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 Post subject: H's fiscal fitness journal
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:46 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
Hello everyone.

I am a 22 year old female who just finished her first year out of college in graduate school. I want you guys to take a look at my budget - thanks!

-H

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I make $25,000 a year as a science graduate student, giving me $2,083 per month.
I have student loan debts from my undergraduate education totaling to $18,483.71.
I have $8,804.79 in a savings account.
I have $1,855.87 in a Roth IRA at Vanguard.

Here is my monthly budget:
$730 - rent
$250 - student loan
$200 - savings
$200 - Roth IRA
$60 - cell phone (doesn't cost this much, but am rounding upwards - I'd rather have a positive surprise.)
$150 - utilities (also doesn't cost this much, but am rounding upwards)
$493 - everything else including food, gas for car, entertainment, etc. ---> Whatever is left over goes straight into savings or debt repayment (depending on how I feel that month)!
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$2083

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My short term goal is:
1. An awesome vacation next year after finishing a big exam

My mid term goal is:
1. To have a positive net worth in about 3-4 years.

My long term goals are:
1. To pay down my student loan by the time I graduate (in about 7 years)
2. Save enough money for either a down payment or a car by the time I graduate (depending on which is necessary at that point).

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 Post subject: In answer to your questions...
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:59 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
My student loan interest rates are:

$7483.71 at 4.75%
$11000.00 at 6.8%

I thought about opening an ING account because the subaccount idea is a good one, but for the meanwhile, I am going to just add the savings on top. I'll keep you posted with how I'm doing.

I haven't decided completely where I'm going for the vacation, partially because I don't know when I'm going to be taking the extremely crazy and awful exam. But, when that gets scheduled, the vacation will get scheduled as well. I'm going to use Travelzoo (awesome website) to make sure I don't pay more for my vacation than I have to. I'm thinking I can go on an awesome vacation for only about $1000 - especially since I'm hoping a good friend from college will come with me!

$20,000 is probably a good number for the car -- of course, that's assuming I need one when I leave graduate school... maybe I'll get to go to a city with a transportation system. :shock:

Ok, thanks!

-H


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:30 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
Welcome!
I like your budget EXCEPT that I think you should start paying off the student loans a little more aggressively. 200 isn't making a large dent, and you have a large savings account for your age. If your vacation is only going to run you 1000 dollars, you still have 7000 left. I would continue contributing to your Roth, but stop putting 200 in the savings and focus your energies on paying the student loans down. Any extra can be put towards paying down your loans. THEN, go back to saving for your down payment. Time is on your side. Get rid of excess debt. For me, it's not worth it to carry if you have the means to pay it off.

You don't get taxed on your grad school income?

Oh, and if you want a referral to ING, send me a private message. I think you get 25 bucks if you get referred (or something like that).


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 Post subject: Hmm... good idea.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:57 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
The grad. school stipend is strange --- it's not a typical stipend, so it gets taxed differently than a "salary." The person I went to for taxes last year said I had to pay state, but not federal. But somebody else (with the same stipend) going to a different person for taxes said they had to pay federal, but not state. And yet again, somebody else (with the same stipend) going to a 3rd person for taxes said they had to pay neither. Another person said to pay quarterly payments. Truly crazy. Nobody really knows what to do, including the IRS, which several of us have called; they all said, if it makes sense and you can justify it, pick the way that gives you the lowest taxes. We were like, uh.. ok?

As far as paying down debt, I could allocate some more to it, maybe 300 or 350, in which case the payback time is 5 years (for all of it!) as opposed to 7-7.5 years. I send little "snowflake" payments to it when I can which probably shortens it some anyways. In any case, thanks for your advice. I really will take it into consideration, but the increased payment, isn't going to be until the next month or two is over. I'm going to go way over budget this coming month, because I'm moving (into the place with the rent that I listed in my last budget) and there are all kinds of initial fees that will kick in, but that I won't have to pay again, that will be slowly absorbed over the next month or so -- and I'd like to keep my savings at about $10,000 (and I'm a little, but not much, below that now).

So, as a compromise, let's say-- in 6 months (Jan. 2010), I will adjust my budget to an increased payment to my loans at $350, and decrease all savings by $100.

Thanks,
-H


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 Post subject: Update
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:54 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
Update:

Savings Acct.
Current: $8,060.54 (down 744.25 since last month) :(
Goal: $10,000

Student Loan
Current: $18,324.34 (down 159.37 since last month) :)
Goal: $0

Roth IRA:
Current: $2,028.87

I'm not going to make excuses for the savings account, except to say that I moved last week and there were all kinds of deposits and things due, since this is the first real place that I've lived in that wasn't equivalent to a dorm. room or my parent's house. I will also say that I purposely transferred too much to my checking account to make sure I had enough to cover everything, and surely some of it, but not all, will get transferred back at the end of the month.

