What’s Your Financial Outlook This Year?

In 2013, I’m feeling confident about my financial future. Last year, I proved to myself that I can live on $40/week worth of groceries, which is pretty cool. And it’s not all Easy Mac and soda—I buy lots of fresh veggies! — Jacqueline Drayer

My husband and I are on our way to being first time homebuyers in Brooklyn. I’ve stopped buying coffee on the go to save the $2, but when placing the offer on our house, we calmly talked spending thousands of dollars more over eggs. I’m eating Trader Joe’s noodle bowls, yet when our mortgage broker told us he needed $370 for a potential second appraisal I didn’t flinch when I handed him my Amex. We feel broke, but are playing at rich and, if it goes well this month, we can be all of that in our very own garden. — Kate Tellers


What about you? Are you feeling good about your financial outlook in 2013?


43 Comments / Post A Comment

Weasley (#1,419)

I think 2013 will be a good year for me. I will have paid my last tuition bill by Feb 1st…which is very exciting. I don’t have any specific plans after graduation, currently I’m just keeping my eye on jobs pages in my field. I’m not in any rush because I have a work and living situation that I’m comfortable with for now so I feel like I can be a little picky about what I choose to do before I decide to apply to grad school.

Quinn A@twitter (#1,008)

I set up insane car payments back before I got a mortgage and when I still made an extra $20k (ish) in overtime. The car won’t be paid off until early 2014, so I’ll still have to be very careful with my money until then. Also, I’m saving up for a wedding, my partner doesn’t work full-time, the government is deducting significantly more from each paycheque this year, and I realized yesterday that my flooring should really be replaced soon because it wasn’t very well installed.

I have no consumer debt or student loans, and I’m staying on top of my bills, but I’m pretty much constantly worried about my finances and will be all through 2013. :/

Fig. 1 (#632)

I’m feeling pretty okay about things but am deciding what to do, career-wise. I need some more money for travelling. My job is okay, but there’s no room for advancement or pay raises above inflation, so I think I should move on and open it up to a younger person who needs the experience more. I’ve paid off my student loans but have immediately been putting extra on my cc bill instead of my savings – a worrisome development that I’ll have to nip in the bud. So, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Blondsak (#2,299)

I graduate in May with my MLS and have been offered FT employment from my current PT library job, to begin in June. Only problem is they allocated the money prior to talking to me about the offer, so I didn’t get a chance to say that I would need a raise before I would accept it. We are still in “negotiations”, which more or less means I shouldn’t expect a raise for around a year, when my contract gets renewed. Which is bad, because I have to start paying back my loans in November, and I NEED to be making more money. But I LOVE my job here! In any case, I told them that I would start looking for a different job if I didn’t get a firm “Yes” to the raise, so… outlook undefined?

bgprincipessa (#699)

@Blondsak I am about to start my second semester of my MLS. I’m so happy for you that you found full-time employment!

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Blondsak Congratulations! Stick to your guns in those negotiations. If they can make you one offer they can make you another. Be clear about your needs.

Side-noteL I’ve been toying with the idea of entering an MLS program. I may pick your brain sometime if you’re amenable. You too @bgpricipessa.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

Not sure. My original plan for 2013 was to focus on paying off the student loan while continuing to put $ in the emergency fund after reaching a certain minimum. However, I recently got news which may push my priorities to saving. I’m cautiously optimistic, but damn do I want to get this loan paid off sooner rather than later.

I sat down this week and looked at my consumer debt, which is atrocious and embarrassingly high. I transferred about 1/4 of it to a card with a lower interest rate, and set up a plan of which card to attack when. I also signed up for debtmovement.org to keep me motivated.

I bought a house 6 months ago so I am still figuring out how much everything costs, and I’ll be able to budget better after that. Basically, I feel like I’m just going to keep my head above water this year. I’m hoping that I’ll be in better shape at the start of 2014.

la_di_da (#1,425)

Eh…barring getting a new job (which is hopefully a thing that will happen), the payroll tax holiday expiration without any kind of raise means I essentially took a slight pay cut. Things are okay, but not looking particularly cheerful. Good news is that I’ve paid off most of my loans and have an emergency fund in the making.

