How I’m Paying For It: Eye Doctor Edition

Oh, my eyes.

In this case, I mean it literally: my eyes are the worst. I’m really, really, really nearsighted, which limits me to certain brands of contact lenses (most don’t go below a -10) and means that whenever I buy glasses, which luckily isn’t every year since my prescription’s been stable for a long time, I need to pay extra for extra-thin lenses.

This year, I do have eye insurance, luckily, but I also needed new glasses; my old ones broke a month or so ago and while I was hoping they could be fixed, the office said no dice. And I’ve had them for four or five years, so I sighed and said ok. But even with insurance, which knocked about 50% off the final bill, I ended up putting $673.20 on my credit card this morning, for the exam, contacts, frames, and lenses.

Now, it’s on the 0% card (the rate is good for another six months, I think) so I could pay it down slowly. But darn it, I just got out of debt. I don’t want to hit the new year with anything on the card. So, here’s how I’m going to do it:

$187.01: already saved in my “personal/health” category

$100: from December 2014 “slush” money

$150: from my “repairs/maintenance” fund (I’m repairing and maintaining my eyes, I guess)

$250: from the emergency fund (sigh, that’s what it’s there for)

$9.91: from January 2015 “slush” money (already in my bank account since I live on last month’s income)

This all sucks, and I hate draining my health and repairs sinking funds, not to mention the EF setback, but there are two pieces of good news: one, I know where the money is coming from and have it saved, even though I don’t like having to actually spend it, and two, since I hopefully will not need glasses again for several years, next year’s bill should be much more reasonable; the contact exam and lenses alone would have been $282.

2015 goals

Finally, the long-awaited [ed. note — sure, sure] 2015 goals post.

I’ll probably revisit these at some point — for one thing, my job situation might or might not change over the summer. I’m either going to be at the same job, with the same income, for another academic year, or be changing jobs with all the resulting unknowns from that. But for the purposes of this post I’m assuming that I’ll be at my current job through all of 2015.

I’m trying to keep these simple: instead of a dozen goals, I’m making only five, focused around my current priorities. Some of these are more under my control than others — for example, I can definitely contribute $1000 a month to retirement because I’m already doing it and it’s automatic! But the net worth goals are trickier, because they rely in part on things well outside of my control, like whether I have a medical emergency or what the markets decide to do. I’m also setting a pretty aggressive target for monthly cash savings; if I stick to this plan, I’ll be living on about $1150 a month, roughly 1/3 of my net income. I’m going to try this for a few months and see how it goes, but if I’m feeling deprived by the time I do my first-quarter review at the end of March I may have to re-evaluate. Continue reading “2015 goals”

OK, I’m Debt-Free. What’s Next?

This is also not my 2015 goals post, although my thinking here may end up informing some changes to that.

Technically, I’ve been “debt-free” since early December, when I put through a $287 payment to my credit card. But I still had almost $900 in business expenses waiting to be reimbursed. This is what my accounts looked like on December 14, with the business expenses plus what I’d spent on various (budgeted!) stuff in early December.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.06.54 AMUgly, right? $2000 less than my last published net worth update, between having paid rent, withrdrawn my grocery cash, other early-December expenses, and all those business things.

It got better the next day when my first December paycheck hit, followed by my reimbursement check, and I could pay the card down to zero at last. Woo! Meanwhile I was getting things transferred over here (one of the December expenses I had to pay off was the domain purchase) and processing my feelings.

To be completely honest, my very first impulse was…to buy something. 🙂 Not immediately, exactly, and not something totally crazy and frivolous. I’ve talked before about the really sad state of my wardrobe, but one thing I’ve never had, ever, is a pair of nice black leather tall boots with a heel high enough to be dressy but blocky enough to be “sensible” (and that I can walk long distances in and teach/lecture in.) My birthday is in late January, and I’ve been really scrimping lately; maybe I want/need a reward/present to myself. (Downside of being single: no husband to ask for boots for my birthday.) I’m still kicking the idea around, but I may go try on some pairs when I’m home for the holidays — I have three brands (Clarks, Born, and Frye) in mind as decent possibilities — and run the numbers.

This got me thinking about all the other things that are either worn out completely (sneakers with holes) or getting there (jeans I’ve worn countless times over two years, pilling sweaters and dresses, a coat that needs the lining replaced, and, most worryingly, my laptop, which at just over 2 years old is starting to show signs of the intense regimen I put it through — it’s often in use 10-12 hours a day, sigh. I’ll use it as long as I can, despite the obnoxious spinning beach balls it’s giving me way more often these days, but whenever it goes, it’ll cost around $1100 to replace, because I’m not switching away from Mac to PC for a variety of personal and professional reasons.) I’ve been putting everything off, but I’m going to need to do some spending this year, on my wardrobe and on travel; hopefully I can do all that and health/vehicle expenses without touching the EF, but my net worth might not grow as much as I’d initially thought it would.

Throughout the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking of 2015 as my “saving year,” and I certainly intend to make it that — $500 a month to the EF is a must, and I’m not stopping my $1000 retirement fund contributions either. But I’d been kind of thinking of my potential net worth growth as therefore being an average of $2000 a month, and I’m realizing that’s probably not realistic; if I actually spend from my travel fund, buy some clothes, and god forbid need that laptop sometime in 2015, I wouldn’t be able to net $2000/month without some serious luck and/or hustle in the freelance department.

So I’m thinking, now that I’m debt-free, that where I’m going next is: saving and spending. Gee, what a surprise 🙂