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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: CoffeeDrinkingThrow on August 06, 2015, 10:09:04 PM

Title: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: CoffeeDrinkingThrow on August 06, 2015, 10:09:04 PM
Hello Mustachians,

I'm hoping this is the best place for this post. The last two years have been pretty rough for me financially - I quit working to go back to school and finish my degree (B.S.), finalized a messy divorce, and made a really bad financial decision to move to Seattle without a guaranteed income. My total net worth went from slightly over 110k~ to about 20k today. The good news is this struggle / reality has caused me to stop for a minute and assess what I actually want out of my life leading to a philosophical adoption of mustachism. I say philosophical because despite my intent I'm failing wholesale at saving enough of my income to achieve my goals - or even just get out of debt.

I'm currently making about 93k a year gross working for the government in southern California and I'm in my late 20's. I live with my girlfriend who's in her early 30's and has been looking for work for about 4 months now. To be fair to her she turned down a job offer three months ago making $12/hr that required a 100~ mile round-trip commute at my urging (doing some basic math she would have spent 60-80$ of her pre-tax earnings of $96 on travel expenses). I'm pushing for her to start taking some college classes since the 'find a job' plan isn't working so well - she's going through the motions to get enrolled but she's honestly not especially motivated and has no major / career in mind. It would be easy to point at her lack of income as the source of my problems (and honestly even $1,000~ a month would feel pretty life changing) but I know there's a lot of couples who get by on far less than I make (or both make 45k~).

So on to the numbers:
Coffee's Income After Tax & Deductions: 4,450/mo
Girlfriend's Income: 0
Rent 1550  (apartment)
Property Insurance 31
Storage 50
Internet: 62
Girlfriend's Car Payment 470 (NOTE: I use this car to get to work - I sold mine since we were not using hers and it gets better MPG(28) - she's also pretty far upside down still to consider a sale).
Girlfriend's Car Insurance 80 (Covers me too)
Family Verizon 122  (Includes $24/mo for financed fancy phone - expires 03/17)
Gas 300
Electric 130
WSG 80
Dog's Insurance 80
Food & House Stuff 800 (Not very specific - covers everything)
Total: 3780~

Here's the balance sheet:
Credit Card: -16,900 (10%)
Girlfriend's Car: -23,900 (3.2%)
Roth IRA: 7,300 (0-5%)
Old 401(k): 28,500 (9%)
Current 401(k): 2,200 (?) - Contributing @ match
Liquid: 500 (0%)

Whew. So I'm about $650~ in the black each month - although this hasn't made it into the savings or debt reduction pool as there's no money in the budget for clothes, medical expenses, entertainment, etc. I had to buy some new glasses this month that consumed a lot of this surplus. It's very depressing to be working hard all week and ending up with essentially nothing to show for it at the end of the month. I keep looking at these expenses and trying to devise more things to cut down or completely out - but aside from the Verizon plan and groceries there's not a lot of fluff I'm seeing. One plan in the works is to find a job in a lower cost of living area that might also provide the girlfriend a better chance to get a job. If that doesn't happen by November when my current lease expires I can move to a smaller town (actually 14 miles closer to work each way) and reduce my rent to about $1,300 a month - but this requires a one year lease so I wouldn't be switching jobs.

Basically I'm open to any suggestions or advice you folks might have. Thanks for your time reading!
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: englyn on August 06, 2015, 10:38:39 PM
Oof.

Credit Card: -16,900 (10%)
Girlfriend's Car: -23,900 (3.2%)

Your hair is on fire.

Property Insurance 31
Storage 50
Gas 300
WSG 80
Dog's Insurance 80

Facepunch for at least some of these. You have contents valuable enough to insure? You shouldn't with that credit card debt. What are you storing, and can you sell it? What are you doing with all that gas?? What's WSG? How many incident-free months x $80 would allow you to save up to pay your own possible vet bill?

Basically all of that surplus $650 should be going to pay off debt. See if you can transfer it to a 0% interest rate balance transfer card first. You don't need new clothes. Spendy entertainment is for people without credit card debt, there are lots of cool free things to do. Medical expenses you can't do much about, but hopefully they are not too frequent and you can put back on the credit card if you absolutely have to!

Also, you're bleeding on that car payment. You'd be getting much further if you sold the thing and managed to put any remaining debt and the cost of something cheap and reliable on a 0% balance transfer card. Sorry to your girlfriend, but someone with an upside down car payment and no stable job needs to downgrade their car expectations accordingly.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Jakejake on August 06, 2015, 11:06:30 PM
Food & House Stuff 800 (Not very specific - covers everything)

My food and house stuff is in the range of $150/month for two adults, so I'm looking suspiciously at this line with no details.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: acorn on August 06, 2015, 11:26:31 PM
Girlfriend's Car Payment 470 (NOTE: I use this car to get to work - I sold mine since we were not using hers and it gets better MPG(28) - she's also pretty far upside down still to consider a sale).
Gas 300
Food & House Stuff 800 (Not very specific - covers everything)

Credit Card: -16,900 (10%)
Girlfriend's Car: -23,900 (3.2%)

If that doesn't happen by November when my current lease expires I can move to a smaller town (actually 14 miles closer to work each way) and reduce my rent to about $1,300 a month - but this requires a one year lease so I wouldn't be switching jobs.

Sell the car and get a cheap one. Can you move closer to work to reduce your commute? I'd pay down that 10% CC debt asap, don't think about clothes/entertainment at this point.

Also, 800 for "Food & House Stuff"? In your own words, there's probably a lot of "fluff" in there.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Credaholic on August 06, 2015, 11:34:45 PM
If girlfriend was actually considering a $12/hr job with a 100 mile commute then it doesn't sound like her job prospects are terribly selective. She should get a job at Starbucks or ANYWHERE within walking or biking distance of your apartment. Shouldn't be a problem to find something like that in SoCal. If she has no major career inspiration she shouldn't waste time and money on going back to school and probably accruing more debt that you'll then be servicing.

Sell the stuff on storage to pay off debt. Sell the stuff that's nice enough to be insured to pay off debt. Replace it with cheap Craigslist stuff and cancel the insurance. I can't speak to the dog insurance because I don't know how much vet bills might realistically cost (you will never catch me owning a dog, but more power to dog lovers everywhere!) but this seems really expensive to me. What is WSG?

How much is the car worth? That's a lot of gas you're burning...

Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: PNW Lady on August 06, 2015, 11:58:20 PM
Congrats on your impressive income at such a young age – it sounds like you are off to a great start!