E$ (#1,636)

I feel cautiously confident about my finances in 2013, which I attribute to having my annual “oh crap why aren’t I more fiscally responsible” freakout at the beginning of November instead of the first week in January. I can’t take credit for bringing it on, but it allowed me to budget for Christmas and enter 2013 prepared to take a hard look at what I can cut back on in order to save more for an impending move and summer travel.

My goal is to keep track of those goals little by little so I don’t get overwhelmed and quit as I did last year.

highjump (#39)

I was lucky enough to start a new job at the beginning of December that comes with a significant pay raise. For the first time since graduating college about 2.5 years ago my salary is higher than my level of debt. I’m really really trying not to submit to ‘lifestyle inflation’ but this position comes with cocktail hours, dinners, breakfasts and so on that I can minimize but not truly eliminate. Plus I’m working about twice the number of hours I was before and it makes Starbucks very tempting. In summary: cautiously optimistic.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@highjump I encountered a similar sort of forced lifestyle upgrade when i leveled up in my current job. The new position pays more but it also requires me to lay out more for nicer clothes and though it’s not “required” there’s pressure to socialize at pricier bars and restaurants. It’s not the worst problem to have, but it’s a problem.

highjump (#39)

@EvanDeSimone Thanks for the solidarity. I feel somewhat bad for even mentioning it but I am about to leave my office after 12 hours of being here (which included a work-related lunch) to go buy a garment rack to store all my new clothes on. Privileged money/spending issues for sure, but still issues.

Oh man, honestly, I don’t know. I feel like I’m just treading water until my boyfriend gets a job (which could be next week, fingers crossed!). Once he does, and we can split groceries/rent again more easily, I have plans to more aggressively pay off my consumer debt and begin an emergency fund/general savings account.

But that could be next week or next year, so so far 2013 is looking like 2012: Paying my bills every month, slowly paying down consumer/student debt, teensy tiny savings efforts.

eagerber (#1,958)

These goals:

1. Pay off car loan — only $471 left to go, so this should happen next month.
2. Pay off the majority of my smallest student loan before they all kick in after I graduate this May. (32% complete. $5,500 at the start, $3,771 to go)
3. Continue building emergency savings account (12% complete, slow and steady).
4. I use ImpulseSave to gradually save towards a goal. I’d like to up my weekly savings, but I’m not sure yet by how much. I need to reevaluate that goal.
5. Double my 401(3)b contributions. I already did this during open enrollment, but I won’t see this change until the next paycheck, so I’m counting this as a 2013 goal.
6. Long term: using my other teensy savings account to finally save towards buying into a money market account. I need $3.000 to start. Getting there…

I also plan to sell my car this spring because I’d really, really like to be able to pay off as much as my student loans as possible before I officially have to start paying them off monthly. Also, my new job is only a few metro stops away, as opposed to the 40 minutes each way I used to drive for my old job. I’m really looking forward to no more car payments and a much lower monthly auto insurance bill. It’s expensive having a car in DC.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

I feel like 2013 is going to be a good one. I spent 2012 getting used to paying my credit card balance in full each month and building up my savings account. I still have $38K in student loans to tackle, but I’m working on it. I’m getting married (cheaply, at city hall) in a few months, and both future husband and I have jobs that pay us reasonably well, but neither offers us much growth potential. We have dreams of leaving to travel for 6mo to a year, but whether we’re able to find a way to do it that minimizes financial risk has yet to be determined.

sea ermine (#122)

I’m feeling optimistic. I got hired for a job in October (my first real post college job (as opposed to temping) since graduating in May)! It was less than the other places I interviewed but it’s better for my career and payed the salary I wanted (just over 39k, pre tax). After starting in mid-November I am finally getting regular paychecks and I feel like I can budget for all my expenses and still put money into savings and pay more than the minimum on my student loans.
My one concern is that I was sick recently, and my sick days don’t kick in for another month or so, which means I lost $500 this next paycheck so while I can pay all my bills and rent and get food it’s going to be a tight squeeze. However, my boyfriend is moving in with me tomorrow and so once he gets a job my rent and household bills will be cut in half, which means I will be able to put over $900 in savings each month (at least until we move to Manhattan in June). So overall while this month might be tight after that it looks good.

