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Reworked my Budget

August 18th, 2019 at 09:56 am

One of the things I enjoy the most is working on my projected budget for the next several months. I really nerd out on this, and it gives me immense joy. Maybe I should have been an accountant. But, I think it's working on MY numbers that brings me joy. I doubt that managing other people's money would make me as happy.

Anyway, now that I have purchased a car, I can more accurately budget out until April to see what's possible. It may not happen exactly like this because of my variable income. But, with conservative estimates of what I might be able to bring in, here is what I can accomplish:

By end of 2019:
* Pay off my last remaining consumer debt. Another $9,300.
* Save $2,000 towards my 10K EF goal.

By April 2020 when I leave my full time job, here is what I can accomplish:
* FEBRUARY - Pay up to $1,000 on expenses on the cruise. I've never been on a cruise, so don't know what to budget. Some of the port excursions and other things look a bit expensive. I don't think I will go over $1,000 anyway for both my sister and myself. She will offer to pay, but this is a birthday trip for her, so I want it to be all expenses paid for her. The only thing she will be paying for is her flight to Florida.
* MARCH - Pay $1,200 for auto taxes for the year (I am not sure how much it will be. This is a little over what I am paying now yearly for auto taxes)
* MARCH - Roll any income tax savings into the EF
* APRIL - Save $10,000 EF
* MONTHLY - Keep paying $250 extra each month towards the mortgage
* MONTHLY - Leave $300-$400 wiggle room in each month's budget for unexpected expenses. Anything that doesn't get spent will get added to a Global Slush Fund for the year which I hope to get to $10K by August of 2020. This will prevent me from having to dip into my EF for anything I need to take from savings. At the moment, the EF is the only major savings I have that isn't jointly held with my sister. So, that's where I pull money from. But, with a large Slush fund, I shall be able to leave the EF only for emergencies.

By end of 2020 (in addition to the above):
* Save $10,000 in a global slush fund
* Save $2,000 towards my 10K EF goal.
* Pay for ductless heat pumps for my house (around $6,000)
* After the above are accomplished and paid for, throw any remaining money in the budget towards the mortgage.


P.S. The person who was going to come and see my old car fell through. They messaged and canceled and said they found another car. I did get several scammers offering to pay me in cashier's checks, or to mail me checks if I would ship my car to them. Blocked all of those numbers.

Car and Other Updates

August 3rd, 2019 at 11:52 am

Well, the mechanic replaced the fuel filter and the spark plugs. Cost me $290.xx which I thought was very reasonable. I found this mechanic on Google and just went based off the reviews - a small local business. The people were friendly and wonderful too. So, hopefully this will be my regular place.

Anyway - the car runs better now. It goes up inclines fine and does not have as much trouble speeding up after stopping. There still is a slight lag, but nowhere near what it was before. I hope this will make the car last another 6 months or so. My plan is to purchase a new car then. This is a really old 1994 Honda Accord. 275,000 miles on it. I don't take it out of town usually. I had been thinking of replacing my car anyway. It's about time I did so. I have a hard time with change. And, since I know so little about cars, I feel like I am particularly gullible and will end up buying a lemon. I will ask some friends to go car shop with me.

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Paid off the cruise balance from budget savings. So, I didn't have to dip intro my travel fund for that. Yay! Not so with the ticket to Florida where we embark on the cruise. It cost me $692.xx. GRR!!!

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Harvested my very first tomato of the year. The variety is "Genuwine" and it is very pretty. The plant is laden with tomatoes, so I will have plenty more soon. And some of my red plum tomatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen as well. As is my orange bell pepper.

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I can't wait for the end of the year when I will be done with my consumer debt altogether.

Murphy

August 2nd, 2019 at 01:43 pm

Well, so much for my detailed plans for the rest of this year. About 2 days after my last entry, my car decided to die.

At first I thought the battery had drained, so a friend came and jump started it. It ran, so I thought that was that. Well, when I got done with work and got to the car - dead again. So, took it to Autozone to check the battery - the battery is completely dead at this point. So, got a new battery there which they replaced for free $73.xx.

Well, the next day, my neighbor says my car sounds weird, and maybe it's time for an oil change. It was due anyway, so went and did that. Just did the basic change at Jiffy Lube for $29.99.

