Let’s Talk Money, Shall We?

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Don’t you just wish money really DID grow on trees?  (Image from pixabay.com)

And why am I bringing this up?  Well, I looked to see what the stats were on some of my blog posts over the years, and lo and behold, it seems like the ones where I talk about money or some other personal finance topic, tend to get the most views.  Is it because we have this voyeuristic impulse to find out what others are doing when it comes to money?  Do we think someone else has the secret key to unlocking all the answers to the problems we’ve experienced or hesitations we feel about money?

I know I’m always willing to talk about money and I’m fine with discussing some of my details on here.  But I know people who would rather have hot lava poured onto them than to do so.  Hell, I’m even related to some people like that.  They’ve just never felt comfortable discussing it, and I think it’s partly in the way that they were brought up.  That’s okay, I won’t judge them and I know they don’t judge me.

I was brought up by a single mom that was pretty open when it came to money.  We didn’t have a lot of it, and we didn’t pretend we did.  In fact, I remember ducking down to the floor of the car on several occasions as I was mortified to have anyone I knew possibly drive by and see my car pulled over to the curb so my mom could check out what someone else was getting rid of.   Nowadays, I think doing that is cool, because you never know what you might find! As they say, one woman’s trash is another woman’s  treasure….

So here’s some numbers from me.  When I was a librarian, living in a big city, I made over $84K/year.  These days, I live in another city but make roughly $24K per year, not counting my freelance work. Back in Boston, I paid $1100 in rent for a studio.  Here, my roomie and I split $550/month for a one bedroom apartment with a fenced in yard and half of a two car garage.  Oh, and I am saving 7% of my meager salary into a 401(k) and $100/paycheck divided among a few accounts.

Here’s a look at my average monthly expenses, with a disclaimer that our gas bill will definitely be higher this month due to heating costs, and our last electric bill was around $140 since we erroneously thought using two space heaters would be cheaper than paying for heat via the furnace. D’oh!

Rent = $550 (split by two) so $275
Electric = $33 (split by two), so $16.50
Gas (household) = $27 (split by two), so $13.50
Private student loan = 162.11
Car loan = $141.42
Internet = $47.23 (but my roommate is paying for all of it via his going back to school through the GI Bill), so $0 for me after reimbursement
Gas (auto) = $50 (only tend to gas up 2-3 times/month)
Food = $200 – ish (this has definitely fluctuated)
Entertainment (eating out, etc., and yes, it includes coloring books and materials) = $40
Car Insurance = $60
Renter’s Insurance = $20
Savings for Travel = $50
Savings for Emergency Fund = $70
Two Credit Cards = $120
Cell Phone (Cricket Wireless) =  $35

TOTAL = $1253.53

Take Home Pay for One Month (we get paid bi-weekly) = $1356.78 (after taxes, 401(k) and insurance deductions)

Full disclosure:  These expense numbers don’t include my vet bill at work which is about $1200 at this time because I plan on paying it off I get my student loan money for the semester.  My work charges 18% interest (ridiculous since we work there), and the student loan will be at 6%.  I will also use some of the excess to pay off the credit cards, because again, the interest rate is much lower.  Then I’ll pay the accruing interest on the student loan and not use the credit cards.  Into the freezer they will go!

Looking at the nunbers, you will notice that there is a bit of wiggle room.  That wiggle room will help me when it comes time to pay our heat bill.  And when it’s not working to pay bills, into the savings it goes!  And two months per year, we get that bonus third paycheck which I will use to pay down debt (or go into the tiny home/condo fund.)  Editor’s note — oh wait!! I forgot my pet food expenses!!   They barely have me breaking even!!  Yep, not so much wiggle room left over.  So that tells me that I need to keep a better handle on where my money is going.  I’ve started writing in my planner at night what I spent during the day. 

In case  you are wondering, my other federal loans are currently in deferment while I’m in the master’s program and when I start paying on them again, it’ll be at the IBR (Income Based Repayment) rate, since I know I will never be able to pay them completely off unless I were to go back to my same job at Harvard as I had in 2015.  Yes, I will end up paying them for 25 more years, but the amount of my monthly payment will vary depending on my income, and at the end of that time period, the amount unpaid will be written off.

WARNING — SIDE TANGENT:  Some of you might get upset at the idea of my loans eventually being written off.  But here’s the thing.  I have paid back those federal loans’ principal balance AND THEN SOME over the past two or so years.  I really have.  And the balance has barely moved.  Paying again for the next twenty five or so years – trust me — they WILL get THOUSANDS more out of me before then! So, in my mind, I will have paid and paid and paid them some more when it’s all over and done.  I just don’t want to be paying and receiving social security at the same time.  (Of course, assuming social security still exists by the time I get to that ripe old age.)

OKAY, SIDE TANGENT/RANT OVER.

My roommate is in the process of paying me back for a few months over the past year when I was carrying the expenses for both of us. So, as he pays me, I’m paying off my debts or putting the money into savings where/when I can.  (And no, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that amount on here because it’s a debt of someone else’s, not mine.  I don’t think he’d be comfortable with my sharing that.)

My roomie and I live pretty frugally.  Mainly our entertainment is watching movies/YouTube videos or taking the dogs for walks in the Bosque, and in my case, reading and coloring. And writing here (and soon, again, for school), or in my journal or elsewhere.  Things that don’t cost much in terms of money.

I wish I had known when I made so much more money, what I know now.  I speak for a lot of us when I say that, don’t I? 