Dancercise (#94)

I’m optimistic, but it will mean cutting back a little. I’ve been living a bit outside my means lately, and luckily I have enough saved up that I’ve never gone into the red. But my lease is up in March, and though I’m planning to re-sign, I know there’s going to be a rent increase. I need to be a little more careful if I’m going to be able to afford it.

My goal is to create and stick to a weekly budget based on my (small) disposable income. This weekend I’m planning to crunch the numbers and see what what the budget will be.

Crabtree (#774)

I’m pretty optimistic. I just paid off my car, and although I have a contract only until June, I just got a raise. I’m putting every additional penny from the raise into savings so that when I finish this job I should be able to last until I can find something else. Ultimately, I want to be able to find a job in the same city as my boyfriend, and saving now should help.

terrific (#1,532)

Last year I successfully learned how to budget and paid off my smallest credit card, as well as saved a whole whopping $2K which seemed IMPOSSIBLE at the beginning of the year.

This year:

1) Pay off my other credit card, with $1,935 at a whopping 13.25% APR.
2) Figure out how the hell to start a 401K. I have NO IDEA. There are instructions on my company’s website but then somehow I wind up on a random page of the Wells Fargo site completely lost every. single. time.
3) Have at least $5,000 in my savings account by the end of the year, after removing the money I’ll be spending at some point in the next 3-4 months on moving, and a summer plane ticket to Berlin (please friends don’t get married this year…).

Great! My goal at Thanksgiving was to pay off my two credit cards by the end of the year, and I succeeded. Channeling Snufkin (from the Moomin books) and trying to not care so much about Things and be more about Doing Stuff, which is why I will be hocking the expensive-ass action figure I preordered last spring in favor of a plane ticket to Texas. Woo!

@Sandra Boiteau@facebook Congrats on the payoff!

sunflowernut (#1,638)

I am somewhat optimistic. In 2012 I finally learned how to budget (and stick to it)! Which was a huge milestone for me. I’ve been able to save way more money the past several months than was possible before, so hopefully I keep that up. And I’m going to start looking for another job this spring, so fingers crossed that I’ll find something!

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

Honestly, 2013 is looking a little scary. I was laid off at the end of 2012- I knew it was coming, they gave me notice before Thanksgiving- and I don’t have anything new yet. Post-taxes, my unemployment will come out to under $300 a week, which combined with being very cautious with my severance will get me by for a couple of months, max.

I need a new job, and I’d really like it if that new job paid more than my old job because I wasn’t really saving much on the old job. If I can line up something new with a salary that’s a couple thousand more per year, it would make a huge difference for me. But job hunting is one of those things where I just can’t know how long it will take, and who knows how the market will treat me this time?

professionalmess (#1,478)

On one hand I’m optimistic because I am out of school for the first time ever, so can/should get a real adult job. On the other hand, I don’t have such a job lined up and have moved back in with my parents.

ThatJenn (#916)

Confident in my abilities, but nervous about the realities: my partner just lost 1/3 of his hours at his job and his position may be eliminated altogether (at which point he would go back to school full time instead of the part-time he’s been doing); I have taken a pretty big cut in take-home pay due to rising costs of some automatic deductions (taxes, insurance, parking, and a voluntary increase in how much I withheld for my HSA), but I don’t actually get to know HOW big a cut it is until next week; my utility costs went up a bit because I got a pet; I have $3,500 in debt on my main card and while I’ve eliminated one major loan that was costing me $300/month, I’m still nervous about paying it off given the above. I am pretty sure I can make it all work and keep contributing to my savings like I’ve started to do, but I’ll just be so sad if I have to cut down on what gets put in my savings account and in my retirement account due to the other changes, because I felt so good and adult about starting higher automatic contributions to both.

