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queen's ears

Baby steps are all I got, but I'll take it.

Posted on Jan 2, 2014 at 12:26 am
Location: home
Mood: 3
Listening to: Loreena McKennitt
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
So I'm on a two week vacation from work and its going OK. Managed to not get sick. Other things happened, will relate those on the next Monday night shift when I'm undoubtedly dying of boredom.

Whatever it says about me, the exciting, immediate reflections and changes for New Years are financial. But ... at least I learned *something* during my now 2.5 year long interregnum (and counting). My creative processes stalled out almost completely, but now I know about things like budgets and escrow tricks and how to not blow a windfall month on fabric and shiny things. And I typically do 'the books' around this time of the month anyway. Just this time I get to look back on all the months and see what worked worked out.

The biggest milestone would be that I finally spent less than I earned (not by much, but I'll take it) over the course of a year. Yay! Some months were not awesome, but I still made it.

In building a new spreadsheet for this year, I learned how tabs work, and how to color in cells. I'm a happier nerd for it. And I reorganized my spread sheets to be a bit more clear and condensed. With colors. Yay, colors.


At the beginning of the year I decided to try and save up $10K in cash in my Emergency account. That plan was soon abandoned after number crunching, but I still contributed regularly and having that account saved my butt a few times.

However, if combined with my Roth IRA I have $11K in savings. Just not liquid. *shrugs* And my net worth (which I'd been doing wrong for years) went up by $13.5K since 1/1/13, so that's fun too.

At the rate I'm going, assuming nothing terrible happens, I should have all my loans paid off in less than 8 years in September 2021. Including my mortgage. A couple months ago I calculated that I could have them paid in four-ish years, but only if I stopped doing or buying anything fun for that time, including cons. And, um, no.

I once saw a finance blogger write about working with this ratio for his $$:
50% Needs + 30% Wants + 20% Savings
I seem to be more like
69% Needs + 16% Wants + 15% Savings
I don't feel so bad about that. Especially since food counts as a need, and sometimes I still have fun with that. However, there were some confusing bits in my old $$ tracking system, hopefully fixed for this year. And now I feel less guilty about spending all that $$ on perfume, lol.

Zero-sum budgeting worked for me, and I figured out how to make it make more sense on my spreadsheet system, so Ima keep doing that. Its where you "spend" all your income by the end of the month (tho in my case, some of that is actually savings) so you end up back at zero. Every dollar is accounted for.

Necessary Spending

I'm better at grocery budgeting, but still not awesome. The fancy foodie stores need to be avoided at all costs. But I will probably get the Executive card at CostCo for the 2% cash back, b/c this year I would have gotten back a whopping $14 after the price of the card. But I only started shopping more exclusively at CC in the autumn, and as appliances start to fail I'll probably go there for new stuff, so its probably still a good idea. Tho I'm not sure if my shopping cart will be able to survive more monthly trips to CC, bulk goods are bulky.

Too bad I have all the food sensitivities, if I could eat wheat without turning into a zombie I could cut my grocery bills in half, at least. Meh.

And no, I'm not getting an extra freezer. I just need to *pay attention* to what's in my regular freezer. That was a not-good idea.

Last year I was counting my "Geek Escrow" accounts for cons as part of my savings on the budget sheet, and for this year realized that was really dumb. I'm basically saving it for the purpose of spending it, unlike my Roth IRA or Emergency fund. So now its in extras-spending, and I keep track of con expenses in their own spreadsheets, unless I go over budget. I'm hoping it keeps cons and trips from skewing my monthly budgets all over the place, sho annoying.

I also got to see what a year of electricity bills looks like (until last year it was included in maintenance, but now we have individual meters), so now I'm going to have an escrow-savings account for that too. So I put in the same amount for electricity every month, so when its summer I'll have extra in the accounts to pay the bills without skewing my budget (hopefully).

Over the last year I only spent about 6% of my income on utilities. Not including co-op maintenance. So I guess I've cut back on some things pretty well? It probably helps that I never had cable in the first place, but now I feel less guilty about not finding a just-internet-no-phone provider.

Between mortgage and maintenance, I spend about 37% of my $$ on housing, 43% if I include utilities. I think that's about normal for someone in NYC? We pay more for housing than the average American, but we don't have to pay for a car on top of that.

Last year I had the option to keep paying into my Roth IRA for 2012 until April 2013, and didn't use it. I will this year, just in case. And I'll keep putting most of my extra paychecks and IRS refunds into the IRA, that worked well last year.

"Extras" Spending

Still not sure if trips/cons are good for my health. But I won't know for sure unless I try to go to a few more. Its annoying that there are things I'd like to do (cons, creative work, extra revenue streams, etc) that *will* get roadblocked by the health problems if I try to get it going. So "health" will have to stay my primary focus until I figure it out. Well, next to my job, and staying financially healthy which seems somehow less difficult :-P. And I've decided to stop feeling guilty about that.

That said, the Sewing Sirens have started to sing again. But I'm putting a moratorium on fabric shopping until I get a few other things finished. But I'm not really sure I want to work on sewing for a while longer. And there's a costume project I wanted to do for DCon. I'll look thru what I have, and see if things can be re-purposed for the Big Project, which I wouldn't have to start sewing until June. Fill in gaps with my Joann's gift certificate, and maybe do some thrift-store-hopping for it instead of buying uncut fabric.

Its pretty much a given that I'm not buying any jewelry supplies any time soon. I'm not cashing out either, but I'm not going to feel guilty about not working on it for now. *If* I get healthier, *then* I'll decide whether I want to cash out or not. And if I do I'll have the energy to resell my materials on Etsy and make back my investment (nope, no free giveaways of supplies, kthnx).

After cutting back on beads & fabric, my extras $$ mostly seems to go towards BPAL or the occasional Tee Fury or BPTP shirt. I think I can keep doing that without going too crazy. And it helps that I'm actively curating my perfume collection, b/c I have little else to do with my time.

I don't really want any more big *stuff*. I have a tiny apartment that I've been purging clutter from since I moved in. And I'm almost out of wall space for artwork. That's definitely helped me stop shopping. Am also too tired to shop in actual stores, which helps too. I'm using my body-demons to other advantages. Yay?

I've considered getting an e-reader for space/clutter reasons, but I don't like how the online store can just botch your account, and you lose all of the books you've bought and get no refund or reparation. Also, I have a (dangerously, ow) full to-read bookshelf. Even if I decided to get one, I'm not allowed until I lighten up that damn shelf. Also annoyed, b/c a blogger once predicted that at that present rate of decline in e-reader prices stores would eventually give them away for free, or free-with-first-purchase. This has not come to pass :-P And I like scribbling jewelry ideas in the margins, but obv that hasn't been an issue in the last 2.5 year.

My only real New Years Resolution is to watch more Classic Doctor Who, so Ima keep my Netflix subscription, including the disks for now. Will probably keep picking up BFA cds, but I may copy them to my hard drive and then resell the disks on Ebay. B/c clutter is annoying, and the Tomorrow People audio dramas are f'ing expensive. Also... I can play things off my hard drive on my bluray player, and thus on my actual tv. That's nice. Tho I can also stream netflix from my wireless router, or I *could* until it stopped working six months ago. I need to get that looked at. Whups.

Those are my thinky thoughts today. Maybe not as grand as some others on New Years Day, but finances are the only thing I've really learned to be better at this year. I think I'm OK with continuing on that track, it may be the only positive-feedback loop I have going these days.

<3 Chrysilla

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, http://chrysilla.dreamwidth.org/

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