Looking at our money and our budget, there are a few things that have changed over the recent months, and it will require some change in planning on how we approach our money. One of the things we’ll have to look at it how we allocate ‘extra’ money.
Where Is This Money Coming From?
Everybody will define this differently, but for us the extra money boils down to a few different areas.
- Credit card rewards – Most of our spending is done on cash back rewards. As such, we’ll have a few hundred dollars in rewards after cashing in all of our rewards.
- Tax refund – Last year we had to pay on our 2014 taxes. This was largely because of a few things: I switched employers and our witholding didn’t cover us as well as I’d anticipated due to some changes in insurance coverages and such. We also realized some stock gains, and also cashed in some savings bonds that had fully matured. In 2015, we should get a refund, as our withholding was adjusted, we didn’t do so great in the markets, and didn’t cash in any rewards. Our taxes are still out to our CPA, but a back-of-the-envelope estimate shows that we should get a couple of thousand dollars.
- My wife’s side hustle – My wife runs a really cool shop on Etsy where she designs custom invites, thank yous, wall arts, and similar products. Up until recently, pretty much everything went to funding our recent Disney World trip.
- Pet expenses – Our cat recently passed. We are going to give ourselves some time before even considering whether to get another pet, but expenses will definitely be reduced, as his food, medicine, vet, and boarding costs definitely were not cheap.
So, these are the four areas that we see working in our favor in terms of cash flow. Some are one-time things and others will be more ongoing.
So, what to do? What to do?
A Couple of Needs, Some Wants, and Looking Toward The Future
Honestly, there are a few things that we will probably do with the money. Not all of it is flashy, but it’s all (OK, mostly) helping us strive toward goals like saving for retirement, saving for big purchases, and being able to do enjoyable things without taking on debt.
Here are a few ideas. The splurge type stuff first:
- New wireless router – Typically our credit card rewards money has funded our purchase of new electronics . All flat screen TVs and my wife’s laptop have been funded by money our credit cards have given us. As we now have replaced them all and don’t have any real electronics needs, the entire amount won’t go there this time, but we do want to buy a new wireless router. The one we have now is at least 7 years old, doesn’t provide the latest security, and the coverage kind of stinks compared to what’s available today.
- Vacations – Even though we aren’t piling as much into our travel fund as we did to fund our Disney trip, we’d still like to take a family trip every couple of years. We liked Florida and have never taken our kids to the beach, and so we’re considering saving a smaller portion of my wife’s business toward a trip to the Tampa / St. John’s Pass area.
- Other travel – Most of our other traveling is done with our RV trailer, but we do like to do a trip to a water park during the winter months, and every couple of years, my wife and I like to consider a small anniversary trip in the fall. These aren’t extravagent or largely expensive, but stashing a few hundred bucks goes a long way to making sure we can jump on a deal should one arise.
- Entertainment – We both used to be pretty frequent concert-goers but kind of stopped once we had the family. We have done a few concerts and really enjoyed it, so we’ve decided to try to do 1-2 concerts per year. Putting some money toward a specialized entertainment fund is a good goal that will let us buy tickets and a night out without guilt.
- Furnace Fund – Last year we found that our furnace is starting to fail. We’ve taken some measures to slow this and are very carefully monitoring the device, but it will have to be replaced at some point in the next several years. Continuing to save for this or other big purchases that might come up is important to us.
- Retirement – Being able to add a percent or two to our 401(k) contribution or a chunk toward our Roth IRA is never a bad idea.
- Kids Activities – We set aside money for some of the big things that our kids like to do. Summer camps, swim lessons, dance lessons, etc.
- Replacement Car / RV – We are proud that our two cars and our RV are from model years 2006, 2007, and 2004 respectively. However, the bottom line is that eventually they may hit the end of their useful life. We save for this and could likely replace one without having to take on a loan, but with all three at that age, it could be that more than one would need to be looked at in a shorter period of time. We will definitely be upping the allocation here, as we want to be prepared.
So, that’s really about it.
Readers, I’m curious what you think of our plans or if you have any other ideas or feedback? Have you had any favorable (or unfavorable) budget changes over the past months, and how have you worked to incorporate them into your spending plans?Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.