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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Ridewithme38 on May 15, 2017, 07:36:00 AM

Title: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on May 15, 2017, 07:36:00 AM
Hi,  So i'm going to start with stats so you guys have a good idea of where i'm at before i start complaining.

I'm 36yrs old, i make about $35,000 a year, it comes out to about a $750 pay check every two weeks. I've gotten rid of all of my debt except a 401k loan(3 more years paid through payroll deductions).  I put 6% into a 401k(not counting loan payoff) and 2% into a Roth IRA(employer matched)  I put $250 a month into an HSA account and have established a $1,000 Emergency fund.  I'm a single father, so i also pay about $400 a month in child support.   I am currently living with family in a guest house, so my expenses are EXTREMELY LOW.  I pay $200 a month towards car insurance, $60 a month towards Internet and about $250 a month towards Gas(Car is 21yrs old so no payments), that's it.

But even with that, i can't seem to get ahead.  I end up having to tap into and replenish my emergency fund every three months just to get by.  Most weeks i'm broke within a week of getting paid and having to scrounge for money during the 2nd week.

Being a burden to family at 36 is an extremely depressing thing, but i can't see how i can get out of this situation, no matter what i can't 'get ahead'

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: GizmoTX on May 15, 2017, 07:43:16 AM
What do you do? You need more income.

Your auto insurance seems really high, especially for an old car. Gas seems high too; do you have a long commute?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: RWD on May 15, 2017, 07:49:16 AM
Your car insurance seems really high for a 21 year old vehicle. We pay about a third of that for two vehicles (12 and 4 years old). You could try shopping around for cheaper insurance or maybe a different car. Your gas cost seems high as well. Do you have a long commute or does the vehicle get poor fuel economy? What kind of vehicle is it?

You are paying 28% of your pay check on the car alone, not even counting maintenance/repairs. This should be your highest priority for reducing your expenses.

What are your other expenses. Based on what you typed up you should have about another $700/month that isn't accounted for here (depending on if your retirement contributions are factored into the $750 paycheck). Where else is it going?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: MandalayVA on May 15, 2017, 07:50:09 AM
You're taking home $1500 a month and your expenses add up to $910, which leaves $590 left over.  You say your car is twenty-one years old--what kind of car is it?  Is there maintenance?  Also, $250 a month in gas seems pretty high, do you have a long commute?  Ditto the $200/month car insurance.  What about food?  A bit more detail, and we can dive in.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on May 15, 2017, 07:51:52 AM
I'm a claims assistant for a Workers Comp/Liability insurance Company.  I'm taking classes now to be an adjuster, but, with the 401k loan if i leave my company, that loan becomes due in full and or i'd have to pay a penalty on it as an 'early withdrawal'

I had some accidents previously that have hiked up my insurance rate, i was actually just able to get it dropped from $260 a month just a couple of months ago. 

Gas costs.  I drive a 1995 Ford Bronco that get 8-9MPG.  unfortunately, it has very little resale value and living paycheck to paycheck i can't seem to save anything up to buy a vehicle with better gas mileage. 
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: PizzaSteve on May 15, 2017, 07:52:15 AM
Other areas to save include food, cell phone, entertainment.

Do you cook your own meals?  Beans and rice , seasonal veggies from farmers market at close, until 2xemergency fund.
Do you drink out?  Free evenings socializing elsewhere vs bars for a while.
How about cell phone, cable, or internet.  Often savings there.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on May 15, 2017, 08:07:01 AM
  What about food?  A bit more detail, and we can dive in.

Other areas to save include food, cell phone, entertainment.

Do you cook your own meals?  Beans and rice , seasonal veggies from farmers market at close, until 2xemergency fund.
Do you drink out?  Free evenings socializing elsewhere vs bars for a while.
How about cell phone, cable, or internet.  Often savings there.

I'm surprised i forgot to mention food.  This is a recent change for me.  up until this year i ate out 90% of meals.  Now it's less then 10%.  I'm working on learning how to cook, but it's not as easy as i would have thought.  So far it's mostly Pasta and Fried Chicken/Pork chops.  Sometimes I screw up and it'll turn into a 'wings & Pizza' night.  I spend about $150 to $200 a month grocery shopping and about $50-$100 on takeout(when i screw up dinner).

