Author Topic: Starting out in a minor bind; would like to get my savings fraction above 50%.  (Read 706 times)

Kazyan

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After undergrad, grad school, and spending a cumulative ~19 months wrestling a relevant job out the basically-unwrestleable Hand of the Free Market, I'm not in good financial health right now. But I do have a new contract job that will make me about $2,900 per month, and it's very likely to become a full-time job that will go up to at least $3,600 per month. The last of my grad school stipend stash will likely get me to my first paycheck. I'll get out of this bind when paycheck #1 arrives; that'll just take a couple of weeks.

So let's fix that part about financial health. I want to get my savings fraction (really the "extra money to throw at my student loan principal with" fraction) up to at least 50% while I'm in the contract period. Since I've freshly moved back into the apartment I'd tried and failed to sublease, now is a great time to set myself up for success. Here's the budget I wrote out, which only gets me to a savings fraction of 42%. 42% is wimpy for a young single tech worker, so, suggestions on un-wimping it would be appreciated.

RECURRING PAYMENTS:

Rent and utilities: ~$410 per month. I'm in Knoxville, Tennessee, so the rent is cheap. But ideally, I'd want a place close to my workplace instead of a completely ass 30 minute commute.

Phone and Internet: $75/month. Probably very improvable. I'm getting both through a single unlimited phone plan and tethering, and figured it was a better idea than the two separate plans that were costing me about $90 per month together before I moved out the first time. In hindsight, bad idea, since it locked me into getting a $150 phone, which is what $5 of those $75 per month are for. Whoops. Are there better unlimited data + tethering plans out there in the US?

Health Insurance: $450/month. This is the big one! It's Tricare, though I'm about to age out of the eligibility. This is a good time for me to get a different plan. Help!

Student Loans: $190/month. Plus whatever is left after this budget.

Food: $200/month. Hasn't been properly crushed by MMM meal strategies yet.

Gas: $150/month? 30 minute commute problems. The car is a paid-off 2005 Volvo.

Incidental and Mistake Expenses: $200/month. Doctor visits, car repairs, minor items like laundry detergent, stuff I forgot, whatever. I don't know how to budget for this yet.

Total Estimated Spending: $1,675/month.
Total Estimated Income: $2,900/month.
Fraction that goes towards student loan principal: 42%.

There's also a recent car repair bill, which will probably be about $1,000, but they offer a 0% financing thing out to 6 months. So while I definitely need to pay this, it's to my advantage to pay it off at the 6 month mark and attack the student loan in the meantime.



My thoughts on a priority list of what to improve:

Health Insurance: $450 is 15% of my expected monthly income, so an improvement here would go a long way.
Rent Location and Commute: I would like to live closer to my workplace. It's the nearby city of Oak Ridge, where the lowest rents I could find were over $600. It would be great to find a place where rent and utilities beat out the current rent+utilities+gas of $560, but if 600+ is how it goes, that's what I'll have to do. Ya boi Kazyan needs to start riding his darn bike, and riding it to work would ensure I do it regularly instead of simply telling myself that I will, and then not doing it. (Can you tell I've been struggling/failing with any form of self-improvement? Because I have.)
Food: Cutting this to $100/month would be a better improvement than is possible for my phone bill.
Phone Bill: Lower-priority than the other possible improvements, but every bit counts. There will be a speedbump in that I'd have to pay off the rest of the $150 phone if I change over. D'oh.



Any further suggestions? I'd like to get this right.

Gin1984

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What is the cost of insurance on the ACA exchange?  When you age out of yours, you will be eligible for ACA coverage unless your employer has a plan?

Freedomin5

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Re:rent. Are you open to having a roommate? Or rather than renting an entire apartment, just rent a room in a house?

Kazyan

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What is the cost of insurance on the ACA exchange?  When you age out of yours, you will be eligible for ACA coverage unless your employer has a plan?

It seems to be better than 450/mo. When I actually got online and asked for a quote yesterday night, though, this has resulted in at least a dozen calls from different insurance agents today at work, and that many people trying to sell you something is probably not a good sign? I think? I've asked about the employer insurance and supposedly there's someone here in a similar demographic to me who found something better, so I'll go ask them when possible.

Re:rent. Are you open to having a roommate? Or rather than renting an entire apartment, just rent a room in a house?

I'm open to this. Good idea.

Freedomin5

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Another wya to unwimp your savings is to increase income through side hustles. As a grad school graduate, you are in a good position to tutor and charge a bit of a premium. Are there any colleges nearby? Could you post an ad on campus or on Craigslist offering tutoring services? Way back when I was in grad school, I charge $25/hr and worked around 4-8 hours per week on the weekend/evening. With inflation and all that, you could likely charge more than I did.