Author Topic: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...  (Read 6353 times)

goalphish2002

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I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« on: August 03, 2017, 08:34:50 AM »
I lurk here a lot.  Sometimes, I post about work/career.  I have a personality where I put things off and don't get started.  I feel overwhelmed and somewhat lazy about my finances.  I don't know where to begin so I ignore it.  Please help this PHISH get his shit together. 

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2017, 08:36:25 AM »
I listen to podcasts and read a lot.  I tend to bombard myself with too much information (which can lead to contradictions in advice) and become frozen.  Then, I just stop trying.

prognastat

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 08:40:39 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

OurTown

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goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2017, 08:58:22 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

prognastat

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2017, 09:04:04 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

My wife and I have a shared account and I use Mint. What was exhausting?

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2017, 09:13:40 AM »
I started with "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke" by Suze Orman, then migrated to the MyFICO forums to learn about fixing my credit, then migrated here to learn the lessons from "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez through osmosis.

One thing you can do right now to cut your spending by at least several hundred dollars a month is to cancel your cable TV in favor of an antenna and an antenna DVR, stop listening to terrestrial radio in favor of SiriusXM (subscription fee, but worth it for the savings from not buying advertised crap from commercials), cancel all magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and install Ad-Block Plus and Removes Taboola on Google Chrome and your smartphone browser. You'll no longer see or hear any advertisements or commercials which stops most impulse purchasing.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 09:23:11 AM by WhiteTrashCash »

wenchsenior

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2017, 09:16:55 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

Exhausting how?  DH and I share all accounts and credit cards and on top of that he travels a lot for work and has business cards he uses AND we own a second home and pay about half of THAT household's bills...there's still nothing exhausting happening unless you think an hour or so once per week (or 10 minutes per day, or whatever) is too much effort to stay on top of your household finances.

Tracking every penny was the first step for me.  I never got fancy with the software.  There are these things called paper receipts LOL!  DH and I just started saving every receipt for every thing we purchased.    Then once per week, I would sit down and put the data on $ in and $ out into an Excel spreadsheet by hand.   I did it by hand so I could make sure it was broken out by my category so I could see where we overspent.   (The basic spreadsheet was (I think) based on the one in Your Money or Your Life. 

The first couple months one or the other of us occasionally forgot to save receipts (or dumped the purchase bag with the receipt in it), but eventually it became habitual.  Now, every evening I dig in my purse and DH's wallet and collect all the receipts.  It's almost 8 years I've been doing it now, and it was definitely the single biggest help to motivate me to cut spending, boost investment, and stay on track with savings goals.   




PDXTabs

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2017, 09:17:36 AM »
I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

I personally suggest that you have a shared account for shared expenses like food, insurance, utilities, etc. Then a separate accounts for discretionary spending. I've tried it both ways and I definitely prefer it this way.

L.A.S.

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2017, 09:22:56 AM »
I would say the first thing you should do is stop reading and set up an automatic set-aside or investment today, if you are paid regularly.

This could be anything: e.g. an automatically transfer money to a high interest savings account, or set up and automatically invest it in a brokerage account.

This will achieve several things:
1.  You will have stopped hesitating and taken the first steps -- You will get out of the intellectual "analysis paralysis" realm and into the effective "doing" realm.
2.  You will be living below your means since a portion of your income is diverted to savings.
3.  You will naturally have to start budgeting or otherwise economizing more to account for the fact that your income shrank due to self-induced forced savings.
4.  Once you start seeing some success, you will be compelled to take more steps and this should have a cascading effect.

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2017, 09:28:16 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

Exhausting how?  DH and I share all accounts and credit cards and on top of that he travels a lot for work and has business cards he uses AND we own a second home and pay about half of THAT household's bills...there's still nothing exhausting happening unless you think an hour or so once per week (or 10 minutes per day, or whatever) is too much effort to stay on top of your household finances.

Tracking every penny was the first step for me.  I never got fancy with the software.  There are these things called paper receipts LOL!  DH and I just started saving every receipt for every thing we purchased.    Then once per week, I would sit down and put the data on $ in and $ out into an Excel spreadsheet by hand.   I did it by hand so I could make sure it was broken out by my category so I could see where we overspent.   (The basic spreadsheet was (I think) based on the one in Your Money or Your Life. 

The first couple months one or the other of us occasionally forgot to save receipts (or dumped the purchase bag with the receipt in it), but eventually it became habitual.  Now, every evening I dig in my purse and DH's wallet and collect all the receipts.  It's almost 8 years I've been doing it now, and it was definitely the single biggest help to motivate me to cut spending, boost investment, and stay on track with savings goals.

My wife couldn't remember receipts, and maybe I was a little too meticulous.  I would try to get every receipt and organize Mint (which did a decent job of organizing things but not 100%). 
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 09:32:07 AM by goalphish2002 »

ketchup

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2017, 09:28:48 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

My wife and I have a shared account and I use Mint. What was exhausting?
As someone in a similar situation, my guess is that going through everything in Mint and trying to categorize leads to conversations like this:
"Honey, there's a charge for $75 at Walmart, what was that?"
"Oh, I don't remember."
"It was last Thursday, I think you went there after dinner?"
"Oh yeah, it was groceries and some other stuff."
"How much of it was groceries?"
"I don't know."
"What else did you get?"
"A replacement curtain rod for that one that one we bent last week while taking it down for painting and a pack of batteries, and something else I think."
"You don't remember what else?"
"Why does it matter? It was all stuff we needed."
"Alright fine, forget it."