My first thought: why are you taking on your girlfriend’s debt? I would ask yourself how you’d feel if a year from now (or sooner, or later) the relationship ended, and the car that you’ve paid down the principal on goes away and you find yourself without a vehicle. This just isn’t sounding like a sensible arrangement and I’d encourage you to give it some serious thought. Just because you are with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take on their financial issues. The car/loan is a straight-up bad situation, but it doesn’t have to be your bad situation.

I would definitely see if you can find a way to sell whatever is in storage and eliminate that cost, as well as the property insurance. It also seems like you could seriously shave down your grocery bill. My family of three spends approx. $500/mo. on ridiculous high-end/organic groceries from one of those fancy stores that has a wine bar and plays live music on Thursdays. A focused couple should be able to spend well below that ($250 - $350?), even in a HCOL area. If I was in your situation I would literally be eating a rotation of oatmeal, cottage cheese and apples, walking around with walnuts in my pockets for the rare occasion I couldn’t get to my food (and forget about organic!).

As for the idea of your girlfriend going to school, based on what you’ve described I personally think it sounds like a bad idea given her current financial circumstances. If someone is resourceful and motivated, they don’t necessarily need a degree to make a livable wage (which should be step one). As an example, I worked full-time (low-level clerical) plus various part-time second jobs (McDonalds/Starbucks/busser at a steak-house/waitress/etc.) for four years in order to stabilize my finances as a newly independent person before I was comfortable taking on the financial responsibility of a college degree. I see far too many young people believing that a college degree will solve their financial problems. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-college – I just believe a college degree should be step two (an enhancement), not step one (a foundation built on resourcefulness, creativity and work ethic).

Eye on the prize my friend. You need to eliminate your credit card debt immediately, which means you need laser focus on making sure your monthly excess $  actually goes where it needs to go. If your girlfriend isn’t making a financial contribution, she should at least be spending all her waking hours helping to reduce spending (cooking from scratch, etc.) and spending some time on the MMM forum;-)
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: MDM on August 07, 2015, 12:02:44 AM
I'm currently making about 93k a year gross...Income After Tax & Deductions: 4,450/mo

Basically I'm open to any suggestions or advice

One suggestion: list the details of the $3300/mo (difference between $93000/12=$7750 and $4450)  "Tax & Deductions".  There is often room for improvement in this area.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: mxt0133 on August 07, 2015, 12:18:36 AM
I'm going to have to be brutally honest here, but a 30 year old woman that cannot find a job is being very selective.  If she's living with you rent, board, and car payment free, then she is the either:

a) The sweetest and nicest person in the world, which means she should be in the hospitality, healthcare or customer service.

b) A dam good sales person or negotiator, which mean she should be in ...... sales or contract negotiations!

c) Last but not least she's FUCKING HOT AS HELL, which means she should be a model, be in some sort of client facing role, or find/found a sugar daddy.

But in all seriousness, have her sign up for UBER as a driver because she already has one steady client that needs a ride to work everyday.

Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: 1967mama on August 07, 2015, 01:38:50 AM
Welcome to the forums!

Something that has been super helpful for us is doing day by day tracking of that nebulous miscellaneous fluff category. You might be pleasantly surprised how much extra cash is going to wants vs needs .. YMMV.

The car has got to go -- totally agree with the other posters on this one.

And +1 to this:

If your girlfriend isn’t making a financial contribution, she should at least be spending all her waking hours helping to reduce spending (cooking from scratch, etc.) and spending some time on the MMM forum;-)


The "What Small Things Did You Do TODAY to Save Money" thread is my personal favourite. I learn so much there! Seeing what other people do to save a few dollars here and there motivates me to do the same.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Apples on August 07, 2015, 07:53:33 AM
We buy food/household goods for about $420/month as 2 adults.  Let's round up to $500 because you live in SoCal.  Where is the other $300 going?!?  We also budget $100/month for couple entertainment, and $100 each for misc, including clothes.  And you guys don't even have different seasons!

Y'all need to sit down and set a budget together.  Not you deciding on one and "hoping" she "goes along" with it.  She's not making any money, and you're currently paying her debts for her.  This is crunch time.  I'm guessing you guys can squeeze $500 out of your budget to put extra on debt if you stick to a budget.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: 2ndTimer on August 07, 2015, 08:12:34 AM
We are actually in a very similar position.  I am a SAH and the Hub makes roughly what you do also working for the government.  We save a lot more.  Here's how:

1.  Live near enough to Seattle to get the extra increment but in a small town where costs are way lower.

2.  Drive use Hondas we bought for cash and don't carry collision because who cares if an old Honda gets scraped.

3.  As an SAH I regard it as my job to make sure no money goes out of the house that doesn't need to.  That means I cook every meal, bake bread, make my own laundry soap, buy all our clothes and household equipment at thrift stores and know where to get the cheapest groceries.  I can't imagine allowing $800/month to leak out for "stuff."  Frankly, it doesn't sound like your GF is really on board with your plans or she would be doing the things I described above. 

4.  My last pair of glasses cost about $100 at Costco.  Did you shop around?
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: dcheesi on August 07, 2015, 08:25:34 AM
Just a note to those worried about the "property insurance": many apartment complexes require you to have renter's insurance. Not sure why, since AFAIK it's only covering your own stuff, not the building? But I've been looking at apartments lately and it does come up.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: lil_miss_frugal on August 07, 2015, 08:31:50 AM
You have a high income which is great but you also have debt and a dependent girlfriend. If she isn't motivated to go to school then she shouldn't. Y'all can't afford it right now anyway. She should be looking for some kind of job or source of income right now. Anything she brings in financially would help your situation. Even if you were to use her income to throw towards your debts.   
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Sibley on August 07, 2015, 08:39:11 AM
Property Insurance 31  My renter's insurance in Sacramento was about $120 a year. Shop around
Storage 50 Get rid of your stuff. Sell it, donate what you can't sell. Go read the thread on clearing clutter in the Throw down the gauntlet section if you need help doing that. No storage units allowed for more than 2 months.
Family Verizon 122  (Includes $24/mo for financed fancy phone - expires 03/17) I'm on the family plan and my share is $60 a month. Are you also paying for GF's phone?
Gas 300 How are you spending $300 a month in gas?
Electric 130 Acclimate yourself to warmer temps and turn off the AC or raise the temp. Make sure you're turning off lights, etc. This is ridiculously high.
WSG 80  Assuming it's not utilities of some sort, dump it. If it's utilities, try to lower it.
Dog's Insurance 80 You don't need pet insurance. Animals are not humans, you can't talk to them. If they're seriously ill or injured and you can't fix it, then keeping them alive in pain is torture. Cancer, organ failure, etc - you keep them comfortable until it's time to let them go. Yes, it sucks, but that's life unfortunately. Regular vet bills for vaccines, minor illnesses, etc are not that bad. 
Food & House Stuff 800 (Not very specific - covers everything)  Seriously, facepunch. Figure out what you're actually spending on then cut it down.

