Month: June 2015

Drowning in Email

I was looking for an email last night. I couldn’t find it. After searching through 3 email accounts, I thought, it must be under that other email.

Yes. I have 4 email accounts.

One’s old and mostly filled with spam. One is good and I should protect it. One is for the blog. One is from law school.

Oh, and I have one from iCloud. … and one at work.

Now I’m up to 6 email accounts.

… are you sweating yet? That is too many freaking email accounts, folks.

What is worse about my email accounts right now is that they are filling up with crap.

A newsletter here, a sale here. Lingering subscriptions from buying tickets, or updates I don’t need from Instagram or Twitter. I freaking love Twitter (do you follow me? @GoodnightDebt!) but I can’t stand the updates telling me that people are talking about a certain hashtag. That just means it’s a chat! Leave me alone!

Well I’ve had enough.

When I started my debt repayment in January 2014, I purged all my email accounts. I even wrote up a little ditty about it. It was great. However, over the last 18 months, they’ve filled up again.

What are they filled with? JUNK

Junk about unnecessary updates, or sales I won’t attend. I don’t buy anything! Why do I need to know about all the sales? Between Gap, Banana Republic, and Kohl’s, there is always a sale.

Between Qantas, Travel Leaders, Delta, American Airlines, Trip Advisor, KLM, AirBnb, Hotels.com, La Quinta, Travel Guard, Best Western, Marriott Rewards, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise line and Airfare Watchdog, there is always a reason to feel bad that I’m not traveling. (I have a problem.)

The Running Room reminds me that I can’t run right now.

Swagbacks reminds me that I’m not hustling.

None of these emails are helping me. They are only clogging up my mental capacity.  Quite frankly, they are making me feel pretty awful.

It’s time to unsubscribe again.

I was lenient last time, but this time I have to be without ruth. Ruth is leaving. I will be ruthless.

And when I check me email after this is all over, I’ll feel better than I do right now.

Advertisements

What does your Emergency Fund look like?

Despite the fact that I’ve been saving money since someone trusted me with money as a wee one, I’m horrible about having an emergency fund.

This feels contrary to everything I’ve learned, but I just can’t seem to leave money alone. I’m excellent at creating savings accounts and funding them with a monthly debit. However, I am also excellent at finding reasons to drain any and all savings accounts in my possession.

With my current financial situation, I keep telling myself I need to being working toward having at least 3 months’ worth of expenses in a savings account for e-mer-gen-cies. At roughly $2500-$3000 per month, that’s a lot of cash to just be sitting idle in a savings account. At current interest rates, it’s easy to justify putting money elsewhere. In an effort to outwit my savings account centric brain, what kind of emergencies are we talking about?

1. Medical

If I go Kaboom right now, I have a $3000 deductible with a max out-of-pocket of $5500 on my insurance. If, like a dear friend of mine, I get sick on Christmas Eve and am in the hospital through New Year’s Day, that’s $11,000. That’s a serious emergency.

How will I pay for such an emergency? My HSA. I started it last year and maxed it out! My goal is to reach a minimum of 2 years of deductibles for both me and Hubs.

That’s $6000. Currently Saved: $4000.

2. Car Expenses

Both our cars are new Civics. Mine is 2012, his is a leased 2014 (I know, the shame). Instead of saving for the expenses of a beater, or replacement car, we are spending on new cars. My car will be paid for in 2.5 years and then we can figure out what to do with Hubs for transportation.

If there is a BOOM! Accident, my car insurance deductible is $500. As for maintenance, I’ll need to buy tires in the next year or two. I expect that to be roughly $500.

That’s $1000. I currently have $325 for Car Expenses. 

3. Housing Expenses

I rent. I have renter’s insurance. If the water heater breaks, I don’t have to pay for it. The only things I can foresee paying for would be the what ifs and intermediary expenses should the building burn down. I have a $500 deductible here.

This is our big unknown if we plan to move in 2 years. We will be on the hook for the water heater, or the roof, or the AC unit. I do plan to build it up over the next two years to prepare for the unknowns of homeownership.

4. Job Loss

This is a big one. If Hubs or I lost our job, that would put a major drain on our finances. Thankfully, we work in two completely different industries, so the chances of both of us losing our job at the same time is pretty slim.

Our incomes aren’t equal, but they aren’t horribly skewed either. Should one of us lose our jobs, the other’s income covers or nearly covers our monthly expenses. If the worst happens and we both lose our jobs, Hubs was kind enough to save money away from my sticky fingers.

Currently saved: $10,000

5. Other Considerations

Nearly all my family now lives within close proximity. If a family emergency arises and I have to be there, my biggest expense would be an extra tank of gas or two. I can’t even imagine a case where I’d need to get a hotel.

This wasn’t always the case. I used to have family in Hawaii. My cousin died unexpectedly a few years ago. His funeral was in Hawaii in March, during peak Spring Break Travel season. It was a tough decision not to go to the funeral, but thankfully, I was able to make the decision based on the non-financial factors. Not being able to go based on purely financial reasons would have been a heartbreaking pill to swallow.

We also don’t have any dependents, so at this point, we don’t have to worry about an unexpected vet bill or kid expenses.

What do the Experts Say?

The Personal Finance Experts have various things to say about emergency funds.

  • Dave Ramsey says: 3-6 months of expenses
  • Suze Orman says: 8 months of living expenses
  • An Unknown Source: The current unemployment rate in months of expenses.

