Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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Getting somewhere with personal finance

Anonymous wrote:

I think that this blog has become a spending blog. Seems all you do now is buy stuff – clothes, boots, cellphones… and look for more things to buy…

Yes you are out of debt, but you still don’t really seem to be getting anywhere?

Like someone else said, you can rationalize anything…

Just food for thought ok?

Agreed. I’ve been talking about buying things a lot lately. And do you want to know why? Because talking about saving money can get boring. My savings is on automation right now. Everything just gets deducted from my account on pay day. I could talk about the $400-500/month I put away for retirement, or the amount that I put into my EF/Savings/Travel Funds – and I do make those kinds of posts all the time … but this is a personal finance blog that’s personal to my finance. So along with talking about my savings, I talk about variable expenses, how they fit into my life, and how they fit into my budget.

I blogged about this earlier in the year. If I talk more about spending than saving, then you will get the perception that I am spending a ton of money. Just as if I only talked about saving, you would get the perception that I’m barely spending anything.

Some months I spend more than other months – but I am still putting away $800-1400/month. Which is 28-50% of my net income each month (check my NetworthIQ). I definitely could be saving a few hundred dollars more each month, and sure I don’t need to buy a lot of the things that I buy. But I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. I’m not entitled to things, but if I want something I can certainly make room for it within my budget. I save more than I spend on variables, and each purchase is carefully considered. I am not an impulse spender. The key is to find a balance between spending and saving. And it’s taken me years, but personally, I think I’m there.

Sure, if life changes and I have a car payment or a mortgage or a baby comes along … or we decide to go traveling, my budget and my money will adjust accordingly (I am fully capable of spending the bare minimum for long periods of time – that’s how I got out of debt so quickly!). But for now, I’ve struck a good balance and I think it’s a little harsh to say that I “don’t really seem to be getting anywhere.”

A change of mind

Okay, after thinking about what to do with my Travel Fund, I’ve changed my mind on how to split up the money. So here’s what I just did:

  • $1,000 Emergency Fund.
  • $1,000 Savings Fund. I am going to use it for my LASIK after all. This will wipe out all the money in there, but I feel more comfortable allotting the money into the Car Fund instead.
  • $2,000 Car Fund. Annual insurance is coming up next month. I haven’t decided if I’m going to pay it all at once, or have it deducted monthly from my account. Plus, my car is 15 years old. I don’t want to get stuck with a repair bill that I don’t have the cash for.
  • $1,000 Travel Fund.

What I’m going to do with my Travel Fund

Well, BF is just one step away from getting that work-related opportunity, so in light of this situation, I’ve decided how I’m going to split up the $5,000 in my Travel Fund.

  • $1,000 – Travel Fund. Fully funded, this account will hold $3,000. Maybe even $5,000. All of my immediate travel has been paid for. I think next year I might be doing a bit of traveling – Mexico with the family, a possible hiking/kayaking trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands, and J and I were discussing going on a trip … maybe San Francisco, or NYC?
  • $1,000 – Emergency Fund. Fully funded, this account will hold $5,000 at least for the next 3 years. If our situation changes and we end up buying a house, or we are in a position where we have to move, I will definitely think about putting more $ towards the EF. But for right now, $5k represents 6 months of living expenses for me.
  • $3,000 – pay off LASIK eye surgery. That way I won’t have to touch my Savings Fund.

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