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Bringing it back in...

April 19th, 2013 at 03:21 pm

OK...now that we've had our 'a-HA' moment, let's figure out where the heck all that money is going and more importantly, how to make it stop.

I said before, I really thought we were doing well on cutting this back. Over the past year, we have NOT been eating out as much, etc. I "usually" bring my lunch to work, and he is much better about doing that than I am. I'm back in school now and rarely do a "happy hour" anymore. He almost never does them. Once every several months.

Still, going over the past month or so, it's easy to see where it's all going:
- I said I "usually" bring my lunch to work. I still go out for lunch 1-2 times per week. Sometimes 3. I would say $7-$10 each time.
- He might go once per week, on Fridays since he's off work. Usually fast food, $5-$7
- Then, we might eat out 4 times on a weekend. Not every weekend, but even 4 times in one weekend in a month is a couple hundred dollars, then one or two times the other weekends.
- We've been eating out Friday or Saturday nights. $50-$75, depending on where we go.
- I stop to see my best friend after school on Saturdays. She's a bartender, so I go see her at her bar. This is usually $25. Sometimes if I'm in a hurry, it might be $15.
- If my significant other meets me at my friend's bar, $50 or sometimes more. We usually eat.
- We sometimes go out for breakfast Sunday mornings, then go grocery shopping. Sometimes, depending on the time, we might stop somewhere for lunch or drinks in the afternoon.
- If the UFC fights are on PPV, we go to a bar to watch. There's no cover charge, but we spend probably $60 for food and drinks. This is once or twice a month I think. At least once.
- Booze at home. There's no schedule here, we go in phases. I might not drink all week one week, then the next week I might have one or two almost every night. I don't drink real expensive stuff, but not cheap either. Lately I've been drinking ciders (like Angry Orchard or Woodchuck). He drinks beer, usually craft beer (and when I'm drinking beer, I drink craft beer also) so more expensive than usual domestic. Lately it's been Tecate though.

So, yeah. It adds up quick when I lay it all out that way.

We're trying to figure out how to best limit this spending: by event or by dollar amount? So...eat out one time a weekendend, period. So if it's UFC, that's it. If it's breakfast, that's it.

Or dollar amount. We get $50 per weekend to eat out. Of course, for us, this is about one time lunch or dinner.

Then a set dollar amount on alcohol at home? I'll probably post this to the forum.

What a wake-up call...

April 18th, 2013 at 10:46 pm

We spend up to $700 per month on booze and eating out. HOLY SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM! How did I not realize this??

So, significant other and I enjoy (and apparently we REALLY enjoy...) drinking and eating out. I really thought we were doing well on cutting this back over the last year or so. I don't even want to know what we WERE spending, holy moley!

We recently opened new bank accounts and got reward credit cards, on which we've been putting all gas, groceries, eating out, etc. to pay off every month. This is part of our plan to control our spending and "really see" what we spend money on, and how much.

Anyway, he was talking to his coworkers about whatever, and budgeting came up. This made him start calculating in his head...and he came up with about $700 per month. I said, NO WAY! Then I looked at our first credit card statements, and in a month, we're not quite at $700, but we are pretty darn close. And it's been a "slow month" for us. I am ashamed to admit that I really had no idea it was that much!

Mind you, this is BOOZE and EATING OUT ONLY! Stops at the liquor store, happy hours, lunch and/or dinner on the weekends, going out for breakfast.

Well, gee. Maybe that's why I can't manage to put more money in savings, or pay down the other credit accounts faster, or why everything is an emergency when there's an emergency. Geez.

Well, welcome to reality! I am so mad at us! We had a good long discussion last night though. This is going to stop.

Man o' Man I'm trying!

March 8th, 2013 at 06:49 pm

I'm telling you, this is tough. I'm so frustrated.

Due to car problems, my emergency savings is gone and I had to use the dang credit cards. And the cars still have problems.

I had been expecting a stock bonus this month, and I got it, except it's about 50% less than I thought (dang taxes), and our stock price of course tanked (dang Murphy's Law) so I'm hesitant to sell at the moment.

