August was an eventful month. Mr. Stapler changing jobs sent me into a flurry of financial planning activity, from evaluating health insurance options, determining our retirement needs, sorting through what we need to save for my maternity leave, and of course revamping our budget. Then we got to go on a much-needed family vacation, which was the perfect end to the summer.
In Blog news … did you notice anything new? That’s right, Stapler Confessions is a Plutus Award Finalist in two categories! Thank you for your support. It means so much to me!
Saving and Earning Challenges
Last month, I set some extra savings and earning goals. I achieved some of them, but some of them fell flat. So, I had those goals in mind last month in addition to my typical monthly goals. I’m happy to report that I got these done:
- Changed my cell phone service to Republic Wireless: $0/month savings until November, when we will save $45/month. This delay in savings is because I had to pay an early cancellation fee to Verizon. But my phone had stopped working, and I knew I wasn’t going to renew my plan — so this just made me bite the bullet sooner.
- Pumped up my tires for better gas mileage.
- Slashed the gift spending by planning ahead: $25+ I got my parents their Christmas gifts. For my dad, I ordered two free books from PaperBackSwap.com. For my mom, I downloaded podcast episodes of a podcast I know she’ll love and I plan to burn them to a CD. (She wouldn’t have downloaded the podcasts herself). We also received Little Stapler’s school pictures in the mail — I ordered a 5×7 photo for both grandparents and each aunt, at $5 a pop. No need to get a frame because they use the same frame each year, and put the newest photo in front.
- Sell my old Barbies and nice suits and dresses on eBay: $44.99 (after shipping charges) for two suits, a box full of maternity clothes, and a summer dress. Strangely, I’ve sold two other items but the buyer has yet to pay me for them.
- Submit all Flex and Parking reimbursements: $1,771.14
- Return clothing that still has tags on it: $14.99, minus $9 spent on clearance clothes for Baby Stapler that I spotted when returning my clothes.
TOTAL SAVINGS and EARNINGS: $1847.12.
Net Worth Status:
Cash: + $859.
Credit Cards: – $1,060. The $1,200 laptop. Due to be returned.
Loans: +$773. One of our loan passwords is still broken in Mint (seriously — why couldn’t I get this fixed all month?!).
Investments: +$3,582. Nice!
Net Worth: +$4155. This is almost all because of our retirement accounts growing in low-cost index funds, so it’s a fleeting rise in our net worth. But I’m still psyched to see such a big jump.
- Make ends meet with my income: SUCCESS! I thought that that is would be a significant challenge, but we finally received some flex reimbursements and my monthly billing system for clients is helping to keep the cash flowing. Mr. Stapler also got paid for a week of vacation that he never took at his old job, so that counterbalanced the week of unpaid vacation I took last month.
- Resist Lifestyle Inflation: PARTIAL SUCCESS! I let loose a little bit with re-organizing the kids’ room. I dropped $130 on drawers and shelves to make room for Baby Stapler. We did, however, resist buying a bed and I plan to return the laptop I paid too much for last week. The deep freezer is still on my wishlist, and if I am successful with nursing, then we will probably buy one in November — to store breastmilk (it will keep longer in a deep freezer instead of a fridge freezer that we open daily). Maybe they’ll be on sale in November.
- Submit Flex Reimbursement Requests: SUCCESS! Hallelujah, some of our requests have been processed! $1,708 worth, to be exact. We are still chasing some remaining dollars, but we’re relieved to finally have the bulk of it in our pockets.
- Empty Old Clothes Out of My Closet: PARTIAL SUCCESS! I listed some of my nicer clothes on ebay, and some actually sold. Now that I’ve dipped my toe into eBay and have figured out a few kinks, I’m going to list a few more this month. I promise I’ll send the rest to ThredUp, for online consignment, by the end of the month. 😉
- Roll Over Mr. Stapler’s 403(b): FAIL.
- Resist Lifestyle Inflation: The trick to getting a raise is to keep our expenses the same and sock away the savings. Sometimes it feels like we went “without” for so long, we “deserve” to splurge. I don’t believe in the concept of “deserving” some material item — I think we earn it. Regardless, we’ll be applying the same principal to stuff acquisition in the near future that we have applied in the recent past: Do we need it?
- Make an Extra Student Loan Payment: First, I need to set up a monthly extra payment of $89, which is the monthly payment we saved last year by paying off a student loan. Second, once I return the expensive laptop I bought (but haven’t opened), we can make a $1,200 payment. I hope we can pay off even more, but with a week of travel this month, I’m not sure I’ll make enough freelancing to have some “extra” cash for paying off a student loan.
- Establish Next Year’s Blogging Goals: This month, I travel to FinCon14, a conference for personal finance bloggers. I know I will learn a lot and make some face-to-face connections with fellow bloggers. If you’re a blogger but can’t travel to New Orleans, you could learn a lot if you buy the Virtual Pass, which provides access to all the taped sessions. I attended FinCon last year, and I still bought the pass! (there were some sessions I missed)
- Roll Over Mr. Stapler’s 403(b).
- Set Up Traditional IRA Accounts and Automatic Deposits: We decided to go this route for our future retirement savings, so now I need to execute it.
How was your month? What are you goals — financial, personal, or professional — for this month?