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The Money Snapshot: A Government Worker Shares Thoughts on Pensions, Retirement, and Rapid Income Growth

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Presenting our fifth money snapshot, this time with a government worker in the Northeast! She notes: “Our income has grown rapidly in the last several years — in 2011 we made $ 32,000 (together), in 2014 we made $ 135,000, and in 2018 we will make approximately $ 235,000. Because of the timing of my husband’s schooling, we were in a position of playing catch-up on our retirement accounts, specifically his accounts, but we look to grow our overall financial portfolio in the coming years.”

By way of background: We got a few requests from readers to launch our own “money diary” series, so we’ve asked willing readers to fill out a form with lots of details about debt, spending, saving and more! If you’d like to fill out the form and be considered for a future personal money snapshot, please click here to submit your response! You can see a PDF of the questions if you want to review them ahead of time. See others in the Personal Money Snapshot series here.

Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! — Kat

Name: Clementine
Location: MCOL medium-sized city in the Northeast
Age: 33
Occupation: Government  
Income: $ 92,000
Family members: Husband, 37 (engineer with extensive work travel), and a 3-year-old who recently told me they are planning on being a dinosaur when they grow up.
Household income:
$ 235,000
Net worth: Outside of retirement accounts, our net worth is approximately $ 100,000. My husband has approximately $ 250,000 in retirement accounts plus a small pension account, while I have a defined benefit pension.
Net worth when started working: I started working at 14, used scholarships and worked through college and grad school, and graduated at 23 with approximately $ 25,000 in debt (not bad for no parental support!). My husband had been in the military and went to school utilizing the GI Bill, graduating at 30 with approximately $ 20,000 in debt. While he was in school, my career was in a holding pattern, but I was quickly able to build my career once he graduated and we relocated.
How much debt do you have? $ 5,000 in student loan debt that will be paid at the end of the year [2018], $ 35,000 car note with a low interest rate, $ 300,000 left on our mortgage. 
Living situation: Own — mortgage + taxes + insurance is $ 2,200/month.
How much do/did you spend for childcare and/or education? $ 1,000/month
Is there anything else we should know about you?
Our income has grown rapidly in the last several years — in 2011 we made $ 32,000 (together), in 2014 we made $ 135,000, and in 2018 we will make approximately $ 235,000. Because of the timing of my husband’s schooling, we were in a position of playing catch-up on our retirement accounts, specifically his accounts, but we look to grow our overall financial portfolio in the coming years.

Debt

What does your debt picture look like?
We are down to minimal student loans (subsidized only, we utilized the snowball method of paying off our highest interest loans first). We do not carry credit card debt as a habit, but do have a car note which we were able to get at a lower interest rate than the average return on our investments for the past few years. Our mortgage interest rate is also very low; however, it is psychologically important to my husband that we pay that off sooner rather than later.

We asked Clementine how she and her husband handle differing opinions on finances, such as the mortgage question: 

My husband and I are both very rational people — we joke that because we’re both Libras, we just talk and talk an issue until we reach balance. We also do a very good job of picking our battles and understanding the other person’s needs.

How much money are you spending each month to pay down debt?
We have prioritized student loan debt and have paid (on average) an additional $ 1,000/month for the last two years to eliminate it. Our next priority is paying off our car note; however, the interest rate is low enough where it made more sense to invest those dollars elsewhere and take out the loan.

How did you pay for school?
I didn’t go to my “dream school.” Instead, I took a five-year, full-tuition scholarship at a well regarded state school. I worked as an RA during college to get a free room and a monthly paycheck and worked summers and retail jobs to pay my car insurance and for my meal plan. That being said, I still walked away with $ 25,000 in student loan debt, largely owing to the few semesters I chose not to (or was unable to) RA.

Have you paid off any major debt?
We are so close to paying off our student loan debt I can taste it! I am so tempted to just take money from our emergency fund to pay it off.

Home debt: 
We have a fixed, 30-year mortgage that was a VA mortgage. We were offered the option of reducing our interest rate without paying any closing costs or extending our term and took that option, so our interest rate is 3.5%. We could have been approved for more, but were able to buy a home in our ideal neighborhood for what we felt was a reasonable monthly payment. We make biweekly payments, meaning that we make an extra principal payment annually. It is important to my husband that we pay off our mortgage ASAP; however, I acknowledge that from a financial standpoint it doesn’t make sense.

Have you ever done anything noteworthy to avoid or lessen debt?
We have worked and worked and worked some more. We replaced a 20-year-old car only when it began to have safety/reliability issues and choose experiences and time over material items.

