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It is currently Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:16 pm




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 Post subject: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:27 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Alright, so I didn't keep up with my last journal, and even with that, there were a lot of off-topic posts in it that made it a bit cluttered. So, I'm starting over - I just did a run down of what I owe, what I have invested, and what I have in cash, and figured I'd post them here, get opinions, and see where it takes us.

We are a family of 3, married couple, 26 years old, and a 7 month old at home. I work full time as an insurance agent, my wife is in her last semester of school (clinicals), on her way to become a Physical Therapy Assistant (she already holds a Psych degree as well).

Year End Report
Debts
Mortgage - $60,691.04 - 15 year mortgage at 3.75% - Monthly payment, including escrow, $650
Shed Loan - $3,617.17 - 3 year loan at 5.4% - Monthly payment of $251
Student Loans - $48,191.28 - Deferred until 3/28/15, payment will be $300.24 a month
Credit card - $988.98 between two cards - Not exactly sure what happened here, I'll have to do some looking at the balances. Regardless, the balance originated after the last bill date, and they'll be paid in full my next pay check.
LP - $1,030 - this is paid monthly or in full, bill will be due in late Jan (since I live on an acreage, I don't get a heat bill like most people. I own my LP tank and have to pay when it needs filled)
Hospital - $2,200 - stuff from the pregnancy not covered by insurance - I pay $50 a month, no interest.
No car loans

Investments
$32,573.43 between my wife and myself, most of that balance is in the 401k of my past employer - I've only been eligible for a 401k with my current employer for 6 months, and I'm contributing 8%, they contribute 3% (regardless if I contribute or not)

Cash
Checking - $865.36
Money Market - $1,216.61
Savings - $3,075.38
Total - $5,157.35

My wife will be starting clinicals in January, should finish by mid April, and then will be looking for a rehab tech job until she can take and pass her boards and get a PTA position.

I take home about $1,800 a month, after tax and 401k, and that is our SOLE take home money at this point. I also spend a couple hundred hours in the field during the year, which usually brings in another $3-$4k. My monthly income does vary quite a bit, but $1,800 is about the base, plus any commissions from new business or renewals that I receive.

Student loans are deferred as we couldn't afford to make the payments with my wife not working due to school (which is awesome, I'm happy that she is going to be able to do what she loves) and having to pay for day care for our new born (who is now 7 months old).

Here is my plan - the shed loan will be paid off with our tax refund, which we will get, and it should be sizeable. Whatever is left will be applied to our remaining doctor bills. That will free up the funds needed to start making my student loan payments again until my wife can get finished up with school.

We don't go out much, we don't spend a lot on eating out, I do have DISH, which I hate paying for, but it's college basketball season and I'm fine with paying for it, for now. It'll likely be cancelled sooner than later though, which saddens me.

Day care runs $75 a week, but that'll move to $100 a week once my wife starts clinicals.

We spend a lot on fuel, but that was because my wife was driving 40 miles, one way, each day to class. Her clinicals are closer, so that'll go down. I also drive for work, but get reimbursed mileage, so that helps. I'm just terrible at tracking my work mileage and deducting my reimbursements from what we pay per month in fuel.

Wow, long post, let me know your thoughts, criticisms, and anything else you want to say! I'm pretty thick skinned, no worries.

Happy new year everyone, here is to hoping 2015 is as good, if not better, than 2014 was!


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 4:29 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:44 pm
Posts: 353
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Hi, Herkster! Congratulations to you and your wife on your baby this year! My initial thoughts are:

It looks like your budget will be extremely tight until your wife graduates and starts earning an income, too. This makes it all the more important that you track your expenses as they come up and avoid any more surprises in future months' usage of the credit card. Even though you will be paying off the balance in full before the due date, don't let this get your family on a pattern of consistently charging up more than you can comfortably afford.

Today's the last day of the year, so presumably you can start tallying up what your tax refund will actually be. I hope that you do get as large a refund as you are expecting so that you can pay off that shed loan! Once that is gone, it will free up $251 per month for you to use on paying off your next onerous loan.

That propane bill is a tough one to take. If you're not already monitoring your consumption, I'd see what you can do to decrease it - every little bit helps.

Cheers for a happy and healthy 2015!


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:40 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
LeRainDrop wrote:
Hi, Herkster! Congratulations to you and your wife on your baby this year! My initial thoughts are:

It looks like your budget will be extremely tight until your wife graduates and starts earning an income, too. This makes it all the more important that you track your expenses as they come up and avoid any more surprises in future months' usage of the credit card. Even though you will be paying off the balance in full before the due date, don't let this get your family on a pattern of consistently charging up more than you can comfortably afford.

