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Adding it all up

August 11th, 2019 at 12:03 pm

The last few blog posts have been about how expensive life is or how expensive kids are. Comment was made that I could post my budget and get some suggestions for where I could trim the fat. I should but I'm afraid.

I don't think of myself as a frugal budget-er. Between my husband and I will bring home a good bit of money. And, we save for retirement and for a rainy day. And, yes, there is extravagance in our every day living budget. To give you high level idea of what scares me...

Here are four of the largest categories….
Food 1291 (groceries, eating out)
Housing 4221 (PITI, utilties, HOA, etc.)
Transportation 1092 (pymt, ins., maintenance)
Misc 1342 (cats, gifts, Netflix, etc.)
TOTAL 7,946

That's an ugly total. It represents about 85% of the monthly budget. But it is for a family of four with two kids in sports, tutoring, and a whole lot of other things.

The good news is that income covers the above, the remainder of the budget, a small amount of rainy day saving and about $18,000 for retirement. My financial advisor says I have sufficient funds to retire in 2021 so we are good there.

Yes, cable could go. Yes, netflix & amazon prime could go. Yes, we could not eat out....but I want all those things. I just wish things didn’t cost so much. We are fortunate that we don’t carry any credit card debt. We have two debts - the home mortgage and a car note (.9% financing so funds to purchase the car out right are in a 2% MMDA).

I discuss finances with the hubby and he’s good with my suggestions. He says I’ve done a good job based on savings. I wish we could save more but that will take courage and a backbone. I'm not there yet. My goal is each day to make better decisions.

Please be kind when commenting...

Kids are expensive

June 9th, 2019 at 04:29 am

Or I guess, it depends upon whether you are indulgent. And, I am. But, in my humble opinion, not as much as others.

Yes, I spoil my kids in many ways. They play (expensive) sports and the teenaged girl gets Lululemon yoga pants and jeans from Hollister. Purchases are made in moderation and she doesn’t have an unique outfit for every day of the month. So, there are some extravagant purchases but her closet isn’t overflowing.

Admittedly, some of those purchases are for my benefit. I was a chubby teenager and my clothes came from Lane Bryant or JcPenney. I love that she isn’t in the same situation and she has a great figure and can wear yoga pants without unsightly bulges. So, maybe I am playing “dress up Barbie doll.” Purchases are made in moderation and the credit card gets paid off monthly. And, fortunately, my son hasn’t hit the “labels are important” stage of teenage-hood yet. He wears sport shorts from Target. 😊

My husband tells me that I put myself last on the list when it comes to the family’s wants and needs. He has his hobby – plays ice hockey in two recreational leagues. My hobbies are reading (borrow books from the library), knitting baby blankets (yarn bought with coupons from Michael’s), and watching reality tv, Netflix and Amazon. So, I spend little on me when compared to the rest of the family. And, most days, I’m ok with that. Yet, I am human and sometimes want some extravagance in my life.

My husband and I reached the 15 year mark in our marriage. We went out to dinner but didn’t do much else to celebrate. We have a family vacation planned for the summer and that was enough money flowing out at the time of our anniversary. But it’s several months later and I want something more. I have ordered an anniversary band with tiny emeralds and diamonds. Total cost will be less than $800, the equivalent of 6 or 7 Lululemon pants.

Do I feel guilty? A little. Not much. I’m worth it…

I hope you all spoil yourselves every now and then.


April 14th, 2019 at 04:49 am

Sorry for the absence from the blog...life happens and nothing seemed pertinent to blog about.

I recently discovered the show Billions on Showtime. Through my cable subscription, I can marathon watch old episodes. So far, I've completed season 1 and am half way through with season 2.

While watching, I am amazed at the display of wealth in homes, cars, clothing, food, etc. Yes, I understand that this is a tv show but it must represent how the "other half live." How do people live like that?! They must be born into living those high standards.

