Tag Archives: budget

2016 Spending

Although I saved a substantial sum in 2016, I definitely overspent in many areas. It was the year of my wedding so even though my parents contributed a sizable sum to the event, I splurged and spent too much on it outside of their contribution. We did a small “mini moon” which also cost something, but in 2017 we will splurge on a bigger international honeymoon. Here is a quick overview of how my spending went into 2016…

Income (after tax and 401k): $112.4k
Spending: $81.2k
(remaining / savings: $31.2k + $18k  (401k) = $49.2k saved)

Auto & Transport: $5.1k
Bills & Utilities: $1.5k
Education: $2.2k
Entertainment: $1.37k
Fees: $443
Food: $11.7k (yikes)
Gifts: $1.67k
Health: $5.4k (not counting insurance)
Home (rent and home things): $17.3k
Personal Care: $4k
Shopping: $14.8k
Wedding: $9.6k
Travel: $6.2k Continue reading

Budgeting with 50/20/30 Guideline

As I work to be better at budgeting, I searched the Internet for strategies for how much I should be spending on various items each month. I like the 50/20/30 strategy which seems reasonable and maybe even do-able.

Basically, you split your after-tax, after-401k take-home income into 3 buckets:

50% – fixed expenses
20% – financial goals
30% – variable expenses

So my after-tax income (now that I’ve maxed out my 401k for the year) is $9500. That breaks down to:

$4750 fixed
$1900 financial goals
$2850 variable expenses
Continue reading

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August Net Worth and Budget Report

Spending has been getting a bit carried away this summer – and I need to get it back in check as I begin to seriously contemplate a very drastic career change (requiring a major paycut and possibly additional schooling.)

In August, my net worth was relatively flat at $394k (this includes my car worth estimate, so I’m really considering my net worth to be $386k.) My goal for the year is $400k, which leaves 4 months to save $14k. On my current income, if I stop being SO HORRIBLE at giving in to overspending, that should be very do-able. However, I will likely leave my job in October or November, meaning that most of the saving has to happen in September. This month can’t look like last month. I’m embarrassed how much I spent! Continue reading

New Unemployment/Unemployed Budget

Well. Here I am. Unemployed. Since I received no severance and was not eligible for payout of any PTO (side effect of the supposed unlimited vacation perk), I’m left with my final paycheck and waiting for unemployment to (hopefully) kick in.

When you apply for unemployment they ask you a whole host of questions and I’m concerned I won’t qualify, though I should. Even if I do qualify, it’s a whopping $1800 a month (before taxes) and they make you wait a week to start claiming, so the first month is actually more like $1350 for the month. And $1350 is about how much I pay in rent. Thank goodness I’ve been somewhat smart about saving this year (I knew the job was not going to last long given how I performed with the heaping of anxiety and lack of sleep brought on by a very non-supportive work environment and a long commute I should have never signed on for in the first place.)

I thought it would be a good time to check in regarding my networth and budget. My networth goal for this year was $400k but that was a stretch to begin with (a $100k increase from 2014 including savings and interest.) Right now, counting all my assets I’m at about $350k – which isn’t bad considering the way the markets have performed this year to date. I’m sure with some better investments and less stress spending I’d be a little closer to my initial goal, but not by enough that it would really be meaningful. I have to take a moment and applaud myself for reaching $350k networth. Even though it’s not the big $500k, $350k feels sizable enough to merit a moment of self congratulations. For some reason, this amount makes me feel better about my lack of job stability due to my mental illness. While I can’t touch all that money immediately, and after taxes it would be less, if I was desperate there’s enough there to get through my own personal instances of deep depression (yeay bipolar life.) I don’t feel secure enough yet to have kids, or quite frankly, to get married (which is happening this spring anyway), but I feel like this is an accomplishment of some sort I can be secretly proud of… especially given that just 10 years ago I had about $5k to my name and was basically living paycheck to paycheck.

Here’s how the $350k breaks down:

  • $27.5k – cash
  • -$46 – credit debts
  • $153.5k – stocks (taxable)
  • $178.3k – retirement funds
  • $6.5k – 529 / grad school fund
  • $8k – approx car value

Now, my goal for the rest of the year, revised, is to end the year above $350k. This just brings me back to my older goals of saving $50k a year – which I’ve been doing for the last couple of years. I though this year given my income increase I could save a whole lot more, but you know, markets fluctuate so much, and maybe I actually bought enough stock “on sale” this year that I’ll have a really good 2016. Who knows.