Today's the last day of the year, so presumably you can start tallying up what your tax refund will actually be. I hope that you do get as large a refund as you are expecting so that you can pay off that shed loan! Once that is gone, it will free up $251 per month for you to use on paying off your next onerous loan.

That propane bill is a tough one to take. If you're not already monitoring your consumption, I'd see what you can do to decrease it - every little bit helps.

Cheers for a happy and healthy 2015!


Oh yeah, tight is an understatement. It's been that way since May, so nothing new there! We've done all we can do to make our house more efficient at this point - we blew in cellulose in the ceiling and I plasticed all my windows in November. I don't have the funds to replace my windows, which is what is killing me. My LP bill is still substantially less this winter already than it was last winter, just due to the insulation and window coverings.

I'm pretty positive that we'll be able to clear the shed loan, at a minimum, with our refund. I think last year, before the baby, we would have almost cleared that. My wife will still get a life-time learning credit and we'll get some credit for our daughter, but I'm not sure how much that'll run.

I wish I knew a way to estimate tax returns, but I don't. I'll just cross my fingers that I get all my docs as soon as possible!


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:51 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Well, we just found out that since my wife is starting clinicals next week, that our day care rate is moving from $75 to $125 per week, due to the increased hours she will be at daycare. We also have my student loans coming back due eff 3/28 at $305 a month, which is going to be quite the kicker.

A pretty substantial increase, which we were expecting, but a tough one to swallow at that. We are going to really have to tighten everything down for the first half of the year and hopefully make it through unscathed.

Lower gas prices have helped the bottom line a bit, but not as much as I was expecting. We are trying to get better at planning meals, and only buying groceries once a month. This month was $250, but was also kind of a re-stock grocery buy, as we were out of hamburger and a few other essentials that we like to have around.

We do have half of a hog done as a Christmas present, which will help us for quite sometime as well.

Looking back, last February I received my bonus from work ($1869) and our tax refund ($1400 and change if I remember right). We've made quite a bit less money this year with my wife not working due to school, so our adjusted gross income will be down quite a bit. We'll also get a lifetime learning credit, a child credit, and a credit back on what we paid on daycare.

I still wish there was a way to estimate a return, but I'll just have to sit tight and wait.

The goals?
Save my work refund, and use that to pay our daycare expenses at the beginning of each month. That way I'm not waiting for checks to clear and having to keep an eye on the balance in my checking account.

We'll do one of two things with our tax return - if it's enough to pay off our shed loan, which will be about $3,000 left due at the end of Feb, we will pay that off. If that isn't the case, this money will be thrown into our emergency fund and we'll wait to see how the first half of the year plays out.

And I hate to say it, but I really need to cancel our DISH. It pains me as it is basketball season and I'm a loyal follower of our two (well, three) in state teams. However, I can follow all that on espn or on a few different forums and get my fix.

We'll be using netflix and Hulu, a total of $15 a month, for our tv watching.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:05 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Forgot to add that we have a $1,100 LP bill, either paid monthly or in a lump sum, which we might just pay off
And $2,200 worth of hospital bills that we pay $50 a month on, interest free.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:59 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:53 am
Posts: 152
I think a monthly budget will go a long way in helping you. You really need to sit down and list out your monthly expenses and compare those to your income. Cutting DISH is a great choice-well done! Remember it's not forever, just until your living situation gets a bit more comfortable. Your monthly expenses and income are changing right now, but I think a list you can change and add/delete items on would help a lot, and help keep you from monitoring your checking account balance quite so carefully. Good luck to you these next few months :)


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:01 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1848
Location: Ottawa, Canada
To me, this looks like an income crisis. $1,800/month is only $21,600/year. That's not nearly enough for a family of 3 to live off of. I suspect there are some pretty important things you're not able to properly include in your budget, such as adequate life insurance for you and your wife, or saving up for an inevitable vehicle replacement. I hope your wife entering the work force will alleviate some of that pressure and substantially increase your household income, but I would additionally be looking at ways to increase your own income, especially if you hope to bring more kids into the mix.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:00 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
kombat wrote:
To me, this looks like an income crisis. $1,800/month is only $21,600/year. That's not nearly enough for a family of 3 to live off of. I suspect there are some pretty important things you're not able to properly include in your budget, such as adequate life insurance for you and your wife, or saving up for an inevitable vehicle replacement. I hope your wife entering the work force will alleviate some of that pressure and substantially increase your household income, but I would additionally be looking at ways to increase your own income, especially if you hope to bring more kids into the mix.


