Author Topic: New here and feeling a bit desperate  (Read 14897 times)

Carini

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New here and feeling a bit desperate
« on: September 01, 2014, 08:17:18 PM »
Hello,

As I said, I'm new here. I got directed from somewhere online about helping with finances.  I've been reading a bunch on the site, and it seems really great.  I'm going to just throw a lot out there on my first post, and try not to have it sound like a counseling session.  haha.

Seems like most people on this site are either a lot younger or in a lot better shape financially, so still not sure if this is the right place.  Wife and I are both 36.  3 kids- 8, 6, 3.   We have a total of 80k in student loans. Both Masters's degrees. I make about 52k/year, but my wife is only making 30k because she stayed at home with our kids because of developmental issues with 1 son. He's doing really well now, so that was the best decision we've ever made.  She was running a daycare out of our home because we couldn't afford for her to just stay home, so she took 7 years off of her career, and just started a new entry level job to get back in the door.  I've been at the same job for 8 years, and we were probably getting ready to move until this opportunity came up quickly and she wanted to take it. 

We owe 85k on a house that just appraised this year at 140k.  I have about 60k in a 403(b) and we have about 3k in credit card debt.  Not enough in savings to even speak of.  I turned a hobby into some side cash for about a year and a half, helping a local brewpub get opened up.  I developed the beers, marketing, brewed, did a lot of stuff.  Made a decent amount, but we put it all back into fixing our house, which payed off with refinancing.  It was like a startup thing, so I'm no longer involved there.  There's actually another guy in town that is trying to get me to help him do the same thing. He has the place, some capital, but I don't think he knows how to run a business.  That's just a side note, and something I'm considering just to make some extra cash.

Not even sure where I'm going with this, except that my wife and I are really getting sick of being broke. We feel like we work so hard for our family, but things are always so tight, and that makes things really stressful between us at times.  Overall, we have a really good marriage.  Bottom line is we need to get better about spending the small amount of money we do have.  There are times we both blow money we don't have.  We are terrible and budgeting, which is really tough considering we both get paid monthly!!

I guess I'll stop there for a minute, so this doesn't turn into a novel.  The basics of where we should start would be greatly appreciated.  I feel really lousy that I'm 36 and have this many problems with money. 

Metta

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2014, 08:25:39 PM »
You're actually better off than when we started this journey (also in our mid-thirties). What we found worked for us as a starting point was a cash flow plan. It wasn't a budget because it wasn't telling us how we had to spend our money. Instead it was retrospective, showing us what was actually going on in the month. We agreed that it would be informational and there would be no judgmental comments. Once we could see where our money was going, it was easier to figure out how to make the situation work better. Also by committing to a once a week budget/bills review, you also get a chance to talk about your goals. In the last few years we put our goals on our budget workbook and that also helps us keep our eye on the prize.

Gunny

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2014, 08:30:18 PM »
You are in the right place.  I am sure you will get lots of advice.  My two cents;you have to have a deliberate budget every month so you know exactly what your expenses and income are.  Have a category and set amount for each expense such as housing, food, utes, transportation, debt, and savings. 
There are several free home budgets out there to down load.  Get out of debt and stay out.  Dave Ramsey books are great to show you how to find your way.  Check them out of the library.  Cut all unnecessary expenses like cable and expensive food choices, eating out and going to the movies.  Entertain yourself at home with books and videos checked out from the library.  Learn to live a frugal lifestyle.  Take step by step, otherwise it can be overwhelming.  There are loads of online resources for living frugally.  You can do it.  80k a year is a good family income.  You just need a plan.  Good luck.

Goldielocks

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2014, 08:40:19 PM »
You are actually in a pretty good place, and it's about to get better as you build a plan.

Kids throw surprises into life, and you have three, so you should feel proud, not desperate with what you've done so far.

The first step, IMO, is to set up an automatic withdrawal to a savings.  This is the start of your FU money, your defense against desperate feeling and sense of security.