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2017, 09:31:21 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

My wife and I have a shared account and I use Mint. What was exhausting?
As someone in a similar situation, my guess is that going through everything in Mint and trying to categorize leads to conversations like this:
"Honey, there's a charge for $75 at Walmart, what was that?"
"Oh, I don't remember."
"It was last Thursday, I think you went there after dinner?"
"Oh yeah, it was groceries and some other stuff."
"How much of it was groceries?"
"I don't know."
"What else did you get?"
"A replacement curtain rod for that one that one we bent last week while taking it down for painting and a pack of batteries, and something else I think."
"You don't remember what else?"
"Why does it matter? It was all stuff we needed."
"Alright fine, forget it."

Exactly.  Thank you.  This is exactly the type of things that happened. 

prognastat

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2017, 09:38:43 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

My wife and I have a shared account and I use Mint. What was exhausting?
As someone in a similar situation, my guess is that going through everything in Mint and trying to categorize leads to conversations like this:
"Honey, there's a charge for $75 at Walmart, what was that?"
"Oh, I don't remember."
"It was last Thursday, I think you went there after dinner?"
"Oh yeah, it was groceries and some other stuff."
"How much of it was groceries?"
"I don't know."
"What else did you get?"
"A replacement curtain rod for that one that one we bent last week while taking it down for painting and a pack of batteries, and something else I think."
"You don't remember what else?"
"Why does it matter? It was all stuff we needed."
"Alright fine, forget it."

Exactly.  Thank you.  This is exactly the type of things that happened.

Not really a problem we have, but generally I don't go to that level of precision and we don't randomly go to the store and spend money either.

If the charge is from the grocery store and the majority of the stuff purchased was groceries then it gets classified as groceries, I don't keep the receipt to split that charge in to the exact categories and values that made up that receipt. I find even when it is more generalized I still can get plenty of useful information about where to focus on reducing expenses.

You would have two options:
1. Do what I do and make sure that in general it is pretty accurate, but don't worry if a few dollars on one expense might not match what the majority of that expense was for.
2. Make sure both you and your wife keep your receipts and put it in a designated place when you get home from the store so you can once in a while grab them and update the categories etc.

Finally if you are spending so much at stores so frequently that you can't remember what the general gist of purchases for a particular trip was then either you are waiting too long to ask and update it or you are shopping /buying way too much.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 10:09:55 AM by prognastat »

Fire2025

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2017, 09:59:42 AM »
...set up an automatic set-aside or investment today, if you are paid regularly.

I would agree with this.  Slowly up the % going to your 401k or automatically going to investments.  So you have some savings happening as you wait.

Then I say, with kindness and honesty, I don't think you're ready.  You appear to still be in a blame phase and not in an action phase mentality. 

Read, Read, Read and Learn.

Then wait, when you're ready, you will spring into action.  I also recommend creating your own budget tracking on paper or excel.  The exercise alone will teach you a lot about your spending, that will be very helpful when you start outsourcing that to programs like mint and personal capital.

FireHiker

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2017, 10:01:40 AM »
I recommend what another poster did, putting receipts in a common location, always. I am the data tracker/reconciler, so all I ask is my husband give me his receipts and then I'll handle everything. He's gotten a LOT better about it, and tracking every penny has been very eye opening for us. He doesn't want to go to the effort to parse/manage the data, but he does really like having the results available to review.

wenchsenior

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2017, 10:29:46 AM »
If you aren't already my first recommendation is to start tracking your spending with something like mint to get a grasp of where your money is going first.

Also if you already have a satisfactory emergency fund in place and still have money left at the end of your month I would start raising your investments using the order recommended here https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investment-order/

Then if you want to optimize more it may be worth posting a case study.

I did try this a few years ago with Mint (I bought Quicken but found Mint to be easier).  The issue is my wife and I share an account.  It became an exhausting effort to try to reconcile everything.  Does anyone suggest a married couple having one shared account and two separate accounts for spending?

Exhausting how?  DH and I share all accounts and credit cards and on top of that he travels a lot for work and has business cards he uses AND we own a second home and pay about half of THAT household's bills...there's still nothing exhausting happening unless you think an hour or so once per week (or 10 minutes per day, or whatever) is too much effort to stay on top of your household finances.

Tracking every penny was the first step for me.  I never got fancy with the software.  There are these things called paper receipts LOL!  DH and I just started saving every receipt for every thing we purchased.    Then once per week, I would sit down and put the data on $ in and $ out into an Excel spreadsheet by hand.   I did it by hand so I could make sure it was broken out by my category so I could see where we overspent.   (The basic spreadsheet was (I think) based on the one in Your Money or Your Life. 

The first couple months one or the other of us occasionally forgot to save receipts (or dumped the purchase bag with the receipt in it), but eventually it became habitual.  Now, every evening I dig in my purse and DH's wallet and collect all the receipts.  It's almost 8 years I've been doing it now, and it was definitely the single biggest help to motivate me to cut spending, boost investment, and stay on track with savings goals.

My wife couldn't remember receipts, and maybe I was a little too meticulous.  I would try to get every receipt and organize Mint (which did a decent job of organizing things but not 100%).

No half way functioning adult 'can't remember' to put a receipt in their pocket. 

Either you didn't pursue this long enough for you both to develop the habit (a few months), or you didn't convey to your wife that money tracking is one of the most simple requirements for understanding your financial situation and moving forward, or your wife understood but was simply not on board with the plan and didn't bother, or your wife was actively undermining the plan.

If it's the first thing, then you just need to stick with it for a few months, with gentle reminders every night as you compile the day's receipts. If it is one of the other three things, then you need to communicate with your spouse clearly and make sure you are both on the same page with the same goals before you proceed.

If your started out too nitipicky in terms of fine categorization, then you could most definitely frustrate yourself and cool your enthusiasm for the project.  So go bigger and broader in your categories until the habit is fixed.  Then fine tune. 