By the way, a cool part about the story -- I got upgraded to a 2 bedroom apartment for free (for the entire year!!!!) since they forgot to have a 1 bedroom apartment ready for me when I came over. Pretty awesome, I must say; now I can invite my friends from out of town to stay with me! The new apartment will do a lot for my sanity-- the neighborhood is quiet and pretty, and my neighbors are nice. It already feels like my little sanctuary away from the cares of the rest of the world. :mrgreen:

-H


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 591
Location: NC
You have 4+ months of expenses in savings right now. Unless that dipped down below 7K, I'd be putting money towards those loans. You are a childless single 22 year old. You don't to have that much cash while you have that much debt. :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:27 pm
Posts: 591
Location: NC
Oh, and just use Turbo Tax. It knows the tax code better than most tax preparers do. My return is quite a bit more complicated than yours, I'[m certain, and it does the same job with the $50 I spend on it as the $300 on a CPA did. :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:27 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:47 am
Posts: 172
Location: FL
Looks like you've mapped out your financial picture pretty well! And congrats on the apartment upgrade that is awesome.

Just to be careful, I am not sure if your 25,000 is after taxes or not, but if its not thats definitely something to take into account in your budget and monthly income.

My gross income is 4500 a month, but it goes all the way down to around 3200 after taxes and some other deductions.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:20 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:22 pm
Posts: 6
Your stipend tax situation sounds interesting. I get a grad school stipend as well. I pay federal taxes (live in a no income tax state), but no FICA. Since I worked at the NIH in an educational fellowship immediately after college for a while and then started grad school which I've been in . . um, forever. .I haven't paid into Social security since I had part time jobs in HS and College.

I get the part about the IRS not being willing to commit though. When I was working for the NIH, they told us that they had consulted with the IRS and in their best estimation we had to pay income tax, but not FICA, but added something to the effect that if the IRS changed its mind we were on our own. I think my school has something similar in writing too, even though they are the ones NOT withholding FICA. (At the NIH we had to pay quarterly estimated taxes.)

Does your school report your income on 1099's or W-2's?


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 Post subject: Taxes
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
Honestly, I don't remember. Probably 1099s, because it isn't W2s. I'm certain of this. I gave my folder of last year's stuff to my mom to put away in the middle of her boxes of paperwork.


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 Post subject: It's time for the August update!
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
Hello everyone. I start classroom school on Monday again. *sigh* I was kinda enjoying my summer break from that. In any case, I just got back from a fantastic vacation, and sat down to look at finances. Here's the current situation for August!

Update:

Savings Acct.
Current: $8,787.54 (back up to where it was)
Goal: $10,000

Student Loan
Current: $18,173.36 (down 150.98 since last month)
Goal: $0

Roth IRA:
Current: $2,401.54 (Up! Thanks stock market!)


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 Post subject: Missed a couple months... October time!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:46 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
Hello...

I've changed a few things around. My credit union finally got one of those super-high interest rate accounts, so now, I'm getting 4% on my checking account! And, I've analyzed my spending on Mint in a little more detail. Do any of you have suggestions that can decrease reliance on eating out by stocking a pantry/freezer with stuff I'll actually want to eat? I honestly don't know what I need to make this work and have very little time to work with. When I eat out, I usually take something with me to do so I'm not wasting time. But I really should cut back.

Savings:
Current: $7266.23 (bleh... this is down because i had 3 sorta expensive things come up this month... new set of tires, yearly parking fee, and big exam registration fee; luckily i will get one of these reimbursed eventually...)
Goal: $10,000

Student Loans:
Current: $17648.21 (yay! below $17000)
Goal: $0

Roth IRA:
Current: $2960.29 (Would love for this to tip over, since I love big round numbers!)


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 Post subject: Re: H's fiscal fitness journal
PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:41 pm
Posts: 12
It's been a while since I posted. Just wanted to share some progress...

Savings:
Current: $6965 (about the same as last time)
Goal: $10,000

Student Loans:
Current: $14870 (a few thousand dollars less, yay!)
Goal: $0

Roth IRA:
Current: $6690 (much more, wow!)


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 Post subject: Re: H's fiscal fitness journal
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:06 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:43 pm
Posts: 94
H-

As for your eating out and reliance on the time savings, here are some suggestions.

I always make sure I have the ingredients on hand for 4 or 5 easy to prepare meals. I have the recipes posted on the side of my fridge so they are convenient. Some things that I make are quick and easy chicken pot pie, sheppards pie, and tuna casserole. Each recipe takes about 30 minutes and there is enough for leftovers. When I have a little more time, I will make a meal that takes more time and then freeze the leftovers or divide them into containers that I just have to reach in the fridge and throw the container in the microwave.

The other thing I do is use a crockpot. 5 or 10 minutes of prep and the meal is ready when you get home.


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