New Budget!

So I worked this weekend with BF to create new zero-based budgets for both of us. Now it is time to share!

Here is my new budget which will go into effect starting February 28th:

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To give a quick summary. The left side is what I will spend on each thing per month. The “Amount Spent” column is how much I’m budgeting for each particular thing. The column to the right of that “Amount Remaining” is how much money I have left after that expense. I have them saved in order of semi-priority. Savings accounts first, then bills and debts, then finally variable expenses. In the middle section is what I will pay towards to each thing from my first paycheck. The far right section is what I will spend on each thing from my second paycheck. You can see I pay my most bills with the exception of my rent and student loan bill from the first paycheck. All other expenses (savings and variable) are split equally between the two paychecks.

Based on my assessment of how I spend money in Kansas, I’ve adjusted my variable expenses to represent this. I am budgeting $80 for gas, $360 for food, $160 total for all pet related expenses (food, litter, daycare), $20 for clothes, $70 for miscellaneous and $30 for entertainment. I plan on using envelopes starting February 28th, so each paycheck I’ll remove $360 in cash from my checking account and allocate this to their particular envelopes and use only cash. I’ll be piloting the envelope budgeting system for the entire month of March to see if it is a practical way for me to run my budget.

For my debts I have my credit card (minimum is $400), a 0% interest mattress loan (I’m paying enough to have it paid off before the 0% interest date arrives, but not the maximum I could since I’m not earning interest on it but my credit card IS earning interest), and my student loan debt (2.5% interest, only paying minimum). So I’m paying $527 over the minimum on my credit card.

After my February 28th paycheck I’ll be putting the $50 each paycheck for my emergency fund on to my debt, this is why paycheck #1 shows me putting $50 in my Emergency Fund but paycheck #2 shows no money. That $50 that would go normally go to my E-fund will be redirected to debt since my E-fund will be full funded.

I’ll need to do some moderate money movement with my direct deposits to do this, but since March is a trial run I’ll just manually move the money around and if this budget seems to work for me then I’ll change my direct deposit forms to reflect these changes.

I also got BF to do a budget. It is similar to mine except his only debt is a car payment and he doesn’t have pet expenses and all his utilities are included in his rent. He also already has a fully funded E-fund, but doesn’t have any yearly savings – but is planning on starting doing this with his next paycheck. Since he doesn’t make as much as me he can’t save as vigorously for vacations and things of this nature, but I’m glad he’s starting. His car loan is for 3 years, so once that is paid off (he’s paying $100 extra each month) he’ll be in a really good place financially.

We should both be debt free around the same time – which seems like a pretty perfect place to begin a new life together. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge)

Making Bank

As my dear readers who have followed me through the past few months will know, I recently moved from un-named place in the Midwest to Kansas City! I am finally past the “training” portion of my life and for the first time in my entire life I have a “grown up” job.

Before I was a post-doctoral researcher in a Chemistry lab. I also worked part time at and taught part time at the local community college. I was making (at the height of the money flow) $2556/month from my “main job” – i.e. being a researcher. Then $904/month at the community college. And when I was teaching at the community college I only made typically $30-80/month tutoring. When I wasn’t teaching at the community college I would make around $300/month tutoring. All told my “steady” income from these 3 jobs was ~$3490 per month. I was also getting a pretty sweet instant 10% retirement savings on top of my salary with 0% matching contribution. However, I was absolutely miserable in my job and in the town I was living in.

So I applied for a new position at a few different schools and low and behold I am now a PROFESSOR at a University! My salary is increased from what I was making before. I negotiated up from $49,000 for a 10-month contract to $51,000 for a 10-month contract. I’m free in the summers to pursue outside income if I so desire. However I’m paid twice a month regardless if I get the extra money – so I’m paid LIKE I get $51,000 per year. Which works itself out to be about $3,600/month in take home pay after taxes, ect. That’s right – I moved and took a new job to make about $200 more a month. BUT I make it from ONE job, not 3. So I have a lot more free time and (to be honest) I have a lot more joy!