Livingthedream55

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2017, 11:48:32 AM »
I recommend what another poster did, putting receipts in a common location, always. I am the data tracker/reconciler, so all I ask is my husband give me his receipts and then I'll handle everything. He's gotten a LOT better about it, and tracking every penny has been very eye opening for us. He doesn't want to go to the effort to parse/manage the data, but he does really like having the results available to review.

+ 2    I have a basket in my kitchen for all incoming mail, receipts, bills, correspondence, shopping lists, etc. I throw everything in it all week and sort and act on the pile each Saturday. I have two adult kids who know to put everything in there. Surely your wife can do so (if not, then she's not on the same page and you need to read entries on that topic here in addition to trying on your own initially.)

Your wife (and you) certainly can create a box, basket, or something to collect receipts.



Laura33

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2017, 12:32:14 PM »
I totally get the Mint thing -- I used to track meticulously, but when I got married, DH had no patience or interest in that, so we'd end up with hundreds of dollars a month of disappearing cash.  And it was easier to give up than keep pushing.

What I have learned:  don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  My DH's approach was to guesstimate what the cash was going to be used for when he visited the ATM -- e.g., "ok, I got $100, so that will probably be $40 on lunches, $20 at CVS, and another $40 for a movie with DW this weekend."  I thought that was too imprecise and demanded receipts -- but I couldn't force a grown-ass man to do it my way, just because I said so.  So I ended up getting frustrated and pitching the whole thing instead of taking the approach that would have covered 98% of what we needed.  (Side note:  this is what my Grandma would have called "cutting off your nose to spite your face.")

To get started:  Pick one thing, do it; then pick another, do that.  Don't worry about making the "right" choice!  How much you save/invest is infinitely more important to your ultimate success than picking exactly the "right" fund or vehicle.  So right now, just focus on getting going in any way you can.  Because there's nothing like realizing how easy something was to remove the fear that is paralyzing you.

E.g.:  I am going to be totally heretical and suggest you not start with expense tracking.  Why?  You've already explained that you get sucked into the minutiae, which just reinforces your tendency to sit-and-spin instead of taking action (ask me how I know).  Right now, you are looking for the easiest, low-hanging fruit out there, the kind that drops into your hand as you walk under the tree.

1.  Are you contributing to your 401(k) up to the match?  If not, go in to HR today -- right now -- and fill out the forms to increase your contribution to the match.  Don't know what to invest in?  Pick a broad market index fund with the lowest cost, or a target-date retirement fund.  Again:  the amount you put in, and the amount you keep after expenses, is way, way, way more important than "should I choose the Fidelity S&P 500 index or the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index?"  You don't need to overthink this.  You will come back to this later, I promise.

2.  Do you have an emergency fund?  If not, go to your bank's website and open a savings account associated with your checking account.  Set up an automatic withdrawal that you can afford -- if you have CC debt (see below), maybe that's $50/mo.; if not, maybe more.  You need at least a few grand in accessible cash.

3.  Do you have credit card debt?  Throw whatever you have above your EF to getting that paid off ASAP.  Start with the highest interest rate card -- pay the minimums on the others, and throw everything else at the big one.  Once that's done, add that money to the next one.  Etc.   

4.  Once you have 1-3 covered:  go look at your 401(k) again.  Do you have extra money you can afford to invest?  E.g., all that money you had been throwing at the CCs?  If so, go in to HR and increase that until you get up to the federal max. 

5.  Once you hit the federal max:  do you have student loans or other debt with interest rates over 4%?  If so, snowball those puppies like you did the CCs.  [Note:  if your other loans are above 6-7%, you may want to swap the order of 4 and 5]  Any loans that are 4% or below, just let it ride and pay off on the normal schedule.

6.  Now, do you still have money left to invest?  If so, jump on the Vanguard website, set up an account, and set up an automatic monthly withdrawal into their Total Stock Market Index.  If that "feels" too aggressive, put it in one of their target date funds that corresponds to your desired FIRE date.

Note that everything except the debt payoff is low-effort, high-return:  once you set things up, they generally happen automatically without you having to DO anything (sloth ftw!).

Expense tracking:  yes, you should do it.  But set that aside until you have a couple of wins under your belt -- if you have debt and no 401(k), do it after step 3; if you have the 401(k) covered, do it after 5-6.  If Mint wasn't user-friendly enough to make it quick and easy, try YNAB or some other option.  Figure out some method that will work for both you AND your wife -- some happy medium, even if that has to include some generic category for "DW unaccounted for."  Limit yourself to a particular amount of time every week, so you don't get sucked too far down that rabbit hole, i.e., "I will do the best I can to get this updated in 1 hour."

Finally:  yes, read investing books and blogs in your spare time.  Just don't kid yourself that reading is "action."  As you learn more, you can use that knowledge to tackle the more complex issues, like do you qualify for an IRA/Roth and which one's best, what is the best asset allocation for your age and risk tolerance, etc.  Maybe set aside a few hours every month or so to look at a particular issue and decide whether to change anything.  But, again, if you are socking away as much as you can in VTSAX or the equivalent, you've already got 90% of it covered.  The rest is just gravy.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

gluskap

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2017, 01:15:05 PM »
I would say the first thing you should do is stop reading and set up an automatic set-aside or investment today, if you are paid regularly.

This could be anything: e.g. an automatically transfer money to a high interest savings account, or set up and automatically invest it in a brokerage account.

This will achieve several things:
1.  You will have stopped hesitating and taken the first steps -- You will get out of the intellectual "analysis paralysis" realm and into the effective "doing" realm.
2.  You will be living below your means since a portion of your income is diverted to savings.
3.  You will naturally have to start budgeting or otherwise economizing more to account for the fact that your income shrank due to self-induced forced savings.
4.  Once you start seeing some success, you will be compelled to take more steps and this should have a cascading effect.

