Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

How big expenses in 2019 made me re-examine my cash hoarding and love sinking funds January 1, 2020

Filed under: Personal Finance,Personal Finance Confessions — Stephanie @ 7:55 pm

In a previous post, I confessed to being a cash hoarder. After saving money for so long, I was hesitant to let our savings accounts drop below an imaginary threshold.  After some big purchases (new car, new heat system, central air conditioning), I realized that I needed to redefine what our money is for.

That’s when I remembered hearing about “sinking funds”.  I’d seen a few discussions about it, but hadn’t really thought much about it or looked into it.  Luckily Penny (from She Picks Up Pennies) shared some really helpful posts about sinking funds from Women who Money:

What Are Sinking Funds And Are They Smart To Have?

What Is The Difference Between Needs And Wants? [& How Do I Afford Both?] (scroll down to the section “Emergency Funds, Sinking Funds, and Why You Need Both”)

It looks like sinking funds are money that you’re putting away with the knowledge that you’ll be spending it within a set amount of time.  You can add that savings line-item into your budget, knowing you are not planning on spending that amount of money until it is needed in the future.

I’d been stressing myself out thinking about our savings all being for unexpected expenses or loss of income. That I should be afraid to spend money because what if something bad happens? But if we separate the money into “in case of emergency” and “new xyz”, “replace abc”, etc, we can relax knowing we still have a certain amount set aside for unplanned expenses or a loss of income.

Hopefully we don’t have any new big expenses in 2020 (we already know we’ll be spending another $45k on childcare…).  We’ll continue putting some money in savings for our next house expenses (you’re apparently supposed to put away 1% of your purchase price every year).  But I’m going to try to look at our savings accounts differently.  I won’t be as afraid to spend on what we actually need, knowing that we have accounts set aside (and building) for the things we need.

What kind of sinking funds do you have?  Have they helped you feel a little more at ease knowing you’ve got the money put away?


Personal Finance Confessions: I want to buy lots of new gadgets! October 18, 2011

It’s quite possible the electronics I use are cursed.  First our Xbox 360 got the “red ring of death“.  Then my iPod classic (I’ve had it or an Apple-Care replacement since 2005 or so) decided it was tired of playing my podcasts (it may have jumped to its doom…accidentally).  So, now I’m in the market for new electronics.

Here’s the thing.  I just want to buy the new stuff.  And some other new stuff!  We’ve been thinking about getting an HD TV since we moved, and then of course we’d need a Blu-Ray player 😛 (or, more likely, a Playstation 3).  This is not really what personal finance savvy people are supposed to do.  I don’t NEED any of these electronics.  I just want them.

But I think I’ve already decided I’m going to get a replacement for my iPod.  I used it pretty much every day:  working in the lab, commuting or traveling when there’s nothing good on the radio, and when I’m cleaning around the house moving from room to room.  At this point, I just have to decide between the different models.  I like the FM tuner and accelerometer/fitness part of the iPod nano.  Then, I’m a bit attached to the good old-fashioned iPod classic, though I don’t think I’ll ever have enough data to put on there!  My old one is/was 30GB…the new one is 160GB!  What?  Then there’s the iPod touch, which is basically like an iPhone but without the phone…and the monthly fee.  And of course, I would only be able to use it when I’m near available Wi-Fi, but it sounds like their maps might be pretty accurate even without constant connectivity. And of course, I’m thinking there’s a lot of apps I’d like to try out!  And I could still do a lot with it even if I’m only connecting to Wi-Fi.

Yes, I’m bad at deciding.  Any recommendations?

As for the Xbox, the one we have may or may not be repairable (we haven’t tried yet).  It’s also 6 years old, which means there’s probably been a lot of upgrades since then.  So we’re thinking we might want to replace it.  Then we have to decide between the 4GB model and the 250GB model (we’re leaning towards the 250GB).  And do we get a Kinect with it?  It’s cheaper to buy it with the console rather than buy it separtely…but do we “need” it?  Each upgrade (more memory, Kinect) is another $100 tacked on to the price.

The other expensive electronics will probably have to wait.  We’ll hold out until we see a really good deal on a new TV, and we probably wouldn’t get a Blu-Ray/Playstation 3 until we had the fancy TV to go with it.

I know I don’t need any of these things.  I could look into repairing the items.  I could continue to save my money until…someday.  But, like I said, I’d use the iPod every day, the cost per use (assuming I don’t break this one…) will be pretty low over time.  I’m also shopping around for the best prices.

Do you ever feel bad buying new gadgets?  Is that your personal finance weakness?  Should I just be a good little personal finance blogger and try to repair (or trade in) the old items?


Personal Finance Confessions: I don’t have a “side hustle” April 28, 2011

If you’re into personal finance, then you probably know about the “side hustle”.  For those of you not in the know, the “side hustle” is freelance work outside of your regular 9-5 job.

I was reminded of my lack of a side hustle after reading Ramit Sethi‘s article, Forget Frugality:  Focus on Earning More.  His article pointed out that there are two different ways to “spend less than you earn”:  either spend less, or earn more.  He emphasized the benefits of increasing your earnings through a side business or freelance job.  Some commenters felt that Sethi’s advice was obvious, others were annoyed at his assumption that it’s easier to earn more money than to be more frugal and save money.  Still others pointed out that you can do both!  Earn more AND spend less!

And so here I am, side hustle-less.  And I’ve got plenty of excuses (valid or invalid, you decide)!  I’m pretty sure my employer doesn’t permit us to have additional jobs.  Conflict of interest or some such thing.  I suppose I could look into it to be certain.  I love my current job, so I wouldn’t want to do anything that takes away from that.  Plus, I’m not really sure what extra work I would do.

I don’t have a lot of freelance-friendly skills that I’m aware of.  I guess there are a lot of different things one could do as a side hustle.  J. Money of Budgets are Sexy has been featuring assorted opportunities through his Side Hustle Series.  The most feasible one might be Mystery Shopping.  It seems like it could be a lot of fun, and I could get rewarded for trying new stores/restaurants/etc.  Still, I don’t go shopping very often, so it might add extra stress trying to fit in shopping trips.  I don’t think I’ve got the artistic skills to sell things on Etsy.  Maybe I could sell my old stuff on Ebay?

If I were to do something else outside of work, I’d need a good plan.  And I’d probably have to do something that either is enjoyable or that pays well if I want to make having a side hustle (or two) worth it.  To be honest, I’d much rather avoid or cut back on expenses than commit to an extra job that’s not rewarding (either emotionally or financially).  I could save money (and also eat healthier) if I brought my lunch to work every day instead of depending on the cafeteria.  That’s a change right there that would help me spend less.  I value my free time more than the possible extra money I could be making “in my free time”.

I’d rather stick to one job that I love (i.e. my current career path) and focus on that, than be distracted by other pursuits.

So, what are your side hustles?  Do you find it worth it (in terms of time, money, happiness)?  Or would you rather work on spending less than on earning more?


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