Author Topic: A not as shitty situation  (Read 8673 times)

Micheal

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A not as shitty situation
« on: June 26, 2013, 01:13:41 AM »
Okay here goes.

I make $800 a month from my job after taxes, no other savings
My wife makes $685 from her disability

So right now that makes $1485/mo income, or $17,820.00/year (used to be higher till a certain governor rose to power)

Expenses

Rent $400/mo
Electricity $80/mo
Natural Gas $20/mo
Food $100/mo (cat litter and food included $20, no the cats and the expense are staying)
Phone $30/mo (straight Talk pre-paid)
Insurance $43/mo (had  a few wrecks and tickets)
Gas-Car $30/mo (I walk to work most days have for years and one trip a week that has to be by car)
Net $40/mo (cable internet as it is the only decent net service in my area, but I own my equipment no renting)
no cable

So that makes around $743 in expenses/ $715 income

My wife and I do have some debt but I cant access my credit reports until I do the traditional Bureaucratic Paper Mating dance with the 3 firms that like to think they control the credit universe of the peon (Yes I have tried the annual credit report but somethings hinky, It thinks I got a mortgage in march and a car loan in 2009, As I've never borrowed money to buy a car in my life and I rent.)  My wife has finally got her spending habits under control.  My question is after we get the debt paid down (and we have a plan in place to make this happen as soon as possible after we figure out who needs to be paid what, about $3k in combined debt I think) what should I start putting my money in and how much, and any suggestions of how to cut this down further.  I'm about as knowledgeable about investing income as a Sea Sponge is about Shakespeare.

marty998

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2013, 01:48:00 AM »
How do you survive on $80 a month food for you and your wife?

That's some real starving-Ethiopian-level badassity!!!

arebelspy

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 01:54:34 AM »
Good work cutting your expenses so much.  You need to work on increasing your income now!

If you can keep them that low and increase your income, you can hit FI quickly!

Quote
what should I start putting my money in and how much

As I suggested in another thread to someone with the same question:
As far as investing advice, I think this is a great place to start for beginners: http://jlcollinsnh.com/

It's only a year or two old, so there aren't that many posts - I'd go to the beginning and read them all.

But specifically his "Stocks" series of posts which is almost 20 posts long now.

It's simple, direct, and not too overwhelming.

As for how much, well.. As much as you can.  The more you save, the faster you'll be FI!

Welcome to the forums.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Micheal

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2013, 02:51:04 AM »
How do you survive on $80 a month food for you and your wife?

That's some real starving-Ethiopian-level badassity!!!

We have a great store here in town the sells near expired foodstuffs/damaged cans for a fraction of the price of a regular store, while I do not trust it for perishables like meat if you check the canned and dry goods exp. dates you can make out pretty well.  We eat very little meat, and mostly venison, which we trade a load of firewood per deer for processing every hunting season (my father in law cuts wood for a side job and I get one processed deer out of the deal in trade for manual labor and fixing the chainsaws when they break comes to about 150-300lb for a $35 tag and some labor I was going to do anyway), tuna, and chicken.  We stick to the the store brands when we shop which comes to quite a bit of savings.  Alot of potatoes.  taters are good.  We make our own bread, so per loaf its cheaper and it tastes better.  We watch the sales at the stores and utilize price matching (if you do not do this already Wal-Mart and Kroger will usually match prices from stores like Aldi's (cheap store in our area) if you ask them to, in fact they usually have the ads for those stores at the register but won't show them to you).  We grow then pickle, can,  or otherwise preserve alot of our veggies and herbs.  A local store sells spices by the ounce so we only buy what we need.  And recently we gave up soda completely, we drink water, tea, and lemonade mostly now.  And we never buy more than we can use and plan meals ahead of time.  For two of us it comes out pretty well.  Some months we do spend a little more or a little less but it averages out to about $80 a month for food.  In fact so far this month we've spent $60 but we are running low on flour so we will need to spend about $5 for a giant bag of it next month.

@arbelspy thanks for the link.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 02:57:01 AM by Micheal »

gooki

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2013, 04:07:33 AM »
You sir deserve a medal. That's totall badass food sourcing.

nktokyo

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 04:12:55 AM »
I would focus solely on increasing income as your costs are nailed down. Are you working only a couple of days a week at present? What's the situation?

pbkmaine

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 07:12:41 AM »
I would start by seeing what government programs, like food stamps and Medicaid, you are eligible for. For investing information, I like Investopedia for looking up terms and the Bogleheads wiki for discussions. My own investing is done at Vanguard, which has the lowest average fund expenses in the industry. The website is easy to use and the phone counselors are quite good. Beginning investors usually like all-in-one funds. These have a mix of stocks, bonds and cash. 

