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It is currently Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:13 pm




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 Post subject: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 3:05 pm 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Background: I am 33, nearly 34 y/o. I live with my boyfriend, no kids. A few years ago I owned a home with an ex and it was a financial fiasco when we broke up trying to sell. I am in a much better relationship now but I'm definitely weary of any financial entanglement so we keep things separate and don't do too many joint purchases.

I don't know where all to start with this but I'm looking for another outlet for myself to keep track of my financial goals. I feel like I should have more money, I drive an old car and take the bus to work every day, I don't spend money on clothes or all that much eating out but I sunk a lot of money into that house and resulting about 4 moves in a little over 12 months.

Debts:
I have $78k in student loans (I'm an attorney). I pay $505/month and to me this is kind of a back burner issue for awhile.
$7,060 - CC#1 (15.24% interest rate)
$11,414 - CC#2 (9.24% interest rate)

Assets:
I have about $42,000 in retirement accounts and a meager $2,000 in my savings account.

I make about $78,000/year with another $4k - $5k in bonus and some profit sharing into my 401k. I am contributing 8% to my 401k account right now. I am able to send a pretty big chunk to financial goals every month but it also seems like something is ALWAYS coming up. Since January I paid $800 for cat tooth extractions, replaced car brakes, replaced car alternator and battery, and my lap top just died. I am lucky that I can make significant progress probably in a couple of years but that also feels like SO long...

Goals for the rest of 2015:
Pay off CC#1 - Current balance $7,060
Get CC #2 down to under $10k - current balance $11,414

Get Savings up to $3,000.


Last edited by RainaSky on Wed May 13, 2015 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 10:59 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Current Monthly Budget:

Gross Income: $6,436
Taxes: $1,435.60
FSA: $83.32
401k: $515 (8%)
Bus Pass: $58.50
Health Insurance: $26.40
Net Income: $4,318.68

Rent: $900
Natural Gas: $22
Electricity: $50
Water: $35
Groceries: $450
Car Insurance: $95
Car Gas: $85
Cable: $75
Weight Watchers: $20
Netflix: $9
Cell Phone: $65
Pet Food/Supplies: $60
Health Care: $40
Toiletries/Makeup: $40
Salons: $65
Restaurants/eating out: $200
Alcohol/bars: $150
Household: $80 (home depot, décor, plants)
Miscellaneous: Not much, I haven't been able to really average clothes or other entertainment but any other purchasing would be pretty sporadic.

Student Loan: $505
Funds for debt/savings: $1,422


Last edited by RainaSky on Wed May 27, 2015 2:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 8:37 pm 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 8:04 pm
Posts: 10
I like that your 2015 goals seem to be focusing on paying off the credit cards! What are their respective interest rates? I know there are a few 'methods' for paying off multiple debts - the one I gravitate towards is paying off the highest rate first, because that should mean I pay less in the long run. However, if it means more to you to lower your monthly liabilities, eliminating the smallest balance first would help you to do that.

I'm sorry stuff seems to keep 'coming up' for you... if I got a sudden $800 vet bill, it would just have to come out of my emergency fund, unfortunately. Hopefully you'll hit a good streak and not have any of those emergencies pop up on you for a little while at least, giving you a better chance to hack away at those CCs.

If you don't mind me asking, since you don't spend much money on clothes or eating out, what do you find yourself spending that $600 in personal spending per month? You mention feeling like you should have more money, and I'm wondering if this part of your budget might be one of the sources of your feeling that way? Otherwise, your budget looks pretty clean to me - no exorbitant bills or excess "wants". You seem to have a lot of financial power to start knocking down your debts in earnest. I have a feeling you'll see a lot of progress in 2015, and I look forward to updates!


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 9:58 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
I added the interest rates ... I didn't even know the interest rates - ugh. The one with lower balance has the higher interest rate so that works because I wanted to tackle that one first to see that debt get to zero.

