Author Topic: Case study: aria plus cat updated  (Read 4384 times)

ariapluscat

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Case study: aria plus cat updated
« on: December 15, 2016, 01:29:45 PM »
Life situation: Single with 0 dependents (2 cats)
Gross Salary: $846 (weekly)
Pre tax deductions:
MBTA (irregular bc quarterly)
Health insurance $35.12
Dental $4.46
Fidelity $50
FSA Health $11.12 + annual $250 employer match
Union dues $17.04 *not optional lol, but I would anyway
Total: $117.74
Taxes $192
Other income:
Misc: <$200
Rental income: $1000 (monthly)
Adjusted Gross income (monthly):
Take home: $2158
Rental $1000
Total: $3158
Liabilities: I charge basically all expenses on my ccíd and then pay off at the end of the month. Student loans have been paid. 0 car.
Current expenses (monthly):
Rent: $2500
Utilities $40
Internet $50
Grocery $100
Eating out $50
Amazon $200-300
Total: $2940-3040
   I donít know how to better describe the amazon, bc sometimes itís necessary things like tp and cat food but it can also be misc junk like a unicorn shaped portable phone charger (yes, I bought that)
Additional assets:
Savings $1400
Fuck you fund $2600
Work retirement acct $620
Cat 1: Priceless
Cat 2: negative worth, destroys plants but is still very cute.

I think the main things i need advice on are
*tracking amazon and extra spending to decrease it
*increasing other income
*how to manage my savings
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 07:59:23 AM by ariapluscat »

intirb

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 01:36:21 PM »
The thing that jumps out at me from your situation is the rent.  That is an insane amount for one person to be paying for rent, even in Boston (you mentioned MBTA - that's Boston, right?).  Most of your budget looks really good, otherwise.

For Amazon - two suggestions:  one is to start tracking all your spending, if you aren't already, using a service like Mint.  The second is that you might just need to give up shopping on Amazon altogether.  Even if you end up spending slightly more on things like toilet paper and cat food, if you cut down the miscellaneous spending as well, you'll come out ahead.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 01:49:52 PM »
First step, convert both cats to dogs, and reap the benefits.

Okay, okay, I jest. Cats are fuzzy and wonderful. Aria, I think I've stumbled across your journal a few times. You had a terrible roommate situation, which lately resolved? I'd say your first step is to find a way to track your actual spending, instead of having a miscellaneous category that's currently labeled 'Amazon'. seems like you're already thinking down this path, and I highly encourage continuing. Getting everything down to the gnats rear was a huge help for me. You'll have to itemize grouped Amazon purchases, but that ain't no bad thing.

Do you formally track spending anywhere - Mint, YNAB, or on a personalized spreadsheet? If not, MDM's spreadsheet for a case study might be a great jumping off point to make your own sheet. I've found that I really enjoy the spreadsheet approach, because I can personalize the categories, instead of using whatever Mint, etc has pre-decided for me.


Stash Engineer

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 02:22:14 PM »
^ What they said.  A quick search on the Boston CL shows a lot of 1br apartments in the $1500-$2000 range.  Obviously, its going to be somewhat location dependent, but seems like there's opportunity for improvement here?

neo von retorch

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 02:36:27 PM »
I see "Rent: $2500: and then "Rental income: $1000 (monthly)" and then "Rental $1000" - so I assume either you rent and split the rent with someone (thus $1000 rental income) or you pay $1000 for a rental that you rent out for $1000? Or it's a formatting issue or a typo?

Maybe try adding [b] and [/b] around headings to group things into income/expenses and assets/liabilities a little more visually (and possibly spaces?)

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 03:00:15 PM »
To clarify i know my rent is high but i can't break my lease without paying. i already intend to move elsewhere, preferably cheaper and maybe closer to work, when my lease is up.

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2016, 03:24:40 PM »
The thing that jumps out at me from your situation is the rent.  That is an insane amount for one person to be paying for rent, even in Boston (you mentioned MBTA - that's Boston, right?).  Most of your budget looks really good, otherwise.

For Amazon - two suggestions:  one is to start tracking all your spending, if you aren't already, using a service like Mint.  The second is that you might just need to give up shopping on Amazon altogether.  Even if you end up spending slightly more on things like toilet paper and cat food, if you cut down the miscellaneous spending as well, you'll come out ahead.

Does mint show what you bought on amazon or just that it was on amazon?
I've been going back and looking at my credit card statements and that's the limiting factor. I can see when i buy from say etsy or a grub hub, but it doesn't describe what was bought on amazon.