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 07:31:16 AM »
You sir deserve a medal. That's totall badass food sourcing.

+1

I'm amazed at your food resourcefulness! Just imagine how much you'd be saving if you could up your income and maintain that same lifestyle!

As for the credit reports, use the printable form, fill it out, and mail it in. It is so much easier to get your credit report that way -- they don't ask the same types of security questions that they do online or on the phone. Here is the link to the printable request: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/order?mail

mpbaker22

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 07:57:21 AM »
I would start by seeing what government programs, like food stamps and Medicaid, you are eligible for. For investing information, I like Investopedia for looking up terms and the Bogleheads wiki for discussions. My own investing is done at Vanguard, which has the lowest average fund expenses in the industry. The website is easy to use and the phone counselors are quite good. Beginning investors usually like all-in-one funds. These have a mix of stocks, bonds and cash.

Medicaid-yes
SNAP - I doubt it'd even help much given his ridiculous food budget!  However, it might help him to buy some luxuries once in a while, and that could be nice.

unpolloloco

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2013, 08:16:36 AM »
SNAP - I doubt it'd even help much given his ridiculous food budget!  However, it might help him to buy some luxuries once in a while, and that could be nice.

But free food is better than paying for it!  Also may provide more opportunities for barter in the future...

Also, OP should definitely figure out why the credit agencies think there's a mortgage and car loan.  Might be an identity theft situation - should take care of this ASAP.

DanBrewMan

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2013, 09:15:27 AM »
Slightly off topic, but I would be mildly alarmed if you tried to pull a credit report and they said you had taken out an auto loan and mortgage that you don't know about.  Could be an indication of ID theft. 

Awesome job with your expenses!

Megatron

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2013, 10:54:44 AM »
wow. your food budget makes me feel so ashamed of mines, especially my pre-MMM days. well played sir.

Frankies Girl

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2013, 12:39:26 PM »
Slightly off topic, but I would be mildly alarmed if you tried to pull a credit report and they said you had taken out an auto loan and mortgage that you don't know about.  Could be an indication of ID theft. 

Awesome job with your expenses!

This... oh, definitely.

I've been the victim of ID theft (they got everything on my husband and me) and it's a mess. Of course, my ID theft happened right before they streamlined the process for checking your credit/putting fraud alerts/reporting, so I spent weeks on the phone every single day, and making tons of copies and mailing stuff back and forth...

CALL the credit agencies. Get your (and your wife's) reports pulled from all 3 and go over them with a fine tooth comb and report anything that isn't right ASAP. It might be a minor hassle and a couple of phone calls, but it is not going to be anything like what it used to be - you can handle it and it is worth it to make sure there's nothing lurking on there that shouldn't be!!

And major kudos for the low bills and frugality - you're definitely doing pretty darn good. :D

Micheal

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2013, 05:40:28 AM »
In regard to the credit reports, ID theft is my worry, actually putting in the calls today, and if my identity was stolen I want to know how in the hell a loan of any kind was approved as my credit score was in the low 600s and i couldn't get one of my own when i wanted to buy a house last year, we shall see how that goes.  As for SNAP or Food Assistance, we qualify for $15 a month and we do use it, we are just outside of the bracket where we would get $300 or so in assistance.  I work 7 days every 2 weeks, and I do side jobs that bring in other income during the year much more than that and my wife's SSi check goes from $658 to $415, and a second part time job and it plummets to just under $100, and I wouldn't be making that up with work in either case.  I am however always looking to upgrade my job, and education.  looking into actually getting my accounting certifications, as I've been an auditor for almost a decade, and tax season would put us way in the black and on track alot faster so imma have to research the cost/benfits for a local/online program. 

Edit: I forgot to mention that my wife is on medicaid along with disability so her medical cost is actually 0.  Me I just suffer until a few more debts get repaid then I'm picking up 3rd party medical insurance for myself.  Also I am a vet and if certain things go wrong the VA will cover for me.  Otherwise I need to stay healthy part of why i gave up smoking.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2013, 05:53:55 AM by Micheal »

aj_yooper

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2013, 06:44:29 AM »
You are able to live on air!  You definitely have frugality muscles. 

Good on quitting smoking!  Does the VA have a general preventative checkup option that could help you stay healthy?

Have you looked into your local community college to see if they can help you get more certifications in the auditing or accounting areas?  You seem like someone who would be good at doing taxes for others too.  That could really help. 