All the bills are being paid on time, still paying above minimum payments on debt, slowly socking money back into the EF, we're not paycheck to paycheck, both of us are still working, and all of that is good.

But geez. I feel like as soon as I get a handle on something, it goes to crap.

It's about this time I usually say SCREW IT and go shopping. But I am holding back. YAY ME! Frown It sure would make me feel better though.

{{pause}} {{breathe}}

Maybe I just needed to vent. I feel a little better already...except...

I'm really getting worried about retirement though. I know it's several years off, but I am clearly not saving enough. I believe the usual plan is to pay off debt then aggressively save/invest, but I fear that is many years off and I won't have enough time. Sucks that I waited this long to think about it.

**EDIT** I do contribute to a 401(k) and there is a match. I only have about $57K in there though. I recently heard that by my age (39) I should have something like 2x my yearly salary?? That's when I started to worry about it more. **END EDIT**

But the last thing I need is to get depressed about it. I need to suck it up and forge ahead.

OK, rant over.

Blah... suggestions?

January 10th, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I'm feeling very "blah" about it all lately. Couldn't put my finger on it at first, but I think I just did.

I was all pumped up looking at my finances and making plans when I had money to pay down/off credit cards and options. Now, the extra money is gone and it's just the boring day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month budget, spending, bills, BLAH!

My next bunch-o-money will come in March when I get some stock. My plan is to sell (hoping for a decent stock price) to pay off more debt.

But in the meantime, I have a hard time being focused on finances. What can I do??

Good stuff: I had two weeks off from work over the holidays. I went through my office (formerly known as the mess/junk room that I really couldn't walk into comfortably) and got it pretty much cleaned out. I have a TON of books I hope to sell, but many old textbooks I fear will not. What shall I do with them? I also found some other collectible-type things I'll try to sell online. I'm quite sure nothing is worth much money individually, but it will all add up.

More good stuff coming: while my significant other's hours are shorted now (24 hours down from 40+), this shouldn't last long. His company announced that they received the needed tax credit/break/whatever it was they needed and will be ramping up sooner rather than later. Then it will be lots of hours for him. He'll be crabby, but he'll be making lots of overtime money.

Also, I started school again and I'm pretty excited about it. Only book cost and supplies are out of pocket, tuition is paid by my company. YAY ME!

Not so good: I caved and used some credit cards over the holiday. Not much though and am confident these will be paid before any interest hits.

Good: I think I'll make my weight when I weigh in for my work's "maintain don't gain" contest. If I do, I won't have to pay $25. The contest is to weigh the same or less after the holidays. I was a half-pound up early this week, but pretty sure I'm good now.

I'm not sure how to keep motivated with the financial journey. I'm terrible at budgeting but I am working on it. I've unfortunately gotten used to just getting what I need and reasonably what I want when the mood strikes (far cry from my old life when I couldn't get milk when I needed it). I can't seem to focus on the things I want in the future - though I think about them in the "oh, when I'm retired, I'll do this and have that and be like this" way - and worse I have forced myself to forget my old life of constant struggle. BLAH! Sometimes the "wow those jeans make my butt look AMAZING, especially when I wear those SHOES" thoughts are louder...


3 steps forward, 1 step back?

December 19th, 2012 at 05:23 pm

So far, I've done really well with Christmas shopping! Absolutely nothing on credit, bills are still paid, money still in the bank, AND...

The biggest challenge for me is not to over-shop for people. I LOVE giving people presents. I've tended to go a bit overboard in previous years, buying two presents for someone when they only need one (or NONE, for that matter). But this year, I've kept it in check! That is a big step for me.

So all of that is my three steps forward.

The one step back...and could be two steps back, I haven't decided...after the first of the year, my significant other's work hours are going to be cut almost in half. From 40 to 24. He will still keep his benefits, and SAYS he's going to see if he can pick up a part-time job. This could go on for at least 3 weeks up to 10 weeks, then he'll go to the other extreme of probably working 50-60 hours per week (overtime). I am happy he is keeping his job of course, but this is FRUSTRATING!

Hoping for the three weeks!

Debt I didn't think about...

December 12th, 2012 at 04:24 pm

So...a thread I responded to yesterday/the other day reminded me that there is debt I don't regularly pay on and that I don't really think about. And a statement came in the mail yesterday that reminded me of another one...


