I will be getting a bonus at work. Ahhh! I’ve never gotten a bonus so that is incredibly exciting. I don’t know how much it will be yet but I’ve carefully pieced it out (in percentages) on how much I’m going to be spending and where. Taxes and Social Security and all that government stuff will come out first. I already put 3% of each paycheck into a 401(k) and I will be doing the same with my bonus. All of that comes out before I get the money so I am not even considering that stuff in my calculations.
Once I get it, I’m paying (gulp) 50% of it on student loans. Yeah, they are a pain but something I agreed to pay back so like it or not, 1/2 of my bonus (whatever that may be) is going into someone else’s account off the bat. I just want these damn things gone. The other 50% is going to helping Mom repair her car, my savings account, and maybe something pretty for me if there is anything left over.
Last year, I collected every bit of change I had and put it in a coffee can. At the end of the year, I had over $100 in quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. That was awesome. But it was also the only savings I managed all year long. Granted, my car nickel and dimed me to death in 2016. I also discovered makeup in 2016 so I’ve spent more than I’m willing to admit there.
My mentor/boss has been carefully grooming me to have a long-term career at our company and I am fully committed to that. Part of his grooming has been teaching me geography and world history (an admitted failing of many American education systems), getting out of my habit of always wanting to please everyone and learning to take compliments, and both business-related and personal financial management. I think his concern, personal finance wise, is that I drive a beat up 2005 Ford Focus and I live with my mother. lol
For Mom, our living arrangement is primarily health-related and I’m down for taking care of her so long as she needs it. But for me, if I’m being honest, part of why I stay despite the headaches involved is the financial part. She needs help financially to keep the household running and I don’t think I could continue to pay my student loans and have an apartment with the impending doom of replacing my poor car in the future. As it is, the only debt I have is student loans so I am ahead of the game compared to some folks. Since I am 32, going on 33, it is high time that I start managing money like a responsible adult.
My 2017 fiscal responsibility plan:
- Open a savings account. I haven’t had one since I was a minor.
- Continue to save change and cash it in at the end of the year.
- Continue to chip away at my student loans every time I get a financial windfall (bonus, tax return, gifts, etc.).
- Put a nominal amount from each paycheck into savings, maybe 5-10% depending on revamped budgeting.
- Put in savings an equal amount to what I spend on makeup. Currently, I owe this soon-to-be-opened savings account $69.79 for the ColourPop order and my January subscriptions to Ipsy and Morphe brushes via LiveGlam.
- Help Mom pay off 4 more debts (car repair, credit, etc.) by the end of the year, giving her a bit of financial security too. When she became disabled and unable to work any longer, she was also going through a divorce. She was left with the kids, most of the household debt, a car payment, and all of the reoccurring household bills. She did not get a good deal but she agreed to take all that debt if Dad wouldn’t fight her for custody of the kids. Seems reasonable to me. As irritated as I get with those kids, I love them and I know Mom would move Heaven and Earth for them. At any rate, my parents had an astonishing amount of accumulated debt. They charged everything. It wasn’t student-loan amounts but definitely brand new car amounts. If she had ever thought her current situation was possible, I know she would have worked to avoid or pay off most of their debt long before this mess happened. When she got her disability back-pay, she paid off the car and 3 or 4 high-balance credit accounts. Together, we have paid off 6 more debit accounts (they were small amounts but still) last year after I got my awesome job and stopped living paycheck-to-paycheck. However, her car broke down and she panicked without consulting me and ended up with another car (and loan) that she didn’t actually need. This goal includes repairing her old car (we think it is a $1,500-2,000 repair) and eventually me taking over the loan on her newer car. I’m scared to death to take on that car loan but my car isn’t going to survive much longer so it might become a necessity sooner than I’d like. If we are successful, 2018 will see Mom entering it without a car payment and only 5 more debts left to pay off (and all under $1,500/each).
I know that last statement was pretty personal and full of TMI but it is important to my financial goals to relieve some of Mom’s financial burden. She lets me stay with her rent-free. I don’t pay utilities. I buy my own groceries. Half the time, I don’t even stay here. I get my mail here but I am not considered a member of the household. The girls turn 14 and 15 at the end of the summer. Mom has about 3.5 years before the oldest loses Social Security Disability dependent benefits which Mom uses to pay household bills and these credit accounts. I want her 100% out of debt when that happens. If not, she won’t get enough money monthly to keep up and I will be doing this anyways to keep her afloat. I’d rather do it on my own timetable over a few years instead of waiting until the need is desperate and the bills are higher than we can both manage. With the uncertainty of the changes to Medicare and Social Security happening politically, I need this for my own piece of mind too.
5 years from now, when both of the kids are of age, Mom and I may move to a smaller house that isn’t falling apart. Together, we’ll probably be able to make things work when she is no longer getting a Disability benefit for minor dependents. For now, my goal is getting both of us debt free by the time that comes. With my boss’s guidance and the generosity of our company, I think I can make that happen. 🙂