This is a great start.  I think we generally tend to overthink things and once it starts to get complicated it's easy to just do nothing because we're not sure.  Break the steps down to easy steps and just DO SOMETHING!

To make it even easier set up a Vanguard account.  Pick an amount that you think you can reasonably save...it's okay to start small say $100 or $500 a month and just put this into VTSAX.  I think you need a $10k to start if you have that much.  If not just do the $3000 and get VTSMX and switch over when you get to $10k.  Then as you get better about budgeting you can slowly increase your monthly deposit.

MrsPete

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2017, 01:25:54 PM »
I have a personality where I put things off and don't get started. 
What you're saying is that you've been making a choice to put things off /fail to start them.  This is a choice you can change. 

Start with your food budget.  It's something that's easy to adjust, and once you see changes in that area, you'll find motivation to change other aspects of your budget. 

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2017, 01:43:30 PM »
I totally get the Mint thing -- I used to track meticulously, but when I got married, DH had no patience or interest in that, so we'd end up with hundreds of dollars a month of disappearing cash.  And it was easier to give up than keep pushing.

What I have learned:  don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  My DH's approach was to guesstimate what the cash was going to be used for when he visited the ATM -- e.g., "ok, I got $100, so that will probably be $40 on lunches, $20 at CVS, and another $40 for a movie with DW this weekend."  I thought that was too imprecise and demanded receipts -- but I couldn't force a grown-ass man to do it my way, just because I said so.  So I ended up getting frustrated and pitching the whole thing instead of taking the approach that would have covered 98% of what we needed.  (Side note:  this is what my Grandma would have called "cutting off your nose to spite your face.")

To get started:  Pick one thing, do it; then pick another, do that.  Don't worry about making the "right" choice!  How much you save/invest is infinitely more important to your ultimate success than picking exactly the "right" fund or vehicle.  So right now, just focus on getting going in any way you can.  Because there's nothing like realizing how easy something was to remove the fear that is paralyzing you.

E.g.:  I am going to be totally heretical and suggest you not start with expense tracking.  Why?  You've already explained that you get sucked into the minutiae, which just reinforces your tendency to sit-and-spin instead of taking action (ask me how I know).  Right now, you are looking for the easiest, low-hanging fruit out there, the kind that drops into your hand as you walk under the tree.

1.  Are you contributing to your 401(k) up to the match?  If not, go in to HR today -- right now -- and fill out the forms to increase your contribution to the match.  Don't know what to invest in?  Pick a broad market index fund with the lowest cost, or a target-date retirement fund.  Again:  the amount you put in, and the amount you keep after expenses, is way, way, way more important than "should I choose the Fidelity S&P 500 index or the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index?"  You don't need to overthink this.  You will come back to this later, I promise.

2.  Do you have an emergency fund?  If not, go to your bank's website and open a savings account associated with your checking account.  Set up an automatic withdrawal that you can afford -- if you have CC debt (see below), maybe that's $50/mo.; if not, maybe more.  You need at least a few grand in accessible cash.

3.  Do you have credit card debt?  Throw whatever you have above your EF to getting that paid off ASAP.  Start with the highest interest rate card -- pay the minimums on the others, and throw everything else at the big one.  Once that's done, add that money to the next one.  Etc.   

4.  Once you have 1-3 covered:  go look at your 401(k) again.  Do you have extra money you can afford to invest?  E.g., all that money you had been throwing at the CCs?  If so, go in to HR and increase that until you get up to the federal max. 

5.  Once you hit the federal max:  do you have student loans or other debt with interest rates over 4%?  If so, snowball those puppies like you did the CCs.  [Note:  if your other loans are above 6-7%, you may want to swap the order of 4 and 5]  Any loans that are 4% or below, just let it ride and pay off on the normal schedule.

6.  Now, do you still have money left to invest?  If so, jump on the Vanguard website, set up an account, and set up an automatic monthly withdrawal into their Total Stock Market Index.  If that "feels" too aggressive, put it in one of their target date funds that corresponds to your desired FIRE date.

Note that everything except the debt payoff is low-effort, high-return:  once you set things up, they generally happen automatically without you having to DO anything (sloth ftw!).

Expense tracking:  yes, you should do it.  But set that aside until you have a couple of wins under your belt -- if you have debt and no 401(k), do it after step 3; if you have the 401(k) covered, do it after 5-6.  If Mint wasn't user-friendly enough to make it quick and easy, try YNAB or some other option.  Figure out some method that will work for both you AND your wife -- some happy medium, even if that has to include some generic category for "DW unaccounted for."  Limit yourself to a particular amount of time every week, so you don't get sucked too far down that rabbit hole, i.e., "I will do the best I can to get this updated in 1 hour."

Finally:  yes, read investing books and blogs in your spare time.  Just don't kid yourself that reading is "action."  As you learn more, you can use that knowledge to tackle the more complex issues, like do you qualify for an IRA/Roth and which one's best, what is the best asset allocation for your age and risk tolerance, etc.  Maybe set aside a few hours every month or so to look at a particular issue and decide whether to change anything.  But, again, if you are socking away as much as you can in VTSAX or the equivalent, you've already got 90% of it covered.  The rest is just gravy.

Very well stated.  Thanks for the help. 

1. Yes- I contribute and am getting the employer's best match (but only up to this amount).  The State of GA takes a pension amount from my wife's check.
2. We have 35K in cash in the bank total; savings and checking.
3. No CC debt.
4. This is what I need to look into- increasing my 401K.
5. Wife has 50K in student debt but is eligible for 18K in forgiveness next year.  This is something I was curious about.  Should I contribute more to the 401K or pay off this debt?
6. Will have to see after doing a budget and going through 1-5.

