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 Post subject: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:46 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Hi all! I'm a 24 y/o chemist living in LA that needs accountability and advice! I keep bouncing between paying off debt and building savings. I'll spend 6 months building up my savings account, then get irritated that my debt isn't going down, and I'll wipe out my savings! Clearly, this gets me nowhere.

Income: variable. My job is project-based. When we have a major project, it's not unusual for me to work 9AM to 11PM. When we don't have a project, we're encouraged to leave early. Some months I take home $3600. When we're really slow, I don't even make $2000. Generally, it's around $2200/mo. I direct deposit $225/mo into a low-interest savings account.

Lately, we've been on the slow side (thank you California budget crisis).

Debt:

Student loans: $4,500 at 8% - fixed
$7,609 at 7.25% - fixed
$48,475 at 4% - variable. I thought it was fixed when I consolidated, but apparently not.

Auto: $13,537 at 2.9%

AmEx: $2,600 at 0% for 2 more months, then 7%. This is me learning not to spend money you will be earning in 2 months, only to have projects cancel on you. Instead of two $3600 months, I got two $2000 months.

Expenses:

Rent: $750/mo. All utilities included.
Internet/TV/DVR: $117/mo. This should go down, since FIOS just came to my area. I will be getting a quote from them, then asking TW if they can do better.
Gym: $32/mo. This has to go.
Insurance (car+renters): $120/mo. This is pre-paid till November.
Car: $404/mo.
Student loans: $465/mo - I try to pay an extra $130/mo to the highest interest one on this. Depends on if it's a busy or slow month.

Total: $1888.00

Anything left over goes towards food/gas/misc, which usually comes to about $400/mo.

Current savings: $2600.

Retirement: nada. Work canceled the profit-sharing plan (again, thank you budget crisis). My boyfriend has an excellent 401k, though. At the moment, our theory is that I build the liquid savings account, and he builds the retirement account (the rest of our finances are separate).

Goals: Wedding! All our family is east coast, so it would be very difficult to co-ordinate. Cost is the main reason my BF cites for not proposing. For personal reasons, we cannot/will not accept money from our families in this.


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:57 am
Posts: 383
Hi Kaitlyn,

Any way to sell that car, pay off the loan, and buy a used car (or even a scooter) with what's left over? Or just to take the bus to work for a while? Yeah, I know, in LA your car is who you are, but...the extra $400 a month could prove extremely useful in building up a cushion fund for those lean months....or a wedding fund...or other things. You could make a deal with yourself to do it for just a year. You'd have almost $5000 as a cushion after a year.

By my math (which I'll be happy for anyone to correct), your expenses plus food/gas/misc plus the 225 savings totals to $2513. What happens in a lean month when you make only $2000? Credit card time?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:49 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
There is no bus line to work. I work rather far away. Can't move closer to work due to my boyfriend's job and the peculiarities of LA traffic (cutting my drive in half would cause his drive to go up 4x). The car would sell at a loss, plus, I fully intend to drive it into the ground. Honestly, at a 2.9%, i consider that the least of my problems! It's a Ford, not a Benz.

During the lean months, I use my savings account, which is partly why it's so low, or my boyfriend picks up some of the slack. Money is thankfully the easy part in our relationship. The current expense on my CC is really just unfortunate timing. 3 cross country plane tickets within a month, my sister's HS graduation, etc. Oh, and I worded the expenses wrong. The savings amount, since it's direct deposited, is excluded from calculations. I really average more like 2400/mo, but I ignore that 225. Easiest way to automate savings, if I pretend it's not there!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:16 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:22 pm
Posts: 548
Location: Northern CA
Kaitlyn:

IMO, you're doing well enough, but for one decision: no retirement savings.

As a woman, you will live substantially longer than your spouse. Your plan makes no sense. For one thing, retirement accounts are owned by the individual. So, while it's good that your boyfriend is saving for retirement, that has nothing to do with YOU. Even if you split the $225 per month, into $125 for liquid, and $100 for retirement in a Roth IRA, you'll do yourself a huge favor, with the time value of money.

I started at 24, with $25 per month. I'm now setting aside $16,000 per year - with NO MATCH. I have great plans to not be eating Alpo at 65.

You need to start saving something for retirement - your long-term horizon is the best thing you've got going for you.

Sandi


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:42 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Thanks Sandi.

