Unsurprisingly, finances have been significantly better since Tim and I split up our money.
He ate fast food most, though not all, days, which took a big bite (as it were) out of the weekly budget. It also didn’t help that he would stop and get soda on his way to the dog park every morning. He said the caffeine helped his brain function since he didn’t have his ADD meds. And from what I can tell caffeine is a common way ADDers self-medicate but that meant that we were spending 5% of our weekly budget on soda alone.
By the end, I was struggling (and often failing) to making our weekly funds stretch the whole seven days.
Now my funds last the full week, often more. Once or twice I’ve made it to a 10-day financial “week” — and that’s despite including more things in the weekly budget.
Previously, anything over $40 got left out of the weekly budget. It just went onto the card to be dealt with later. Things like our two Banfield plans ($33 and $36) were also kept out of the week’s funds. Given the level of other spending, it was the only way I could make the weeks work. And even then…
Now, I make sure to take the Banfield plan premiums out of the week’s funds. Heck, I can fit even the occasional $60 to $70 charge (my comforter, hair appointment, a month of protein bars, etc.) into the weekly budget. It’s fantastic not to helplessly watch the credit card balance grow. Well, except in terms of all recent, large, one-time expenses.
But speaking of watching the credit card balance grow, I did load up on Target gift cards recently during the store’s 10% off sale. It’s where I get my protein bars, so it made sense to go for the full amount ($300 worth for $270). Alas, that couldn’t come out of the weekly budget, so it did raise my card’s balance. No one’s perfect, I suppose.
But what’s really goosing up the balance this month is the fact that I put new windows in the guest house. I’ve been meaning to get them done for a while now, and it makes sense to change them out while the place is empty rather than disrupt a tenant. At $1,800 for all three windows, it could have been a lot worse. Still it stings.
Happily, that should be the last major expense for a bit. I need to get a new range hood in the guest house. One that — crazy thought — actually vents outside, so that won’t be cheap, which is why I’m going to get finances settle down a bit (and see if I even get a tenant who cooks much).
Actually, there’s one more big issue to contend with: taxes. If you’re not married on December 31st, you have to file as single. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you spent 3/4 of the year supporting your spouse. Bah.
At any rate, this means that I’ll owe about $4,000 more than I budgeted for. I made one large payment with my third quarter taxes, but I’ll need to take another $2,000 out of savings come January 15th.
In the new year, I’ll boost the amount I keep back for taxes by almost $400 a month. I’m also boosting my Roth IRA contribution so that I’m maxing it out. And a few months back I started putting $300 a month (instead of the previous $100) into a new car fund. I’m also boosting up the house payment by an additional $150 a month.
I worry that this doesn’t leave enough to make big strides on retirement and savings, but I also remind myself that I’m looking at this through the lens of two crazy spend-y months. I had a slew of expenses that don’t normally crop up. After all, it’s not as though I’ll need to pretty up the guest house every month.
But I remind myself that I still need to get a couch and dining table. Those purchases can be staggered out (especially the dining room table, since the pool table is currently in the way and won’t be moved until at least January, apparently). And if the past is any indication, unexpected expenses are always going to be hitting.
That said, my financial past looks very different from my financial present. It’s impossible to say how many of those unexpected expenses will be alleviated now that Tim isn’t around.
I think, the $800 for the accident not withstanding, the number of unexpected large charges will go down now that I’m on my own. I certainly hope so. I’d love to throw some money into retirement and beef savings back up after the $4,500 I have to take out for taxes, the windows and paying my mom back. I’d also love to boost my house payment even higher. I’d love to pay off the house within the next 10 years.
Anyway, I think I’m on track for all that, but only time will tell.
Have you had any recent major financial changes? What’s your financial outlook for the new year?