Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013 Goals Recap

January seemed like it was never going to end. Somehow we manged to spend $1,600 in cash and charged another $1,500 on the credit card. Keep in mind groceries, gasoline, eating out and daycare are included in those numbers. I still feel like we spend too much money for a family of 3. I can blame December and New Year's day but why dwell on the past. Instead I'm going to focus on the goals I made for this year:

Stuff: Done! Made close to $1,200 selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist. I also gave away a lot of stuff I didn't need or used. For some reason I still have 16 golf hats, 7 watches and 6 pairs of sunglasses. I don't know what to do with these yet but for now I will probably use them more.

Credit Cards: I said cash only and that lasted about 2 weeks. I love getting change when using cash but our lives are very dynamic so I need the credit card around. The balance right now is $1,644 but as soon as I get  the tax return money it should be down to zero. The goal then would be to pay as we go like we do with all our other credit cards- do not repeat the same mistakes from the past.

Money: Done! I said save $500 dollars a month no matter what happens and I succeed. I went a little crazy with the savings account but from now on that balance will go up by $500 every month. The funny thing about saving money is that you know its there and it can be spent but I'm hoping to forget about it and see what the number is next December.

Weight: FAIL- Something needs to change soon. I still can't get back in to my eating and work out routine with the baby around. There's always something she needs. The eating needs to be adjusted asap and the weight still somewhere around 183.

Career: In progress- I need to make more money. I need to look for a new job. I hate my current project and my manager will not let me leave until 2015. Something needs to change, either I get promoted or I leave so the goal is to look for a job and try to get promoted.

To Do List:

- Finish 2012 Taxes
- Open up 529 College Savings Plan
- Get back on Scottrade and buy stocks
- Do something fun, have a drinking night with friends

Have a good weekend!

HS

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Savings Account Update

Below is the latest balance on our Discover Bank savings account. I've been sending it money like crazy and the balance also reflects most of my eBay sales, holiday gifts and my new goal of sending $250 out to it out of every paycheck. So far I think I'm doing pretty good, the balance right now is $5,647:


Notice the interest rate is 0.80% which is not bad but not good either. I think Ally bank is a little bit higher at 0.95%. I would like to transfer all the money there as soon as I can find the time to open an account. I will also add another $1,000 to this balance as soon as we get our tax return. The goal is to be at $10,000 by June but I see nothing but expenses and more expenses coming up. Whatever happens, I will NOT touch this money.

The emergency fund with Bank of America will also be going up. The current balance right now is $1,000 but I also plan to use the tax return money and bring that up to $2,000 to cover our friend Murphy which I talked about on the last post.

HS

Friday, January 18, 2013

Paycheck To Paycheck

No matter what I do it feels like we are living paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to start 2013 by spending less and only buying the things we truly need like gas and groceries. Last Wednesday night I ran out of money so a few items like lunch and gas ended up on the credit card. This is how much is left on our Bank of America checking account:


Payday is not officially until the 20th and the 22nd so one direct deposit already came in. I can transfer some money back to our checking account to continue living but something has to change. We did really good the past couple of weeks but still ended up spending $900 on groceries, gasoline and some eating out. The last portion of that money was spent on baby formula and diapers, that came in around $90. Hopefully I won't have to buy baby items again for a while but the little one is eating more and more.

The good news is we already saved $500 this month. I went ahead and sent another $250 to our Discover savings bank account. I can't really explain the feeling of saving money but it feels just as good as swiping a credit card. I'm hoping we can continue to save money and keep the credit card spending down.

Murphy's Law: Most PF bloggers out there are familiar with this term. Yes- "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" but I'm prepared. Our tax return should be a little bit higher this year so a big portion of that money will go to cover anything that can break or fail. The big items that worry me are the water heater, dishwasher and our washer and dryer. Most of these items are almost 10 years old so I'm waiting around for them to fail. The minor items are stuff like our garage door opener and the garbage disposal. They key to dealing with Murphy is to know he is coming and be prepared, I will not let him / her catch me by surprise.

