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For Sure Debt-Free

April 14th, 2021 at 03:45 pm

My share of my medical bills ended up being right at $1,400.  The vet bill as I mentioned previously was $761.27.  I spent $608.62 for my new phone and first month of Verizon's service (prepaid).  The deposit for the cruise was $400, of which my mom will reimburse me $200.   Also, the registration on my 5th wheel was due and thankfully had come down a bit from last year, $407.  (I had saved $481 for it). Then a few miscellaneous things:  a new car battery and brake pads,  and supplies for a craft project.   I put most of these on my credit card of course, but want to pay in full before April ends.  The bill is actually due on May 6th.

I have sinking funds for all of these things, but not enough to cover the medical (human and canine) or the phone in full.   I had reduced sinking funds to just minimal for the glorious cause of paying off the 5th wheel loan, and was really not wanting to reduce them further.  But, it makes no sense to leave money sitting in them when I have expenses I cannot cover from current cash flow.  So, I have tapped them yet again but will end April with a credit card balance of $0.00, which is just the way I like it.

Beginning with my first paycheck in May, barring further expenses, I should be able to start rebuilding my savings.   The only extra expense on the horizon is the balance of the cruise, which is due in full February 6th.  

July 2020 Budget Report

August 7th, 2020 at 03:13 am

Wages -So, my net pay has dropped by approximate $12.60 per paycheck due to my pension contribution rising a bit.

Transfer In - I estimated I would spend $300 on my trip with Mom to Manhattan, NV but transferred $259.98 because I thought that was what I had spent. I actually miscalculated (more on that further down).

Also, my son-in-law's birthday is in July. I always send my kids and their spouses $50 for their birthdays.

Other - I sold an unneeded item for $100. Yay!

I spent less cash than budgeted. Always nice. Smile

My phone bill was a bit higher than expected, but otherwise no surprises here.

Two sinking fund deposits of $230 each happened in July.

Extra principal - I sent $783.04 to extra principal, less than planned.

Mom-Amazon - Items Mom wanted which I ordered for her. She will reimburse me (and has by now, just not during July).

Broad loan - A short-term loan to a friend. We call each other "Broad".

Mom-trip - Mom's share of expenses for our road trip. She will reimburse me (and has by now, just not during July).

Sheets - A new set of sheets for our bed.

Bra - A new bra. I did not pull money from my clothing sinking fund to reimburse myself, but I probably should have.

Meal-trip - A meal which I inadvertently did not add to the cost of the Manhattan trip. I did not pull money from my travel/vacation fund to reimburse myself, but I probably should have.

July ended with $1,083.57 in checking.

I wanted to end the month with $1,055.07 in checking. Apparently, I subtracted my life insurance premium twice when calculating how much extra principal I could send to my 5th wheel loan. I should have sent $28.50 more.

Lots of little math errors this month, I don't know what to tell you.

June 2020 Budget Report

July 9th, 2020 at 02:52 am

No surprises here. My take home pay was $0.07 more than expected. I planned to transfer $805.43 from sinking funds to pay my car and 5th wheel insurance and that was the only transfer which happened. Buffer is the beginning balance in checking, and my only other income was the expected $0.01 of interest on checking.

I did manage to trim my needed cash by $40.00. That is always nice when I can manage it as I send every spare penny to extra principal.

No surprises here either. I did come in under a bit on my phone bill, so that was nice.

I make 26 automatic transfers of $230.00 each to sinking funds per year, and 3 of them fell in the month of June. The only transfer out was for my car and 5th wheel insurance. Right now is the low point for that particular sinking fund; no more money will be needed from it for a full 6 months.

In June, $745.61 was sent off as extra principal to my 5th wheel loan.

I paid my car insurance (I pay it with my Citi DoubleCash MasterCard, then pay the charge before the month ends).

I bought some face masks on Amazon; I am now required to wear them to work. I spent $22.29.

I bought some sparkly flowers for Bella to wear on her collar. I spent $11.25.

My checking account balance ended the month with $1,407.58.

My target ending checking account balance was $1,407.58. That's my 1k buffer and $407.58 for my 5th wheel payment scheduled for 7/3/20.