Edited to add: rereading this really underscores to me that I am SO very lucky, in that right now, the worst I’m looking at is stopping contributing to my emergency fund if my partner gets laid off. Not so bad. Things are gonna be fine, just maybe not as fantastically bright as I once hoped.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@ThatJenn Congratulations on feeling secure, that’s a big step. It does suck to feel like you’re taking a step back though. I’ve been there.

I’m feeling a lot better about 2013 than I had expected. My work is switching from monthly to every-other-week paychecks which means I’ll get paid the same for the year, but a little less every month. BUT I got a 3% raise right before Christmas that should help with that. And, if I did my calculations right, I can afford a trip back to London in March/April (if I stay with a distant relative). SO I’M GOING TO LONDON YEAH.

(…I am excited, if you can’t tell)

@Saralyn@twitter you should celebrate every-other-week paychecks! my old job AND my new job do that, and if you time your bills right, every few months you get paid THREE TIMES IN ONE MONTH and I look at that as “free money” (even though it’s definitely not)

@Madeline Shoes I know! I am excited about the free money months, but the announcement made me nervous because I had literally just signed the lease on a new, slightly more expensive place. My first “free money” month isn’t until something like May, though, so I’ll have a few months with lower income to get through. And my very first paycheck of the year will be tiny, just because of how it’s situated & the transition from monthly pay. It’ll all be fine once it’s settled, it’s just the beginning that’s anxiety-producing…

@Saralyn@twitter congrats on the new place, though!

I’m feeling… cautiously optimistic about 2013. I started a new job in mid-December which is a step up career-wise but took a tiny pay cut. I’m also traveling abroad this summer, so that will knock out a chunk of my savings.

Good news is that I still haven’t succumbed to opening a credit card, and I’m still paying off more than the minimum payment on my student loans, woo! I set up my new direct deposit to put a tiny bit into my savings each paycheck, and I’m teaching piano lessons to make up for the pay cut I took.

I’ve also started journaling my expenses and created a budget for myself (ha) so I don’t keep accidentally spending tons of money on groceries I don’t use. I’m hoping this will help me get a handle on things so I can do some serious saving before my trip in May – my goal is to save $500 in spending money to take along, Ahhh!

Also my boyfriend and I are looking for a house, so there’s that…

@Madeline Shoes Where are you traveling?!?

@Saralyn@twitter Italy!! I’m super excited/super nervous – this is the first big trip I’ve ever paid for by myself…

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

I’m actually feeling pretty confident heading into the new year. My expenses are going to remain pretty much static from 2012, but i’m receiving a nice annual raise at work which I hope to use to finally put a more impressive dent in my student loans. I have mixed feelings about my job but for the moment if i can maintain my current lifestyle while contributing a bit more to my student loan debt and savings it’s going have major psychic benefits. We also receive a holiday bonus and since I NEVER remember to account for it when i’m budgeting for the year I’m allowing myself the indulgence of throwing the whole thing right into my travel fund. I think this year it’ll make the different between domestic and international so I’m looking forward to reuniting with some expat friends. Despite all this good news I’m still looking for additional work. I’m not in a position to leave my day job but I am on the look out for more freelance opportunities and maybe a bar tending gig if i can swing it.

sventurata (#27)

I… don’t know.

On a positive note, my seasonal job is about to start up again, which means my income will go up again. Off-season, I did a pretty good job of cutting costs to stay within my severance pay. Not so sure I accomplished my other goals (networking, more education, etc.)