For entertainment, learn to love the library. Find the free events in your area. Take up a free hobby such as walking, running, biking, etc.

Your girlfriend needs to get her life together and find a job. Also, she's your girlfriend, not your wife. Stop paying her way.

Kudos on knowing you have a problem and being willing to improve your situation!
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: CommonCents on August 07, 2015, 08:40:43 AM
c) Last but not least she's FUCKING HOT AS HELL, which means she should be a model, be in some sort of client facing role, or find/found a sugar daddy.

Seems like she already has found one.  You're post is amusingly spot on though.

Agree if she was going to take $12/hr with a 100 mile commute, then she's not particularly selective and can get retail nearby.
OP, you're already paying for all of the apartment costs (rent, food, utilities).  Stop making the car payment on someone else's car.  See if she'll sell the car, or let it get repossessed.  Track the $800, and ask gf to cut back on the grocery budget.  Cut out alcohol, fancy cheese, organic food or whatever vice you have under that $800 catch all, because the credit card debt is an emergency.  Throw every penny at it.  Follow Sibley's advice above.

Does your gf have any savings at age 30+?  Does she get unemployment?  (Why not?  Did she just decide to quit her last job without savings or another job lined up?  That's piss poor decision-making right there if so.)
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Jakejake on August 07, 2015, 08:53:22 AM
Your girlfriend needs to get her life together and find a job. Also, she's your girlfriend, not your wife.
This made me laugh because I was thinking she's your girlfriend, not your child. If I were with a 30 year old man who was unemployed and had tens of thousands in debt who had job skills or desire to get them, I wouldn't be lecturing them about needing to go to college while paying their bills for them.

I'd be keeping the finances separate unless we were married. I'd maybe offer to buy the car off them outright, or just buy my own used car. I wouldn't pay that amount per month in equity on someone else's car. If that means their car gets repossessed, then they start biking or taking public transportation.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: boarder42 on August 07, 2015, 08:57:13 AM
WTF is dog insurance.  this is a thing. like people have dog insurance.  is your dog an actor?  is he insured incase he gets hit by a car and you get a huge settlement?  i dont understand dog insurance. 

my 5 person family cell plan - me,wife, parents, brother is 143 a month you're paying wat too much

you're in southern california WTF are you speding 300 a month on gas for? also its summer. 

my wife and i spend around 500 on food and house stuff a month and that includes our booze habit.  800 is really high.

Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Tremeroy on August 07, 2015, 09:02:45 AM
Just a note to those worried about the "property insurance": many apartment complexes require you to have renter's insurance. Not sure why, since AFAIK it's only covering your own stuff, not the building? But I've been looking at apartments lately and it does come up.

Renter's policies generally provide liability coverage. That is the reason why landlords prefer/require that tenants carry it.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: little_brown_dog on August 07, 2015, 09:08:33 AM
As others have already mentioned, it sounds like you have a bigger issue here than just finances. There are a lot of people on the forum who stay at home for various reasons (health, current unemployment, kids), but typically this arrangement only works out in the long term if the partner at home is also contributing financially by actively saving the family money. If the unemployed or stay at home partner doesn’t do this, they are just a net financial loss to the family, leading to increased financial struggles and resentment.
 
With $800 dedicated to food and miscellaneous house stuff, its apparent that you aren't actively budgeting and cost cutting on your every day expenses. This is where your gf can step up to help you while she continues to search for a job. If she is physically healthy, there is plenty of time during the day to search for jobs AND engage in money saving activities like looking for ways to cut utility costs, plan inexpensive meals, cook, clean, etc.


Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: thd7t on August 07, 2015, 09:28:55 AM
So on to the numbers:
Coffee's Income After Tax & Deductions: 4,450/mo
Girlfriend's Income: 0
Rent 1550  (apartment)
Property Insurance 31
Storage 50  It's been recommended that you sell the shit in here.  Just throw it away.  You seem to think it has value, but you don't touch it.  It's garbage
Internet: 62Time to shop around or call your provider.  Look at I P Daley's communcations guide and see if you need as much service as you're paying for
Girlfriend's Car Payment 470 (NOTE: I use this car to get to work - I sold mine since we were not using hers and it gets better MPG(28) - she's also pretty far upside down still to consider a sale).
Girlfriend's Car Insurance 80 (Covers me too)
Family Verizon 122  (Includes $24/mo for financed fancy phone - expires 03/17)Break this contract.  You should be paying under $50/month/phone.  Look at I P Daley's guide (again)
Gas 300  How far do you live from work?  This seems super high
Electric 130  Is this your average?  You live in an apartment, so you should be able to find out what's sapping your energy.  Turn your A/C up a few degrees to see if you can handle it
WSG 80  If this is Water/sewer/gas, it looks okay
Dog's Insurance 80 Get rid of this.  It's a luxury that eliminating will pay for itself quickly
Food & House Stuff 800 (Not very specific - covers everything) As everyone says, you need to break this down some
Total: 3780~

Here's the balance sheet:
Credit Card: -16,900 (10%)
Girlfriend's Car: -23,900 (3.2%)
Roth IRA: 7,300 (0-5%)
Old 401(k): 28,500 (9%)
Current 401(k): 2,200 (?) - Contributing @ match
Liquid: 500 (0%)

Whew. So I'm about $650~ in the black each month - although this hasn't made it into the savings or debt reduction pool as there's no money in the budget for clothes, medical expenses, entertainment, etc. I had to buy some new glasses this month that consumed a lot of this surplus. It's very depressing to be working hard all week and ending up with essentially nothing to show for it at the end of the month. I keep looking at these expenses and trying to devise more things to cut down or completely out - but aside from the Verizon plan and groceries there's not a lot of fluff I'm seeing. One plan in the works is to find a job in a lower cost of living area that might also provide the girlfriend a better chance to get a job. If that doesn't happen by November when my current lease expires I can move to a smaller town (actually 14 miles closer to work each way) and reduce my rent to about $1,300 a month - but this requires a one year lease so I wouldn't be switching jobs.

Basically I'm open to any suggestions or advice you folks might have. Thanks for your time reading!