***Only other debt is our home.  We owe about 78K and our last appraisal was 120K.  I recently refinanced to a lower rate at 15 years.  We have two autos that are paid off.  However, I am thinking of moving closer to work.  This is something else to think about as I drive 45 miles each way.  But, we live in a LCOL area and will have to move to a HCOL area.  I don't know whether to sell my home or rent it out.  This is up in the air.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 01:54:00 PM by goalphish2002 »

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2017, 01:48:21 PM »
I'm sure it will come up.  How did you get 35K in savings without thinking of what to do with it along the way.

This happened rather quickly.  I moved into a higher paying job while finishing a master's degree that I was paying for out of pocket.  All of a sudden we have more income and less to spend it on every quarter for school.

This is great but, nonetheless, has created the issue of not tracking expenses.  Because of the overflow of extra cash all of a sudden.   
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 01:51:27 PM by goalphish2002 »

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2017, 02:34:07 PM »
Very well stated.  Thanks for the help. 

1. Yes- I contribute and am getting the employer's best match (but only up to this amount).  The State of GA takes a pension amount from my wife's check.  Awesome!
2. We have 35K in cash in the bank total; savings and checking.  Super -- you're 2 for 2!
3. No CC debt.  Make that 3 for 3!
4. This is what I need to look into- increasing my 401K.  You don't need to "look into" this -- you just need to do it!  The words you use to speak to yourself matter, so pay attention to them.
5. Wife has 50K in student debt but is eligible for 18K in forgiveness next year.  This is something I was curious about.  Should I contribute more to the 401K or pay off this debt?  What are the rates on the loans?
6. Will have to see after doing a budget and going through 1-5.

***Only other debt is our home.  We owe about 78K and our last appraisal was 120K.  I recently refinanced to a lower rate at 15 years.  We have two autos that are paid off.  However, I am thinking of moving closer to work.  This is something else to think about as I drive 45 miles each way.  But, we live in a LCOL area and will have to move to a HCOL area.  I don't know whether to sell my home or rent it out.  This is up in the air.  That's a big decision.  Luckily, you don't need to decide that right now.  One thing at a time.

Some thoughts in red above.  But overall: first, I don't think you are giving yourself enough credit.  You have no CC debt and $35K in savings, you have not been out of school for very long, and you didn't increase your lifestyle when you started bringing in extra cash.  That is freaking awesome!  You have a very, very solid foundation here.

So the next step is to tackle that 401(k) vs. student loans Q.  You have two options here.  First, you can evaluate the relative pros/cons of maxing the 401(k) vs. paying off the loans -- compare loan rates vs. expected market returns, evaluate the tax implications of each option, identify the various prepayment requirements for the individual loans, etc.  Or you can just max the 401(k) now, and readjust the amounts later if further analysis shows that that is the better idea.  I think you know which option I would push you toward. 

Tl;dr:  Increasing your 401(k) contributions and paying off the student loans are both better options than letting the money sit in a bank account while you figure out which one is best.  So just pick one and go; you can always change it later.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

jezebel

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2017, 02:48:48 PM »
Have you and your wife use a credit card for most things and link it to Mint.  Check in with each other if you plan to spend more than about $50 and categorize accordingly in Mint.  Other stuff, just guess or put under misc (if just to get tabs on misc spending and show her the numbers).

I can't see any reason to pay off a loan that will be forgiven next year, but I would consider the other loans depending on the rates.  And start putting that 35K to use.

wenchsenior

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2017, 03:06:05 PM »
I'm sure it will come up.  How did you get 35K in savings without thinking of what to do with it along the way.

This happened rather quickly.  I moved into a higher paying job while finishing a master's degree that I was paying for out of pocket.  All of a sudden we have more income and less to spend it on every quarter for school.

This is great but, nonetheless, has created the issue of not tracking expenses.  Because of the overflow of extra cash all of a sudden.   

You sound like kind of where we were about 12 years ago...we went from just scraping by to suddenly simultaneously increasing income AND paying off student and car loans.  All of a sudden we were swimming in cash and we spent a fair amount of it for a year or two.  However, shortly after that I pulled my head out of my butt and started an emergency fund (which you've done) and maxed the 401k... After that is when we started tracking expenditures and income to the penny, and gradually moved to optimize spending. 

So if I were you, I'd throw extra money straight into your 401k and then work on figuring out if there's a way to 'better' optimize that cash.  The only caveat I would throw in is if you are expecting to needed more cash flow in the very near future (because, e.g., you want to buy a car or do home renovations or something). In that case,  if you are sure you will need cash within the next 2 years, I'd maybe prioritize that first. Otherwise, it's almost impossible to screw up by investing in a tax sheltered retirement account.

You're already doing well (better than you sounded in your original post). Just get the basics down and then worry about how to optimize.

kenaces

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2017, 04:04:09 PM »
Sometimes perfection is the enemy of progress.

You seem to have done lots of things right already so you have already started now just keep finding ways to decrease expenses and increase savings/investing.

Like others have said I think putting things on auto is best way to go - i.e. increase 401k contributions is a once a year decision.

While your wife be eligible for additional student loan forgiveness after the 18K?

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2017, 07:30:33 PM »
Start with a budget, and focusing on trimming expenses and paying down debt.
Educate yourself about finances and investment - those podcasts are often really great, and you're also on an interesting site.
Leave the rest until you're happy with those things.

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2017, 08:55:52 PM »
Most folks only have so much energy for new endeavors. If you just finished an advanced degree and started a new job, I wouldn't expect you to have a whole lot of oomph for throwing yourself into the project of Mustachianism :-)

I'd figure out the 401K right away, though, because that's something you can just set up, and let it run.