I am, by no means, poor. I make a good salary (probably better than most of my friends) and my husband works a part time job too. We generally live below our means as I'm able to save over $1200 per month to retirement, aggressively repay the mortgage, give to charity and still save a little to our growing liquidity (emergency fund, fun fund, overspending fund, etc.) All this is to allow me to retire young enough that I can enjoy life, be available for kids’ activities, etc.

My money guy tells me that I have more than enough money saved. Through a Monte Carlo analysis, the downside analysis shows that I will have over $1 million at age 92. That's a good predictor but how true is it? The analysis is based on current spending plus escalating increase in expenses (when I retire, I carry health insurance at a reasonable rate until death). But I still wonder if I will have enough.

I've written before that I would love to have a LV Carry All bag but I can't get myself to buy it. I would love to have a Tesla but I can't get myself to buy it. I would love to have a diamond and sapphire ring but I can't get myself to buy it. What happens if I become a spendthrift? What happens if I start being comfortable with large dollar purchases? Is it true that it is highly unlikely that my frugal personality won't change?

Is anyone familiar with the Monte Carlo analysis? Should I have comfort in it? Do you think a person's personality/standard of living is generally set and doesn't really change?

Thoughts please!


February 1st, 2019 at 06:09 am

Money comes and goes. Lately it seems that more goes than comes. I have tried various ways to budget and track spending. I just can't seem to make anything really work for me. (Yes, I have tried YNAB and EveryDollar.)

Right now, I have an excel spreadsheet that I track income and deduct monthly bills. If we don't overspend, we have a small surplus. But something always seems to come up. I budget on 2 paychecks per month and don't include unplanned extra income. Unplanned extra income means expense check surplus from my work travel and any amount over $500/bi-weekly pay check for my husband. He works an hourly paid job at a big box store so work hours vary each week and pay period (some weeks he gets 20 hours and some weeks he gets over 30 hours).

The way the budget is set up, we are living on last month's income and I automatically put money into savings (a little, but still). I rarely have to transfer money from savings into checking to pay bills. But I am still stressed on squeezing out more savings....or providing extras for my family.

We don't carry a credit card balance and we use the credit card for everything. It helps me track spending but when you get a $5,000 credit card bill, it takes my breath away. I have talked to my husband about paying cash but we both are uncomfortable carrying large cash amounts around. I get uneasy if I have more than $50 in my wallet.

I'm stressing over money because I wonder how we could afford to live if we were to separate. At 15 years, our marriage is stressed and we are functioning more as roommates. I keep dreaming about divorcing. Clearly, based on income, I would have to pay some sort of support should we divorce. Life would definitely have to downsize. I need to put my "big girl pants on" and have a serious conversation with my husband. But, I am afraid of the outcome.

I don't know what to do. I don't know if I feel this way because of horrible menopause or if I have really fallen out of love for my husband. I need to pray on this....

I am sad. I am stressed. I continue to function...

Sorry y'all...this money blog has turned out to be more therapy.....next one will be better....

Happy Friday!

January 18th, 2019 at 10:17 am

Happy Friday Bloggers! Hope weather is being kind to you. And, if not, I hope you are safe and snugged up some place warm.

Today is a beautiful day in Florida and I have taken the opportunity to assess the flower beds. Many plants need to be trimmed back and some did not make it through the last cold snap. Yes, we get frost (& sometimes snow) where I live.

But the warmer weather makes me think of spring cleaning and getting the house in order. I need to go through what I have. My parents died in the recent years, first my dad and then my mom, and I kept some of their things. At the time I could not part with some of their possessions. But, to be honest with you and myself, the things I kept are just things. They sit in a pile and aren't being used. Someone who could use them may appreciate the rocking chair, the wall hangings, etc. I am working on letting go. I have watched Marie Kondo on Netflix. If I was honest with myself, my parent items rarely spark or bring me joy. So, this is my spring project!

Financially, we continue to be in good shape. Pay checks come in, bills get paid. We live on last month's income. The credit card bill is higher than usual having put some of the new car down payment and the extended warranty on it. I have a play to pay the card off in full by the due date.