Rebecca Stapler

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2013, 07:31:47 AM »
In regard to the credit reports, ID theft is my worry, actually putting in the calls today, and if my identity was stolen I want to know how in the hell a loan of any kind was approved as my credit score was in the low 600s and i couldn't get one of my own when i wanted to buy a house last year, we shall see how that goes.  As for SNAP or Food Assistance, we qualify for $15 a month and we do use it, we are just outside of the bracket where we would get $300 or so in assistance.  I work 7 days every 2 weeks, and I do side jobs that bring in other income during the year much more than that and my wife's SSi check goes from $658 to $415, and a second part time job and it plummets to just under $100, and I wouldn't be making that up with work in either case.  I am however always looking to upgrade my job, and education.  looking into actually getting my accounting certifications, as I've been an auditor for almost a decade, and tax season would put us way in the black and on track alot faster so imma have to research the cost/benfits for a local/online program. 

Edit: I forgot to mention that my wife is on medicaid along with disability so her medical cost is actually 0.  Me I just suffer until a few more debts get repaid then I'm picking up 3rd party medical insurance for myself.  Also I am a vet and if certain things go wrong the VA will cover for me.  Otherwise I need to stay healthy part of why i gave up smoking.

Congratulations on quitting smoking! How long have you been smoke-free? If you're just starting out, you should have some good, free, quit-smoking resources in your state -- at the very least, a "help line" to help you quit.

Regarding the SSI drop when you income rises: It's a very frustrating situation; after you make a certain amount of money (the amount changes by state -- maybe $80 or so), her check will drop $1 for every $2 you make, so it's like you have to work twice as hard for the same amount. It's important to figure out how much you need to make, at a minimum, to cover the cost of the drop in her SSI check and pursue educational and volunteer opportunities that will help you get a job that will make up for the drop in her SSI plus some (to make it worth it). If there is a reliable local agency who can advise you on the income guidelines to SSI, you might want to pick their brain about whether getting an accounting job, which would lower her checks to $0 during tax season, can keep her on SSI -- and eligible for Medicaid -- for the long run. I'm not sure about the nitty gritty of those rules (e.g., how many checks per year can be $0 before SSI stops altogether). Accounting might be the perfect profession to be able to retain her health insurance, because there is an income spike. That might be a good way to get your experience level to a point where you can get a steady FT job that will allow you to afford health insurance for both of you and not depend on her SSI checks for subsistence. 

jnik

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2013, 04:30:33 PM »
It seems unlikely that you were the victim of identify theft. Read the bit about the mortgage carefully: it says you MAY have taken out a mortgage, and one of the options is "no way!" They do identity verification based on your financial history and throw in some fake information for you to refute (I suspect particularly if you don't have a lot of loans.) I always have that sort of thing crop up when I'm going for my report and when I get it, there's nothing suspicious on the actual report.

totoro

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2013, 04:54:16 PM »
You are doing very well with your expenses.  The impact of your income on your wife's disability payments adds a curve ball to increasing your income. 

I'm in Canada, but here owning a house does not affect state aide or disability payments.  You are not required to sell your house and your mortgage replaces rent on the balance sheet. This means owning a house does not result (on its own) in a lowering of benefits the way a raising of income would do.

Is it like this in the US?  If so, your savings could be invested short-term with a view to buying a home one day.  If you are in a good market this would allow you to experience both equity pay-down and appreciation with no impact on the disability and other benefits

I think the bottom line for me is that I would want to know all the rules about aid in detail before making decisions. 

Micheal

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2013, 10:33:14 PM »
Quote
It seems unlikely that you were the victim of identify theft. Read the bit about the mortgage carefully: it says you MAY have taken out a mortgage, and one of the options is "no way!" They do identity verification based on your financial history and throw in some fake information for you to refute (I suspect particularly if you don't have a lot of loans.) I always have that sort of thing crop up when I'm going for my report and when I get it, there's nothing suspicious on the actual report.

I did select the no option for both but ti still said i wasn't me.  I sent in the calls today, not a single human to be found anywhere to talk to, so I sent in the forms today with the documentation.  Should have the reports within a few weeks.

I quit smoking about 6 months ago.  I started out using an electronic cigarette and then started using a vaporizer.  I don't buy nicotine anymore but do still occasionally make flavors to use if I get a craving or if I feel like it. 
We do have a local Community College here in town so I made an appointment to see someone this week about CPA courses and certifications.

