Search This Blog

Custom Search

Feb 19, 2012

2011 Financial and Life Goals Recap

At the beginning of 2011, I set some financial and life goals for myself and Mr. Money. Here’s how 2011 played out for us:

1. Keep up with the clutter and declutter 365 items from our house this year. SUCCESS.

I know I decluttered and donated a lot more than 365 items from our house this year.

2. Pay at least $3,000 down on the principal of our mortgage. FAIL. We did pay off $2679 off our mortgage prinicpal, so I think that’s pretty good! Our extra money this year went to our savings account. Honestly, I’m not too concerned with paying down our mortgage aggressively at this point. We’ve got other priorities. I do wish our mortgage balance was lower, but we can chip away at it.

3. Travel to somewhere fun and exciting. SUCCESS? We took a trip to Colorado when I was around 20 weeks pregnant. It was our last trip as just the two of us. I really wish we had gone to Hawaii last year for our fifth anniversary, but I was a tightwad and didn’t do it. Oh well. The nice thing is that we saved money by not going, allowing me more flexibility to be a stay at home mom.

4. Get knocked up. SUCCESS. I am most proud of this goal, as we’ve been trying to have a baby for quite some time. We are really excited to welcome our baby in 2012.

5. Live on one salary. SUCCESS. We did successfully manage to live off Mr. Money’s income. My income did pay for health insurance and retirement savings, so we didn’t factor that into the equation. I’m okay with that.

6. Make more money from side hustles. SUCCESS? I did make money blogging this year, although it wasn’t enough for me to quit my day job. I’m hoping 2012 provides more money making opportunities from home for me. Of course, I’m going to not stress about it because I’ll have a new baby.

7. Stay debt free! SUCCESS! We did stay consumer debt free this year, and only have our mortgage debt. It feels like in the past few months we’ve been spending money like crazy, but we’ve saved for this, so it’s okay.

For 2012, I’m going to make some realistic financial goals. I have no clue how our budget will be affected by the baby, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to be too hard on myself. What’s the point of having tons of cash in the bank if my life is miserable? I’m going to do my best to find a nice balance in 2012 between budgeting and living life. I’m anticipating it to be the best year of my life ever, so that’s a positive start!

I need to decide what to make our 2012 goals and come up with a new budget for after the baby is born. Fun!

Overall, I’m happy with the way we spent 2011. I’m very thankful we didn’t have any huge expenses (well, minus paying for the baby’s birth ;) ) and that we were healthy and happy throughout most of the year. I feel very blessed, and am sure that feeling will stick with me throughout the next year!

Happy New Year!

Saving Money on Baby Expenses

Having a baby can be an overwhelming experience, especially when you go into Babies R Us and are bombarded by all the millions of baby items they carry. The first time I went in our local store, I almost had a panic attack. There’s no way we can afford all of these things that we supposedly need for a baby! Thankfully, after I left the store I sat down and thought about what a baby will actually need according to my standards. I don’t want to have 50 baby things, or a million plastic made in China toys for my kid. We sway to the side of minimalism, and while I know I won’t be able to limit everything that makes its way into my house, I can do my best to make sure I have things I need and use for the baby. Here are some of the ways we’re going to save money on baby expenses:

-Breastfeed. I’m going to do my best to breastfeed, and I plan on doing everything in my power to make it to at least a year. Breastfeeding is so much better for the baby, natural, and will save us tons of money versus buying formula. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

-Cloth diapering. We received a pack of newborn disposable diapers for our shower, and after those are gone, I plan on starting to cloth diaper.

-Not buying a bunch of crap. My co workers keep telling me that I need to register for more stuff; that I’ll regret not having the swing and the bouncer and whatever other gadgets they think I need. We’re trying to get items that do double duty; for instance we received a swing that is full size and travel size and I think that will work just fine instead of having a bouncer too.