The trick at this point is not significantly dipping into my cash to live between my current job and my next job… especially since I don’t know when said next job will start (or what it will be.) The $1350/$1800 a mo in unemployment is barely enough to cover standard recurring expenses, so I’ll have to dip into my savings a bit. I’m hoping that by Dec 1 I have a job so this leaves me with just 1.5 months of unemployment, which shouldn’t hurt too much. With the wedding coming up, and all the expenses for that, I really, really, really need a job – even though I admit it’s nice to have a few weeks to just stop and focus on planning this crazy event since the lack of time to do that was also stressing me out.

But I want to plan for “worst case scenerio” 3 months without a job. I’ll give myself 3 months to find something I really think I can be good at – because the last thing I want to do right now is to jump into a position where my anxiety will get to me again. I’m hoping to find something with a bit more flexible work environment – the amount of work I can get done at home in a quiet space far surpasses what I can do in some horrible open office environment filled with stress-inducing distractions. I’ve made a pact with myself that I’m not going to apply for things I know I’ll ultimately fail at given the work environment. I also am probably going to apply to grad school because I know the field I’m in now rarely meets my minimum requirements for sanity, so despite the great pay, I think I need to take a break from chasing income and now start to actually plan for sustainability. In short, I can’t be crazy mommy who gets fired from her job every year – my future kids don’t need to see that. I want them to see me in my best state – one where I actually like my job more or less. Not the me who I am now. I would never want them to see that person.

So I’m assuming I will need to spend about $2000 a month additional from my savings in order to cover everything from gas to get to job interviews to food to grad school applications to a potential trip home to the east coast to spend some quality time with family when I have the time (dad’s cancer isn’t getting better and despite that he drives me nutso whenever I see him I always think – will this be the last time?) So… say I have $5k of my savings to spend over the next 3 months… give or take. That puts me at roughly $350k at the end of the year – but I’d then be worried I couldn’t find another job. I know that I have some talent and abilities… but I just need to figure out where and how to apply them in a way where someone will pay me money to do so, and I won’t flip out after 3 months or so feeling like I’m so overwhelmed but the piles of things to do and not be able to prioritize those things or even know where to start. Yes, this is the life of a woman who has super anxiety, bipolar II and ADHD. I’m not saying those are excuses for anything – I take full responsibility for losing this job, for falling into the same pattern. But there’s a part of it that is just inherently who I am. I’m different than most people, that’s for sure. I just need to figure out where I fit.

And I’m going to be 32 in a month, which is – such an adult. My body definitely feels like I’m in my 30s — I pinched a nerve a week ago and my back and arm are still in pain. If I don’t sleep a full 8 hours a night I feel it for many days later. And don’t get me started on drinking / hangovers, oy. That’s just to say that I’m not a kid anymore. I’m a full grown adult. Looking around at my apartment I have to stop and wonder if this is what I pictured adulthood to be like. Well, I never actually envisioned myself as an adult. Maybe that’s part of the problem. But when I envisioned adulthood as a general concept, it certainly didn’t look like this — unfinished apartment, used couch that’s falling apart, bike in the corner of the living room because there’s no where else to keep it, a career that doesn’t feel right at all, getting married (ok that’s a start) to a man who also doesn’t have much of anything figured out yet either, to a long life ahead of me that I imagine will poof suddenly transform into one filled with maturity once I have my own kids (I know it doesn’t happen that way, I just like to think there’s some kind of inciting incident to finally growing up.)

Oh well. Today, I just need to focus on not dipping in too deep to my savings this year, and ultimately continuing on to my “round 1” $500k goal. That was supposed to happen next year. It won’t. But maybe I’ll get there before I’m 40.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying I Do to the Wedding Industry…

This week I’m set to sign the contract for our wedding venue. It’s a lovely-but-not-perfect venue in a location that is somewhat convenient for guests traveling from all around the country and that will cost, at a minimum, if all we do is show up, about $23,000.

And as I frantically try to figure out how to cut down all the additional spend (which now is about $25k more), I ask myself over and over – WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?

Well, yes, yes I am crazy. I have to be to spend so much money on a half of a day.

As soon as that contract is signed, I have to go through with it. Really, though, I already have to go through with something. We have a date, we’ve informed others to unofficially save the date, and we’ve asked our officiant and a few members of the bridal party to prepare for the big day. So something will happen. I just wish I could make that something cost $10,000 vs $50,000.

