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Financial Fitness

January 29th, 2019 at 03:30 pm

People ask me all the time how to save more money. I say at work, while doing taxes, stop spending it on crap. That's me being blunt. The other part I say is just put it on 10% and save it before it hits your account and you won't see it. Again nothing fancy.

But honestly a bigger problem? A lot of people have trouble saving money because they have a lot of bills. What sort of bills?

A really expensive mortgage. Instead of 33% PITI it's 50% PITI. It's hard to get ahead when have your income is gone. Or other people are spending $1k/month or more on a car payment. Or 2 car payments. Having bought a $28k minivan and $26k subaru legacy with 3 year payments of $500, I can see how if you drive a $50k/car you are paying $1k/month for 5 years! Um wow. And that's one car. again it's hard to get ahead and save if you are paying say $3k mortgage, $1500 on cars. Then private school or after school care for another $1-2k/month.

Then suddenly all your income is already mostly spent before you even start paying for things like cell phones $100/month, internet $100/month, gas for cars, groceries, etc.

The real problem is that even watching these other categories which are flexible and can be minimized if you don't have enough money after paying all your set bills you can't save. You can't build an EF. Of course not. I mean who would? No one.

So when I see clients making $20k/month gross but then struggling and telling me so. I can easily guess it's the house, car, or private school/college.

So my tip is curb the spending to 50% needs, 20% saving, and 30% wants. If you do this you'll be fine.

What's your number one financial advice?

2018 tax reform bill

December 17th, 2017 at 11:58 pm

I'm not entirely sure we'll get a tax cut but whatever. It is what it is.

That being said I'm sort of being pushed to buy our new to us car now this month because I think I want to capture the sales tax break since we itemize. I'm not sure how everything will shake out next year.

Is it worth it? I'm still contemplating. The only good thing is that we've been thinking about it and meaning to do it for 2 months now but haven't pulled the trigger.

I will say that I think the tax bill will have negative repercussions for charitable donations. I think less people will give. But until everything is signed I think we'll still have to see.

Holiday gifts

December 11th, 2017 at 02:30 pm

So I'm not ready yet to tell my DK that santa isn't real. I'm sure my DK1 knows but I say if you don't believe in santa you get nothing.

This year we did the lego and chocolate advent calendars. We are doing a book again, pajamas, and a toy, and stocking stuffers. They get two toys 1 from DH and myself and 1 from santa. We provide the big toy because DH wants credit and the toy from santa this year is $10 bank. We usually aim for something nice around $20 then we get gifts from family and friends and we do the stockings.

It's really cut back on what we spend, not that we ever spent much. Until we moved 3 years we spent $0 on gifts because we were always traveling every holidays to see our families. So we just brought back enough gifts that we NEVER bought the DK a gift. We had enough and they were 5 and 3 before we got a tree.

So in 2015 we got out first tree and started gifts. I mean when we traveled usually to Hawaii my mom did stockings and gifts. I bought them gifts and my family but not the DK.

Now that we're hosting it we had to buy presents from us and Santa and I realize listening to other parent HOLY MOLY how much people spend on Christmas, Hannukah, etc. A LOT. They have a lot of big ticket items.

I think for our big gifts the kids want another hatchimal (peacat and griffin). Then these books they picked and $10 pajamas from Target.

But ugh I am hating wrapping and doing the stockings. Worse yet DH turned 40 yesterday (yeah!) but I got him nothing but an apple pie (he didn't want a cake) and a card. Seriously we looked at each and again we're struggling to want something to wrap up.

I know he's supposed to "get" me tiles to attach to my keys and phone so I can find them easily. But what else?

I wonder it comes with age. There is nothing we want for that we can't and won't buy when we want it. Because we don't want much there isn't much to buy. I was going to buy him a new hockey jersey but he said , why bother? Spend money on tickets to a game maybe.

I love the feeling of christmas and new years. I love having a tree decorated by kid ornaments. I love our lights and music and just relaxing. But boy this whole present thing is a PIA.

Any tips for buying for significant others?

Holiday Cards

December 9th, 2017 at 04:12 pm

Do you do holiday cards? Do you get them? I like getting holiday cards. I like seeing my friends kids get older and hearing about their lives, especially those who we don't live by anymore.

But it's not cheap to do it. This year on groupon I bought a groupon for holiday cards from staples for $42 for 200 cards. But then there is also the cost of stamps. So probably we're spending $100 in all. I get it now why people hate doing it and say it's expensive. But I still like it.

Do you do it? Do you like getting them?

Extra $5k x 2!

