My Journey to Retirement after Divorce – PART 2: Reviewing Expenses and Building a Budget

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Thanks for coming back for the next step in my journey to retirement after divorce.  In Part One,  we reviewed how divorce caused me to be intentional with how I spent, and saved my money. With these next posts we’ll dig in a little deeper in each of the steps I took in the very beginning of my journey, and how I begin to look to the future. 

As I mentioned, I needed to review expenses.  I needed a way to review all of them, and over time.  To see just where my money was going.  I tried a few different tools to try and see and keep track of all my accounts and spending. I started using just a sheet of paper, and pen. I started writing down all my expenses. I logged in my online checking accounts, and credit card, and and wrote things down. Just this simple task was a really good step in getting everything all in one place and uderstanding where the money is going. I leveraged Personal Capital and their free dashboard.  This is an amazing resource for giving you visibility of all your bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts in a single dashboard.  If you’d like, try it out for your self. It helps me, and Heavy Metal Money out. 

Personal Capital is great for the big picture, but I also needed to clearly start seeing where every dollar was going, and how I could get off this autopilot spending pattern.  After a few different tools, I landed where most people do with Mint by Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks Desktop for Mac 2019 [MAC Download]

With this tool, I linked my accounts, and was able to start to see a pattern of what I was spending money on, and quickly realized that lunch time Subway, Taco John’s, McDonalds, and Wendy’s fast food was killing my wallet. This stopped pretty quickly easily saving $200 a month. This is when I noticed that I was paying over $100 a month for DishNetwork. I realized that I was already paying for Netflix, and other online services. I didn’t miss it. I use an antenna for over-the-air broadcast, like local news and the Minnesota Vikings games. And this is FREE. Yes, shocking. FREE OTA BROADCAST like our forefathers did.

I started to drill down all the utilities, and expenses. Changing my cell phone plan with the kids and I. Dropped from 180.00/month to 110.00/month. Just make sure the kids use wifi whenever possible. I also did other things. With my natural gas utility bill, I elected to go on a annual budget plan. This evened out my payments to $52.00 a month all year long. And made it much easier to manage, then in peak winter months with the Polar Vortex bitterness that can be double digit below zero, and a monthly bill can spike into the triple digits. Brrrr….

I also met with my insurance agent, reviewing my homeowners policy and auto policies together, and saving hundreds of dollars a year.  

This is where some of you may disagree, and there are difference in opinions. I do feel I’ll pay for what I value. What brings one person happiness and joy, may not with others. For instance, while one person will continue to eat out most nights of the week, I’d rather spend money on a ticket to live band. While many people will order a couple drinks with dinner, I can order water, and use this money for a coffee later, or whatever. Everyone has their own jam. Let’s look at some of the items I’ve budgeted for. The idea here is to live below our means, and save and invest more than we spend.

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