I don't remember the last time i went out evenings drinking our socializing.  I just haven't been able to justify the expense, or had the cash when i could justify it. 

No Cable, but Internet is $60 a month.  Cell phone is on a family plan, so i don't pay for that.

Seriously, without family support i don't know where i'd be today, i owe them everything.  But, with that said, i don't want to be a burden on them forever and every day older i get the harder it gets to explain "I'm 36yrs old and living in my parents guest house"
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Bracken_Joy on May 15, 2017, 08:10:26 AM
Your income is low enough, and your 'hard to budge' expenses high enough (car, as mentioned above), that you either need to raise that income or you need to get way more extreme.

Extra income doesn't need to be a job change right away. You can cultivate a side hustle. Deliver pizzas or tutor college kids or mow lawns or babysit or train dogs or... there's a whole work of side hustles, ready and waiting =)

Going more extreme: this would call for huge shifts. On your income, with your car insurance? Functionally, you can't afford to drive. Switch to a bike and have zero car expenses. That's an example. Here's a blog that specialized on 'extreme' like that: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ (http://earlyretirementextreme.com/)
Here are some of his main articles I see crop up:
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/how-i-live-on-7000-per-year.html (http://earlyretirementextreme.com/how-i-live-on-7000-per-year.html)
This series: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-1-finding-a-place-to-live.html (http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-1-finding-a-place-to-live.html)
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/manifesto.html (http://earlyretirementextreme.com/manifesto.html)
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: RWD on May 15, 2017, 08:20:06 AM
Gas costs.  I drive a 1995 Ford Bronco that get 8-9MPG.  unfortunately, it has very little resale value and living paycheck to paycheck i can't seem to save anything up to buy a vehicle with better gas mileage.

The average list price for a 1995 Bronco on Autotrader is $9.2k. The cheapest one is $3k. Are you sure it has very little resale value?

Even if you can only get $3k for it that's more than enough to buy an old (mid-2000s) Toyota Corolla or similar that would likely cut your fuel costs to a third of what they are now.

Insurance costs can vary a lot by vehicle too. If you call them up they can tell you what a specific different vehicle would cost you (or you might be able to even do this online).
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: MayDay on May 15, 2017, 08:25:56 AM
Figure out a better alternative to take out for when you screw up a meal. For us this is grilled cheese and canned tomato soup (I always keep bread and cheese in the fridge and tomato soup in the cupboard) or frozen soup (I freeze individual portions of soup but you could buy canned soup).

Learning to cook is a huge step! That is awesome! And of course we all have the occasional flop. The key is to have something ready as emergency backup.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: nereo on May 15, 2017, 08:26:19 AM
...
I had some accidents previously that have hiked up my insurance rate, i was actually just able to get it dropped from $260 a month just a couple of months ago. 

Gas costs.  I drive a 1995 Ford Bronco that get 8-9MPG.  unfortunately, it has very little resale value and living paycheck to paycheck i can't seem to save anything up to buy a vehicle with better gas mileage.
This has to change.
Shop around to see if there are better insurance rates out there - if you have comprehsnive insurance, drop that (especially on a 21yr old vehicle).
If its possible ot ditch your car entirely and use a bike/mass-transit that is the best solution.  That alone will free up $500+/month for you.

Alternatively, there ARE options out there for vastly improving your Bronco and getting something with better MPG. Look around in the $1k-2k car range... circa 2000 cars with cosmetic body damage that can get 30mpg highway.  Sometimes people will do a flat trade, but if not you might need to get an auto loan and pay it off ASAP or sell your Bronco for scrap (even then it should get several hundred $).   As is I highly doubt you can't get at least a few $k for that bronco.

You could save ~$200/mo in fuel costs if you just got a reasonable car, and you could pay off an autoloan for an old beater within 6 months.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Fishindude on May 15, 2017, 08:26:26 AM
Get a second job evenings to bring in some more money.
Somehow need to get out of that gas guzzler and drive something more economical.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: chubbybunny on May 15, 2017, 08:41:01 AM
You simply can't afford to drive the bronco.  it eats up way too much gas.  Put it on craigslist today.  You can take whatever you sell it for and turn around and get something with better mpg. Once you get the car with better mpg, then you can do side hustles like deliver pizza and drive for uber or lyft and start growing a larger emergency fund. 