I wish I could have a rational conversation with my parents about money, but I can’t. They want to spend the money on this wedding, even though they have a $200k in home equity debt, and even though they just bought a $60k condo (second home) with plans to do $50k+ renovations to it, and even though every day the stock market does poorly the worse the decision to take $45,000 out of their savings is…. I can’t have one moment of rational conversation with them. The second I bring up being cost efficient in anyway, my dad throws a fit. He wouldn’t want the wedding to seem cheap or anything.

If my fiance wanted a big wedding then maybe this would make sense. But he’d much prefer something quiet and mellow with good friends. Meanwhile the thought of planning a wedding right now in nine months gives me heaping amounts of heart attacks. All in all, this seems like a horrible no good idea.

Yet I still think I’ll regret NOT having this big wedding. Maybe I wouldn’t. I don’t know. I do feel like I either go all in, or we just seriously elope and that’s that. Maybe we have a little party with local friends and call it a day. We move on with our lives. If we need to, I ask my parents for $45k for a few cycles of IVF so I can have children… or perhaps for a kick start on their college tuition savings. Not a stupid party.

But that isn’t the options. I either get the money for a stupid party, or nothing. And the guilt of accepting this money is eating me up inside. Yes I can pay for some of it, but what I wanted to do is work with my parents to negotiate with vendors, especially the venue, so all the costs could come down a bit. My dad is too stubborn to do that. Too proud. All efforts of negotiating were thwarted by his refusal to play bad cop, to state that he didn’t want to pay so much for X or Y. Ok, so with the venue at $23,000 – we’re just starting so high, it’s hard to keep the entire event under $30k, which is my goal, because I think any more than that is completely batshit.

Of course, I can’t help but want a $6,000 photographer, a $4,000 videographer, $2k-$3k for flowers, and $4k-$5k for my dress, alterations, shoes, under garments, accessories, hair and makeup. And then there’s transportation and invites and this doesn’t even count the honeymoon or the rehearsal dinner et al.

If I could do the wedding in the off season it could be cheaper, but then so many people couldn’t come. I can’t figure out how to save money… how to get to that $30k budget that I’ve set as a goal…

Here is a tight budget based on what I’ve observed in the market, with the exception of my venue which isn’t the cheapest but also isn’t the most expensive.

$23k – venue
$5k – photography
$2k – video
$3k – dress
$2k – flowers
$1k – transport
$1k – invites
$3k – music (DJ)

Well that’s $40k right there. And I don’t feel like that’s a lavish wedding at all. How do I get this down to $35k at most?

Biggest Purchases in My Life

I’m turning 32 in a few months, and I’m looking at my overall networth and if it could be higher right now if I had not made some “big” purchases. Really, though, it would be higher if I didn’t make all of the small purchases!

  • $17,000 – second car, paid for all cash (used from a dealer) — I don’t love this car, I wish I picked another, but it’s fine and safe
  • $16,000 – stock in private company (purchased stock options), worth $0 today (insert frown face here)
  • $10,000 – DUI fine, legal fees, et al. Worst expenditure in my life, for many reasons.
  • $8000 – first car, paid for all cash (used from a craigslist seller) — lasted me about 7 years, was a great car (V6!) and I miss it; probably could have lasted longer but it ended up not starting and getting towed from my parking space, wasn’t worth paying to get it out of the pound. Should have been able to sell it for at least $1000, so that was a waste.
  • $4500 – invisible braces, cosmetic and somewhat health related, so far worth it but I wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • $4000 – “unlimited” laser hair removal — WORTH IT — though the place changed owners and “unlimited” was more like “limited”

Those are really all of my big purchases in life thus far outside of college and my annual rent ($16,200 a year for my share of a 1br.) Oh, and of course about $300k in actual stock… I guess you can say that’s a purchase.

Looking at spending $40k+ on my wedding in comparison seems kind of nutso, even if my parents are contributing a large chunk of that.

What are the biggest purchases you’ve made in your life?

Wedding Budget Woes and Excitement-Crippling Guilt

My father WANTS to pay for a $45,000 wedding. So many engaged couples planning their nuptials would love to have that generous offer. I do love it, but I also still feel ill when I think about it. $45,000 for ONE FREAKING DAY – AM I OUT OF MY MIND?

Well, yes, I am.

