Logging in after ages. Around the time I stopped blogging, I was feeling very bad about our finances and it seemed like I would never get rid of student debt. I haven’t saved any significant amount of money since then, but have not accrued any debt since then. We went to New York in May for Mike’s birthday. While we stayed with Mike’s buddy, thus saving on hotel room charges. But we did spend on tickets for a Broadway musical (Spiderman) and various museum charges. We got a little souvenir crazy and got a couple T shirts and prints of the city off a road vendor. There were all these cute little bookstores and I gto a book at each of these places which all adds up.
And in August, we went to Maui for a week. This is our first big vacation since we got married and we went a little crazy (notice a pattern here) We booked rooms at this fabulous hotel right on the best beach on Maui. We waffled and hemmed and hawed before booking this hotel, but since this was our almost honeymoon we went ahead and booked it. My parents weighed in too and told us to go for it and hinted that they would pay part of it if money was a problem. But we decided not to take any money from them, because honestly we are too old to be getting help from them. We also did tons of activities like scuba diving and snorkeling tours. It made for a fantastic vacation and I am glad we went. But when we added up what we spent on vacation and shopping before the vacation (swim suits, summer dresses etc), it added up to $6500. This number makes me sad whenever I think of it. We had saved up $3500 in our Travel Fund and the remaining was on our credit card that we have paid off by diverting what we would save to pay off that credit card.
There have been other expenses cropping up in the last month, like renewing our gym contracts (we pay it in full every 6 months), buying a bunch of personal trainer sessions (I pay $800 every 3 months, pricey but worth it) and so on. I charged my credit card for all of these, but I have paid the card in full before the finance charges kick in.
So here is where we stand. I hope to get more serious about my finances going forward. I have also been having interesting conversations with Mike about strategy and I hope to share those in the coming days. My next post tomorrow will be about exact numbers on my debt and my plans for paying them off.
I realized that I hadn’t posted a goal update for April. Things are moving along as far as finance goes. Will post about exact student loan numbers soon. On the weight loss front, I have started training with a trainer once a week. But I didn’t lose any weigh at all in April though I have been a good girl with my diet and even ran my first 5k race. So I have upped to training with the trainer 2 days a week. I really like her, she pushes me to do things I would never do on my own. One day she made me run backwards on the track between strength training.
I am feeling majorly disillusioned about money these few months. These trainer sessions are eating a good chunk of change each month. But I want to do it, because I think of it as investing in my health now so that I will be healthier in the future. I know a lot of people do it by themselves without expensive gyms or trainers, but somehow the pounds seem to like me and don’t want to melt despite my best efforts. Also I don’t want to end up obese, which will happen in some years if my weight keeps creeping up as it does. Mike is turning 30 in a month and I want to get something special for his 30th birthday which will cost money again. And there is summer travel. Money seems to leave my bank account the day it comes in. I wish a big bag of money would just fall from the sky into my Savings account.
Hope everyone else is having a better time with their money.
This is the question that Mike asks me often.
Let me give y’all a little background. Mike and I have joint finances. But we actually have different checking accounts. I make less money than Mike and we try to use my salary for living and his for my student loan repayment and saving. My paycheck is not very big, but neither is it pitifully small. Since we don’t use any of it to save, I think we should be able to live on it. But sadly, I am ashamed to tell you that this has not been happening the past few months. We finish all the monies in my checking account in a week and use the credit card to pay all expenses in the next week. We don’t carry a balance and pay it off in full, but that money comes from the amount that we would have saved or paid down debt with. Various items in that category include my trainer fees of $550 for 6 months, a heart rate monitor that costs $100, a rock climbing Groupon for Mike and so on.
I have worked out a basic budget for us, after analyzing our spending pattern for the last few months. I will post it soon, after I am finished tweaking it. But the budget allows for miscellaneous spending of $100 every paycheck. Which means we each get $50 every 2 weeks. But that could become a little messed up. For example, my car registration was up for renewal this month and it cost $75. That means we just have $25 for 2 weeks. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but we just filed our taxes and we owe fees to H&R Block (and also owe $7000 to the IRS,a story for another day when I feel less stressed about it). We just can’t tell the good folks at H&R Block to wait till we save enough, can we? I know a lot of PF bloggers save money in a sinking fund to pay for things like these. But I figured that since it would take a while for my sinking fund to build up, I would tackle these expenses from the amount that I plan to save each month.