At your income, you should be able to save substantially more than this.  You just need to try to stack up some wins.  This shouldn't be hard.  On your list of expenses, pretty much all of them can be reduced.  Anything you can reduce by $54/month puts $650 in your pocket/year.  The reason that this number is relevant is that it's what your imaginary savings is.  In truth, it looks like you manage to spend this a little too easily.  You can't afford to spend most of $650 on glasses right now.  I know this, because you're carrying $17k in credit card debt.  You can afford to fix your glasses or maybe buy $100 glasses.  They won't have a fancy designer's name on them, but you can't afford that.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: AZDude on August 07, 2015, 09:39:36 AM
Having lived in SoCal before, it is expensive. However, some of this is just unjustifiable waste. $1550 for a 1 bdrm apartment seems pricey, even in LaJolla, so I'm guessing this is not a 1 bedroom, and is more like a townhome or fancy 2 bdrm. Look to transfer to a 1 bdrm apartment until you get your shit straight. This will save you about $500, easy. Property insurance is usually required when renting, but $31/month seems high. Agree withe poster who said "shop around". It cannot hurt and will only cost you time. Since your gf has no job and no car to go anywhere, she can research it for you. Storage? WTF man? You had to know the massive facepunch was coming on that. This needs to go ASAP. $62 for internet seems excessive. You can get 1.5mpbs for like $30. You dont need more than that unless you are streaming multiple HD movies at the same time(please tell me this is not happening).

So far you have saved about $600 month, doubling your disposable income. The car payment is a tough one, and one wonders what your gf used to do to justify financing a brand new car while having no savings, but the past is the past. Verizon... I pay $22 a month for cell phones. You can do better than $122 a month. Research the ETF and save the cash for a month, then look at IP's cell phone thread. $300 for gas, even by So Cal standards seems high with only one commuter. Not sure what WSG is... Finally, holy hell... $800 for food and house stuff? I have a toddler and I spend far less than that, budgeting about $500(which seems excessive to me, but we have no debt). Slash that to $500 as well... Now you are saving almost an extra $1000 per month.

With a 10% interest rate on your CC, stop all 401(k) and IRA contributions until its gone. You are never going to beat 10% guaranteed. Assuming you are depositing ~$800 a month into these two things(conservative estimate), that would give you $2400 per month to hit your credit card with. That means 7 months and its history. Less than a year later, that car debt is history(if you choose to pay extra on your gf's car, your decision but own it regardless of the outcome and don't blame her). Assuming your gf finds a job in the next 19 months, which is reasonable, then two years from now you two would be rolling in cash and on the way to financial independence.

Now, one more thing, you need to remember right now that you are the breadwinner and that you are keeping everything afloat. This means you dictate terms regarding your financial situation. Don't accept "no" as an answer from the gf unless she has a job and is contributing. Be strong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ8HN1lrY3c (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ8HN1lrY3c)



Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: MissStache on August 07, 2015, 09:47:24 AM
I was in your girlfriend's situation once.  I moved from a decently-paying job in Boston to live with my BF in Virginia, and I didn't have a job. I did have substantial savings, so I was able to pay my car payment (my only debt) and contributed to the groceries and incidentals bills.  BF was incredibly kind and generous and paid rent and utilities for me while I was job hunting. 

After two months when I didn't find a job in my field, I started casting a wider net.  I eventually ended up as a receptionist at a B&B where I was making, I think $9/hour.  Pennies compared to my previous job, but even before my MMM conversion, this was enough to cover me.  Eventually I was promoted a few times and ended up with a pretty great job, but my whole point is it is time for her to stop being picky.  It is CRAZY that she has waited 4 months, especially with that insane car payment, to get a job.  She could be a waitress, or work the cash register at Target, or go be a temp somewhere.

Your debts are your responsibility.  Her debts are her responsibility.  Your shared expenses are those- shared.  She needs to be contributing. 

I'm sure she's lovely, and I bet there is more to the story here with the two of you than we are seeing, but this is not acceptable behavior for two adults.  She isn't contributing and you are enabling her.  Stop it.  This is bad for both of you.

Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: CommonCents on August 07, 2015, 09:51:49 AM
Yesterday I went to the eye doctor.  It had been three years.  I paid about $230 ($75/year) for:
- Eye exam AND
- Contact lens exam AND
- Hard contact lens, with special coating thing ($13) to help dry eyes (recommended by doctor this time) AND
- New pair of glasses bc I don't like my old ones at all, which includes thinner glass because I am at -9 (so I'd have a telescope on my eye otherwise), and anti-glare (yes, facepunch but I'm net worth positive AND I consider my vision critical - if I don't wear the glasses when I need to because my contacts are bothering me, because they don't fit right and annoy me, that's very bad)

WTF did you pay most of $650 for?
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: hops on August 07, 2015, 09:53:40 AM
Just a note to those worried about the "property insurance": many apartment complexes require you to have renter's insurance. Not sure why, since AFAIK it's only covering your own stuff, not the building? But I've been looking at apartments lately and it does come up.

Renter's policies generally provide liability coverage. That is the reason why landlords prefer/require that tenants carry it.

Yep, thinking you don't need property insurance if you don't have much property can get you into a lot of trouble. My former neighbors decided not to carry it because their apartment contained nothing of value. Then they had a kitchen fire that spiraled out of control and destroyed two units. The $15 or $20 per month you might spend on renters insurance (mine was more like $10) suddenly seems like the world's best investment when something goes awry.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Cassie on August 07, 2015, 10:00:53 AM
I think some of you are forgetting that he sold his car & is driving his GF's car which is probably why he is making the payment.  Agree that she can get a crappy job somewhere especially in S Cal.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: thd7t on August 07, 2015, 10:09:41 AM
With a 10% interest rate on your CC, stop all 401(k) and IRA contributions until its gone. You are never going to beat 10% guaranteed.
Continue to contribute to your 401(k) up to the match.  The match is probably at least a guaranteed 50% return.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 07, 2015, 10:19:03 AM
WTF did you pay most of $650 for?

$650 is about what my glasses (no exam) used to cost at Lens Crafters before I discovered the wonders of Walmart Vision Center.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: AZDude on August 07, 2015, 10:22:41 AM
With a 10% interest rate on your CC, stop all 401(k) and IRA contributions until its gone. You are never going to beat 10% guaranteed.
Continue to contribute to your 401(k) up to the match.  The match is probably at least a guaranteed 50% return.

True. Assuming he gets a match.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Rosy on August 07, 2015, 10:27:49 AM
You are so right, with just under 100K you should be sitting pretty. The good news is with that kind of income you will prevail quicker than you think - you got this - all you have to do is figure it all out and focus, focus, - laser focus --- TOGETHER!

Since you have already embraced the "togetherness" of your finances, I think it is only fair for your lady to contribute.