May 2020 Budget Report

June 2nd, 2020 at 02:06 am

May was a 3 paycheck month for me so I had a little extra income to work with. I planned that I would transfer in $50 from a sinking fund for a birthday gift. "Buffer" is the starting amount in checking and not much "other" income was expected.

3 paychecks means 3 cash withdrawals during the month. We have been buying groceries mainly in our little town, rather than driving down to a larger town with lower prices but more shoppers. SB and I agreed I would kick in an extra $100 for groceries. However, with gas prices low and not going anyplace but to work and back, I have been consistently spending less cash than budgeted.

I did finally get around to switching back to Ting. So far, all is going fine. I am hoping to enjoy a lower monthly phone expense.

Sinking fund deposits went exactly as planned. Spending from sinking funds included my great-grandniece's birthday gift (just a check for her savings account) and a vet bill for Bella. She had another ear infection. Frown It's a good thing I started tucking a little bit away for her expenses, and now that fund is all but wiped out.

I had planned to send $2,392.57 of extra principal to the 5th wheel loan, and am pleased to report I managed to send $2,564.54.

I have a niece who is very active in cat rescue and she reported on Facebook that she could really use some food donations. So, I purchased $26.13 worth of cat food for her use. (She has a wish list on Amazon, which does make the process simple.)

The month ended with $1,637.60 in checking.

I had wanted to end the month with $1,637.58 in checking. That's my 1k buffer, a $230 sinking funds transfer scheduled for 6/2/20, and my monthly 5th wheel payment of $407.58 which happens automatically on 6/3/20.

All in all, a good month financially. Smile

April 2020 Budget Report

May 3rd, 2020 at 04:36 pm

Other income included:

$2,045.55 - refund from Citibank from our cancelled Princess cruise. I owed about half of it to my mom. (We do a full reconciliation after a trip. Sometimes I pay initially for her share of things, sometimes she pays for mine. Also, the refund was less than the credits from Princess because I had other charges on the card which do not come out of vacation money.)

$1,200.00 - stimulus

$396.28 - redeemed credit card rewards

$200.00 - short-term loan repayment

$0.02 - checking account interest

You sure don't spend much cash when you are self-isolating. Smile

Mostly as expected. I have not yet looked into switching my own line back to Ting.

Sinking funds were deposited as planned. My total vacation costs ended up being less than I had withdrawn, so the excess of $409.55 went back to travel/vacation. There are no vacations on my horizon at the moment.

The only withdrawal in April was $481 for 5th wheel registration.

Other expenditures for the month. Here is the repayment to my mom as well as a payment to Capital One Savor card for vacation expenses. The rewards have already been redeemed, so I will cancel this card now. (I opened it for the $300 bonus and I am not interested in paying the $95 annual fee for this card.)

The $2 bank fee is for a non-Wells Fargo ATM. I normally get reimbursed for these, but my qualifying balance slipped below 250k so I did not. It was worth it, though. I like to use the ATM at the only bank in my tiny town. Especially right now, since we are all trying to avoid encountering other people.

Ending balance in checking is $2,428.82.

My target ending balance for checking is $1,407.58. The excess will go to extra principal on the 5th wheel loan in May. (In fact, it already has).

February 2020 Budget Report

March 1st, 2020 at 08:04 pm

Wages - as expected.

Transfer in - money in from sinking funds (see below).

Buffer - beginning checking account balance.

Other - income tax refunds, a cash birthday gift, CC rewards, and checking account interest.

Managed to spend a bit less than budgeted. It's a wash, though. (See Wal-mart item under "other").

Now that Ting is offering service on Verizon's network, I am looking forward to shaving a bit of money from my phone bill. I will be looking into that this month.

Deposits went mostly as expected. I think I have sufficient money now for my dental expense. I have an appointment this Thursday and will know more then.

Money that went out:

Car Ins & Reg - CR-V registration

Car R & M - a minor tune-up

Clothing - replaced my jacket which got too close to a space heater and melted a bit. Also, a new bathing suit, cover up, and casual dress for the cruise. All items purchased on Amazon.

travel/vacation - paid for cruise fare for self and daughter, air fare for self. Remaining balance plus $300 Capital One Savor sign-up bonus will need to cover gratuity, excursions, and 1 night lodging in a motel. It should be enough.

