Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Archive for the category “Spending”

What the Obmamacare Supreme Court Ruling Means For Me

Note: This is not a post to debate whether the health care law is good or bad, or how to best fix our health care system.  I’m not interested in a political discussion. Also, I am by no means an expert on the law.

As most of you have probably heard, President Obama’s signature legistation was upheld 5-4 by the Supreme Court last week.  Barring any repeal, the law seems set in stone.  The law overhauls many aspects of the US healthcare system, but what does it mean for my pocketbook?

Right now, my employer covers half of my health insurance premium, so the new law does not change anything for me dramatically.  I think the biggest change would be higher premiums, since the law doesn’t allow too much of a premium differential between age groups (I was hoping that the gender gap in premiums too, but it doesn’t look like that was even discussed).  I’ve already seen my premiums increase 7% this year.

The biggest benefit of the act for us is the provision that allows people to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26 years old, regardless of their marital status and whether they are a student or not.  Before the Affordable Health Care Act passed, in order for someone to stay on their parent’s plan, usually the person had to be a student and single.  Without this, we would have to purchase an individual plan for my husband, which would be expensive (my company doesn’t cover spouses).  Instead, my husband is able to remain on his parent’s plan, which is cheaper since they have a large group policy with his father’s company.  And as a bonus, his parents offered to continue to pay my husband’s premium as a way to help him through school. 

How does the the Affordable Healthcare Act affect your finances?

 

Five Necessities I Hate Paying For

  1. Oil Changes and Car Maintenance: I hate spending extra money to keep something running.  I know it’s what you’re suppose to do, but I still don’t like paying for that kind of stuff.
  2. Health Insurance: It’s expensive, and from my experience, everytime I try to file a claim, the insurance company tries to find a reason to deny it, which means I spend over 45 minutes on hold with their customer service.  Yet, it would be foolish to go without it.
  3. Parking pass: I know that what I’m paying right now for downtown parking at my apartment is a bargin, but since I grew up in small towns, I’m not used to paying for parking.  Yes, I could park for free on the street four blocks away, but the neighborhood four blocks away is ranked the 14th most dangerous neighborhood in the US by NeighborhoodScoutReports.com.  I don’t plan on walking there by myself at night, so the better alternative is to shell out money for a parking pass.
  4. Gas: Yes, I listed another car-related item. For some reason, I always underestimate how much it would cost to fill up a tank.
  5. Tuition: This isn’t really a necessity, unless your career goals requires a degree. I don’t really mind tuition itself, but why does it have to be so expensive?

What are some necessities you hate paying for?

Spending Update: May-June 2012

At an initial glance, May-June looked pretty good; it looked like I went under budget.  The problem was that I had overestimated my income.  I was almost $200 off!  I forgot to take into account the unpaid vacation days I took during the last pay period. My husband got his first paycheck so that is included in our total income, though I forgot to include it in our projected income, which turned out to be a good thing.  About half-way through the month I realized that my paychecks were not going to hit the $2400 mark, so I was able to curb some spending for the rest of the month.  Most of my savings came from taxes, since I guess I was a bracket lower than usual.  I ended up “borrowing” a small money from my Christmas fund to keep me from spending more than my income.

Projected income: $2400.00                                            Actual Income: $2203.90

 

Category Budgeted Actual Difference
Rent $500.00 $500.00 $0.00
Tithe $240.00 $219.00 $21.00
Taxes $400.00 $230.85 $169.15
Cell Phone Bill $45.00 $43.00 $2.00
Gas $72.00 $52.99 $19.01
Car Insurance $100.00 $72.00 $28.00
Groceries $250.00 $246.80 $3.20
Health Insurance $99.04 $99.04 $0.00
Car Maintenance $30.00 $44.00 -$14.00
Doctor’s Appointment $70.00 $0.00 $70.00
Personal Care $25.00 $27.29 -$2.29
Home Supplies $10.00 $47.06 -$37.06
Medication/Contacts $130.00 $151.70 -$21.70
Roth IRA $150.00 $150.00 $0.00
Emergency Fund $75.00 $75.00 $0.00
Christmas Fund $35.00 $31.21 $3.79
Entertainment $178.00 $187.24 -$9.24
Miscellaneous $0.00 $25.90 -$25.90
Total $2,409.04 $2,203.08  $205.96

 

My lease to my apartment ends Jun 30, so I made my last rent payment.  Hopefully, there will be no more rent checks for awhile, which means that about $500 will be freed up in our budget.

Spending Update: Apr-May 2012

I’m a little behind on a lot of things, but I finally finished tabulated my April-May spending

Projected Monthly Income: $2800.00
Actual Monthly Income: $3088.95

Category Budgeted Actual Difference
Housing $700.00 $777.16 -$77.16
Tithe $280.00 $300.04 $20.04
Transportation $195.00 $180.84 $14.16
Health Care $120.00 $149.26 -$29.26
Food $180.00 $176.57 $3.43
Roth IRA $250.00 $250.00 $0.00
Targeted Savings $310.00 $354.00 -$54.00
Clothes $45.00 $90.20 -$45.2
Entertainment $80.00 $72.71 $7.29
Miscellaneous $150.00 $231.62 -$81.62
Tax Withholding $450.00 $490.64 $40.64
Total $2,760.00 $3073.04 -$313.04

I got married during the pay period, and my husband and I moved into our new place.  Even though our new apartment is free, we still have a few months left on the lease, so we will still be paying rent, utilities etc.  For all the other catagories, I pretty much just made up a number, hoping that the total amount of money spent is less than my paycheck.  Hopefully after a few months, I’ll have a better idea of how much money to allocate in each category.

