04 January 2011

Financial Plans

Happy New Year, everyone!

As I wrote previously, my husband and I are using this month to do a financial reboot and update.  We used our (very long) trip back from New York City to start a list of things to accomplish this month.  I'll write about our particular financial journey soon, but for now, here are some things we're doing this month:

  • Reducing expenses:
    • Swapping from satellite TV w/ DVR to Hulu and Netflix (a great point on opportunity cost)
    • Tighter control on when/where we eat out; we're also planning to invite more people over for dinner... more fun, less cost
    • Car insurance comparison (Seriously, who is still overpaying by $500/yr as the commercials claim?  Our rates are already pretty low, but it pays to check around once in awhile)
  • Simplifications:
    • Closing some unused accounts
    • Bringing our retirement accounts up to date (I'm particularly guilty of the "orphaned 401(k)" syndrome)
    • Creating electronic financial records and diminishing our paper collection
    • Donating boxes of Stuff (finally!)
  • Debt Reduction:
    • Changing our student loan pay-off scheme to reflect two changes: one income and in-school deferment
    • Potential change to how we pay our mortgage: we've intended to set up a bi-weekly plan for awhile (here's another option)
    • Paying off our last remaining credit card balance by the end of the year
  • Income Addition:
    • Increasing tutoring hours
    • Stepping up efforts to find a career job
    • Selling some Stuff we can't use and don't want
I know lots of my friends out there are setting financial goals for themselves this year, too.  What are you all doing?  Is there one area you're focusing on or are you taking a broader approach?  Any advice for us as we take these steps or questions about your own choices?


  1. We are still trying to find that magic balance of savings and spending. I'm the free spirit and Bill is the nerd, to use Dave Ramsey's lingo. We get better every month, but trying to get to where we don't go a penny over budget. You can relate, I'm sure, when I say it's been hard for me in adjusting to not having my income anymore since I quit working. We've been considering streamlining our subscriptions as well, just need to figure out an option that would allow Disney Channel and Saints football. LOL

  2. Adjusting to having one income between two (or three!) people is such a huge mentality shift! We had our financial plan beautifully lined up about 15 months ago for our move here, but it was predicated on me finding a job within 9 months.

    I'm very proud of us (George especially, he's our free spirit) because we've done well despite only one income, but this month's financial reboot is going to look very different than our original plan!

    I agree that finding the spending/saving/debt-payoff balance is tricky. That's one of the reasons we review our finances so often (once a month, at least), to make sure we're both comfortable with where we are and where we're going. I'll post more on this soon, but I would love to hear what you're doing!

  3. We are working primarily on our emergency fund and Kaitlyn's savings.

    We found I would get stifled when every dollar was prebudgeted, so what we've tweaked to is a monthly budget that goes over a statement period. We use the Disney Rewards Visa almost exclusively since we earn 1% of Disney Dollars back--on our last trip, Reward Dollars paid for our room with about $300 left over for food, souvenirs, etc. I see it as free savings for Disney vacations. We budget out the bills, groceries, and then take what's left and that is for everything else--gas, incidentals, etc. For Free Spirit me, knowing I have an extra $200 a week rather than all the money preassigned to categories and seemingly spent from the word go works. What we're trying out is running a checkbook registry for all the purchases deducting from the per week balance, then adding in the next week's. It's still got some growing pains and tweaking to do.

  4. comments on a few of your goals/actions for this month:
    - on swapping satellite for hulu: we tried hulu plus through our ps3, it stunk. we ditched our cable (which also included DVR) for over-the-air tv and netflix (one disc at a time). although Hubby went high end with our antenna, at least it's a one-time expense. and we have almost everything on netflix that we could want (i do miss my food network shows)
    - on banking simplifications: we're going to be closing unused accounts and bringing my 401Ks out of the orphanage as well! can't wait to have everything conglomerated so that it's all easier to keep track of!
    - on debt redux: go go go! all good plans! luckily i'm 1 payment away from being totally done with my student loans and we're caught up on credit (though who knows how big of a wrench Baby will throw into the mix!) but in my opinion, student loans are the best kind of debt to have. i'm trying to convince Hubby of that, but so far we haven't had to worry. now that we're down to one income with a baby not far away, though, that may change!
    - on income: go go go! selling stuff you don't want/need is like a triple bonus: you clear out your space, you get monetary reimbursement, and you're helping someone else get something they think they want/need for less than full price! all good!

    i still plan on doing a financial post at some point (what we do and why), but it's kinda been back burner for a while... maybe i can move it up soon here!