 As to the SSI $0 issue, it is a bit of a formula, but even if the checks drop to 0 she still qualifies for medicaid and for the next three years she does not lose it.  If my income goes up and down so does her check as far as I understand it.  She has pretty severe Bi-Polar disorder, anxiety, and agoraphobia regulated by medicine and unless a medical miracle occurs she will always have it. (This was part of the poor impulse control regarding money)  SSI is a nice income for essentially paperwork but it is an income, and if i can make a significantly larger amount with another job I don't feel bad about replacing it or supplementing it.  Money is a tool after all, and If I can get a better tool I will.

cerberusss

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2013, 12:01:49 AM »
Money is a tool after all, and If I can get a better tool I will.
Man, just this quote. It's quite inspiring to read your posts.

Micheal

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2013, 02:26:31 AM »
I take no credit for the saying, I either stole it from Heinlein or Spider Robinson, I don't remember which, probably both of them.

Also I just started looking through the state CPA requirements, looks like a B.S. in accounting or business is mandatory and the tests are expensive.  Ill get more info on this later though and let yall know what I find out..
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 03:13:47 AM by Micheal »

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2013, 07:12:26 AM »

I quit smoking about 6 months ago.  I started out using an electronic cigarette and then started using a vaporizer.  I don't buy nicotine anymore but do still occasionally make flavors to use if I get a craving or if I feel like it. 
We do have a local Community College here in town so I made an appointment to see someone this week about CPA courses and certifications.

 As to the SSI $0 issue, it is a bit of a formula, but even if the checks drop to 0 she still qualifies for medicaid and for the next three years she does not lose it.  If my income goes up and down so does her check as far as I understand it.  She has pretty severe Bi-Polar disorder, anxiety, and agoraphobia regulated by medicine and unless a medical miracle occurs she will always have it. (This was part of the poor impulse control regarding money)  SSI is a nice income for essentially paperwork but it is an income, and if i can make a significantly larger amount with another job I don't feel bad about replacing it or supplementing it.  Money is a tool after all, and If I can get a better tool I will.

GREAT news that she can keep her insurance even if the check is $0!

Looking at community college courses and getting advice before you start is very smart. Whatever you do, don't be tricked into going to one of those for-profit schools. The community college will be not only cheaper, but a better education (for the most part; there might be some for-profit schools that provide a good education, but there don't seem to be any of those in my state).

As for the tobacco craving ... once you've been quit for 2 weeks, the nicotine is out of your system. So, the craving isn't physical. If it's something you want to completely cut out of your life, you've done the hardest part already (getting it out of your system).

Gerard

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2013, 08:46:04 AM »
As others have said, your spending powers are amazing, so any big changes will have to be at the earning end. Even if that leads to a reduction in your wife's cheque, it might be worth it if the work you can do pays well per hour, and obviously once her cheque is down to zero, every dollar you earn is yours to keep.

From a couple of things you say (the bipolar/impulse-spending thing, being turned down for a mortgage, and not knowing what you owe to whom), I'm assuming you've been pretty bad with money in the recent past. I've been through some of that myself, so good on you for keeping it together through the bad times. Some of those things (like your credit score) will improve automatically from here on in due to the miracle of Not Fucking Up. For the others... how would your wife feel about separate bank accounts that protect your core assets from being endangered by her relapsing into new impulse spending? Would she take that as a personal insult, or is she aware enough of the potential danger that she would go along with it? Also, if you/she bought a lot of dumb shit during the impulse years, can you sell any of it to pay off your debts?

pbkmaine

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2013, 04:45:57 PM »
There are other accounting designations that do not have all the requirements of the CPA. For the CPA, I did not have a bachelors in accounting, but I did have an MBA and that gave me enough credits. That was a few years ago. The number of credits needed today basically adds up to a master's. In most states audit experience is required and let's not even start on the exams. If you are interested in taxes, the IRS gives a test for the Enrolled Agent designation. There is also a Certified Management Accountant designation and others.  See Investopedia under Finding the Right Accounting Designation.

Micheal

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Re: A not as shitty situation
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2013, 10:48:45 PM »
Thanks for the info @pbkmaine ill have a look, right now the standard college route is going to be out of budget for now.  I have other avenues of income to explore though so it's not a total loss. 

@Gerrard, we currently have no bank account, but we do use a pre-paid CC which by her own designs she can only have after we talk about what she wants to buy and why. 

And unfortunately the stupid spending isn't really recoverable, mostly cell phone plans and digital cable with DVR boxes.  The debts we owe are more in the line of a few service plans I have since forgotten, and need to pay off remaining balances, or from when my wife had a checking account (which was a stupid idea) and I paid off my last stuff from the Army a few years ago.  I was stupid about some things as well, so now I need to get a tally and fix the problems. 

I shot off the requests to the Credit Agencies yesterday, and should have a report or request for a report shortly.