I am very happy because this week I have hit two milestones. My retirement savings have finally hit the $200K mark (between my two accounts). And I finally have over $2000 in my online savings account. Yes, I still have debt but there is something comforting about looking at that number and seeing it again. It’s been a long time.
I used to think that you needed to save $1,000,000 if you were going to be able to retire comfortably. Of course, I used to think I needed the house, white picket fence, 2 cars and a garage to be happy. My, how times (and perspectives) have changed!! It’s comforting to know now how much less I can survive on and still feel happy.
To many of you, that may not sound like a lot to have saved in my basic savings accounts. Some folks try to save $2K per month. But in the grand scheme of things and relative to my very low income of about $24K per year (not counting the transcribing I’ve been lucky to get thanks to my friend Elaine), it feels good. I’m saving 7% pre-tax and about 13% post tax to fund various savings accounts (or sinking funds, as some like to call them.)
And I’m almost up to $1K in my tiny house fund. Yes, I have a long way to go. But as my friend Dan says, I’m determined, and he knows there’s no stopping me when I set my mind to something.
Now that I’ve set my mind to something, I see opportunities opening up to me. I was offered the chance to make some overtime at work, at another animal hospital that is undergoing some staffing shortages and I’ve taken them up on three extra shifts. Overtime, baby! And a co-worker of mine was scheduled to work Christmas morning and she has a three year old kid. I offered to work her 6:30-12:30 shift. It’s a win for both of us. She gets to spend the holiday with her kid and I get paid 2.5 times my regular rate. And the more my paycheck is worth, the more goes into my 401(k) for that paycheck because my contribution is based on a percentage, not a set dollar amount.
Last night, on my way home from work, I passed two people pushing their shopping carts full of their only belongings. It makes me very sad to see so much of that in this city.
It makes me even more determined to not let that happen to me. I might not want to work the next two weeks in a row without a day off, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices, and like I said in an earlier post, sometimes you just have to say to yourself, “whatever it takes.”
What kind of milestones are you reaching for? What kind of milestones have you reached already that have made you feel awesome and even more motivated??
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I’ve started getting a daily email from Mrs. Frugalwoods of the Frugalwoods blog. She has what she calls an Uber Frugal Month Spending Challenge. I admit, I’ve not been completely successful in it. But I do like the daily emails and things that they make me think about. An email from the other day suggested this assignment, and I thought it might be a good time to talk about it, seeing as we just survived Black Friday and today is Cyber Monday.
Write down all the reasons why you spend money and reflect on whether they’re valid or not.
So, here goes nothing. I spend money on pet food and food for myself, gas for my car, groceries, utility bills such as gas, electric, and internet. I spend money on things like car and renter’s insurance. I bought myself an annual membership to the ABQ BioPark, Aquarium and Zoo. (After going four times in a year, it starts to pay itself back and yes, I do go often.) I recently paid $150 plus tax for new Hoka One One sneakers. It might sound like a lot for running shoes, but if you’ve been or are a runner, you know that good quality shoes are a MUST. (I’ve spent enough money on physical therapy over the years, thank you.) And finally, yes, occasionally, I do spend it on a book or two if my library doesn’t have it and I think it is something I might want to mark up in the margins or to highlight. Or if it’s for school.
For example, the other day I bought the book Tiny House Decisions by Ethan Waldman. I bought just The Guide because I’m sure I’ve seen or heard some of the interviews already or at least parts of them, possibly conducted by others, since I’ve been watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts for years now (long before it became “the thing to do.”) I also paid an extra $4 to get the workbook because I know myself. I might make decisions and end up writing them in various places, which really isn’t helpful when it comes time to do the actual work of building or buying a tiny home.
Do I think these are valid reasons to spend money? Yes. I love Cait’s blog, and her podcast, and I want to support her as an author because I believe in her and I want to repay her back for all the helpful advice I’ve gleaned from her writing and her thoughts on the Budgets and Cents podcast. I have made up my mind that in some way, shape or manner, I AM going to have my own tiny house or abode someday and yes, there are a ton of decisions that will need to be made along the way. In my mind, buying Ethan’s guide and Cait’s book is a way of keeping that dream alive, that one small step I could take each day. You have to find inspiration every day.
