Category Archives: Budget

Mid Month-ish Budget Check In

The race is on. With only 5 months left to the end of 2012 (wow) and my goal to exceed $200k in networth AND buy a new (used) car this year, I must watch my budget closely to get close to my goal. I always want to go *over* my networth goal (helps me hit next years goal and makes me feel comfortable that I can survive a few months if something, god forbid, happens to my job.)

Current Networth: $192,431 (remaining to save $7569 + $10k for 2013 cushion)

$3513 per month average savings is required to meet my goal.

AUGUST 2012

Expected Liquid Income: $4200
401k Automatic Contribution: $2080

$1433 Avg monthly savings required from Liquid Income.

Rent: $660
Shopping: $575
Health & Fitness: $452 (Yr Supply contacts)
Fees & Charges: $50
Auto & Transport: $777 (paid off $600 of my $1800 DUI fine this month, plus insurance hike from $44/month to $125/month for next 3 years, sigh)
Food & Dining: $269
Travel $300
=====================
$3083 ($1117) 

So I already spent too much this month to hit the $210k goal. If I buy a car, my goals might be shot. Then again, I could theoretically make up for this next year, as it will be my first full year with a six-figure salary, and I can try to be frugal for the first six months to play catch up. I never like to assume I will have a job from one month to the next, though, so it’s troubling to purchase a car now and know this will keep me from my $200k goal (unless the stock market performs extremely well…)

 

 

 

2012 $200k Networth Goal in Reach

The $200k in 2012 networth goal seemed impossible in January, but I’m inching closer to victory. It doesn’t hurt that I just received a $10k raise and now, for the first time in my life, am making six figures in a FT position (I was making more on an hourly basis at a contract job previously, but this is still a big deal as it’s FT.)

I just calculated my current networth, and according to my records it is $190,586.49 — which leaves $9.4k or $1.8k/month left to save for the remainder of the year to hit my goal. I’m a little hesitant declaring success as $20k of my networth is tied up in company stock (private company exercised options.) That said, theoretically that $20k is worth quite a bit more than $20k right now, if I am to believe what the exec team says about the current value per stock. In any case, I’m considering it an investment like any other, and I still don’t have all of my options vested anyway, so until they vest I’ll just count those options as $20k, which is exactly the amount I spent to purchase them (well, plus a few hundred dollars to repay the loan to purchase them.)

So the big question is, do I buy a car this year or wait until next year? If I don’t buy a car this year, I need to at least put $700 into my current P.O.S.mobile to make it save to drive.  I spoke to a car dealership and they said I’d get a whopping $400 to trade it in, so it’s probably not worth doing that. Maybe I’ll just donate it if I decide to purchase  a new(er) car.

Even though with my company stock and other savings I could theoretically be a  paper millionaire right now, I don’t feel like one. I’m still paying $650 a month in rent living with roommates and driving POSmobile. I wish my boyfriend made a decent income so we could move in together, but as of yesterday he quit his job and — although he plans to find another one — has not started to apply for anything yet. It’s a pain when a voice in the back of my head keeps telling me I’m stupid for committing to a guy who has $0 in savings and no job, but he makes me happy and if that isn’t worth more than a stable income and security, then, I don’t know what is…

That said, I still have my big $200k success to look forward to, that’s now within reach, as long as the stock market cooperates. With $50k of that in Apple, my networth value keeps going up and down and up and down. I still believe in the long run Apple will go up, but I probably should start to diversify a little more.

If I buy a car this year, I can either buy something cheap-ish… ie, the same car I have now but in much better condition with much lower miles for $7500… or a nicer car like a used Altima 2.5 or Mini Cooper or Camry Hybrid for $15k – $18k. In August, my insurance rates are going to spike thanks to that DUI I got last year — and I’m not sure how much that spike will be (I guess I’ll find out very soon.) So I don’t really want to get a nicer car because I’m thinking it would be smart to keep comprehensive coverage very low for the foreseeable future. I already cut my comprehensive so my monthly insurance rates went from $77 to $35. They’ll probably be back up to $77 or more without the coverage next month, but that’s my own fault. With that fault comes the reality that it probably doesn’t make sense to buy a car over $8k at this point.