The biggest change for me has been switching to budgeting every two weeks instead of every month. At first I thought it would be difficult, but I’m learning to love it. Fresh money in every two weeks is pretty nice. I pay my rent with one paycheck and then all my other bills with the other. Which is pretty sweet to get the rent paid two weeks in advance of its due date. I’m slowly trying to get the financials back in order, as I’m sure you’ll see progress of in the next few weeks. I’ve decided to “punt” on new goals for now and just focus on getting in to a rhythm with my new life. I may decide in November or December to change this, but I have a feeling that 2011 will be a good time to start defining what my new life goals are and what I can do to obtain then. Until I’m just going to keep saving $100/month in to my Emergency Fund, $190/month in to my Yearly Savings account and pay $700/month on my debt.

February Numbers – WUZZAH!

I got the reimbursement for my conference from last month. So I’m rolling in some serious mad cash. Okay, that’s a lie.

But here are my “totals” from February:

Amount paid on credit card: $2,110 (holy cow that is a lot)

Extra income made: $922 ($20 from tutoring, the rest from teaching)

Percentage of my total salary to debt: 61% ($2,110/$3,460)

I’m plugging away at this debt. I should be getting it under $10k by April 1st.

Also, remember how I said that I wouldn’t be teaching over the summer? Well, I got an email from the chair of the department and he asked if he moved the time of one of the classes to the evening if I would do it. I said that I would. It would be twice a week from 6-9pm for 8 weeks. Grand total of ~$2,000 – which means that I wouldn’t have to reduce my credit card payments over the summer. Which subsequently means that I could have this debt paid down in 9 months – which is OCTOBER!!!

That means that I’ll have paid down $16,000 worth of credit card debt in only TWO YEARS. That is just amazing. We’ll see what comes to pass. He may not be able to move the schedule or he may get someone else to teach the class. Either way, I can’t believe that I’ll be credit card debt free in 2010. It feels like a dream.

I’m putting between $1,000-2,000 every month on paying this down (keep in mind my regular “take home” salary from my primary job is only $2,500/month). That is just amazing. When I look at the numbers it blows ME away how well this whole debt repayment thing is going. And all because of 1) a budget 2) a second job that goes straight to debt and 3) my amazing readers who keep encouraging me!.

My Budget 2010

Here is what my current budget for 2010 looks like:

I’ve color-coded the entire thing so that you can see which account each expense will come from. I use BofA to pay bills (no ATMs in my state) and ING for regular expenses (because there are no overdraft fees).

In total I have 5 different accounts that I regularly use.

Account #1 – Bofa: Bill paying account (color coded pink in my budget). I put in here the MAXIMUM I need to pay for each bills. So if water ranges from $25-40, I put in $40 every month. If the cell phone ranges from $50-65, I put in $65. I also cancelled my cable TV, found cheaper internet and lowered changes on my cell phone to save me some money here. After all my bills go through I transfer the remaining money onto my credit card.

Account #2 – ING Checking: Every-day expenses (color-coded purple in budget). Food. Gas. Ect. Not however for gifts, clothes and entertainment. This account only pays for the things that I NEED every month. Toilet paper. Grocery shopping. Gas to get to work. Oil changes. This year I am setting up automatic deposits into this account from my Account #3 of $161/week (I was just doing a weird system of three irregular times per month). So the money I’m not spending that week is earning me interest. Also, it helps keep me balanced to have a constant stream of money every week – I never feel poor this way!

Account #3 – ING Savings: Emergency fund. (color coded green in the budget) Since I have reached my $1,200 Emergency Fund goal, I’ve lowered my contribution in 2010 to $33/month. I couldn’t bring myself to stop saving at all. If I have an expense and it goes below $1,000 – I’ll bump up my contributions to $100/month until it is back above the $1,000 threshold.

Account #4 – ING Savings: Yearly savings (color coded green in the budget) I added up all the expenses that I have reoccurring every year: car registration, membership dues, haircuts (I only get this done twice a year, if that!), christmas, vacations, ect. Then totaled them and divided by 12. Last year, I paid $140/month to this account. This year I’ve upped my Christmas savings and my car savings to rebalance my saving vs spending. I save this in a separate ING savings account. Then I have an excel sheet that I use to keep track of when I spend for this account. Here is what it looks like, not very pretty, but it gets the job done. You can see that I already have money from the Car Fund going away from expenses that I incurred in December (to pay back my E-fund).