1. On the car
 - you may have to bite the bullet and sell it, that would get rid of one debt entirely and still enable you to have a paid for with cash cheapo car, until you have at least paid off your credit card debt and have accumulated a stash of cash and are on the road to a secure financial future.

The alternative would be for her to find a side hustle, get a part time job or turn a hobby into a business to cover the car payment and the car insurance. Even high school kids can manage that - so I'm sure your lovely lady can too, if she is motivated to do so.

My perspective is that this is her only asset at the moment and she may not want to lose it - so it is for her to focus on and hold onto. She doesn't need a full time job to pay for her own car and insurance. It is good and right of you to help your lady hold onto all she has, but consider the consequences to you both and then decide what is best for you as a couple.

I will not echo the sentiment that you should stop paying the car note. She already gave up her car for you to drive and that enabled you to sell yours - that shows she has enough sense to recognize the need to drastically economize temporarily - you can always relax some once have set up a responsible leaner budget.

2. On your lady getting a job or go back to school
- make a deal with her that if she can find a way to trim down the budget by $1000 - the amount you said would be a relief, then a permanent job for her is off the table.
- school  - forget it. No reason - no motivation and nothing but another financial liability - a really bad idea.

3. I would expect her to:

1. Fix that $ 800 food budget - find a way to cut it by $300 - she's a smart cookie and she needs something to do, preferrably something that will benefit you both. If she doesn't know how to cook - well, that is her new challenge - she does like to eat, right:)
When we were newly married my cooking skills were not stellar either and money was tight - so I bought a cookbook entitled "99 ways to fix hamburger":) and worked my way through it - well, he liked meat:) and in those military days hamburger was a bargain.
These days you can go to you tube or a ton of recipe sites - so no excuses there.
Once a month, we would pick something cool and expensive out of my fancy cookbook. Works like a charm - find recipes for your favorite dishes and go for it:)
2. Fix lunches for you to take to work - $$ 100? saved
3. Halt all clothing, shoes, bags expenses for three months - it's a $$$ 100? worthwhile challenge - see the gauntlet threads.
4. Challenge her to find a side hustle to pay her own car payment $ 470 or to begin with the monthly car insurance - $80.
5. Perhaps your lady has other marketable talents - brainstorm a little - a 9-5 job is not the be all and end all.
6. She could register with a temp agency - they are not cool jobs, but taking a temporary filing job say for 3 months is tolerable:) and might potentially lead to a real interesting job.
7. There are a ton of in home agencies looking for people that can assist the elderly. I've worked for one that gave me the choice of accepting each temporary gig - some are just a few hours a week, others two days a week, some were nothing but sleep overs while relatives were on vacation.
8. Housesitting and pet sitting - baby sitting - worth looking into - easy sidehustle.
9. That pet insurance - save that money for yourself. That way you can use it in the interim for other emergencies or put aside for the critters. 
10. Storage unit - $50 - figure out what to keep or sell and send that money to your cc - target date Sep 1 - face punch.

Those suggestions alone will produce that $1000 you said you were looking for.

You'll be fine and that lady of yours simply needs to be held accountable for contributing her skills and talents. Can she do that? Is she ready for a challenge and are you willing to let her run with it?
Just by slimming down that puffed up out of control budget she can save you $1000 - maybe more. She might surprise you.

 Mayhap a temporary side hustle or temp gig will give her a little boost as well. She sounds a bit discouraged and down - job hunting and not having specific goals and feeling worthless (I can't even find a job) will do that to you.

Give yourselves a break and make time to discuss your goals and values - the make a plan and focus!

Budgets and relationships are very much alike - they keep changing and evolving - good luck to you both!

Oh and don't forget the poster who mentioned that you should also post your pre tax information as sometimes there are opportunities and tax advantages to be found in those numbers as well.


Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Jakejake on August 07, 2015, 04:04:22 PM
I think some of you are forgetting that he sold his car & is driving his GF's car which is probably why he is making the payment. 
I didn't forget that. He's basically leasing a car from her for $470 a month. Maybe he left something out, but it sounds like she's got free room and board and entertainment covered, and doesn't need a side hustle because leasing her car to him is the side hustle. She gets the equity of almost a thousand dollars every two months.

I think it would have been better for her to take the crap job that would have eaten most of her pay in travel costs, because getting one job - any job - makes it a thousand times easier to get the next better/closer job. Businesses don't want to hire unemployed people. Even if she was only bringing home $20 net pay per day after travel costs, you have to look at it as not just the net pay, but also an investment in her overall employability, not to mention a hell of a motivator to find a better job. On that point, if she isn't working right now (and assuming you aren't looking for a housewife, which it doesn't sound like you are), she needs to get her butt into a volunteer job to have something to put on a resume.

But the challenge in an equal relationship is that you aren't the boss of her and can't order her to take an interim low wage job or volunteer position. That's why I'd take the other path of allowing a partner to deal with the consequences of their decisions, instead of personally paying for their consequences.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: lbmustache on August 07, 2015, 05:34:17 PM
Having lived in SoCal before, it is expensive. However, some of this is just unjustifiable waste. $1550 for a 1 bdrm apartment seems pricey, even in LaJolla, so I'm guessing this is not a 1 bedroom, and is more like a townhome or fancy 2 bdrm. Look to transfer to a 1 bdrm apartment until you get your shit straight. This will save you about $500, easy. Property insurance is usually required when renting, but $31/month seems high. Agree withe poster who said "shop around". It cannot hurt and will only cost you time. Since your gf has no job and no car to go anywhere, she can research it for you. Storage? WTF man? You had to know the massive facepunch was coming on that. This needs to go ASAP. $62 for internet seems excessive. You can get 1.5mpbs for like $30. You dont need more than that unless you are streaming multiple HD movies at the same time(please tell me this is not happening).

$1550 would be fine if the GF were splitting it, but since she's not, she needs to hustle and get a job or you two need to find a cheaper place.

Quite frankly, $93k is a good income for one person, and even fine for two people. I am not sure why your GF is being picky with the job search: maybe she doesn't have to be because you're doing all the work for her. She can easily find a retail job nearby since the holidays are coming up and places are starting to hire for that.


Please tell me the "food and house stuff" is including going out, eating out, etc. Even buying stuff at Whole Foods and going to Target every week for NECESSITIES (cleaning supplies, etc.) doesn't amount to that much... are you two adding to the bill buy buying extra stuff when you go out?? Meaning you go to Target for toilet paper and come back with candles, shoes, pet stuff, and toilet paper.