These items were mostly paid with sinking funds, so discussed above. Those which weren't:

Bella vet - transferring money from the appropriate sinking fund would have wiped it out. Instead, I just let it go.

electric toothbrush - recommended by dental hygienist.

Wal-Mart - a mixed bag of household and personal items. Normally I would pay cash for these items, but I just used a CC as it was simpler at the time.

And that is it. Not a bad month all in all, and I am hopeful that I am now ready to apply extra funds to the 5th wheel loan.

January 2020 Budget Report

February 1st, 2020 at 08:22 pm

Income mostly went as expected; I transferred in money from my car replacement sinking fund which was unplanned at the time I made January's budget.

I spent a little less than planned on gas and personal.

My mom's cell phone bill was quite low in January. Other than that, nothing unexpected here.

For January, I am showing car replacement and dental as two separate funds. In reality, it is the same account which has been re-purposed.

Aha! Here we have a bit of unplanned spending. A dinner out, some items from the pharmacy, a concert ticket (for tonight!) and a new thermostat for the 5th wheel.

The middle box in the yellow line says that January ended with $1,413.60 in checking.

The target amount for checking at the end of the month was $1,407.58.

December 2019 Budget Report

January 1st, 2020 at 05:59 pm

Let's take a look at how I did in December.

This is the money I had available for the month.

Wages - my take home pay was $0.50 more than expected.

Transfers In - higher than expected. This will happen any time there is a sinking fund expense I did not know about at the time I did my monthly budget.

Buffer - starting balance in checking on 12/1/19.

Other - I have a $200 loan out to a friend which I had expected to be paid in full in December. With my approval, only $60 was repaid; the remaining $140 is to be repaid in January. I received $37 in secret shop fees, and $0.01 of interest on checking.

This is the cash I withdraw each payday to cover groceries, gas, personal (hair cuts, meals out, anything I decide I want) and miscellaneous needs (shampoo, hygiene products, vitamins, etc.). If I have at least $20 left in a category, I reduce the next withdrawal by $20. As you can see, I was able to spend less than budgeted in both personal and miscellaneous.

These are my regular monthly bills. Very few surprises here. The phone category is both my monthly Verizon prepaid bill which is fixed at $52.75 and my mom's monthly Ting bill which is variable. Mom's bill was $17.35 this month.

Sinking funds. Deposits mostly went as planned, with the exception of a $1 deposit to open Bella's sinking fund. The bi-weekly transfers happen every other Tuesday. Because of the way the days fell in December, there were 3 transfers this month.

Withdrawals from car ins & reg include $947.26 to pay my 6 month premium due 12/4/19, and $188.64 which I had determined was in excess of what is needed (went to debt repayment).

Withdrawals from gifts/xmas included 1 birthday gift and 3 Xmas gifts.

Withdrawals from travel/vacation to cover half of the gas cost for towing our travel trailer to my mom's at Thanksgiving and my niece's at Christmas. SB pays the other half.

This section is everything not included above; some items were budgeted some items were not.

Movies - over Thanksgiving weekend, my son and daughter-in-law and SB and I went to see a movie (Knives Out). When we decided to go, I bought the tickets online with my credit card (since I paid the charge in December, this item has ended up in December's budget). I entered the wrong amount ($41.80 instead of $47.80) but I just left it that way. My daughter-in-law Zelled me the money for their 2 tickets, and SB just gave me cash for his.

Bella flowers - These are large fabric flowers which attach to her collar and look so cute. I bought them on Amazon. There are a dozen in assorted colors and are washable. This is definitely just a want!

Bella vet - a visit to the vet regarding her re-occurring ear infection. We still had the eardrops left over from when they were prescribed 2 months prior so were charged only for the office visit.

McAfee - anti-virus software for 1 year for my laptop. I bought this on Black Friday and got a great deal. (with credit card, paid for in December).

ins-6 mo - 6 month insurance premium for my CR-V (daily driver) and 5th wheel. Sinking Fund transfer paid for this.

Gifts - Xmas and birthday gifts. Sinking Fund transfer paid for this.

Playing w FIRE - a documentary I have been waiting to see, purchased on Amazon.

fuel-trailer trips - My half of the fuel to haul our travel trailer over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sinking Fund transfer paid for this.

medical - out-of-pocket medical expense. My HCRA was depleted for 2019. I am very conservative with funding it, as any amount over $500 is forfeit at the end of the calendar year.

meal out - An unbudgeted (and quite naughty) meal out which went on my credit card. The rule is any meals out should come from my personal cash, so this should not have happened.

extra principal - extra principal to my 5th wheel loan.

