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Posts tagged with: savings

New Job and a New Outlook

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I am slowing shedding the feeling of shame I’ve been carrying for the last couple of years since we moved out of our home and into the apartment.  For the first time in a LONG time, things are really looking up!  It has been a really rough time, especially since December when everything changed so suddenly.

As I mentioned in the comments of my last post…I GOT THE JOB!!!

It’s full time, full benefits, work in an office…real life job!  And the way it happened could not be any more providential!  Here’s a little back story.

When we began our Christmas visit with my grandmother, I spent a great deal of time applying for jobs…everywhere, all over the world.  Well, I had been through this before, know the holidays were not a good time to be in the job hunt, but I continued to persist.  The job I got is one of those jobs.

Then while we were in Texas visiting my immediate family over Christmas, I got a text from our ‘landlord’ that the camper we were living in had been damaged and was no longer liveable.  Can you say full panic mode!?!  Up until that point, I had planned on us living in the camper until April when we could 1) wrap up the school year and 2) finish Gymnast competition season at Regionals.  Then was planning to move to GA to my grandmothers or travel for a bit.

With nowhere to live any longer, the timeline moved up for the GA move, but I was able to secure temporary housing in VA for a month while Gymnast finished his regular season meet. And to give us time to pack up and get things into storage and so on.  My grandmother graciously let us move in with her with first week of February.

On our trip to GA with our final load of belongings, I got the call. They were interested in my varied skill set for a brand new position, but I lived in VA. Oh, how funny, I’m was actually driving down to GA with our last load of belongings to complete a move to a town, that is literally one town over from the corporate base of this company.  They headquarters are 12 miles from my grandmothers home, 12 miles!

Our first three weeks in GA were filled with in person interviews, personality test, reference checks and phone follow ups, and our last Friday night there (before we returned to VA for a week) they called at 4:12pm and offered me the job, met my salary requirements and I start NEXT WEEK!!!!!

The timing of the call, the timing of the interview process and the start date…after over a year and a half of searching, I can only say that God had a hand in this.  But there is more, this company gives back to foster/adoptive charities (hello, near and dear to my heart,) the owners actually know some of my extended family (small town but wow,) and one of their goals is to empower women/moms.  Holy cow, can it be any more perfect!

Granted, this will be a BIG adjustment for my little family.  I will be going to an office for the first time in 13 years. My grandmother has insisted we remain with her for at minimum another month while we adjust to the new life and she will help with the kids.  She’s watched us homeschool all these months we’ve visited her over the past couple of years, and is comfortable with keeping the kids on track to finish out the year.  We will have school on Sunday evenings where I will give assignments for the week and then we will meet a couple more times during the week to make sure we are on track.  It’s not going to be easy, but I am confident we can adjust.

I am keeping both my part time jobs for the time being both for security and to help me get back on solid financial ground more quickly.  All jobs are aware of the situation as far as me working them all.

And just a small financial win…okay two wins. Maybe three.

  1. I was able to replace the tires on my car, yes, I waited until it was dire, but I paid in cash!
  2. The kids have all received a small stipend for some summer clothes and are looking forward to getting to shop. (They have had a couple of weeks to make lists and think through needs and wants, etc.)  This is especially crucial for the two youngest since they hit major growth spurts this year, so nothing old fits.
  3. I have almost $500 in an emergency fund, consistently saving 10% of any monies received.

I am so grateful for this community and the constant encouragement. I’ve still got a wait until I get my first paycheck and see how all the deductions and so on work out before planning a budget and starting to look for housing.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers this week as Gymnast will compete at his state meet this week, his last with his current team…it is bittersweet and he is really struggling with the move the most because of it.  And then we will return to GA to start our “new life.”

 

 


A Different Perspective

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I posted several weeks ago about my Glamping Budget expectations, but I have been putting some thought into it think I want to change my perspective.  Before you jump down my throat, hear me out.

I wrote the budget anticipating income from two part time jobs, a small amount from child support and adoption assistance for the twins.  But two things, one of my part time jobs has thusfar been unreliable in producing hours (like 3 weeks with no hours) and two part of this move is to let me get on my feet, build a consulting business and save for the future.

So, since our overhead is going to be SUPER low, I have been thinking that I should budget my percentage rather than by actual number.  Ok, I don’t actually have a plan yet, but what are your thoughts.

It would look something like this I suppose and as any income came in it would be divided up based on these percentages.

Saving – 35%

Debt – 35%

Living – 20%

Giving – 10%

A little more of my thoughts on this:

Saving – when our Glamping time is over, I have to have a substantial amount of money to get us into something new, whatever and wherever that may be, having this savings is very important.