The next several days, the car will start up and run fine for about a quarter of a mile, but then I was just not able to get any power to the engine. If it's on an incline, it won't go at all. If I stop at a stoplight, I have the hardest time getting it back over 5 miles for the first several seconds. Once it gets up to speed, it's fine. But, if it slows or stops, then it's hard to get it going again.

So, I took it to a mechanic. It's there now. They're replacing the spark plugs and fuel filter. $110 to diagnose this, and another $300 in parts and labor. If this fixes it, then I will go on and do what I originally planned, and buy a car by March or April of next year. If it doesn't, then I will buy another one sooner. I have $5K in my savings and my sister said that I can pull another $2k-ish from our joint savings account. Hopefully that will get me a decent car that I can use for the next 5-7 years.

So, if this doesn't fix it, then the new plan is:

THIS YEAR:
1. Buy new car
2. Still pay off last credit card now at $9300
3. Maybe end up with $1-2K left in my emergency fund if I don't need to replenish our joint savings.

NEXT YEAR:
1. Save $10K in EF before I quit work
2. Start putting money away into a flexible sinking fund. I plan to have $10K in this by the end of next year.
3. Go on the cruise and maybe to Iceland without going into debt.
4. Build up my SE job to completely replace my current income by the end of next year.
5. Once all the planned expenses for next year are paid (furniture, travel, etc.), then I start putting higher amounts towards mortgage principal.

Overall, it hasn't changed much - just the order of things. So, now I'll buy a car first and fill the EF later, rather than have it the other way around.

Tight Budget

July 23rd, 2019 at 04:59 pm

I talked with my supervisor about going part-time, and it went well. The plan is to go to 0.8 FTE starting in October, and then 0.6 FTE in January. And then to quit altogether in April. Simultaneously I will be increasing hours in my SE job.

I sat down and went over my budget with very conservative estimates of how much I can make each month. I generally take home about $200-$1000 more than I estimate from my SE job. Underestimating has been helping thus far.

Anyway, with the conservative estimates, I can accomplish the following:

1. Pay off my last credit card (another $9400 to go)
2. Pay off the cruise (another $120 to go)
3. Purchase ticket to go to Florida for the cruise (~$700)
4. Save $6K in EF
5. Keep making ~$235 extra each month towards mortgage
6. Purchase some furniture for the house (new bed and couch, and a few end tables) ~$1800
7. $1500 for the rest of the year for gifts, Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, etc.

If I do all those things, then I will be living paycheck to paycheck, but won't go into debt. Here are the things that I wanted to do, but won't be able to:

1. Purchase a new to me car (~$6K)
2. Bring up EF to $10K (another $4k to go after Dec)
3. Install a ductless heat pump (~$6k)

Here is my plan:

1. Put any extra income over what I estimate towards a car fund currently at $0
2. Check into the local utility board's incentives for ductless heat. The last time I checked, they had a $500 rebate as well as 5 year interest free financing for ductless heat pumps. I could take out an interest free loan and then once I have purchased a car and got 10K in EF, pay off the loan in the next 3-4 months after that. I don't like to go into debt again, but 0% interest is something that I can deal with. And I really don't want to put off installing the heat pump until next year.

I've lived paycheck to paycheck before, and can do it again. The difference is that this time it will be by choice whereas before it was because I needed to pay off debt and did not have much of a choice. This feels infinitely better.

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Garden updates:
1. Squash are still producing like nuts.
2. I've been harvesting Sugar Snap Peas daily for the past week
3. Tomatoes are plentiful, but all unripe. I noticed the start of some blossom end rot on some, but will treat them with some calcium tomorrow, so hopefully that will take care of it.
4. Two fruit on my sweetmeat squash have fertilized, so I will have at least two.
5. I've had an explosion of bell peppers on my orange bell pepper plant, all babies except for two that will be ready any day now.
6. Thai pepper has tons of green peppers on
7. My beans finally have flowers. I hope I will get some beans off them before the season is out.
8. I got a couple handfuls of blueberries of my small blueberry bush
9. Lettuce and herbs are doing great, and I am using them regularly.
10. I'm getting ready to sow second rounds of beets and lettuce, and also kale and maybe some leeks.

Updates

July 15th, 2019 at 10:00 am

I went on vacation and then things got busy and in the way of blogging.

Overall, I am doing well. Keeping under budget, and making good financial decisions overall.

