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Home > Oh, how I wish I had the mad financial planning skillz of ceejay, monkey mama...

Oh, how I wish I had the mad financial planning skillz of ceejay, monkey mama...

October 14th, 2013 at 02:21 pm

...lucky robin, creditcardfree, patientsaver and many other awesome SA bloggers. Smile

I'm having mucho trouble tracking my spending. I know it takes just recording expenditures each day or once a week or whatever, but I'm just not doing it. I'm totally frozen. To do SOMETHING financially related, I decided to figure out my net worth again since it's been a month - so here are the figures since mid-September.

Cash 68,889
Brokerage 48,200.14
403B Retirement 345,766.85
Traditional IRA 56,401.10
Roth IRA 5,002.30
House 200,000.00

Total Assets 724,259.39

Auto loan (2.9%) -5,210.09

Current net worth 719,049.30

Once again, not bad for a net worth, but I have a lot of work to do on my house so a lot of the cash will go towards that. But, I'm just not tackling the house projects. When faced with big projects and decisions, I get very stuck and numb internally and have difficulty taking any action. My mind whirls. Where do I start? I'm afraid to spend money on big projects! What if I end up a bag lady? What if I need the money for something else? I want to retire early and won't be able to if I spend my money on these big projects. It goes on and on…

I'm great at stuffing away cash and I'm comfortable making many small purchases, but I'm not actively MANAGING the in- and out-flow of money in my life or PLANNING exactly what I want to do with it. Seriously, if I had the managing/planning drive of the amazing bloggers mentioned in the title of this entry, I would be ready to retire pretty darn soon. I know I need to develop the skillz, but I'm not making it happen.

Baby steps don't even seem to be working, so I'm going to try micro-steps! For September, some of my recurring monthly expense amounts were:

Phone (landline & DSL): 83.40
Electricity: 36.71 (this was unusually low because I was out of town for some of the billing period in August)
Insurance (auto & homeowner): 116.73
Auto loan payment: 231.46

Those charges should be similar in October, except for the electric bill, which will be higher.


13 Responses to “Oh, how I wish I had the mad financial planning skillz of ceejay, monkey mama...”

  1. Looking Forward Says:

    I love Quicken. It has helped me track and budget so much.
    In just a click I can see where we've spent the most or least.
    Love it!

  2. TashaC. Says:

    I find tracking expenses a chore. And I ALWAYS spend more than I think I'm spending! This is my first month doing it after a several year break. I need to know the dirty numbers. I've already BLOWN MY ESTIMATE BUDGET OUT OF THE WATER and it's only halfway through the month. Sigh.

  3. debtfreeme Says:

    deep breaths. I have been noting my spending for more than ten years. The first year was a lot of stop and go in terms of watching my spending, budgeting correctly, writing down what I spent etc. It took a while and I had to overcome the "What is my roadblock to doing this" mentality. Finally I realized as long as I knew where the money was going and I stayed on track with my budget, that was ok.

    I can provide an accounting for about 95% of my spending since 2001. It just takes little steps.

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    First of all, you're doing quite well, GREAT, in fact, especially given that you're probably 10 years younger than me. So a pat on the back for that!

    Next, I PERFECTLY understand how you sometimes feel "frozen" when considering how to tackle home improvement projects, especially the expensive ones. I'm exactly the same way, but I MUST get going on mine because I can't put the house on the market without fixing some of these very noticeable things.

    Like just tonight, I got a price back from a highly recommnended contractor of $975 for doing the following: replacing a rotted out wood side garage door with a metal door, rebuilding the concrete sill underneath it ($800), repairing ice dam damage to the back wall of a closet ($100) and adding a shelf to another closet ($75). I was told this guy charges $45/hr, but when he told me the garage door itself would cost $450, only because it's shorter than average and thus would require purchase of a custom door, I calculated that the other $350 was his labor, and at $45/hr, that would mean he was allowing over 7 hours to do all 3 jobs, which seemed like more than would be necessary for an experienced carpenter.

    However, my friend's husband assured me he thought the price was very reasonable, so I told the guy to go ahead and do it even though it kills me to fork over nearly $1,000 for just a few smaller jobs. (I have so many more.) But it will be good to feel I've got something accomplished.

    As for tracking expenses, I am sure there are many who would find it to be drudgery, but after doing it myself for probably 20 years, it's automatic to me and I really like being able to use my monthly income and expense statements to learn so much more about where the money goes and just generally be able to pull up a number from 5 years ago at the drop of a hat. It really comes in handy in so many ways you couldn't anticipate.

