Tag Archives: networth

Mint.com and My Year-Over-Year Progress

I’m the first to admit that I fail when it comes to acing the test on smart shopper and saver. Over the past two years I’ve grown wiser and more careful with my purchases, but I’ll splurge more often than not.

That’s why it’s especially rewarding to use the Mint.com trends tool to compare my spending habits month and, even more importantly, year to year.

Using the tends tool, I can easily see how much I spent in any 12 month period.

From June 2007 to June 2008, I spent $37,455. That was when I was making about $35k for the whole year, mind you.

In the past 12 months, from Jan of 2008 to the end of Jan of 2009, I’ve spent $30,523. My income has gone up and my spending has dropped over $7k. I am very proud of this and hope I can continue on my not-so-frugal living within my means path.

Looking at 2008, I spent $29,916 total. The biggest expense over this year was “home,” with $10,553 going to rent and moving expenses.

2008 Spending Chart

Home: $10,553
($879 a month)

Shopping: $4,633
($386 a month)

Food: $2,734
($228 a mont)

Auto/Gas: $2,211
($184 a month)

Entertainment: $1,969
($164 a month)

Bills: $1,737
($144.75 a month)

Gifts: $331
($27 a month)

Business Services(?): $399
($33 a month)

Education: $560
($46 a month)

Travel: $1269
($106 a month)

Health & Fitness: $1,660
($138 a month)

Fees: $238
($20 a month)

Uncategorized: $1,048

Hello 2009

I just opened up my Google Doc spreadsheet tracking my various accounts and realized that my 2007-2008 sheet is officially complete. Even though my spending habits weren’t perfect last year, it was the first year of my life where I tracked my finances, and can learn from my mistakes.

There were moments when I spent foolishly in 2008, which is why my overall networth has gone down (not to mention all my stocks taking a nosedive with the market) – but I resolve to be smart about my spending in 2009.

If I can keep a steady job, there is no reason that I can’t save $10 – $20k in one year (including $5k for my Roth IRA). My rent costs are low (finally), I’m working a job where I can wear jeans and a t-shirt, so I don’t need to spend on fancy clothes, and really my only major expenses should be to visit my family back east about twice a year (or more, since my dad has cancer and won’t be around much longer.) But even with a few trips back east, I should really be able to save.

2009 is largely depending on whether my current position will turn full time or not. If not, there’s a chance that not means I’m out of a job. I should be finding out about that this month. I’m slightly worried, though at the moment the whole situation is looking promising.

I really want 2009 to be a stable year financially and emotionally. I’d like to take all my urges to spend and instead use those to be healthy… to go for a bike ride, or to play tennis with my boyfriend. I always spend the most when I’m going through a depressive phase, and I’m hoping the depression is over and done with. I’m 25 now and I sort of have my life together. It’s pretty crazy to say that, but it’s true. Finally.

May Spending Report, May 9

This month I am making a few purchases for my “free” trip to Israel, so my budget is a little off. I will make up for this by being really frugal with my budget and trying to underspend it once I get back from my trip.

Next month is going to be difficult because I am missing two to three weeks of work for my trip, and that’s unpaid time off. Which is fine, I just need to be careful to be really frugal next month. Luckily, my parents will probably feed me while I’m home, and while in Israel the trip provides some meals. So if I can get away with just paying my fixed costs in June, I can afford to take the trip. Granted, the trip is free, so this is a frugal vacation by proxy. Can’t complain about that!

————————-
FIXED COSTS: $1420
BEAUTY: $20
ENTERTAINMENT: $37
FOOD: $40
TRANSPORT: $82
SHOPPING: $201
INVESTMENT: $250
————————–
$2050 / [$2400 budget for month]

(($350 left for May))

Still need to…

*go food shopping (approx $80)
*get water shoes for trip ($60?)
*haircut ($70)
*get bathing suit? ($90)
——————————
Still to spend: $300 (put any extra in vacation fund!)