The only way any of this advice is going to work is if you do something.  And yes, you can do it!   I have done dog sitting, selling thrift store finds on ebay, and uber.  Every time I have put some effort out there I have made money.  There is a ton of money out there for you to go and grab, you just have to go do it and stop making excuses.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/04/its-never-too-late-to-ditch-your-gas-guzzler/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on May 15, 2017, 10:09:35 AM
Thanks guys.  The answers are basically what i thought, but was unwilling to admit to myself.  I NEED to make more money and get an economy/regular car.

I'm going to get Clifford (the big red bronco) on craigslist and a couple Bronco specific Facebook groups over the next month and see if anyone wants to trade for something with better gas mileage.

But, i'm not really sure what to do about income.  I'm taking classes right now to get my Adjusters License in my state and working towards an AIC designation at the same time.  With that and my daughter living with me 43% of the time, free time is TIGHT to find additional hours to work.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Scortius on May 15, 2017, 10:18:24 AM
Also, don't be too hard on yourself.  You're putting away 8% of your income every paycheck.  That part does count as 'getting ahead'.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Nick_Miller on May 15, 2017, 10:22:40 AM
How much would your AIC designation/becoming an adjuster raise your income? 25% or more? And what's the time frame on that? If it will be a significant bump, I'd say investing in yourself  is a great idea. It's not like you could afford to move out of your family's house right now anyway, so can you rely on their help a bit longer?

How old is your child? I think that answer affects a lot of the "can you get a side hustle?" questions.

Again, if your "becoming an adjuster" path will significantly bump your income AND can be done in the next year or so, I'd devote 100% of my energy to that path. It could also serve as a timetable for when you would be able to move out, letting your family know it's not open-ended.

Best of luck to you!
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: nereo on May 15, 2017, 10:29:27 AM
Also, don't be too hard on yourself.  You're putting away 8% of your income every paycheck.  That part does count as 'getting ahead'.
Yeah... I meant to say something similar.  Kudos for putting money into your 401(k) and IRA each month. Facepunch for the bronco.
In all you're still doing better than a large cross-section.
PS - love the name Clifford for a red Bronco :-)
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: honeybbq on May 15, 2017, 10:38:08 AM
I'd suggest reducing your retirement contributions until you get get rid of Clifford and get a new vehicle. That is an anchor dragging you down!
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: mozar on May 15, 2017, 10:46:24 AM
Who is claiming your daughter on taxes? If not you, can you at least get 43% of it?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Lady SA on May 15, 2017, 11:30:09 AM
when you are looking for a new car, prioritize a small, compact car that is CHEAP to insure, even with your previous accidents. Do a bit of research before you jump on whatever car lands in your lap.

We have a 2001 Chevy Prism that we bought 5 years ago for $3k and we pay like $40/mo to insure it. We have not had any accidents so that means we pay less, but likely a lot of your huge insurance costs is because of the specific car model. Get a modest, small car and your insurance and gas costs will go down significantly. Spending almost 30% of your take home pay on a depreciating hunk of metal is quite facepunch-worthy.

Don't tie yourself to doing a trade when you are getting rid of the bronco. Can you survive for a week or two without a car, get a ride with a coworker or friend or family member while you search for the RIGHT car? You'll likely get a better deal that way.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: MightyAl on May 15, 2017, 12:34:23 PM
Thanks guys.  The answers are basically what i thought, but was unwilling to admit to myself.  I NEED to make more money and get an economy/regular car.

I'm going to get Clifford (the big red bronco) on craigslist and a couple Bronco specific Facebook groups over the next month and see if anyone wants to trade for something with better gas mileage.

But, i'm not really sure what to do about income.  I'm taking classes right now to get my Adjusters License in my state and working towards an AIC designation at the same time.  With that and my daughter living with me 43% of the time, free time is TIGHT to find additional hours to work.

With Ford teasing the reintroduction of the Bronco the old ones are seeing a resurgence in popularity.  It is probably worth more than you think.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Rocketman on May 15, 2017, 01:15:12 PM
2 points:

You may want to redirect some of the retirement savings on to your 401k loan. This way it will be paid off and you can take the new job without issue. 

Also track and then budget every dollar you spend. (If you don't already due that). Then you can find the other cash leaks. A dollar here and a five dollars there can add up over a month.