I'm on track to pay off my last remaining credit card (currently at 0% APR) by December

Also on track to have EF at $6000 by the end of the year.

I am also making small extra payments towards the mortgage. I won't start making larger principal payments until mid-next year.

The cruise is nearly paid off just from savings from my monthly budget. I paid $400 towards it this month, which leaves a balance of $119.36 which I am sure I will be able to save from next month's projected budget. Doing this feels like a challenge of sorts - and makes me more motivated to find ways to save. This leaves extra money from my travel fund to put towards my airline ticket to Florida from where the cruise departs.

The garden is doing well. My squashes are still doing wonderfully well. I've harvested 45 zucchini already. Next year, I think instead of 4 yellow zucchini, I will plant one yellow zucchini, one green zucchini, and one pattypan squash. My snap peas and some tomatoes are also doing great. Two of my tomatoes look stressed and don't have any fruit on them yet. The rest are doing great. My beets succumbed to beet leaf miner. And for some bizarre reason my beans don't have a single flower on them - I have 6 pole beans and not a single flower or fruit. I don't know what is happening. Lettuce and herbs are doing great. I harvested all my radishes. My hot peppers and bell peppers are also doing well. My sweetmeat squash vine has 7 baby fruit on it. I don't know how many of them will actually be viable, but I anticipate getting at least three.

Tomorrow, I am going to talk with my supervisor and let her know that I want to quit my job by March of next year, and work out a transition plan to cut back my hours and train a replacement for my position. I am both nervous and excited. I have not had any new clients in a little while at my SE job, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is summer - and is a slow time. My plan is to have paid off my credit card, have $10K in EF, and another $10K in a global sinking fund, and have a new-to-me car purchased before I leave my current job for full time self-employment.

Cashback and A Gift

June 10th, 2019 at 09:21 am

I bought a leaf blower on Amazon - $66.52. It was $89.95 at the local home depot. So glad I checked online for comparison.

My realtor texted me the other day and thanked me for referring a friend to her. She's amazing and I would refer everyone to her. Anyway, she said she wanted to thank me and get me a gift card and where would I like a gift card for? I said it wasn't necessary, but she insisted, and I said I was buying plants for my backyard, so a garden center or another place where I can buy plants would be very useful. So she came by yesterday and we chatted and she gave me the card which I did not look at until later. My mortgage company had sent me a $5 Starbucks gift card for referring the same friends. I was expecting something like that - $5-$20. When I opened the envelope, she had given me a $100 gift certificate. I could not believe it! She is such a sweetheart. So, I went and spent $40.xx of it on plants. More again next week once my flower bed is complete. I am so grateful.

Buying a house has increased my expenses. I do use credit cards and pay the balance down each month. So, I have not paid interest on a credit card in the last year since I paid down all my consumer debt (the last remaining debt is on a 0% APR till the end of the year). But, what I do get is rewards points. I redeemed some for a $50 Amazon card which will come in the mail next week. I wish they'd just send me the gift certificate code instead of mailing a card. I wish I had done this last week and spent it on the leaf blower. But, I will continue to have several purchases to make on Amazon, so it will get used up soon enough.

Hello SA World

May 17th, 2019 at 09:42 am

Hello All,

I've been a long-time lurker and reader of the blogs, and decided to go into it myself. I want to blog and document what I do as a way of holding myself accountable.

I want to retire "early-ish" at around 55-59-ish. Unfortunately, I started this journey at 39 years of age. I'm turning 40 in a few months' time. So, I know I have some hard work ahead of me.

I am a healthcare professional. I work full time and am self-employed part-time. The plan is to transition full time into self-employment over the next year so that I can have a better quality of time/time/leisure for about the same amount of money. I'm in a single person household and only have one income. No kids or pets.

I had a lot of consumer debt ($57,797.94) and spent the last 12 years paying it off in a very inefficient manner. I now only have $9,600 in consumer debt on a zero-interest card that I plan to pay off by the end of the year.

I just purchased my first house. Terrible market to buy where I am right now. But, I am delighted to finally have a house. Put 5% down. Made my first mortgage payment last month. 30-year mortgage. But, mortgages are evil. So, I hope to have the house paid in 8-9 years if I can - if nothing horrible happens that derails my plans.

Now, off to figure out some blog formatting things.