Remember when I was down in the dumps about our slow debt payoff progress? Remember when I set some money-making and money-saving goals for myself? I do. And I acted on some of them — to varying degrees of success.
- Change our cell phone service to Republic Wireless: SUCCESS! Savings: $55/month. I’m inches from making the switch myself, which would save us another $55 per month.
- Minimize commuting expenses by parking on the street. SUCCESS! It took a bit of legwork, but I found the nearby area that allows for four-hour parking. I bought parking meter cards so I don’t have to lug quarters around. And now I can choose to park on the street — during days I won’t be in town all day and days that aren’t hotter than Hades — or park in the $17 lot. So far, I’ve parked on the street about 30% of the time I go to work. Savings: $76/month (minus $40 this month for the parking ticket I got. Doh!)
- I need to pump up my tires: FAIL! I have, however, started driving in a way that conserves more gas. I coast more and allow the car to slow itself down instead of hitting the brake.
- Slash the gift spending by planning ahead: SUCCESS! I purchased the next birthday gift for $13 and bought a joint gift for twins for $13 — both marked down at the Target toy clearance. I have bought all the toys for nieces and nephews for Christmas at $7 or less, and saved on shipping by passing them along to my sister while she visited last week. I did not cut back on our $50 budget for Little Stapler’s Christmas gifts, but I used to spend $35 on each niece and nephew, and $10 last year, so I was able to cut back this year. Savings: $75.
- Ratchet down the food spending. FAIL! We went $250 over budget on food last month. We have been succumbing to the take-out urge on tough nights and haven’t been meal planning.
TOTAL SAVINGS: $110 plus $131 per month, but let’s not forget to offset that by the $250 we went over on food.
Ideas for Making a Little Extra Cash:
- Sell some clothes to ThredUp FAIL! This keeps getting pushed aside. Mostly because I haven’t listed the nicer clothes on eBary yet.
- Sell my old Barbies and nice suits and dresses on eBay. FAIL!
- Submit all the medical receipts I haven’t yet submitted for Flex reimbursement. Partial SUCCESS. The reimbursement process has gotten tied up with Mr. Stapler’s lousy HR department, and I’ve only submitted half of the receipts so far.
- Return clothing ordered in an attempt to find court-appropriate maternity wear. SUCCESS! Got back $320 (then spent $111)
- Work my butt off freelancing. FAIL! My body was not cooperating this month, and I had to stay home a few days for my backache to go away. Unfortunately, I don’t get any paid time off. Thankfully, I feel back to “the new normal.”
- Mr. Stapler has been working his tail off trying to get some offers for new employment and/or consulting gigs. SUCCESS! Readers already know that Mr. Stapler got a new job, with a 60% pay raise, and won’t be paying commuting costs anymore. Not only does this earn us 60% more (although health insurance this year will cost $1,000 more), it saves us $60 per month in commuting costs alone.
TOTAL EARNINGS: $209 plus 60% per year and $60 per month savings.
Although we didn’t achieve all of our mid-month goals, it’s fair to say that concentrating on the goals with the biggest potential payoffs — increasing income and decreasing recurring costs — can go a long way! So what if I haven’t yet consigned $70 worth of clothes? I’m saving that much each month by figuring out a cheaper way to park and saving almost that much each month with a lower mobile phone bill. I’ll continue to chip away at the one-time victories, but try to concentrate on the perpetual victories.
Net Worth Status:
Cash: + $2,397.9. I think the uptick in cash is due to socking away money for tax payments. I should make an estimated tax payment so I can avoid getting penalized, but I have yet to figure that out. (I already missed the deadline for the first quarter payment.) Until then, it’s skewing our net worth because $3,500 is earmarked for taxes.
Credit Cards: – $1,007.37. Last month was a bit of an anomaly on the credit card bills, so I guess the uptick in expenses is to be expected. Also, our food was $250 over budget and I took two trips to Target in order to grab toys at the clearance sale — and when in Target, I spent $250 total for both trips, which includes $70 on Christmas gifts and another $55 on 7 birthday gifts for birthdays over the next year; but it also included baby clothes on sale and toiletry items.