Grand Total - perhaps I should re-name this. It is a net total; what is actually left in checking at the end of the month.

This area is just for me to calculate what I want to have left in checking, so I know to the penny how much I can send off to debt. I like to keep a buffer of 1k in checking. Additionally, since my pay dates vary, I need to think about what will happen before my first paycheck of the new month. My first paycheck in January will be on the 10th, but I have an automatic loan payment coming out on the 3rd. I am expecting to be repaid $140 this coming Friday, so can reduce my required balance accordingly.

As you can see from above, my target is $1267.58 but I have only $1266.79. I am short by $0.79. This shortage won't cause a problem, but I will be a bit more careful next month. I do like to hit my target to the penny.

New Budget Spreadsheet

December 2nd, 2019 at 02:07 am

Here is a new spreadsheet I have been working on. As you can see, it is a bit more detailed than the one I have used in the past. It is basically showing a summary of every transaction in my checking account for the month of November 2019.

So it begins with an area labeled "Income" and colored yellow. "Income" is a bit too narrow of a description, as it also includes money transferred in from other accounts as well the beginning balance of my checking account, labeled "Buffer". So a more accurate description would be "money I had to work with this month".

The second area is labeled "Cash" and is colored green. This is the cash I withdraw on paydays.

The third area is labeled "Fixed Expenses", is colored purple, and includes the monthly bills I am currently paying.

The fourth area is labeled "Sinking Funds" and is pinkish-red. This shows the money being tucked away into sinking funds. The area extends to the right to show a summary of the transactions in the particular sinking fund and its balance.

The fifth area labeled "Other" and colored blue is for transactions not included elsewhere. The yellow line on the bottom is a grand total.

And then the last section labeled "Checking" and colored green is the amount I need to leave in checking at the end of the month. Everything left in checking above that amount can be thrown at my current goal, which at this time is debt.

I'm liking this spreadsheet. It is pulling all of my current, relevant info together in one place.

Number Crunching

November 14th, 2019 at 07:24 pm

For me, this was the deciding factor in how big a priority paying off the 5th wheel loan needs to be.

If I were to retire NOW, I calculate that I could draw $1,456 per month from my nest egg. Here is how that budget would look:

Everything I need, but not much fun. Without the 5th wheel loan payment, I could increase those sinking fund contributions and have more discretionary dollars. In short, my financial situation would be greatly improved.

Plus, I intend to cancel my life insurance policy once the 5th wheel loan is paid in full, freeing up a few dollars there as well. No one depends on my income any longer. However, in the event of my death, I would want SB to be able to have the 5th wheel free and clear. My children are both self-supporting and will inherit my investment and bank accounts.

So, I am happy with this plan. It makes sense to me.

Made Decision Re: Loan Payoff Time Frame

November 14th, 2019 at 05:28 pm

I have been mulling over how I want to prioritize paying down my 5th wheel loan. Do I not fund my Roth? Do I cut my sinking funds? Do I cut my 457 plan contribution?

I have decided the answers are yes, yes, and no.

I calculate that in 24 months or sooner, I can get the balance down to where I can pay in full from savings. This is what I am going to do.

I have cut both my travel sinking fund and car replacement sinking fund contributions to $0. I have trimmed both my car r&m and car ins/reg sinking fund contributions slightly, but they should still be adequate. This brings my bi-weekly transfer to sinking funds from $380 to $230.

I will not fund my Roth IRA for now. I will leave my 457 plan contribution where it is, 10% of gross.

(I will still take the Panama Canal cruise with my mother. She is looking forward to it and I am not going to take that away from her. She is turning 87 next month, so who knows how much longer she will be able to travel. Currently, there is almost 4k in my travel sinking fund which will more than cover it.)

24 months from now, the 5th wheel loan balance should be under $16,962.08, the current balance in emergency fund + car replacement fund. At that point, I will use as much of them as needed to pay the loan in full. (But not sooner, as I don't want to be without them PLUS still have a loan payment to make). At that point, I will turn my focus to re-building savings.