Another option, which I’m considering, is moving to a place located on the local train line. My company is moving to a new office which offers a shuttle from the train station. Actually, that train station is my current local stop, but it would probably be easier to take a train from another station there then to take a bus. If I were to move by the train line I could get rid of my car entirely — which would suck because I like the independence of having a car — but would be great from a financial perspective. The train would also be free thanks to a company perk, so I could spend a little more on rent and still do better than having the car. I’d probably keep paying some insurance (since the SR-22 is a requirement for 3 years with the DUI on your record) but I’d pay the lowest possible since I wouldn’t actually be driving my own car.

Hmm. Anyway, lots to think about. Right now I’m so busy with work that I don’t have time to seriously contemplate moving and I’m struggling to find time to figure out what to do about the car situation. All I know is my current car is embarrassing to the point of I really shouldn’t be using it in professional settings, and that’s a problem, and that’s a problem I shouldn’t have when I’m making $100k and have $190k in networth, right? Still, I can’t bring myself to spend on a car when I know next year my goal is to have $250k networth by 30, and I’d prefer to get a head start on that if possible then buy an expensive item that will just depreciate in value.

 

October Spending: A Belated Halloween Fright

My October spending is spooky. But thanks to a $5k surprise bonus and a random $1k return of deductible for a year-old car accident that wasn’t my fault my finances evened themselves out this month, and I managed to save a generous portion of my income as well. Go me. Still, I could have saved a lot more if I were smarter with my spending. Here’s the breakdown of how things shook out last month:

Income: $7400
Auto: $972
Rent: $632
Shopping: $537
Travel: $438
Bills: $292
Food: $266
Entertainment: $189
Personal Care: $74
Health: $35
Fees: $24
Other: $31
——————-
Left over: $3,687   Continue reading

10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s, Part 2

This is part 2 of a series inspired by Give Me Back My Five Bucks, based on a Kiplinger article of the 10 commandments for finances in your 20s… I’m grading myself on each one of the commandments. Read Part 1 here.

6. Establish credit. In order to qualify for the best interest rates on a credit card, auto loan or mortgage, you need to start building a solid credit history. In fact, a good history can also save you a bundle on your auto insurance or help you land an apartment or a job (see Why Your Credit Score Matters). Building a good credit history in your twenties will ensure it’s ready when you need to use it. If you didn’t have a credit card in college, one way of getting credit now is to apply for a secured card: You make a deposit — usually $300 to $500 — in a savings account as collateral, and you can get the money back after one year of using the card responsibly. You can also start building a credit history through www.prbc.com, an alternative credit bureau that gathers data on regular payments for rent, cable and other recurring expenses. (See Rent Your Way to Good Credit to learn more.)

Score C. I’ve never made a big purchase on a credit card and paid it off slowly, so my credit score is not as great as it could be. That said, I’m totally opposed to how you need to carry a balance in order to build credit. I do have a credit card (ok I have a lot of credit cards) but I don’t have a lot of recurring expenses. Continue reading

10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s: Part 1

The other day, I was reading Give Me Back My Five Bucks, one of my favorite personal finance blogs on the web, and came across a series on 10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s, based off a Kiplinger article written a few years back. As Krystal, author of GMBMYB, detailed how she’s doing with the commandments in a two-part series, I thought I’d do the same. If you’re in your 20s, you should too!

1. Plan ahead. To get where you want to go in life, you need goals and a plan to reach them. Having neither is like driving a car without a steering wheel — with your eyes closed.  Start by asking yourself what you want in your future. Think about the short term (five years or less), medium term (five to ten years) and long term (20-plus years). Now you’re driving with your eyes open. Then take hold of the steering wheel to reach your goals.

Score: C. My idea of planning ahead is trying to not spend all of my income for the month. Some months I succeed, some months I don’t. My planning is less itemized as it is general, ie “hit $150k in networth this year.” That isn’t a bad goal for someone who is 27, but when I look at the big-picture purchases/expenses (house, new car, retirement, etc) nothing seems possible without some big exit at my current company. While I have faith my company is going to be huge and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to be a part of it, nothing is certain, and I’m doing terrible at having a real plan for my 30s and beyond.

