Archive for December, 2009:
Who’s ready to start a new decade? I am! The 2000’s were pretty good for me, actually. I graduated from high school in 2003, went on The Price is Right, started (and finished) college at Indiana University, met and married my husband, moved to Pittsburgh, had a son. All huge milestones, and all good ones.
That decade, I got my first of many jobs. In college, I accumulated some credit card and car debt. We buckled down and paid it all off, and built up an emergency fund.
Since becoming debt-free in May, we’ve bought a few things we had been putting off. We loosened up on being ultra tightwads. It became OK to spend $20 here and there.
We do need to buckle down a little bit so that our savings account will grow at a more rapid pace. It’s just getting a little too lax lately.
We have a few savings goals that I’ll outline:
- Second car. We have one car right now, and it runs well. It only has 32k miles on it, despite being driven from Pittsburgh to Indiana and back a dozen times. We have no intention of getting rid of it anytime soon. Still, eventually we think we’ll need a second vehicle. We’d like to pay cash for it (maybe $6 – 8k?). To me, that’s a lot of money. It’ll take us awhile to save it. We’ll get our car fund going right now so that when we do decide to get another car, we’ll be able to pay for it. Target completion date: October 2010.
- Johnny’s college fund. I don’t anticipate contributing huge amounts to my son’s college fund just yet, as we have other pressing financial goals. Still, I think we can contribute small amounts and money that he receives as gifts. Even small contributions are better than nothing, right? Set up by end of January 2010.
- House down payment. Oh, this mammoth goal. Ideally, we’ll save up 20 percent to put down on a 15-year mortgage. As far as I can tell, I’m talking at least $20-25k just for the dang down payment. We’ll need more to pay for the closing costs, prepaids and other stuff that’s needed when you buy a house. Ugh. If things keep going as they are, it’ll take us a few years to get that kind of savings. I don’t even know that I can put a realistic end date on this one. Let’s then say that I hope to be working toward this goal by the end of 2010. At the very least, I do think we’ll be in a house within the few years, and hopefully close to paying it off by the end of the decade.
How did the decade treat you? What are your goals?
With each of my husband’s monthly paychecks, we automatically deposit a set amount of money into our medical flexible spending account. This is through my husband’s company and it is a benefit of working there. Many workplaces offer FSAs.
This account reduces our income tax liability and sort of serves as an automated savings account for most of our medical spending needs.
We have a debit card to access the account and we’re able to use it for copays, prescriptions, eyeglasses, dental work and miscellaneous over-the-counter medical needs (and more!).
Since the money is from pre-tax dollars, it’s like getting a 15 percent discount, as we are in the 15 percent tax bracket.
We need to use our remaining 2009 funds by Thursday, or the money will be lost.
We have about $40 left, and I plan to spend it on things we’ll need for the coming year.
Some things I can buy include:
Allergy & sinus products, antacids, antibiotics, aspirin/pain reliever, bandages, cold sore treatments, chest rubs, cold & flu medicine, contact lenses/lens cleaner, cough drops/lozenges, cough syrup, nasal sprays, and more. Not vitamins, unfortunately.
You’ll need to consult the details of your own plan to make sure your items are covered. Two years ago, I bought some first-aid kits. This year, I’ll probably pick up some pain relievers, contact lens solution and contacts and maybe some more bandaids.
Be sure you are reimbursed for all eligible medical expenditures, and be sure you spend all your unspent funds if they don’t roll over!
Do you use a flexible spending account?