Dont worry about where to put it, for now, just get started.  It will build quickly.

Then figure out a budget, and goals and where you want to be.






Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2014, 08:42:30 PM »
Thanks for the responses so far, and keep them coming.  I feel like this place might finally help me turn things around.  Going to be around here a lot.  Thanks!

Also forgot to mention that the only positive of our student loan debt is that my interest rate is 2.85% and hers is 3.0% 
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 08:44:44 PM by Carini »

Another Reader

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2014, 08:43:28 PM »
First, you need to track all your income and spending.  Sign up for Mint.com or something similar and track for a month or two.  Second, sit down with your wife and see what in your spending is necessary and what can be reduced or cut out altogether.  Once you have the tracking data, you will see where the money is going.  Put together a budget and see how it works for a couple of months.

Next, some of that new income coming in needs to be allocated to savings and investments.  With your wife's income, you could set up IRA's for both of you and save a chunk of cash so you won't be forced to use the credit card to solve cash flow issues.  You should agree on how much to each type of savings.

Credit card debt?  That has to go.  Pay that out of your earnings and cut something else that's optional until it's gone. 

Then get to work on the student loans.  Some of those may have high interest rates.  Kill those first if possible.  This is going to take some time, so be patient and focus on the goal. 

You will get through this and move forward.  It's just going to take some time and focus.


MDM

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2014, 10:04:04 PM »
Carini, welcome to the forums.

Much good advice already given.  To give more structure to your questions, take a look at http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/.  Read the whole thread - it is short.

As the last post in that thread says, "The spreadsheet linked here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B45krBaG0b6KTWZDeXEySVBHVXc/view?usp=sharing can be downloaded and used to help organize a case study posting."  You certainly don't need to fill in all the input cells - it's just a way to help you organize things.

The advice you will get here is, in general, "reduce overspending and make tax-advantaged investments now, so later your investments will have grown enough to cover your spending needs."  If, and only if, you provide more details on your income, taxation, spending, and investment cash flows, good specific advice usually appears.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2016, 07:54:18 PM by MDM »

horsepoor

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 10:25:00 PM »


Then get to work on the student loans.  Some of those may have high interest rates.  Kill those first if possible.  This is going to take some time, so be patient and focus on the goal. 

Actually, he updated that they are both <3%, so it doesn't actually make a lot of sense to rush into paying them off, unless that is not a fixed rate.  If they're itemizing, the interest is also tax advantaged.

OP, you're really not doing as bad as you seem to think.  Your CC debt is relatively small, you both have good educations, and your wife's earnings are likely to increase as she gains work experience.  You've got equity in your home, and your mortgage is not large, which is great.

I agree that signing up for Mint and really tracking where the dollars are going each month would be a great way to start.  Then, if you're feeling brave, post a case study and the smart people here can help you trim the fat from your budget and get the wheels rolling under your savings/debt payoff vehicles.

lemanfan

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2014, 11:12:38 PM »
Welcome! 

One more thought: while many people naturally focus on cost control, don't forget that you can also increase your income. Although the "arch enemy" of MMM, Ramit Sethi has a few good pointers on how to negotiate in the income department.  Might be worthwhile to check what he has to say.  :)

theadvicist

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2014, 02:17:39 AM »
Hi, I'm new here too!

I found my way here from YNAB forums. It's a budgetting software and I really like it. I thought we were operating pretty strictly before, but actually using this programme properly has increased our monthly saving rate from 26% to 44%. And I am much less stressed about paying things on time because the way the system works removes that kind of stress. I would highly recommend it. You can get it free for a month, which is a great way to try it, and you just start where you are, no waiting for Monday or the new month or anything.

Other than that recommendation, I think you're doing great. The biggest problem people seem to have when landing at MMM is too much car, or too much house. Since you don't seem to have those millstones around your neck, I'd say you're on your way!

alsoknownasDean

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2014, 02:35:01 AM »
Any way for you to increase your income from your day job? A masters degree and eight years experience and you're making only 52K? Surely you could change that!

former player

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2014, 05:28:12 AM »
Hello there and welcome.