Using the rough figure of $3000/month in expenses (shooting high!), the experts say I should have:

  • Dave Ramsey: $9,000-18,000
  • Suze Orman: $24,000
  • Unknown Source: $15,000 (based on 5% unemployment)

Based on everything outlined above, I’m comfortable with what we have saved. Thank Goodness, Hubs intervened and saved a few (thousand) dollars. If you add up all of our emergency funds together, we’re fully funded!

  • General Expenses: $10,000
  • Medical Expenses (HSA): $4,000
  • Car Expenses: $300
  • Total: $14,300

Have you calculated what your emergency fund should look like? Do you do anything more exciting than stash it in a Capital One 360 Savings account (referral link)?

I <3 the Library: 9 reasons why you are overdue for a visit

I’m not sure how it came up at work, but a co-worker and I got on the subject of the library. I love the library. I go all the time, but apparently this is funny. This co-worker laughed at me for getting materials at the library. When I said that sometimes Hubs will stop at the library on his way home to pick up a movie, she laughed even harder. She couldn’t imagine someone stopping at the library.

As an active and proud library patron, I couldn’t imagine life any other way! I haven’t purchased a book for pleasure in years. To be specific, the last books I purchased were the second and third in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. I bought them for my honeymoon because I didn’t want to risk running out of reading material. Before that, I can’t remember the last book I’ve purchased. Thank goodness for that. At the rate I’ve been reading lately, this saves me hundreds of dollars.

Being laughed at for visiting the library got me thinking about why the library is one of my favorite things. As a reminder to you, here are 9 reasons why you should visit a library near you.

1. Free Books

When most people think of the library, they typically think of the books first. Rightfully, so. Do you like to read books? Your library has a ton of them! They even have new releases. You don’t even have to stick to print books. Libraries are carrying more and more e-books for your reading pleasure. Kindle? Check. Nook? Yep, they serve those too. You don’t even need to read the books. You can listen to one of the many audiobooks they have available.

2. Media

In addition to stacks and stacks of books, your library likely has a plethora of CDs, DVDs, Magazines and eMagazines. Mine does! Depending on your library, the variety and depth of material can be quite robust. For example: Hubs loves heavy metal music. We’ve both been amazed over the last few years how many obscure and recent metal CDs he’s been able to get from the library.

The movie selection can also be quite excellent. Our library has nearly every movie we want to watch. It sometimes falls short with new releases, but come on people. This is the library, not RedBox. If I need to see the most recent movies when they come out on DVD, I’ll wait for a free RedBox code from their text service.

3. Video Games

This one surprised me, so it deserved its own number. Apparently, you can check out video games from the library. My library has games for the Wii, Playstation 2 and XBOX 360.

4. Kid Stuff

Gone are the days of the stuffy libraries with cranky librarians. Today, libraries are kid friendly to promote literacy. The more fun a library can be for kids, the more likely a child will become a life long reader. Therefore, libraries are excellent for children. In addition to the books and media available for children, there are also excellent children’s programs. The library may even have a few play areas to keep the little ones busy while you check out with your materials.

5. Zoo and Museum Passes

Depending on the awesomeness of your library, it may offer zoo and museum passes. I’ve seen this come and go over the years, but it’s still there in some capacity. The hottest ticket at my library has been 2 passes for the zoo. That’s a value of $36! I’ve also seen passes for some of the more off the beaten path museums that I don’t know enough about to pay full price for entry. Consider it a free museum sampler!

6. Services

Never doubt your library for the services it provides. In addition to book club materials, programming, offering classes, libraries have meeting rooms, research programs and assistance, computer access and WiFi. Some even have law libraries with their own research law librarians. You can have a test administered at your local library or even give blood. They may offer technology help. Did you know that some libraries will deliver materials if you are homebound?

7. Two words: Interlibrary Loan

An interlibrary loan (ILL)  is where you can access material not owned by your library. So long as another library owns it, you can get it. I had to use it a lot for my legal research in law school, but it works for civilians as well. The most common ways to request the material is through ILL or Worldcat. Worldcat is the library catalog of over 72,000 libraries in 170 countries. They’ve got you covered.

Also, depending on where you live, your library card may let you check out materials outside your county/province. There are 7 counties in my local area, each with their own library. I visit three of those counties regularly. By checking in with the friendly help desk at one of the library branches within each county, my home library card grants me access to all the branches in that county. Bonus, some systems let your return materials to libraries in different counties so long as they participate in a shared agreement. So if laziness strikes, I don’t have to drive all the way back to my parent’s county to return my book.

8. Technology and (lack of) fees.

In addition to the computer access and WiFi, the technology at the library has greatly improved. Use this to your advantage.

For example: The biggest complaint I’ve read about the library is the fees. 1) You are an adult. Learn to return your materials on time, but 2) Libraries will now send you reminder emails of when items are due. I get an email 3 days before an item is due. I then choose if I want to return the item, or if I can’t or don’t want to, I log into my library website and renew it for another term. In 4 years of extensive use of the library, we’ve paid MAYBE $3 in fines. And that was for movies that charge $1 for each day overdue.

9. You are already paying for it.

Public libraries are just that: Public. They are whole or in part publicly funded. That means your tax dollars are being used to pay for the services your local library provides. By not utilizing the benefits of the library, you are wasting your own tax dollars. Use the resources available to you. Visit your local library today!

And that my friends is why the library is awesome. Do you use your local library?