Loans: +$148.16. Mint.com is not updating our loans, because this is $500 lower than usual. I tried to fix this in Mint, but apparently someone has exceeded their login attempts. Oops! I called and fixed it for mine, but Mr. Stapler has to call his servicers to reset his logins.
Investments: -$1,896.44. That’s OK. These are our retirement accounts, so we expect some market fluctuation.
Net Worth: -$357.75. Blerg. Let’s chalk that up to our student loans not updating and call it a day 😉
- Make ends meet with my income: SUCCESS! Not because of my income, but because we received the first of three payments for the product Mr. Stapler developed. As a bonus, the hours I worked for the past two weeks were paid on August 1, so we did more than break even. Technically, it’s August income, which is good because of some income challenges we’re facing this month (see below).
- Make an extra payment on a student loan: FAIL! As you already know, I had high hopes for loan payoff this month. Hopes that didn’t pan out. At all. I thought we could make a $1,000 payment, but our daycare and flex reimbursements have been severely delayed, so we didn’t receive all the money that we’ve put into the accounts yet.
- Get 50% of my Christmas shopping done: SUCCESS — 85% DONE! For $60, the Target toy clearance sale did it’s job: I bought all but one of Little Stapler’s Christmas gifts, and gifts for 3 nieces and nephews for less than $7 each. Then I stopped by the Marshall’s clearance sale and found a great gift, for my nephew, for just $5. I have only one more toy to buy — and Mr. Stapler wants to pick it out, so I’m off the hook. 😉 I am so happy that I set this goal for myself and thrilled that I accomplished it, because the third trimester has laid its heavy hand on me already. It’s difficult to move and sleep, the nausea has returned, and I swear I am 5 degrees warmer than everyone else around me, so I’m constantly miserable in this heat and humidity. I have the materials for making felt ornaments for my nieces and nephews, which is a perfect activity for what my body is currently capable of doing (ie: sitting in my air conditioned living room!).
What’s left to buy?
- Mr. Stapler’s gift
- A bucket of LEGOs from the bulk bins at the LEGO store for Little Stapler (Mr. Stapler wants to pick these out)
- Small gifts for my parents
- Stocking stuffers
- Make ends meet with my income: Making ends meet will be a challenge this month for two reasons: (1) We are taking a one-week vacation, and I don’t get any paid time off, and (2) Mr. Stapler’s job switch means that he will go from getting paid at the beginning of a 2-week cycle to getting paid at the end of a two-week cycle. Thankfully, he is cashing out one week of vacation time, and he will be earning 60% more per paycheck, but that doesn’t quite close the gap. We will have to keep a careful lock on our spending, particularly during vacation, to make it work.
- Resist Lifestyle Inflation: It would be easy to spend more money in anticipation of Mr. Stapler’s salary increase, but we need to save some of it for my maternity leave and obviously pay down some student loans. Alternatively, we could save it for a down payment on a home. What I don’t want to do is spend it on my long-standing wishlist, which includes a bed frame, a deep freezer, and other things that we don’t need but I would love to have.
- Submit Flex Reimbursement Requests: I have to do this before Mr. Stapler leaves his job, and I’ve only submitted half of them so far. I don’t want to lose the money we’ve paid in to the system.
- Empty Old Clothes Out of My Closet: If they’re not listed on ebay by the end of the month, they’re going into a large ThredUp bag. Right now, they are unnecessarily taking up space in my closet, and as soon as Baby Stapler arrives, we will need all the free space we can get.
- Roll Over Mr. Stapler’s 403(b): After he leaves his job, I can’t wait to get his 403(b) out of it’s current investments. There weren’t a lot of choices, so we went with the least worst option. But now that we don’t have to be hemmed in to his company’s 403(b) options, we’re jumping ship ASAP to get it into Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index fund — where we invested his Rollover IRA earlier this year. Because the market is down right now, it’s perfect timing to buy. Yes, we’ll have to sell the 403(b) investments, but there are higher fees in that fund, so you won’t see me shedding any tears. The sooner we can get away from the investment fees, the better.
How was your month? What are you goals — financial, personal, or professional — for this month?