I know! Retirement is something I seriously need to put together. For absolutely no logical reason, investment confuses the heck out of me. I start reading about Roth IRAs and such, and my eyes just glaze over. My mother was a financial adviser, and she's the one who told me to build the liquid account first. When I have enough in savings, I will give her a check, and she'll set everything up. Enough being able to spare a grand without fear that I'll need it next month to cover one of my bad months.

The thing about my boyfriend's account is just what I say to make myself feel better that I don't have anything set up. Not shocked I got called on it. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:58 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
kaitlyn142 wrote:
Thanks Sandi.

I know! Retirement is something I seriously need to put together. For absolutely no logical reason, investment confuses the heck out of me. I start reading about Roth IRAs and such, and my eyes just glaze over.


Here is what you should do. Does your work have a 401k?

A. If so:
1. Enroll
2. Contribute 3% this year
3. Work up to 10% over the next five years

B. If not:
1. Save $3000
2. Go to Vanguard and open a Roth IRA.
3. Put the $3000 in the Vanguard 2045 target retirement fund.

(These may or may not be ideal for you. The idea is to get started. Now. If you find yourself really resisting the plan, then figure out why. But do something.)


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
*dusts off journal*

I've been very uninterested in really monitoring my finances lately. Clearly, this has to stop, so I'm hoping maintaining this journal will help with that.

Fiance and I are in the process of saving for our wedding (April 2012) and combining our finances. I don't think they will be 100% combined in the foreseeable future, but we want them more combined than they are.

Take home monthly income:
Me: 2678
FH: 2600
Total: 5278

Debts:
Car loan 1: 5925.02 @ 2.9% 403.88/mo. Paid off May 2012.
Car loan 2: 4678.30 @ ??? 351/mo. Paid off April 2012.
Student loan 1: 7018.64 @ 7.25%
Student loan 2: 46261.40 @ 4% 1&2 combined are 343/mo.
Student loan 3: 2901.50 @ 8% 70.13/mo.
Student loan 4: 8270.45 @ 4.5% 85/mo

Total outstanding debt: 102,055.31. OUCH. I've never actually added those up before.

Monthly bills.

Aside from the debts listed above,

Rent: 1425 I live in a VERY HCoL area, so this is actually good.
heating/electric: evens out to 200/mo. 300 in the winter, 100 in the summer.
Cable/phone/internet: 100
Netflix: 9 - I would get rid of this in a heartbeat, but the fiance said no, he had already given up his expensive internet MMO game.
Car ins.: 222
Gas: 150
Food: 400
Misc (clothes, household goods, entertainment): 450. Mostly this is so high because we each had to rebuild our wardrobes. We went from California companies where jeans and t-shirts are good, to east coast with "business casual." Since we work in labs, I think this is insane, but there you go. Plus, we needed full sets of winter gear. Very little goes to actual "entertainment." See: lab for why it continues to stay high.

Savings:
EF: 1000/1000 - 100%. This is purely my liquid fund. I figure I can't see needing immediate access to more than that.
ING wedding fund: 1000/15000. No, we are not planning on spending all 15000. We are supposed to be saving 1100/mo, but that hasn't happened yet.

Retirement/investments:
We both have 401k accounts that we contribute 6% to in order to get the full 6% company match. Additionally, my company has an additional 3% company stock savings plan where they put an amount equal to 3% of my salary into company stock. I haven't the vaguest idea how to monitor these accounts. I need to get on that.

Also, I have a separate employee stock purchase of $60/mo. Again, I have no idea how to monitor this account. I do know is my company stock price is doing well. :)

Plans for improvement:

Short term:

Getting that food budget down! I love cooking, so a lot of that budget goes to me buying specialty ingredients. I'm committed to not doing that anymore.

Tracking spending. I try and do this weekly, but fiance is not interested. We keep bleeding money, and I can't figure out where. I have resorted to bribing him. If he watches his spending and comes in under budget for the month of Feb, then we can go on a ski weekend in March. Not sure what bribe I can use in March for April though.

Cutting out impulse buys. This is mostly for fiance. I will kill whoever introduced him to Groupon. "But it's a good deal!" is my least favorite phrase, ever.

Finding things to do with friends that don't cost money. Our friends are in a much better financial situation than we are. They already own a home, have had their wedding, etc. It makes it hard for us to tell them that no, we can't go out to dinner again, we spent our budget.