Good luck! And stay focused!!! (It is so worth it)
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Another Reader on May 15, 2017, 01:25:20 PM
Are you paying child support?  How much do you spend on your daughter? 

You might consider doing a full case study to get more detailed answers.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: AlanStache on May 15, 2017, 01:34:19 PM
Do you know someone who goes to costco/sams?  Costco will issue a second card to anyone as long as you say they live with a member so the membership would be free to you (note-they dont seem to check if you two actually live together).

You pay for internet but live in your parents guest house?  Is there house close?  Is there anyway to combine the internet?  A long ethernet cable and wifi router would pay for itself in under two months or a wifi range extender would boost the signal.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on February 01, 2018, 11:38:40 AM
So, this year is my year to reorganize my savings and expenses and get everything figured out.  through January i tracked my expenses, set several to auto-pay and even opened up a couple of more bank accounts. 

I JUST set it up, so when my paycheck comes in, every two weeks, it gets split among three bank accounts:
Income (Every two weeks):  Gross: 1492.71 Net: $869.96 (Extrapolated to 1yr) Gross: $38,810.46 Net: $22,618.96

What would you change here?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Lady SA on February 01, 2018, 12:04:20 PM
Fixed expenses: Audible $14.95, Verizon Fios $27.48, Planet Fitness $19.95, Netflix $10.99, Geico $161.29, MoviePass $9.95, Amazon Misic $3.99, Child Support $349.29
Variable Expenses: Gasoline approx. (72 gallons a month), Groceries(Goal $100 every two weeks), Fun.[/li]
[li][/li]
[/list]

What would you change here?

Why do you need so many entertainment services? Audible, Netlix, MoviePass, etc. Cut this down to one, or better yet, use your FREE local library to check out books/audiobooks and movies. Cutting this and using the free services available to you would save you almost $50 a month. Plus, with less time spent sitting in front of the TV, you can dedicate some time for a side hustle.

Can you work out at home? Do body weight exercises and running/cycling and this would give you an extra $20 of breathing room.

Did you sell your money-suck of a vehicle yet? That should be priority #1.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: slappy on February 01, 2018, 12:05:51 PM
So, this year is my year to reorganize my savings and expenses and get everything figured out.  through January i tracked my expenses, set several to auto-pay and even opened up a couple of more bank accounts. 

I JUST set it up, so when my paycheck comes in, every two weeks, it gets split among three bank accounts:
Income (Every two weeks):  Gross: 1492.71 Net: $869.96 (Extrapolated to 1yr) Gross: $38,810.46 Net: $22,618.96
  • 20% goes to a Savings account for a Emergency Fund, Christmas Club, Savings, etc.
    $320 goes to a Fixed expenses Checking account(Outlined below)
    Approx. $360 goes to Variable Expense Checking account(Outlined Below
)


  • Savings:  20% goes to Emergency Fund, 7% to 401k, 3% employee match 401k, 2% Roth 401k, $69.23 to HSA
    Fixed expenses: Audible $14.95, Verizon Fios $27.48, Planet Fitness $19.95, Netflix $10.99, Geico $161.29, MoviePass $9.95, Amazon Misic $3.99, Child Support $349.29
    Variable Expenses: Gasoline approx. (72 gallons a month), Groceries(Goal $100 every two weeks), Fun.

What would you change here?

Audible, Amazon Music, Planet Fitness, Netflix, MoviePass

I know you need to have some fun, so choose one out of those. For Planet Fitness, you can at least cut down to the $10 a month plan. Can you do a case study with your expenses?

Your car insurance is still high but I know you have gotten that down substantially.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: haypug16 on February 01, 2018, 12:06:32 PM
Fixed expenses: Audible $14.95, Verizon Fios $27.48, Planet Fitness $19.95, Netflix $10.99, Geico $161.29, MoviePass $9.95, Amazon Misic $3.99, Child Support $349.29
Variable Expenses: Gasoline approx. (72 gallons a month), Groceries(Goal $100 every two weeks), Fun.

What would you change here?

I'd cut Audible and download a library app to listen to audio books for free. I have Overdrive here in the Boston Area but most other Public Libraries have something similar. Cancel Gym membership (or at least switch to the $10 a month membership) Cancel MoviePass or Netflix (You don't need both and get movies from Library) Cancel Amazon music (use the free version of Spotify or Pandora) Save about $40 a month.

