So I've decided what to do about my recent stickiness:
1) Staying in my house. It's going to be a bit scary...this neighborhood isn't the greatest. When my ex moves out, so does his truck and his dog...both good deterrents. But the upsides are that I do have a monitored alarm system and once the garage is finally clear, I'll be able to park in there!
2) Not using the $20k to pay down the home equity loan. Either I need to completely get rid of that monthly payment, or just keep slowly chipping at it.
I got the first "installment" of the gift, $5k. Put in a transfer of $2k to give my ING a boost. I'll stop building it up once it hits $10k. Should take just a few more months. Once that's done, I'll stop the monthly transfer of $100.
So between that, also getting out of my work's ESP Plan, removing the ex from my health insurance, downgrading garbage, satellite TV and my gym, in a few months my income should be up about $100/mo, and expenses down around $160/mo. That should help a bit. I'm still very worried.
I have a lot that needs to get done around here. Need an electrician to install ceiling fans and install another motion detector light outside. Also, just had a landscaper out to give me an estimate on building the fence, and finishing up priming the flowerbeds...they are currently mostly clay and rock...very hard...there's no way I can dig it up myself. These things need to get done if I'm to improve the value of this house at all...right now it's just bare dirt and weeds. Also, I will feel better about living here.
Viewing the 'Budget' Category
So I've decided what to do about my recent stickiness:
Good news: I got estimates on the yard work - $150 for stump removal and $250 for the city pipe leak. $100 under budget! Fantastic! Both should be done by the time I get home today. FINALLY!
Bad news: Got a letter from the water district yesterday: I'm finally going to get metered soon. Yes, I know I've been lucky...flat rate water every 2 months, especially with a pool, a new lawn, and a boy who takes 30 minute showers. The next bill or two will show what I should expect to pay based on my current usage. I know it's going to go up, especially when I finally get some new plants in and start the drip system. *sigh*
Weekend spending: $40 in gas.
So, almost a no-spend weekend. I ended up driving my car (I actually insisted - I do need that XM entertainment while the boy dozes off during the 3 hour drive) so the first tank of gas was on me. And I might have to fill up again on the way home, but we'll split that tank, so I'll be debiting the joint checking account. I will not be counting that as income/expenses on this blog since we both put an identical, fixed amount that covers all house bills, and sometimes groceries. Also, we did end up going to the Aquarium, but my grandmother bought the $25 tickets as gifts! And I did tag along with my mom and sister while they shopped at a few high-end stores that I would normally walk out of with at least a shirt - but I abstained.
So I've been looking for new $ software. I currently use the full version of AceMoney, but after 2 years of no new features, it just isn't doing it for me anymore. I've been waiting to see what Mint.com has to offer, and exploring everything else in the meanwhile - until last night. My Bank of America credit card recently launched "My Portfolio", where I can link up all my other accounts (EVERYTHING, mortgage, loan, 401k, etc.), and see my total Net Worth - well, it doesn't take valuables and equity into account, so I'm big in the negative due to the mortgage balance. Anyway, I thought it was a 'neat trick' and moved on until I read more and started exploring the site. Wow. I can set a budget. OMG I can categorize my spending! Whoa! It's spitting out pretty graphs! This is POWERFUL! And I don't have to do any manual work at all. And to think I was about to give up and become a QuickenHead.
So I can say, with the free Aquarium tickets, and not spending when I could have, that this was a "passive saving" weekend. Not going to take credit for stuff I "could have" done, but cool all the same!
So I sat down last night and balanced my budget. That was a bit depressing.
+$3,400: Total Monthly Income.
-$1125: Split mortgage and bills.
-$405: Home equity loan.
-$100: Extra payment to Home equity loan.
-$350: Gas and car maintenance estimate (commuter).
-$150: Dining out.
-$100: Clothing allowance.
-$100: Emergency savings to ING account.
-$100: Personal care.
That leaves $892 each month. That's GREAT! That an extra payment to the home equity loan, PLUS upping my savings each month!!! Wait. Uh. I don't have $892 at the end of each month. Where is it?? Oh yes, I ignore my homemade lunch most of the time in favor of dining out with coworkers. That's right, I bought a pair of $200 shoes - to replace my staple black strappy heels. But two weeks later I found a pair super cute Coach peep-toe pumps at Nordstrom Rack that I just HAD to have as they're classic...$119 down from $300. That was like SAVING money! Right?
Goodness. I am NOT this retarded. Seriously. I have faithfully categorized and recorded every purchase I have made for the last 2 years. I know exactly how much I've spent on clothing. I know what my monthly average is for dining out. I am aware of my tendancy to not shop for 4 months straight, then impulse-buy a $300 coat. But I excuse myself constantly. "That was an anomaly!", "Oh, that month I travelled a lot", etc.
My situation...I'm 27, female. I own a house in Northern CA. My boyfriend lives with me (hence the split mortgage and house bills). Besides that, finances are completely separate.
I have a 401k through work - which is good...but I don't have anything to compare it to; what SHOULD I have in there? What's normal for someone who's been employed for 5-6 years? Also, my e*trade account - which I'm shamefully ignoring as the only stock I have is company stock and it's been faltering for the last 6 months. But where do I start?
So I'm here. Hoping that being accountable to a community of sorts will help me along. Give me that obsession! Because I don't have anyone in the real world other than myself. And apparently, I'm sucking at it.