The extraordinary car related expenses were charged to the credit card for the points. Credit card points pay for our vacation air fare. Hotel points from work travel pays for the lodging. So, when we travel, we only really need to pay for food, activities and souvenirs. I really am fortunate.

If I can figure it out, I plan to add to the side bar, the titles of books I am reading (& the amount I save by borrowing from the library). Thanks CB for the inspiration!

Sorry this isn't too financially related. Enjoy the rest of your day!

January 9th

January 9th, 2019 at 02:48 pm

And all is alright in my tiny corner of the world.

There is general peace and calm in the house. I was expected meltdowns as the kids returned to school after a long break. For them, and for me, early morning wake ups have been tough, but we are surviving.

My son has "matured" and is now showering every morning. This is a vast change/improvement from a month ago when I would be "when did you last shower/go shower" campaign each night. With boy showering in the morning, there are now three of us via for water pressure and hot water. Most days, I am in the shower by 5:10am and my daughter follows at 5:25am. If I am still showering, water pressure drops.

I write all this because now that four people are showering daily, I am scared of the water bill. But I guess I should just chalk it up to 2019 price increases. Everywhere I have been so far, there are nice little signs saying service prices have increased effective January 1st.

Prices go up, the expense column in the budget gets adjusted and less money gets saved. I should be happy that there is still some positive in the bottom line. I did qualify for a merit increase at work, albeit is somewhat small at 2.3%. And yes, compared to others, 2.3% salary increase is good. And yes, I'd rather have 2.3% increase on my salary than others. But, somehow, the increase never seems to get too much greater than the increase in expenses.

The other day riding home from work, I caught an interview on talk radio. It was with Dean Graziosi, author of Millionaire Success Habits. The tips discussed sound like the usual - don't have a greater life style than your income, don't go in debt, etc. But perhaps it is presented in a different way. I may borrow a copy from the library. (Would that tip be in the book? Borrow, instead of buy?) Has anyone else heard of this book? Any review to share?

Well, the house is quiet as the kids are at CCD tonight. I'm going to end now so I can enjoy a little light reading.


Survived the holiday - Next!

December 28th, 2018 at 06:01 am

New user error! I had a great entry written and now it is lost. Frown

The blog was about the cost of Christmas. Adding up receipts and guesstimating for expenditures not recorded, we spent about $900 on Christmas. This does not include the big ticket family gift of a cruise in July 2019. I think $900 sounds modest for a family of four. We spent about $600 on our kids gifts, small gifts from kids to my husband and I and food and decorations. We had a simple meal, using freezer and pantry item and only purchased a roast from the grocery store.

Now I am faced with the kids home from school until January 7th. I am sure we will see a movie or two and attend a hockey game or two. I will try to keep costs down.

While adding up the cost of Christmas, I realize that this amount was "cash flowed" from extra December income sources (extra in the paycheck from no social security deduction and an extra paycheck). I have been watching budgeting videos on Youtube. I am curious about sinking funds. I don't do sinking funds per say but move any extra $ in the checking account to savings.

I have tried YNAB and EveryDollar (ED) previously but could never quite figure out how to start. We live on last month's income (meaning that I have already set up to pay January bills and we still have money left over) but I can't figure out how to start YNAB and ED. Do I start with $0 and allocate the next paycheck received?

Any advice on YNAB or ED and sinking funds would be appreciated....

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

December 24th, 2018 at 11:02 am

FYI, this is not a $$$ related post.

This morning, my kids and I were debating whether it was appropriate to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. My son told me that one of his public school teachers counseled a classmate for saying Merry Christmas. I thought the "counseling" was probably exaggerated but it prompted our talk.

I have always wished friends and others Merry Christmas. I say it and accept the wishes out of wanting to express general love and respect and share what gives me hope and purpose. I am not offended when friends wish me a Happy Hanukkah. I accept the Happy Hanukkah with the same.

So, new blog friends, please accept my Merry Christmas with the spirit and intent meant. I wish you all well.