Savings, Investments & Retirement

How much do you save for retirement?
Annually (outside of pensions), we aim for $ 35,000; however, the majority of our retirement accounts are pensions.

How much money do you allocate to other tax-savvy investments/accounts?
$ 1,200 annually (currently) to 529, $ 5,000 to our Dependent Care Advantage Account (for daycare).

How much do you save outside of retirement accounts?
That amount varies based on our ongoing expenses. We do not currently have significant automatic transfers going on; however, we do have a combination of money market accounts (minimum 24 hours to access funds but high rate of return) and linked savings accounts.

Talk to us about investments.
We have a financial planner as well as utilize index funds. We have chosen to diversify our investments at this time so as to not “put all our eggs in one basket.”

Do you have an end goal for saving or are you just saving for a rainy day?
Our financial goal is that if either one of us chooses to leave our jobs and be either a stay-at-home parent or take a major pay cut, that option is on the table.

Here’s what Clementine said when we asked her to elaborate on this goal:

I don’t think it’s likely; however, it’s our security blanket. My husband would be the better stay-at-home parent, and his job is also the job that is harder on our lifestyle (extensive and extended work travel). Ultimately though, he loves what he does and I’ve accepted that as my “price of admission.”

What’s the #1 thing you’re doing to save money, limit spending, or live frugally?
Both parents are still working rather than taking one parent out of the workforce.

When did you start saving seriously? How has your savings strategy changed over the years?
We started saving seriously in 2012, then paid for a wedding (taking out no debt but using those savings), then saved for a house (purchased in 2014), then had some income loss related to maternity leave in 2015, and really started to seriously rebuild our savings accounts in 2016.

Have you ever made a big money move or investment with savings in mind?
We moved our “orphaned” 401K accounts into an employer-subsidized deferred compensation plan, ensuring that we were actively managing all accounts.

How much do you have in cash that’s available today?
$ 18,000

How much do you have in cash that’s available in a week?
$ 50,000

How much is in your “emergency fund,” and where do you keep it?
$ 80,000 (included above), a combination of checking/savings/money market accounts. I did not include any accounts I would incur a penalty for withdrawing (e.g., retirement).

How much do you have in retirement savings?
I have a defined benefit pension plan plus $ 20,000 in an additional retirement account. My pension will pay me 60% of my three highest years of pay plus health benefits. My husband has a small pension (expected to pay approximately $ 1,000/month) plus currently $ 250,000 in retirement savings.

How much do you have in long-term investments and savings (CDs, index funds, stocks) that are not behind a retirement wall?
$ 68,000

If property values (home, car) are included in your net worth, how much are those worth?
Car is worth $ 10,000 more than is owed (included), home is worth approximately $ 100,000 more than is owed. Note that I may not have included that full amount in our net worth.

Spending 

How much do you spend on the following categories on a monthly basis?

Groceries: $ 600
Restaurants, bars, takeout, and delivery:
$ 240
Clothing and accessories: $ 200
Transportation: $ 900
Rent/living expenses: $ 4,000
Kid-related expenses:
$ 1,500
Entertainment: various
Health care — premiums and other costs: $ 150 in monthly premiums, $ 1,000 outside of that, but has varied drastically in prior years.

What’s your spending range for these things? What’s your average?

Vacations – Range: $ 20–$ 12,000
Vacations – Average:
$ 3,000

Individual items of clothing – Range: $ 20–$ 80
Individual items of clothing – Average: tops $ 30, pants $ 40, dresses $ 60

Apartment or house – Range: $ 400–$ 2,200
Apartment or house – Current main residence:
$ 2,200 monthly mortgage (house cost $ 355,000)

Car or other vehicle – Range: $ 0–$ 50,000
Car or other vehicle – Last purchase / current main vehicle: $ 50,000. It was a splurge but chosen for size and safety.

Fill in the blank on this question: I could save _____ if I stopped ______, but I don’t because _______.

We could save a drastically large sum of money if we cut out vacations and several items that are “luxury’ items” (e.g., house cleaner, organic food, etc.); however, I actively choose not to because I have known multiple people in my life who never spent, planning on having a fabulous retirement, and then died suddenly before they got to enjoy that retirement.

If you’re married: When was your wedding, how much did it cost (total), and how much did YOU pay? 
2012, $ 15,000, and we paid $ 14,000 of that.

Tell us about your wedding!
It was great! We focused on what mattered to us and had a fun but elegant party.

