On Minding the Gap

@sea ermine Also volunteering part time while unemployed can help fill the gaps in your resume, gives you something to discuss with employers (if the volunteering is relevant, like if you work at a non profit and the volunteering is in the field of interest), and helps motivate you during an otherwise stressful time. I imagine freelancing could do the same thing.

Posted on January 21, 2015 at 9:10 am 0

On Minding the Gap

When I was unemployed and people asked me what I do I would mention my field and then say "but I'm currently unemployed and applying for [insert job type here] of jobs". Half the time the response would be "oh my office is hiring that, send me your resume" or "oh my friend works in that industry let me put you in touch with her". The job I got ended up being one I found on my own but I got some really good feedback and made good connections through basically being honest with people about my situation. Given the way the economy has been since 2008 I don't really feel that unemployment is that taboo anymore, and even if it was I didn't feel ashamed of my situation. Granted, when I was unemployed it was because I graduated school and moved to a new city (and even if I hadn't moved, I was in the work study program which is for full time students only so I would have been unemployed anyway) but I've had friends who were unemployed because they got laid off and they just say "I just left my job and I'm looking for work in [field x]" and the response is always positive or offers to put them in touch with someone they know who works in that field.

Posted on January 21, 2015 at 9:08 am 0

On Open Thread: Share Your 2015 Budget

@linzertart So, for me I used to let the chips fall where they may and then found I was overspending, and that coupled with needed to underspend to tackle some financial pickles I got myself into means I need to, not necessarily track down to the penny, but have all my money budgeted up so when I total the categories it adds up to my take home pay. But that's just me! What you could do is maybe create loose budgets for things (not necessarily in Mint, it works for me but depending on how loose your categories are it may not be super helpful). So for example of that $700 you could put $150 in to flex savings (for replacement boots and things), $300 into emergency savings, $150 towards fun (unspecified fun), and $100 towards extra loan payments. And then then try that for a month and see how it feels. If it feels easy you can stick to it, if you find that it feels tight maybe lower the savings to $250 and fun up to $200. Just sort of play with it a little bit but at least this way they have places to go and aren't so loose that that $700 disappears into nowhere. As for how much it matters, I guess sort of as much as your peace of mind matters. The savings and loans both matters, because if you combine your savings it will probably feel good to have a higher number to share together and for loans, a lower number to pay off. But at the same time you don't want to feel pinched in the meantime in the gab between now and a year from now when you get married. Which is why I think maybe starting with a loose budget and adjusting it over the next two months will help you have a place to put everything where its accounted for, but isn't so strict that you stress yourself out over nothing. I hope that made sense! Edited to add, what might help is since you have mint peek into your everything else tab (under budgets) for the past few months and get an idea of where it's going, so you can see where to cut and how to best choose accurate and realistic numbers for savings vs fun money.

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 2:28 pm 0

On Open Thread: Share Your 2015 Budget

@linzertart For the extra money, does your bank allow you to set up a separate savings account (maybe you can give it a different name?). What I would do is first comb through your last 3 months of spending (maybe through bank and credit card statements) and make sure there isn't anything you're missing. If there is assign that a budget, so for example I noticed you don't have a budget set for household supplies like shampoo and paper towels, you could give that a budget of $100. If you go out to bars or restaurants that could get a budget of $50. Try to keep these budgets realistic (even if you are lowering them to save money) so you don't under-spend and then feel stressed and overspend later. Then with what's left take $150 and put that into a separate account for replacing things that are falling apart, or for similar purchases (essentials type stuff). The rest put into savings. Your bank may allow you to set up an automatic transfer, you could set that savings amount and the $150 to transfer the day you get paid or the day after you get paid. Once you've had this budget for a few months and have made progress on your credit card debt you might want to take a portion of the savings amount (even if it's just $50) to set aside for retirement, either through your paycheck or a roth ira. Also, I'd find a way to track your spendings that works with your lifestyle. I use mint because I'm lazy and it tracks things for me, when I first signed up I spent half an hour going through my past 3 months of expenses (it automatically loads them for you, and I needed to go through them anyway to make my new budget) and then I set up all my categories (you can assign rules to automatically categorize certain purchases as certain categories). Now I don't touch it, unless I go somewhere new (and even then it gets it right 99% of the time) but I check it daily to see how I'm doing on my budget (I set up budgets and it will show them as green if I'm fine, yellow if close or finished, and red if I go over). It also texts me if I go over budget. There are similar apps like YNAB. You can also just make a habit of every Thursday (I like Thursday because it's before all the weekend spending starts) going through your bank statements online (save receipts from cash purchases so you can track them here too) and totalling them up in your budget categories in a notebook. Good luck!