My son has the opportunity to take a trip to Italy and Spain next June. It's been planned for a year and a half now (2 years before departure). I've paid about a third of it, and minimum $1600 is due in February (remaining balance is $2220). I can't really say I had forgotten about the February payment, but I hadn't been thinking about it either. He cannot opt out at this point without a huge penalty. SO...I have to shift focus to pay off that trip without using credit! I can do it, but it sucks I didn't plan better.

Another debt I don't think about: vet bill. We are fortunate in that our friend is a vet, but we do still cover costs associated and don't want to take advantage of our friend. We usually make a large payment 2-3 times per year.

And...money owed to parents. Mine and his. Or, not sure it's owed exactly, but our parents have helped us (separately) over the years, pretty significantly in a couple of cases at least on my side, and we really should give back at some point.

Just more things I need think about, and plan for.

Two more down! Now I need a plan...

December 10th, 2012 at 06:14 pm

I paid off two more credit cards today, and moved $1000 into a savings account for emergencies.

Now these (total of four) credit card payoffs and emergency fund occurred because I got some unexpected money and sold my stock from employee purchase. I'm not expecting any more "unexpected money" or stock until March or April. So now I need a plan to continue the momentum.

I'm shopping for cheaper auto insurance right now, and waiting for my cell phone contracts to expire. Going back and forth on the DirecTV...we live outside of town and an antenna didn't work for us, and I think we'd have to get a new TV for netflix to work. I don't watch much TV, but the significant other enjoys watching UFC...every night Smile

Credit Cards:
1: $ 639 / 18.4%
2. $2681 / 22.98%
3. $7026 / 19.24%

401(k) loan #1: $2400 / 4.24%
401(k) loan #2: $10,500 / 4.24%

Auto loan #1: $2700 / 6.5%
Auto loan #2: $18,000 / 4.1%

Student Loan: $51,000 / 4.625%
Parent Loan: $14,372 / 7.65%

Mortgage: $69,314 / 4.25%

Household Income:
About $2600 biweekly, take home, no overtime
(Health insurance, 401(k) contributions and loan payments already out of that.)
I can usually work 8-10 hours of overtime per week without question.
My significant other is not working overtime right now, but is expected to start ~60/hour weeks in February.

Bills (monthly unless otherwise specified):
Mortgage: $296 biweekly
Car Pmt 1: $264
Car Pmt 2: $407
Auto Insurance: $450
Credit Cards (min): ~$350
Phone: $45
Cell Phones/internet: $320
DirecTV: $82
Propane: $90
Electricity: $100
Student Loan: $336
Parent Loan: $186
Gas (Auto): $400 estimated
Groceries: $400 estimated

Savings (not much):
$1000 "emergency fund" in a separate savings account
I still plan to carry ~$1000 between three checking accounts.

401(k): 50,843.72
Contributing 5%

And, we begin

December 5th, 2012 at 08:22 pm

I've realized a while ago now that I'm not in a good place financially, even though I have a stable career and make good money. There is too much debt, and almost no savings at all. I'm not getting any younger (as a matter of fact, today is my 39th birthday).

I've come to terms with the situation and am intent on fixing it.

I have a significant other who has no desire to or expertise in managing money. We both brought debt to the relationship. I have primary control over the finances. He is aware of the financial situation and trusts me to make the right decisions.

I've recently (JUST THIS WEEK!) paid off two of the highest interest credit cards! It felt so good! I've also just sold some stock and will pay off 2 more high interest cards within the next week. This is my debt picture, as of today:

Credit Cards:
1: $ 639 / 18.4%
2. $ 665 / 21.5%
3. $1012 / 22.9%
4. $2681 / 22.98%
5. $7026 / 19.24%

401(k) loan #1: $2400 / 4.24%
401(k) loan #2: $10,500 / 4.24%

Auto loan #1: $2700 / 6.5%
Auto loan #2: $18,000 / 4.1%

Student Loan: $51,000 / 4.625%
Parent Loan: $14,372 / 7.65%

Mortgage: $69,314 / 4.25%