-Buying second hand clothes. My mother went nuts over the past 7 months, purchasing baby clothes and burp cloths and basically any other item she thought I would need. This has saved us a ton of money already! The baby has a gender neutral wardrobe with items ranging from newborn to 1 year already. I’m sure we’ll have to buy more clothes, but I know we’ll be able to get them second hand.

-Remembering the store will still be there. It’s hard for me when I think I don’t have enough things ready for the baby, but I think we’ve got the essentials so far. Plus, the store is going to be there after the baby is born! If we need extra burp cloths or receiving blankets, we can always make a trip to the store. I’d rather do that than have things on hand that we don’t use and then we’ve wasted money on.

I’m trying to relax and realize that babies don’t need much other than a warm place to sleep, food, and diapers. Really, when you think about it- that’s it! That makes me feel better and more confident that we’ll be able to raise our child with respect to our budget and the planet.

Our 2012 Budget

For 2012, I wanted to come up with a more accurate budget, seeing that our baby would be born this year and hopefully we’ll be able to control our spending without worrying too much about it. I figured if I budget better, then I’ll hopefully be less stressed about where our money is going. Of course, I’ve also decided I’m not going to be so darn hard on myself because I’ll have a baby and have no clue how that’s going to impact our budget. If it costs us more money than I anticipated, then it does, and I’ll adjust our budget accordingly.

Here’s our 2012 budget:

Mortgage- $793.19
Escrow- $215.00
Energy- $150.00
Car insurance- $88.00
Verizon- $40.00
Cable, phone, internet- $125.00
Food- $350.00
Retirement- $100.00
House Stuff- $50.00
Gas- $200.00

Some notes:

The mortgage is just principal and interest. I used to round the payment up to $800 or so, until I found out that the extra money that I was paying was being applied to the next month’s payment! Talk about annoying. To make additional principal payments, I have to mail a separate check to a certain address. What a pain.

We escrow our taxes and insurance ourselves. We refinanced our mortgage to a home equity loan a few years ago, and the bank will not escrow for us. We have a separate escrow account with ING.

The reason our energy category is a flat $150 each month is because we budget for irregular expenses by transferring that amount into a separate account each month.

The Verizon bill includes just my cell phone, as Mr. Money has a phone paid by work.

The car insurance went down a little since last year because the cars are older and so are we!

The cable, phone, and internet may get changed this year. It seems like that’s a high amount for that. I’m thinking about switching our phone to something like a Magic Jack since I really like having a home phone, and maybe dropping the cable.

I don’t know if the food budget is a reasonable amount our not. Guess we’ll see after a few months!

We’ll have to really start saving for retirement ourselves, as I won’t be participating in my 401k plan at work, and Mr. Money’s employer doesn’t offer any retirement savings plan. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

The house stuff we’ll have to play it by ear with. We’ve done a lot of work to the house over the past five years, so we’re not anticipating any huge expenses like new flooring, etc. I would like new counter tops and flooring in my kitchen, but that’s not a necessity so we’ll have to see about that.

Gas will go down from our monthly expenses since I won’t be commuting to work and back every day. Yay! This might be too much budgeted, but who knows at this point!

Of course, I won’t know how this budget works for us until I’m actually staying at home with the baby. I’m just glad we’ve got a general idea of where we’d like our money to go. I feel like there are a few categories I’ve forgotten, but it’s a flexible budget, so that’s okay!

Have you budgeted for 2012?

2012 Financial and Life Goals

2012 is already here, and I’m a little behind on our financial and life goals. I’m a little uncertain about what I should aim for, as we’re going to have a brand new baby and will have to adjust to the new expenses and life with a child. My goals this year will be attainable (I hope!) and I am crossing my fingers for the best year ever. It certainly will be interesting and a lot different than past years! Here are some of the goals I’d like for us to accomplish:

1. Set up a savings account for the baby. The baby has not even been born yet and already has a stash of money. I’m going to open a custodian savings account for the benefit of the baby. I will also have to research 529 plans in case that’s the way we want to go. I’m thinking it would be easier just to open the UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors) account and wait until the money accumulates and then go from there. We’ll see.