When you really don't know where a lot of your money is going, one route to go is to just have different pots that different stuff comes out of. This card (checkbook, whatever) for my discretionary, this for my wife's discretionary, this for utilities, this for groceries. Or whatever. Just the exercise of setting up the pots will start to make the fog clear a little.

Finishing school and getting yourself a good job are big accomplishments! Don't rag on yourself. And don't believe that crap about being lazy and putting things off. Even I, a casual stranger, can tell that it's not true. Nobody puts a smoothly running life together in a just a few weeks, or in just a few years. It's an extraordinarily complex project with a zillion moving parts.

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2017, 06:37:17 AM »
Sometimes perfection is the enemy of progress.

You seem to have done lots of things right already so you have already started now just keep finding ways to decrease expenses and increase savings/investing.

Like others have said I think putting things on auto is best way to go - i.e. increase 401k contributions is a once a year decision.

While your wife be eligible for additional student loan forgiveness after the 18K?

She is eligible for up to 18K for working in a low-income school district.  That will be the extent of the forgiveness.  That will leave us 32K to pay down. 

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2017, 06:41:16 AM »
Most folks only have so much energy for new endeavors. If you just finished an advanced degree and started a new job, I wouldn't expect you to have a whole lot of oomph for throwing yourself into the project of Mustachianism :-)

I'd figure out the 401K right away, though, because that's something you can just set up, and let it run.

When you really don't know where a lot of your money is going, one route to go is to just have different pots that different stuff comes out of. This card (checkbook, whatever) for my discretionary, this for my wife's discretionary, this for utilities, this for groceries. Or whatever. Just the exercise of setting up the pots will start to make the fog clear a little.

Finishing school and getting yourself a good job are big accomplishments! Don't rag on yourself. And don't believe that crap about being lazy and putting things off. Even I, a casual stranger, can tell that it's not true. Nobody puts a smoothly running life together in a just a few weeks, or in just a few years. It's an extraordinarily complex project with a zillion moving parts.

Thanks.  I appreciate it.  Yes, the recent changes with regards to graduation and a new job were overwhelming.  We also have a toddler.  I just realize I need to buckle down and get started.  I assume increasing my 401K contributions and budgeting/tracking expenses is enough to start.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2017, 09:19:54 AM »
I totally get the Mint thing -- I used to track meticulously, but when I got married, DH had no patience or interest in that, so we'd end up with hundreds of dollars a month of disappearing cash.  And it was easier to give up than keep pushing.

What I have learned:  don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  My DH's approach was to guesstimate what the cash was going to be used for when he visited the ATM -- e.g., "ok, I got $100, so that will probably be $40 on lunches, $20 at CVS, and another $40 for a movie with DW this weekend."  I thought that was too imprecise and demanded receipts -- but I couldn't force a grown-ass man to do it my way, just because I said so.  So I ended up getting frustrated and pitching the whole thing instead of taking the approach that would have covered 98% of what we needed.  (Side note:  this is what my Grandma would have called "cutting off your nose to spite your face.")

To get started:  Pick one thing, do it; then pick another, do that.  Don't worry about making the "right" choice!  How much you save/invest is infinitely more important to your ultimate success than picking exactly the "right" fund or vehicle.  So right now, just focus on getting going in any way you can.  Because there's nothing like realizing how easy something was to remove the fear that is paralyzing you.

E.g.:  I am going to be totally heretical and suggest you not start with expense tracking.  Why?  You've already explained that you get sucked into the minutiae, which just reinforces your tendency to sit-and-spin instead of taking action (ask me how I know).  Right now, you are looking for the easiest, low-hanging fruit out there, the kind that drops into your hand as you walk under the tree.

1.  Are you contributing to your 401(k) up to the match?  If not, go in to HR today -- right now -- and fill out the forms to increase your contribution to the match.  Don't know what to invest in?  Pick a broad market index fund with the lowest cost, or a target-date retirement fund.  Again:  the amount you put in, and the amount you keep after expenses, is way, way, way more important than "should I choose the Fidelity S&P 500 index or the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index?"  You don't need to overthink this.  You will come back to this later, I promise.

2.  Do you have an emergency fund?  If not, go to your bank's website and open a savings account associated with your checking account.  Set up an automatic withdrawal that you can afford -- if you have CC debt (see below), maybe that's $50/mo.; if not, maybe more.  You need at least a few grand in accessible cash.

3.  Do you have credit card debt?  Throw whatever you have above your EF to getting that paid off ASAP.  Start with the highest interest rate card -- pay the minimums on the others, and throw everything else at the big one.  Once that's done, add that money to the next one.  Etc.   

4.  Once you have 1-3 covered:  go look at your 401(k) again.  Do you have extra money you can afford to invest?  E.g., all that money you had been throwing at the CCs?  If so, go in to HR and increase that until you get up to the federal max. 

5.  Once you hit the federal max:  do you have student loans or other debt with interest rates over 4%?  If so, snowball those puppies like you did the CCs.  [Note:  if your other loans are above 6-7%, you may want to swap the order of 4 and 5]  Any loans that are 4% or below, just let it ride and pay off on the normal schedule.

6.  Now, do you still have money left to invest?  If so, jump on the Vanguard website, set up an account, and set up an automatic monthly withdrawal into their Total Stock Market Index.  If that "feels" too aggressive, put it in one of their target date funds that corresponds to your desired FIRE date.

Note that everything except the debt payoff is low-effort, high-return:  once you set things up, they generally happen automatically without you having to DO anything (sloth ftw!).