I don't think you have any need to feel even a bit desperate: as others have said, your financial basics are in decent shape and you just need a bit of fine tuning on the details.   Credit card debt is of course face-punch worthy but yours is only $3K and your $80K student loans are at low rates, and with your house equity and pension savings overall you've got a positive net worth, which is a lot better than many people finding this site.

Your first step just needs to be to work out where your money is going - write down everything you and your wife spend in September, and go back over your July/August spending to see how much of it you can quantify.  If you can do that, by the end of this month, you'll have three months worth of records which will tell you pretty closely where your money has been going, and what changes in your outgoings you can make based on MMM's advice.

Negotiating a pay rise is best done from a position of strength so I'd suggest you do it once you have a handle on your expenses and confidence in your financial plan for the future.  Your brewing advice side-gig sounds fun: can you hook your business-unsavvy acquaintance up with some business consultancy help to get him started (local business associations/chamber of commerce/local authority development officers could be places for him to look for help)?  Congratulations to your wife on her new job: it's a big thing to go back into the workplace after several years off.

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2014, 05:47:28 AM »


Then get to work on the student loans.  Some of those may have high interest rates.  Kill those first if possible.  This is going to take some time, so be patient and focus on the goal. 

Actually, he updated that they are both <3%, so it doesn't actually make a lot of sense to rush into paying them off, unless that is not a fixed rate.  If they're itemizing, the interest is also tax advantaged.

OP, you're really not doing as bad as you seem to think.  Your CC debt is relatively small, you both have good educations, and your wife's earnings are likely to increase as she gains work experience.  You've got equity in your home, and your mortgage is not large, which is great.

I agree that signing up for Mint and really tracking where the dollars are going each month would be a great way to start.  Then, if you're feeling brave, post a case study and the smart people here can help you trim the fat from your budget and get the wheels rolling under your savings/debt payoff vehicles.

Definitely going to do the case study and post.  It's a good way for me to start looking at everything anyway.  Thanks!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2014, 06:42:59 AM »
You're actually ahead of my wife and I on net worth, though granted I am younger. I don't think your situation is desperate at all, but perhaps think that way will keep you motivated! ;)

I have three kids, we make slightly less than you and your wife, and aren't even at zero net worth, but we're on track to FI in 10 years. We live simply but happily.

Seeing a case study will help because reducing expenses is where all the of easy wins happen. In just a few months, I went from paycheck to paycheck to having more than $1,000 surplus every month.

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2014, 06:58:36 AM »
Any way for you to increase your income from your day job? A masters degree and eight years experience and you're making only 52K? Surely you could change that!

Yea, I made the mistake of getting too comfortable in a job.  I like the job, but could have gotten something higher paying a few years ago.  That would absolutely require us to move though, and that's been the big hangup. We're close to family and selling a house seems like such a headache. Moving with one job (because my wife had the daycare) seemed financially impossible, but now that she's back in the workforce and getting some experience, I'm thinking we can start seriously looking to make one more move next year.

 I've toyed with the idea of doing some consulting in my field on the side, which I actually think could be worthwhile, but I haven't done it yet.  I lost motivation for awhile with all of this and just fell into the routine, but I really feel like it's time to get moving and make progress again.  I've got the possibility of the side consulting or the brewing gig. I know which one sounds more fun, but not sure which one would bring in more side cash!!

Mint Chip

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2014, 07:37:14 AM »
You can do this. Being tired of being broke is what started us on our journey, and we are so grateful for the MMM community.

You have a clue (which is key)!, and now all you need is a plan, which will give you hope. :) You've already received some great advice that will help you get on your way.

We also have 3 kids around the same ages as yours, and we have chosen to involve them in the process (age appropriate info, of course), so when we say "no" or ""we can't " or "not today," they sort of get it.

