2019 FI Resolutions

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2019 Goals

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2018 was the start of our journey. Was it perfect? No. But it was eye-opening, check out our post explaining why.

Here we are at the beginning of 2019 getting ready to start again, this time with more experience and better expectations. Unlike 2018, 2019 isn’t the year of monumental life events which is helpful, but it is the year of home upgrades. We need to figure out how to finance those updates while hitting our savings goal so it’s going to be a tight ride.

We are very fortunate to start 2019 with a significant pay raise. D worked so hard and increased his salary 40% in a calendar year. Stay tuned for a post on that feat coming up. So that pay bump is going to absolutely help us save and get us to where we want to be.

First what we did in 2018 that helped:

Automate our savings-

Through work, we get annual pay increases. In 2018, we didn’t pocket that money. The difference in our checks went straight to Vanguard. We can’t spend money we don’t have so we send the extra money straight to our investment accounts and it never touched our checking account. This was a foolproof method to guarantee that we saved that increased income rather than spend it.

D’s new pay raise goes into effect on 1/13. We already did some calculations and increased our direct deposit. We are able to double our savings right off the bat!

Cut food costs

One of the biggest line items in our budget was food, in our Pre-FI life. Who the hell knew that it would add up so quickly!? We surely didn’t and it was mind-blowing. Most people don’t think spending $10/ day on lunch has much of an impact but when you calculate it and see what percentage of your take-home pay goes to eating out… it’s pretty crushing.

Just think about it for a second, 2 people eating lunch every day is more than likely $20/day. That’s $100/week and $400/month just including working days. That’s $4,800 a year in eating out! And that’s just work lunch. It doesn’t include work day breakast/coffee, dinner and normal grocery shopping!

So how did we cut this cost? Meal prep!

It was so easy to be too tired to cook or you left work late so you just order a pizza because there’s no time to cook. So now what we do is we meal prep. And it’s not the “I work out” meal prep, 5 meals of just protein and veggies, although I want to start making it so we have more meals like that. It’s cooking in bulk on Sundays to last us the week, lunch and dinner. We don’t meal prep breakfast but that’s usually some oatmeal, fruit or bagels if I splurge at the supermarket.

A typical meal prep includes about 4 meals. And I give a lot of credit to Gina over at SkinnyTaste. Without her site, our meal prep would be repetitive and boring. Her recipes are so good! So this week we are making: lentil & chicken soup, turkey meatball parm, pasta fagioli & pasta with marinara sauce (my own recipe). We try for 2 meat dishes and 2 vegetarian so we can make sure we aren’t overloading on meat. And I don’t know about you but I absolutely prefer home cooked meals over eating out. I know what’s in my meals and I feel healthier overall. And with a child in tow, this is important!

Remove unnecessary bills-

The gym –

In the beginning of 2018 we went through our budget and looked for the bills we could remove. The first one was… the gym. We had a membership, it was only $40/month for both of us so it wasn’t expensive but it wasn’t getting used. Sadly, we were those people who always had a membership but never went to the gym. Working out more (or at all) is definitely a 2019 goal for me but if I’m going to actually start the habit, I will start with a home routine and graduate to the gym if I actually stick with it. But back to the subject at hand, we cut that expense.

Cable/internet –

We were paying over $220/month for this! And for what? We both have full time jobs so how much TV are we really watching to justify the expense? It took some research but we got this down to $105/month. That’s over a 50% cut

  • $50/month for internet only through Comcast- reduced our internet speed to 15mbps (and we don’t notice a difference)
    • This would have been $60/month since Comcast charges $10/month for a modem rental. So we splurged and bought a modem (currently $64.99) & router (currently $60) on Amazon for $100 (one time cost).
  • $55/month- DirectTv Now subscription, it has all the channels we would ever watch

Cars –

We had 2 car payments, we successfully eliminated those in early 2018. However, we did have a setback when we decided to trade in my (paid off) car and got ourselves a nice used 2015 Subaru Forester that we financed. Our goal is to pay that off early but we have a 5 year finance agreement at the moment. We didn’t want to get a new car but we felt that it was the right thing to do. A blog post to follow on that situation. So now instead of $600/ month on cars we are down to $300/month!

We are keeping these wins in 2019, we are not going to increase our monthly bills at all, even though D got his raise. In fact, my goal is to decrease them more! Here’s how:

2019 strategies:

Track miscellaneous spend-

Each check we have money allotted to “miscellaneous.” Its a budget line item but I don’t actually pay attention to it. I just think well I need it so I’ll buy it. We are changing our method this year. We have $100/ check allotted to miscellaneous so we are going to deduct our expenses in real time. If we order that $8.99 nutcracker on Amazon we now only have $91 to spend till the next check comes in. Since we use credit cards for everything it was hard to track this, but this year we are doing it and sticking to it. Looks like those oven mitts I wanted to buy should maybe wait till next check! We just have a Google Sheet on Google Drive with our expenses that we update as we spend.

Insurance-

Our home and auto insurance is bundled so I never look at it to see if we should shop around. We have automatic payments for both home & auto. We have a discount for using one company and its supposed to save us money. But surprise, surprise I get a letter in the mail from my mortgage company saying that I owe them money. How?? Well it turns out our home insurance increased. Umm why? No reason, no claims, just an increase. Needless to say, I’m looking into new insurance companies this year. This is going to take some time but I know it will be worth it in the end.

Food shopping budget cut-

When I go food shopping I buy what I want for the week. I usually spend between $75-$120/ week. Considering we don’t eat out I felt like an average of $400/ month for a family of 3 was pretty decent. But I can do better, I know it!

Currently, I go to the store to buy ingredients for what I want to cook without thinking about sales but this year I’m changing my method. I’m going to take the time and look at the circular. I’m going to buy what’s on sale and make meals out of that. I don’t think I’m going down the couponing route but being more conscious of what I buy is definitely a step in the right direction. My goal is to never spend more than $100/ week. I think this is an easy goal as long as I just pay attention a little more. Maybe, I’ll even switch up my routine and try an Aldi.

I’ll post progress updates but I’m excited and I know 2019 is going to be the year we crush our goals! We are facing another trial here at our trial by fire and this time we are going to come out the other side victorious!

-N-

1 thought on “2019 FI Resolutions”

  1. I love Skinnytaste! I need to go back there soon. Lately I’ve been scouring budgetbytes.com for affordable recipes. I also have to buy a new car soon…trying to keep the old clunker on the road until I have enough money to buy a new to me vehicle. Fantastic job on the grocery budget!!

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