Have any large medical expenses for yourself or others played a role in your financial picture?
Yes. We lost a significant amount of income related to pregnancy-related complications and then had approximately $ 13,000 in out-of-pocket costs on top of that lost income.

Are there any other large expenses in your life, now or previously?
We own an older home on which all repairs seem to cost $ 8,000.

At any point in your life to date, has inheritance played a role in your money situation? 
I got $ 10,000 from a grandparent, which I used to pay for some living expenses during graduate school.  

Money Strategy

Do you have a general money strategy? 
Work hard. Make smart choices. Buy less stuff.

What are your favorite resources for personal finance?
NPR’s Marketplace

What advice would you give your younger self about personal finance?
Don’t stress so much about money.

Photo credit: icons via Stencil. 

The post The Money Snapshot: A Government Worker Shares Thoughts on Pensions, Retirement, and Rapid Income Growth appeared first on Corporette.com.

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The Money Snapshot: A 32-Year-Old Tech Support Worker Shares Thoughts on Budget Tracking

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Presenting our fourth “money snapshot,” this time with a tech support worker in Kansas! She notes: “Our decision to move from L.A./Orange County to Kansas City … [has] been probably the biggest factor in allowing us to improve our lifestyle and financial standing. When I told one Californian friend what I paid for my 3BR house, she literally fell over. It’s an enormous difference for the cost of living.”

By way of background: We got a few requests from readers to launch our own “money diary” series, so we’ve asked willing readers to fill out a form with lots of details about debt, spending, saving and more! If you’d like to fill out the form and be considered for a future personal money snapshot, please click here to submit your response! You can see a PDF of the questions if you want to review them ahead of time. See others in the Personal Money Snapshot series here.

Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! — Kat

Name: Aerin
Location: Overland Park, KS (suburb of Kansas City)
Age: 32
Occupation: Tech support worker 
Income: $ 58,300
Partner’s age: 37, works as a technical trainer
Household income:
$ 115,000
Net worth: House is worth about $ 190K, have about $ 55K in retirement/savings. My husband also has savings accounts; don’t know his totals.
Net worth when started working: My very first job was babysitting at 14, so I didn’t have much net worth one way or another. I graduated college at 23 with about $ 11K in student loans and $ 5K in credit card debt.
Current debt: $ 1K credit card, $ 4K on car, $ 1K student loans, $ 138K balance on mortgage, $ 25K on personal loan
Living situation: Own, pay $ 1,100 mortgage

Is there anything else we should know about you?
Personal loan was to consolidate credit cards and financing for a major home repair, plus a bit of a slush fund for further home improvements. That total also includes the financing for our bed, which we got at 0% interest.

Also, my parents and I were in a commercial when I was a baby, doing one of those customer testimonial things. Commercial money is kind of insane, because you get paid every time it airs. I had to pay taxes as an infant! That money helped set up savings accounts for me and my siblings, and was the seed of what my parents later contributed toward a down payment for my house (about $ 5K by the time I cashed it in).

Debt

What does your debt picture look like?
I have some student loans, not a ton. My husband has more, but he handles that separately. I ran up some credit card debt in college due to some emergencies/large expenses that took me a while to pay off. Recently I had to carry a balance on one of my cards due to a large vacation.

How much money are you spending each month to pay down debt?
$ 100–$ 200 for credit card beyond regular use (see below), $ 70 for student loans, $ 177 for car payment, $ 1,200 for mortgage, $ 560 for personal loan.

How did you pay for school?
My school had a very generous aid package, and a commitment to ensure that any student they accepted could attend, regardless of what they could pay. For the first year and a half or so, my dad was contributing to the tune of maybe $ 6K/year. Then my sister was in a serious car accident that required two months in the ICU and several follow-up surgeries. He talked to the school and they eliminated his contribution, replacing it with grants. Student loans were a small percentage of aid to begin with, but then my senior year the school made headlines by removing loans from the package altogether. Beyond that, I had a work-study job, and worked an additional part-time job for about half my time there, which covered day-to-day expenses, travel, books, that sort of thing.

Have you paid off any major debt?
I had three separate student loans in my package. Two of them are paid off, and the third should be cleared in 2019. I also cleared a credit card by paying it down by an extra $ 100 each month. (So if the balance had been $ 1,900, then usage + interest brought it to $ 2,050, I would pay $ 250 to bring the balance down to $ 1,800.)