Debt – obviously need to pay off debt, big time!  So don’t want to slow down on that, but this would balance paying on debt with saving, and using percentages would leave no question of what to do on months I earn more, which I hope will come soon.

Living – In an ideal world, I think you are supposed to be able to live on 30-40% of your income, right?  Because our rent/utilities are going to be covered for the time being, I think we can live on significantly less, in fact, I’m wondering if we could live on less than 20%, but this seems safe for now.

Giving – I know many would say don’t give in the situation you are in, but frankly, we have been given so, so much that I cannot, cannot NOT give, so this is staying.

So with my regular income the last few months being right around $2,000 per month that would break down as:

Saving – $700

Debt – $700

Living – $400

Giving – $200

Breaking things down this way, really tell me I have got to get more work!  But aside from that, what are your thoughts on budgeting by percentage rather than by actual number? 

 


What’s Next

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If you missed my post earlier this week, I announced the exciting news that we are officially consumer debt-free! YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!! (insert happy dance emoticon)

What’s funny is almost immediately after making the final payment on the car….it broke. Ha!

A bit of euphemism. It didn’t break down. Just a piece of it broke off. Check this out.

IMG_1575

Nothing even happened to cause it to break! I was just driving down the road to get to work, minding my own business, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a piece of our car just flapping in the wind! I immediately exited the highway but on the exit ramp the piece fully fell off and broke into several pieces.

Hubs looked it up and thinks he can get the part for relatively cheap ($100ish) and do the install himself. So all is well, just kind of funny that the second it becomes OURS….it breaks. Ha!

At any rate, I’ve had a couple people comment and ask what’s next now that the car is finally paid in full.

It’s tough because #1) I’d love to start punching Navient in the face, taking out loans left and right, and #2) I have a relatively small balance transfer loan (just over $2100) from what was originally a student loan that I’d love to pay off next month.

BUT…

I’m trying to use my head and not just my heart (which says to start stomping the student loans NOW), and make our first priority re-building our emergency fund.

If you don’t remember, our EF was slowly whittled away the second part of 2015. As was our “living on last month’s income” fund. Hubs’ business wasn’t doing so hot in 2015, so whenever I needed that extra little boost for paying debts, I’d “borrow” here and there. First from the “last month’s income” fund, and then when hubs had a no income month I used our EF and, well, now we’re down to basically nada in either of those accounts (note:  not entirely true…we still have a few hundred in the EF, but not nearly what we’d like to have).

We have 3 big goals for 2016:

  1. Save up $10,000 for a house down payment.
  2. Save $5,000 for an emergency fund.
  3. Put $30,000 toward debt.

Starting in February, we’ll begin chipping away at items #1 and #2. We’ll still be paying toward debt, too, of course. But we’ll be doing so at a much less aggressive rate as we, instead, try to restock some money in the bank.

The plan is to put nearly $2,000 a month into savings. This will be $1250/month toward the house down payment fund (our goal is to buy by the end of summer, so we need to save heavily the first half of the year), and another $500/month into our dedicated Emergency Fund.

In addition to that, we’ll still be making debt payments in the range of $1500-$2000 per month.

It’s going to be tough. That’s a pretty aggressive rate of savings and debt payment. We’re talking about $3500/month between the two, which is more than what our average monthly debt payments were last year (see here for a quick-view breakdown of the majority of last year).

But when you have something so meaningful that you’re working toward, it definitely helps put the fire under your pants. That, plus this will be our first full year both working full-time (and I still have the part-time job, too). It’s just going to be astronomical earnings compared to 2 years ago. Even compared to the first half of last year. So I think we can do it.

The first half of the year will, admittedly, be a little heavy on the savings side of things. Then the second half of the year we’ll make up some ground and really start making some good headway with the student loan debt.

But it won’t be all savings and no debt until then! It wouldn’t make sense to blog for a getting out of debt blog if I wasn’t actively working on the debt!

I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to try to make some good progress even while in savings mode! I’ve GOT to have the balance transfer student loan paid in fully by April (that’s when the interest sky rockets from 0% to 13%!!!) But right now my projections show it being paid in full by March. Then I plan to initiate a second balance transfer to do it all over again (they still have the deal with 0% APR for a year, and only a 2% initiation fee; this is half the initiation fee of other offers I’ve received).

I also may consider some type of consolidation program a little bit down the road. I like having my loans separated currently because it gives me a big psychological boost every time I pay off one of the loans (and I target them one-by-one, paying minimums on all others). However, I hate Navient with such a fiery passion that it may be worth it to consolidate with an outside company just to get them out of my life. We’ll see. I’m not jumping on anything now, but keeping my mind open to the possibility down the road.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I just wanted to dedicate a post to the question I’ve been seeing, “What’s next?”

