Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Fiscal Year in Review

In my day job, the end of the fiscal year is kind of a big deal so it felt like a good time to look at my personal financial life for the past year.

Here's my Net Worth report (sans numbers):

Even though there's still some red after March, that just shows my credit card balance before I pay it off. I usually send at least 2 payments a month to keep my debt to credit ratio under control. The actual debt was paid off March 1.

The spike in February marks my tax refund. Alas, since Sylvia is turning 18 soon, I don't expect these kind of returns from now on, but I feel like I shouldn't need them anymore, either.

Because I continue to grow certain categories every month (Emergency Savings, Rainy Day funds), this has helped even in the months where I have large bills to pay (like the car maintenance last month). I'm sure a month or two without an upward trend would still be okay, but I admit, I like the current look of it!

This graph, btw, is brought to you by YNAB. I spend most of my YNAB time in the budget screen, but the reports, particularly this Net Worth report, can also be helpful.

Incidentally, being a month ahead also recently helped me. I don't know why I even try to multi-task anymore because it never works, but someone called when I was entering my time, and I thought I could both carry on a conversation and enter my time. When I checked my paystub the following week, I found that I'd missed a day. Oh, well, not the end of the world  - just went back and entered it and it'll show up in the next paycheck. But I did think about those many years in the past when such a mistake would have completely stressed me out while I scrambled to figure out how to pay that week's bills and groceries. We would've been fine, but I don't need - or miss - that kind of stress.

When I first started YNAB (almost 2 years ago), I had a (very) negative net worth. I knew it would be a slow and steady race to get me to the positive, and even though I still get impatient sometimes for certain categories to grow, I know if I just stay on this path, we'll be okay.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Balancing the Lifestyle Creep

Happens to everyone. Some new service comes along and you think, "oh it's only $_ a month, I'll subscribe!" Or the ones you didn't choose, like a rent or child care increase. True story for me.

Actually, it wasn't a new service, but an upgrade. HuluPlus now offers a commercial-free option for $11.99 a month (instead of $7.99). I resisted for a whole week before I couldn't take it anymore - I think the commercials got more obnoxious just so that I would do so! But hey, a half-hour show now only takes 22 minutes.

Then I got the notice of my rental increase of $20/month. The same amount I was going to increase my savings each month. Oh, well, it's a wash.

Then it was my iCloud, which is full, and now I'm paying 99 cents a month for a bigger cloud.

Okay, so it's a lifestyle creep of about $5 a month, all in. But I have to stay mindful of these things so I don't turn around and find it's $100 a month because I wasn't paying attention. And I still want to increase my savings by $20 a month, so this month, I'm taking a closer look at my budget categories to try and make it happen.

Costs will continue to rise, so it's important to have a little breathing room in the budget. It's also an opportunity to take another look and see if the expense still aligns with your values.

Of course, increasing income should always be considered, too. It doesn't have to be 2nd job, but there may be opportunities to freelance or even MTurk. There's only so much a budget can be trimmed so if there are ways to increase your income, that's even better. So long as you can avoid the lifestyle creep, that is!