Real Talk February 2018

I’m going to be straight right from the start – I spent wayyy more money in January 2018 than I thought I was going to. I did a terrible job estimating my expenses. I am trying not to be too hard on myself since I knew I was in a time when everything is up in the air, but at the same time, I need to do better. I had estimated in Real Talk January 2018 that I’d spend $711 on bills and more than $850 on various moving expenses. I definitely spent more than $850; that’s for sure. This would be a sum of about $1561 but I really spent $1971.42 on those things.

Take Home Pay…

  • January 12 = $1110.82
  • January 26 = $1206.00

My January 12 check was lower than I expected because my 403(b) contribution didn’t update, so I still paid $100 into instead of $25. The January 26 paycheck is what I should be getting regularly. That is, until the tax withholding tables are updated with my employer. I’m not holding my breath.

I also got a refund of $66 from my renter’s insurance policy.

I also had $850 already in my checking account. I had a total of $3232.82 to spend on the items below.

What I really spent on bills…

Car Payment = $300

Car Insurance $96.65

Student Loan = $160

Gas = $0 ~ they forwarded the balance to my new home’s account so I don’t get to pay it until next month. It was $51.77.

Water = 28.85 * 2 = 57.70 ~ they double deducted my bill for some reason, this should be forwarded to my new home’s account balance

Sewer = 16.40

Electric =52.47

Internet = 88.47 ~ Thought I could manage without internet for a while, but it is impossible to do my job without internet. This cost includes the installation fee and the first month’s cost

Groceries = $175.43 ~ yikes!! by the time I had posted in January, I had already spent $39.62 and was expecting to spend $70 more. But I actually spent $135 more. Part of it is because I hosted a dinner at my house last week to celebrate the new home and I always go all out on those meals. Part of it was I am just plain inefficient with groceries most of the time. I have to do better on this and make meal plans.

Gas for Car = 69.58 ~ I’ve been driving wayy too much and that’s going to change. I won’t be driving back and forth from my old rental to my new home and I also won’t be driving to certain places anymore. I’ve got to bring this cost back down to $50 or less.

Physical Therapy = $30 ~ I just made this payment this morning through my FSA. I didn’t include this in my overall expenses since the FSA contribution is deducted from my pay check. I will be making payments as my FSA is filled. Since I go to PT twice a week, my copays per pay-period will total $60 but my FSA contribution is only $21.15 per pay period. But eventually I will drop to 1 time per week and 0 times per week. I will keep making payments of $40 per month until I get the whole bill paid off. Unfortunately, my employer doesn’t let you front load any account so I just have to spread out these payments according to their schedule. It’s kind of annoying but I can’t do anything to change it. As long as you’re making payments the Clinic doesn’t charge you late fees or call you about the bill.

Total Bills = $1016.70

What I really spent on moving into the new house..


Moving Expenses = $497.19 ~ nearly $200 more than I had hoped. I moved   literally in the middle of a blizzard. I had to buy salt, and I felt I needed to buy my friends who helped $25 gift cards to Amazon because it was a difficult and miserable experience. I had to buy salt for the ground and gas for the moving truck, among other things.

Change of Locks = $80.32

HVAC Service = $109

Washer = $738.47 ~ I did a ton more research after my January post and determined that an energy efficient washer would be worth the money. This washer would use less water and less electricity to run so there would be savings over the life of the washer. I am happy with my choice to spend more for a higher quality product.

General Household Items = $46.99 ~ I had budgeted $200 for this, but after spending so much on the washer and moving, I didn’t rush out to buy anything I didn’t absolutely need.

Total Moving Costs= $1471.97



Other Expenses…

YMCA membership = $65.88 ~ this covers registering, and membership through Feb 14. Working out in the water is a good part of my physical therapy and I am also able to ride an exercise bike, the other staple of my PT.

Netflix = $11.87

Savings = $63.13

Synagogue Dues = $110

Eating Out = $119.96 ~ wow. way too much. I’ve known I was spending too much on eating out. I was hanging out with people who eat out a lot and just spending without thinking about it. It’s also super easy to spend money during a turbulent time because it’s easier than cooking. This is all money I could have saved.

Other Expenses Total = 370.84


Total January Spending = $2859.51 

If I do a calculation of income less spending, I get $373.31. Some of these items had already been paid for when I wrote on January 5. Some of the items haven’t yet been paid for because they are on my credit card (I need to pay $93.20 from my next pay check for the card bill due March 7). I don’t like to just save the remaining balance in my checking account in case something comes up, so I am going to save and even $300 to my emergency fund.


February outlook…

I once again don’t know what any of my bills will cost. My home is much bigger than the place I have been renting. That means it will cost more to heat and there are more lights to turn on. I have kept the house at a chilly 66 degrees to counteract this. I am going to give myself an estimate of $935.50 for bills in February. Since I get paid this Friday and no bills are due before then, I do not need any of the money that remains in my main checking account. I have a daily spending checking account with a balance of $61.21 which should cover any groceries and gas I need before Friday. I will be doing a bit of driving this week due to doctor’s appointments that aren’t close to home. My income this month should be $2412. My second paycheck of the month will need to cover my first mortgage payment which is due March 1! Bills will actually total $1695, which leaves $717 for saving and extra expenses. I feel confident that I will have more regular spending by the end of this month since bills will start coming for the house and I’ll know what to expect.

Another item of income this month will be my Federal and State tax returns for a total of $2141. This will go straight to my Roth IRA. I want to max that account out for a total of $5500 this year.

Net Worth

After reading about the motivation that many people find from tracking their net worth, I decided to do this myself. Net worth is the difference between your assets and your liabilities (loans or debts). I calculated mine yesterday. Things that are not included: value of checking accounts and the savings of $300 that will be added in this week.

Assets Liabilities
Home Equity 13650 Mortgage 76250
VCLFU 4766.20 Autoloan 12847.55
Barclays 1001.97 Student Loan 20987.15
Schwab Brokerage 1448.10
Schwab Roth 972.69
STRS 12977.00
AXA 403b 2029.13
457b 200.00
Total 37045.09 110084.7
Net worth -73039.61


When I see my financial picture laid out this way, I am more motivated to save money and to become more efficient with my spending. I’ve been lazy because I already do a “good job.” I automatically save 20% of my gross pay through retirement plans and I save between $300 and $500 of after tax money. But I can do much, much better. I want to get my net worth to $0 as soon as possible.

Things to note about this net worth table:

  • My STRS account value is only updated one time per year. I get the statement in September. The value is actually much higher than $12977 but it is difficult to calculate its current value.
  • After my 5th year teaching, I will be able to have my student loans forgiven, so I will not be working hard to get than number down. The federal government will forgive up to $17500 in loans for teaching 5 years in a high need district. My goal is to get as much of that $17500 as possible, which is why I only pay $160 per month on that loan instead of sending extra income toward it.
  • My main focus of paying down debt is the auto loan. I am working my way up to paying $50 then $100 extra per month, so I can pay it off early.

Share your thoughts!

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