Did you end up selling the Bronco?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: RWD on February 01, 2018, 12:11:38 PM
Gasoline approx. (72 gallons a month)

Are you still driving the Bronco? That amount of fuel usage is ridiculous.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on February 01, 2018, 12:38:22 PM
I am still driving the Bronco.  I know its a gas hog, but its just so reliable mechanically and.....I kinda love 'clifford, the big red truck'.  I am looking for another vehicle, because my daughter is 12yrs old now and i don't think the a lifted old truck full of blindspots is a good first vehicle for a kid, but, I really don't want to take on a payment or buy the wrong vehicle. So, its a long term goal.

I will be dropping Planet Fitness & Audible in the next few month. Planet Fitness i didn't use once last year so thats gone and Audible, i can just buy when books go on sale or use Overdrive.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: haypug16 on February 01, 2018, 12:48:34 PM
A way to at least get some of the gym membership back is some Health insurance plans reimburse up to a certain amount per year. It might be $100 or something like that but worth the couple mins it takes to fill out the form. 
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Rosy on February 01, 2018, 01:14:39 PM
So, this year is my year to reorganize my savings and expenses and get everything figured out.  through January i tracked my expenses, set several to auto-pay and even opened up a couple of more bank accounts. 

I JUST set it up, so when my paycheck comes in, every two weeks, it gets split among three bank accounts:
Income (Every two weeks):  Gross: 1492.71 Net: $869.96 (Extrapolated to 1yr) Gross: $38,810.46 Net: $22,618.96
  • 20% goes to a Savings account for a Emergency Fund, Christmas Club, Savings, etc.
  • $320 goes to a Fixed expenses Checking account(Outlined below)
  • Approx. $375.97 goes to Variable Expense Checking account(Outlined Below)
  • Savings:  20% goes to Emergency Fund, 7% to 401k, 3% employee match 401k, 2% Roth 401k, $69.23 to HSA
  • Fixed expenses: Audible $14.95, Verizon Fios $27.48, Planet Fitness $19.95, Netflix $10.99, Geico $161.29, MoviePass $9.95, Amazon Misic $3.99, Child Support $349.29
  • Variable Expenses: Gasoline approx. (72 gallons a month), Groceries(Goal $100 every two weeks), Fun.

What would you change here?

1. LOL - since when are Audible, Planet Fitness, Netflix and Movie Pass - FIXED EXPENSES?:) Pick one of them and count yourself lucky that you can "afford?" at least one of them. We get it, you would like some fun and I bet, you'll come back saying it's to entertain the kid too:)

2. Kudos for making a serious effort here - it takes time to get it all sorted out one by one.
I hope you found at least a couple of banks that offered a bonus for opening an account with them. An extra $200 never hurts and it is a good idea to find a bank that fits your needs, but also offers good interest or a good credit card or something else useful to you. Why put your money in a checking account for 0.10 % when you can have 1.00%? or a holiday club that pays 2%...
Every little decision in your favor helps.

3. Claims adjusters make decent money and they are always in demand - just ask the hundreds that came down to Florida after the last Hurricane. Kudos for investing in yourself.
What I like about insurance jobs like yours is that you can work anywhere in the US. As an underwriter, you can even work globally like I did, because assessing risk and writing a company policy or setting up reinsurance is the same process worldwide.
It's not just engineers and academics that can move about and make good money.

Stick with it and look around for opportunities, once you are finished you are a valuable commodity - even if locally there is little opportunity, you now have skills and you can become mobile - network, ask questions, you'll be fine:)
You are of an age where you can still turn all of this around and do just fine - just stay focused and committed. This career can slowly turn your entire life around.

4. WOW - are you saying you are now saving 20% instead of 8% of your income?

5. How did it go with the Bronco?   

 
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: caracarn on February 01, 2018, 01:16:56 PM
Ridewithme, it's difficult to feel like offering a lot of advice because you're not really taken any of what was given before and made any changes after nearly 9 months.

Kind of loving Clifford is an excuse, not a reason.  That was and is your biggest source of problems. 

You've got to get out of bad habits and the typical human response of "the easiest action to take is nothing".  You need to learn to pull the trigger on things that are not working faster.  Paying $240 for a gym membership you never used in a year is really sad.  Two months in you should take action on those things.