—————————
FIXED COSTS: $1420
Rent: $1050
Phone: $55
Cable: $72
Health Insurance: $129
Gym: $27
Car Insurance: $87
—————————-

Beauty
$20 (eyebrow wax)

Entertainment /Hobbies
$15 (camera fix)
$22 (theater ticket)

Food [*still have to do food shopping for May]
$23.99 (dinner for two)
$10.24 (dinner)
$6 (dinner)

Transportation
$5 (Bart fare)
$66.21 (Gas)
$3 (bart Fare)
$5 (bart fare)
$2.25 (caltrain)

Shopping
$148 (dress for trip)
$53 (shirt)

Roth IRA [investments]
$200

Prosper [Investments]
$50

Ides of April Spending Check-In

I’m trying to be frugal this month. I owe so much money for 2007 taxes and estimated taxes. My boyfriend is helping out a bit in that he’s paying for a higher percentage of our “dining out” expenses. Without further ado… here’s my expense breakdown from April 1 – April 15.


Total Spending: $1907.16

Fixed Expenses: $1218.33
$1050 Rent
$87.34 Car Insurance
$27 Gym
$53.99 Phone

To Be Reimbursed: $120
$120 Parking Permit

Taxes (not including federal): $311.90
$260 Estimated State Taxes
$2 State Taxes 2007
$49.90 tax cut online

Investing: $12
$12 last Sharebuilder fee for a while

Gas: $126.48
$64.29 Gas Filler up.
$62.19 Gas Filler up.

Food / Drugstore: $118.45
$5.33  Safeway
$9.28  Longs Drugs
$8.65 Walgreens
$26.84 Dining out for two
$21.54 Longs drugs
$12.07 Supermarket
$23.49 Eating Out for Two
$11.28 supermarket

How to Afford My Quarterly Taxes

I assume that I’m going to owe $6132 in quarterly taxes (state and federal) in… 14 days.

(AHH!)

I just transfered an extra $1000 into my ING for Taxes account, which now adds up to $5125.56

So I’m short $1006.

That means budgeting this month needs to be extra, extra tight. And I might have to dip into my liquid CD to pay my estimated quarterly tax.

—-

April “Spending” Money $2410

Fixed Costs = $1422.28
————–
$71.33 — Cable Bill
$129 — Health Insurance
$87.33 — Car Insurance
$57.62 — Phone Bill
$1050 — Rent
$27 — Gym Bill

Credit Card Debt: $882
to pay this month $500
———————————

$1922.28

———-

$487.72 left

Food? Taxes? Gas?

——–

The Good News…

Still Owed for this month: $1325

($400 for marketing copy
$525 for marketing article
$400 reimbursement)
[[+487.72]]

(TOTAL: $1752.72)

If I get paid all of this in time…

$1300 to taxes
$200 to food
$100 to Roth IRA
$152.72 Stays in Checking

————————————–

Why am I so short? I shouldn’t be this short, but it will take me until the end of April to earn all the money I need to pay for my Jan – April estimated taxes. I could just pay less than I’m supposed to and hope that it all works out in the end. This isn’t entirely a stupid thing to do because I think based on last year’s taxes I could undershoot what I’m going to have to pay this year and still be penalty free. But I’d rather keep on top of things.

Also, none of this takes into consideration the fact that I have to pay to deal with 2007 taxes.

What have I done, oh what have I done????

Estimated Tax Worksheet – could it be any more complicated? (Don’t Answer That)

Ok, going by the estimated tax worksheet, perhaps I owe a different amount for this quarter.

1. Adjusted gross income you expect in 2008:

(Adjusted gross income. Use your 2007 tax return and instructions as a guide to figuring out the adjusted gross income you expect in 2008. see Expected AGI — Line 1 in chapter 2 of Pub. 505 — “Your expected AGI for 2008 (line 1) is your expected total income minus your expected adjustments to income”)

Let’s just say $66,000 and forget any adjustments I might take.