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Account #5 – Chase Checking: My fun fund. This pays for all the things that make life nice, but aren’t a necessity. Gifts, clothes, entertainment, ect. There is no regular allotment of money into this account from my steady income sources. I fund this account with my “extra” money. So from tutoring in real life, tutoring online, doing surveys, selling my possessions. On a bad month only $25-50 gets put into this account. On a good month upwards of $400 can find its way into here. Since these are optional expenses in my life since I have debt, they aren’t given dedicated money. I have to EARN my fun!

So there you have it! My budget for the first part of 2010!

This will change in June when I may or may not be teaching at the community college – and probably not teaching as much.

Who Wants Tutoring!?

I thought that December would be a slow month for tutoring because the semester is ending on December 18th – so I would essentially only get 3 weeks of tutoring students instead of 4 weeks. BOY WAS I WRONG!

I tutored one girl three hours yesterday and three hours today. She only pulled out enough cash from the ATM to pay me for 5 hours, so she still owes me $20. I don’t count money that I don’t have in my hands into my total – so I received $100 from her today. (I don’t believe in counting money that is “in the mail” towards your total, because you may never get it!)

Then I tutored another girl 2.5 hours this evening – for a total of $50.

So in 24 hours I managed to get $150 in “extra” cash. Not to mention that on Thursday I’ll be subbing for another prof at the community college, so I’ll get an “extra” $100 from doing that.

I’ll most likely be tutoring all three of my tutoring clients during finals week. So I estimate I’ll get at least $100 from that (at least). I have 3 paychecks this month from the community college PLUS my sub money – so I’ll get around $780 from the community college this month.

With my other month from tutoring online (~$30 for December) and surveys (have a $3 check headed my way!) – I think it is completely feasible that my “extra” income this month could top $1000! Holy crap! That’s a ton of money! I’m setting my December goal to be $1,000 of extra income. (Normally I set this at $600). It’s like the universe KNEW that I needed some extra money to go home for Christmas. =D

November Round-Up

I wanted to give a quick post highlighting some of the financial goals I accomplished in November:

  • I paid off $1,227 worth of debt on my credit card. $1,000 is my “normal” payment, which means I snowballed $227 IN ADDITION to my normal payment this month. This includes my $14/week that I’m “stealing” from myself, as well as left over cash in my bills account and “free money” account at the ends of the month. With the $117 that I put on my student loan, I payed $1,344 towards debt this month – or 53% of my after tax take home salary.
  • I earned $732 in extra income this month. My goal for the month was $600, so I’m stoked! I am also tutoring tonight, but I’ll count this towards December’s total since I won’t get as many tutoring opportunities next month. I get this extra income from teaching a class at the local community college, tutoring online at, tutoring in real life, doing surveys, and clicking on ads at
  • I increased my Networth +11.62%. My networth went from -$13,360 on October 31st, to -$11,807 as of today! An increase of $1,553.

October Goals – A Review

Here is how I did on my goals for October:

  • Get reimbursed for trip to ChicagoCHECK! Submitted my papers quickly, got the money, and it has already been put back into my E-fund or on my credit card as appropriate.
  • Write another research aim for my future careerFail. I didn’t work any further on my research aims. Though I suppose I still have today to get that done. I have THOUGHT a lot about it – and verbalized it to one of my friends who thought my idea was great – but I haven’t written it down.
  • Start doing some exercise I enjoy – I went running 6 times this month – which is better than the previous 4 months combined. However, I still wouldn’t call this a “plan” – so I’m calling this goal a “Fail
  • Cancel my cable already!CHECK! I dropped off my cable box on Friday morning. I am now without internet and cable at home. I decided that my extra money from substitute teaching last Monday will go towards the installation fee to get AT&T U-verse internet.
  • Earn $600 of income outside of my “normal” jobWAY CHECK! I got $711 total of extra income this month outside of my “normal” job.
  • Stay current on Adjunct gradingCHECK! I even gave the students a sheet that had their overall grade in the class before their exam last week so they could see how they were doing.
  • Keep up Apartment TherapyFAIL! I had to return the book to the library so I’m waiting to get it back before I continue with this. I feel bad because my apartment is falling into disarray – so next month I may make a goal just to keep my apartment CLEAN!