We also found that paying for food with *cash* has helped us reign in our food budget. We try to make it fun by cooking together at home, having the kids help choose meals, help with the shopping, etc.

Like you, we were late to the party, but there's no sense in looking back. Learn from your mistakes, and pass all of this new-found wisdom on to your kids, and they will be better for it.

Good luck! You CAN do this.

rubybeth

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2014, 07:51:34 AM »
Welcome! I don't think you're doing too badly, but certainly there are going to be areas where you can do better. Tracking actual spending and posting a case study could be an eye-opener. You might just want to look at other case studies for comparison. Your student loan interest rates are really pretty low, so might not be the best area to focus on paying these off--it sounds like an emergency fund of perhaps 3-6 months of expenses might be the first thing to tackle so you don't feel so broke. Once you have some funds saved, you can start thinking about where else to put savings.

Goldielocks

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2014, 08:11:09 AM »
I second the cash method for helping to get used to a new budget.

If you dont have excellent tracking of your money history to set the budget, it is hard.  Start with mint, get a budget that includes everything, then use cash only for 6 months until it becomes a new normal spend level.   It was the only thing that worked for us to keep the budget, together.

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2014, 08:17:17 AM »
I second the cash method for helping to get used to a new budget.

If you dont have excellent tracking of your money history to set the budget, it is hard.  Start with mint, get a budget that includes everything, then use cash only for 6 months until it becomes a new normal spend level.   It was the only thing that worked for us to keep the budget, together.

Is Mint completely free?  Or is it just a trial and then you pay for it? 

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2014, 08:28:59 AM »
Carini, welcome to the forums.

Much good advice already given.  To give more structure to your questions, take a look at http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/.  Read the whole thread - it is short.

As the last post in that thread says, "The spreadsheet linked here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxe0EgraZFRBT2pGYjBEbG1qYlk/edit?usp=sharing can be downloaded and used to help organize a case study posting."  You certainly don't need to fill in all the input cells - it's just a way to help you organize things.

The advice you will get here is, in general, "reduce overspending and make tax-advantaged investments now, so later your investments will have grown enough to cover your spending needs."  If, and only if, you provide more details on your income, taxation, spending, and investment cash flows, good specific advice usually appears.

Good luck!

Do you have a blank version of that spreadsheet.  It has all the cells filled in, and when I start to delete all the numbers, I don't want to screw up other parts of the sheet. 

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2014, 08:40:43 AM »
Mint is completely free. It has defintiely helped me as it was very eye opening when I finally saw how much money I wasted on useless crap once I linked my accounts up with mint.

Ambergris

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2014, 08:56:18 AM »
I second the cash method for helping to get used to a new budget.

If you dont have excellent tracking of your money history to set the budget, it is hard.  Start with mint, get a budget that includes everything, then use cash only for 6 months until it becomes a new normal spend level.   It was the only thing that worked for us to keep the budget, together.

Is Mint completely free?  Or is it just a trial and then you pay for it?

It's completely free (I've been using it for about 5 years now). They make their money by using your spending/savings/credit patterns to suggest offers for credit cards and savings accounts that might be appropriate for you. These are easy to ignore.

Seriously +1 on the budget and tracking spending BTW. It's the only way to begin to get traction with your finances.

Gone Fishing

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2014, 09:36:21 AM »
Welcome!

I'm not waiting on the case study, let's go ahead and start turning this ship around (warning-may contain a face punch or two).

One of my favorite MMM quotes:

"News Flash: If youíre under 40 and making over $75,000, youíve already made it big."