I am not sure what to tell you about the pet insurance as I have a dog. On one hand, the # sounds high and I'd rather you save it into an emergency fund for your dog if something pops up. On the other hand, you seem to have no spare money for even a minor catastrophe. Since you have so much debt including the car, you might have to drop this and hope shit doesn't hit the fan with your dog. Worst case scenario you have to put the $ back on the CC, but chances are you won't. How old is your dog if you don't mind me asking?
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: bsmith on August 07, 2015, 05:54:39 PM
Dude, don't pay someone else's debt unless you're married. Come on now. You're putting off your own retirement so she can be retired now, at your expense.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: kpd905 on August 07, 2015, 06:55:41 PM
$80/month dog insurance is $960 per year.  If a dog lives 15 years, you just blew $14,400 on insurance just in case something might happen.  Throw that $80/month in a savings account and it will be there in case something happens.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: wordnerd on August 07, 2015, 07:19:22 PM
$80/month dog insurance is $960 per year.  If a dog lives 15 years, you just blew $14,400 on insurance just in case something might happen.  Throw that $80/month in a savings account and it will be there in case something happens.

Or he could get a 10% return on that money by putting it toward the credit card. And then use other savings or a credit card to self-insure.

OP--I'll also ditto all the advice re: groceries, home goods, utilities, and phones (get thee to Ting or Republic). The girlfriend issue is obviously tougher, but it does seem she needs to contribute to the household either through getting a job or reducing expenses at home. Best of luck.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: kpd905 on August 07, 2015, 07:35:05 PM

Or he could get a 10% return on that money by putting it toward the credit card. And then use other savings or a credit card to self-insure.


Good point.  Do this, OP.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: fishnfool on August 07, 2015, 07:52:30 PM
Ditto's on all the advice in the previous posts. Time for you to study the art of frugality and quit spending more than you make or you'll never get out of this debt pit you're in.

With the good income you have there is no reason it isn't possible to start moving in the other direction with your finances.

Sell or dump that car and get an older low milage Toyota or Honda for $4 to $6k. Then tackle the CC.

Stay focused on sticking to a budget and keep trimming the fat, you can do it!
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: boarder42 on August 10, 2015, 06:19:17 AM
i think we scared the OP away
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Mother Fussbudget on August 10, 2015, 05:02:46 PM
i think we scared the OP away

Looks that way.  And no one even mentioned the spendypants phone plan.  Republic Wireless / Airvoice Wireless anyone?
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: wordnerd on August 10, 2015, 05:08:11 PM
i think we scared the OP away

Looks that way.  And no one even mentioned the spendypants phone plan.  Republic Wireless / Airvoice Wireless anyone?

I did, but only in passing. There were bigger fish to fry.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: CoffeeDrinkingThrow on August 10, 2015, 11:41:43 PM
i think we scared the OP away

Nope - just a lot to think about! I'm not able to see most of the replies below to quote them directly so I'm just going to try to format this the best I can in a single reply while responding to as much as possible from the top down.

Property Insurance: This is required by my apartment for 100k of liability - I adjusted the policy from 35k of personal belongings down to 20k and liability from 300k to 100k. This saves about $85 a year. 20k might still be a little high - but it does provide some piece of mind (especially when I'm not in a position to replace much on my own should the apartment burn down). This puts me at $240 a year with USAA. I like USAA...but shopping around still needs to be done.

Balance transfer for CC: This would be a pretty big deal since $160~ a month in interest is a lot. I haven't seriously looked into this because I believe these rates only apply for 6-18 months or so and want to be 100% sure I can repay the balance before that time expires. If I can find another card that would accept a balance this large this is absolutely an option in the near future.

Car: Understand this is a way larger payment (and a way nicer newer car) than either of us need right now. I recently took a considerable loss to get rid of my other vehicle (it was 100% the right move) and can't really pay another 3-5k~ to get rid of this loan right now. Since it was mentioned - I had my name added to the registration / loan for this vehicle. That's a bummer because there's no walking away from it - but the equity (when I get some) won't walk away from me either. Bottom line: I need to get this vehicle to a Carmax or dealership for a 'starting point' appraisal to understand exactly where I'm at in the current market rather than just estimating the negative equity and using 'too much' as an excuse. Vehicle would not actually be sold to Carmax or a dealership.

Storage: Unfortunately this storage unit is on the other side of the country in North Carolina. It would probably run me 1.5-2k+ to make the trip to get it cleaned out and the things I care about shipped to my current address. I did the math and figured that compared to other things that need money right now this was not a priority. Disclaimer: the contents of the unit are almost completely worthless - I don't even remember what most of them are. I do have a lot of sentimental things in there from my time in the military (awards, deployment gifts, etc) that I've basically used to justify holding on to the unit. I really don't want to lose these things...but I might be making a really irrational / emotional decision here.

Gas: is now at 3.67~ a gallon for me. This is down from a high of 4.70~ earlier in the summer - so if it holds I think I'll be under the $300 mark. My commute is around 80 miles round-trip each day - so even at 28MPG it's just a lot of driving that I can't do anything about before November.

Girlfriend's College: Probably a 'no-go' for this term since she's seriously behind on registration and her FAFSA got selected for audit by the IRS (I guess 0 income is suspicious when you're not 18). It's worth noting that this would be no expense, or only a very small out of pocket expense - she would be using federal and state grants to get through a few semesters before tuition came up. Also worth noting that I'm not pushing an AA->BA program; we're talking about certificates in accounting (book keeping) or medical assisting since she doesn't have that long term goal right now.

Paycheck: 3,578 - (574 Federal Income, 218 Social Security, 51 Medicare, 218 State Income, 32 State SUI/SDI, 6 Dental, 15 HSA, 7 Legal, 4 Life, 15 Medical, 4 Vision, 178 401k) = 2,237 bi-weekly.  Did the math and it turns out that's only 92.5k   Legal seems insane...until I remember what the first divorce cost; I also figure I'd come out ahead if I fight off even one speeding ticket with this plan. I imagine most of you will disagree. 2 Federal exemptions, 1 State exemption. If the girlfriend finishes out the year without a job it will be her first year with literally 0 income - so I'm assuming TurboTax will help me explore claiming her as a dependent or filing as some kind of head of household? Now that I'm typing this I guess some tax advice might help.

Dog Insurance: It's a French Bulldog, 15 months old with Allergy / Skin issues currently covered under this plan (Trupanion) since we signed up before the dog had ANY preexisting conditions. I thought this was absolutely insane when the girlfriend insisted we do it. Honestly...we're very far in the black already with this plan. It covers 90% of anything that's not standard preventative care. If it lapsed / was cancelled / etc the dog would never be eligible for coverage for anything currently covered ever again. Look - I didn't even want the dog, at all...now I think he's the best thing ever. Aside from the expense of this plan he honestly doesn't cost anything more than a healthy dog would. I guess having a dog at all is a luxury...but that's really just off the table.