Home debt: 
We pay $ 100 more than the minimum. We looked at what we were paying in rent and tried to keep our mortgage payment similar. We ended up spending more than we hoped, but still less than we got approved for. Paying off the mortgage faster is a nice idea, although we plan to sell this house which would start the clock over anyway.

Have you ever done anything noteworthy to avoid or lessen debt?
The debt consolidation loan was kind of a big deal. It lowered the interest rates on some of my debt pretty substantially. And, of course, it just felt really good to zero out those other accounts. Oh, and I can’t forget our decision to move from L.A./Orange County to Kansas City. That was entirely financial — we had outgrown our one-bedroom apartment, and our options were to get a roommate, get second jobs, cut our expenses significantly, or move someplace cheaper. We opted for the last one, and it’s been probably the biggest factor in allowing us to improve our lifestyle and financial standing. When I told one Californian friend what I paid for my 3BR house, she literally fell over. It’s an enormous difference for the cost of living.

Thinking of making a move like Aerin’s but worried about leaving behind big-city life? We asked her to pass on some advice: 

It’s funny, I actually do a lot more in Kansas City than I did in L.A. — we’re members of the zoo and had season tickets for the symphony and the Broadway series for the past couple of years (although we’re not renewing either), plus we do a fair number of concerts, author events, and conventions. In L.A., we had annual passes for Disneyland and … that was about it. We have the time (thanks to a commute that’s over an hour shorter each way) and disposable income to do things we just couldn’t there. I’ve always lived in cities (well, suburbs of major metros) so I don’t think I’d do well in a legitimately small town. But I’ve found that basically if a city is large enough to support an airport, it’s likely going to have a decent selection of good restaurants and cultural offerings. I mean, Des Moines has a better Broadway series than KC does for next season! There are still some specific things I miss (returning to In-N-Out is the closest I get to a religious experience), but on the whole the trade-offs have been worth it.

The deal I made with my husband when we first talked about moving was that if we weren’t happy, we could just save aggressively for a couple of years and be better positioned to move back. It helped that we didn’t have kids, and that he was able to transfer within his company so we retained his income and our insurance for the transition. I’m open to making a big move again if the right opportunity comes up, but we’re more settled now, so the bar for that would be pretty high.

Savings, Investments & Retirement

How much do you save for retirement?
I contributed $ 3,600 this year. My company matched that, plus an additional 1% of my salary.

How much money do you allocate to other tax-savvy investments/accounts?
None. I know my husband has an FSA, though.

How much do you save outside of retirement accounts?
I have a $ 25 monthly savings transfer that I set up in college and still use. I also have a keep the change program that rounds up my purchases to the nearest dollar and moves that to savings. Beyond that, I allocate money to savings as I can when dividing up paychecks.

Do you have/use a financial adviser or planner? 
I just use the default for my retirement plan. I don’t really have enough of anything else to do any serious investing.

Do you have an end goal for saving or are you just saving for a rainy day?
Mostly I like to save for a rainy day. We also tend to save up for large purchase/projects, especially vacations.

What’s the #1 thing you’re doing to save money, limit spending, or live frugally?
I try to avoid purchasing things until I have the cash on hand to do it. I also try to price compare and find good sales. We lived paycheck to paycheck when I was growing up (we were pretty solidly middle class, but my mom kept the regular expenses extremely tight to allow for spending/safety nets in other areas) so I learned a lot of tricks and a frugal mindset that way.

We asked Aerin to share some more money-saving strategies she’s learned:

When we were kids, my mom made us divide our money into 50% savings, 20% gifts, 30% spending. So this acquainted me with splitting early on, but I kind of resented not getting to keep much of my money. So when I wanted to buy a laptop in high school, I ended up sort of skimming off myself — if I made $ 17 babysitting, I’d hand over $ 15 and squirrel away the other $ 2 in a hidden spot. I found it easier to get my head around saving up for something specific than for its own sake. That’s still largely how I operate, very goal-oriented.

The other big thing I remember is her teaching us the importance of tracking expenses. Once we were about junior-high age, she gave each of us kids an equal envelope of cash and took us back-to-school shopping for clothes and supplies, where we’d each pick out and pay for our own stuff. The trick was, we didn’t go to Walmart for supplies until very last. So if you didn’t hold back enough money to pay for a new backpack or binder, you were stuck using last year’s. Definitely a hands-on lesson! Another time she and I went on a long weekend trip to visit the campus of my first-choice college, and she put me in charge of writing down every penny we spent. Seeing how little stuff could add up was very enlightening.