Looks like you and your wife are bringing in at least $82k/yr, and while there may be opportunity for more, there is certainly more than enough not to be BROKE.  Actually, there is probably enough, as-is, to make you wealthy in a decade or so.  The average US household income is around $50k/yr.  You are already WAY above average! With 3 kids, your income taxes shouldn't be too bad, you are probably bringing in over $5k in CASH each month!  My guess is that there are several major leaks in the budget (looks like you are pretty good on the house though!).  Good places to look: Are you eating at restaurants?  Are you driving poor MPG cars?  Are you driving all the time? Are the kids rooms overflowing with toys? Cell phone/cable/internet bills?  Once you find all the leaks it is up to you and your wife to plug them ASAP.  Slowly but surely the ship will turn.   

But, for it to work, you and your wife have to be committed, you have to WANT it, more than anything else.  Turning the financial ship is remarkably similar to changing any habit (or addiction), it takes tremedous commitment and focus.  You will probably feel even more "Broke" as you make the needed changes, but as time goes by, your 'stache will grow, and you'll never feel broke again!   

                 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 09:40:33 AM by So Close »

4alpacas

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2014, 09:50:22 AM »
I second the cash method for helping to get used to a new budget.

If you dont have excellent tracking of your money history to set the budget, it is hard.  Start with mint, get a budget that includes everything, then use cash only for 6 months until it becomes a new normal spend level.   It was the only thing that worked for us to keep the budget, together.

Is Mint completely free?  Or is it just a trial and then you pay for it?
Mint is free (just ignore the ads).  I use a combination of Mint and Excel for all of my budgeting. 

The first step should be going over your expenses for the past few months.  I like to do it by hand, so I look at every expense.  It helps me realize my spending weakness (mine are laziness and sweets). 

Secondly I would set-up at time to talk with your wife.  Go over your spending and create a budget.  I'm a proponent of slowly cutting back, but my DH is also not totally on board. 

Third, go over your spending/budget every month and reevaluate.  I've found support, advice, and motivation in the forums.

Good luck!

Ftao93

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2014, 10:28:13 AM »
You're doing great.

I make @ 50k a year, and my wife 10k (we hope that will go up!).

I think tracking things, then shifting a lot into tax-advantaged savings should be really easy to start.  After that it's fine tuning!

MDM

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2014, 11:56:57 AM »
Do you have a blank version of that spreadsheet.  It has all the cells filled in, and when I start to delete all the numbers, I don't want to screw up other parts of the sheet.
Yes.  You can either go back to the Google Drive version which is now blank, or download the attachment to this post - same file.  I usually upload a version with whatever numbers happen to be in it, but if you prefer a blank copy then maybe others would also.

One should be able to delete any or all of the input cells (green colored background) without problem.  Deleting calculations is another story.  That's why the spreadsheet comes "protected" - you can't change any formulas.  The protection is not very strong (there is no password required) so go to Tools>Unprotect if you want access.  After that, of course, you're more or less on your own ;).  But suggestions are always welcome.

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2014, 02:02:29 PM »
I second the cash method for helping to get used to a new budget.

If you dont have excellent tracking of your money history to set the budget, it is hard.  Start with mint, get a budget that includes everything, then use cash only for 6 months until it becomes a new normal spend level.   It was the only thing that worked for us to keep the budget, together.

Is Mint completely free?  Or is it just a trial and then you pay for it?

It's completely free (I've been using it for about 5 years now). They make their money by using your spending/savings/credit patterns to suggest offers for credit cards and savings accounts that might be appropriate for you. These are easy to ignore.

Seriously +1 on the budget and tracking spending BTW. It's the only way to begin to get traction with your finances.

I've been setting things up on Mint. This really seems like a great first step. Shows me what's really going on with our finances with a big picture.  I've now become obsessed with maximizing what we have right now.  I can already tell you that my wife is not going to be as enthusiastic about all of this, but she's tired of being broke too, so I'll get her on board. 

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2014, 02:12:54 PM »
Mint has been really helpful for me! My husband wasn't AS on board at first and honestly still isn't, but if you lead by example and by listening before you talk, hopefully you'll find yourselves in alignment. Welcome to the forums!

DecD

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2014, 02:19:14 PM »
I second the cash method for helping to get used to a new budget.

