Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Money, My Mouth and all that

I think about world events and politics every day. Sometimes, I wish I didn't. I'm not trying to turn this into a political blog, but I did want to talk about how I'm thinking about my personal finances in connection with my personal politics.

I simply do not have a lot of money to give. I am working on where to spend more time on the issues that matter most to me, but I'm not jumping into anything just yet.

There are a lot of non-profits and PACs that interest me. So what I've decided to do is give to one organization per month. 

I used to let my Giving category in my budget accrue and then give a larger sum when the impulse strikes. But the impulse strikes all the time now!

If there's an event or something that requires a larger amount, I will use funds from another category (theatre tickets, clothing or fun money), but at least 12 different organizations will get at least something from me this year. I'm keeping a running tally now that I've made my January donation.

I also try to shop with companies that may not necessarily share my views, but at least don't support those people/organizations/parties that I oppose. I hesitate to use the word "boycott," because I have no belief or even really a desire to see those places go out of business (most of the time). It's just that I don't want to give them my money. So far, this hasn't been difficult or even inconvenient. I just don't go to some places.

As always, I will continue to work on shaving the budget where I can to make room for more Giving this year, and in the years to come.

I suppose I do have a political message after all: it's your money, it's your voice. Use them.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

1st Financial Update of 2017

I decided to check out my Net Worth report for 2016. I was beyond thrilled to discover that it's grown by more than $10,000! That doesn't include my 401k, Betterment account or my student loan debt. I only track my cash accounts in YNAB, which is where I ran the report.

I expect it to decrease significantly this year because part of that is saving for a new car, which will be purchased this year and for our NY vacation. Also, I may be planning another vacation later this year so I'm increasing my cash savings to spend it later.

So I'm totally okay with not seeing that kind of increase for 2017, but I'm still pretty happy about it!

I've changed my mind hundreds of times about what I'll do when my car lease is up, but I think I've made up my mind that I'll buy a new hybrid. I thought about buying used, but I think I'd prefer to spend more now so that I won't have to think about buying a replacement for at least a decade. As much as I love having the fully electric Fiat now, I want the flexibility of a hybrid. I've got a price in mind that I'm fairly sure is doable and while I'll still have to borrow some, I want it paid off in 5 years max, but I hope to do so in 3.

I've already paid for flights and theatre tickets for NY and have enough saved for food and other recreation. I'd like to get in at least one more show while I'm there, but I will see what's available on TodayTix (use referral code FAGSL for $10 off).

Not sure if I've mentioned here, but Sylvia is currently working on a cruise ship. If she does a second contract, Riley and I will probably take a cruise so I'm starting to save for that.

I also really want to get my student loan debt down. While the interest rate is low, the balance barely seems to move and the site currently says I won't pay it off for another 7 years, and I've been paying it for about 10 now! Enough already! I'll make a more concrete goal once I get the car situation under control, but for now, I'm throwing an extra $100/mo towards it.

I'm also starting to save for Riley's senior year. We've been foregoing on pictures, yearbooks, dances, etc. with the understanding that she'll do it all her senior year...which is next school year, OMG. We recently decided that she'll finish out her junior year before she gets a job, since this is the hardest academic year. She knows that means she won't get a driver's license or anything like that until after she starts earning her own money towards it. Her only "job" right now is to start looking for scholarships.

She's picked her dream school. It's not the most expensive, but it's not the cheapest either. We still don't have anything put away for that, but she's prepared to take on most of that responsibility herself. Mostly, that's next year's problem.

So all in all, 2016 was fairly successful, financially speaking!