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Archive for May, 2021

May 2021 Recap - Spending & Summary

June 1st, 2021 at 01:18 am

Woof.  This month was spendy.  I loosened my resolve and spent on a bunch of categories that I've been super strict on so far this year.  Ended up putting some money back on a credit card and it's time to rein it in.  I alos need to rein in my diet, I've been on a tear for the past week or so.  I think I needed a break from all of my strict guidelines for everything, what with processing all of the (known and potential) changes at work.  School starts tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be too busy to let my anxiety manifest in bad ways lol.


Category: May Spend/YTD Spend - commentary

Alcohol: $63.90/$94.22 - as expected, I bought some bubbly for Mother's Day, and picked up a few other bottles for myself Smile

Car/Gas: $30.08/$239.78 - I got gas at some point this month, and still have half a tank left.  I'm driving about 30 minutes away tomorrow, and then have a doctor's appointment in late June, so not sure if that'll mean one or two fill-ups in June, but it is what it is.

Clothing: $22.15/$151.67 - can't remember what this was, but it was something definitely on top of a gift card/rewards.  I'm getting a little too loose with this, but overall still not bad at all for the year.

Dining/Entertainment: $192.87/$398.62 - UGH.  See above, lol.  This isn't good for my finances or my diet!!!!!!

Education: $21.75/$207.38 - this is the rental fee for the book for one of my summer courses.

Gifts: $151.32/$367.87 - this month was all Mother's fact, I think all of these gifts so far have been for my mom haha.  Honestly, I buy for so few people these days.  I'll buy something for my sister's birthday, and then probably nothing until Christmas unless anyone new comes into my life before then (but I'm not really looking for that just yet, and last time I checked, they don't generally show up at the door spontaneously lol).

Grocery/Household/Toiletries: $613.14/$2355.86 - whhheeeeewf.  This one is big this month.  I did have to replace some housewares - a new hamper, a new set of skillets, a new salt & pepper grinder.  That added up.  Once I remembered those, I felt slightly better about the total for the month.  Then I also realized there are more than a few pet expenses mixed in there that I didn't feel like splitting the receipt out for.  Definitely going to try to rein this back in for June.

Medical - $127.07/$219.13 - this was 3 co-pays for doc appts (bi-weekly therapy, and a copay from a doc appt in March that they billed me for in April, but I didn't pay til this month).  Plus I got a 90 day supply of prescriptions.  

Miscellaneous - $0/$232.45 - woo!  A zero spend category!  LOL

Office Supplies - $0/$87.92 - woo x2!!!!

Personal Care - $0/$194 - woooooo x3!!!!  Haha.  There should be some spending in this category in June.  I'm due for a pedicure, and I need to activate a Groupon I purchased using some gift cards for a laser hair removal package - when you activate these vouchers, you have to pay sales tax directly to the vendor, as well as leave a tip at each appointment.  It's minimal, but still needs to be planned for.

Pet - $210.38/$429.25 - I had to purchase yet another littler box and another litter box enclosure, because one of the cats is a giant monster.  Swapping boxes wastes a lot of litter, but I wasn't about to pour dirty litter into the new box.  This new system seems to be working, so fingers crossed it's just food and litter from here on out.  They need to go to the vet in June, but my mother will cover those appts this year.

Subscriptions: $17.94/$204.40 - I got suckered into subscribing to another cooking magazine I really like, and of course my monthly iCloud storage.

Travel: $0/$37.91 - not expecting to add anything else to this category for at least a few months.  Between finances and school and work, I don't have the resources, tangible or intangible, to go anywhere.  I do have a flight credit from a trip cancelled in April 2020 that I may use in August, but I would just be going to Chicago to visit some friends.  I'd have dining and Uber expenses, but that's about it.

Total: $1450.60/$5220.46 - yikes.  That's $400+ higher than any other month this year.  There were definitely a few larger one off expenses, but that's gotta get nipped in the bud.  

Month over Month Summary:

Overall, debt is up this month, thanks to the addition of the new student loan balance (plus a small increase in credit card debt), and savings are slightly down.  Nothing too crazy, and I am ok with it.  These numbers do not reflect an updated mortgage balance, nor do they reflect the contributions to 401k/payments to 401k loans from last Friday's paycheck.  There hasn't been a ton of progress since 5/1, in fact I guess it looks like a little bit of a backslide, but nothing insurmountable or honestly unexpected.    But since 1/1, debt is down significantly, and savings are up significantly.  In June, I am not expecting huge swings in debt, but will continue chipping away at it.  I do expect a large lump sum being added to savings sometime in June, which will help the balance sheet a bit.  