Kombat, I appreciate the input. Everything that we deem as important things, are things that we save and budget for. We pay our mortgage (set up on a 15 year, 13 years to go), pay all of our bills, have more than enough food in the house to keep us fed, more than enough clothing to keep us warm. We can afford our groceries, gas for our cars, our life insurance (since you questioned that - both have 150k values - might seem low, but even with our two big debts, we only owe 100k total), home and auto insurance (i'm in an insurance agent, I understand how valuable insurance is, and no, I don't carry state minimums, I'm not that cheap).


With commissions, I made about 45k this year, which is more than enough in our area. Yes, you are right, you did see that my base income, after taxes, 401k, health insurance (for all three of us), comes to $1,850. However, I'm salary plus commission, so while my base salary is under 40k, I will always make more than that.

And yes, my wife getting a job will help a lot, especially if she gets full benefits, which she will in a hospital environment. That'll save me $300 a month on health insurance alone, not including her increased income. And you are right, we are not planning to have any more children for at least another two years. We need to make sure she is employed long enough at where ever she gets a job, to qualify for maternity leave.

I've got everything planned out, I'm not overly worried about it, but I do appreciate your input. You are right on a lot of things, like usual.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:03 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Apples wrote:
I think a monthly budget will go a long way in helping you. You really need to sit down and list out your monthly expenses and compare those to your income. Cutting DISH is a great choice-well done! Remember it's not forever, just until your living situation gets a bit more comfortable. Your monthly expenses and income are changing right now, but I think a list you can change and add/delete items on would help a lot, and help keep you from monitoring your checking account balance quite so carefully. Good luck to you these next few months :)


Yeah, a monthly budget is something we really need to hone in on. We don't eat out, we don't waste fuel in our vehicles, we don't have any expensive hobbies. Heck, I golf, and the membership on our local course is under $300 - and no, I didn't purchase a membership last year as we were expecting, and no, I doubt I buy one this year either because she will be just finishing up with clinicals and trying to find a job.

I really struggle to see where I can cut much else out. I'll do a large update after we find out what we are getting for taxes (1k child credit, we got 1200 back last year without a kid, lifetime learning credit, daycare credit, not sure what else) and my work bonus.

I'll outline what we paid off, what my monthly bills are, and we'll go from there!
Thanks for the response!


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:25 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:14 pm
Posts: 229
I forget if you mentioned this any of your previous posts, but do you use Mint.com? That really helped me get a grip on what I was spending my money on. Their budgeting tool has been so useful in showing me when I eat out too much (erm... almost every month), when I have excess in my grocery budget (probably because I eat out too often!), etc. Use it for a month without changing anything then see what you did and how you can improve!


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:49 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Lis wrote:
I forget if you mentioned this any of your previous posts, but do you use Mint.com? That really helped me get a grip on what I was spending my money on. Their budgeting tool has been so useful in showing me when I eat out too much (erm... almost every month), when I have excess in my grocery budget (probably because I eat out too often!), etc. Use it for a month without changing anything then see what you did and how you can improve!


Yeah, I do have a mint account. I have a budget set up in it, but I don't use it religiously. I should, I know, but I have a hard time keeping up on it, which is part of our problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:53 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Well, my wife has been selling some of our stuff from our wedding, and we have about $500-$600 cash in our safe right now. She also has a $500 scholarship coming from school, which is already paid for. Between those two, we'll pay off our LP bill.

Tax refund is projected to be enough to cover our shed loan, and then some. I'll probably take the rest and pay towards my smallest student loan - which is against conventional wisdom, but I'm hoping it lights a fire under my butt to see one loan, of my many, paid off.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:10 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:11 pm
Posts: 81
Well, given our financial situation, my wife started selling some of our wedding decorations and things that we had in one of our storage rooms in the house. We ended up netting around $1100 total, which I just paid to our LP supplier.

Check one bill off the list!


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:12 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:09 pm
Posts: 77
Awesome job getting so much money out of those wedding decorations! I feel inspired to see if there is anything laying around my house unused that can be turned (back in to) cash.


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 Post subject: Re: Herksters 2015 Journal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:17 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:44 pm
Posts: 353
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Nice job, Herkster! Use this momentum and keep going!


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