Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tired, Broke, Hungover

July has been insane. I don't know if Halloween is a particularly amorous occasion, but almost all of my close friends were born in July. Actually even people at the office were born in July. EVERYONE was born in July. So at least 1-2x a week this month I've had to attend a pricy birthday dinner. It was also my niece's first birthday. And I hosted my spendy friend for 3 days around the 4th of July. Translation = I am broke, hungover and  tired. I never want to eat at a restaurant again.  Seriously. I NEVER feel that way. I can't wait until August. I'm going to do the Austerity August challenge someone posted about on a Mr. Money Moustache forum.  I have 2-3 business trips in August, so while that involves a lot of eating out/drinking with clients, etc. it will not be on my dime, thank god.  Oh and I'm planning a trip for January so I also had to shell out $400 for airfare and will have to put a deposit down as  well. So in January I'll be psyched because my costs will be low and I'll have prepaid for the trip, but I definitely didn't need the extra expense this month.

Even more  than the $$$, I feel really burned out personally. I love my friends, but I need time for me. I'm taking a class and I didn't do that great on my quizz, probably because I'm running around socializing like a crazy person. I think money is a good sign to how I'm feeling. If I'm spending too much on other people, most likely I'm spending too much time and energy on other people as well and not saving enough for myself. I try to tell myself it's a temporary period, but it still feels stressful. I'm starting to burn out and skip the bday celebrations as the month comes to an end, so that's helping.

Here's to Austerity August!!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Paying Too Much for What Ifs?

I'm a very conservative person by nature, meaning I like to "protect" myself from possible risks. What I'm realizing is that this means I pay a lot to cover myself in case of what ifs.  This hit home this month because I've spent $1K on these type of expenses:

-- Long term disability insurance: When I started at this job, we didn't get any coverage, so I purchased a private policy. I've lowered the coverage amount, but I still paid $784 this month for my annual coverage. Since I now have coverage through work, I wonder if I need this at all anymore.

-- Homeowner insurance: I increased the value of my house to keep up with the market, so my premium increased this year. I paid $680 for insurance this year. I think it's about $200 more than last year. In reality, I could cover most home emergencies myself, so maybe I should look at increasing my deductible and lowering my premium.

-- HVAC coverage: I have a service repair contract so if anything happens to my HVAC or hot water heater, someone will come repair it for free. I think I even can get a new hot water heater for free under this contract. This expense is $412.

So that's a total of $1196 in expenses I might not even need (disability and HVAC) and then I could probably save at least $200 on my homeowners insurance, so that's a savings of almost $1300 a year or $108. Since I just locked in these contracts for the year, I'll have 12 months to consider whether to cut, reduce or keep these expenses, but I think it's worth considering.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Spending Like Crazy

So this year has been a mixed bag with spending, a little bit of feast and a little bit of famine. Basically alternating months of each. In January (which is always my highest spend month) I spent more than I made by a few thousand because I spend a little of my December bonus money. This year I bought a mattress (from Ketsia which sells "green" mattresses and uses a no pressure sales strategy. Such a nice experience) and a couch.  I also bought a new side table and coffee table. I'm kind of regretting buying those because I actually like my old ones, it's just that I stained the top of the coffee table. I should have just sucked it up and kept it, but what's done is done.

Then in February and March I spent way below what I made even though I went on vacation.

In May I've been really restricting my daily spend, but had big expenses -- long term disability payment for the year, yearly homeowners insurance payment, an education expense for a program I'm starting. Basically about $2400 in extra expenses. The only saving grace is that I might be getting a small bonus payment at the end of the month. Also, I got my tax money back in March, so that actually should cover the overage from January.

Either way, it's strange to feel like I'm constantly watching my money and trying to save but yet spending on abstract expenses like insurance so at the end of the month even though I've been "good" I still don't have a big (if any) surplus.

C'est la vie I suppose.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Booze and $

So for Lent I've given up drinking. I feel fantastic (although I have cheated 2x), but it's also cutting back on my restaurant bills, which is great because that's one of my biggest expenses (outside of rent of course).  I think even when Lent ends, I'd like to cut back to drink only 1 day a week. I just feel a lot better, and booze at restaurants is so expensive. I rarely drink at home. In NYC everyone mostly meets their friends out, not at their apartments. So it's expensive. I wish I lived somewhere where people hung out at each others' houses. I would save so much $.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2013 Breakdown

Today I analyzed where my income went in 2014. It's pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. Even Mr. Money Mustache would be mostly cool with it I think. So taxes ate up 36% of my gross income, I saved 37% of it and I spent 27%. I saved 55% of my net income. Not too shabby. Of course some of that is because I get a bonus in December and I therefore end up saving it all because I have zero opportunity to spend it. In reality I don't spend that much of it. This is a pretty standard year in that 1/3 of my gross income usually goes to each of these categories.


F-You Capital One! Hello, Chase!

So this month (post bonus) has been a how shall I call it? hmm. Spending orgy is probably accurate, haha. Anyway, combined with my business travel expenses, I'm about $500 from the $10,000 limit on my Capital One platinum whatever card. I never applied for this card -- it switched over when HSBC sold their card portfolio to C1. So I applied for a credit limit increase. I got rejected!! I was so mad. I pay in full on time every month on that card and every other card. Always have. Never have had a late payment. AND they told me my credit score is 793. I called and got bumped up to talk to a credit supervisor but they're idiots over there and can't tell me why I got rejected.

I had been thinking about ponying up for the Platinum Amex (it has good travel benefits like they reimburse the fee for the Global Entry program which I've been meaning to enroll in for forever because I'm gold on American and they will add me to their TSA Pre list if I do). Anyway, the Platinum Amex is $400 a year. Even w/ the monetary benefits (I figure I could get about $300 worth out of it), I feel silly spending that on a credit card.  Plus, I love getting cash back. I just got a $500 credit added to the C1 card as a cash back reward.

So I went on CreditKarma and found another cash back card. The Chase Freedom (I know anyone reading this now is like duh of course). Credit Karma has some really useful tools. It showed me that barely any of the cardholders have even the limit I have on C1. I think the C1 cards are more for people who don't spend as much, have worse credit, etc. I'm probably ideal for the Amex, but because I want to keep earning that sweet cash, I got the Chase Freedom card. And I'm pretty sure that they gave me a credit limit of $28K, which sadly I actually might need at some point because of all my work expenses (i pay them and then get reimbursed). There's no annual fee on the card, so it's a win-win.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Starting off the New Year

To kick off the New Year, I met with my Learnvest financial planner. I really like her and value her advice. This year I'm tackling the same problem as last year which is getting my cash surplus invested. It sounds ridiculous, but I haven't even gotten last year's increase invested and now I have a big chunk to invest again this year. I can't keep up. I get so nervous about dumping a lot into the market. But once I set up auto investment, I can truly set it and forget it. It's just that to get the cash invested in a timely manner I would have to be making large buys each month. Right now I'm only going in about 10K at a time, which is not doing much to make a dent in my stash.

I have also convinced my planner that I don't need to replace my full income in retirement or even 85% of it. I know the exact number that I spend each year, and what part of that is for housing (almost 40%!), so in today's dollars I need about 60K a year with a mortgage and 36K a year without one. Of course that # doesn't include inflation.  If I used the Mr. Money Mustache formula I would need to save 25x the amount I need each year, so either  $1.5 million or $900K.  I think to be safe I would only be comfortable with the higher #. The planner's target number is going to be more like $2 million, but that's better than the like $4 million she is currently targeting which is most likely never going to happen.

Happy saving!