Home > Four Months into the New Job: Reflections & Re-Grouping

Four Months into the New Job: Reflections & Re-Grouping

March 21st, 2015 at 07:34 pm

While the first two months at work were about mastering software and physical systems (like the phone and alarm systems) as well as preparing year-end tax projections, the second two months expanded my work into the financial planning domain with calculation of annual trust distribution amounts (many trusts distribute for prior year within the first 65 days of the following year) and preparation of my first retirement and educational funding projections and my first client meetings. This next month, until April 15, it's back to tax--this time reviewing client returns rather than preparing them.

Looking at my goals for the year (see the sidebar), I see that I've done pretty well at #1 and #5, adequately at #3 and #4, and a mediocre job at #2.

As far as the job related goals (1 & 5) go, I'm happy with how much I've learned, even though I've put studying for the CFP exam on hold for the moment. There has been too much to learn to deal with particular client issues and questions, like 401K to Roth conversion or whether the exercised stock options were showing up properly on the tax return (they weren't, fault of the broker who didn't calculate basis correctly), or looking ahead to optimal social security claiming strategy for a married couple. But all of this is what I'll need to know and learning it on an as-I-go basis will make the formal classes, when I do complete them, that much easier.

And while it's been a cold winter and I've spent most nights huddling under the covers with my kitties, I am on two boards (one for my congregation and one for the local chapter of a professional organization), and participating in activities of those groups means that I'm out one or two evenings a week most weeks, which satisfies both goals 4 & 5. There's also a recorder group that I play with monthly, and I've become friendly with another person who has an odd mix of professional backgrounds (she's a lawyer & former philosphy professor with an interest in bioethics) and the combination has made her more successful in her career than the success she was able to achieve with either career taken separately (which is what I'm hoping for for myself).

I haven't been exercising--too cold--but I did walk to work once this week and hope to make that an almost daily practice as the weather allows. That one time felt really good. As I regain some very basic fitness, I'll try to build on it by getting back to the gym again.

Also with regard to goal #3, I've been consistent at meditating thanks to an app called Insight Timer. I don't meditate for long periods--more like 5 minutes a day rather than the 20 I aim for--but I am very consistent at the moment, thanks to the "gold stars" the app gives you for each 10 consecutive and 100 total days completed.

With regard to #2, getting my house in order, one aspect of that is satisfactory. I have reduced my debt by about 7.5K and increased my assets by 12K since I started work, 19.5K to the positive. This is because I have been paying about half of my earnings to either increased savings or increased credit card payments.

Four months in to this, though, I am beginning to feel a little bit pinched. I make my payments right after each paycheck comes in, so that there is almost never more than $200 in my checking account. Spring is here, and I'd like to hire someone to clear out the yard, have my hair professionally colored, and go away for a weekend after the end of tax season.

Feeling just a wee bit more secure in my job, I've decided to handle my debt in a different way than I have been. For the past few years, as the debt accrued due to the combination of un- and under-employment plus additional expenses due to playing "pet hospice" for three beloved pets, I've been transfering debt from 0% credit card offer to 0% credit card offer, sometimes paying one off, but then needing to do another balance transfer when another pet hospitalization arose. Now, as soon as I get my tax refund, I'll pay down a little bit more on the credit cards and then take out a consolidation loan. I'll take it out for 4 years but hope to pay it off in 3. This will allow me about $400/month more in my budget, which I can use for current spending and to add to the emergency fund, which is down to $825.

It's time to get out of the "deprivation"/"I don't deserve this" mindset and allow myself some room for current spending as well as paying off old debts from the past and saving for retirement in the future.

So I've done an ok job at getting my financial house in order, but the PHYSICAL house itself is a mess--I've been too cold or tired evenings and weekends to work on it. I'm hoping to get a much better handle decluttering in the next six weeks!

4 Responses to “Four Months into the New Job: Reflections & Re-Grouping”

  1. snafu Says:

    Progress is always good. Hope you'll join us on the 'Forum' side of SA, perhaps you're interested in the De-clutter thread

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    I am not very familiar with consolidation loans but please be very careful about fees and interest rates on them. I have not heard good things about them:

    I thought they fell into the same category as payday loans.

  3. Dido Says:

    @Snafu, thanks, I'll look for the De-clutter thread--much needed!

    @PatientSaver, thanks for the reference. I'll only do the loan if it is to my benefit. As someone who does amortization spreadsheets as part of my job and works with "time value of money" calculations" on a daily basis, I'll know full well how much I am paying in interest. I might take a slightly longer period for the loan (probably four years), but I'll aim to pay it off more quickly--once I have a for sure interest amount, I'll figure out the payment for the shorter period and *aim* for that--but not *commit* to a higher amount--just like I currently have my house on a 20-year mortgage that I am paying off on a 15-year time schedule. I *always* throw more money at my debts than the minimum payment--and *that's* part of the problem. One can be *too* debt-averse too. Now that I'm gainfully employed, I can use debt as leverage and also work on the other goal of building up emergency savings to PREVENT further debt. *That's* been the problem. By throwing all my spare income at the debt (and feeling somewhat compelled to do so by debt-aversion), I've not built up a sufficient cushion, so that each little thousand-dollar pet or home repair crisis means I end up with more debt on the credit cards. Currently my emergency fund is just at $1200. I need to build it up to $5 or 6K so that when a crisis comes, I pay the bill from the emergency fund rather than by putting it on a credit card and rolling it into the next balance transfer.

  4. CB in the City Says:

    I did a consolidation loan years ago in order to get one payment at a better interest rate. As long as they are from a reputable institution and you have full disclosure on interest rate and fees, they are not anything to fear. Not at all like a payday loan.

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