Expenses: There are things coming up that I need to plan for and I'm not really sure where most of this money is going to come from:

Wedding:  In March we have a wedding in New Orleans. Flying is out of the question since it will cost well over $600. We are driving and hopefully gas won't be more than $130 in the small car. I have 65,000 Marriott rewards points so hotel is paid for but we have some friends that want to stay with us. I don't mind sharing a room but we would need more space. My points will not cover a suite and the average going rate for any room is $229. I do know someone that works at another hotel and I could get  room comped but again not for our DF's.

Birthday: This year we have a new birthday to celebrate in the family. March will be baby's first birthday and we're already in the planning stage. Somehow I know this will probably set us back at least $200 but my plan is to fully utilize the grandparents. I'm hoping my parents can cover the food catering and the mother in law all the champagne for the toast. My portion of the expenses will be the birthday cake and her gifts. I expect no more than 25 guests but the list keeps growing, do we really need to invite the babysitter?!

Landscaping: March is also the time when we will have to do our landscaping. I need to replace a couple of trees in the front yard so I expect that to set us back another $200. Our gardener will do most of the work and put in mulch so that will be another $150. Another $100 will be flowers and fertilizer. I also need a couple of trees in the back yard but I don't expect those to be more than $40.

If anything else comes up, don't worry there will be a blog post about it.

HS

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

eBay Sales Update

In my 2013 goals post I mentioned I was going to sell and get rid of stuff that I don't use. If I haven't put it on or worn it in 6 months, it went on eBay. So far I've sold 7 items and I've made some decent money. All of these items I picked up on eBay at very low prices. Some people don't really put in the correct descriptions so if you look around you can find some decent stuff. When I sell the stuff I put in better descriptions and a lot of pictures so I always make some profit. One item I picked up for $68 and it sold for $225 last week! Here's the latest update:


The total is $714 dollars! The only bad thing about selling on eBay is their commission. They will charge me 9% for all this stuff so they will probably get a good $65 to $70 out of this money. I can't complain though, eBay is a lot better than meeting someone on Craigslist. I still need to sell a lot of the purses my wife doesn't use anymore (don't tell her), I think all her old Coach and Juicy Couture items can bring in decent money.  

HS

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Credit Card Balance

In my 2012 recap post I mentioned that we had charged $3,662.21 on our Citi Forward credit card. The holidays and staying home got to us. There was a lot of eating out, gift buying and stuff that needed to be taken care of like taking the dog to the vet. The statement finally processed and the current balance on the card is $1,344.88:


This is the only credit card balance that we have. I think we did great in December but we really need to watch what we put on this card. I had a talk with the wife and she agreed that we went a bit overboard but now we're both ready to watch our spending. The only benefit you get by charging that much money with the Citi Forward card are the rewards, as you can see I earned enough for a $50 dollar gift card: 


I also sent $250 to our Discover Bank savings account. If you recall on my 2013 goals post, I plan to pay us $250 out of every pay period. My goal is that at the end of the year we end up with $6,000 in the bank. The good thing about Discover Bank is it takes almost 5 business days to transfer the money so I know I can't use it or touch it unless I really need to.

HS

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Deal

TAXES ARE GOING UP!

That's what I've hearing all day from family and friends. Yes some of them make a lot of money but most of us are under the $400,000 range so no need to worry. In a nutshell part of the fiscal cliff deal keeps most tax rates the same but we lost the The Payroll Tax Holiday which was a temporary 2% reduction in social security taxes. Most of us were paying 4.2% instead of 6.2%. For those of you that care, here's how it breaks down:

If you earn $30,000 per year, you'll pay $50/month in taxes.
If you earn $50,000 per year, you'll pay $83/month.
If you earn $115,000 per year, you'll pay $190/month.

Our income is somewhere around $120,000, I put a lot of money in to our 401k and 403b plans. Normally that would equal around $160 less per month which works out to about 40 dollars per paycheck. Now if I remember correctly, public school teachers in Texas don't have to pay in to Social Security so the wife is not impacted. That means my checks will probably have around $50 more or less taken out.

We need tax reform, I guess we have to wait four more years...

