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My new David Bach-inspired budget

August 19th, 2006 at 05:01 am

David Bach says: "Pay yourself first," eh?

All right, then. Here's my new monthly budget plan, based on his advice. I know that he thinks that budgets don't work, but I probably wasn't the type of person he had in mind. I 'budget' all the unavoidable expenses so that I know exactly how much I can pay myself with afterwards. Smile It's not like I need a budget to help me limit my spending. Stick Out Tongue

Okay, let's start off with income.

At $16.15/hr and 37.5 hr/wk, I'm making a gross of $2600/mo. Furthermore, my gross income for 2006 will total around $17,400.

I still don't know how much taxes I'll owe, but my father is sending me last year's tax software Any Day Now. He also says that after plugging my figures, I should not owe more than $900 in taxes for 2006.

So that gives me around $2350/mo to work with. I think. I hope.

Paying others (boo):

Rent: $500 (sigh)

Utilities: no clue yet, guestimate $100 total?

I try to save by not plugging in my second and third computers, and turning off the one I do use when I'm away at work, but sometimes, I wonder why I even bother. My roommate has tons of electronics, runs the AC all day/night even when it's not hot, and wastes gas by burning his food by leaving the stove on for an hour. Frown

Groceries: $100

Even though I don't spend more than $60 most months, I always allow myself $100, because skimping on food seems... unwise and unnecessary. And I might actually end up accidentally starving myself if I don't cut myself some slack here (I've actually lost weight... which is NOT GOOD). EEK! But I can make an effort to take the extra $40 that I never spend and put it towards paying myself at the end of the month. Smile

Student loans: $134

That's the amount due for Stafford, starting September, which I've put on automatic debit (yeah, automation! Reduced my interest rate by 0.25%, too!). I still haven't decided if I want to accelerate repayment on this because I've been hearing mixed reports. But at least the interest is tax-deductible!

Union dues: $40

I get free health insurance and dental thanks the our union. I fully support them, and don't begrudge them their dues. I just have to turn in my member registration form!

Now, for the good stuff. Paying myself (in approximate order of importance):

Roth IRA: $333.33/mo

This will max out the $4000/year contribution limit over the course of 12 months. My father says he'll make up the rest if I don't make it to $4000 this year, but I think I can do it on my own.

I currently have $8262.09 in two Roth IRAs in Bank of America. These were deposited by my father for me a few years back when I was still young and naive and had no idea what he was doing and thought it was all quite silly to start saving for retirement so early. *whacks younger self in the face repeatedly with something smelly*

Anyway, the rates suck, so I want to roll it over to Vanguard. Except Vanguard requires a minimum balance of $5000 to waive the maintenance fee. And while one of my BoA Roth IRAs has matured (the one worth $6000, so I can satisfy Vanguard's minimum), the other one does not mature until next March. But if I move the matured Roth IRA, I'll be hit with a charge from BoA for dropping below its minimum.


I'm still trying to figure out how to resolve this mess. This is why I haven't signed up for a Vanguard Roth IRA yet. But when I do, I will AUTOMATE the $333.33/mo transfer.

403(b): 20% (~$520 pre-tax)

In order to max out the $15,000 yearly contribution, I'd have to deduct $1250 per month. While I'd love to do max this out as well, I don't think I can handle a >50% paycheck reduction. EEK!

David Bach recommends at least 10%, which would be around $260 for me. But I think I can handle 15%, which is why I made it 20%, or $520.


Car fund: $400

My car fund has a target goal of $5000 in 12 months, or about $400/mo. I may not end up spending it in a year, but it'll be good to have this around when I do finally get around to buying a car.

House fund: $40

Although a house down payment is many, many years down the line, I feel like I should start saving for it now. Can't hurt, right? The car fund gets priority for now, but once the car fund is fulfilled, that money will probably go here. And in the meantime, I think this is where I'll plop my excess grocery money.

Emergency fund: $100

If I should have at least 3 months worth of expenses in it, then $3000 is my target. I'm going to keep this conservative for now.

Savings: whatever is left

I'm terrified that I won't have anything left to go here at the end of the month, though. This is so weird for me, because I'm used to putting *all* of my unspent money into savings, which amounts to half (or more) of my paycheck. But now, I'm "paying" myself so much that I'll hardly have anything left!