I can’t beat myself up for the money mistakes I’ve made.  All I can do is learn from them,  listen to my heart and follow my priorities.  I share my mistakes and financial numbers on this blog so that hopefully they can help someone else in some way.  Maybe you’ll feel better about your salary when you see how low mine is.  Maybe it will help you to see areas where you can cut out expenses you really don’t need.

Or, maybe you will feel sorry for me or disgusted at the thought that I could have thrown away such a good paying job.  I hope that last sentence isn’t the case.  I don’t want pity.  And if you are disgusted by it, maybe take a look inward and try to figure out why you are having that reaction.  My experience as a librarian at Harvard Law will always have value for me in so many ways.  I just no longer felt that it and Boston were right for me. (And seeing the winter blizzard and freezing cold that they have right now, well, I just shudder at the thought of experiencing that again!)

This post has been a lot longer than some others, so if you’ve stuck with me to the end, thanks for reading.  Please feel free to hit like, share, comment or even subscribe to my blog if the feeling so moves you!

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Money, Shall We?

  • I enjoyed the read an your willingness to share
    Your financial experiences. I am sure many of your readers can relate at some point or the other. I can! Especially to the wiggle room situation lolol.
    Hopefully it helps others to start financial planning early. 😃
    Blessed and prosperous future Terri.

    • Yep, financial planning, the earlier you can do it, the better. Until I was married, back in 2004, I didn’t put as much thought into it as i should. And then, getting divorced, it became really important to me to do so as I have no one else to rely on, other than myself. And yeah, that “wiggle room” is so important!!

  • When I worked for a public library I mad 13 an hour and got 20 hours a week. Even if a full time librarian job came up it wouldn’t have paid much over 30k. But I was willing to earn so little because I loved the work. When I got layed off I had to go nack to the bank. Ended up making close to 100k there but was miserable. All of this is to say it doesn’t matter the amount you make if you don’t like the work.

    • Exactly! The work I do now, honestly, the wage is not enough to live on. Most of the techs also do pet sitting in their off hours to supplement their incomes, and they make more than we do as receptionists. So that’s why I am also looking to do side work that I enjoy. Call me crazy but I do like transcribing! I learn a lot about different subjects and sometimes have some very interesting people to listen to. I’m glad you can relax now in retirement. Have you thought about volunteering with your local library now? I’m sure they would love to have someone like you!

      • I think I’ll volunteer when I’m traveling less. Wherever we end up retiring there will be a library and I’m sure I’ll be involved eventually. Right now I don’t want any ties that would keep me from taking off for the next adventure.

    • You’re welcome, Karl! I also find it kind of cathartic to share like this. Definitely a wake up call for me when I looked at the numbers!

  • Hi Terri – again ;-P
    First I want to tell you that I had tried to follow you weeks/months ago and I didn’t like the email address part because it creates too much ‘junk’ mail and I don’t use that source as a nudge to read blogs. I read blogs when I’m ready and a lot of times I read the blogs from people who comment on mine as well as those in my ‘newsfeed’? not sure what that roll of blog headings are called. BUT I did just sign up because I miss you if I don’t see you.
    Second – WOW!! theres is a lot of information here to comment on and I’ll try not to blog on this comment… a) interesting idea to see the ‘popular’ posts theme – I never thought to look to see what people are drawn to. were you planning on this post topic or did it come about because you searched your posts history? AND…I think money posts might be more ‘popular’ because money is (mostly) a non-emotional issue – everyone has a relationship with money, good or bad, so everyone can relate to numbers and it’s interesting to see ‘how’ other people ‘live’. When people write about their feelings or dreams, that narrows your audience – b) Terri, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP over your past financial mistakes. I FINALLY had it out with myself, I recently wrote 10 pages, pen & paper, small print, rehashing my anger, guilt and embarrassment about the money I have wasted and how much better off I’d be now if I’d made better choices. I wrote about why I made those choices, I wrote about the specific results of those choices, I wrote how those choices now effect me and then flipped the coin and wrote about how I am using those choices to anchor my anger and self-pity to keep me in the awful mental rut of inadequacy and scarcity. I reframed my perspective and I wrote how those choices NO LONGER effect me. I wrote until I had nothing new to say or think about those choices – it was exhausting. They are history. I let go of the anger at myself (and the silent, simmering anger at my kids – cuz that’s where the money went). It’s gone now. It’s a new day, a new phase of my life and I’ve learned – the way we all do, by making mistakes and then finding out what is best for us. ~~enough 4 now, baby crying

    • I think I might have looked to see how my posts measured up because when I read about getting into doing freelance writing, a lot of folks say to pick you “niche” and I was like, “but I like to write about a whole LOT of topics!” I asked a friend of mine if there were posts of mine that he thought might be particularly strong or what he thought might be my niche, and he was like, “I like them all!” And I responded, “you’re not helping! :-)”

      I had also been meaning (that is to say, it was in the back of my mind) to write about my financial situation. I’ve done it before and realized it was some time since the last time I had done so. So it was good timing.

      And a lot of times, an idea comes to my mind and it simmers there for a few hours or days. And I just thought, “let’s do this!” But honestly, that was the first time I had actually taken a look at how my posts measured up over the years. And I’ve had this blog for YEARS.

      And thanks for saying that I shouldn’t beat myself up. I certainly try not to.

    • I am also flattered you decided to break your rule and sign up for new posts! i know you are on wordpress, so I think there is also a way when you go into “your site” that you can also follow blogs through your “reader.”

      And you know, it’s funny. A very good friend of mine read my post and said the same thing. Money is something we can all relate to. We might have different types of debt, but it’s still debt. Or we may both be struggling to find a way to save more money, whether we make 24K or 90K.

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