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It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time to examine last month’s finances. Can you believe that one month is already finished?!

Our Spending Habits in January

This month has been crazy in terms of big expenses, but we still managed to save a little bit of money towards our goals. The biggest expense in January has been our new washer and dryer set. With taxes and everything it came out to be about $1,050. We are happy with our selection and the feedback from other customers makes it seem like a good buy as well. We managed to snag them for about $240 cheaper (before taxes) than the nearest competitor.

The other big expense this past month was fixing the VW Jetta. It took around $400 to get back into tiptop shape again after having some problems on the road.

Checking & Savings

So proud that we're working hard to stay on track and build our savings in anticipation of our baby's arrival this summer. With those big expenses this month I was worried that our balance was going to dip, but they did pretty well. Our checking account to a hit for the car repairs and washer/dryer set, but savings grew.

Our Cars

As mentioned earlier we took the VW Jetta into the shop to get some work. It wasn't cheap, but it was definitely needed and our car is good to go. We make car payments to our car replacement fund to be free of a car loan for our next car.  As per our financial goals for 2011, we made our monthly payment automatic.

In case you’re wondering how I got the vehicles’ values, I used Kelly Blue Book. We no longer have car loans, so they are just assets on our family’s little spreadsheet. Every quarter I’ll update the values to account for depreciation.

House and Mortgage

As part of our usual routine, our extra principal payment was sent in on the 15th of the month. Here’s where we stand today with the mortgage:

  • Total Loan Amount: $112,352.02
  • Interest Rate: 5.00%
  • Loan Term: 30 years, fixed rate

If we continue to pay an additional $150/month, we’re looking at paying off the 30 year mortgage off in 18 years and 2 months! That’s for a total savings of $60,768.76 in interest!

Retirement Accounts

We're not planning on making any changes to our retirement contributions this year. Instead we're keeping our automated contributions in place while we focus on our other financial goals.

How about you? Do you have any plans for your retirement funds this year? It's a new year, so go ahead and see if you can increase your contributions this year compared to 2010. If you’re not sure how much you can contribute to your retirement accounts, here are the current annual limits:

  • 401K – $16,500
  • Roth IRA – $5,000
  • Traditional IRA – $5,000

Student Loans

Nothing exciting or new, we’re just chugging along with the student loan payments. Payments have been automated so it’s been relatively easy to keep up with them; we just confirm payments have been made each month. I’m really happy that I consolidating my student loans earlier this year to take advantage of the lower rates.

If you’re interested in consolidating your federal student loans, there are 3 ways to do it:

  • Online: You quickly and easily file and submit your application online with Direct Loan Servicing.
  • Phone: You can also call Direct Loan Servicing and have someone walk you through the process at 1-800-557-7392.
  • Paper: The slowest to complete if you’re a procrastinator like me.

It’s easy to do and you get can help on completing the application.

Monthly Summary

After tallying up all the accounts, I’m happy to report we’re growing our net worth.

Net Worth (as of January 31, 2011): $46,540.13 (+694.70)

Your Net Worth Update

I’d love to hear how it went for you and your financial goals. What's your biggest goal for this year?

Photo Credit: borman818

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

6 comments add your comment

  1. I may have asked you before but why are you focusing on the house rather than student loans?

    I can’t believe how much washers and dryers are! I never had to buy one before.

    • Our mortgage is a bit higher than our students loans now that we consolidated. Washer and dryers can be quite expensive. I saw some sets that could steam and pretty much do everything for about $2,500-$3,000. Insane for us, but maybe the prices will drop when our washer and dryer breaks down in 10 years 🙂

  2. Wow great job. I just recently came to realize that I was spending way too much money. I work for VA home loan centers and I come across clients all the time that have been working for 15 to 20 years but have no retirement plan what so ever! It’s horrible.
    This article was motivating. Thank you.

  3. My net worth is negative right now but moving in the right direction every month. That’s all I can hope for! Good job on shopping around for the washer/dryer. I own a VW Jetta as well and the service man knows me well.