Good job on Audible (if it was the same situation, never or rarely used and you kept paying, again face punch yourself and focus on taking action sooner), but you still maintain three similar entertainment costs. 

72 gallons a month on gas because Clifford like to drink it out of the bowl with big gulps is nuts.  We've got three cars and use no more than 150 across then all and I have a stupid commute of 30 miles one way.  SELL THE BRONCO!  Get a Yugo.  They both came out about the same time.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: mm1970 on February 01, 2018, 01:21:55 PM
The bronco is costing you $5400/yr, 15% of your paycheck
The food is costing you $3000/yr, almost 10% of your paycheck.

That's a lot, for both.

As a comparison, the cost of our 2 cars a year is $3000 for gas and insurance. 
Our food costs are $7000 a year for 4 people.

You need to practice cooking.  I know the drill.  I can't tell you how many times I effed up pizza dough and ended up calling the local pizza place after an hour of work.

Now, of course, I just buy frozen pizza for those cravings and eat a lot of beans, rice, and veggies.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: one piece at a time on February 01, 2018, 02:00:31 PM

I'm going to get Clifford (the big red bronco) on craigslist and a couple Bronco specific Facebook groups over the next month and see if anyone wants to trade for something with better gas mileage.


You should sell it. Trying to get a "trade" is literally 3000 year old technology. Money makes the world go around, use it.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on February 02, 2018, 02:20:50 AM
I'm not an american, so maybe I shouldn't comment, but your insurance and petrol costs are through the roof. Your cost per month for insurance is closer to what I pay annually. And I spend maybe $100 a month on gas. What on earth are you driving??? Is it like a classic car or something?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: alsoknownasDean on February 02, 2018, 04:19:06 AM
So you're on $1500 a fortnight but only clearing $900 a fortnight? Surely that's not just tax.

And yeah, Clifford's keeping you broke, time to let the Bronco go. Surely there's a good cheap Civic or Corolla that you could get instead?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: RWD on February 02, 2018, 07:03:45 AM
I'm not an american, so maybe I shouldn't comment, but your insurance and petrol costs are through the roof. Your cost per month for insurance is closer to what I pay annually. And I spend maybe $100 a month on gas. What on earth are you driving??? Is it like a classic car or something?

Ford Bronco fuel economy (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=12469&id=12467&id=12468). A 1960s tech eight-cylinder engine driving all four wheels to propel a ~4,600 pound SUV. The perfect commuter, right?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: ohsnap on February 02, 2018, 07:19:51 AM
So you're on $1500 a fortnight but only clearing $900 a fortnight? Surely that's not just tax.
...
He mentioned in the first post that he has a 401k loan, plus 401k and HSA contributions.  But $1200/month deductions seems like a lot - OP, is there anything else?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: kelvin on February 02, 2018, 08:18:15 AM
I agree that you've done a fabulous job on the 401K repayment. Kudos.

Your #1 priority is getting more income. You can't magic away all your expenses, sadly.

How you go about getting that extra income is a very personal thing. It won't be easy. There will be compromises. I worked two jobs sometimes (health permitting). I worked seasonal sometimes. I worked full time while in school sometimes. There's no one magic bullet - you have to be willing to try weird things, live strange, and change plans frequently when things don't work out. It's exhausting. Keep at it.

Listen to everyone. Ask your co-workers what they're doing, what their spouses are doing, what previous careers they've had, what careers they hope to have in the future. They might not be on the same path as you, but there's still something you can learn from them - even if it's just "what not to do".

Be wary when taking advice from someone with a full belly and a roof overhead. Often these people forget to mention "oh yea when I went to school I paid all my tuition while living on min wage" or "oh yea I bought my house in the 70's for $10k" or "oh yea my first job out of school paid $80k/year in today's wages". There's often an underlying assumption that's just not true in your situation.

Guard your credit. Go into as little debt as possible and make sure the thing you're going into debt for is something with a long-term payoff. Sometimes the "right answer" isn't actually possible for you, and you have to choose the "least worst" of the options in front of you. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed or consider it a personal failing.

There's always a cheaper way to do the thing, that costs more time. Whether it's worth it to you will vary depending on how many hours you're working/commuting.

