc.

We took him to the vet yesterday for his routine check-up. He needed updated vaccinations and I wanted to ask about the arthritis issue (I’d noticed he no longer jumps onto our bed anymore. This was a big deal to me as he’s slept with us for all 11 years of his life. Yes, I know that’s not necessarily healthy and all. Like I said, he’s our baby).

But that’s not how things went.

During the vet’s examination, there were some troubling things about Rocky. His ears looked yellow. His gums, too, looked yellow. I’d never noticed before.

The vet drew labs. $275 later we were headed home. We’d get a call the next day with some news.

We waited and waited and called the vet probably 20 times (“no, labs aren’t back yet.”). We finally heard back at 6:30pm this evening, after the office had already closed for the day. Rocky’s white blood count is perfectly normal (which is good), but his liver enzymes are off the chart. The vet referred us to an emergency vet clinic. She wants us to make an appointment ASAP for an abdominal ultrasound (estimated about $400, on top of the $100 office visit charge). If it’s not telling, we may be advised to have a biopsy done (estimated at $1000+).

I’m at a total loss.

After the expensive vet visit yesterday, I was thankful we already had some funds set aside for “pet expenses.” We had about $350 in the account, so husband and I joked that we still had about $75 leftover after paying for the vet. “The problem better be $75 or less. More than that, and he’s screwed.” Chuckle, chuckle.

But now this.

I’m a realist. I always have been. So I’m trying to detach myself from the emotions involved (he’s my baby) and think practically. Logically.

He’s 11 years old. He’s a large dog. He’s not going to live many more years anyway. Do we really want to spend up to $1,000+ just on diagnostics?? Then what if we find out he needs surgery? Are we going to shell out the many multiple thousands for that? And he’s so old, recovery would be hard anyway. No guarantee he’d even survive surgery. I don’t think we’d go that route.

But where do we draw the line? What’s the worth of this animal? This member of our family? Our “first born child”?

 

I’m grateful we’ve been building up an emergency fund. But does this qualify as an “emergency”? What would you do? How much would you be willing to spend on your dog to find out what’s wrong? How much would you be willing to spend on your dog to fix the problem (once an official diagnosis is reached)? What’s the most humane option? What’s the best option?

I’m leaning toward opting for an ultrasound so we at least know what we’re dealing with (at an estimated cost of approximately $500 including the office visit charge). If the ultrasound doesn’t give us any indication of the problem….then what? Proceed with biopsy? Decline biopsy and call it a day? Watch him suffer in pain until the end? End it early?

My heart breaks. Obviously I knew he was getting old. I knew this day would come eventually. But still. My heart breaks.

See another Rocky-centric post here.


April Budget Update

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Yikes! With how overdue this budget update is, I did consider just skipping it entirely. I forgot to post December’s budget and it was my first time to ever miss a month! I don’t want it to start becoming a pattern. So, instead of pushing it off any longer, here’s the extremely overdue budget:

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Down Payment Savings 2000
Electricity 88
Water 55
Natural gas 60
Cell Phones (2 lines) 89
Cable/Internet 100
Trash 35
Preschool 1075
Restaurants 249
Entertainment 1
Kids Activities 82
Groceries 582
Gasoline 99
Household Goods 9
Clothing 75
Toddler Stuff 5
Work Expenses 50
Rainy Day Savings 2142 (minus deductions, see below)
Savings Goals 424 (minus deductions, see below)
Debt Payments 1521
Total Budgeted $9,941

 

Comments:

Down Payment Savings ($2000): This is right on track.” The goal is to get to $10,000 by mid-summer. That being said, I already know we won’t have the full $2,000 for this month (May). Initially, we were hoping to start house-hunting this month but we thought better and have pushed it back a bit. We are really hoping to have a closing in August/September, so we didn’t want to see something and fall in love too early when we really aren’t ready to be making offers and negotiating yet. Womp, womp! It’ll be here soon, though, and I’m still doing Zillow searches just-for-fun. 

Electricity ($88): Our electric bill has never been lower! But we’ve already been flirting with triple-digit temperatures and our A/C is back in the ON position! I already received the bill for May and, although it hasn’t jumped way high yet, it’s certainly higher than April’s bill.

Restaurants ($249) + Groceries ($582): I feel like you can’t consider one without knowledge of the other. Our grocery bill was pretty low this month (remember in months’ past where I was nearing the $700-mark for groceries!?), but the grocery bill is low because (1) we were on the cruise for one week of the months, and (2) our eating out budget was HUGE! Remember my post about blowing the restaurant/eating out budget early in the month? We aim to have this expense around $200 or less for our family of four. We blew this budget category early in the month and, honestly, the only reason it didn’t surpass $300+ is because we were gone the last full week of the month (longer, really, since hubs and the girls drove they added an extra week to their trip). All expenses while traveling were filed away in the “cruise” category, so they weren’t accounted for here.

Entertainment ($1): 99 cent song on iTunes.

Kids’ Activities ($82): This was our last month paying for the girls’ swim lessons. It was prorated since we only went for half the month. That being said, the girls did INCREDIBLE on our cruise! We spent a TON of time in the water (both in the pools on the ship and in the ocean at our docking places). I was so impressed with how their skills have improved and they seemed like little fishes splashing around in the water. It really made me want to re-start their swimming lessons so they can keep learning and improving. I’m waiting until the semester is over at school because the end-of-year time is crazy and our Saturday-midday swim class was far from ideal. When we start back again I’ll be looking for a weekday afternoon class time.

