Living for TODAY, No/Low Buy Update, Positivity, Retirement Journey, Travel

July: A challenge update and a few unexpected surprises!

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It’s July 12th, and I’m well into my July savings challenge. As far as the everyday spending, I did well.

Here is my spending from July 1st – July 10th:

  • Groceries/Eating Out: $107.96
  • Road trips (excluding actual vacations): $169.01 (a trip to NY to visit my parents)
  • Gas: $0 (All gas was for our NY trip included above)
  • Vet/Dog Food: $0
  • Personal care/household. $37.00
  • Gifts: $17.02
  • Clothes: $0
  • OTC Meds: $16.00
  • Personal spending: $0

Total Spending: $346.99

My goal was to only spend $750 for the whole month, however certain circumstances and happy surprises have made me change this month’s challenge and pivot.

Here’s what happened in July (so far):

  1. My foot is still fractured: An MRI confirmed it. Okay, this wasn’t really a surprise, but I was a bit disheartened. The orthopaedic doctor said I had three options – 1. stay off foot and give it more time 2. try a stem treatment to stimulate growth in the bone for the low, low price of $2000, or 3. have surgery. (He didn’t sound confident in any of the choices, so I can tell you surgery will be the very last resort.) I’m seeking a second opinion and I will see where this leads before I make any decision. In the meantime? I liked option 1 the best, so I’m staying off my foot.
  2. My husband received a raise! This was quite unexpected, as he hasn’t had a raise in three years. It was a very welcome surprise. 🙂
  3. We booked a trip to Italy! We were presented with an opportunity to take a ‘bucket list’ trip this September to Italy. The price was amazing, so we decided to go for it, foot issue and all. We booked a 9-night Mediterranean cruise. We will be spending two days in Barcelona, Spain before the cruise and two days in Rome, Italy after. My husband and I are thrilled to be able to go on this trip, something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time. (The extra money from my husband’s raise actually clinched the deal. 😉 )
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The trip itself was paid for from our vacation/travel account, which we’ve been building up for just such an occasion. Since we’ve never been to Europe, I want to purchase some extra travel items as well as some new clothes. This will most certainly put me over my savings challenge budget, which I am perfectly fine with. I still hope to reign in my normal expenses i.e. eating out, groceries, personal spending, etc. so that I can put away some extra spending money for the trip. I’ll do a follow up monthly spend at the end of the month. 🙂

How was your week? Any suggestions for how to dress for Spain, France and Italy in September? Please share!

Cash Savings, Goal Setting, Retirement Journey, Spending

June Spending: Adding it up.

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.

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(I thought I would post this a day early)

June is in the books, as well as the first half of 2022. It’s hard to believe how fast this year is going, and also how slow. (I’m anxious, for many reasons, for this year to be over!).

This week’s spending is rather high, mainly because of gift-giving. I was late in getting wedding cards out (to weddings we didn’t attend) and a family friend’s baby. I decided to just get it down all in one fell swoop. Ouch. I also filled up my gas tank on the 30th, and both categories felt a bit like ‘cheating’ before going into July’s challenge, but I wanted to be fully transparent.

Here is the spending for June 27 – 30th:

  • Groceries: $121.31
  • Eating out: $45.00
  • Personal Care: $7.00
  • Gifts: $506.00! (2 family birthdays, two weddings, and a baby shower!)
  • Gas: $41.65

Total: $720.96

June’s recap of spending by week:

Total Spending for June: $3,812.00.

Not the best month, but pretty consistent with my average spending. Hopefully, I can whittle that down to at least half going forward.

How was June for you?

Goal Setting, Retirement Journey, SAVINGS

A July Savings Challenge and beyond!

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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

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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!!

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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?