The bulk of the extra money spend went towards buying new things for our new apartment.  Luckily, I ended up having a larger paycheck than expected so cash flow wise, we were still in the black.

Soaring Cost of Prom & Cutting Costs

This past weekend, my husband and I went to P.F. Chang for dinner since we had a gift card.  Prom-goers swarmed the restaurant, which made me think about an article I read recently about soaring prom costs.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when it said that the average person spent $1000 on prom in 2011.  I knew that prom is a special night for high schoolers, but $1000 seems over the top for a dance.  Then I started thinking about how much I spent on my own prom.

Attire
I spent about $110 at JC Penney and $25 on alterations.  I made sure to get a shorter dress since they are usually cheaper than traditional prom gown.  Besides, I knew that I would more likely re-wear a shorter cocktail dress than a floor length gown.  I also chose a simpler one since it’s harder and more expensive to alter a dress with extensive beading. For shoes, I went to a discount store and bought a pair of heels for $20.  

Hair, Makeup, Accessories
I didn’t spend too much money on hair, just $20, but I spent more money than I had planned on for make-up.  I never wore make-up while I was in high school, so one of my friends set up an appointment the Estee Lauder makeup counter at the mall.  Getting make-up done was free if I purchased two items from the counter.  Unfortunately, going into this I had no idea how much nice make-up costed, so I experienced some sticker shock.  All together, I spent $55 on make-up.  While at the mall, I went ahead and bought a pair of nice earrings which were $23.

Food
The parents of one of my good friends had a membership at a swanky country club, so we were able to get a discount for a really nice meal.  I ended up spending $30 for dinner, since I didn’t want my date to pick up the tab.  I still think $30 is a lot of money for one meal, but it was definitely one of the best meals I ever had.  

Other
At my high school, the senior class didn’t have to buy a ticket for prom.  All we had to do was bring an ID, or make sure one of the teachers chaperoning recognized us.  I skipped out on most of the prom bells and whistles.  I didn’t go to the tanning bed like the rest of the girls in my class.  My friends and I didn’t get a fancy limo nor did we book a block of hotel rooms for the after party. We went over to a friend’s house afterwards, and the next morning another friend’s mom hosted a delicious brunch. I have no idea how much these things would have costed, but I’m sure I saved a lot of money.

So, my total prom tab: $283 which according to an online inflation calculator, is equivalent to $314 today.

I managed to keep my prom costs low, but I guess the $1000 average shouldn’t have surprised me too much.  I knew a girl who had traveled to Italy to buy her prom dress, and I one of my friends rented a Rolls Royce for the fifteen minute drive from her house to the country club that hosted our prom.

Ironically my sister, who has a tendency to blow lots of money shopping, spent way less than I did on her prom three years ago.  She borrowed one of my cocktail dresses that I had bought for a wedding, so she didn’t spend a dime on her dress.  Instead of picking a fancy up-do, she picked a hairstyle that she could easily recreate on her own: a side pony-tail with large curls.  An artsy friend did her makeup, and she made sure her date paid for her dinner.  The only money she spent was on a $50 pair of shoes.

Did you go “all out”for your prom, or did you try to reign in the costs?

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Sometimes we take shortcuts just to save a little money.  This past week, my fiance was penny wise, pound foolish.

Last Friday, he called me at work to vent a little bit.  He was a little frustrated at his new boss.  Even though he accepted his RA position in February, his boss waited until last Friday to tell him that he needed to turn in his payroll documents the following Monday.  In order for him to turn in his payroll documents, he needed to have his orginal social security card.  Unfortunately, my fiance’s social security card was at his parents’ house, which was an hour and a half away.  He could have gone home over the weekend to pick it up and visit his family, but he had three final exams on Monday and two on Tuesday.  So, he called his parents to ask them to overnight his social security card and offered to pay them back.  Overall, he spent $5 on postage.  He checked the mail on Saturday; no social security card.  He checked again on Monday and Tuesday, still no card.  At this point it looks like it is lost in the mail.  He made a few mistakes to save a little bit of money:

  1. He used the US postal service.  It’s pretty common knowlege that USPS is less realiable than UPS or FedEx. 
  2. He didn’t want to spend an extra $7 to guarentee overnight delivery.  I’m not sure why USPS has an option to mail something overnight, but not guarentee delivery in the proper time window. 
  3. He didn’t pay extra number for a tracking number.  Now we have no idea where it is; his social security card could be anywhere.

So what were the consequences of trying save a little bit of extra cash?  The immediate consquence is that he couldn’t get his payroll paperwork in time, so he may not be able to start working or get paid right away.  I’m not quite sure how much that will cost us. The long term consequence is the possibility of ID theft, and the headache of dealing with that down the road.

Knowing myself, I would have proabably done the same thing to save a little bit of money.  We’ve learned our lesson.  Next time we have to mail an important document we will pay the extra money to get guarenteed overnight and to get a tracking number and delivery confirmation.

Have you ever been penny wise but pound foolish? What consequences of trying to save a little bit of money?

Post Navigation