Household Goods ($9): I don’t remember if I mentioned it already, but I’ve deemed this year the year of buying holiday decorations on clearance to save for next year. In December/January I bought a bunch of Christmas decorations and in April I bought some Easter decorations. I go literally the day after the holiday, first thing in the morning, so I can try to find the best stock for cheapest. I know there can be great finds at garage sales, too, but those are so hit-and-miss that I’ve mostly relied on buying store stuff on clearance after the holiday has passed. The plan is to do this all year for all of the holidays. I’m pretty excited to finally start accumulating some holiday stuff here and there. We’ve always been very minimalistic when it comes to holiday decorations since we have typically moved every year (our current rental house is the longest we’ve ever stayed in a single place!!) I look forward to decorating for holidays with the girls as they grow!

Rainy Day Savings ($2142): I’d deposited $2142 into my various rainy day funds (though some money was also withdrawn from these accounts.) See below:

  • 3-6 Month EF: $1,000. The goal is to get to $5,000 and we currently have $3063.
  • Birthdays: $400. The girls’ birthday is on the horizon in June. To date, we’ve never had an actual birthday party for them, but we want to this year for the first time. It will still be simple (at our house, not another venue), but we’re going to start throwing a couple hundred a month toward this savings so we don’t get caught by surprise in June. This month I’ve over-saved because I’m anticipating that May will be a lower month.
  • Car Repairs: $50. I also withdrew $182 to finally fix the car part that broke 2 weeks after I paid it off. This leaves $73 still in the car repair account. I’ll need to pad it pretty heavily in the next couple of months, as we know we’ve got some routine maintenance stuff coming up on our vehicles and it feels like every time we go to the shop its at least a thousand dollars! Cringe! At least we have time to anticipate and save for it instead of being caught by surprise.
  • Health/Dental/Vision: $542. This gets auto-deducted from my paychecks so we can pay for healthcare out of pre-tax money. It’s sitting in a flexible spending account earmarked for health-care related expenses.
  • Annual Fees: $100. Need to slowly start building this back up. The total current balance is $250 but we have a few annual (or semi-annual) fees coming up within the next couple months (e.g., Costco membership and county pet registration are two that come immediately to mind).
  • Girls’ College Savings: $50. We save $25/each (x 2 girls) for college that’s automatically transferred monthly to designated 529 accounts.

Savings Goals ($424): $424 was deposited but there were also withdrawals. See below:

  • Savings for 2015 Roth IRA: $424. I also cleared out this savings in its entirety prior to filing taxes so I could make a contribution crediting tax year 2015.
  • No other savings this month, but I wanted to report that I also withdrew all of the cruise money from its account (and have subsequently closed the Capital One 360 savings account). At the end of the trip, we were left with an extra $800 over and above what we’d spent. I ended up re-categorizing this money as income for May. That way it’s put in with our normal income rather than being viewed as a separate pot of money. This will be particularly helpful because I don’t get paid from my part-time job this month.

Debt:  I gave a full debt update here.

 

Final Thoughts:

We put a little less toward debt this month than I’d hoped (I’d originally planned to put $2,000 toward debt). Instead, we put a bit more toward savings, particularly in some categories where we know upcoming spending is imminent (e.g., birthdays, annual fees). In May, I’ll kind of trade-off. Our savings will probably be a little lower and our debt payments will be a little higher. One big thing to note:  I don’t get paid in the months of May or August from my part-time job. Instead, my summer pay is split into two lump sums arriving in June and July. I’m trying to anticipate the lower income months and to spread the pay out when we have the higher income months. Also, I haven’t commented on our tax return yet. We had a return of $540 that hit my bank account just in the last week or so. Like our unspent cruise savings, I’ve simply categorized this as “Income for May” in our YNAB budget. Again – May will be a bit lower income month (given that I don’t get my part-time pay), so I’m hoping this will help pad our income a bit so we can keep up with the hefty debt payments that are planned this month.

Have a great month, all!


No More Consumer Debt

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Ha! Look what popped up in my e-mail inbox the other day…

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 12.26.57 PM

The 3-year anniversary of the day we first bought my car.

I had several thoughts when I saw this email:

First, I can’t believe it’s only been 3 years! For some reason I thought we’d had the car longer than that.

Second, I can’t believe we paid off over $24,000 in car-debt in under 3 years! (Remember, we paid it off in January.)  This is in addition to all the other debt we’ve paid in that timeframe (See my most recent debt update here). That blows my mind!

Third, nice try Carmax! Ha! We’ll be driving this car into the ground and, even then, when it’s time to buy a new car we’ll do so by paying cash (probably through private sale for a better deal) and we will NEVER EVER be financing through you again! No offense (I mean, Carmax was a dream to work with compared to Navient). It’s just that we’ll never be walking down that road again. Nope. Aside from a mortgage, we will never have consumer debt again. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. We’re busy at work right now building up a healthy emergency fund so we can be absolutely sure of it.

So best wishes to you as a company, but the odds of getting any business from my family in the future is slim-to-none. We’ll wave at you as we drive by, though. Thanks for furnishing us with a great, reliable car!

Peace out!

Side note: Just as a point of clarification, our original car loan was through Carmax. Once I started blogging here I refinanced through PenFed for a much better interest rate. That’s why the car loan is listed as “PenFed” in my debt spreadsheet. Just wanted to clarify.