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm 0

On Open Thread: Share Your 2015 Budget

I just redid my budget for this year so this is timely. Feel free to critique it, I'm still making adjustments and welcome any advice. My take home pay is 2417 (this includes my monthly metro card, which is deducted pre tax). However, my sister gives me $93 for her share of our cell phone bill so the total I use for budgeting is $2510. Bills: Internet: $50 (I negotiated it down to $34.99 with Time Warner so the $15 I save will be my new gym membership) Hulu Plus: $8 Cell Phone: $175 Utilities: $80 (flexible budget, in the winter it's $18 for gas and $50 for electricity, in the summer gas is the same but electricity goes up) Student Loan: $180 Gym: $15 (as of next month) Rent: $1225 Fun: Bars & Alcohol: $25 Fast Food: $5 Restaurants: $25 Shopping: $15 Necessities: Groceries: $200 Home Supplies: $50 (this is for paper towels, cleaning products, shampoo) Laundry: $15 Debt: $400 (once this is gone it will be split $300 to savings and $100 distributed to fun) Emergency Fund: $100 Retirement Savings: $50 Right now my savings is low because of a few back to back emergencies combined with low paychecks (payroll screwup lead to surprise back payments) but if I can weather out the next few months till April, my 3 paycheck month I'll be fine. Also for my 3 paycheck month I set aside the money for my 3 yearly subscriptions (amazon prime, ups mychoice, playstation plus). I don't currently have renters insurance but I'll get it in April and treat it like a yearly subscription even though it's a monthly payment. The rest will go into savings.

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm 0

On Planning a 2015 Budget: Revised and Updated

I really hope I'm wrong but that amount seems low for taxes? I I make 16k less per you than you are estimating you will and I pay more than that in just federal/ssi/medicare (I excluded state and city taxes when adding mine up because I know you mentioned your state doesn't have those). There was an article (on the billfold : D) a while back about estimating your freelance taxes that might be useful, it's here: http://thebillfold.com/2014/03/heres-a-surefire-tax-estimating-process-for-freelancers-rebooted-and-updated/. Maybe take a look at that and see if you need to set aside a bit more. Edited to add, I also just ran an after tax salary calculator for making 60k a year (thats 5k a month as per your estimate) for someone single in Washington State and under that you'll end up paying about $11,760 a year, which doesn't include freelance taxes yet. So it might be good to chat with your accountant or look over that billfold article for tips.

Posted on January 13, 2015 at 1:06 pm 1

On Is "Dry January" Worth The Savings

@ChristinaMichelle Yeah it took a little time but I can drink again now, just not more than 2 glasses at a time (which is fine with me!) I find that vodka, brandy and white wine are the gentlest on my stomach, and anything with fizz (although I do ok with the occasional hard cider or two) or brown liquor (rum, whiskey, bourbon, etc) is the hardest. So I definitely think you'll be able to go back to having your wine and craft beer every now and then!

Posted on January 9, 2015 at 11:29 am 0

On Friday Estimate

I'm throwing a dinner party! I bought some groceries (veggies mostly) for about $25 last night and I'm stopping my trader joes for the rest after work, and then target for some plastic cups and popsicle sticks (i'm making boozy ice pops in little cups) and some extra wine glasses. I'm doing both the shopping for this as well as most of my weekly groceries (since I doubt I'm going to want to do any more on sunday) all at once so I'll probably spend another $50 at trader joes and $20 at target. I'm also going to go to the liquor store where I'm getting a bottle of rum, grenadine (I'm making tequila sunrises but with rum) and wine for the mulled wine I'm going to have in a crock pot. That will probably be another $60? This is more than I usually spend in a weekend but it includes my groceries for next week and I'm not going out again for the rest of the month (part of the reason I'm having the dinner party is because this is a busy work month with lots of overtime (our major annual event is the last week of January and it lasts all week) so I want to see all my friends and get some relaxing in before things get too crazy. Also I signed up with mint recently and it's helping me stay in budget so much (I love that it sends a text if I go over my budget in a category) so that has been really helping me.

Posted on January 9, 2015 at 11:26 am 0

On Is "Dry January" Worth The Savings

@ChristinaMichelle I started having problems with my stomach because of alcohol too and cutting it out for a month or two really helped me. I've also cut it out for sleep reasons before too. I find reintroducing it slowly helps so you can figure out if any particular types of alcohol are likely to make you sicker can help to. If it helps, I can now have a glass of wine or too without getting sick so you probably won't have to cut it out forever once you do this. Good luck!

Posted on January 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

On Is "Dry January" Worth The Savings

I've done drynuary, but in October. I did it because my sleep cycle was really messed up and I wanted to see if, along with a strict bedtime and a sun lamp on a timer, cutting out booze would help. It did, and I also saved a lot of money that month. When I added booze back in I did it slowly so I could find the sweet spot that doesnt mess with my sleep (which turned out to be two drinks in a night, no more than once a week). Also, honestly, if your friends care so much about what you drink (or eat for that matter) they aren't really your friends. Everyone knew I was skipping drinking that month and no one cared. And I still went out to bars I just got club soda with lime or water and tipped well so the bartenders didn't care either (and it was still cheaper).

Posted on January 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm 0