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Net Worth Review: July 2011

net worth update

It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time to examine last month’s finances and see how it’s affected our net worth. It’s a great exercise to help us see where we’re doing well and what we can improve on.

Our Spending Habits in July

I guess the heatwave gave us a silver lining – we spent less than usual for the month. Staying indoors with the air conditioning seemed more appealing to us. It was big savings, but we shopped less and spent a little less on gasoline.

Here are our 3 biggest expenses last month:

  • Home (Mortgages, Extra Payments, HOA Fees, etc): $1,238.85
  • Bills/Utilities: $347.54
  • Food (Groceries, Restaurants, Etc): $345.76

It’s looking good and I feel great that we’re keeping an eye on spending. Having her arrive so late in the month didn’t affect our finances. I definitely expect to see next month’s food expenses to go up a bit.

However, there’s no telling how the next few months will go with that with the baby. Guess we’ll be keeping a close eye on baby expenses and our budget.

Checking & Savings

It’s been pretty stable this month as we’ve pretty much have been resting up for the baby’s debut. My husband also received a bonus from work which is being saved until we figure out the car situation.

One expected expense for next month is the hospital bill for when the baby arrives. We received an estimate from the OB/GYN for their costs and we got an estimate for the hospital portion. Supposedly we’ll pay the hospital and doctor and my husband will get a large portion of that reimbursed.

According to our estimates, our baby fund should be enough to cover everything.

Retirement Accounts

We’re still not planning on making any changes to our retirement contributions this year. We really want to focus on more immediate goals of getting ready for the baby. I can’t anticipate the future, but I believe once we have some idea of how we’re going to handle our finances as parents, we’ll look at our retirement accounts and contributions.

My husband’s 401(k) has steadily been going up and it’s bumped up our assets a bit this month. We need to consolidate his accounts, though, and move over some money into a Roth IRA for him some time in the next couple of months. Unfortunately internal inertia is slowing that process. My goal is to have it done by the end of September. It would make it so much easier to track his accounts and it would give him more control with how he invests his retirement money.

Our Cars Expenses

This was an issue this month with my husband’s Toyota. In case you missed it, here’s a summary of the repairs needed:

Here’s a rundown of the mechanic’s diagnostic:

  • New A/C Compressor and Clutch Need
  • Replace Serpentine Belt
  • Replace Radiator
  • Replace Head Gasket

Total estimated cost for parts is about $3,500 with labor.

What’s making it a bit easier to go down to a one car family is the heatwave. I’m staying indoors as much as possible, so my husband drives the Jetta on those days, minimizing the use of his Celica.

Student Loans

We have one student loan between us. Right now we’re continuing with the automatic monthly withdrawals for the student loan payments. This gives us a slight discount on the interest rate as an added bonus. It’s been relatively easy to keep up with them; we just confirm payments have been made each month from our joint checking.

If we have any savings in December after reaching our other financial goals for the year, we’re hoping to pay it down. Since this is a reach goal, I’m shooting for $2,000. If we don’t make it we won’t be disappointed, but if we do, it’ll be icing on the cake.

House and Mortgage

The mortgage payments are chugging along. As part of our usual routine, our automated extra principal payment (now $175) was sent in on the 15th of the month. When deciding on how much we were going to send in to our lender, our main focus was creating something sustainable and had some impact with the mortgage.

Here’s where we stand today with the mortgage:

  • Total Loan Amount: $110,138.69
  • Interest Rate: 5.00%
  • Loan Term: 30 years, fixed rate

Our goal is to pay off our mortgage years before we retire.  Right now our timeline is about 15 years, instead of the 30 years we signed up for. We wanted some wiggle room in case we ever hot a financial speed bump. Once our mortgage payoff is accomplished, we’d love to be able to direct that money into other interests and goals of ours down the road.

Monthly Summary

Here’s our net worth from the spreadsheet:

Net Worth (as of July 31, 2011): $60,805.80 (+$4,174.99)

Your Net Worth Update

I shared my progress; now I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing with your finances? How are you doing in 2011 so far?

Photo Credit: TechnoHippyBiker







Our Baby Girl is Here!

baby girl cm

She’s Here!

Last Sunday my husband and I met and welcomed our baby girl. It was something we were looking forward to and tried our best to prepare for, but nothing can prepare you for the actual moment. We’re happy to report that she’s in great shape and she’s already growing up so quickly.

To say it’s been a busy week would be a huge understatement. We’re so grateful and happy to have friends and family helping us make this big transition, but it’s still exciting/exhausting/joyful.

I’ll have posts up on Couple Money, but the schedule will be a lighter than usual for the next week or two. I’m just wrapped up with getting to know our daughter :)

Congrats to the Living Large Winner

This week I hosted a contest for Clark Howard’s new book Living Large in Lean Times. It’s a great book and I was happy to be given an opportunity to pick a Couple Money reader to get a free copy. Congrats to College Investor for winning!

