Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 1 - Financial Goals

The main goals I have for my finances are to have a better understand of where our money goes, ensure that I'm spending in a way that reflects our financial priorities (i.e. if I have a "latte factor", I at least understand it & accept it), and to also cut back on the small trickle of spending I see.

Financial background. My husband & I both work full-time & make good salaries. We have two preschool aged children & have just finished paying for the monthly expense of daycare, which is mind-blowingly expensive. We now pay for preschool & after care, & the cost is about 1/2 of what we were paying monthly. This has resulted in a relatively big savings for us, & we're still figuring out where we need our money to go.

We own two properties - one is a single family home that is our primary residence. The second is a vacation home. We do not rent out the vacation home.

We have zero credit card debt, but do have 401K loans that we are actively paying back. Long story on the 401K loans, but they enabled us to secure a much lower interest rate on our homes & save us well over the interest we are paying.

One of my big financial goals is to determine if I can cut back my work to part-time, move to a different industry (I'd love to explore non-profit) that is not compensated as well as my current role, or take on a freelance writing job. To do any of these things, we need to pay off our 401K loans, & make serious decisions about our finances. I consider us to be in relatively good shape, but we have a long way to go toward mindful spending.

Given that this is an anonymous blog, I'll share the monthly balances of our accounts & plans for the month.

In addition, here are the expenses I'm planning to track regularly. You'll notice that things like the mortgages and utilities don't show up here - they are fixed expenses & we're comfortable with the amounts.

Variable Expenses: (these are the current goal amounts I'm tracking towards monthly)
  • Groceries - $600 (this can be cut down, but we currently have 6 people in our house. My inlaws are living with us for 90 days & we're nearing the end of that. Once they leave, we may be able to cut this back).
  • Gifts - $100.
  • Gas - $350. We've been spending more on gas as we've been driving to the vacation house more. I need to actively track this & determine how much we're really spending.
  • Miscellaneous - $150. The occasional hair cut, clothing purchase, etc.
  • Eating out - $200
  • Cell phone - $50
  • Gym - $100. I belong to a gym in my office building. It's ridiculously expensive, but could not be more convenient. It's up for renewal in May, so I might try & think of ways to eliminate this. I do live in the Pacific Northwest, however, & going out for a lunch time run is not easy to do when it's rainy.
  • Boys - $300. This includes swimming lessons, soccer lessons, new shoes, etc.
The total of this is $1850. I'll post regularly with how much we're spending and saving.

Between myself & my husband, we currently have $280,000 saved for retirement. He's in his early 40s and I'm in my mid-30s.

We both owe $46,140.92 on our 401K loans. Our plan does not allow to make additional payments (it's a fixed payment deducted from our paychecks & you cannot pay extra unless you have enough to pay the full balance.) As a result, I have a separate savings account where I keep my extra payments, & I'll update with the balalnce of that account as well. I currently have $888 in that account.

I'm sure I'll think of additional information, but that's all for now on the finance side.

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