The miscellaneous spending is a lot of things. Maybe doing some further detail to my budgeting would help. I added Netflix and my online ww account to my bills that I forgot about. I purchase pet food, wine, eating out, event tickets, little road trips, gifts, things for the house. The past two weeks I used my miscellaneous money on gardening things, plants, dirt, this weekend it will go to wine. I generally give myself $100/week miscellaneous spending money, but then I also have pet supplies (cat food and litter) and five week months so I have that category at $600.

Because I started working on my finances in January all of those little things attacking my budget, the vet bill, car bills, I was able to pay those and not incur further debt but it is disappointing that they got in the way of my plans.


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 3:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:09 pm
Posts: 83
I agree with Cedric--it's important to figure out what that $600/mo is going to in your budget. Once I really started tracking, it was surprising to find out that a large chunk of my momey was going toward... nothing, really. At least nothing that was actually advancing my goals or improving my life. We're programmed to think that we "deserve" certain things (pedicures, meals/treats on the go, etc.) when really they're not contributing to our happiness, but just holding us back from achieving our goals. It sounds like you're on the right track, and the more you read and discover, the easier it will be to get where you want to go!


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 10:30 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
A week or so ago now I got started with a budget on everydollar.com and - geez I wish I had done that years ago!! I sure have a better picture now of how I got into this mess! Even with seemingly a lot of disposable income it is easy to get off track on spending in particular because I wasn't including everything in my budget, pet food, toiletries, health care, household things, etc. I was always one step behind because I was unknowingly kind of floating expenses, I would make a huge payment toward debt and then find myself using the credit card at the end of the month.

The constant things coming up hasn't helped.... I haven't had the extra funds for the debt payment practically all year due to unexpected expenses and now a few weeks ago I broke my ankle!! No surgery but ugh, x-ray, walking boot, orthopedist, PT expenses here we go. And going through my bank accounts for everydollar I remembered having nearly $800 in med expenses in January, then the vet bills, the lap top, the car alternator, car brakes, I think I'm about due for some good luck. And yes, I know that a car fund and pet fund etc. would make these things not such a big deal but I haven't gotten there yet... soon!

I am now seriously scrutinizing "every dollar". This might be confusing for others but for myself at least as a reminder, right now my May is looking $149 in the red but I get paid on the last day of the month and I am counting that paycheck as the first of the following month in the budgets because I really use that money for the next month, so I won't use the cc or anything but will just carry a -149 balance over to next month's budget essentially, I will consider the things I have to pay the next couple of days as May though they will creep into taking some of my June money.

Right now my June budget appears $230 over, I could just instantly take away some of my extra credit card payment to make it balance but I think I'm going to leave it for now and try to not spend as much as I have budgeted for restaurants, groceries, gas, etc., the expected PT costs are what throws me over budget really but I can't cut that. I will post an updated budget in the next few months when I sort it out more thoroughly, at this point it would be easy enough for everyone to point out that I should cut out the $60 (salon) $160 (restaurants) and then try to cut back on groceries perhaps but I have to make the decision myself so I am going to sit at $230 over and decide as the month progresses whether I need to make a smaller debt payment or what exactly to cut. And its great going into this month more realistic about expenses and knowing that any overages affect debt repayment and/or next month.


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 2:57 pm 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Second half of 2015 Goal Update End of May:

Goals:
Pay off CC#1 - Starting balance $7,060 (Current $6,860)
Get CC #2 down to under $10k - Starting balance $11,414 (Current $11,230)
Get Savings up to $3,000 (Current $1,800)

I'm excited to see the progress I can start making now that I'm using everydollar.com to actually see where my money goes. The downside was realizing I didn't have quite as much funds available to send to debt/savings as I thought but I am suddenly way more conscious of watching how dollars put toward clothes for example are dollars that don't go to debt ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:32 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:23 pm
Posts: 31
Congrats on your progress!

I would think that it might make sense for you to shop around and try to find a credit card that would do a 0% balance transfer..... it seems like the biggest leak in your budget right now might be the credit cards...and a big chunk of that is the interest.

