Weekly Progress Update #6

snowy mountains representing financial progress

This is my 6th weekly progress update since starting this blog.  Having a short list of goals each week has been helpful for me, but I think I’m going to change it up a bit for the posts.  I’m not sure reading all of my personal weekly details is especially helpful to you, which is a big reason I have this blog in the first place.

So, instead of sharing my top three financial goals every week, I’ll post a monthly financial progress report which is more focused on savings, debt and net worth.  I still want to do some type of weekly report – maybe “financial highlights” or “weekly money checkup” or something like that.

But for now, let me update you on this past week’s goals.

 

Weekly Goals Review

  1. Discuss the zero-based budget with my husband
  2. Change our federal and state tax withholding
  3. Adjust our debt payoff plan to account for tax payment

#1 Budget discussion with the hubster

We had already talked about budgeting on last month’s income, so I just needed to show him how I broke it down into categories.  He’s always pretty agreeable when it comes to our finances, so no drama there.

I told him about the Financial Peace flex online course I’m going through, and he said he wants to watch the videos, too.  I think that will help get both of us closer to being on the same page.

For now, I’m going to continue using ClearCheckbook as our online checkbook register.  It’s free, it does have a budget tool, and I can run quick reports.  I may try to eliminate the spreadsheet I made to track our spending if I can figure out how to get the same functionality out of ClearCheckbook.  It’s just going to take time to see what works and what doesn’t.

#2 Change our federal and state tax withholding

For this goal, I used the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine what kind of adjustment we needed to make to our tax withholding.

The process is several steps long and asks for a lot of details, some of which I had to look up or estimate.  The nice thing is that you don’t have to calculate each job separately.  You can enter how many jobs you have between you and your spouse, along with details for each, and the calculator will give you a total for all of them.

Because of our high tax bill for 2018, I was expecting a higher amount we would need to withhold.  But after the 20 minutes it took to find and enter all the information, the recommendation was to not change anything!

Whaaaa?

At that point I was d-u-n with the IRS withholding calculator.  I printed out the results it gave me (along with a recap of all the information I had entered) and when I have the patience I’ll try again.

The IRS stresses that the more accurate you are with the numbers you enter, the closer they can estimate the actual amount you should withhold.

So, maybe I got some numbers wrong.  Or maybe I missed some credits I should have taken.  I don’t know.  What I do know is I’ll need to wait until I have the time and the patience to go through that again.

#3 Adjust our debt payoff plan

Our $2,000 tax bill put a monkey wrench in my debt payoff plan.  That was close to half of the extra cash flow from the mortgage refinance that I wanted to apply to our debt.

I was so bummed.

Not just because we wouldn’t have as much to put towards the credit cards, but also because I was hoping we’d get a good sized tax refund to help pay for a family vacation to Hawaii!

I know, poor me.

Of course, I immediately started considering just using some of our savings instead.  I mean, after all – what is $2,000 in the grand scheme of things?  Aren’t the memories created more valuable than the money it took to make them?

Mmmhmm.  Yeah.  I was going there.

Thankfully, I was able to jump that train before it got too fast.

First, I adjusted my “dream” plan and started looking at prices for September instead of July.  *Much* cheaper!

Plus, waiting those couple extra months will give me more time to plan around whatever insurance funds will be leftover from our homeowner’s insurance claim.  At this point, the numbers we’ve seen are just estimates and I have no idea what will actually be left over when all is said and done.  Best to wait until the dust settles.

Another super smart thought I had was maybe God will do something.  (Sometimes it’s hard for me to feel like I don’t have to figure out every. single. little. thing.)

And guess what?  The very next day we got a check in the mail for $3,100!  Turns out there was money left in the old escrow account that needed to be returned to us after the refinance.  Our new lender didn’t even mention this, so it was a total surprise!  (I did double check with him to make sure I didn’t need to give this money to anybody.  He said we could spend it as we wish.  Thanks, God!)

Okay, okay, I know all of that should go to the credit cards and not to a Hawaii vacation.

But … I’m still trying to talk myself into that one.

 

For Next Time

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this will be my last weekly financial progress report.  I’ll give my first monthly update at the beginning of April, covering March.

These updates will focus mainly on debt and savings.

Right now my focus is crushing our debt, but we still add to our 401K and 529 plan every month.

I’ll also report on our debt payoff strategy and payoff timeline.  Going through Financial Peace is making me think differently about our current plan to pay off our debt.  I’m soooo nervous to use up most of our savings to pay off our debt – but this is what I’m leaning towards.

I hope these new monthly progress reports are more helpful to you as you continue on your own journey towards financial freedom!  Feel free to let me know if there are other ways I can help and encourage you along the way!

 

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