Expense tracking:  yes, you should do it.  But set that aside until you have a couple of wins under your belt -- if you have debt and no 401(k), do it after step 3; if you have the 401(k) covered, do it after 5-6.  If Mint wasn't user-friendly enough to make it quick and easy, try YNAB or some other option.  Figure out some method that will work for both you AND your wife -- some happy medium, even if that has to include some generic category for "DW unaccounted for."  Limit yourself to a particular amount of time every week, so you don't get sucked too far down that rabbit hole, i.e., "I will do the best I can to get this updated in 1 hour."

Finally:  yes, read investing books and blogs in your spare time.  Just don't kid yourself that reading is "action."  As you learn more, you can use that knowledge to tackle the more complex issues, like do you qualify for an IRA/Roth and which one's best, what is the best asset allocation for your age and risk tolerance, etc.  Maybe set aside a few hours every month or so to look at a particular issue and decide whether to change anything.  But, again, if you are socking away as much as you can in VTSAX or the equivalent, you've already got 90% of it covered.  The rest is just gravy.

YES.  This.  Start small - like 401(k) - do that, then pick the next thing.  You get sucked into expenses, so don't start with that.  This poster said exactly what I had in mind. 

Also: you're already doing really well!  Don't beat yourself up.  Just do better.  Pick something, change it, pick something else, change that, etc. until you're where you want to be. 

As for student loans: depends upon whether she gets more forgiveness, etc., which we don't know from this info.  If so, why pay what the state will?  If not, then it's always nicer to be debt-free, especially student-loan free, since it's the worst form of debt. 

goalphish2002

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2017, 11:48:19 AM »
A friend of mine has advised getting the 401K match, which I am already doing.  Then, max out ROTH IRA contributions for my age.

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2017, 11:56:43 AM »
As someone in a similar situation, my guess is that going through everything in Mint and trying to categorize leads to conversations like this:
"Honey, there's a charge for $75 at Walmart, what was that?"
"Oh, I don't remember."
"It was last Thursday, I think you went there after dinner?"
"Oh yeah, it was groceries and some other stuff."
"How much of it was groceries?"
"I don't know."
"What else did you get?"
"A replacement curtain rod for that one that one we bent last week while taking it down for painting and a pack of batteries, and something else I think."
"You don't remember what else?"
"Why does it matter? It was all stuff we needed."
"Alright fine, forget it."
LOL I love the Walmart app... I scan all Walmart receipts with the Walmart app (just scan the QR code) and it keeps all of your itemized receipts on the Walmart app.

Another pro-tip:  use something like Dropbox (pro version) to scan receipts and it auto-uploads to a Dropbox folder (say receipts) and keep it there for future reference.  Super fast and easy.
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rachael talcott

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #34 on: August 11, 2017, 02:44:37 PM »
A good place to start might be having a series of conversations with your wife about shared goals.  If you can work through the math together and see that you can both retire (or at least reach FI) in X years if you save $Y / month, that's a pretty good motivator. Then figure out where you can find that money.  You don't necessarily have to track every penny to do that.  If you are currently spending $Z/month on cellphones, and you shop around and find a cheaper option, you can figure out how much you will save and apply it towards your $Y/month goal. Or if you're already running pretty lean, you could add a side hustle and apply that.

Laura33

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #35 on: August 11, 2017, 06:08:00 PM »
A friend of mine has advised getting the 401K match, which I am already doing.  Then, max out ROTH IRA contributions for my age.

You can certainly do this.  There is a lot of debate over whether a Roth IRA is better than a traditional IRA, and the extent to which it is better to invest within your 401(k) vs an IRA.  Those decisions depend very much on your individual circumstances.

But remember:  we are not trying to find the optimal investment plan for you -- we are trying to get you over the hump of inaction to actually DO things.  So if you qualify for a Roth based on your income, and you feel more comfortable following your friend's advice, by all means, do it (and then once you max that out, go back and throw more money at your 401(k)). 

Just do NOT use your friend's suggestion as an excuse to sit and spin for another month or so while you do the research and figure things out and decide which is best.  If you are not sure, do whatever is easiest, and adjust later.
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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #36 on: August 12, 2017, 11:00:19 AM »
Just do NOT use your friend's suggestion as an excuse to sit and spin for another month or so while you do the research and figure things out and decide which is best.  If you are not sure, do whatever is easiest, and adjust later.

I love this.  Sometimes perfect is the death of action.  Need to remember this in my life.  Thanks Laura33.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #37 on: August 14, 2017, 02:27:47 AM »
Just do NOT use your friend's suggestion as an excuse to sit and spin for another month or so while you do the research and figure things out and decide which is best.  If you are not sure, do whatever is easiest, and adjust later.

I love this.  Sometimes perfect is the death of action.  Need to remember this in my life.  Thanks Laura33.

When I find myself thinking a lot about something, I stop and ask how much life energy/time/money this question is worth....then cabin it to that amount of time.  It's a charm for avoiding time-wasting on low-value tasks. 

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #38 on: August 14, 2017, 08:52:26 AM »
I'm sure it will come up.  How did you get 35K in savings without thinking of what to do with it along the way.

This happened rather quickly.  I moved into a higher paying job while finishing a master's degree that I was paying for out of pocket.  All of a sudden we have more income and less to spend it on every quarter for school.

This is great but, nonetheless, has created the issue of not tracking expenses.  Because of the overflow of extra cash all of a sudden.   

So the simple thing to do is automate the investing of the new income.

For example if the increased cash flow is 36k, set an automatic contribution of 1500/mo into 401k and 1500/mo into a Vanguard brokerage account.  That's 36k of annual investment.  Boom, the cash remaining in your account each month is back to the comfortable old level.

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #39 on: August 14, 2017, 10:13:03 AM »
YES.  This.  Start small - like 401(k) - do that, then pick the next thing.  You get sucked into expenses, so don't start with that.  This poster said exactly what I had in mind. 

Also: you're already doing really well!  Don't beat yourself up.  Just do better.  Pick something, change it, pick something else, change that, etc. until you're where you want to be. 