Our expenses including rent, groceries, car insurance and so on come to about $2500 each month. And we have 2 car loan payments of $350 and $250. Like I wrote before, we have been paying $2000 towards my student loan (but not this month ). Once we knock this down, we will have a lot more money free up each month. I also owe $10000 to my parents and I need to start saving that up soon. Apart from loan payments, we would like to save for 2 travel funds – one for traveling within the States and the other to go to Europe. And we would also like to save for a sinking emergency fund to pay for yearly maintenance types bills and also for things like small car repairs and so on. We would also like to save $1500 each month in our Savings account.
After all the loan payments, bills and expenses, we find that we have very little fun money to buy things we want to. Mike hates that he is just not able to go to Barnes and Noble and buy himself a book when he wants to without checking if the budget allows for it. And to be honest I hate it too. It’s like being on a diet. I tell myself that I have to do this for the greater good and that my future self will thank me for it.
My question for the wise PF bloggers out there is, does this actually get better with time?
Honestly I have not been doing anything exciting. Work has been killer, though it has settled down nicely. I thought I would talk about my March goals today.
On the weight-loss front, things are moving along, though not swimmingly. I have lost 12 pounds since January, but 5 of those are the ones I gained during the holiday season. I have signed up for a trainer at my gym, who has started me on a strength training regimen. I meet with her once a week and she has now given me a schedule to follow for the other days when I don’t meet her. My arms and my whole body was so sore after the first two days. I am good at going to the gym and exercising, but my eating is not so disciplined. I really sabotage myself during the weekends, because we love to go out for dinner. I am trying to get that in control. And since this is is a PF blog, let’s talk about how much the trainer costs. I have prepaid $550 for 12 sessions, which comes to $45.83 per session. This is steep, but so far I like her (had just 3 sessions). At the end of 3 months, if I see some good results I think I will buy another 12 sessions. It hurts me bad to spend this kind of money, but I tell myself that this is an investment towards my health. But in order for this to be worth anything, I must make sure that I do everything in my power to lose these extra pounds.
The French tutoring is coming along very nicely. I spend $20 for every class and it is totally worth it because she goes on for more than an hour each class. She talks completely in French and I do too. It’s nice that I am able to speak so much with such a limited vocabulary and grammar.
For the month of February and March, I have transferred $2000 to my student loan. However we over spent on credit cards in March (my trainer fees and a mini vacation to Washington DC) and we might have to use part of the April student loan payment to pay these credit cards. More about that in the next post.
I realize that I have been failing miserably when it comes to writing on the blog. I think that’s because I am not talking about my budget or how I spend my money. So I am going to give blogging another try and talk about my budget in detail. Hope to get some insight (sans judging) from the experienced PF folks!
This month has not been very good.
1) Student Loans – Setup Auto pay and pay $2000
Somewhat fail. I have setup auto pay, but just paid the minimum amount which is $600.
2) Lose 5 pounds
Fail. I just lost 3 pounds in February. I went to the gym just 3 days a week and I ate out more than I should have. I think March will be a difficult month. We have a company party today. Also we are going to Washington DC for a few days this month to meet a friend. I expect a lot of eating and drinking there. We have pie day at work on March 14 (3/14 get it?) I lose all sense of who I am when I am around pie. I am going to bake my mother’s pumpkin pie though it isn’t November.
I am meeting with a personal trainer at the gym this week. If I am serious about losing weight, I think I need to ramp it up a bit. I am sure about how much it will cost, but I am thinking I will meet with her once a week. Of course it depends on if I like her and she doesn’t charge the heaven and earth for a session. What is a reasonable rate for personal trainers?
Success. This is the only goal where I have had some degree of success. I am really liking my lessons with my tutor. I am now able to speak more confidently and picking up on the vocabulary too. We just started doing tenses and my tutor is pleased with my progress too. I think this is worth the $80 I pay each month.