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2016, 03:27:00 PM »
^ What they said.  A quick search on the Boston CL shows a lot of 1br apartments in the $1500-$2000 range.  Obviously, its going to be somewhat location dependent, but seems like there's opportunity for improvement here?
2500-1000=1500
So i'm in range and idk if you sorted for cat friendly.
i'm not denying that it's expensive. there were some other circumstances that led me to living here - esp foster family pressure about being a Young Woman Alone For The First Time In The Big and Terrible City - and the rent has gone up ~$500 in ~2.5 years. honestly for the next place, i'm looking for a studio that's under $1k and maxing at $1500

robartsd

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2016, 03:57:05 PM »
To clarify i know my rent is high but i can't break my lease without paying. i already intend to move elsewhere, preferably cheaper and maybe closer to work, when my lease is up.
Do you really use 60%+ of your place, or will roommate be disappointed when you move and thus no longer subsidize their housing costs?

Stash Engineer

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2016, 03:58:14 PM »
^ What they said.  A quick search on the Boston CL shows a lot of 1br apartments in the $1500-$2000 range.  Obviously, its going to be somewhat location dependent, but seems like there's opportunity for improvement here?
2500-1000=1500
So i'm in range and idk if you sorted for cat friendly.
i'm not denying that it's expensive. there were some other circumstances that led me to living here - esp foster family pressure about being a Young Woman Alone For The First Time In The Big and Terrible City - and the rent has gone up ~$500 in ~2.5 years. honestly for the next place, i'm looking for a studio that's under $1k and maxing at $1500

Gotcha!  I didn't recognize the rental income as a roommate, just assumed it was a separate apartment.  I totally get that circumstances lead you to where you are currently, but that's why we're all here right?  Your other expenses look pretty reasonable.  Time to figure out how to increase that income!

thebeautywithout

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2016, 04:37:27 PM »
The thing that jumps out at me from your situation is the rent.  That is an insane amount for one person to be paying for rent, even in Boston (you mentioned MBTA - that's Boston, right?).  Most of your budget looks really good, otherwise.

For Amazon - two suggestions:  one is to start tracking all your spending, if you aren't already, using a service like Mint.  The second is that you might just need to give up shopping on Amazon altogether.  Even if you end up spending slightly more on things like toilet paper and cat food, if you cut down the miscellaneous spending as well, you'll come out ahead.

Does mint show what you bought on amazon or just that it was on amazon?
I've been going back and looking at my credit card statements and that's the limiting factor. I can see when i buy from say etsy or a grub hub, but it doesn't describe what was bought on amazon.

You can't see what you bought but if you go into Amazon you can track your orders and the amounts spent on each item.  Then you can go into Mint and split up the purchase into multiple categories.  Just click on the transaction in question and next to the name you'll see a splitting road icon that will let you split and rename the transactions.  For instance, I bought lightbulbs and a Christmas present in a single Amazon transaction so I split it into Home Supplies and Gifts with the related amounts.

westtoeast

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 05:29:52 AM »
Hello aria plus cat,

This is probably info you already know but I'm in your city so I figured I'd pip in. I totally get that housemates can be a gamble but I've been able to keep my rent below 800 by living in shared housing with other ladies (3, 4 or 5 to a house). Depending on region you might be able to get in the 600's. I've used Craigslist and seen a lot of places in order to find other young women that I felt comfortable with, and I've made some really great friends this way! Again, I totally get that this might seem unappealing if you've had bad housemates in the past.

Good luck!

neo von retorch

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 07:17:36 AM »
It looks so much better now :) Happy Dance.

I imagine the feline friend does make shared living arrangements tougher.

Does your career have any natural paths to take to increase income, or a way to use your skills for side work?

What are your favorite skills?

csdreaming

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2016, 11:55:09 PM »
Aside from Amazon and your rent, your expenses seem reasonable.

Since you use your CC alot I would apply to this card if you have good credit: 2% back, no annual fee.

https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/credit-card-details/citi.action?ID=citi-double-cash-credit-card

What is that $50 for Fidelity for?

Are you in Boston? If you are, be careful with some of the IRA strategies. You are in one of the 3 states where IRA contributions are not tax deductible.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 07:30:48 AM by csdreaming »

Kwill

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2016, 12:43:19 AM »
Aside from Amazon and your rent, your expenses seem reasonable.
...
What is that $50 for Fidelity for?

I was just thinking that about the Fidelity. If it's for an investment account, then that's something to add to the list of assets.

Things seem reasonable except that you're too close to $0 at the end of the month even with an unbelievably low eating cost of $150 per month including both groceries and restaurants. A particularly cold winter or a fallout with your roommate could put you at a monthly negative number.

