My ‘Working Again’ Debt Payoff Budget September 2013

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Photo credit: LabMinions.com

Now that I am working again and no longer unemployed, I’m revisiting my old unemployment budget and making updates.

NET Income Per Month (after taxes & required deductions)

Job #1:  $4,935    Omg, taxes are a BEAST!  Grrr.

Job #2:  $540

I am not pursuing any additional side hustles at this time. Between these two jobs, I’m maxed out on hours and stress (60-75 hours per week). Any more than that and my health suffers noticeably.

Total Income:  $5, 475

sad-woman

The Outgo per month

Rent+Utilities:  $1465   (Unfortunately, I’m back in an expensive apartment, this time WITH a roommate.  How this happened.)

Phone:  $70    (Yes, I still have my iPhone. Sigh.)

Student Loan 1: $40    (This one is not bundled with my others, so I pay on it every month.)

Food: $500    (Yes, this is too high. I am not cooking and still eating out a lot.)

Public Transportation: $200  (Yikes! Public transit is waaay more expensive here than I thought it would be. )

Health Insurance: $100  (Yikes again! This is the cheapest High Deductible plan offered.)

Credit Card Debt:  $2,000  (Ouch!  Did I mention how much I HATE debt!? The credit card debt will die first.)

Student Loan 2: $850    (These payments begin next month. This is interest only. Aggghhh! This should be retirement money!)

Gym Membership: $65

Netflix: $15

Fun/Misc/Clothing: $100

Emergency Savings: $70

Outgo Total:  $5,475

 

What Does This Mean?

rough-road-ahead

This will roughly be my budget for the next year. I will not be having fun. This assumes that all goes well with my new job and that I don’t get fired again. This assumes that I don’t have any major health problems. Items in red are targets for cutting. This apartment complex makes it virtually impossible to get out of your lease, so I may be stuck here for a while, but I will consider my options. As soon as I am able to look for cheaper housing I will do so. That will save me hundreds of dollars each month that I can put towards retirement and emergency savings.

What Does This Really Mean?

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Breaking All the Rules – Failing My Financial Goals

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Over the past month I have made big changes in my life. I have moved to a new state and started work at a new job.  After I got and accepted the official offer, I packed up and flew out of town less than a week later to no fanfare.  I never heard anything from my former co-workers and they won’t be hearing anything from me. Not because I’m mean, but because I’m embarrassed about how my time there ended. It’s obvious that they don’t miss me anyway.  I was miserable there for those last few months before I got axed. It was time to move on. So one quiet morning, one of my roommates drove me to the airport, helped me get my luggage on the airport curb, gave me a hug and wished me good luck.

When I arrived in the new city all alone, I had temporary lodging that I booked online.  I had no housing arranged. It is impossible to find a place to live remotely via Craigslist. I figured that 10 days would be enough time to find a cheap room to rent. Boy was I wrong. What resulted was a cascade of financial rule breaking that has set me back at least one year in my debt payoff goals.

I’ll break down just some of what happened. I am not proud of this, but am blogging it as a learning lesson of some kind.

1. FIND CHEAP HOUSING =  FAIL

My main goal was to find a cheap place to stay here.  The housing market here turned out to be much, much more competitive than I thought it would be. While in temporary housing, I lived on Craigslist from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. After becoming used to paying $425 per month in rent in my low cost of living pacific northwest suburb, I wanted to find a place in this new high cost of living California city for between $500 – $800 per month.  For the area, this is very low, but possible. But doing so was not possible for me, at least not in the time I had allotted to look. In that price range, lessors were flooded with people replying to their ads. Most ads that I answered, I never heard back from. For the ones that I did get to see, most were in not safe neighborhoods or were disgusting. I wish I could have taken pictures to show you some things that I saw.

There were a two places that were very nice and with a good price.  I really wanted them. Unfortunately, so did  50+ other people. When I went to see one of the places, she said that I was the 10th person she’d seen that day. I didn’t audition well enough and was not selected for those two places. By this point I was desperate. I was in temporary housing and burning through $75+ a day. Unsafe areas and disgusting places were out because my health and safety come first. I was exhausted and frustrated. I had to go up in rent.