5/28 Payday and School Updates

May 28th, 2021 at 07:01 pm

Since the 31st is a holiday, today was payday.  Uneventful as usual.  I paid a bunch of bills, moved around a bunch of money, and off we go.  I'll do my usual month end summary for May on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I am waiting on a new debit card from my primary bank.  The scammers got me - they got into my Instacart account, did a test order for about $15, which went through, and then tried a larger one for $420, which did not go through and triggered a fraud alert.  Instacart then cancelled the first smaller order.  The hold for the smaller order was $30, and was immediately credited back to my account.  My debit card was cancelled immediately, and luckily I am not out any money, just inconvenienced.  I'd much prefer the inconvenience of having to wait for a new debit card and update everywhere I had it stored, than having to potentially be out whatever money they managed to get until the bank investigated.  Still would like to eventually get back to the point where anything autopaid or stored is done via credit card, but until I have the card I'd like to use for this paid down completely, I am not ready to make the swap.  I'd like it to be a fresh start from a zero balance before I start moving recurring bills/spending that are covered from my paycheck to this card, so I don't mingle it with older debt I am working on paying off.

In school news, the loan for my summer courses was disbursed to the school.  I'm waiting for them to process it, and then they will send me back the overpayment (the loan is for more than the classes ended up being).  I am expecting a check from them for ~$3890, not sure how long it will take to receive.  For now, I am going to just stash this in one of my accounts and consider it untouchable - depending on what happens in the next few months, I will likely use it towards surgery.  If anything changes that timeline, or I am able to figure out another way to fund this, then I will pay it back to the loan balance.  For now, I am going to be making small monthly payments on that loan even while in school.  My first payment will be due in July.  Waiting for the first statement to close.

I also confirmed with my HR department that my summer classes were approved for tuition reimbursement.  Once I complete the courses, and (hopefully lol) pass, I will need to submit the receipt and my grades to get the $$, as it's a two step process.  Approval then reimbursement.  I should see this reimbursement in August/September, and that $$ will get stashed in the same place as the loan overpayment, and treated the same way.  

I was also able to register for fall classes.  I registered for 15 credits, yowza.  Once that balance due hits my school account, I will repeat the process, and submit the courses for approval in Step 1 for reimbursement.  Federal loans will be covering this semester, so I don't have to do as much active work as I did for summer with the private loan....the federal loans should all process fairly seamlessly.  I do not believe I will have to pay cash for anything, as the full time tuition for my school for a full year is less than the federal loan max per year.  Yay for state schools!

The professor for my other class this summer confirmed that she is using open source materials for the class, so no need to buy any textbooks.  That was good news.  I'm waiting for a few more snowflakes to come in to be able to register for some of the CLEP exams I will be taking.  They did add a virtual option, which works out to be a little cheaper than having to pay a test center administrative fee, and a heck of a lot more convenient too.  The only catch is that I need to be able to install software onto a PC to be able to take advantage of this.  I cannot install software onto my work computer (PC), and my personal computer is a Mac.  As I always do lol....I figured out a way around it.  My mother needs to purchase a new computer, since she is retiring next year and her personal computer is from 2004.  I suggested that I find her a Chromebook, with a budget of around $250.  I asked her if I can make this purchase for her now, and keep it at my place for a few months, so I can take a bunch of these tests.  She was fine with this.  If she needs it before I am done with it, I can just bring it to her and then borrow it again as necessary.  My goal is to take all of these exams in the next year or so, just waiting for snowflakes to be able to cashflow exam fees.  I was able to find a free service that prepares you for the exams so I should not need to purchase study guides, saving me more money.  

Lots going on with school!  Summer classes start on Tuesday, and run for 8 weeks.  I'm excited to get back into the swing of things.  