If you dont have excellent tracking of your money history to set the budget, it is hard.  Start with mint, get a budget that includes everything, then use cash only for 6 months until it becomes a new normal spend level.   It was the only thing that worked for us to keep the budget, together.

Is Mint completely free?  Or is it just a trial and then you pay for it?

It's completely free (I've been using it for about 5 years now). They make their money by using your spending/savings/credit patterns to suggest offers for credit cards and savings accounts that might be appropriate for you. These are easy to ignore.

Seriously +1 on the budget and tracking spending BTW. It's the only way to begin to get traction with your finances.

I've been setting things up on Mint. This really seems like a great first step. Shows me what's really going on with our finances with a big picture.  I've now become obsessed with maximizing what we have right now.  I can already tell you that my wife is not going to be as enthusiastic about all of this, but she's tired of being broke too, so I'll get her on board.

I really like Mint for watching savings grow and for identifying crazy wastefulness.  We've always been frugal but had some lifestyle inflation lately...and it was a serious shock for me to see how much money we spent at Papa John's last year.  What can I say, we like pizza!!  I now make homemade crust and pizza instead.  Yummier and way easier on the budget!  Anyway use Mint for awhile and you'll begin to see just where your money is going and where you can cut back. I look forward to reading your case study- it sounds like you're starting down a good path.

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2014, 02:41:46 PM »
I would love it if Mint would let me track back since January on my spending, but no matter what I do, it will only go back to June 4th.  Is there a reason for this? Are they only allowed to go back so far in your Checking Account from the date you sign up??  I've changed all the dates in the settings, but even after I save, it tracks spending from June 4th and beyond. 

MDM

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2014, 03:59:39 PM »
I would love it if Mint would let me track back since January on my spending, but no matter what I do, it will only go back to June 4th.  Is there a reason for this? Are they only allowed to go back so far in your Checking Account from the date you sign up??  I've changed all the dates in the settings, but even after I save, it tracks spending from June 4th and beyond.
I defer to Mint experts on the question above.  Seems there ought to be a way....

What I do know is that Quicken will accept items as far back as the checking/savings/investment/credit card/etc. institution will provide.  Quicken isn't free, but the time savings on this task alone might make it worthwhile to you. 

Mrs. PoP

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #31 on: September 02, 2014, 04:21:10 PM »
I would love it if Mint would let me track back since January on my spending, but no matter what I do, it will only go back to June 4th.  Is there a reason for this? Are they only allowed to go back so far in your Checking Account from the date you sign up??  I've changed all the dates in the settings, but even after I save, it tracks spending from June 4th and beyond.
I defer to Mint experts on the question above.  Seems there ought to be a way....

What I do know is that Quicken will accept items as far back as the checking/savings/investment/credit card/etc. institution will provide.  Quicken isn't free, but the time savings on this task alone might make it worthwhile to you. 

I believe Mint can only go back and download your transactions from the previous month or two - usually whatever the default your bank has set to show when you look at transactions.  I don't know of any way to lengthen it.

tommy murph

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2014, 05:27:21 PM »
+1 on tracking your spending. Before you do anything, just get a complete picture of your spending picture via Mint. It doesn't have to be back until January. Just use last month and start this month to see where your dollars are going.

You indicated your wife might be hesitant to embrace all this at first. That's a good sign to take this "mustachian" process very gradually. Maybe just start with focusing on groceries this month, and then go from there. If she wants to get something that you think is anti-MMM, let her get it. Think strategically and long-term. Share your favorite blog post from MMM with her. Ask her about it when you have down time. Follow up, etc. Better for her to pick up on it, see the light, and embrace it herself than be "forced" to cut back on spending altogether. It can be overwhelming to a spouse who hasn't soaked up every word on MMM!

Also, I might hold off on posting a case study until the beginning of next month when you can compare August and September spending. You will probably get more accurate numbers anyway. And you can spend more time reading other case studies and MMM posts. There's just so much information here, it can be daunting.


Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #33 on: September 02, 2014, 07:36:19 PM »
+1 on tracking your spending. Before you do anything, just get a complete picture of your spending picture via Mint. It doesn't have to be back until January. Just use last month and start this month to see where your dollars are going.

You indicated your wife might be hesitant to embrace all this at first. That's a good sign to take this "mustachian" process very gradually. Maybe just start with focusing on groceries this month, and then go from there. If she wants to get something that you think is anti-MMM, let her get it. Think strategically and long-term. Share your favorite blog post from MMM with her. Ask her about it when you have down time. Follow up, etc. Better for her to pick up on it, see the light, and embrace it herself than be "forced" to cut back on spending altogether. It can be overwhelming to a spouse who hasn't soaked up every word on MMM!

Also, I might hold off on posting a case study until the beginning of next month when you can compare August and September spending. You will probably get more accurate numbers anyway. And you can spend more time reading other case studies and MMM posts. There's just so much information here, it can be daunting.

Great post. You are totally write because I already overwhelmed her with ideas for this month to save money. ha ha. I need to slow it up a bit.  I also agree with waiting on case study. I've already started it, but like I said, my wife just started this job and her first pay check was only for 20 days, and I want to see what her total net pay will be every month.  One good thing that already happened is that she got hired at the same place I work, and because she is pretty entry level, we switched to her carrying the insurance and she pays a lot lower percentage for the same premium I was paying. Should save us about $180 a month.  Loving this site.

Goldielocks

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2014, 08:35:13 PM »
I would love it if Mint would let me track back since January on my spending, but no matter what I do, it will only go back to June 4th.  Is there a reason for this? Are they only allowed to go back so far in your Checking Account from the date you sign up??  I've changed all the dates in the settings, but even after I save, it tracks spending from June 4th and beyond.

Pre Mint,  I downloaded all of my transactions from each bank account and credit card to a *.csv (or text) file, and imported and cleaned it up in Excel.  all but one program let me export a year of data.   Mint to track going forward is SO much easier! I just started this month.

RapmasterD

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2014, 08:42:21 PM »
First of all, congrats for opening up and posting on here. I agree with the other posters. Here is one more thing -- focus on your mindset, including the things you both say to yourself. I know I sound new agey. No, this is not Wayne Dyer in disguise. But there is so much power in the words you use to characterize your situation.

Replace "we're tired of being broke" with "we're 100% focused on increasing our financial resources." Again, I know you could projectile vomit on me for suggesting this, but please do consider the energy and power of your thoughts. They can help you.

tommy murph

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #36 on: September 02, 2014, 08:50:38 PM »
Yeah, this place is pretty addictive; I stop by almost daily. I discovered MMM in June 2013 but it wasn't until that fall that my wife and I started to implement some changes. I lurked on the forum for a long time and re-read my favorite MMM posts, but I've only recently started posting here. I've also discovered other FI bloggers. This post was especially helpful in terms of investing basics: http://www.johnnymoneyseed.com/investing/a-kick-in-your-teeth-guide-to-investing/

We set out to use 2014 as our "model year" in terms of tracking monthly spending. We try to spend a couple hours at the end of each month really digging through our spending in Mint. What I've found is that it's not so much about cutting back your spending as it is being totally aware of what you're spending is. Once you have a solid grip on your monthly averages for things like groceries, etc., it becomes easier to cut back. You also begin to realize you already have more than enough "stuff" like clothes, books, etc. And you make decisions like staying in on a Saturday night to grill and watch Netflix rather than going out for a dinner/movie date. We don't have kids (yet) so that hasn't been a factor in our financial decision making but it will be soon!

Lastly, to echo some of the other folks on this thread, you're doing better than you think. Check out more of the case studies to understand other people's situations. Some people come here with crushing debt. Others are in their 50's with no savings/investments. Some of the young guns are really going after FI/RE whereas others are content with working another 20 years.