HS

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Recap and December Spending

I can't believe 2012 is over, it was a great year for me and one that I will never forget. As far as money and debt I think we made some progress here and there. Below is a quick recap for the year, this is more for me but feel free to look if you're bored at work the day after the new year:

Credit Card Debt: I started 2012 with $9,788.61 in credit card debt. I was happy that I was under 10K but for some reason that number didn't change much until November when I mixed up the debt a bit.

January 2012: Volunteered for the Chevron Houston Marathon at the finish line. That month we were also looking for baby furniture and I also finished up painting and decorating the baby's room.

February 2012: I ran my first 10K, the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run. My timing was 1:08 minutes. That same month I also started my low carb diet and managed to get my weigh down to 172 pounds! Our 2011 tax return that year was $1,989. That month is also when we said goodbye to our Discover Card, I'm proud to report that we have not used that card since then, the balance still zero.

March 2012: March is when the wife went on pregnancy bed rest and we also had the baby shower. That month is also when I paid off my Best Buy credit card but decided to charge a brand new TV to it a few days later. March was also when the wife spent a lot of time in the hospital but in the end it was all worth it since that month we welcomed our baby girl.

April 2012: April will be remembered as the month I paid off my Best Buy credit card again and happy to report I haven't used it since then. This is also the month I replaced my iPad and got some new sunglasses. Later on in the month I spent $50 dollars on 1 light bulb. April was also the start of all the medical bills, in total I think we paid well over $5,000 in medical bills for the year.

May 2012: Looks like the first week of May I spent $400. Around the same time I was complaining about never ending medical bills. That month I also blogged about our Juicy diaper bag and some of you had mixed reactions. I also complained about baby formula which I'm still buying today, now it's $60 every two weeks. The highlight in May was getting the credit card debt down to $6,672 not sure why I was complaining.

June 2012: In June 2012 I turned 33 years old. I decided to have the party at my parents house so everyone could see the baby. June was also the month I got our emergency fund up to $4,000 since the wife would not get paid again until September. Looks like that month I also went on a selling frenzy and purchased a new recliner. June was also the month I showed a few baby pictures on the blog.

July 2012: I don't see a lot of posts for July since that was the month I was thinking about ending this blog. July is also the month I confessed about my watch addiction.

August 2012: In August I was complaining about money and it looks like my emergency fund was down to $3,000. I was also complaining about a $1,096 medical bill. It looks like we went on a spending spree and charged $1,849 but the highlight of August was when the spouse and I both got raises at our jobs.

September 2012: September would start out with a guys night out which I still regret. September was also the month when I didn't have any work and stayed home all month. It looks like Citi gave us $175 in credit card rewards that month. That month also saw a light at the end of the tunnel when it came to medical bills. As usual I complained about life and staying home but the month would end on a high note since I landed a role in New York.

October 2012: In October I talked about living and traveling to New York. It was such a great project, made a lot of friends and got a great review. I miss all of it, it was a lot of fun. I think I went a little crazy there as you can see on this post. That month it looks like I was selling more stuff on eBay. I also talked a little bit about my time off from work and I was looking for the new iPhone 5 for me and the wife.

November 2012: November was when the iPad mini was released and I really wanted one. I'm proud to report that I got a new iPad mini for Christmas and it only cost me $1.80 out of pocket. I love this new iPad I will use it mainly for work. November is when my New York role ended, I found iPhone 5's, the baby was doing great and the money situation was good, you can find all the November updates on this post. That same month I charged a brand new mattress on our Macy's card. I'm proud to report that the balance for that card is zero. November would end with me asking if I should trade in my car which I did towards the end of the month.

December 2012: December would start with me complaining about our credit card debt which made me trade in and get my my new car. I would use some of that money to pay off and close our Citi Thank You card which also let to more Thank You rewards. I also introduced our student loan debt and helped the wife find some peace. I also set all my goals for 2013 and will start work on them this month. December 2012 ended with me trying to figure out how we spent $3,662.21 on our Citi Forward card in one month:


As you can see I'm good at making payments and the balance is only $1,675  but I really need to watch this card- I don't want to end up in credit card debt again. 

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2013 is better for all of us.

HS