I’ve begun to also think of spending in a different way, that of saving. I’ve set up a Tiny Home Fund, as I mentioned in another post. I worked on Thanksgiving so the extra money I made from working then (getting paid 2.5 my regular hourly rate) will be “spent” into the Tiny Home Fund. I’m currently doing some transcription work for my friend Elaine. The money I earn from that will also be “spent” into the Tiny Home Fund. Any little bit of money I can save from what I normally spend per month will be “spent” into that Tiny Home Fund.
I’ve begun figuring out how much more money I can “spend” into my retirement savings. I don’t want to work forever – I don’t know anyone who does. The more I put into my 401(k) from each paycheck, the lower amount that Uncle Sam gets to tax me on from my paycheck which is already small enough. I work my butt off for it and I’d like to keep as much of it as I can for my future.
I also “spend” my money into my savings for another reason. There are so, so many homeless people in Albuquerque. So, so many people panhandling on the street corners. It reminds me of my phobia of being homeless. And it spurs me on to save as much as I can. I know that not much separates me from them – what happens if I lose my job? How long could I go on with what I have saved?
I spend my money on necessities. I have to eat, and so do my pets. I have to have my car to get to work so I keep it in as good a shape as I can. Any clothes I do buy are second hand, and even then they are few and far in between. I need to pay for the utilities so I can keep the lights on and the hot water coming out of the faucet to wash dishes. I recently bought cat trees for my cats so that they would be happy in the house, and because they had gotten sick so many times on the one I had had for two years, it was gross, despite being cleaned up several times. They purr on it and love sitting on its ledges in the sun near the window. To me, that $80 some odd dollars I spent on both trees was well worth it to see them happy. After all, they are my kids.
Yes, occasionally, I do spend money on something like fries from McDonalds when I have had a crappy day at work, but those events are becoming fewer and farther in between because I’ve started to ask myself – are these fries really worth the extra time it will cause you to work between now and getting that Tiny House? And 99 times out of 100, the answer is NO! Plus, I try to remind myself of how crappy it sometimes makes me feel afterward.
So there you have it – I hope that this post will help you to reflect a bit before you hit that “Add to cart” button today on Cyber Monday. Do you REALLY need what you are about to buy, or will it really benefit that person you are about to buy it for? Do you already have something at home that can work just as well, or could you gift an experience to your family or friend member instead?
What kinds of things do you spend your money on and do you think your reasons are valid? Why or why not? Please drop me a comment below or hit the like button if you’ve liked this post, and as always, THANKS FOR READING!
Wow. I had my surgery one week ago today. I remember waking up in the recovery room and being like “yep, this is what I remember the pain to be from the last time.” They gave me one of those handheld control things where you can click on the button to give yourself a dose of pain medication when you want it. Seeing as I was in pain, every time it lit up, I pressed it. Later on, they told me “we couldn’t believe how much morphine you gave yourself. How are you awake right now?” and the best line from one of the nurses (and I think she was serious) was “do you do street drugs?” (I think my answer was obvious when it was clear I had no idea what she was asking. I was like “um, I’m a runner?!” once another nurse clarified the question for me. I admit, I was a bit insulted. It was taking everything I had to just stay awake and answer her questions, and now she’s insulting me for it? I got the impression she was very bothered at having to take care of me. (Luckily she was only there for one shift, of which most of it, I slept, due to the effects of the aforesaid morphine.) Everyone else was much nicer.
After a week of percocet (yay, I love percocet, and no, it doesn’t bother my stomach at all, as many people have asked), and ibuprofen, I’m almost out of the percocet but definitely feeling more like myself. I want to get out there and run and I look at the runners around the reservoir with envy, but i know i have to take it easy. Not walking up stairs seems to be key. When I do, it seems like my incision tightens up or something, and I’m reminded “um, you just had surgery last week, you know.” Anywho, it does appear that the swelling in my stomach is starting to go down. I’m still hoping for that flat tummy, and I will have it, only a matter of time. (Yes, I am determined.) I am utterly convinced that my being in shape BEFORE the surgery is totally helping with my recovery AFTER the surgery. As long as I don’t sneeze (as I did the other day and burst a blood vessel in my leg, wow, that hurt!) or laugh too much, the healing will continue.