I spent ten years working poor with an undiagnosed chronic illness. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and I was lucky, and I had help. I don't believe that one of those things alone is enough to get someone out of poverty, they need all three. Keep at it. Best of luck. 
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Ridewithme38 on February 02, 2018, 09:28:37 AM
So you're on $1500 a fortnight but only clearing $900 a fortnight? Surely that's not just tax.
...
He mentioned in the first post that he has a 401k loan, plus 401k and HSA contributions.  But $1200/month deductions seems like a lot - OP, is there anything else?


I'll break it down a little more:
Gross: $1,492.71

Taxes:
Fed Taxes: $125.10
State Taxes: $48.83
OASDI: $83.52
Medicare: $19.54

Pre-Tax Deductions:
401k: $100.99
Dental: $19.11
HSA: $50.00
Medical: $73.00
Vision: $5.37

Post Tax Deductions:
401k Roth:  $28.86
401k Loan: $68.43

Other:
401k Match: $43.29
GTL Imputed Income- Taxable $0.29
HSA Match:  $19.23
LTD Imputed Income - Taxable  $1.66

Net: $869.96

Someone mentioned my 'saving rate' in a post above.  I have NO IDEA how to calculate that.  I am putting 20% from my Net directly into a savings account.  But, i am also putting in 10% in a 401K, 2% into a Roth 401k and $50 every two weeks into an HSA(do i include the 401k repayment?).  if i calculate all of that, its like 35%??

I'm working on the math right now with paying off the 401k loan.  $1,200 due, about. On one hand, i'm paying interest on a loan and that's costing me money.  On the other hand, with a 401k loan, you pay interest TO YOURSELF, so it's really just increasing my rate of savings.

ETA: Also just cancelled Audible, feels good.  I tried to call up and cancel Planet Fitness, but they are a pain in the ass about it.  Can only do it certain days & hours(The ones i am working).  So, i am going to have to take time off work to cancel, most likely sometime between the 20th and 29th.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: blinx7 on February 02, 2018, 09:34:56 AM

I just wanted to write to say I think you are doing great.  You are saving money and raising a daughter on a not particularly high income while investing in yourself, which will pay of dividends down the road.  Get your certifications and push for more income -- I can tell just from your dedication and detail on these posts that you are worth more than you are currently being paid -- you just need to find an employer that agrees and show them the value you can bring.  Once you do that you can live the same lifestyle but start pushing your savings up to 20, 30, 40% etc.  You could even work more because you won't be spending time on the certifications and bring in even more money, if you want. 

I would ditch the car though. 
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Bracken_Joy on February 02, 2018, 09:57:04 AM
Going to add to the "ditch the bronco" chorus, but from two unique perspectives.
1, the silly option: As someone who used to live next to a neighbor with a bronco that started outside my bedroom window at hours I was trying to sleep, be kind, ditch the bronco. Your neighbor's ability to rest will benefit greatly. ;) Those suckers are LOUD.
2, the more serious option. Maybe it's just the particular broncos of this vintage I've been around, but they seem to be particularly ambitious emissions machines. Consider, health-wise, what you're exposing yourself and your daughter to. Ditching Clifford may not only save your budget, but lessen your cancer risk and her asthma/allergies risks as well. (Not to mention the less road noise of a newer car might save your hearing LOL.)

Keep up the hustling, you can do this =)
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on February 02, 2018, 10:49:50 AM
The Bronco isn't Clifford, it's Old Yeller: you love it, but it's going to ruin you if you keep it.

How far away is it from breaking down entirely and leaving you screwed?
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: nurseart on February 02, 2018, 12:25:41 PM
checkout budget bytes for easy cheap recipes.

I rec substituting stuff from the freezer (frozen pizza, etc) instead of takeout if you mess up a meal.

Mad props for paying off your loans! You are doing a great job with what you currently have and with some more optimizing (+1 for getting rid of that car) you will be in increasingly good shape.

Remember, 57% of Americans have less than $1k in savings so you are better than average!
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Meesh on February 02, 2018, 01:57:20 PM
movie theater girl here *raises hand*

I'm going to say get rid of movie pass. Most theaters have a cheap day Tuesday or Wednesday. Cinemark is $5.75, AMC $5 etc. Also if you go on weekends instead, go early and get the Early Bird special for $6, many theaters have this discount too (I know Cinemark does). Skip 3D it's rarely better.