Long term:

Fiance is up for a promotion in October. He plans to bring up the fact that we learned he is making WELL below what he should be. Like, $13000 less than the minimum for his job title.

I need to put in at least two more years in my current position, then I'm going to find something closer to home. We really want to drop down to a one car family. It's not possible right now, but if I work closer to home, we can carpool. We're considering me getting a job with his company, but I'd rather not.


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:31 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:43 am
Posts: 31
kaitlyn142 wrote:
Debts:
Car loan 1: 5925.02 @ 2.9% 403.88/mo. Paid off May 2012.
Car loan 2: 4678.30 @ ??? 351/mo. Paid off April 2012.
Student loan 1: 7018.64 @ 7.25%
Student loan 2: 46261.40 @ 4% 1&2 combined are 343/mo.
Student loan 3: 2901.50 @ 8% 70.13/mo.
Student loan 4: 8270.45 @ 4.5% 85/mo

Total outstanding debt: 102,055.31. OUCH. I've never actually added those up before.

I get $75,055. Is there a misplaced decimal?

If $1450 is considered cheap, then I'm guessing LA is Los Angeles, and not Louisiana (plus references to Groupon).

I'm glad you're dusting off your journal. I once went years without keeping track because I was too discouraged at one point (hello, dotcom bubble). That was the wrong decision. For 8 years now the wife and I have kept monthly tabs on our finances, and it has done wonders. If you review every single purchase you WILL know where your money goes. It really helps to have both of you on board. That way you can both push ahead rather than one of you dragging the other.

Is your company stock purchase at a discounted price?

How old are you and your fiance? Your car insurance sounds high. Consider shopping around. A broker like AIG will shop your info to a bunch of companies, and get you their lowest quote. Also, when you get married, your rate will drop a bit ($2/month for me, lol).

Why wait until October to discuss your fiance's salary? If he's below a set minimum, that should be immediately corrected, and with back pay.

Is your income more stable now than when you started this journal?


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:51 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Hmmm, apparently when I was adding numbers, I fatfingered something. By $25k. I have no idea.

Since starting this journal, I've moved across country! I live in the NY-area now, just outside the city. Los Angeles was actually cheaper than here, to be honest. I have a salaried corporate job that's as stable as anything can be in this economy.

Fiance and I are 26. The car ins. is high due to the area. Lots of people who drive around uninsured banging into someone's Lexus, BMW, or Audi. We did change our ins. when we moved. My old ins. wanted to charge me something like $300/mo for just me.

He's waiting until October because of the politics of the situation. His salary is so low because he was part of a company in Los Angeles that got bought out and shut down. He was transferred to NY this past June with a 20% raise. We thought that raise put him in line with the salaries here, but apparently not.

My company stock purchase is not at a discounted price. >.< It's really just a convenient way to put money away in an investment that I know *should* be stable or rising (the 6 months before I was hired, they outperformed the S&P 500) that I can't access unless I really, really need it. My parents insist it is the done thing with a corporate job.


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:12 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Wedding fund: $2000/$15000. Slow and steady, etc.

March is going to be a big spending month. :(

The good news is I got my "year-end" bonus this month. IDK why the year-end bonus comes in March, but whatever. I only worked at my company for 4 months in 2010, so it's not much of a bonus, but something is better than nothing, right? Plus, even though I was only there a short time, they still gave me a year-end raise! Woo! Only 3.1%, but again, better than nothing.

The bad news is said bonus just barely covers the bill for an MRI I had back in Feb. We also had surprise X-rays for the cat at $500. I REALLY hope the cat doesn't need surgery. We'll find out when we get the consult results back. Supposed to be today, but I accidentally had my phone on silent and didn't get the message to call back until after they closed for the weekend. Ooops.

I'm also going to be shelling out for tickets to a concert. The cheap seats are only $50, so it isn't bad. I've been looking forward to this concert for something like 4 years, so I'm excited it's finally happening.

To add to the spending, I "need" golf lessons (stupid corporate politics) and I will be restarting taekwondo classes. Taekwondo classes are a matter of health. I'm desperately miserable at my new job, I don't have any friends in this part of the country, and I really need something to break me out of the semi-depression I've fallen into. Taekwondo is the best thing for that. My fiance is thrilled I've restarted classes and agreed we'll cut whatever we have to from the budget to make it work.

So, there will prolly be no additions to the wedding fund this month, but on balance, it is worth it.