On a negative note, everything’s set to become more expensive (rent, utilities, employment-related expenses, added transit costs). I need to learn how to drive ($1000 for 10 lessons), take the tests ($50 admin fees) and get insured/pay for gas (??? Let’s say $200/mo insurance and $30/month gas for occasional driving). That is a HUGE stressor on my stretched-to-the-bone salary. Oh, it’s graduated licencing too, so I won’t even be able to rent a car or pass the final test for another 18 months. This is assuming I get enough driving practice to do so (I grew up in a rural area and am deathly terrified of city driving). I never had the money or access to a car until recently and it’s quite frankly terrifying me. I would only ever want to drive if I left the city. However, I can’t leave the city until I learn…

I can’t work two jobs as I have to be available 100% of the time during the season. I’ve looked, and looked, and looked for other work opportunities for YEARS and it’s just not happening. Unfortunately my region is bilingual, and short of spending tens of thousands of dollars (+ cost of living) to attend a specialized government language training school full-time, there’s no bloody way I will learn the (underused, barely relevant, was not taught in schools where I grew up) second language. Emigrating is a highly attractive prospect some days.

Going back to school for a (non-bilingual) trade would likely set me back another $30K, once moving, cost of living, tuition, and lost income are factored in. I would only enrol in a program with high employment prospects… so I’m not even sure how well I’d do, academically. I have two advanced degrees, for reference, in subjects that are apparently completely useless to the world.

I could relocate 1000 miles across the country for oilsands work, but I’d lose the things I’ve managed to buy over the years and struggle with the lack of car/high rental costs/loss of partner and pets.

So! Clearly I am a little stressed about the year. Any advice?

Stina (#686)

@sventurata How much do you like your seasonal employment? I know it apparently doesn’t pay well but do you like it? If yes, then maybe you have to re-orient your thinking on your goals. You might never attain (insert other goal) but you have chosen instead to keep your career and your partner/pets etc. etc.
If not, redouble your efforts on networking and learn about what other jobs you could get right now are actually like and how to get them. I have seen a lot of people waste a ton of money to get schooling for a career that sounds neat or profitable only to find themselves miserable in them. Maybe instead of a total reboot (i.e. a new degree) a slight sideways move would result in more money and/or happiness for you.

But best wishes whatever happens.

sventurata (#27)

@Stina That is a great way to approach it! I appreciate the fresh perspective. Here’s to good contracts for us both in 2013.

Stina (#686)

2013 should be fine. The only thing is that I have contract-based employment and my current funding runs out at the end of 2013. The way my job works though is that my section applies for the projects and I work on whatever they get, so it’s out of my hands. But my section head is well-known and respected so future funding seems likely.

But I am trying to use this year to revise the resume and get some additional skills that will be useful in my current position. In the unfortunate circumstance that no new projects are found, it will also help me get a new position, should that be necessary.

But if the worst case scenario should happen my husband does make enough to support us (though I am the higher income earner). So we are much more fortunate than most, which I am grateful for.

fennel (#2,494)

I don’t know — but I think things are looking up in the New Year. I may go from being under-employed to employed at the level for which I was trained. I’ve also been more frugal with purchases, in the hopes of having something big to save for soon if the job thing works out – like a house, or even child care expenses for a baby, or a few big trips… but a lot of it depends on the job front.

It’s a little scary seeing how many people have posted about car payments. Maybe Billfold should do a feature on the economics of cars soon. I know that for lots of people, especially in some parts of the country, there is no choice but a car loan, because you need it, but it puts you in such an awful position financially: paying positive interest on an investment that is depreciating as soon as you buy it. Right after credit card debt, a car loan is one of the worst things you can do even though it is so common in the US — it just makes me shiver with apprehension.

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

This year is the first year in a decade, since I started University and took a post-grad a few years later, that I will have a positive net worth. Note I didn’t say debt free, but I will be very close. Luckily my investments and my savings are there to help cushion me until I’m finally out of the clear in mid 2014.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

Feeling confident about 2013.
Enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Science on Monday night, so am $43K in the hole. But I am $43K in the hole with the Australian Govt (not too bad, as established by the Billfold) instead of Sallie May.
Will be leaving my comfy, cushy, salaried job for part-time temp work while my partner has been promoted and is being dicked around re: payrises and new contacts, so not sure if we’ll ever see much more money than right now this year.
I choose to be confident anyway and hope for the best and not for any unexpected expenses over the next 4-5 years while I study!
But I will be excited to leave my cushy job because it is also unfulfilling, so yay!

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