How much do you have in cash that’s available today?
$ 3K in my personal account, $ 4K in joint account. My husband maintains a separate personal account; I don’t know his total.

How much do you have in cash that’s available in a week?
$ 1,200 in personal savings, $ 4K in joint savings.

How much is in your “emergency fund,” and where do you keep it?
Savings accounts as noted above. Some money in the regular accounts is allocated for specific larger expenses as needed (like medical bills or car stuff).

How much do you have in retirement savings?
$ 50K; don’t know about my husband’s.

Spending 

How much do you spend on the following categories on a monthly basis?

Groceries: $ 400
Restaurants, bars, takeout, and delivery: 
$ 300
Clothing and accessories: $ 30
Transportation: $ 200 (car payment; car is fully electric, so charging costs are minimal)
Rent/living expenses: $ 1,100
Entertainment: $ 150
Other major expenses: If I’m working on a major sewing/craft project, that can eat up a lot of cash. (I do have an Etsy shop, and it’s not something I would consider a full-on side hustle, but it usually brings in enough to pay for supplies for the next project and keeps that stuff from cluttering up the house. The downside is it means I tend to pick projects with an eye toward inventory rather than fun or challenge.) We also allocate about $ 50/month for pet expenses. 
Health care — premiums and other costs: $ 3.300/year medical, $ 130/year dental, $ 280/year vision, all for me and my husband. I probably spend about $ 1,000/year outside of coverage for things like chiropractor (not covered), co-pays, tests, that sort of thing.

What’s your spending range for these things? What’s your average?

Vacations – Range: $ 1,000–$ 8,000 
Vacations – Average:
$ 4,000

Charity – Range of Donations: $ 10–$ 200
Charity – Average Donation:
$ 30/monthly recurring donations, $ 10–20 here and there when I can

Individual items of clothing – Range: $ 5–$ 300
Individual items of clothing – Average: It hurts me to spend more than $ 20 on a single item of clothing. I do a lot of thrifting. One thing I do spend more on is coats.

Apartment or house – Current main residence: Purchased at $ 153K

Car or other vehicle – Range: $ 2,000–$ 10,000
Car or other vehicle – Last purchase / current main vehicle: $ 8,000

Any other large personal expenses? 
Lawn care $ 75/month (although we’re probably gonna get rid of that).

We asked Aerin to comment on whether she’d like to spend less (or more) on any of the categories listed: 

I’d really like to get our food costs down. We’ve been experimenting with a few different things for that, but everything at the grocery store is getting so expensive that it’s tricky. And I’m always trying to find extra money to throw at the vacation fund.

Fill in the blank on this question: I could save _____ if I stopped ______, but I don’t because _______.
I could save a decent chunk on groceries if I cut coupons and planned my meals better, but I don’t because I just don’t have the time or energy.

When was your wedding, how much did it cost (total), and how much did YOU pay? 
2010, cost $ 7K, my parents contributed about $ 4K

Tell us about your wedding: 
We cut down the guest list to literally the people in the wedding, their spouses, and any other family on the same tier. (So my husband’s uncle performed the ceremony, so we also invited the uncle’s siblings but not other aunts and uncles. He’s closer to his extended family than I am to mine, so this gave us a clear way to draw lines.) Total was about 40 people. Since my family is scattered all over, we got married in Las Vegas to make the travel easier. We booked a huge suite with a great view at Mandalay Bay, and that’s where we did the welcome dinner, rehearsal lunch, ceremony, and reception. When our caterer asked for my budget I told him $ 35/person, figuring I could go up as high as $ 50/person plus booze. He came back with a cocktail menu including beer/wine/soda for $ 35. The food was great, and that allowed us to cater the other meals plus take everyone to a breakfast buffet the next day.

We did a bunch of other stuff to cut down on expenses. My gown was $ 250 at David’s Bridal, marked down because it had been discontinued. I spent nine months making roses out of book pages. Instead of a regular cake, we did cookie cakes on a tiered display I designed and built. (That one got featured on CNN!) I spent ages scouring eBay for things like bridal party gifts (my side each got a nice leather-bound copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales), cake topper, shoes, jewelry, etc. Photographer and videographer were both friends who gave us good rates. The one place we didn’t skimp on was the rings, since we figured that was one of the few things we’d still have after the day was done. Those cost about $ 1K each.

Basically, we wanted to put our money toward showing everyone a really good time. We knew that traveling was expensive and annoying, so we wanted to make sure our guests were well cared for while they were there. The whole affair was pretty relaxed and we got to see nearly everyone outside the wedding itself, so it was pretty successful in that regard. And we did so well on the cost of the wedding that we had about $ 3K left over to pamper ourselves for a few extra days in Vegas.