WSG: is Water, Sewer, Gas.

Electric: This was about $60 when we moved in back in February. Then it increased to about $75-80 through March, April, May, and jumped to $160 in June. Bill for July is $130. I expect it will head sharply down again when it's not 105~ outside every day. The dog is pretty sensitive to temperature...but I'm sure there's room for a degree or two warmer yeah.

Glasses: Yeah....Lenscrafters. Facepunch. Vision insurance turned what looked like $700 into $280 so I felt pretty good about it. Not so much anymore.

401(k): Does get a match - it's why I contribute up to the match. $360 pre-tax dollars a month.

Cell Phones: I need to do the research on this ASAP. I would be looking at $500~ to pay off my financed phone and be 'out of contract' with Verizon. I'm not sure if I can move my fancy pants 'Verizon' branded S6 and iPhone 6 (girlfriends) to one of these low cost carriers or if we would be selling them on Craigslist and buying simpler phones from the new carrier? I bought her phone outright so there's no worries there although I'm sure she's not super keen to give it up. I appreciate the links and suggestions you guys provided for me on this - just need to do the reading.

Food & House: This is a combination of Trader Joe's and Target. We tried Walmart before and it honestly didn't come out much cheaper - but the shopping experience and quality of everything seemed a lot lower. Our Walmart is also a great place to get stabbed and robbed for what that's worth. This might not be enough for you guys but I'm now saving the receipt for every Food / House purchase - this week came out to $88 from Trader Joe's (food) + $48 from Target (more food, includes $12 for Motrin and Trash Bags) + $8 from Albertson's for the girlfriend's Coke Zero. If that holds it's slightly under $600 which I imagine is still incredibly high to some of you - but better than $800. Nothing there for 'dining out' but my hair is on fire. NOTE: I'll post an itemized spreadsheet at the end of the month.

OK! That's quite a lot for one post and I hope it makes sense and fills in some of the question marks. I really appreciate everyone who took the time to post suggestions or comments. I feel a little guilty I'm not getting all of this fixed up faster - but I'm trying to spend some time on the forum or other things (working through "Money or Life" book) to keep it a priority.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: MDM on August 11, 2015, 01:18:00 AM
I'm currently making about 93k a year gross
Coffee's Income After Tax & Deductions: 4,450/mo
Girlfriend's Income: 0
Paycheck: 3,578 - (574 Federal Income, 218 Social Security, 51 Medicare, 218 State Income, 32 State SUI/SDI, 6 Dental, 15 HSA, 7 Legal, 4 Life, 15 Medical, 4 Vision, 178 401k) = 2,237 bi-weekly.  Did the math and it turns out that's only 92.5k   Legal seems insane...until I remember what the first divorce cost; I also figure I'd come out ahead if I fight off even one speeding ticket with this plan. I imagine most of you will disagree. 2 Federal exemptions, 1 State exemption. If the girlfriend finishes out the year without a job it will be her first year with literally 0 income - so I'm assuming TurboTax will help me explore claiming her as a dependent or filing as some kind of head of household? Now that I'm typing this I guess some tax advice might help.

Last question first: see http://www.irs.gov/uac/Who-Can-I-Claim-as-a-Dependent%3F to determine (at least based on 2014 rules) if you can claim her as a dependent.

Assuming your pay is truly bi-weekly and not semi-monthly (i.e., you get 26 paychecks/yr, not 24), your gross is $3578*26 = $93028 so the OP amount seems correct.  Why say "...it turns out that's only 92.5k"?

Your federal withholding looks about right - well done!

But $2237 * 26 / 12 = $4847/mo.  That's ~$400/mo more than listed in the OP, which leads to the question "where is it going?"

Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Mother Fussbudget on August 11, 2015, 02:28:11 PM
Welcome Coffee - Good to hear you're on-board.

I'd start by tracking your spending.  As MDM points out, there are gaps in your spending, and you yourself may not know where all the money is going.  Set up a free Mint.com account, and you'll be able to track all your spending in one place.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Cassie on August 11, 2015, 03:32:51 PM
If you have a Winco do your grocery shopping there.  Prices are good & the food is good quality.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: wordnerd on August 11, 2015, 04:11:02 PM
If you have any ethnic markets near you, they often have great deals on meat and produce. There might be fewer pre-packaged foods than you'd get at TJ's, but cooking from whole ingredients will save you a lot of money and be better for your health anyway. Maybe a new hobby for the GF? ;)
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Valencia de Valera on August 11, 2015, 04:41:43 PM
Good for you on not dining out! It also looks like there's tons of room for improvement in your grocery bills. If your week of $124 on groceries was representative, that's almost $9 per person per day, or $531 in a 30-day month. DH and I spend about $220 per month on food between the two of us, that's groceries (Kroger) and eating out. Granted we are in a low cost of living area, but even if SoCal is twice as expensive as where we live, you should still be able to shave off $100 per month. Check different stores until you find the lowest prices. Stop buying non-nutritional "extras" like soda, eat meat sparingly if at all, avoid prepared foods, and compare the cost per ounce on everything you buy to get the cheapest brand and size. Look at your receipts and find the most expensive items you buy, then figure out what you can replace them with (ex, going for low-hanging fruit on this one, replace Coke with home-brewed tea, home-made lemonade, or just water). As others have pointed out, if GF is home all day she should be cooking meals from scratch to save money. There are many, many websites with more grocery shopping and recipe tips; IMO this is one of the easiest areas to see immediate and substantial results.

On the electric bill, try turning the temperature up a bit at a time and see how high you can get it. Even a few degrees makes quite a difference to the bills; our electric bill this July was literally half what it was in past years when we kept it 5-7 degrees cooler (to be fair, we've also stopped using the clothes dryer). Fans are cheap to run so you can leave one running for your dog to sit in front of if he gets too hot, and put a frozen water bottle or bowl of ice in front of it to make it even cooler.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: lbmustache on August 11, 2015, 04:59:57 PM
Pro tip: Ditch vision insurance assuming you have no other vision problems and are relatively young.

I use Costco for eye exams ($80) and buy frames through zenni, coastal, or if I want to be fancy, Warby Parker. Even using the WP frames ($95) that's $180, which really only comes up once every 2-3 years.