As for student loans: depends upon whether she gets more forgiveness, etc., which we don't know from this info.  If so, why pay what the state will?  If not, then it's always nicer to be debt-free, especially student-loan free, since it's the worst form of debt.

+1.  Personally I like to make a list so I do not forget things. Example:
1. Increase 401K contribution
2. Review mutual funds in 401K
3. Review mutual funds in IRA
etc.

I set my goals very low - 1 task per day, which is easy and doable for me. For harder tasks, maybe 1 task over weekend. It feels good to accomplish something when I cross it off, and feels awesome when I did like 3 in one day when I have some free time. I then reward myself by something simple, like drinking a cold one in the patio early evening :)

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #40 on: August 15, 2017, 09:17:46 PM »
YES.  This.  Start small - like 401(k) - do that, then pick the next thing.  You get sucked into expenses, so don't start with that.  This poster said exactly what I had in mind. 

Also: you're already doing really well!  Don't beat yourself up.  Just do better.  Pick something, change it, pick something else, change that, etc. until you're where you want to be. 

As for student loans: depends upon whether she gets more forgiveness, etc., which we don't know from this info.  If so, why pay what the state will?  If not, then it's always nicer to be debt-free, especially student-loan free, since it's the worst form of debt.

+1.  Personally I like to make a list so I do not forget things. Example:
1. Increase 401K contribution
2. Review mutual funds in 401K
3. Review mutual funds in IRA
etc.

I set my goals very low - 1 task per day, which is easy and doable for me. For harder tasks, maybe 1 task over weekend. It feels good to accomplish something when I cross it off, and feels awesome when I did like 3 in one day when I have some free time. I then reward myself by something simple, like drinking a cold one in the patio early evening :)

Based upon this, I can't recommend this TED talk enough.  He's dead on - been managing things that way myself for a long time, and it eradicates the "overwhelmed" feelings I used to struggle with.  Ironically, I had already taken steps in this direction before listening, but afterwards, I doubled down and the rewards have been huge.  My stress levels are way down. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxhjDPKfbY (stress-free productivity). 

EmFrugal

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #41 on: August 17, 2017, 01:37:23 PM »
I tend to get overwhelmed by all the advice and various steps as well. For a while I tracked every expenditure in a giant categorized spreadsheet (my own but like Mint) and then burned out, got pregnant with tons of nausea, and gave up all together. When our spending went crazy recently, I realized we needed to seriously reign it back in but in a realistic way that allows me to mother three kids, work part-time, and not spend tons of time tracking things. For what it's worth our emergency stash is at a really nice amount now, but we still need to reign in our ridiculous overspending of late.

Here's a simple method that is working well for us:
1) Set a weekly spending budget (this doesn't include our utility bills or professional re-certifications but everything else like groceries, toiletries, kid activities, etc
2) Don't go over it. Sometimes that means having to say no to that kid music class or yoga class or whatever luxury you want to give yourself. If you have some extra left at the end of the month after adjusting for the amount you want to save, then buy a small luxury.
3) Readjust to a lower weekly spending amount as you get better at saving and move savings into a fund of your choice.

We simply have a conversation each day so that we are both involved in the process. It goes like this... "Did you spend anything today?" The other person, "$4 on a work coffee." Then I log the spending in a simple Google drive spreadsheet on my phone and right a description next to it. That way I can see how much is left in our weekly budget and where the $ is going overall. It takes one minute or less a day. May not work for you guys, but it has been great for getting us back on track so far. I am by far the "spendier" one in our relationship so I control the spreadsheet. That way I don't feel like I'm being scolded. But we also have an understanding that we are not judging, just working together to get our savings in order.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: I'm Overwhelmed and Don't Know Where to Start...
« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2017, 06:10:31 AM »
I tend to get overwhelmed by all the advice and various steps as well. For a while I tracked every expenditure in a giant categorized spreadsheet (my own but like Mint) and then burned out, got pregnant with tons of nausea, and gave up all together. When our spending went crazy recently, I realized we needed to seriously reign it back in but in a realistic way that allows me to mother three kids, work part-time, and not spend tons of time tracking things. For what it's worth our emergency stash is at a really nice amount now, but we still need to reign in our ridiculous overspending of late.

Here's a simple method that is working well for us:
1) Set a weekly spending budget (this doesn't include our utility bills or professional re-certifications but everything else like groceries, toiletries, kid activities, etc
2) Don't go over it. Sometimes that means having to say no to that kid music class or yoga class or whatever luxury you want to give yourself. If you have some extra left at the end of the month after adjusting for the amount you want to save, then buy a small luxury.
3) Readjust to a lower weekly spending amount as you get better at saving and move savings into a fund of your choice.

We simply have a conversation each day so that we are both involved in the process. It goes like this... "Did you spend anything today?" The other person, "$4 on a work coffee." Then I log the spending in a simple Google drive spreadsheet on my phone and right a description next to it. That way I can see how much is left in our weekly budget and where the $ is going overall. It takes one minute or less a day. May not work for you guys, but it has been great for getting us back on track so far. I am by far the "spendier" one in our relationship so I control the spreadsheet. That way I don't feel like I'm being scolded. But we also have an understanding that we are not judging, just working together to get our savings in order.

That's awesome!  Sounds like you're doing exactly what you want in your own best way already!

Another tip that works for some: automate your saving.  Then the money is spent, so you can't spend it again.  Though it sounds like you've already conquered the spending issue.

By the way, spending is a really hard issue, especially when married!  We've watched a lot of couples struggle with it, so I'm impressed with how quickly and how well you've managed it.  It takes many couples a while to get their groove and figure that out.  (And more communication - just like you're doing - is better!)