Anyone who follows me on social media can tell that I am slightly excited about fall being upon us. To be exact, two weeks from today. Waking up to rain yesterday in Los Angeles was an especially nice surprise when all I can think about is how much we lack in season change! So, I figured now was the right time to follow up on my Summer Savings post. How did you do, readers? Did you bulk up that savings account or spend too much? Are you feeling proud of all you accomplished or a little guilty for money wasted? No matter which side of the goal you are on, you have something to gain. If you didn’t save a dime all summer; worry not, you still have another four months of the year to make up for that. If you overspent on vacationing or shopping, you now know what that feels like and will (hopefully) show some restraint next time around. And what better timing for that practice to begin than right before the holiday shopping frenzy? I went a little crazy last year, as we bought our first full size tree and hosted a Christmas party, so I’m looking forward to challenging myself to be more restrictive this season.
As far as my summer went, there were financial highs and lows, the most recent expense being our “babymoon” to Catalina on Labor Day weekend. We had Airbnb guests which helped soften the blow, but the trip was still quite pricey despite the extra cash. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still thinking about the ways we spent that could have been avoided had we chose another destination. For example, lodging there is steep because it’s an island and they know you are stuck with limited options. Same with food. And you have to buy bottled water in restaurants because of the drought. Then there is a ferry ride to get there and back (no frequent flier miles to cover the cost!), parking at the harbor for the weekend, eating out and any activities that we wanted to do besides lay out at the beach. I’m glad we did it because neither of us had been before and it was a wonderful new experience to end the summer. I snorkeled for the first time and we rented a golf cart and drove it around the island. We rarely indulge when we vacation; limiting ourselves to very simple and cost-effective activities/entertainment. We usually choose one fancy restaurant per trip and plan in advance so we get the best deals on rooms or travel expenses. At least that’s what my husband reminded me whenever I’d start to speak up. I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts before the baby takes over our travel planning and we naturally become more limited.
On the flip side, we’ve bumped up our saving habits in the last few months and that has felt really great. We set up a weekly automatic transfer from checking to savings that follows every paycheck, so it doesn’t even really feel like we’re missing the cash. It’s just enough money to make a solid impact, but low enough to where it doesn’t hurt. The total amount that will be in the account by December won’t meet our end of the year savings goal, so we’ll still have some work to do outside of the weekly transfers. But the point is, you should be thinking about these things year round and planning ahead for them. That’s why a quarterly (or “seasonal”) check-in is such a helpful discipline.
Another helpful change is I have officially gone on “honorable withdrawal” from my union until further notice as I am about to enter my third trimester of pregnancy. This will save us $185 in quarterly dues, or $740 a year depending on how long I stay away from union work. And as fate would have it, that’s just $32 over what our rent increase is. What do you know? There is our cutback to make up for the extra cost!
I’ve stayed on track with my Roth IRA investments and even got my younger sister to commit to signing up for one. I’ve been contributing the appropriate amount for if I were on a twelve month plan–$458 a month. But that means my account won’t reach the annual limit ($5500) until April. My goal was to max out the account by the end of the year, which means I’ll have to make a big push in December or a series of smaller ones throughout the fall. That will set me up nicely for January through December contributions in future years rather than the April to April rush, like 2013.
So as you can see, I’ve been keeping busy with my goals and had a few set backs in terms of vacation, an unexpected raise in rent and very little work on my part to contribute to the costs. I hope you find some motivation in this and and can get creative and disciplined in your savings goals before December. If you’re already on track, please share! Best of luck on gearing up for the end of the year– it will be here before you know it!