Also…counting down the days until the all-cash paid Cruise 2016 vacation in April! We’ve been planning and saving for it since February 2015 (over a year!!!), so we’re beyond ready! I can’t wait! Whoever said you can’t have a little bit of fun while in debt-repayment mode certainly never read here! It may be a controversial stance, but I’m a believer in balance in life. We’ve worked HARD the past two years to dig ourselves out of the giant debt hole we were stuck in. Yes, we have a long way to go. But it’s precisely because this is a MARATHON (and not a sprint) that I think it makes sense to build some fun into the budget. Otherwise it’d just be impossible to stick to for so long! That’s my view on the matter.

What are your plans once you get out of consumer debt? Tackle student loans? Your mortgage? Get your savings up to snuff? Or are you going to go beyond? Perhaps save enough to retire early? Do some traveling, etc? I’d love to hear YOUR plans!

 



Emergency Fund

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I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write about our EF. I guess it just seems like a boring topic to me??? Or also because I know the popular opinion is going to be to get rid of it (throw the excess at debt). Probably a little bit of both.

Remember when I first started blogging, we had a pretty decent-sized EF. Although, I hadn’t officially called it an EF. I simply called it “assets.” See here.

At the time (March 2014) we had $11,750 in assets.

  • $4,00o in checking/savings account
  • $1,750 in Capital One 360 Savings
  • $6,000 in a money market account.

Since then there have been a few changes.

First, I ended up shuffling money around a bit.

I started some dedicated savings accounts in my Capital One 360 account and moved all the money from my checking/savings into Capital One 360 (<<that’s a “refer a friend” link). Instead of one general savings, I have lots of savings for separate purposes.

My current savings are:

  • $200/month toward car repairs/new-to-us car fund
  • $125/month to dental/vision/health
  • $100/month to annual expenses
  • $100/month for Roth IRA
  • $25/month for 3-6 month expenses
  • $25/month for travel/Christmas fund
  • $10/month for girls’ birthday expenses

You’ll notice I don’t actually have an account called “Emergency Fund.” I consider my 3-6 month expenses account as an emergency fund account. It should be noted, however, that if there were a true crap-hit-the-fan emergency, I wouldn’t hesitate to dip into my other savings accounts, as well, in order to avoid going into debt. BUT, I like having each separate savings account for its own specific purpose. And in the meantime, I hope we won’t have any true crap-hit-the-fan emergencies! Yikes!

Currently, our 3-6 month savings account has nearly $4,500 in it.

What’s happened to the rest of the money?

Well, it’s been spent!

Way back in April I put $1,000 toward debt. This was an intentional spending of money, as many readers expressed that they thought our current savings were too high.

I’ve also had 2 months where we’ve been over budget. Once was only by about $20, but the other time was by $640! Ouch! Both times I dipped into the EF to cover these expenses.

I still have my money market account, which is separate and has not been touched. And, finally, I’ve been saving $25/month (ever since I first started blogging), which is automatically deposited into my 3-6 month savings every month.

So there you have it. Almost a year after starting to blog, and after having to dip into our EF a couple of times, our net assets are still nearly what they were at the beginning of my blogging journey. Savings has always been a bit of an issue with hubs and I (because we BOTH are natural savers and want to stockpile money like the apocalypse is coming). I know this is a large EF for someone in as much debt as we have and many will say to continue throwing it at our debt. But having this safety net makes us feel…well, safe. Plus, we’ve actually had to dip into it a couple times so I’ve been glad its there. And I haven’t rushed to refill it or anything (just the same old $25/month we’ve always done), so I feel okay with that, particularly since hubs’ income is variable and we have young kiddos.

So there you have it. The deets about our emergency fund.

Do you have an Emergency Fund? If so, how much did you have in it while you were in debt?


Planned November Budget

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This was another “meh” month with our income. We live on last month’s income and last month we only made a combined total of $5805 (after taxes). I added an extra $50 to our income (with money leftover from October’s budget), which leaves us with a total income of $5855 to work with.

I have to admit, when I sat down to make the budget for this month I was a little bummed.