Lots going on at work as well.  Since the last time I boss (whom I ADORE), gave her notice.  This sent me into a bit of a tailspin....not only will I miss working with her professionally and personally, there's a lot more pressure on me now, as most of the projects she was working on will fall to me.  If I rise to the occasion, then this is a very good opportunity for me.  She did submit me for a promotion before she left, and I am confident it will go through based on some of the intel she was able to share before her last day.  I should hear about the promo mid to late June.  If it's a go, it would go into effect July 1, with the first paycheck reflecting increase on July 15. 

At the same time, I was contacted on LinkedIn by a recruiter from a distant competitor, who is wooing me with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.  I don't want to leave my company, for a lot of reasons.  I love my job, I love my company, and a lot of my plans over the next few years are tied to my seniority here and my current benefits (surgery, school, ability to take STD for 2 separate surgeries, being able to use tuition reimbursement to cashflow, etc).  But the $$ they're "promising" is a $40k increase.  Life. Changing.  Depending on what level I am promoted to, the salary could be equal.  Even if it's not, it might be worth staying on even at a lower salary (which would still likely be a $15-$20k increase at minimum) for a bit longer until after surgeries are done.  Everything else I can figure out.  I'm trying to stall the interview process to get me closer to the end of June before I need to make any decisions, and hopefully I'll have all of the info to make an informed decision.  I guess when it rains it pours.

I am off today through Tuesday, so am off to enjoy my extended weekend.  

5/14/21 Payday & Other Updates

May 14th, 2021 at 03:35 pm

I am paid on the 15th and last day of the month, but if one of those days falls on a weekend or holiday, I am paid the business day prior.  Since tomorrow, the 15th, is a Saturday, today was payday.  

Fairly uneventful.  Paid whatever bills are scheduled as part of this check.  Transferred some money around as part of my bank bonus adventures.  I have to make a run to one of the bonus banks to withdraw then deposit into my primary bank this afternoon.  I was going to make a pitstop at the grocery store while out, but realized that I don't actually need milk before it is delivered as part of a FreshDirect order Monday morning. 

 Things are really starting to move with school now. 

The school certified my loan for the summer courses, so I don't have to worry about the balance due - once it is disbursed and applied, I will be able to request a check for the overdisbursement (this will be held in one of my sinking funds until I get some more info on actual costs for surgery).  I have to wait for the loan to be disbursed to see payment info, but I did go ahead and add a new tab to my budgeting spreadsheet (lol) to calculate the interest that is being accrued monthly.  This is a private loan, so the interest is not deferred while I am in school the way federal loans will be, so I want to make sure I prioritize it. I specified while setting up the loan that I would be paying $25 a month while in school.  Looks like the loan will be accruing more interest than that monthly (high interest rate blah), so I will likely bump the payment up as soon as possible to, at the very least, keep pace with the interest.  

Summer classes start in just over 2 weeks.  I got an email from one of my professors telling us what the textbook was so we could get it prior to class starting....I am waiting for a reply back on whether or not this is an appropriate book to rent (it would save me 50%, and I have no interest in keeping this book).  Hopefully I will hear back soon so I can order it.  If I don't get a similar email from the professor of the other class with the text info, I will probably reach out to get it so I am prepared and ready to hit the ground running.

I also had some advisement conversations to prep for fall course registration.  I have my fall schedule set and will be able to register once the system opens to transfer students on May 25.  Everything I want to take is available with an online section, so fingers crossed.  I'll be taking 15 credits....3 of those credits are software classes (Word, Excel and Powerpoint at 1 credit each).....not terribly worried about those haha.  Then I am taking a math class, a stats class, and anthropology class.  During my conversations, I was able to get clarity on some of the questions I had about how transfer credits were accepted, and was able to update my degree roadmap.  I know now in which semester I can plan to take which courses.  If all goes to plan, I will be done in Dec 2023.  My fall semesters will be heavier than my spring semesters, and that's purely a function of how the tuition reimbursement falls.    

This and That

May 6th, 2021 at 02:58 pm

Just another mishmosh entry...

My 401k contribution/loan payments from my last paycheck posted today, and the combined loan balance is under the next thousand, and the account balance is over the next thousand as well.  While I really want to get out of the cycle of using 401k loans as I do feel insecure about retirement and know I'm behind, I will say that it's nice to have debt that when you pay it back, increases your savings equally.  Of course the goal is to not need debt lol.  But ya know.....something about progress not perfection blah blah blah.