Long story short, I am now living in a two bedroom apartment with a roommate that I found on Craigslist. I am paying over $1,400+ per month. This is high; even for this area. I do admit that the location is killer (near public transit for work etc.), however this expense has all but destroyed my anticipated budget.

burning-money (1)

2. NO MORE FURNITURE = FAIL

Now with this apartment, I needed furniture for my bedroom.  I plan to be here for almost a year, so it became apparent that I would need to get a bed, dresser, table and chair, which I did. $$

3.  NO USELESS SPENDING = FAIL

While I was at it, I lost my mind and bought a new 32″ television. Yes. I know. I don’t know what I was thinking. Although cable is included in the rent, I didn’t by it for that. I bought it to watch Netflix, which I reactivated. $.  I also bought a monthly gym membership. Granted the gym is actually needed to improve my increasing health issues, but it is money. Oh, wait, it gets worse!

evil-credit-card-companies

4. NO CREDIT CARD = FAIL

Yes! I charged most of these things on my credit card; the card that I vowed I would never touch again. I had some rationalization about wanting to keep as much cash in my bank account as possible until I started getting paychecks.

5. NO ADDITIONAL CREDIT = FAIL (AND WIN!)

At my new job I am required to have a corporate credit card for work expenses, I have that in my name although my employer will reimburse expenses. I didn’t have a choice on that one.

In addition to that I have opened up two new credit cards. Now don’t faint, I did NOT open them up to spend more money.
I opened them because with my new increase in income, I am now finally eligible for 0% promotional APRs for balance transfers. So I am transferring all my Citibank debt at 19.99% interest over to these two cards which have 0% interest for 12-15 months. This will save me from over $400 per month in interest payments.  I hate having more credit cards to deal with, but once the promo rates on these cards end, I will close them. The money that I save will let me get some traction on my debt.

6. BUDGET FORECASTING = FAIL

This job pays a lot more than the job I was fired from – over $25,000 more. Sounds great right?!  Well, not so fast.

First, that $25,000 will be subject to various tax withholdings totaling about 35%.  So that money is gone off the top.  That leaves $16,250.  That still sounds great right?  Well, the rent I have now is $1000 more per month than I had in my old town.  Then, there are the $200 per mo transit pass and $100+ – $200+ per month for  health insurance. My last employer paid for all of our health insurance premiums. I was shocked to find out that I have to pay for that now out of pocket.

This is indeed a high cost of living area. All this means that painfully little of all that extra money will go towards debt, at least for one year. When my lease is up I will have more time to look for a reasonably priced living arrangement. Let that be a lesson to anyone reading this. Do a real world cost calculation when evaluating a higher salary.

I am still working my intermittent online job, but it can be very time consuming for the amount of money that I get paid. I want to quit it, but I can’t. I need that extra money to go towards the debt, at least until this credit card debt is paid off.

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches

NEXT STEPS

Once I get my first paycheck, I’ll have a better sense of what I will have to work with. That was just some of what I’ve been dealing with for the past month.  More will follow.  This should be interesting.

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

My Unemployment Budget

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Running the Numbers.

1. The Outgo per month

Rent:  $425   (I’m so glad* that I moved out of that expensive apartment in January!)

Phone:  $65    (Yes, I still have my iPhone. Sigh.)

Student Loan: $40    (This one is not bundled with my others so I pay on it every month.)

Food: $400    (Yes, this is way too high**. I am not cooking and still eating out a lot.)

Public Transportation: $100  (Yikes! No longer getting free bus pass from employer. )

Misc: $70  (This may go up as I incur job seeker expenses, such as buying an interview suit, etc.)

Credit Card Debt Minimum Payment:  $650  (Ouch!  Did I mention how much I HATE debt!?)

Student Loans: $0   (These are on forbearance. Whew!)

Outgo Total:  $1,750

* – However renting a room under someone else’s roof introduces another set of challenges.

** – My goal is to start cooking more, but so far I haven’t encountered the copious amounts of free time that I am supposed to have at this point. Another part of it has to do with my living situation.

2. The Income per month

Unemployment Benefits:  $1790 (est.)    (After years of working myself into burnout and paying taxes through the nose.)

Second job: $640   (This income is NOT steady. It is ‘as needed’ work only. So I may not earn all of this in a month. Where I live you can earn up to a certain percentage of your unemployment income without it reducing your benefits.

Side hustles:  $0 to $100    (I haven’t started any of these yet, but I’m hoping for pocket money. Rest assured everything is legal and on the books, LoL.)
Total Income:  $1790 (+ $0 – $700)
TOTAL BUDGET BALANCE = +$40  (+$0 – $700)

What Does This Mean?

Well, the good news is that for the foreseeable future (5 months), I will be able to pay my bills while I look for work. This is of course, barring any unforeseen expenses. I don’t plan to remain unemployed for 5 months, but you never know. This is a lesson learned for me, to keep my living expenses low. I have learned that no job is secure and that I need to be out of debt more than anything.

I did not intend for this blog to become an unemployment blog, so while I am working at getting  work, I’ll start writing about other things as well.

Until next time!

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)