The other 'leak' if there is one, might be on the (Eating out + Groceries).
USDA says:
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood/reports

A single person between ages 19-50 should be able to have a LIBERAL meal plan from home for under $300/month. Even less if you are eating out for a few meals per week.

From a completely outside, not knowing perspective, maybe there could be some changes in that category that would allow you to reach your goals more quickly.

When my wife & I really dug in to our grocery bill, we found we were wasting $100s per week, and when we cleaned that up by planning ahead, buying from Costco, creating strict lists, etc... we were able to save almost $500/month on Groceries and eating out for our family of 4.


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:51 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Thanks for your comments JBird. The grocery budget is for two people - we do overspend a bit with cheeses and meats and actually spend more than that b/c I usually buy at the grocery store and BF does stock ups at Costco and pays for pretty much all gas and does all driving, some trade offs. I'm trying to work on at least not wasting the food we buy. But I also don't spend $200/month at restaurants/eating out, it was $120 in April and $140 in May and I'm going to be trying to cut that down at least as to general eating out. A big budget leak for me was actually alcohol, expensive wine specifically but I'm trying to be smarter about that. I spend less in gas too than listed because I've been getting a ride to the park and ride from the BF but my budget is still a work in progress because this is actually my first full month using everydollar.com and actually breaking everything down.

Its really about prioritizing I am realizing. My budget and life is so much better with my new partner than the situation that got me into the cc mess. I am seeing the light now and want to make those entertainment type cuts for vacations and buying a house in the future.

CC are definitely draining my money, though the minimum payments would only amount to a bit under $400/month I'm trying to send as much there as possible and do have big interest fees each month. I am currently too scared to try for getting another card with zero percent interest, maybe after I pay off #1 of #2 I may see about balance transferring card #2 to paid off card #1 as both cards are often offering zero interest on balance transfers. But card #2 years ago I got for zero percent interest to do a balance transfer and then ended up racking them both up again later! It really would make sense financially and to get a card to do a balance transfer but emotionally I am too scared right now!


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:31 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
End of June update on my 2015 goals (only started in May)

Goals:
Pay off CC#1 - Starting balance $7,060 (Current $6,855)
Get CC #2 down to under $10k - Starting balance $11,414 (Current $11,095)
Get Savings up to $3,000 (Current $2,000)

Its payday ;) I tracked my paycheck and start of the next month payments into everydollar.com I'm still loving using that website. I entered my paycheck as July 1 into my July budget since I really use it next month. I wish my numbers looked better but I still should be able to meet my goals for the year. I've had expenses with my broken ankle and three weddings coming up this summer. The only one I might not achieve is getting CC #2 below $10k since paying off the first one is my main priority.


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2015 8:11 am 

Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2015 7:18 pm
Posts: 9
Hi, Raina! Headed the right direction (good), but not quickly enough to reach your stated goal (not as good).

Perhaps stopping the wines and eat-outs will be enough to no longer need Weight Watchers assistance? Drop cable too, and tighten up a bit in general, and you'll be at savings goal by end of August, and finishing off CC#1 debt by Christmas next year. Then close and cut up that card, or transfer CC#2 to it and close and cut up CC#2!

What helped me get a handle on where money was leaking, was to get rid of my "miscellaneous" category and track everything clearly. After a year I had really reliable averages to work with, but even the awareness from two months of data helped greatly.

You don't seem to be all "hair on fire" about your debt right now, so no wonder progress is slow. At some point, I bet you get to do what I did, and make bigger changes. Perhaps drop the car entirely? Can you take all spending down to zero for a week, or a month, for a quick hit to the debt? Can you go vegetarian and cook all your own meals? And so on. Solving the puzzle and reaching your objective without driving yourself to distraction can be challenging, but very rewarding.

Good luck, and keep your eye on the prize!