My mom has been visiting since last Thursday and has been a huge help. She gets bored just sitting around so she already cleaned my entire kitchen so it looks like it’s completely brand new, much better than I could have done. Makes me inspired to look inside my fridge now – it’s super clean and organized! Of course, having my furballs around me 24/7 is also a huge help on my mental outlook. It’s going to be so hard to go back to work when my healing time is over!
This week I will attend a training session so I can start doing independent contract work as a bar essay review grader – basically what it means is that people who are studying for the bar can do practice essays to prepare for the real thing. Then I get to grade them, and I get paid for my work. I passed the bar in three states, so these three I will start with (and was glad to see they are some of the more high paying states) and then I will see if I have time to do grading for other states. Just have to get myself certified for each state in which I want to grade. Looking forward to making some extra cash and putting it toward my savings. Granted, a lot of the work for that won’t start to hit until after the middle of May when bar review actually starts, but by then, I”l be done with classes (by next week actually!) and then I’ll still be off work. Since I don’t plan on taking more than one class this summer (medical terminology), I figure I can use the time wisely. That and to sell off stuff I don’t use anymore, or donate.
My stress level has definitely gone down since last week or the last day of work, about ten days ago. I’ve been able to get caught up on schoolwork, and even finish everything for one class, although admittedly, the workload for that class was negligible. I think it’s being home so much with my animals who have such a calming influence has something to do with it. I wish I could always spend this much time with them! I’ve also been able to watch a lot of youtube videos of financial vloggers and am getting inspired at their progress at paying off debt and also saving at the same time. I’m an information junkie and admit it, I’m always ready to learn about new things, tips or tricks, and especially when it comes to finances and animals. I’ll add links to some of their channels on this blog in case you are curious.
I’m putting together ideas for more posts on this blog – since I have the time, I’d like to be more productive with it, and also use it to discuss causes and topics that really mean a lot to me.
One other thing I did – as you can see below, I’ve been collecting change for a bit of time now. Added it up and had $36.31 in total, so tonight my mom and I rolled coins together. I put everything that’s rolled up in my little fire-proof safe. And from now on, I’m going to be more vigilant about picking up change I see – in just the past two days, I found 26 cents! (Hey, mock if you will, but every little bit does add up eventually. There are even blogs out there of people who update their tally every day of found change.)
Four years ago, I paid out about $3K per month and that was before I had eaten. How, you ask? Well, $1250 for rent, $900 for my half of a mortgage payment, and $900 in student loan payments. Yep, that’s a whole lot of cash going out the door. It left me with about $500 for the month, and that was to cover food, utilities (I mean, CABLE was a must!!), car repairs, etc. Not to mention that I was also fighting through the stages of unmedicated clinical depression, and add in the turmoil of a marital split after 11 years together, and you don’t get a frugal person. You get someone who doesn’t want to sit home because then that forces you to sit with your thoughts. And who wants to do that when all you feel is guilt, a heavy heart and lots and lots of self doubt? No, you want to go out and shop. Read more →
My guys above are invaluable in helping me to keep my spirits up. It always amazes me how they can find such amusement in something so simple as a box. 🙂 “Oh boy, it’s a box!”
I mentioned last week that I would talk about how I keep from letting myself feel down about my debt. I try to not think about it in overall, total sums, but rather what I can work on at the moment. This does not mean I am in denial, by any means, but as my grandmother used to say when I would stress out about my debt or other matters, that I shouldn’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Or, I guess in this case, not turn a 20,000 foot tall molehill into Mt. Everest. As weather such as wind and rain gradually wear away at such massive structures as mountains or the Grand Canyon, so will I do so with making extra payments over time. (I just thought of that analogy, what do you think of it?) Read more →
This is a question I’ve been grappling with lately. Don’t ask me why – I’m not sure exactly what got me started on this. Maybe it was finding a few youtube videos by this guy, the MainePrepper, and realizing he’s not a complete nutbag who thinks that his views are the only possible views out there in the world, or maybe because I am the granddaughter of someone who lived through the Great Depression, and always had her “reserve” cabinet of food in her house, even in the early 2000s.
I definitely want to get rid of extra stuff in my life. But I also want to be prepared for emergencies or disasters, too. Thing is, my $ sources are not unlimited, and my space is somewhat limited too, living in an apartment. And my plan is to live in a small home/rv/manufactured home, etc., so it’s not like that space is going to get any bigger from what I have now… Read more →