I’ve searched high and low, east and west for the ideal wedding venue. I’ve done tons of research and put together budget sheet after budget sheet to try to cut down on costs while pleasing all who need to be pleased — it can’t be on a Friday night because of religion, can’t be in the winter or spring or fall because people have kids in school, can’t be on a holiday, can’t be at a venue that doesn’t have lots of seats during the cocktail hour, can’t be at a venue that is too far from an airport, can’t be somewhere that only serves beer and wine because god forbid we ask people to come across the country and don’t even deliver an open bar…

At the end of the day, I realized I had two choices (ahem, have two choices) – one, I do a wedding that’s truly for “us” – I pay for it all out of my own pocket, I narrow the guest list down significantly, and heck maybe I do something totally non-traditional and just have a picnic or something in a park. I do it in the winter… on a weeknight… because who cares, the wedding isn’t about other people, it’s about us, getting, you know, married.

OR – this is an event for my family, namely my mother and father. My dad (who is equal parts terminally ill and obsessed with his daughter having a big fancy wedding and getting pregnant two seconds after the wedding ends) would be somewhat upset if I didn’t have a sizable shindig. To be fair to him, we don’t know how much longer he will live, and if he’s saved up money throughout his life then why not give him the party that he’d want, and hopefully also manage to put on an affair that stays true to my fiance and I.

But, come on, $45k on one night? I just… there are people who can’t afford to eat in this world… and I’m spending $45,000 for one stupid party?

The saddest thing of all (after the whole people in the world not being able to afford to eat) is that when I run the numbers, $45k isn’t really going to cover everything. I’ve already given up on a Saturday night wedding (minimums too high at the venues I like) and I’m doing a Sunday night, which is one of those things that all the frugal wedding blogs suggest. And I’ve already had a few people grumble about the Sunday night wedding saying they’ll leave early and not party as much (so, yea, there goes the value of that standard premium open bar.) The venue itself has a minimum of 135 people on a Sunday night, which is the one thing that may keep me from booking it — though at this point I have a hold on a date and I just want to book it and get on with my life! 135 minimum with $170 per person cost, plus some random extras that they don’t include but I consider necessary (on-site rehearsal for instance.)

For those of you who hate math, that’s $23,000-ish just for the minimum venue/catering fee. That’s BEFORE dress, band, photographer, videographer, florist, officiant, gifts, tips, rings, and the therapy I’ll need to survive all of this.

I am ridiculously torn between saying FUCK IT and eloping or saying FUCK IT and just closing my fiscal eyes to how ridiculous the entire situation is. I really wanted to figure out how to do the entire wedding for $30k and I thought Sunday night would help with that, but really there’s no way to do it for that price unless we either rent a hall and bring in catering (and have a smaller guest list) or… well, have a wedding somewhere in the middle of nowhere… and then no one will come, which is maybe for the better.

I really want someone to talk some sense into me and tell me that spending $45k+ on one day is the dumbest thing ever – even if it’s mostly my parent’s money and even if it’s money my parents want to spend. Someone knock some sense into me! I keep looking at all these wedding photos and videos and all I can think is how silly I’ll look in that set up. I feel too old for all that. And that money could be put to much better uses – either for my parents or for my future family.

The 135 minimum is really freaking me out now. I don’t know if I’ll get that many people. I’m inviting something like 150-175, but with people all around the country I bet RSVP rates will be 60% – which, for those of you who don’t like math, and who want to cringe with me, is 105 people. That means we’ll be paying $5100 for 30 people who aren’t even there.

Why are weddings a thing again?

Why Being a Bridesmaid is Costing me Over $2000

Well, over $2500 to be exact.

There were a few comments on my last post about my budget over the next three months about why – despite my otherwise frugal expectations of spending – my bridesmaid budget was quickly draining my networth. Someone said “you do realize you are spending $2500 on being a bridesmaid and that is ridiculous.” Well, I wanted to break out my costs to show you all that it’s not really that ridiculous at the moment. As I noted in my response to that comment – also – my friend has three bridesmaids vs a larger party so all of the items we’re buying we’re splitting 3 ways, which quickly gets expensive. And she already had drama with one of her bridesmaids (having to replace her) so unless I’m going into debt over this I don’t feel comfortable asking her to step out of the wedding or pay less than the other bridesmaids (neither of whom are rich either.)