Personal Finance Posts to Catch Up On

If you have some free time this weekend and want some tips and information for your finances, be sure to read some of these wonderful posts.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. I also recommend checking out my blogroll to pick up some great personal finance blogs to follow. Please also let me know what are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Have fun this weekend with your family and try to stay cool!



5 Alternatives to Gym Membership

gym alternatives

One of the ways I’ve wasted money is with gym memberships. I’ve belonged to about half a dozen different gyms over the years and it all ended the same way. I’d go for a month or two and then gradually stop.

Meanwhile, the monthly fee would be drafted from my account until the required period was met. I know I’m not the only one. One of my friends renews his membership every year because it’s so cheap yet he never goes. This has gone on for years (so is it really cheap?).

Here are some ways you can exercise at your convenience without paying a monthly fee.

1. Home Gym: Invest in your favorite gym equipment and work out at home. You can buy pre-owned equipment for a good price on Craigslist. Putting a TV in the workout area might keep your interest while getting exercise at the same time plus there’s no travel time.

2. Day Passes: If you are a sporadic gym rat, then you should think about buying day passes. It seems expensive paying per visit, but be realistic. If you go a handful of times per month, it’s cheaper to pay per visit.

Some gyms or fitness businesses offer value packs to save more. Instead of paying a monthly fee to go to the occasional yoga or dance classes at the gym, pay for each class at a dance or yoga studio. You’ll probably have a better experience too.

3. Community Centers: The community we live in has a center which includes tennis courts, a basketball court, two pools and a small gym. We pay for this in our homeowner’s assessment whether it’s used or not.

Take advantage of the exercise options you pay for already with your home or apartment or make friends with someone who does.

4. City Recreation Centers: Many cities have gyms, pools, tennis courts, basketball courts and more options for exercise. Take advantage of the free or low-cost offerings available to you. For the services with fees, there may be waivers for low-income residents.

5. Schools: Check the exercise options available at your local educational institutions. University and colleges may offer access to the recreational facilities for alumni or community members. Our local community college offers low-cost classes as part of the no-credit adult education program.

The local school system also offers adult education offerings. A couple of years ago I signed up for a 10 week series of yoga classes for free. (Don’t ask me if I went.)

Gym memberships can be a great deal for those that use them. For irregular exercisers, try one of these alternative ways to exercise and save money. Where do you go to exercise?

Photo: Some rights reserved by SashaW

Win a Copy of Living Large in Lean Times!

Living Large in Lean Times

Basic Book InfoLiving Large in Lean Times

  • Full Title: Living Large in Lean Times
  • Author: Clark Howard
  • Publisher: Avery
  • Price: $18.00

If you checked out my review of Living Large in Lean Times, you noticed that I recommend buying it. However I have a great contest starting today that is even a better deal.

Living Large in Lean Times Twitter Contest

I thought this would be a wonderful book to giveaway to a reader. If you’d like enter, please follow me on Twitter and tweet ” I entered the Living Large in Lean Times Contest! #couplemoney”

I’ll pick a winner Friday, August 5 at 6pm EST. Please have the hashtag so I can find your tweet and enter it.


Agreeing to Disagree

couple talking finances

Wait or Go Ahead with the Car

So I mentioned earlier this week that we’re having some big repairs for the Toyota if we want to keep it. It looks like we’d be shelling out thousands of dollars. As I wrote how we’re going to get a second opinion before making a decision on whether to repair or replace the Toyota.

So have we got a second opinion?

Honestly, no we haven’t.

I just want to say that my husband and I have two very different styles of handling situations, each with its own pros and cons. My husband is very patient, analyzing a situation thoughtfully until he’s comfortable with moving forward. At its best, we’ve made some wonderful decisions that has benefited us through the years.

I’m more of the look at the situation, gather as much information as quickly as possible, and then make the decision as soon as possible. If a decision can be made today or this week, why wait?

Both of us look at the information before us, I’ll attack it until I get what I need and he’ll go at his own pace before moving forward. For the most part, I think our styles have worked very well with our mutual goals whether its finances or family decisions. Once in a while, though, we kind of look at each other and wonder how in the world we make it work.

Love :)

The good news is that it’s not terribly urgent as we do have my car. I’m n0t using it with this heatwave going on. I’m trying to stay cool  and indoors as I wait for the baby to arrive. (She was due earlier this week.)

I’m curious about your family and how you handle the different personalities. How do you handle differences? Do you tend to wait for a consensus or do one of you kind of jump in and get started?

Note: I just wanted to point out that Financial Samurai has a wonderful post up today on how valuable a reliable mechanic is car owners. I’m sharing this information with my husband. Sam got some wonderful savings, so maybe that might motivate my husband to go ahead and try a second mechanic.


Personal Finance Posts to Catch Up On

If you have some free time this weekend and want some tips and information for your finances, be sure to read some of these wonderful posts.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. I also recommend checking out my blogroll to pick up some great personal finance blogs to follow. Please also let me know what are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Have fun this week with your family and try to stay cool!

Photo Credit: Funkdooby