A Budget – for November

So, my money has already been dispersed and is being used up for October (oh the “benefits” of getting paid once a month), but I sat down and finally put together a budget that I’m happy with to implement starting November. It is one that I can live within, pay my debt, and still have spending money – a feat I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve! I will probably adopt a similar, modified version of it for the remainder of October. But for now, this is what I have:

I’ve color-coded the entire thing so that you can see which account each expense will come from. Essentially the only reason I have the Chase account is to deposit my tutoring checks I receive. Otherwise I use BofA to pay bills (no ATMs in my state) and ING for regular expenses (because there are no overdraft fees). Also, I should note that my “main job” income is the sum of the amounts in the BofA account, Chase account, ING checking and ING savings – these values just represent how I plan to allocate the money among these 4 accounts through my direct deposit at work.

Things to note about this current budget:

Monthly Savings

In addition to saving $100 per month towards my Emergency Fund I’m also creating a basic savings account for non-emergency expenses. These include yearly expenses (car registration, Christmas, ect) and things like unexpected medical expenses (to avoid what happened last month with my Urinary Tract infection which “stole” so much of my money and wasn’t budgeted for.

In graduate school I would have had separate envelopes for each of these expenses and simply put the physical “$20” or “$10” in the appropriate envelope. While this worked in theory, it took at least a year for each envelope to get fully funded and often when the expense came around I had the account only half funded. So I ended up still having to absorb a lot of the cost in my monthly discretionary money – which defeated the whole point of the envelope system.

So rather than using an envelope system, I’m setting up one yearly account where everything will get “lump summed” and $140 deposited monthly into it. Then if any expense arises that needs the funds (like my ACS renewal for instance) – I can pull up to $5 x 12 (or $60) out of the account to pay for this expense. Essentially “borrowing” from the other funds knowing that I’ll still be contributing to the ACS fund each month and thus returning the money to the other funds that got borrowed from.

I think this will be a “clever” way to avoid the sticker shock of yearly expenses like vet fees and car registration, without having to save up for an entire year to get the full benefit from it. Can you guys think of any other yearly expenses that I might be forgetting or numbers that I might want to adjust (though keep in mind I need to stay at $140 total).

Discretionary Spending

First I just wanted to note that it was completely intentional that my money from the community college will go to pay for my discretionary spending in the month (food, toilettries, ect). This is because of how the paydays are scheduled. I’ll get to start out the month with the first $196 from my primary job paycheck. Then the next week I’ll get a deposit of $226 from the community college and then two weeks later another $226 paycheck. So at no point during the month should I be thinking “Well crap, I’m poor for the rest of the month” – because it shouldn’t be more than two weeks before I get more spending money.

For instance, in November, I’ll get my first paycheck on October 31st, then the second on November 6th, then the third on November 20th. It is a very nice way to spread out the spending money so I don’t “accidentally” spend in all in one week or anything.

Currently there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in the budget. I have allocated $80 to transportation, $180 to care for Jack, $45 to dog food, $40 to toilettries, and $300 for food. And that maxs out my budget, there is a $3 difference between what I’ve budgeted and what I make in regular income. So there isn’t room for gifts, clothes, or random expenses like that. Hopefully most of that will be mitigated by the monthly savings program. However, I would like to have a LITTLE more wiggle room – of at least $100. And this is where the tutoring money comes in.

You may have noticed that I haven’t included it in my budget – neither my income or my “real life” tutoring. And the simple reason for this is that I can’t budget what I don’t know I’ll be making. So I’m assigning absolutely no purpose to how I spend this money. I can use it as my “free money” to pay for entertainment, clothes, gifts, whatever I see fit. Last month I made $235 from both of my avenues of tutoring, so it isn’t like I’m skimping on anything. Regularly I can expect to make at least $40/week from tutoring during the school year, so this is more than enough to use as my “fun money” for the month.

Other Minor Points

Just some other things of note: 1) this budget assumes that I have cancelled my cable TV; 2) this budget assumes that I don’t go over my minutes on my cell phone (hasn’t happened in 2 years); 3) this budget assumes that I stick with a $10/day budget – which I think will be completely reasonable; 4) this budget assumes that I’ll be teaching at the community college, which will hopefully also be the case in the Spring – but will not hold up in the Summer when tutoring will die down and my chance of teaching will be practically zero.

Any Comments?