And my savings will need to fund any shortages to my Roth IRA maximum, as well as any unforeseen expenses, such as clothing, public transportation fares, and dental co-pays (I'm in serious denial about the existence of cavities). And this will probably also need to supplement my various funds (car, house, emergency).

I know this should be right, but why do I feel so panicky? Am I cutting it too close? Doing too much too soon? What if I can't handle this? I do have a father-supplied savings buffer, but I don't allow myself to see it as touchable. If I end up dipping into it, then I'll have to re-evaluate this budget.

I know I still need to discuss cash flow, but I think I'll put it in a new post. This one is overwhelming enough as it is.

8 Responses to “My new David Bach-inspired budget”

  1. ima saver Says:

    Why don't you just roll $3000 into vanguard IRA for right now? the maintenance fee is just $2.50 per quarter. When your other IRA matures, you can roll all the rest over into Vanguard. i would reccommend the Vanguard Index 500 fund. It has an average return of over 10% for the past 20 years.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    What do you mean about the BOA roth maturing? Is it in a CD or something? I agree with Ima Saver...good advice. You should be able to combine all the roth money into one account at Vanguard. It will really simplfy things. Way to go on the auto savings!

  3. amberfocus Says:

    ima saver: If I move $3K out of BoA now, I'll be hit with fees from both BoA *and* Vanguard, since the BoA minimum is $10K (I only have $8K in the IRAs, but my savings and checking balances also count, I guess??), and Vanguard's is $5K. Are you saying that I should just bite the fees, because in this case, it's worth it?

    I'm going to see if I can shuffle my accounts around. This is going to be my next post, I'm working feverishly on getting thoughts collected so that I can write it all out. This blog is great for staying organized, motivated, and planning ahead!

    creditcardfree: My father opened these accounts for me, so I'm not entirely clear on the details, but they are Fixed Term IRAs, so I guess they are in a CD? The minimum balance is incredibly high, in any regard. It's going to difficult to maneuver this.

  4. Dido Says:

    Those Roths your father set up for you have you off to a great start. If you can contribute as much as you are planning to the Roth and the 403(b) and get it into funds earning 10%, you should reach that million bucks in just over 24 years (which will what, make you all of 46?) even if you never increase your contributions from the amounts that you have set out in this budget.

  5. baselle Says:

    Its an excellent start.

    I checked and Vanguard's yearly maintenance fee is 10$ -- peanuts, especially if you incur it only once. $4000 max on one bread and butter fund like Vanguard Total Stock, then about a third of the way next year your contributions should put you over $5000.

    20% is very, very ambitious for a 403B, and I salute you! Check with HR and see how often you can change that percentage. For example, we used to be able to do it only once/year; now we can tweak it quarterly if we wanted to do. If you can do it quarterly, I'd try 20%, with that caveat that if it bit too hard I'd suffer for three months then back it down to something like 10%.

    If you can only change it once/year, I would strongly suggest going with 10% in the first year. If you find that you could have done 20%, great, your emergency fund gets bulked up the first year, and you can always go up to 20% in year two with a nice, healthy emergency fund.

    You want to be able to look at your fiscal management with pleasure and satisfaction, not with fear. Smile

  6. baselle Says:

    Oh yes, wait until March until the second Roth matures to move the BoA IRA. This will give you time to research and track which Vanguard funds you want to invest in. 7 months of waiting when the money has forever to incubate is nothing. Just use the time wisely!

  7. btc Says:

    ummm....your Roth, 403b, car fund, house fund, and emergency funds are considered savings. at least in my opinion. what else are you saving for?

  8. amberfocus Says:

    btc: You're right, any unspent money can be construed as "savings". I guess I see my retirement and car/house/emergency funds as "targeted goal" savings, while the rest is "general" savings. It's a safety cushion, extra money left over that I can tap in case something goes wrong with the spending budget, but doesn't qualify as an emergency.

    Right now, not much is going into general savings, because I'm maxing out my 2006 Roth to the tune of $170 per week, but once I'm caught up (next March?), I suspect the majority of "leftover" savings will be shunted off to the house fund. I don't have much else I'm saving for, currently--at least, not until my living situation stabilizes. For now, I'll just rough it out. Smile

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