Rent seems the most obvious place to save for you. I think it would be really hard to find a studio apartment under your current net rent of $1500 in Boston. At least I had a hard time, and adding a car to get further out of the city would eat up some of the rent savings. Can you either get a second roommate or else split the rent more evenly with your current roommate? My last Boston area place I was paying about $750 a month for a room in a three-bedroom in Watertown on a bus line to Harvard Square. With two cats, your options may be more limited, but you may be able to at least cut rent down to $900 if you are flexible.

csdreaming

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2016, 07:25:08 AM »
Thought of some other things. I understand you are limited because of your lease. Naturally finding a roommate is top priority. With that said, you can do little things like this to help more.

Cut $50.
FreedomPop free, limited 4G Internet. Unless you really need alot of Internet I would switch media consumption to offline until you move to a cheaper locale. I used this all the time in college, actually saved my butt one time my Internet went out while uploading an assignment. If Sprint is good in your area so is this. I wouldn't recommend this for most people but your budget is really limited and it really helps when you move. Plus they also have free cell phones + free data.
Add ublock origins to Firefox or Chrome to cut your data consumption down (also speeds up your browser).
Downside: Sprint.
Plus this into your computer USB port and you have Internet.
https://shop.freedompop.com/product/used-franklin-wireless-u770-4g-lte-usb-modem-cdma/FRK-U770R
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 07:31:23 AM by csdreaming »

JAYSLOL

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2016, 08:08:52 AM »
To clarify i know my rent is high but i can't break my lease without paying. i already intend to move elsewhere, preferably cheaper and maybe closer to work, when my lease is up.
Do you really use 60%+ of your place, or will roommate be disappointed when you move and thus no longer subsidize their housing costs?

+1

Why pay more than half the rent?  When you find a new place, if it's one that you plan to get a roommate again, make sure you split this evenly.  An extra $250 a month of fixed costs removed would make a hell of a difference.  But i can understand if you want to get a smaller place without a roommate for around what you are paying now. 

What line of work are you in?  What's your side income looking like?  I think living in such a HCOL area, you need to get more income coming in.  Great job getting by without a car!  Thats a big savings.  For the most part, your non-rent expenses seem reasonable, although, go through all of them with and see what you may be able to do better. 

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2016, 07:49:13 AM »
To clarify i know my rent is high but i can't break my lease without paying. i already intend to move elsewhere, preferably cheaper and maybe closer to work, when my lease is up.
Do you really use 60%+ of your place, or will roommate be disappointed when you move and thus no longer subsidize their housing costs?

i'm not sure i understand the question. do you mean whether i use more of the space? i do. i have more furniture and areas mainly for my use take up more space, like i have a full loft bed while the roomie has a twin bed. i also provide a fully furnished apartment so i fee like it evens out.


ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2016, 07:51:08 AM »
Hello aria plus cat,

This is probably info you already know but I'm in your city so I figured I'd pip in. I totally get that housemates can be a gamble but I've been able to keep my rent below 800 by living in shared housing with other ladies (3, 4 or 5 to a house). Depending on region you might be able to get in the 600's. I've used Craigslist and seen a lot of places in order to find other young women that I felt comfortable with, and I've made some really great friends this way! Again, I totally get that this might seem unappealing if you've had bad housemates in the past.

Good luck!

yeah i'm just not willing to do roommates or housemates after this lease is up. after having two very bad experiences i don't see it as worth it, especially not long term.

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2016, 07:58:22 AM »
Aside from Amazon and your rent, your expenses seem reasonable.
...
What is that $50 for Fidelity for?

I was just thinking that about the Fidelity. If it's for an investment account, then that's something to add to the list of assets.

Things seem reasonable except that you're too close to $0 at the end of the month even with an unbelievably low eating cost of $150 per month including both groceries and restaurants. A particularly cold winter or a fallout with your roommate could put you at a monthly negative number.


oh, then i have $620.28 in fidelity assets in my 403b. i haven't been with them long enough to get an employee contribution max. i guess i didn't think about including it since i'm not touching this money for like +35 years lol

what would the cold winter do?

i actually am looking for a new roommate and will probably be paying for january alone. i thought that the "f you" fund was in part for exactly that purpose: to be able to get out of a bad roommate situation or have expenses be temporarily negative due to something like that. did i misunderstand what the fund would be intended for?


ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2016, 08:36:26 AM »
Thought of some other things. I understand you are limited because of your lease. Naturally finding a roommate is top priority. With that said, you can do little things like this to help more.