I also started restricting myself to only see movies that looked "better" in the theater, dropping comedies etc for just action and great CGI films, and dropped movies that were rotten tomato splats as well. This means I rarely go more than once a month and many months there simply isn't anything for me to see that meets my criteria. I'm also much happier with my experiences now because every movie I see is something I want to see, looks cool, and is critically acclaimed so the stories and acting tend to be decent too. I wait to see everything else on red box a few months later and I'm almost always glad I didn't spend extra money to go see it ASAP.

Needless to say resist the snacks! They cost a fortune and mostly suck. You can pay twice as much just from getting them even on a regular ticket price.

Also Amazon Music? Really? Download Spotify or just listen to stuff on youtube. Both are free.

There you go. Now you only need Netflix :)
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: hoping2retire35 on February 06, 2018, 10:45:07 AM
Dude, sell that Bronco!

 I actually looked at getting one for a while. Room for kid seats, able to tow a decent sized trailer, 4x4 for the mountains and hunting, but; they cost too much for a 20+ yo vehicle and are gas hogs. If I get a 4x4 vehicle that holds a few car seats it will be an Escape, no converter top but that is fine for the amount I would save. I don't want to worry about spending $20 in gas every time I want to go somewhere in it.

Wash it up, take lots of pictures and put that thing on craigslist for $5k. When some dumb teenager offers your $3500 take it! If you are worried about getting around just agree to only sell on the weekends. Be sure to have another car, at a dealer or on craigslist, picked out and a ride from a relative; when the deal goes down take the cash and buy your next ride.

I sold a $35k 2013 Ram 2500 on craigslist, you can sell this thing.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: eliza on February 06, 2018, 01:15:20 PM
Good job cancelling Audible.   Could you call to cancel Planet Fitness during your lunch break?   It's way too easy to let monthly subscriptions hang around even if you aren't using them.  I'm terrible at that.  (That's the entire business model).

The things you need to address (in order of importance to your long-term financial future):

I think a lot of us took a while to go full-swing into Mustachianism.  So you've done your false start in May when you started this thread.  Made a few changes, accomplished a few good things, but never really addressed the major issues.  Now it's time to go full bore at this and get your situation under control.   What's your goal here?   To be able to move into your own place?  To be debt free?  To be able to retire at 65?  To be able to retire early?  To be able to switch careers? All of these goals are equally worthy ---- it's just a matter of deciding what you want and then mapping out a plan to make it happen.  You can absolutely do this!
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: NoStacheOhio on February 06, 2018, 01:18:06 PM
It was mentioned earlier, but it's worth mentioning again. If it's unmatched, eliminate your 401k contributions and redirect the money to extra 401k loan payments. Is 2% the max Roth matching level? Maximize your match first, then knock out the loan.

AND FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK GET RID OF THE BRONCO.
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: vertkurt on February 06, 2018, 01:56:21 PM
I make similar to you, 7k more, and am able to max roth and 401k every year. A big part of me being able to do this is that I commute strictly by bicycle around town. This includes groceries, to work, hitting the town for drinks and outings etc. You have to make sacrifices and I think the Bronco has to go. Move within 5 miles of your work, in your case since your rent situation is basically so low then this doesn't apply to you, grocery store and things you like to do. For me personally, I play a lot of soccer and lift weights 3x a week, so I live 3 miles from the turf field and 2 miles from the gym as well as 4 miles from work. This covers 70% of where I am at all times with the rest being at home during the work week. Read MMM blog post "Get rich with bikes."
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Dave1442397 on February 06, 2018, 02:48:05 PM
That Bronco could bring some good money. Check out the sales figures here - https://bringatrailer.com/ford/bronco/

You could then buy an older Prius. If you can find one with a dead hybrid battery, it could be really cheap, and then you replace the battery pack - see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSwUEVx5G3U&t=55s
Title: Re: I live pay check to pay check even without debts and don't know what to do.
Post by: Dicey on February 06, 2018, 03:27:20 PM
Plus one to the euthanize the Bronco and replace it with an older Prius that people are afraid of. You will be so, so glad you did.

Next, are you getting a large tax refund? Perhaps you can adjust your withholding and put a little more back into each paycheck.

How is your training going? Time for an update on that front.

Have you looked into any services that might be available to you based on your income level? No shame in using it when needed.

What are you doing with your new savings? Are you investing it immediately or letting it languish in a passbook-type account?