-- jrb3


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:08 pm 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Thanks for the advice jrb. I've actually already made a lot of changes, most reflected in my stated budget but I'm going to post a revision soon. But I need to I think slowly make my way into more changes. I guess I'm happy to say that I've managed to pay $1,200 in bills for my ankle injury at the end of April while chipping down on my debt instead of adding to it. Looking at my entries here I am not sure I noted this ankle issue, just not planning for it to be an issue long term but it has been short term.

New Goals/Plans.
* No wine purchases the rest of the month, bottles and glasses out places.
* WW - I just cancelled the subscription, I'm nervous b/c I use this to maintain my weight but I just logged in today's food to my fitness pal and will try that since its free.
* Groceries - thinking of trying one cheap/pantry/freezer week each month, will try this next week.
* Eating out, I already only buy lunch maybe once/week and go out to dinner about every other week. I'm thinking about this but I'm actually already pretty good on this.
* Salons I've also already cut except I am going to go to great clips for a hair cut this month.
* Car, I have considered the idea of not having a car but I do live in the suburbs so it will be reconsidered when I'm married. I'm not okay with that level of reliance on my boyfriend that would only save the $95/insurance really. I actually only put about $30/gas in my car a month.

Mini-plans, cutting back planned wedding gifts by $200 total (three weddings). Skip planned co-worker happy hour next week. Decline on a friend's plan to buy event tickets that will end up costing me around $100.


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:07 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:33 pm
Posts: 157
Hi Raina, I'm really impressed with all the things that you're doing to cut down on your expenses. Keep thinking like that and you'll wipe out your debt in no time!

One thing - I'd advise against a "freezer" month if that means getting premade frozen foods or pastas, especially if you're also watching your diet. Those things have been shown to underestimate their calorie and fat information. What's more, frozen food doesn't give you the nutrition / energy you need to maintain a balanced lifestyle and exercise regimen. I speak from personal experience - I tried it in the past and saved a some money, but felt lethargic, hungry, and gained weight even though I was supposedly cutting back on calories!


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:20 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Avocado - Thanks for the encouragement. Regarding groceries, I meant one week a month where we focus on eating what we have on hand piling up in the freezer and cupboards. I don't really eat the pre-made frozen meals at all but we buy meats in bulk and freeze leftovers, that sort of thing. I've also been trying out recently making my own bread and pasta. I'm not sure if this actually saves me money but it provides entertainment and tastes better!


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 Post subject: Re: Raina's Just Getting Started
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:13 am 

Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 2:47 pm
Posts: 16
Updated Budget:

Gross Income: $6,666
Taxes: $1,507.12
FSA: $83.32
401k: $533.34 (8%)
Bus Pass: $58.50
Health Insurance: $26.40
Net Income: $4,457.98

Rent: $988
Natural Gas: $5.50 (Up to about $22 in the winter)
Electricity: $50
Water: $35
Groceries: $500
Car Insurance: $95
Car Gas: $85 (only about $30 in my car but have a weekend road trip pretty much every month through October)
Cable/Internet: $71
Netflix: $9
Cell Phone: $65
Pet Food/Supplies: $60
Health Care: $30
Toiletries/Makeup: $30
Salons: $ will be adding something back in after paying off CC #1 of 2
Restaurants/Take Out: $120
Alcohol/bars/mostly wine: $150
Household: $50 (home depot, décor, plants, cleaning supplies)
Gifts: $100 (not every month but thinking about weddings, Christmas, birthdays, etc. my gifting probably reaches around $1,200/yr)

Student Loan: $505
Funds for debt/savings: $1,509

I will actually be keeping restaurants and alcohol as low as possible but I want to also be realistic about my budget, it seems like there is always some person visiting or birthday party or something. My budget is for one person except that I buy most of the weekly groceries for myself and my boyfriend who I live with and he pays for Costco stock ups and does pretty much all of the driving and gas buying and wear/tear on his car including driving me to and from the park and ride for work. We eat almost every meal at home, but buy some expensive meats, cheese, seafood and a lot of produce. Most of these categories I'm perfectly happy with for long term but when I pay off one of two of my cc I'm going to allow myself some money for the salon category and we'll see, maybe clothes or wine.


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