4) Post at least 2 times each week on the blog.
Epic fail! I have no excuses. I really like writing about my money and goals, but somehow this doesn’t seem to translate into more posts. I need to keep working on this and hopefully do one post per week in March.
I am not very happy with my progress in Feb and hope that March turns out better.
I know that there is a lot of flack in the blogosphere about celebrating Valentine’s Day. But to be honest, I like doing something special on V Day. I know that we must love our significant others 365 days a year, but is it wrong to choose one day of the year to do something extra nice for your loved one? I don’t mean going into debt for buying diamonds for your girl (like ads on TV urge everyone to do). But it can’t hurt to show your girlfriend/wife/husband/bf that you care about them.
Mike and I usually go to a sappy movie every year. Last year we saw Valentine’s Day and this year it is Gnomeo and Juliet. We both hate watching chick flicks and so when we do it this one day of the year, it feels good. We also exchanged gifts – I got a Wii game (Donkey Kong Country Returns) and I gave him a massage certificate from our gym. No candy or heart shaped balloons, but the gift feels truly special. I have been wanting this game for long and have mentioned this to him just once and it feels nice to know that he remembered. And Mike has some trouble with his back and he just won’t go to a spa for a massage. So I figured he could always take a massage after a workout since it’s at our gym.
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who celebrates! So what is everyone doing for Valentine’s Day?
The other day, one of Mike’s buddies (let’s call him Ty) visited us with his family in tow. They live about couple of hours away and drove down on a Saturday morning. I have have met him a couple of time before and I get on reasonably well with his wife. And they have adorable toddler girl twins. So I was really excited about meeting them.
As soon as they entered our apartment, they exclaimed that our apartment looked very nice. We rent a pretty nice apartment though it has just one bedroom. About half our furniture is from Craigslist/hand me downs. We do have some nice accent pieces from Pottery Barn and Pier 1 Imports, but we shopped for those during sales and using coupons. And then the wife, let’s call her Vivian, started talking about how expensive good furniture was. This sort of behavior went on throughout the day with them commenting about everything we did in terms of money. When I served salad for lunch, she looked at the dressing from Trader Joes and talked about how she would love to shop there, but everything in there is so expensive. (It is not really, especially their wines)
And then in the late afternoon, the topic turned to vacations. We talked about taking a weekend trip together. When I suggested New Orleans, Ty immediately said they would rather go to some place drivable rather than fly since it would be expensive. I agreed and was about to say something to that effect when Ty continued to talk about how they were not a dual income family and could not afford to spend like we do. Mike and I were taken aback at this point since he seemed very defensive. And then Vivian piped in about how expensive baby stuff was and that they had a lot of credit card debt. They talked a little more about this and hinted that we were the kind of people who didn’t care about family and cared more for money. All because I work!
I agree that dual income does bring in more money each month. But there are expenses that go with it. We are a 2 car family while they can get by with one. Also case in point, my student loans, that eats into what we can save. While it sounds frivolous, going to work means buying some nice clothes and the associated dry-cleaning costs etc. Many evenings, we are tired to cook and end up eating out or buying Lean Cuisine meals. At the end of it all, maybe we take a few more weekend trips than they do, but we would have done that even if I didn’t work.
I wanted to tell all this to them but I didn’t. Mainly because this is our personal choice and we don’t need to justify this to anyone. Vivian has a 2 year degree from a community college and I am sure she can get a job if she wants to. Or go back to school and finish her degree. But she doesn’t because she chooses not to and I respect that. I can’t fathom their half condescending, half jealous attitude. Maybe if we lived in a mansion and we each earned millions and spent the whole day at work, they might be justified in thinking what they think. But we are just regular people, living in an apartment!! I am so annoyed by their remarks that I don’t ever want to meet with them again.
Mike thinks I am being extreme and just wants to let this whole thing slide. But I don’t think I can keep my mouth shut if this kind of crazy talk continues. Is it just me or do DINKs get a lot of flack from others?