2. Live within your means. Can’t afford something? Don’t buy it. Sounds simple, but too many people have a heck of a time following this one and get in over their heads in debt. Borrow sparingly, and only for those things that have lasting value, such as a home or an education. Continue reading

Q3 Spending Breakdown: $13,620.56

From July to September, my spending was a little ridiculous. It all started with the DUI, which cost me $3,000 in legal fees even before the big fine that will hit in Q4. The other large expense of the quarter was my Canon 5D plus a flash for it. Photography is an expensive hobby. I did manage to also spend $1082 on clothes and other shopping… how did that happen? Yikes. (see the graph below.)


Unfortunately the legal fees and DUI fees will continue to take a toll on Q4. I have $750 more left in the legal fees, and expect a $2,000 fine. The good news is that I have a chance to obtain $10,000 total in bonuses for this year, which should help me up my networth, and instead will go towards my stupidity. My income this year including bonuses will be a minimum of $95k.  That helps. I’m really trying hard to prove myself at work so I can move up the career (and salary ladder) but it’s pretty clear that I’m still learning as I go, and things take me longer than they should. I can only hope I can prove myself going forward.

 

 

 

September Budget

After an expensive August, I’m hoping to keep September expenses at a minium. That will be tough with all the traveling, though some of the traveling is for work.

September Budget

Auto & Transport — $1350 ($750 lawyer fee, $450 Traffic Ticket, $150 Registration, Gas)
Rent — $632
Shopping — $700 (possibly new DSLR)
Entertainment — $200 (broadway show tickets?)
Food & Dining — $200
Gifts — $150 (2 wedding gifts)
Health — $150 (a few doctor’s appointments)
Bills — $100
Personal Care — $100
Travel — $100
Fees — $60
———————————————
Total: $3643

Potential Savings: $617? 

August Spending Wrap

August was a high spending month, thanks in large part to the first installment of fees relating to my DUI . I think I still managed to end the month with $200 extra in the bank, so that’s not too bad considering I had to pay $1500 of my $3000 in lawyer fees then.

$1723 — Auto & Transport ($1500 lawyer fees + gas)
$632 — Rent
$417 — Travel (flight to personal finance bloggers conference + friend’s wedding)
$357 — Health & Fitness (a few doctor’s appointments and new running shoes)
$225 — Food
$187 — Gifts (1/2 flight for my boyfriend to wedding)
$179 — Bills
$163 — Shopping
$93 — Personal Care (haircut)
$78 — Entertainment
$53 — Fees
$20 — Cash
———————————
Total: $4111
Income: $4630

Savings: $251 (eek, but at least not in the red.) 

 

 

April Budget Update

April was a pretty good month in the budget department. Despite a few last-minute splurges (what can I say, Spanx are expensive!) I managed to put about $2977 into savings / investments over the month.

What is really helping is the extra income that I’ll see this year due to some sales I made early in 2011. While I don’t get bonuses, commissions are a nice cushion for when I accidentally overspend in a month.

$694: Shopping (breakdown below)
$632: Rent
$336: Food
$185: Personal Care
$151: Bills
$75: Health & Fitness
$12: Fees

Ok… so besides gas costing more than I’d like (auto & transport) my big spending this month was “Shopping.” What exactly did that include. Well, the spanx, and …

Bloomingdales — $372.49
BCBG Dress on Sale $70 (from $200)
Spanx & Undies: ~$150
Eyeshadow, bracelet, earrings: $151

Website Stuff — $130
Domains & Hosting

Personal Finance Blogger Conference — $90
Early bird discount, though I haven’t bought flight or hotel yet!

Those were my larger purchases under “shopping” in April. The Bloomingdales splurge occurred at a conference when I had a cocktail party to go to and nothing to wear. Other than that, I was good! I just hate when I spend $400 on (not even) one outfit — esp when the dress itself is a good price on sale.

Mid April Budget Check-In: Goal to save $3,000 this month

To keep tabs on my monthly budget, I promised to check in at least twice a month. So here’s where I’m at so far this month….

My goal is to save $3,000 this month after expenses.

INCOME: $2700

Rent: $630 / $630
Personal Care: $145 / $150
Food & Dining: $310 / $350
Auto & Transport: $155 / $200
Shopping: $107 / $150
Bills: $0 / $150
Entertainment: $0 / $150
Health & Fitness: $75 / $100
Gifts: $0 / $100
Travel: $0 / $50
Fees: $12 / $20
Education: $0
———————-

$1478 / $2053 spent