Also, try Trader Joe's for food. They have a good selection and it's cheap. If you need veggies, fruits, etc. and aren't picky about organic, Food 4 Less is usually very cheap - or even check out some of the Mexican markets - depends on your area, because these are normally found in low-income areas.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Easye418 on August 12, 2015, 01:39:03 PM
WTF is dog insurance.  this is a thing. like people have dog insurance.  is your dog an actor?  is he insured incase he gets hit by a car and you get a huge settlement?  i dont understand dog insurance. 

my 5 person family cell plan - me,wife, parents, brother is 143 a month you're paying wat too much

you're in southern california WTF are you speding 300 a month on gas for? also its summer. 

my wife and i spend around 500 on food and house stuff a month and that includes our booze habit.  800 is really high.

LOL.  Hilarious.

Dog Insurance is when your dog has health problems.

I have 3 dogs:  2 Purebred GSD's 85lb male and 65lb female and 1 Purebred Pomeranian 4.5lbs (this little bitch cost me). 

Reasons I don't need Dog Insurance:

1.  My dogs are superior breeds.  They all free feed (constantly have a bowl of food and water at all times; eat when they want), perfect weight class, and get plenty of exercise.
2.  I take care of my dogs by acheiving step 1.
3.  My dogs actually produce AN INCOME for me once a year.

As for the rest of this mess, you need to trim the dead weight from this budget.  Your GF is weighing you down BIG time with those debts.  Needs to get employment ASAP and sell the car.

Update:  After reading, I see its a French Bulldog with a condition.  Most likely a purebred.... I hope not from a box Pet Store.Of course you wound up with the one breed that is bound to have numerous health problems.    But hey, you made the deicision to take on the puppy, now he is yours and your responsiblity.  Keep doing the right thing.   
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So on to the numbers:
Coffee's Income After Tax & Deductions: 4,450/mo
Girlfriend's Income: 0 Work on this
Rent 1550  (apartment) Any chance you can reduce this?
Property Insurance 31
Storage 50
Internet: 62 Seems a bit high... I pay $40 for 30mb down
Girlfriend's Car Payment 470  Tough payment, tough to sell since it was probably bought new, you would sell at a huge loss
Girlfriend's Car Insurance 80 (Covers me too)
Family Verizon 122  (Includes $24/mo for financed fancy phone - expires 03/17)  Not bad
Gas 300Triple mine and I live in a two story house, something is wrong here
Electric 130  Very high as well, something wrong, I pay on average $150 a month for both Gas and Electric
WSG 80 Similiar to what I pay, but again, I live in a two story house
Dog's Insurance 80
Food & House Stuff 800 (Not very specific - covers everything) Cut this back a bit
Total: 3780~

Here's the balance sheet:
Credit Card: -16,900 (10%) Balance transfer if you CC isn't in the dumps, Priority right here
Girlfriend's Car: -23,900 (3.2%) If you sold the car, you would probably only get $18-$20k back, tough loss
Roth IRA: 7,300 (0-5%)
Old 401(k): 28,500 (9%)
Current 401(k): 2,200 (?) - Contributing @ match
Liquid: 500 (0%) Move to Discover Savings to get 1%, better than nothing, helps offset your 10% CC debt

The good thing is you make a decent living by yourself.  You have your head pointed in the right direction.  Your expenses are a bit high and your savings are pretty low.  You are net worth negative nearing 30, but once your GF gets a job, you will feel a huge weight off your shoulders.  You are going to live very tight probably until that happens.  You will get through it. 

Man, we make $23k difference (you more than me) and your Fed withholding is more than double mine.  Insane.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 12, 2015, 01:53:39 PM
Pro tip: Ditch vision insurance assuming you have no other vision problems and are relatively young.


If you wear contacts instead of glasses, consider only getting vision insurance every 2-3 years if your prescription has stabilized.

Every year I've taken out vision insurance, I've gotten more than I paid in premiums in benefit; but I don't need it yearly.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: Dicey on August 12, 2015, 02:20:22 PM
If you have a Winco do your grocery shopping there.  Prices are good & the food is good quality.

Alas, unless there's something brand-new, there is not much chance of a nearby Winco. RE prices are too high. A quick google search just confirmed my suspicions. My recommendation is the 99 Only Stores, which are all over SoCal and have awesome deals, including organic produce. Break that Target habit, as their shit is just too expensive. Also, there are metric craptons of ethnic stores in LA, so wordnerd's suggestion is spot-on.

Finally, GF needs a job, any job right away. Have her start looking for opportunities on a micro level, walking distance only. Could be babysitting, dog walking, even volunteering is better than nothing. Have her walk to every reasonable office arrangement and ask for occasional fill-in work. Who knows where it could lead?
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: GorgeousSteak on August 14, 2015, 02:34:44 PM
You've gotten a pretty thorough analysis from everyone else.  One small thing to add, I also live in SoCal in a 2500sqft house, and our electric bill is about 1/4 yours.  Not sure if you've said exactly where you live, but we live about 10 miles from the coast and hardly run our AC at all.  Occasionally, for an hour in the afternoon or an hour at bedtime.  We're talking like maybe 5-10 hours a month only in July, August, September.  Just get some fans, and put them in various important places, and with a little acclimation you should be fine.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: robartsd on August 14, 2015, 04:10:37 PM
Your Verizon phone should work on Page Plus's $30/month plan. The iPhone probably would too, but is not technically allowed and may be difficult to get switched over. Either way, it is probably better to sell your current phones and get something less fancypants.

You don't need to pay off all the credit card debt within the promotional period to save. Your credit score should improve as balances drop, so the risk that you won't be able to get another promotional transfer as the first expires is very low. And even if a new credit card doesn't let you transfer the entire debt, you can still save on some of it. I see no reason that you can't get in control of this enough to cut the interest you pay while eliminating this debt in half. (Remember not to cancel the old account once it is paid off - you want that credit history to keep your scores high.)

Storage - your cost to deal with this later will not really decrease, so you might as well start to plan how you'll do it (unless you plan to retire there after you make a ton of money in SoCal). It is simply burning $600/yr until you do. Start making a plan. Can you reduce the costs by couch surfing or house sitting for the time you need to spend there? 1.5-2k is a lot of money just for transporation of yourself and the sentimental contents.
Title: Re: Monthly Budget Review: Not seeing the results I want
Post by: JJNL on August 14, 2015, 11:32:26 PM
+1 for all the advice in the above. And one more question: if you commute 80 miles (!) and your GF has no job, why don't you move closer to where you work? If you could walk / cycle to work and your GF could also get a job within walking / cycling distance, you would save 300 a month on gas. And you could sell the car a lot sooner, maybe even go carless for awhile until you're above water again.