Where to go next in personal finance journey?
June 4, 2013 7:03 AM Subscribe
How to balance saving, paying off debt, improving living situation, having a baby, getting spouse more involved in finances, better managing retirement accounts, and a partridge in a pear tree.
posted by wannabecounselor to work & money (14 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I've been obsessed with personal finance for about 5 years, constantly reading blogs, articles, etc. I've set up my own (very convoluted) budget/income/expense/net worth tracking spreadsheet (spouse and I combine our finances) and use it in combination with yodlee online. I've always tried to control my spending around our values and skimp on what's not important to me while allowing ourselves some extra room on the few things we highly value.
My spouse is mostly on board with me in terms of spending, but hasn't shown much enthusiasm for understanding the details. He tends to get defensive when I talk about "the spreadsheet", even though I continually tell him all I want is his input & advice, especially since he knows excel better than me. I've been struggling in particular with seeing things in black & white (straight income vs. straight spending) since I'm never sure how to track things like people paying us back for group things we paid up front, employer contributions to retirement, etc. Also we do most of our spending on rewards credit cards that are paid off every month, which makes it difficult to know what is really going out on a monthly basis.
We've always spent less than we earned, but I fear that will quickly change due to expecting a baby in December. I feel like we're so behind where we should be, especially if I've been putting in all this effort over so many years. Our net worth is positive but we still have over $30k in student loans (originally borrowed $74,150, so that's something). We only have 2 mos. income in emergency/short-term savings (it was double this but we just replaced our elderly failing car). We decided to make some big travel plans this past year for family and fun, so I know we've made choices that weren't totally fiscally responsible. I can at least count on a good 3-3.5 months of paid maternity leave, so no big gaps in income.
Our retirement is a mish-mash of current and former employer 401ks, 403bs, and a pension, totaling one half of our annual dual income. It's one area that I'd like more knowledge and understanding in, though with our loans I don't feel comfortable socking away more right now. And I have no idea where to even begin getting a better handle on it.
Another issue is that we're talking about moving not only for extra space for the coming baby but also for closer proximity to my workplace and better daycare options. (We've been living in a lower-rent neighborhood that we feel safe in as adults, but not sure what is available for baby support). What we'd want (a slightly larger comparable apartment in a "better" area) is about 300-400 more than what we pay, which sends me into panic mode. Combined with daycare (about 1000-1200 in our area) and other baby expenses, this would leave veerrrry little room for extra savings/debt payoff.
I'm not sure how to show or explain my financial anxieties to spouse easily without negative emotions coming up. I mentioned talking to a financial planner but he scoffs at the idea of spending more money when I'm already worried about our spending as is.
1) If I think I've mastered the basics of personal finance, where to go for the more "advanced" advice on using spreadsheets/yodlee more effectively?
2) On the other hand, how can I simplify our spending/income on a very black and white, understandable level on paper?
3) How do I get spouse more open to involvement with our personal finances?
4) Suggested resources for understanding retirement (ex. managing multiple accounts from previous employers, understanding fund options within those accounts, whether to roll over older smaller accounts or leave them where they are)
5) Am I right to be panicking about increasing our rent to the point where, combined with daycare, we wouldn't have much room to save anything else? Even if it would mean sacrificing time with baby (due to commute) and possible quality of daycare?