Are there any other large expenses in your life, now or previously?
Buying myself a MacBook Pro in college cost about $ 3K that I didn’t have at the time, and I spent quite a while paying back that credit card debt. But I didn’t need to buy another computer for about six years after that, so I guess it worked out? Moving across the country pretty much wiped us out. We had some friends who let us live with them for a couple of months until we got on our feet, which was a huge help.

At any point in your life to date, has inheritance played a role in your money situation?  
My mom inherited some money from her parents, but we were all adults when they died so none of it has really passed to us (since there wasn’t a ton). 

How has your family provided financial support in your adult life, if any? (Or, do you provide support to them?)
My mom and stepdad gave me a car when I was in college, because I desperately needed one due to how far away my job was. When that car died and couldn’t be revived, my dad had just paid off his car so he gave it to me and bought a new one. I was extremely broke at the time and couldn’t afford car payments, so this was extremely necessary. Beyond that, I haven’t really leaned on my parents for much financially. 

I should revise the non-financial support from family: I don’t live anywhere near family, though they’ve sometimes advised from afar. Recently I had a weird power outage, and I told my mom who told my stepdad who told my stepbrother. He correctly deduced that it was an issue with the power company, which saved me from having to pay an electrician on a Sunday.

Does your family provide any non-financial support? 
I don’t live anywhere near family, though they’ve sometimes advised from afar. Recently, I had a weird power outage, and I told my mom, who told my stepdad, who told my stepbrother. He correctly deduced that it was an issue with the power company, which saved me from having to pay an electrician on a Sunday.

Money Strategy

Do you have a general money strategy?
Oh, yes: The Spreadsheet.

I started doing this after we moved to the Midwest, before I found work and money was extremely tight. It’s got a column for each category of expenses: one for each bill (mortgage, power, insurance, etc) and then columns for things like vacation, appliances/furniture, or other things I’m saving up for, like new computers or a tattoo. Each column is marked with a target amount that it needs to get paid up to. On bills, this is the high-water mark of what we’ve ever owed. So one time our power bill was $ 250 for the month, so I keep $ 250 in that fund even though it’s usually much less each month. For other categories, it’s the savings goal, either a specific cost if there is one or a general guideline.

Then I go through the checking account, and each transaction gets entered in its own row. The amount gets listed in the correct column. Paychecks get divided up accordingly, and I have another page in the spreadsheet where I can keep track of which credit card transactions came out of which column so the bill can be divided accurately.

Functionally, this means I have at least one month’s worth of expenses on hand at all times. Once a bill comes out, I then put back the money so it’s ready for next month. It also allows me to work toward long-term goals, because even if I can only allocate a couple of bucks a week I’m still at least making space for it in my plans. More importantly, it means I don’t have to do a lot of thinking about my money when I’m spending it. If I get really concerned, I can pull it up on my phone to see where I’m at, but for the most part it works as a sort of post-hoc budgeting. If I overspend on one category for this week (like when I bought a bunch of work clothes from a store that was closing because they were 80% off), I know that I can’t put as much into other funds until I’ve made up the difference, and I also should avoid spending from that fund until it’s been rebuilt.

It’s a fair amount of work to sit down and log everything once every couple of weeks, but I absolutely love that I can buy fun, silly things on impulse without having to worry about whether this will mean I can’t pay a utility bill. It was a long road to go from being overdrawn in that account to having this sort of cushion, and The Spreadsheet absolutely helped me get there.

(After submitting her Money Snapshot, Aerin sent us this update: “I dug up the link to The Spreadsheet! Way old, but still works. I uploaded mine into Google Drive so it’s accessible from multiple devices — one version for my personal account and one for joint.”) 

Time vs. money — do you spend money to save time (e.g., cleaning service)? Do you donate your time instead of money? What else does this phrase mean to you?
There are definitely times when I do that, especially with home repairs when the DIY route usually ends up being more expensive as well as more time-consuming. I worked a retail job part-time for a while, but I realized that the bit of extra money wasn’t nearly worth the time, energy, and stress of it. My time is a non-renewable resource, and pushing myself beyond the limits of my energy had a much higher cost. I donate money over time, though, for much the same reason. I just don’t have the bandwidth to give extra time beyond my current commitments, but I can at least provide some support to the people who can.

