Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Hitting the books!
The past few days, I've been hitting the books-my household accounting ledger that is simply a repurposed, 1/2 inch 3 ring binder filled with some 6 column, accounting ledger sheets. Every 6 months, minimally, I review where we are, what expenses are coming up, what expenses have gone up/done and assess where, if anywhere, I can tweak the budget. This past year was a challenge: I lost one month's wages due to unpaid medical leave, I helped to fund a replacement car for DD, we've had out of pocket (exceeded our benefit) medical bills. It frustrates me that sometimes the kids will comment that I earn $X-meaning, we can afford X or Y. They don't understand that while my salary is $X, once taxes, insurance, HSA , union dues etc are taken out, that we live on take home pay-which is also a figure that I review come tax time as I have a personal $500 over/under tax obligation amount that I am comfortable with. I do not wish to have a large refund (not earning me what little interest the bank provides)nor do I want to have to absorb a large tax bill that may come due. I attempt to anticipate all upcoming expenditures and obligations.
My current ledger is divided into several categories:
-Utility: electric, cable/Internet, cell phone, oil heat, Net flix, wood for stove, chimney sweep
-Insurance: renter's, auto, life (medical comes out of my pay at a pretax rate)
-personal care: clothes, hair care services
-Vet: bills, supplies/food
-Food: CSA, grocery store, restaurant
-Celebrations: Birthdays, Christmas
-Auto: gas, repair, taxes, car wash
-Msc: accountant, trash/sticker, plow service, lawn service, cleaning service, household goods, vacation, postage
I see some areas to focus further on. I see some wiggle room. I also note most importantly that we remain on track, with minimally 22% of my take home pay earmarked for savings for our next forever home. I keep this goal in mind as we live more frugally than some. I find myself in a most delicious state, since being 17 years old and heading off to college with loans helping to finance my secondary education, later followed by car loans and a mortgage: since divorcing 2 years ago, I am debt free. No loans, no CC debt, no mortgage-nothing. This gives me flexilblity. I choose to live as we do, so as to attain my next goal.