2. Estimated total of itemized deductions: no idea

3. Subtract Line 2 from Line 1: $66,000

4. Exceptions: Multiply $3,500 by the number of personal exceptions = $0?

5. Subtract line 4 from line 3 = $66,000

6. Tax =
Figure your tax on amount on line 5 by using the 2008 Tax Rate Schedules on page 5. *If you have qualified dividends or a net capital gain, or expect to claim the foreign earned income exclusion or housing exlucsion, see “pub 505” to figure the tax.

  • 10% on income between $0 and $8,025
  • 15% on the income between $8,025 and $32,550; plus $802.50
  • 25% on the income between $32,550 and $78,850; plus $4,481.25 = $12843.755
  • 28% on the income between $78,850 and $164,550; plus $16,056.25
  • 33% on the income between $164,550 and $357,700; plus $40,052.25
  • 35% on the income over $357,700; plus $103,791.75

7. Alternative minimum tax from Form 6251: (this AMT confuses me to no end so for now I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist and hope it doesn’t effect me.

What is the AMT? The AMT came into being with the Tax Reform Act of 1969. Its purpose was to target a small number of high-income taxpayers who could claim so many deductions they owed little or no income tax. A growing number of middle-income taxpayers are discovering they are subject to the AMT.

8. Add lines 6 & 7. Add to this amount any other taxes you expect to include in the total on Form 1040, line 44, or Form 1040A, line 28 = $12843.755

9. Credits (not not include any income tax withholding on this line): huh?

10. Subtract line 9 from line 8. If zero or less, enter 0 = $12843.755.

11. Self employment tax. Estimate of 2008 net earnings from self employment. (if $102,00 or less, multiply the amount by 15.3% — Caution: If you also have wages subject to
social security tax, see Pub. 505 to figure the amount to enter) = $10,098

12. Other taxes (see instructions below): let’s just say none.

13a. Add lines 10 through 12: $10,098
b. earned income credit (forms 4136, 8801 (line 27) and 8885) – None (you have to earn less than $17k for this.)
c. total 2008 estimated tax. Subtract line 13b from line 13a. If zero or less, enter 0 = $22,941.755

14a. multiply line 13c by 90% (unless you’re a farmer or a fisherman, then it’s 66.5%) = $20,647.58
b. enter the tax shown on your 2007 tax return (110% of that amount if you are not a farmer or a fisherman, and the adjusted gross income shown on that return is $150k or more) = no idea yet
c. required annual payment ot avoid a penalty. Enter the smaller of line 14a or 14b = $20,647.58

15. Income tax withheld and estimated to be withheld during 2008: none.

16a. subtract line 15 from line 14c:
Is the result zero or less?
Yes — stop here. you don’t have to pay anything.
No – go to line 16b…

16b: subtract line 15 from line 13c
is the result less than $1000
yes – stop. no money needed.
no – go to line 17 to figure your required payment

17. if the first payment you are required to make is due april 15, enter 1/4 of line 16a:
$20,647.58 / 4 = $5161.89

(but this doesn’t at all include state taxes. I wonder if there is a separate quarterly estimated tax payment for that.)

State Income Taxes: Why California Sucks

When I headed west and moved to California a little over two years ago, I was fresh out of college and not at all worried about taxes. All I wanted was to move away from Chicago’s bitter cold and into the Cali sun. At that point in my life I figured I’d be lucky to ever make $20k a year, and being in such a low income bracket, the income tax amount from state to state didn’t make much difference.

Actually, at the time I didn’t even realize that there was a difference per state in terms of income tax levels. I just thought that everyone in any state paid the same amount for state and federal taxes, just that the state taxes went to the state you lived in and federal went to Bush and his war.

Apparently – that’s not correct at all. (Duh, me.) Each state has its own state income tax. Just my luck, California is the worst for income tax rates at my level of earnings.