We will see what next month brings. There are rumors of a 10% reduction in the work force. I could either be cut as the newest employee, transferred to a more profitable department, or simply left alone. I'm pretty ambivalent about it. If i get laid off, well, I really wouldn't be too upset. My fiance's company is expanding, so I can go work there (yay for overlapping fields!).


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:25 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Two weeks of taekwondo later, I feel *amazing*. I work out the negative feelings from my job, and I have bright spots every couple of days instead of waiting desperately for the weekend. It has been 4 years since I trained regularly, and I forgot just how much doing this means to me. It has rekindled my old desire to work up to a Master-level so I can open my own dojo some day.

Financially, it's much more feasible than I thought. I'm still in the mindset from Los Angeles where I barely made enough money to pay my bills, and any extras were out of my reach. Even with paying for the MRI, concert tickets, and the two-month deposit for lessons for me and my fiance (~$700), I can still put a couple hundred into the wedding fund! It's very strange to realize that yes, we are making decent money and no, we're not living paycheck-to-paycheck anymore.

With some luck and a lot of hard work, I can enter the instructor-track at TKD. That would reduce costs and possibly bring in a bit of extra income. That wouldn't be for a few years, though.

It's a little scary making a huge financial commitment when I'm not sure I'll have a job next week (...or the week after, or the week after that. Whenever they get around to actually telling us what the reorg looks like). I could have saved a couple hundred dollars by paying the year contract for TKD up front, but that would have wiped out our savings. Not so good when my job isn't stable. Shame.


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:54 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Wedding fund: $2400. It's almost exactly a year until the wedding. Yay!

Mom found beautiful fabric for the BM dresses on sale for $2.99/yd, and the pattern was on sale for $0.99! Total cost of 3 BM dresses: $70.

Finally did our taxes. We're getting about $4300 back, thanks to a cross-country employer requested move. We should have gotten $5000 back, but FH couldn't make the California return understand that he was a part-time resident, not a full-year resident, and it taxed him on the year's total earnings. :@ Very frustrating feeling.

Half of that money is going into the wedding fund (FH threw a fit when I suggested saving all of it). The other half, not sure. There's a few things that we desperately want, like a new bike for FH, a haircut for me, and some furniture from Ikea. Oh, and the cat needs another $500 X-ray. Most expensive free cat ever.

Of course, we aren't spending any of it until we know if I have a job. Supposedly, we find out mid-May. :worried:


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
First, the good news.

1) Wedding savings: $3,900

2) Cousin L, who has been working at a grocery store bakery while putting herself through school, has decided she might want to switch careers and open her own bakery. To that end, she's been baking cakes for family events while working out recipes and improving her decorating. She's going to do my wedding for super cheap! Budgeted amount for cake: $650. Actual cost of cake? Supplies plus maybe a little extra. Woo! Frugal achievement unlocked! :rofl:

Even better, her cakes are super tasty, and she has access to professional tools at the grocery bakery.

3) I figured out how to get to my retirement account! I can now see how much I've gained/lost/invested at will. Still have no idea how to check the employee stock purchase account.

Now the bad news.

FH took his car in for routine maintenance. It was time for a major service, so we knew it would be $$. We were not expecting to be replacing brake pads. $$$$$. Ouch. For the first time in our lives, though, this is not a major financial setback. It's not going on the CC. That much is heartening.

So much for the dining room table set we had wanted to buy with the tax refund. :(

Job outlook still hazy. I *might* know more on Friday. More likely I won't know anything until next Friday. My inside source for information is on vacation. :x


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 6:51 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 255
Updating early with some good news/bad news.

Good news:

I got an invitation to a team meeting in late May! It's the unofficial "you will have a job when the dust settles" notice. I have no idea what my job is going to look like, but my paychecks are going to continue. Woo! :clap:

Bad news:

My work clothes are not even remotely appropriate. Hazards of being a chemist. Fine for day to day, but not for meeting higher-ups for the first time. Nothing I love more than a trip to the mall. I have spent more on clothes in the less than a year I've had this job than I have spent in the last 5 years.


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 Post subject: Re: Kaitlyn's Journal
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 10:03 pm 

Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 12:00 am
Posts: 132
Congratulations!

May I suggest that you check out some thrift stores before you go to the mall? I've found some really nice work-appropriate clothes at Value Village (not sure if you have that there). Then you can supplement your thrift store clothes with mall clothes. :)


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