Have I left anything out? Are there any glaring problems that you can see? I obviously still have time to iron out some kinks before payday comes around, so I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Mid-Month Review

Since it is September 15th, I thought I’d look back at the first half of the month and see what progress I’ve made and what I can change for the second half.

Here are my goals:

¤ Start a running program. FAIL! I have however been walking more, which is a start. But two miles a day of walking does not a 5K run make… I have two weeks to get this running started!

¤ Make $200 in the Earn More Challenge. So-Far-So-Good. I set up my Etsy shop, but haven’t added my crochet projects to it. I’ve gotten myself two independent tutorees, so that’s an extra $40/week. Because of my UTI, I haven’t gone to donate plasma – I want to wait until I’m infection free. I looked up yesterday how much the pants I want to sell are worth, and it looks like I’ll be able to sell them on eBay for about $15-20 each (NICE!) – so I’ll either take them down to consignment or list them on eBay this weekend – I’ll worry about the rest of my clothes when I get to that week in Apartment Therapy. I’ve picked up all the change I’ve found on the street and have been putting it into a bowl in my bathroom, but I haven’t counted it recently. I’ve completed quite a few surveys, and am one away from cashing out for $10 on one site. So I’m doing pretty well in the Challenge, but of course I could always be doing better. I think I’ll probably end up with close to $350 when this month is over of extra income, which is pretty damn spiffy!

¤ Cancel my cable. FAIL! I have yet to do this. My billing cycle ends October 4th, so it needs to be done before then.

¤ Apartment Therapy. CHECK! I’ve just started Week 3. I can feel my go-gettin’ feeling getting a little weak, so I need to recharge myself for the next few weeks to come.

¤ Identify Research Ideas. CHECK! I’ve written a 3-page document so far. It is COMPLETE CRAP, but my goal was just to get something written. Also, it gives me something to do at work when I’m having a 30-60 minute down time. Thus, it has also helped me from going crazy at work. =D

¤ Stay Current on Adjunct Grading. CHECK! I’ve been up-to-date thus far and plan on remaining current for the rest of the semester.

¤ Make sure that my paycheck is straightened out. CHECK! The paycheck has been straintened out and I now know what my salary will be for the remainder of the year.

So that is how things are going so far, I’ve made some pretty significant progress on my goals. However one thing I completely failed in (thus far) was staying in budget. Hopefully the second half of the month I’ll be much more diligent on keeping my spending in control. A lack of mini-vacations over the weekends and no more doctor co-pays should help with that! =D

September Goals

It is that time of the month… time to make some goals and hopefully keep them!

¤ Start a running program. Mr. Cousin and I have decided to run a 5K together in November. Since I can barely run 1 mile right now, I need to get my fat ass in gear.

¤ Make $200 in the Earn More Challenge. I put $800 on my credit card already, and I want to get to $1,000 this month. This includes getting out my tutoring fliers, setting up my Etsy shop and getting my clothes and books together to be sold!

¤ Cancel my cable. I need the money for better things. I’m researching internet options if I’ll also need to cancel that. For now it seems that getting my 2 hours of free internet per day from Starbucks isn’t a horrid idea, especially in combination with leeching from my neighbors and getting it at work. I hate not having a dedicated internet connection at home, but I’m afraid until my debt is paid off that these are the sacrifices I must make. (Note: If I can get internet for $25/month or less, I will keep it. Anything more and I won’t. See, this is me Value Shopping)

¤ Apartment Therapy. So far I’m really enjoying my apartment therapy. Even through just Week 1, I’m enjoying the results (who new that rearranging my living room and vacuuming my carpets would have such a positive effect?) In conjuction with getting rid of the cable and internet I should have a lot more time at home to accomplish the next four weeks of therapy this month.

¤ Identify Research Ideas. Like I mentioned before, I need to start working on my career now. My goal for this month is to roughly plan one project for my independent career. Even if at the end of the month I realize it is bad, at least I’ll have gone through the trouble of trying to flesh it out. Let’s make this more concrete: Have a 2 page research document on one potential, future project by the end of the month.

¤ Stay Current on Adjunct Grading. I know me, and I hate grading. So my goal is to make sure that I have grades back to my students within one week of them turning in assignments. That can’t be TOO hard, can it?

¤ Make sure that my paycheck is straightened out. I don’t think that needs to much explaination, but some info about this is in this post.