Cut $50.
FreedomPop free, limited 4G Internet. Unless you really need alot of Internet I would switch media consumption to offline until you move to a cheaper locale. I used this all the time in college, actually saved my butt one time my Internet went out while uploading an assignment. If Sprint is good in your area so is this. I wouldn't recommend this for most people but your budget is really limited and it really helps when you move. Plus they also have free cell phones + free data.
Add ublock origins to Firefox or Chrome to cut your data consumption down (also speeds up your browser).
Downside: Sprint.
Plus this into your computer USB port and you have Internet.
https://shop.freedompop.com/product/used-franklin-wireless-u770-4g-lte-usb-modem-cdma/FRK-U770R

i actually use a lot of internet, both for school and for hobbies.
i've already gone down a few levels of internet. i have noticed some lag but that may also be do to the usage in my building rather than the change in service level. still not enough to spend the extra amount, but i am hesitant to go down much further.
internet is very frustrating bc on the one hand gaming folks are pressuring each other to have the fastest and coolest, even if it doesn't much affect game play at the peak levels. and on the other, the provider refuses to give an honest answer about the minimum necessary for basic things like streaming tv or the like.

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2016, 08:43:32 AM »


What line of work are you in?  What's your side income looking like?  I think living in such a HCOL area, you need to get more income coming in.  Great job getting by without a car!  Thats a big savings.  For the most part, your non-rent expenses seem reasonable, although, go through all of them with and see what you may be able to do better.

uhhhhh, idk how to make more money? i'm a research coordinator, but not the clinical type. instead i work for fundraising in a university. to be fair this is my first job out of college and my benefits are great. do i ask for a pay raise at the annual review or something? i don't think i could do a second job bc i'm taking classes.

my side income in basically selling things that i don't need any more along with old textbooks either from my own old classes or that i picked up from the library freebie piles. i'm hoping to sell some of my art and plants, but i doubt that my side income would be very large from that.

ariapluscat

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2016, 08:57:20 AM »
the main take away i'm getting is that i need to make more money and find a new apartment asap.
i'm going to try modifying the way mint tracks my amazon purchases

bryan995

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2016, 10:37:09 AM »
yes.

Step 1.
Get a new apartment.  Will your landlord let you break the lease if you find a replacement roomate?

Step 2.
Either make more, or work elsewhere.
Why work in the city if you can get paid the same salary to work out in western mass (or some other state) where COL is much less?  You said you work for fundraising in a university, i assume this position would exist for any university?  Your career has the great potential of being in demand in the LCOL areas (universities are everywhere!)





Kwill

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2016, 12:25:56 PM »
what would the cold winter do?

i actually am looking for a new roommate and will probably be paying for january alone. i thought that the "f you" fund was in part for exactly that purpose: to be able to get out of a bad roommate situation or have expenses be temporarily negative due to something like that. did i misunderstand what the fund would be intended for?

Well, if your rent includes heat, then the cold winter won't matter much to your finances. But if your heat comes under utilities in the list you gave us, then it could jump from $40 up to $80 or more for a few months.

You're right about the purpose of a fund like that, but you'll be cutting it really close. If you had a spare $10,000, then paying an extra $1000 for a few months while you found a better roommate wouldn't be an issue. But the extra $1000 will be a big chunk out of your total savings. It could still work out alright; it's just risky if it takes longer than you expect. Fingers crossed for finding a good match as soon as possible.

When your current roommate leaves, would you be open to swapping rooms for the twin bed one? Then you could charge the new roommate $1500 for the big furnished room and cut your own expenses.

vivophoenix

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2016, 12:26:57 PM »
I live in Boston,

and your options are:  move further out, or get a roommate, or even purchase a place.

I am assuming you can not purchase a place. you do not want a new roommate, so you should maybe move out, and take the commuter rail.


though I think you need to get over those bad experiences

I live in Porter square and pay $800 for rent, all inclusive. I have a room large enough for a queen sized bed.

an f you fund is for bad situations, but you are super close to the margins, what if after the first month no you meets your standards for roommates? if I were you I wouldn't assume that type of responsibility.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 12:29:49 PM by vivophoenix »

intirb

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Re: Case study: aria plus cat updated
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2016, 01:25:48 PM »
i thought that the "f you" fund was in part for exactly that purpose: to be able to get out of a bad roommate situation or have expenses be temporarily negative due to something like that. did i misunderstand what the fund would be intended for?

I see that in your case study you have an emergency fund and a separate "fuck you" fund.  There's probably not a standard terminology, but I think most people either consider a "fuck you" fund to be a kind of emergency fund or to be part of their FI stash.  There's nothing wrong with basically having two separate emergency funds, though, so if that is what your "fuck you" fund is for, then it is so.

What is the average time it takes to find a roommate?  It sounds like you're planning to go at least a month without one.  If your "fuck you" fund is for the express purpose of getting you out of a bad roommate situation, then I would probably have that fund be at least 2*(average # months it takes to find a roommate)*($rent you charge roommate).

What are your financial goals, actually?  Are you saving for something or trying to become financially independent or retire early?  There's nothing wrong with spending 70% of your take home pay on rent if you really value living without roommates in a very nice apartment, but you won't retire early that way.