Goal Setting, Retirement Journey, SAVINGS

A July Savings Challenge and beyond!


Anyone up for a good challenge? I am! Especially after reviewing my numbers from the year’s first half! I was shocked to learn that I have been averaging about $4,000 a month in variable spending. Although that average was skewed by April’s unusually high month, it is just too high and does not reflect how we hope to spend our money when we reach retirement.

Since we are tentatively nine months away from our planned retirement, higher cash savings will be key. We have saved quite a bit of money so far this year, but there is room for improvement.

So..I’ve decided it’s time to super-charge our cash savings. For this July Challenge, I would like to limit variable spending to only $750.00. Then, going forward until April 2023, I would like to spend no more than $1,500.00 a month.

That includes the following categories:

  • Groceries/Eating Out
  • Road trips (excluding actual vacations)
  • Gas
  • Vet/Dog Food
  • Personal care/household
  • Gifts
  • Clothes
  • Personal spending

Spending only $750 in July will definitely be a challenge. I’ve been looking over the categories and trying to plan out where the $750 will be spent.

We have a trip to NY planned, as well as a birthday celebration. Gas for the trip will take up nearly $100 of the $750 (even if we take my husband’s hybrid).

I don’t need clothes, make-up, household items, or gifts in July (just a family party gathering) and I already have hair color to take care of the grey roots.

As far as the dog, I won’t need to purchase dog food either. I still have plenty of kibble left, plus I can supplement with boiled chicken and brown rice. We just need to take care that he stays healthy because vet bills are outrageous. Last month Auggie had a double ear infection that cost us $500. We do have insurance on him, but we have not yet met the $1,000 deductible.

I feel ready for this challenge, but July is a long month. We will have to find things to do that won’t cost money, or at least not very much. (Any suggestions or ideas you may have on how to make July fun while spending very little would be welcomed!).

As usual, I’ll update every Monday with the week’s spending.

Anyone else want to save money with me?

Dog Expenses, Retirement Journey, Spending, Weekly Spending Update

June Spending: Week 4 update

Photo by uff2cuff41uff52uff41 on Pexels.com

Every Monday during 2022, I am posting an update on what I spent for the week (variable spending only) as a way of keeping myself accountable for my impulse spending. Also, to see my true savings, I am tracking items I was tempted to buy but didn’t.

This week has been a pretty quiet week. The only ‘extras’ I have spent this week were a pool float for the pool and ice cream treats for the grandkids. Money well-spent if you ask me. 😉

What I spent from June 20 – 26:

  • Groceries/Eating out: $68.81
  • Pool float/Ice Cream: $41.00 (the ice cream was double the pool float!)
  • Mom: $53.00 (a new coffee pot)
  • Pet Meds: $221.85 (Heart meds and flea and tick for 12 months) RETURNED. Waiting for refund.

Total: $384.66

How was your week?

Cash Savings, Retirement, Retirement Journey, SAVINGS

Nine months and counting!!

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

We are now only nine months away from my husband retiring! This morning’s money meeting clinched the deal. Although the stock market has been taking a hit, and it seems like a disaster, there is a bright side! Interest rates for secure savings accounts are finally increasing!!

How will we manage our money?

For the first 5 years of retirement (just before taking social security), we will be utilizing laddered CDs for our living expenses. Fidelity has some high-yield laddering CDs, and I intend to take full advantage of the 5-year ladder plan within the next couple of months. We have recently taken advantage of I Bonds, which are presently yielding 9.62%. You can learn more about them here. I also moved some of our savings into other 12-month CDs that are getting 1.75% – 2%. (I know this isn’t keeping up with present inflation, but it’s much better than the .1% they had been offering). I’m keeping 9 months of living expenses in cash at Ally Bank which is finally earning at least 1%.

Why retire in 9 months and not now?

Although we could feasibly retire at any time, nine months will give us the time needed to get all of our accounts in order. During that time, my husband’s company will be adding 7.5% of his income into retirement investments, we will cap off our Health Savings Account and add more money to our liquid savings accounts. (Nothing wrong with some extra cash, right?) 🙂

It feels so much better knowing that we will have our living expenses in safe accounts, backed by the FDIC, and not holding our breath each month while the market takes its wild ride. (I’ve never been a fan of roller coasters. 😉 ) We can actually relax. We will still have a significant portion of our nest egg in investments, but since we won’t have to touch those for another 10 years, it will have the necessary time to grow.

Anyone else taking advantage of I Bonds or laddering CDs?

Retirement Journey, Spending

A question for my readers.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

What is the average amount you spend per month on variable expenses which include the following categories?

  • gas
  • food (includes eating out)
  • clothes
  • household (batteries, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc.)
  • personal care
  • spending
  • pets
  • misc.

I’m working on a savings challenge for July and I would love to compare my expenses with yours. I know we are all in different financial situations, but I’m curious to know where we stand in comparison. Especially all you retired folk….

Thanks for your help!!!

Retirement Journey, saving money, Using cash, Weekly Spending Update

Weekly Spending Update: The cost of playing the return game.

Every Monday during 2022, I am posting an update on what I spent for the week (variable spending only) as a way of keeping myself accountable for my impulse spending. Also, to see my true savings, I am tracking items I was tempted to buy but didn’t.

This week I ended up spending $60 in return fees with no products to show for it. UGH. The return refunds have yet to hit my bank account. It’s so frustrating, but I only have myself to blame. All items were purchased impulsively, with no real thought behind them. I failed to wait at least 24 hours before making the purchases, and I didn’t double-check the return policies.

I finally put some controls in place for online spending, and I’m hoping it curbs the ugly spending monster that still lives inside me. the impulsive spending.

Without further ado, my June 13 – 19th spending:

  • Groceries: $167.00 (Stock up from BJ’s)
  • Eating Out: $50 (lunch for Father’s Day)
  • Personal Care: $64.00 (Hair color from salon, sunscreen)
  • Home Maintenance: $229.20 (annual filters, broom)
  • Mom: $39.76 (dinner sent)
  • Spontaneous giving: $55.00
  • Weight Watchers: $42.95 (3 mos.)
  • Miscellaneous: $39.73 (books)
  • Gifts: $17.00 (Father’s Day)
  • Return fees: $60.00

Total: $764.64

Returns: ($40.12) (Phone case and charger)

Total: $724.52

I thought this week was a low-spend week until I totaled everything up. Almost $800?? The good news is that I won’t have to buy filters for a year, and I’m saving almost $250.00 by coloring my hair over the next two months instead of going to the salon. I guess it wasn’t too bad, except for the return fee. 😦

Here is a monthly recap of my spending for June so far:

Week 1: $1,660.73

Week 2: $321.13

Week 3: $724.52

Total variable spending: $2,706.38

That seems high for three weeks in a five-week month. I will need to slow way down on the spending if I want to meet some savings goals.

How was your week? How does my spending compare to yours? Please share!