In my “prototype” budget I had my car debt payment set at $3,000. Ha! We didn’t even break the $6,000 mark for income, so paying $3,000 to a single bill is not happening. We just literally don’t have enough. Instead, I had to lower my payment to only a mere $745. That’s it. I played and played with the numbers, trying to get my debt payments higher but I think that in lean months such as these, the #1 MOST important goal is this: Don’t add new debt!!! So instead of having my budget set up with overages in various categories, I had to lower my debt payments so as to keep things at- or under-budget. I’m still making larger than minimum payments, so I’m making progress. It just feels a little “blah” to pay so little in terms of the “extra” toward debt. I just have to remind myself that every bit helps! Relentless forward progress!!! (<<<a favorite running saying that I think applies here, too)

Here’s our planned November budget:

Place Planned Budget
Rent 1055
Electricity 170
Water 60
Natural gas 20
Sprint (2 lines) 115
Cable/Internet 100
Car Insurance 56
Health Insurance 350
Trash 35
Debt 1498
Miscellaneous 300
Groceries 400
Baby Purchases 1100
Gasoline 100
Saving for Irregular Expenses 495
Total Budgeted 5854

 

I owe you all a full debt update (maybe next week? Those take me the longest to prepare), but here’s a little breakdown of what’s being paid toward each debt:

  • Medical Bill 1 = $25
  • Medical Bill 2 = $50
  • Medical Bill 3 = $75
  • License Fees = $250
  • Car Payment = $745
  • Student Loan 1 = $77
  • Student Loan 2 = $260
  • Student Loan 3 = $16

Total Debt Payment = $1498

 

Now I’ve got some questions for you all regarding my savings.

First, to give you some background, when I first started blogging here (back in March 2014), I had slashed my savings way down to $190/month. Then, slowly, across the course of the past 9 months my savings have crept back up. I realized my semi-annual savings were too low (I’d forgotten about some of my semi-annual payments, and I added a new one – our renter’s insurance); I also increased the amount saved toward several categories (car maintenance, dental/vision, vet care) in response to the fact that we have upcoming needs in these areas and I felt it would be prudent to plan for those in advance rather than being surprised by the big bills when they pop up.

So what started as only $190 in monthly savings has slowly crept up to $495 in monthly savings.

On the whole, I feel good about my savings categories. I feel like this is money we will certainly need for expenses in the future and instead of not having a plan for how to pay for them, we’ll have money already set aside.

That being said, this is a very lean month. December will probably be quite lean as well. Plus, I have some potentially large expenses coming up. I’ll need to have money set aside to buy a couple nice interview outfits and some travel expenses for the month of December.

With all of this being said, what do you all think about me setting aside my “savings” money for these other purposes? I could split it roughly in half, putting $250 toward planned December travel expenses (which should cover about half the total expenses – see here), and $245 toward funds to-be-used on a nice interview outfit or two (I have to admit I have NO IDEA how much I’ll need for my interview clothes).

For reference sake, here’s how I currently have my savings categorized:

  • Semi-Annual Bills = $100
  • Car Maintenance = $100
  • Dental/Vision/Health = $125
  • Travel/Christmas = $25
  • 3-6 Months Expenses = $25
  • Dog/Vet Care = $10
  • Girls’ Birthday Savings = $10
  • Roth IRA = $100

I know it’s a slippery slope to stop contributing to these savings permanently (i.e., I KNOW the semi-annual bills are going to happen, so it’s unwise not to prepare for them), but do you think it would be prudent to stop the contributions for a single month so I can use this money toward these other things (i.e., interview clothes and travel expenses)? If not, from where should I draw this money? Contribute less toward debt payments? Try to sell more things? Something else?

I appreciate any and all tips or suggestions. Thanks!


It Isn’t All About Income

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Yesterday I read something over at Budgets Are Sexy that really resonated with me.  J. Money read an article from Mr. Money Mustache (a pretty famous blog that I follow).  In this article MMM said:

“The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income.  The reason is that every permanent drop in your spending has a double effect:  it increases the amount of money you have left over to save each month, and it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life.”  

I still stick to my guns in saying the easiest way to make fifty dollars is to save fifty dollars.  I had this mantra since I began my coupon journey about five years ago.  This was a time when I went from a single man living alone to having a built in family.  Feeding three people was an eye opener to say the least, especially when you were allotting yourself about $100 per month for food before.  Remember I was in the food industry, and usually always fed myself at work.

What this article did for me was realize that it really isn’t my income that is a problem here.  I have been making it work, and know full well that we could live on the income we do have.  It is really all about eliminating all the unnecessary monthly expenses.  

The biggest being DEBT.

Now I am not saying that I won’t challenge the other expenses, but debt is the biggest.  I have been paying anywhere from $800 to $1,000 every month for the last four and a half years, just on debt!  

What if I was using this amount to put away for savings and retirement?  I would be in a totally different situation than I am today.  

This is also not saying that I will not be looking for opportunities to increase my income.  Because let’s be honest the two go hand in hand.  If I increase my income it will be a much faster route to get out of debt and start becoming the provider that my family knows I am.  

So for the month of July I will be reviewing more of my expenses and seeing ways to cut them out of my life.  Who’s with me?


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