Bridesmaid Budget

Flights to NY area for 3 events: $1200  ($400 per flight avg)
Bridal Shower Cards, Favors, Games: $100
Bridesmaid Dress: $200 (already purchased)
Bridesmaid Dress Alterations: TBD ($100?)
Bridesmaid Dress: Silver Peep Toe Shoes (required) $75
Bachelorette Party Hotel in NY: $150
Bachelorette Party Activities in NY: $200
Wedding Day Hair/Makeup: $150 (required by bride)
Hotel Nights (2) for Rehearsal Dinner & Wedding: $300
Gift for Bride & Groom: $200
——————————————————-

TOTAL $2625

There are a few items here I could minimize to reduce that budget a bit — I can use frequent flier miles for my flight (but they’re still worth something and tends not to be worth it to use them to fly cross country.) I can hope my dress fits well enough to not require any sort of severe alterations, but these dresses are designed to need alterations, at the very least a serious hem. I can make a stink about the $150 of hair and makeup required on the wedding day but she really wants us to get this done professionally for photos. If I was completely out of cash I’d say something to the bride about it, but it doesn’t feel right. I can skip the bridal shower which I’m sure she’d understand worst case scenerio, but now my plan is to piggyback an old friend’s baby shower the following weekend on that trip, and given I’ll be applying for jobs on the east coast too that week actually makes sense to set up some interviews while I’m there.

The actual bachelorette party in NY is super pricey. We were originally going to do it in Atlantic City which would have been cheaper but the bride really wanted NY so NY it is. I’m looking into ways to keep our budget in check so it’s no more than $300 per person total including the hotel room – as it’s very easy to spend much, much more than that in NYC for a night on the town.

In any chase when I agreed to being a bridesmaid I didn’t realize I’d be out of a job. I also wasn’t thinking necessarily about the costs but how honored I am to be chosen as a close friend of a girl who has indeed become a better friend of mine over the years despite our distance. It’s not like I have a ton of friends asking me to to be in their bridal parties (I was in one other wedding in my adult life — and that one had a ton of bridesmaids and all I had to pay for was my dress with alterations and opted for hair design at the wedding, plus I chipped in heavily for the bachlorette party because her maid of honor was refusing to throw a big party out like the bride wanted. Even that with a hotel in San Francisco did not come to over $600 or so total plus wedding gift.)

I’m not sure what to do now. Adding it all up on paper is a bit scary, especially given the no job situation. Also, if I do get a job and book flights for going back and forth that would be a pain in the first few months at the job. That may very well be what happens but it’s not going to be ideal. Anyway, now you all know why my bridesmaid budget is so high!

 

The Wedding Planner – How Much Should a Wedding Cost?

Weddings are a big business. I’ve been to weddings of all sizes and costs — some small and in local parks — others large in luxury city banquet halls. Looking back on the weddings, besides respective heat from being in a park outdoors with no shade, the actual cost of the event does not influence my own review of the event. What I personally remember most is the love the partners shared for each other, the kind words the family said, and how much fun was had by all.

So why is my own wedding budget suddenly increasing from $30,000 to $50,000? Even $30,000 sounds absolutely ridiculous. I have two very conflicting POVs in my mind at the moment and it’s a challenge to find a balance that makes sense.

My parents WANT to pay up to $50,000 for a wedding, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous in my mind. Regardless of how much they pay (and especially if they pay $50k) then it becomes THEIR wedding and not my wedding. At least they’re fairly flexible on some things, but my mother is starting to bring up all the horrific things her mother did at her wedding and, unfortunately, my mother is not the type to think “this means I should not do them to my own daughter” and instead sees this as an opportunity to do the same (*at least she claims she will not force herself onto our honeymoon, which her own mother did.) Continue reading

2014 Budget: Getting Serious

Based on my aggressive financial goals documented here ($500k by 1/1/18), and my 105% increase in monthly rent starting this month (le sigh), I need to stop my shopping trips to the mall and get serious about my budget. The time for fun comes when I obtain a larger percentage of my bonus or if the stock markets start to track faster to goal then planned. Right now, it’s time to be relatively frugal in the first-world-I-still-think-I-get-paid-too-much sense.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 12.10.59 PM This chart documents my budget plan for May going forward. I don’t actually think it’s reasonable but in order to hit my goals I have to focus on sticking to plan. If I force myself I know I can, and my bf is on board with figuring out how to save each month and help me achieve my goals as well. We’re going to start cooking together so it will be interesting to see what sharing household costs 50/50 does for my budget.

This budget plan keeps me above water monthly while also enabling $3k to be invested into the stock market and $1.4k to go to – also stocks – in my 401k. It’s a little off balance because I’ve actually already maxed out my 401k this year, so in reality I’ll be putting $4.4kish into the stock market (Vanguard funds mostly, maybe 80% ($3500) Vanguard (split between dividend growth fund and international fund) and 20% not-too-risky individual stocks for the fun of it. I’d like to get to $10k in my Vanguard funds ASAP to get their lower cost ratios (just turned my mid-cap fund into admiral going from .26% expenses to .1%, woohoo.) Continue reading