June 21st, 2017 at 08:30 am

My friend paid me back the $5k I loaned her for her lawyer retainer. I am so excited. I figured the money gone. But she took a dividend payment from her 401k and paid me off instead. Sweet. Yes I know she should have left it in her 401k, but truthfully I told her that it's okay to tap her 401k right now. That getting divorced is more important than retirement and the situation she's in it really is. I can't explain but it's gotten so bad that if she had to cash out her entire retirement savings I would still think it's a good idea. And as it stands she just might have to do that who knows.

But the second $5k? DH got a referral bonus at work for referring someone that got hired and has been working now for 6 months. YES! Sure we saw $3300 of $5000 but hey it's better than nothing. And we certainly can use the money with our move. I think it just paid for the movers and few extras.

Nice found money!

Free Fridge

June 18th, 2017 at 04:03 pm

Did I mention we are getting a free fridge in the garage of our new house? The sellers when we saw them and bought the lawn mower and seeder (awesome) asked if we wanted it. We said sure.

I guess it depends on if we use it. I guess we'll unplug it and sell it for $25 if we don't. I am worried that we'll buy too much food. I'm not sure how to use it.

I mean I can see leaving drinks and the freezer will be nice. In fact I was contemplating buying a 1/4 of a cow or and 1/8 of a cow to start.

Like I've mentioned my DH is anti-frozen anything but I really want to try managing food better. We don't do a lot of deals because he likes things fresh. But I hate shopping so much.

This is sort of a nice experiment without costing us money to buy a freezer. I think if it works out then maybe we could switch it out to a deep freezer and forgo the fridge part?

Anyone have an extra fridge? How much do you use it?

stuff cost you a lot

June 14th, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Stuff costs a lot. I mean buying yes costs money. Sure you can save money buying it used. Thrift store or garage sale shopping. But even if you buy everything used and cheaper it's still stuff. You need somewhere to store it. You need to move it. You need to organize it.

I saw this as we are about to move and everyone asks me how the packing is going and I say it's not. I say I am throwing things out and I'm trying to organize what I have so that I don't move it. They nod and look really confused.

I say that I think I need to purge more than pay movers to move unnecessary stuff. I've got friends seriously on both sides of the spectrum. Those who buy new and have tons of stuff. They tend to have big homes and lots of space.

The idea that we are moving to a smaller house that cost more seems well ridiculous and in some ways it is. But then we also have friends who buy second hand everything but also have tons of stuff. They are in their home and paying for a storage unit for 5 years because they can't fit everything into their house but they shop all garage sales, craigslist, thrift stores. I get it they probably don't spend as much but I really question that. I mean 5 years of a storage unit?

I don't say this but I'm thinking this in my head. Either way the things in your house costs a lot. I'm not perfect, not by a long shot. I have a lot of junk in my house that I am struggling to downsize and be motivated to get rid of it.

I write this because I am panicking that we are moving into a really small house compared to what we were hoping for and I know there isn't storage. So I am trying to come to terms that I may have to purge more upon moving.

But ever item I look at and ask "does it make me happy" I tell myself it's just stuff. Yes it cost money to buy. But it costs just as much to store. And my life can't be ruled by things.

I need to live comfortably and having less stuff to fit into the house we bought is a priority. The answer is not make more money and buy a bigger house. The answer is make your space work for what you can afford. Maybe if you can't fit your stuff then stop buying things is the answer.

Today's mini goal purge 1 box from the garage. Go through it and sort what I keep and I was discard.

Wedding gift question

June 13th, 2017 at 08:02 am

We can't unfortunately make it to my cousin's wedding. I'm not sure how much to give in "gift" value. Culturally my mom has always said you give the value of your meal if you go. This is pretty much true and usually it's cash. It also increases if family. However we aren't going.

I'm sad to not be going but with everything the way it is, we just couldn't have gone. It's a super busy time for us with moving that it wouldn't have made sense.

That being said I was thinking from their registry a $39.99 gift from bed bath and beyond with a 20% off coupon so still free shipping at $32.00. Then use a BBB gift card I bought on Giftcardgranny which I save 10% on so $22.50 for $25. And that will bring my spending to around $30? Is this ridiculously cheap? Do I seem cheap?

I know it's the thought that counts. If it were a friend I might have just sent a nice card. But I usually send gift cards to target when other relatives haven't registered.

I guess I don't want to look too cheap. But at the same time I wonder if I have to give $100-200 gift since we aren't going? UGH. I hate this social etiquette thing.

Online Shopping

May 29th, 2017 at 11:54 am

I can honestly say I laughed when I read this article about this women who spent [url=http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/26/what-one-woman-learned-from-spending-41000-on-amazon.html] $41,000 on Amazon [/url]

She realized that she bought 427 items in 2014 or more items than days in the year. She makes a lot of money (I think $170k/year) and works for google. But she talks about how easy it is to mindlessly spend online.