Anything else to add? 
When my husband and I moved in together, our system was basically that he’d pay for everything, and I’d write him a check once a month for my half. It worked, more or less. Now, we have a joint account that we both pay into, which we use for shared household bills and anything that is used by both of us. However, we’ve still maintained our separate personal accounts as well, and I think it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. See, if there’s only one account, things become a zero-sum game: If he springs for some nice clothes, I might not be able to get the video game I was eyeing, because it’s all coming from the same pot. But with separate accounts, you don’t have one person held responsible for the expenses the other person incurred independently. We’ve been together for 10 years and we’ve never once argued about money. We talk about it a lot, and it’s been a source of stress when it’s not there or when we get thrown a curveball, but there’s just not the resentment about each other’s choices and priorities.

So that’s probably my biggest piece of advice to people getting serious with a partner: Keep a personal checking and savings account, even if you combine nearly everything else.

Photo credit: icons via Stencil. 

The post The Money Snapshot: A 32-Year-Old Tech Support Worker Shares Thoughts on Budget Tracking appeared first on Corporette.com.

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Don’t pretend every cop can play social worker

Some critics of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ThriveNYC initiative have taken aim at the progress of the NYPD’s Crisis Intervention Training, or CIT, program. And while the de Blasio administration has made numerous missteps on mental health, failing to expand CIT to the entire NYPD isn’t one of them. CIT trains patrol officers to ­respond…
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Can I collect unemployment as a furloughed federal worker during the shutdown?

I am a federal employee affected by the shutdown. Since I am furloughed, can I collect unemployment? And what happens if, when I am called back to work, I am paid retroactively? With any luck, this nightmare and stupid political gamesmanship you are caught up in will end soon. Meanwhile, here are some general tips…
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Four Profoundly Concerning Issues Remain About That Attack on a McDonald’s Worker

The recent attack on a McDonald’s worker was just the latest episode of ‘come for a black woman.” The now-viral video shows Daniel Willis Taylor–a white man–attacking Yamine James, an employee at a McDonald’s in St. Petersburg, Florida. The video shows Taylor, 40, yelling at James before laying hands on the petite woman — grabbing her by the collar and almost snatching her over the counter — and in retaliation, James served him a two-piece, a three-piece and a quarter-pound ass whooping in-kind. And while many hail the young black woman for making her attacker an accidental victim, everything about this scenario is unsettling. Also disappointing is the public response. The Young Turks, a popular podcast, referred to the occurrence as a “feel good story” in a Jan. 3, Facebook post. The video has since been removed. But like diamonds, screenshots are forever.

 

What happened to 20-year-old James is not a feel good story–it’s a deplorable one. Consider the emotional toll the situation took on James. In a news release from Civil Liberty Law, she stated:

“I am not only physically hurt, but I am emotionally hurt that I was left to defend myself even as I was surrounded by my co-workers and other bystanders.”

Those statements are far removed from anything that feels good — they are the antithesis. Here are four profoundly concerning issues about the video that speaks to what is fundamentally wrong with society.

 

Black Women are an Endangered Species

 

From the workplace to hospital labor rooms, black women are subject to violence. In December of last year, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported on the workplace safety of black women. We are also mistreated and under-treated in healthcare, particularly around childbirth. Recent studies show “African American women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women,” BE also reported. Serena Williams gave a firsthand account to CNN on her own run-in with nurses and physicians who dismissed her health concerns after childbirth. The tennis star damn near died. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported the overwhelming disparity in attacks on black women:

-Four out of ten black women are affected by domestic violence; a rate higher than other races.

-Black women are bullied and coerced and psychologically and verbally abused more than any race of women

-Over 20% of black women are raped in their lifetimes which is at a higher rate than all women. 

 

White Supremacy has Folks Shook

The disturbing video shows a white man flaunting his whiteness and several male employees yielding to it. One employee watched as James defended herself and only intervened once it was clear she had the advantage over her assailant. Even worse, his intent seems to be  stopping James rather than the white man.  As Taylor continued to rant and call James “bitch,” not one male employee responded; each stood around Taylor attempting to “tame” her. Clearly, chivalry is dead, but white intimidation is not.

Public De-Sensitivity to Violence

Americans were caught off guard when Mamie Till had an open casket funeral, revealing her son Emmett Till’s mutilated face. He was brutally beaten and killed by two white men — allegedly for flirting with a white woman. American were outraged when a video of Rodney King being brutalized by police surfaced. 