Even New York and my home state of New Jersey would be cheaper when it comes to state taxes (although they’re both ranked highly in the list of “expensive income taxes.”)

For a yearly income of $50k – $60k (which is about what I expect to bring in over 2008)…

My state income tax rate & fee,
assuming an annual income of $55k:

California — 9.3% or $5115
New York — 6.85% or $3767.50
New Jersey — 5.525% or $3038.75

I’m surprised at how expensive it is to live in Maine. 8.5% for anyone making $17k or more. Yikes. Who really wants to live in Maine anyway?

Talking Taxes

My taxes for 2007 are going to be a total nightmare. I tried to figure them out on TurboTax a few months ago before getting my official W2s, but I’m afraid I’m missing major deductions that I should be taking (or taking deductions I shouldn’t be taking).

That has led me to seek out a CPA. So far the one who has written back to me charges $155 an hour with a two hour minimum. Eeks. And I thought $80 for TurboTax was pricey.

While $310 for an accountant to do my taxes won’t be the end of the world, it still sucks. I feel like I should be able to figure out taxes for myself given that my overall earnings for the year was less than $35k. Unfortunately that $35k came from a bunch of different places.

Meanwhile, my uncle – who I do some small amounts of freelance work for – told me that while he’s not sending me a 1099 form I have to report the earnings. Of course I have to report the income, but I thought that he also had to report the earnings. So I’m a bit confused about this – if he doesn’t report the earnings will I get him in trouble if I report them?

Do you guys think it’s worth $310+ to have someone prepare my tax returns? Or should I just do TurboTax and hope that I don’t majorly mess anything up?

March 1-20 Spending ($3176.93)

March Spending Breakdown Check In (March 1 – 20)

Fixed Costs = $1422.28
————–
$71.33 — Cable Bill
$129 — Health Insurance
$87.33 — Car Insurance
$57.62 — Phone Bill
$1050 — Rent
$27 — Gym Bill
————–

Gas Totals = $121.30

—————

Color Code

$1543.58 — Fixed Costs & Gas
$387.98 — To Be Reimbursed
$371.16 — Food / Drug Store
$0 — Clothing / Beauty
$105.54 — Furniture / Household
$512 — Investment
$256.78 — Other


———

$2277.06 Spending
$512 Investment
$387.87 To Be Reimbursed
———-
$3176.93 Total March 1-20

————————-
breakdown by type:

Cable / Internet Bill:
$71.33

Health Insurance:
$129

Sharebuilder Investment:
$500

Car Insurance:
$87.33

Play TBR – Tables:
$50

Cash Withdrawl

$50

Cell Phone Bill

$57.62

Gym Bill
$27.00

Rent
$1050

Sharebuilder Fees
$12

Sheet Music for Play (TBR)
$6.39

Drug store
$3.79

Dinner for Two
$28.03

Target – bookshelf and ottoman
$105.54

Quik Stop
$5.07

Drug Store
$13.62

Antiques for Play (TBR)
$15.16

Quik Stop
$7.40

Groceries
$6.04

JoAnn Fabrics (TBR)
$43.22

Home Depot (TBR)
$45.24

Burger King (TBR)
$15.34

Gas
$63.48

Dinner
$11.69

Book
$11.85

Groceries
$14.97

Dinner for Two

$42.40

ITunes – sound for play (TBR?)
$29.88

Taco Bell (food)
$3.38

Bagels for two

$7.10

Drug Store
$63.25

iTunes (TBR?)
$9.99

Ace Hardware ($30 TBR)
$52.34

Target

$32.46

Joann Fabric (TBR)
$20.25

Gift for Boyfriend’s Birthday
$150

Home Depot (TBR)
$89.76

Ace Hardware (TBR)
$62.75

Groceries
$6.99

Gas
$57.82

Groceries
$169.90