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budget issues and slow progress

gmarie

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We are in baby step 4, with a goal of saving 11k by 4/15. In Jan, I set up our budget to calculate 15% of gross on an ongoing basis, and right now, our snowball is also going to step 4 as well. I set it up this way because I want to start seeing what it's going to be like on an ongoing basis. But, despite being tax season, we are struggling to have any snowball at all, and it is scary!!

 

We've had some big expenses recently (DH surgery, which included an extra 10% that I didn't include in my calculations), more oil than expected... and overall our budget has just crept up. Along with the 15%, we also decided to start giving 10% our of gross to church/charity, and I thought it fit nicely in the budget, however it turned out there was an error in my spreadsheet and I wasn't including that line at all!! (I know, how stupid of me!!) So, that was a big setback in my mind and had to readjust some things again, so DH and I had to cut it back to 5% of gross to charity- which is still a big increase from what we were giving, but we had been so excited to be able to give 10% and would love to be able to make it work.

 

So, we still need to do some cutting - AND need to increase our income. Without any changes, in a "regular" month (May-Jan, no extra paychecks, etc) our snowball is only a few hundred, and that is not going to cut it for baby step 6. We have so many other goals, house repairs/improvements, etc and are still hoping to have a baby sometime soon.

 

I really don't want to have to fund baby step 4 during tax season every year. I want to be able to do it on an ongoing basis, and still have a few thousand for a snowball. We need to make triple payments to pay off the house in 5 years. So, we just need to cut expenses and increase income to make that happen, right??

 

So I have been asking DH to get a part time job or do something to make an extra 10k a year. I have been bringing this up for a while now but after a recent budget meeting, he finally started to understand that we really do need the extra money. So what does he do? He decides to get a paper route!! He started on Fri, is getting very little sleep (he has to be there at 2 am!?!!?) but hopefully once training is over he can start a little later. The only convenient part is that the route is close to home -he has to drive 35 mins to pick up the papers, but once he is done he is only a few minutes away, and we can still commute to our regular jobs together (although that means even less sleep for him). Also, they say it is one of their higher paying routes - it will be around 2k/month less gas of course. But, with the lower cost of gas, the numbers could really work out. The mileage rate is .56 this year so that will really help with taxes, but of course I worry about the wear and tear on our car. We had been thinking about buying a second gas efficient car for a few thousand (to help out when we can't commute together due to schedule conflicts) but that can't happen until after the 4/15 goal. And, of course, I would hate to give up the truck, since we do get a lot of benefit from it in other ways. But having 3 vehicles on the road seems a bit excessive!!

 

So, that is where we are at. The newspaper pay would make a huge difference in our budget, but I just worry that he will run himself down trying to do this on top of his regular job.

 

And, I feel guilty that we have to resort to these measures to make the budget work. I feel like we should be past this type of work, and moving ahead in our careers instead, but he really has no opportunity for a pay increase at his job (although his responsibilities keep increasing!), but we both feel his job is still too good to give up. Our deal was no more working at restaurants until he owns one. But, that is never going to happen with a $200 snowball!!

 

Also, I didn't get a raise this year at the accounting firm, but he is promising me an end of tax season bonus. He hired more people this year, and we lost some business (he had acquired a book of business and a lot of those people left because they were used to an H&R block style of tax prep and did not like our turnaround time). So, I'm afraid that any bonus will just make up for lost overtime, but it is too early too tell. He did just "accidentally" pay me for an extra 8 hours and let me keep it hahah. Snowflakes do come when you least expect them. :-) Regardless, I think think a raise or a job change needs to happen for me in 2015. I need to keep moving forward, not backwards! I do think that he values me, it's just a matter if him finding more regular business clients to justify paying me more. The ebay job is still going so so. With the new program it has been truly an awful year, but it is slowly getting better and the sales are picking up.

 

And, we definitely have to work on getting some things back down to reasonable levels. We really let some things creep up in order to be healthier, etc. We upgraded our cell phones (mine is reimbursed but DH's is now an extra $15 month). But, I think that instead of going back to a rice and beans diet (which i do think led to some health issues in bs2), we need to focus on the big things- like cheaper insurance or getting our property taxes reduced (In 2010, the tax assessment was 441k and was reduced to 280k last year. We bought it in June for 183k. It was reo sale, but it ended up appraising for only 5k over our price. I have a lot to learn, but I think we could still fight to lower it more. Of course, I'm just worried it could backfire, and they'll increase it instead!!).

 

Also, regarding the insurance, our car and homeowners is bundled, and we are getting a good price on homeowners, and the home inspection was so nerve wracking and stressful, I don't think I could go through that again this year to save a few hundred dollars.

 

I am going to pay the $100 to get out of our home phone contract. We really don't need it with our cell phones and will save $27/ mo. Our contract goes to 6/2/16 so I think it is worth it.

 

Maybe I'll post a budget for some ideas.

 

Also, the most wonderful thing that has recently happened is that something finally clicked with DH and I and we are staying on top of chores around the house. Several weeks ago, we cleaned the house together, and I "shined" the sink with the fly lady's instructions. That day we went to my moms for dinner, and I read him the chapter from one of my house cleaning books on the theory of broken windows. Well, something magical happened, and since then we are both totally on board with not breaking any windows!! Ever!! The house has been in a constant state of neatness!! I had been really worried about going into tax season and not having my typical full weekend day to clean the house. Little did I know that it's not really necessary, and if we pick up after ourselves, and do little things daily to keep it clean, I don't need to clean for 8 hours straight on Saturday! It is such a stress reliever!!

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So I'm playing with the budget, cut some things, added in the paper route, and we are about $800 off from triple mortgage payments in a slow month.

 

I'm feeling a little better about the idea of odd jobs after I thought of Angie. I do miss her posting here!  She was so motivating when I was in BS2. Also, I was reminded of the fantastic article framed on my wall about my great grandparents immigrating here and paying cash for a farm - all with odd jobs. So, it's not so bad. We can do this!

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Awesome news on keeping the house in order!  I'm single and still struggling with it.

 

I'm guessing you are remembering to factor in the tax savings on your contributions?

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Well I have not done 2015 tax planning yet but I'm just hoping any tax savings will allow us to start buying Roth vs traditional. We always come very close to owing and use traditional and hsa contributions to help with the difference.

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Before paying the $100 to get out of phone contract, check and see if anything has changed on the contract, since you have had it. If they added a fee, changed something, then you have the right to cancel the contract with no early termination charge.

 

You can google your carrier and see what you come up with. $100 is $100. Why spend it if you don't have to?

 

Annie

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I'm so excited I just found out this morning that he will be paid for the paper route on Friday! Wasn't expecting a check so soon! Wish it will be a snowflake but onstead will hopefully cover the plumber bill from the pipe freezing last week. I was planning to use our home repair sinking find so hopefully now I would think have to use it!

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Sorry for all of the typos. Still not used to this phone and don't know how to edit from phone either!

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gmarie,

 

I just now saw this.  I think you are doing great.  We are in a similar situation right now and I believe it will take another 10-12k a year of income for us to really make progress as well.  Awesome on the paper route!  I checked into that last year for us, but we couldn't find any routes that paid near that well! 

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