    I really try to curtail the small purchases so I have money for the big things that count. Years ago I remember frittering away SO much money on little stuff for the house that really was a waste. I was making much more money, and I freely spent. Now I appreciate the value of every dollar and I'm reluctant to ever go back to my previously free-spending ways. I never had problems with debt I couldn't pay, but it still is quite obvious to me how little spending here and there saps your buying power and ability to make progress toward your long-term goals. And my longer term goals are much more important than the momentary pleasure I'd get from buying a bracelet at a craft fair or new dish towels or some other thing I really don't need.

  5. PatientSaver Says:

    One thing I might suggest, and I don't know how you're funding your IRAS in recent years, but if I were you, I'd start funding the Roth IRA exclusively for the next few years at least, to even out the balance at least, with the traditional IRA.

    Having money in both traditional and Roth IRAs is, IMO, a good way to hedge your bets if you're not sure, after using those little online calculators that tell you whether a roth or a traditional IRA is better for given your income. In my own case, I think it's a toss-up because my income has never been super high. So when it comes time to begin taking contributions from my IRAs in retirement, having the choice of withdrawing from either the traditional or the Roth will give me more flexibility in timing those withdrawals to my advantage.

  6. monkeymama Says:

    I think most the bloggers you mentioned are dealing with unemployment and/or massive debt payoffs. Lord knows I have to be 10 times more efficient as I ever had to before, to achieve the same goals on half the income. Wink Just to say, your savings rate is awesome, and that is probably enough.

    One thing I am personally very into is just breaking big goals into more manageable steps. Maybe make a list of the home repairs you are envisioning and take action on some of the smaller and less expensive items? It will give you some momentum.

    & I like tracking my expenses. But, if not, and I Was saving 35%+ of my income, I can't say I would really bother. Again, I never really paid that close attention to the spending side before my spouse was long-term unemployed. & not because I had a lot of income to go crazy, but because we were saving a huge amount of our income, and that was really all we needed to do. It's not like cutting our cable was going to amount to a hill of beans, so we didn't sit around counting the pennies and the small stuff. I do now because it means more and can significantly improve our finances to focus on the small things, since our savings rate is currently so much smaller (& so is income).

    Good Luck!!

  7. ceejay74 Says:

    I agree with everyone else! I've thought for a while that I would probably stop being SO strict once I feel like we're in a more comfortable place. Matter of fact I'm about to write a post about dialing BACK some of my financial control. You're one person with twice the net worth of my household's three adults combined, and it sounds like you're only a couple years older than us!

    If you're not overspending, and you're putting something away, and you feel like your money that you do spend basically goes to good use, I don't think you need to worry about that. I thought the same about Thriftorama's recent post (but was too sleepy to chime in there).

  8. monkeymama Says:

    P.S. I think everyone called out in this post is bowing down to your net worth starfishy. Which is really and truly what matters - it is the big picture that counts!

  9. Rachael777 Says:

    HI. Super impressed and 'jealous' but psyched for you. Agree with what is said above .if you can save 35% then 'live a little; on the rest. I have rentals so am always doing home improvement projects.. find the best contractor and go for it.. it is not going to get cheaper and with all your hard work you deserve a nice house.. keeping all these 'projects' around adds stress to your life.. not needed right now. Keep up the good work. You are doing great.

  10. starfishy Says:

    wow - thank you all so much for the supportive and useful comments! i will be rereading, digesting and integrating the words and suggestions as i move forward on this journey!! Smile

  11. CB in the City Says:

    It's nice to have a list, to keep the big picture in mind, but focus on your home improvement projects one at a time (unless they are so inter-related that you can't). Pick the most urgent, and start there. Think in terms of protecting your home as an asset. You'll get there. Your net worth is wonderful! I'm envious!

  12. baselle Says:

    Kudos to you, we are impressed with you. I think your biggest issue is thinking you will become a bag lady. It depresses you just enough to keep you paralyzed. I think if you turn into a bag lady, we will all have beaten you to it. Smile.

    Lists kind of work for me, but lately what has been getting me out of that paralyzing funk is exercise. You get a little (more) exercise, you feel a bit more energetic, you make a list and you hit the 'easy' stuff (both house and money), then you get a little more jazzed for more exercise and more hits on your list.

    I'd exercise consistently next week and see what happens.

  13. LuckyRobin Says:

    I track simply because when I don't things start to slide. So a little discipline in tracking goes a long way towards discipline in staying on track and keeping my eyes on the goal of getting completely out of debt and eventually saving half a year's income.

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