I got an update on the whole state taxes from 2019 mess.....they sent me a notice of adjustment, saying that they recalculalated on my recalculations (this is turning into a bad skit) and now I owe them $1530 (instead of the $693 refund I thought I was due).  Ermmmmm, nope.  It looks like instead of changing my full year city tax to the part year city tax, they instead just added the part year tax and are trying to charge me those two numbers added together as my tax due for the year.  I filed an appeal because I absolutely do not owe them this money and I will not pay it.  Not sure how long it'll take to get in the queue for a live review but I'll wait.  This will be the most annoying $ I've ever "earned" when I finally get this refund.  

I found a few more bank accounts to open for bonuses.  My tally for the year is up to $2500 when all of these are completed and credited!  That's pretty amazing.  There are still a few banks that do ongoing bonuses that I just can't make work in the next few months that I hope I'll be able to take advantage of in the fall.  So that number could even grow a little more.  I know it'll have an impact on my taxes, since the bonuses are taxable, but I am hoping it's not too bad.  By then, I am also hoping that I will have gotten my raise/promotion, and will have been able to increase my withholding again, so that there's some cushion to cover that.  

I also made (sort of?) a decision on what direction I am going to go in regarding IRAs.  As soon as I am able, I am going to open and start funding a Roth.  I am above the income level where I can deduct a Traditional, and still within the level where I am eligible to contribute to a from a tax vantage NOW, they're essentially the same impact (ie, none lol).  But the Roth diversifies my tax standing in retirement, since most of my funds will be taxable otherwise (401k, SS).  When I phase out of the Roth limit which could be in the next 5 years (or not haha), then I will open a Traditional IRA, and backdoor it to Roth.  But since I will not have any other funds in the Traditional, I won't run into any messiness with the pro-rata rule - anything that goes in will just get converted and it'll be cleaner and simpler.  If I ever do need to change jobs, I'll either leave my 401k where it is (incredibly large company, so not worried about them requiring me to roll my funds elsewhere) or roll it into new 401k.  Does this all sound reasonable?

Fully Vested!

May 4th, 2021 at 04:42 pm

This morning, as I was doing my daily morning check-in of all of my financial apps, I was excited to see that I am now fully vested in my 401k.  I expected it this month, but the work anniversary that triggers it isn't technically until the 20th.

My 401k plan is on a 4 year vesting schedule.  The match is 50% of the first 6%.  I've always contributed more than enough to get the full match. 

Mulling over my strategy for increasing retirement original plan was to just keep increasing contributions as able, but now I am toying with the idea of opening an IRA, and maxing that before going back to the 401k.  Right now I am not eligible to deduct Trad, and am still under the income limits for Roth (which is appealing to diversify taxable status in retirement), but expect that to change in the next five years or so (fingers crossed anyway).  I need to do some more research on what the best plan is.  If I open a Roth, I would keep contributing there until no longer eligible, then start contributing to Trad and backdoor it to Roth.  My only concern is that if I ever need to roll a 401k over, it would go into Trad and then give me trouble with backdooring.  I think.  Unless I can roll it into a new company's 401k, and then no issues.  I think for backdooring to work optimally long term, you need to have zero in Trad, and use it as a holding zone before converting, otherwise the pro-rata rule comes into play.  Do I have that right? 

In an ideal world I would be maxing 401k, and maxing IRA, but I am not there yet.  For now, being vested doesn't really change anything about my financial picture, but ensures that if I were to change jobs, I get to take the full amount of my match with me when I go.  

April 2021 Recap - Spending & Summary

May 3rd, 2021 at 05:09 pm

I live for these monthly recaps lol. 

April spending was a bit lower than the last 2 months, and a few hundred higher than my lowest month so far this year (January coming in at ~$715).  I have a feeling the slightly higher spend from the last 2 months is an accurate reflection....but isn't that why we track it?  To get an accurate picture of what is being spent/what happens??

Category: April Spend/YTD Spend - commentary

Alcohol: $0/$30.32 - this refers to alcohol purchased a liquor/wine/beer store, not as part of a grocery run (categorized in groceries), at a bar or with a dinner out (categorized in dining).  Funny how life changes.  I was a big wine aficiando for a long time, and this number would have been much higher at this point in the year during that time.  I expect there to be an addition to this category in May for Mother's Day but my sister may end up grabbing it.

Car/Gas: $3.49/$209.70 - this month's spending must have been on parking.....I'm happy to say that I was able to make it the entire month without needing gas!