I agree 100%. I know MANY people who spend thousands of dollars a month online shopping. I am friends with tons of them. I hear things like I just spent $1000/month on Amazon. I buy everything on Amazon. When I ask what do you spend, it's shocking.

I've spent $79.74 all year on amazon on 4 items. I am spending another $89 on 2 book collections this weekend Roald Dahl 15 book $48.99 and Laura Ingalls Wilder $33.99 9 book set. We do go to the library weekly but I try to buy books that are classics for my kids. I am not sure where my books went but these we'll keep and we love going to the library otherwise.

I bought ada twist scientist 10.99, usually I don't buy these sort of new books, desk chair 44.99, face ski mask 9.99, and pencil sharpener 13.79. Yep 4 items. Before buying I tend to shop around even online.

But what's worse? How many people are mindless drones and they shop on amazon though the prices are not the best. I have a friend who has laundry detergent, soap, etc all delivered for the convenience. But I pointed out she's a member of costco and shops there anyway why not buy the stuff in bulk cheaper. Her answer is that it's easier to have it delivered instead of shopping sales at costco and waiting for deals. The true irony is she wonders why they can't afford to buy a house or save money?

Probably because when I make a suggestion like shopping at costco and watching deals the answer is it's not worth their time. And pointing out that online shopping can easily lead to overspending. The answer is that it doesn't it saves money because it's cheaper.

I would have to guess that the truth is overspending is overspending whether you do it online or in stores. I actually think it's easier online because you are so disconnected from the feeling of spending that you click and buy it charged to a debit or credit card.

The woman in the article talks about it. I have to admit I try to not online shop because I think I spend more online. I think I lose track of my spending. But maybe I'm in the minority if so many people do it.

Do you shop online a lot? Does it save you money? Or do you spend more? Are you sure it's cheaper?

I just spent an hour pricing out boxes from amazon versus uhaul. Yes I have to go to uhaul but most packing supplies are cheaper at uhaul except tape, and they have an better return policy. Of course I have to go to uhaul but it's worth it.

penny wise, pound foolish

May 21st, 2017 at 08:44 am

So we're moving out of our place. I negotiated moving out 2 weeks early and not losing our deposit. Saving us $1200. Our plan is to have it cleaned July 1st. Then move in a mix of us and movers July 2nd-5th. Then be out by the 5th and let our property manager clean and the new tenants in by the 15th. 10 days should be enough to have it cleaned and repaired. The property manager agreed and I agreed to show the house as needed.

Now I had friends who were interested in the place. They are a family of 5 with a parent staying with them so 6 people. They live 5 minutes from me in a townhouse complex where they rent a 2 bed/1 bath townhouse with 1 car garage for $2275/month. Their lease is up end of May. They can resign for $2275 (it was $2200) or they can pay month to month for $2775. The lease breakage is 3 months or $6825 if they break their lease. I told the mom (my friend) she's better off going month to month because the $500 works out cheaper than signing a lease. They are house hunting and the realtor told them they are likely to be able to buy in November/December when there is less people looking.

However I don't think they are in a position to buy since they were approved for less than the mom hoped. She initially thought they'd get approved for $600k. But the bank told them $450k. This puts a big damper on their house hunt. She said they don't have more than $30-35k to put down and she needed help selling her jewlery to get more. I told her don't sell her jewelry. But that will bring in $10k for closing costs she thinks. I have no idea how selling jewelry works except I feel like you don't get much.

They have a house from where they moved that they could sell and it would help with the downpayment. Currently it's rented out. I told her that would really help them with the downpayment and minimize risk in buying. She said they have to think about it. They want to try to be "rich" by being landlords.

Anyway I told my property manager about them and gave them his contact info. They offered him $2275 a month to rent. I slapped my head. Seriously? Less than I'm paying they thought was a good idea? It was ridiculous and he said he didn't get back to them. They asked me to inquire if he had gotten the email and that's when he told me what they offered. I told him just tell them no. It wasn't feasible.

Oh well. Since he has 8 offers now for showings on Tuesday 4-6 pm I guess we'll be fine. It's for $2500/month and I am guessing that it'll be taken on Tuesday. So we are set to save money.

As for my friends? They lost out on renting a bigger house for $125/month more. Maybe $125/month is a lot but at the same time they would have had space for 6 people better than in a 2 bedroom townhouse. It's cheaper than a 3 bedroom townhouse in their complex which was $2500/month. Sometimes people are penny wise, pound foolish. In trying to score a deal and be cheap they lost out I think on a better house and a better flexible rental agreement. I sent them a copy of mine so they could read it for lease breakage. Oh well. Say La Vie.