The bottom line is everyone here has to go at their own speed. There is no "ideal" MMM path although some folks here might dispute that. Let your wife take her time. Don't make any drastic changes right now. Just understand your spending.

The fun and mind-blowing part will be in six, nine, twelve months from now when you see your 'stache start to really grow -- trust me!

MDM

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #37 on: September 02, 2014, 09:06:50 PM »
...my wife just started this job and her first pay check was only for 20 days, and I want to see what her total net pay will be every month. 
Good idea to get a little more information before extrapolating to an annual amount.  Take similar care on expenses: some (e.g., property tax, home insurance, and car insurance) can be substantial but occur only once or twice a year.

Back to your wife's pay.  Note that her net pay will be "correct" only if she has chosen the "correct" withholding amount.  For budgeting (and MMM forum case study) purposes it is better to start with your combined gross income, then determine what your combined (Married Filing Jointly, correct?) IRS, state, FICA, etc. taxes will be.  Once you know that, go back and adjust withholding accordingly.

Carini

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #38 on: March 04, 2015, 08:55:43 AM »
I'm just checking back in so I can start over and read all off the good advice in this post. My wife now has a steady job (very low income) but easier than guessing her income month to month. I'm back to feeling desperate because I haven't paid much attention to finance details in the last 6 months. 3 kids seems to make the days disappear.  Anyway, hello again.  Going to try and get focused and back to it.

begood

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2015, 08:59:25 AM »
Baby steps, carini!

rocketman48097

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #40 on: March 04, 2015, 02:45:56 PM »
Better late than never I guess, I'm 38 so not much older than you.

That said, I think you need to focus on cutting out your spending.  Your house seems cheap so you shouldn't have much of a mortgage payment, in my opinion.  Pay off high interest debt first, and make your student loan repayments as long as possible, assuming these loans are sub 5%.

If you have an employer match at your job, contribute up to the match, usually 6%.  Do this no matter what, no exceptions.  If no match, you can probably skip this until the expensive debt is paid off.

Once you start building assets, and making progress in the right direction, you will feel a whole lot better.  I know I did when I graduated from college with lots of debt in 1999, 27k total (9k credit card and 17k in student loans).  Now my bank roll is phat, I make tall bank, and can't wait to retire very early.  Also married, two kids. 

guerilla1977

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #41 on: March 04, 2015, 03:44:08 PM »
I'm just checking back in so I can start over and read all off the good advice in this post. My wife now has a steady job (very low income) but easier than guessing her income month to month. I'm back to feeling desperate because I haven't paid much attention to finance details in the last 6 months. 3 kids seems to make the days disappear.  Anyway, hello again.  Going to try and get focused and back to it.

I have to ask: is Carini a Phish reference, or is that your real name?

OrangeSnapDragon

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #42 on: March 05, 2015, 08:09:31 PM »
Keep your heads up!

We (boyfriend & I) started with just over minimum wage jobs, no degrees, 100k in debt, renting, 1 car, credit card debt as well.  Our one leg up was a rental I inherited.

We are now making 72k combined, are 12k away from paying off house #2 (a major fixer upper) and have changed our lives drastically!

Take issues one at a time and don't try to change everything at once.  Celebrate the little victories and when you slip up don't beat yourself up to much.  The new habits will become second nature and will become easier.


Exflyboy

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #43 on: March 05, 2015, 11:37:10 PM »
So when I was about 36 or so I was making about $85k and was $160k in debt.. So not very different to where you guys are.

I retired back in January at age 53.

Now I never had any kids and thats a real difference.. but not a fatal flaw.

Read my blog below which starts when I retired, but there are some financial historical info.

Welcome.. Remember attitude is 90% of what you need to get to FIRE.

rocketman48097

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Re: New here and feeling a bit desperate
« Reply #44 on: March 06, 2015, 02:18:26 PM »
I would say congrats, but I am quite jealous.  At 38, I am well on my way, just crossed $1M net worth with home equity included :)