Thanks to social media, shock over violent acts has waned. The public has limitless access to violence and trauma porn — so much so it is no longer triggering to witness violence in real time. Currently, video of James’ attack has 63,000 comments, was shared 75,000 times. His video was not the only one captured. Which says people were more concerned with using their phones to record the violent attack opposed to dialing 911.

Food Workers are At-Risk

James’ assault shows that food service workers risk physical violence but data also shows that segment of the workforce is especially at-risk. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission revealed food service workers are more subject to workplace sexual harassment than employees at higher paying fields. Food service workers along with other service employees, made up nearly 50% of the sexual harassment complaints filed, reported Chron. Out 85,000 complaints made between 2005 and 2015, over 14% came from “accommodations and food service industry.” To add insult to injury food service workers rank among low-wage earners.


The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.

The post Four Profoundly Concerning Issues Remain About That Attack on a McDonald’s Worker appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Federal contract worker: We shouldn’t have to suffer for a wall

CNN’s Don Lemon speaks with 63-year-old Donna Kelly, who works as security guard for the Smithsonian about the impact of the partial government shutdown.


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Worker injured after wall collapses in Bloomingdale’s

A display wall fell and injured an employee in the basement level of Bloomingdale’s Midtown flagship store Thursday morning, authorities said. The incident happened about 10:10 a.m. inside the 815,000-square-foot high-end department store on Lexington Avenue and East 59th Street, officials said. Emergency responders rushed the victim, a visual merchandising associate, to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell…
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How to Be a Good Remote Worker

how to be a good remote worker - tips and advice

How can you be a good remote worker? With holiday travel coming up (where you may end up working remotely), and New Year reflections coming up (“going remote” might be one of your goals for 2019), I thought we’d discuss. Some notes from previous reader discussions on how to be a good remote worker:

  • Explain your strategies for success. Particularly if you’re making a formal proposal to do remote work, you may need to answer two big questions up front for your boss: “What’s in it for me?” and “How will I know you’re still doing good work?” Answers here might relate to your own situation (for example, if you were going to quit otherwise), a vastly reduced commute (giving you more time to devote to clients!), closer proximity to clients, or more availability for trips to visit clients in other cities. As for the “good work” — you might offer a weekly status report emailed every week, tracking your own metrics, or more. 
  • Understand that you may have to work on “home office time,” particularly for phone calls. As one reader noted previously, “Since I’m in a different time zone, I’m very flexible about times calls are scheduled, even if it sucks for me. I’ve done more 5:00 a.m. calls than I can count, and had one four-month stint with a standing 4 a.m. call six days a week when the client was in a time zone eight hours ahead of mine.”
  • Have a standing call with your boss to review projects, at least in the beginning. The formal structure may be helpful for him or her to ease the transition.
  • Pick up the phone instead of email. It’s more effective for maintaining relationships and easier to avoid misunderstandings.
  • When you’re in the office, work the room. When you are at the office or at a company function, circulate and talk to everyone. Schedule lunches, happy hours, and just walk around to make the most of face time at the office
  • Toot your own horn. To make up for reduced visibility at work, you may need to set humility aside and be your own cheerleader! Metrics are also great — if you can keep track of the numbers of anything (hours billed, clients handled, words written, whatever with numbers!) then do so in a clear format for your boss.

Further reading:

Pictured: Shutterstock / Dean Drobot.

Wondering how to talk your boss into letting you work remotely? Whether you've got holiday travel coming up or one of your goals in 2019 is to #workfromhome more, we've got some great tips on how to make the proposal, as well as how to actually BE a great remote worker for your company...  . . . #remoteworker #remotework #wfhlifestyle #wfhlawyer

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Amazon denies report it asked police to stop worker strike in Spain

Amazon on Friday found itself swatting down reports that it tried to recruit local police to put down a Black Friday strike in Spain. The Spanish publication El Confidencial reported that Amazon requested police to enter their warehouse outside Madrid to keep workers from striking and ensure productivity. The news outlet cited Spanish police sources…
Business | New York Post

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How The Top Construction Companies are Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Midst of a Worker Shortage

If you work in construction, then news about the current labor shortage won’t come as any surprise. Construction professionals have named hiring as their top concern for a number of years; in 2017, the National Association of Home Builders survey findings revealed that 82% of construction professionals listed the cost and availability of laborers as a pressing priority for the year, compared to just 13% in 2011. Fill out the form below to download our eBook and learn how the top construction companies are battling the issue.

The post How The Top Construction Companies are Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Midst of a Worker Shortage appeared first on Modernize.

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