Clothing: $40.35/$129.52 - I'm going to need to place an Old Navy order soon, so I purchased a $50 gift card for $33.50 from (I do this often....depending on the store, they often have heavily discounted gift cards and it's a good way to stack sales from the actual store itself).  I also spent $6 out of pocket at another store that I like that I had some rewards credit for.  Couldn't quite get the cart to line up to be net zero but $6 is pretty close.  Overall, if this is my YTD out of pocket with a third of the year done, I think I'm on track for a low spend year in this category!

Dining/Entertainment: $62.79/$205.75 - a few takeout orders, and a stop at an amazing bakery for some goodies when I was starting my week off from my diet lol.  The bakery is pricey but worth it!

Education: $40.23/$185.63 - this was the review books for the CLEP exams I am taking.  Have to decide if I am going to include school fees that are covered by loans in this category or not.  I think I should be starting to get bills from the school soon.  At least I hope so....summer semester starts in less than 4 weeks.  

Gifts: $67.50*/$216.55 - I pre-ordered some desserts from another fancy bakery for Mother's Day.  Starred because my sister is going to send me the money for half, but hasn't yet, so her reimbursement will be reflected in May spending.  

Grocery/Household/Toiletries: $477.03/$1742.72 - by far my largest category, but ya gotta eat.  Since this is inclusive of a few different categories it's not an accurate picture of what I spend on groceries alone, but it would be too annoying to go back and update it now, so I'll probably break it out further next year if I feel the need to get more granular.

Medical: $60/$92.06 - my therapist's office started charging me a co-pay again.  I didn't pay one for a long time, as during COVID, my insurance stopped co-pays for telehealth, which is what these appointments are considered.  I have to double check to make sure they're back on again....was nice to not have to pay anything OOP for this.  I have have a few other co-pays for which I've gotten a bill in the mail.  I'll pay those sometime this month, so they'll be reflected in May.  

Miscellaneous: $49.07/$232.45 - everything in this category this month (and actually this year) could technically be considered a new category, Fitness, but I didn't feel like adding it lol.  This month was my OOP cost for a gadget for my bike, a wrench to change the pedals, and an entry fee for a DietBet.

Office Supplies: $0/$87.92 - no spending here this month.  I expect something for May.....I have to drop my shredding off at Staples, and want to buy a small under desk shredder (since I can't just take it to the office every few months anymore lol)

Personal Care: $35/$194 - this was a long overdue pedicure.  Worth.every.penny.

Pet: $102.53/$218.87 - I didn't really need any pet food or litter yet, but Chewy had a good percentage back on Rakuten, so I placed an order.  I'm still filling in my needs of non-perishable items, based on how the girls are adjusting (very glad I didn't buy any beds.....I took 2 from my mom's house that one of the cats was obsessed with there....she hasn't even acknowledged them here lol).  I don't think I'll need to buy food or litter til at least June, though.  

Subscriptions: $2.99/$186.46 - monthly iCloud storage

Travel: $37.91/$37.91 - my OOP expenses for Vegas.  Pretty much any money I spent while away went in this category, even if would fit in another.  I didn't spend much money, since everything was pre-paid by my mom and it wasn't a leisure trip.  

Total: $938.66/$3729.63

This spending summary is so helpful to me every month to go back and see what I spent money on.  There are definitely a few items that I am annoyed at myself for, but all I can do is use it for learning.

Next up is the summary of debts & savings.  I look at this in two ways - change from the start of the year, and change from the start of the previous month.  Pretty fun that I have increased my savings by the same percentage that I have decreased my priority debts.  (Nerd alert lol).  All in all, everything is going in the right direction.  Debt continuing to go down (although I think the pace will slow for a while.  Not expecting any more large cash infusions til the summer, which are helping to accelerate paydown).  Savings continuing to go up, and even if there are times when it goes back down, it's because I needed to pay for something that in the past would have gone on a credit card.  I'm confident that by next January, when I am starting 2022 tracking, I'll be funding my spending categories (and will conventiently have an entire year's worth of spending data to extrapolate from!) so I can hone in on focusing on growing savings since those costs will be covered from sinking funds and savings can be just that.  

If I weren't on a diet, I'd give myself a cookie!  lol.  For now, mental satisfaction will just have to do.