2. Figure out life insurance. I had life insurance through my employer, but I’m not too sure what’s happening with it since I’m leaving the bank. That’s something that we really need to address, especially with the new baby coming.

3. Change beneficiaries. I’ve got various family members listed as beneficiaries on our retirement plans and life insurance, but I would like to change it to the baby.

4. Make more money blogging/working from home. I’d like to be able to contribute financially to our household as much as I can. In addition to blogging and writing, I can shoot photography if I have time. Of course, this all depends on the baby, as that’s my first priority. I’d like to stay at home for at least the first three years of the baby’s life, and it would be awesome if I could make enough money freelancing to do so.

5. Stay debt free. This was on last year’s goals as well, but I think it’s important enough to stay on this year’s. I will have to say, if there was a good reason that we needed to borrow money, I probably would do it. I don’t think debt is the worst thing in the world as long as you’re responsible and borrow money for the right reasons. Mr. Money’s not going to get the 2012 Mustang he wanted for instance, but if we needed to take out a loan, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’m going to do my best to avoid it, though!

6. Finish up all house projects that need to be done. We need to repaint the cement on our porches, paint the shed, figure out what to do with the dining room flooring, and redo our master bath. I’m going to do as much as I can to make the house look really good this year. We’ve done a lot, but I feel like there’s still so much more to do. These projects shouldn’t cost a ton of money.

7. Learn to relax and not worry so darn much. One of my best friends gave me some great advice when it comes to money. What’s the point of having a ton of cash in the bank if you are miserable? I’m not going to worry about saving every penny where I can like I used to. I want to be happy.

I’m Quitting my Job to be a Stay at Home Mom

Friday, January 6 is my last day of employment with the bank. I’ve been an employee there for over seven years, and it’s been a really tough decision, but I’ve decided that I’m going to quit and be a stay at home mom. I’ve always wanted to do that, so this is the path I’m going to take. I can always return to work if I have to. When considering being a working versus stay at home mom, I considered many factors.

1. If I kept working, I’d have to pay daycare. Full time day care is expensive, costing anywhere from $600-$800 a month! That would consume more than one of my paychecks. Also, if my baby was in day care there’s a much greater chance of the baby getting sick and me having to take time off work. That would stink!

2. I’d have to buy disposable diapers. I plan on cloth diapering my baby to save money, and if I had to put my baby in day care, I’d have to buy disposables for the baby to use while in day care. For Seventh Generation
newborn disposable diapers, it would cost 25 cents a diaper! That’s $75 a month if the baby uses 10 diapers a day.

3. It would be more difficult to exclusively breastfeed, and I’d probably be more likely to give up, meaning we’d have to buy formula. It would make me very sad if I couldn’t breastfeed my baby exclusively at least for the first full year. Staying at home will give me an advantage that I’ll be able to breastfeed successfully. By staying home, I also avoid having to buy an expensive breast pump!

4. I’d have to pay for new work clothes, gas to get to work, more lunches out, etc. That isn’t a huge deal, but our gas budget will decrease from me staying at home.

The biggest reason I decided to quit my job and be a stay at home mom is because this has always been my dream. I’ve always wanted to be home with our babies, enjoying them and raising them myself. I truly believe that it is such a personal decision, and I would never judge another mother for deciding to work or stay at home. I think every family does what works best for their family.

I’m going to have to be careful with our money to make sure that we can afford for me to stay at home, but we’ve saved up a little bit of money to use in case we need to, and we’ve been careful with our money all along so I don’t see it being a problem.

I will admit, I am a little nervous about the transition since I’ve spent the last ten years working. I think it will be quite the change at first, but it will be something I can adapt to and I think I’ll end up loving it. I’m hoping my next boss will be as good to work for as my current one at the bank!