Archives For Money

By Eric on April 14, 2016 +

Yay taxes!!! OK, that’s a bit of an overstatement. But, if you’re like us and overpaid your taxes throughout last year, getting a refund from the government is a great second prize, right?

This year our refund totaled $1,982.76. Our monthly budget has been very tight the past year (read a little more about that here), so this was a nice sum of money that we could deploy into our budget to help alleviate some categories.

When we come across extra money such as a tax refund, we usually take the approach of looking for ways to free up as many dollars as we can in our monthly budget (except for last year when Kelsey convinced me to spend half our refund on an IKEA couch for our basement…which is actually super comfortable and we use it nearly every day). If we were going to use these dollars to fund certain categories, what categories would provide the greatest monthly benefit for us?

At the beginning of the year we had our annual Williams Family Meeting, and we realized we needed to start putting money aside for our yearly trip to Okoboji, as well as save up for the kids’ birthday parties (March and June).

The monthly savings for those two items was $117, and the total amount we had left to fund when we got our return was $443. We didn’t start saving for the birthdays early enough. I know, I know… they happen every year and shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re not always great at setting money aside in the months after the birthday parties (July – December) because there are always other things to save for.

So, we hope to do better this year and spread those costs out over the rest of 2016 for next year. We already do this year-round for gifts for others and Christmas (it hurts less to save a little every month).

After funding the vacation and birthday parties, we had quite a bit left, so we deposited it into our HSA. We can max out the HSA with $6,750 this year (or $562.50 per month). So, based on what we had already added to the HSA and after adding in the rest of our tax refund, we now only need to save $458.40 per month for the rest of the year.

Tax Refund 2015

So, basically, deploying that $1,900 tax refund to a few different goals helped us get back $221.10 per month in our budget ($117 from the birthdays and trip to Okoboji and $104.10 for the HSA). And we have the peace of mind that our trip is already saved for!

The important thing to remember is to be intentional with your refund if you do get one, and if you had to pay in or got an enormous refund this year, talk with your tax professional about what you should change in 2016 to avoid the same situation this year.

 

By Eric on March 29, 2016 4

Time… it really does fly by. After nine months of blog paternity leave, I’m finally back at the keyboard trying to key out some coherent thoughts of what’s happened since our family added another human to the mix.

First, let me start by saying that Finch is awesome. Rooney is awesome. Having a girl and a boy is awesome. Watching them interact (when Rooney isn’t squeezing him so hard he cries) is awesome. My wife is awesome.

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All of the real stuff about being a family of four and parents of two is really fun right now for Kelsey and I. And while we don’t really think we’ll have any more kids, we’re enjoying the two little humans we’ve been given. All that awesomeness costs money though, and has an impact on our monthly budget.

Let’s break it down…

I work full-time and Kelsey works 32 hours per week. She has Wednesdays off and keeps the kids at home. It’s a great balance for our family to have that mid-week break, for Kelsey to pause her work life and focus on the kids, and for the kids to have a day away from daycare as well. The daycare is on-site where Kelsey works which is uber convenient for pick up and drop off. Plus, she can stop in and peak on them at any point which helps put her mommy-mind at ease.

Downside for Kelsey is that she gets zero time to herself before and after work. So, Sometimes we have to create space for her to have some alone time to recharge.

Daycare

Our daycare offers a discount for adding a second child, which is great. The tough part for me was remembering how much more expensive it is to send a newborn to daycare vs. a four year old. Yikes! I had forgotten about all the price breaks we’ve gotten over the years as Rooney aged, and am now looking forward to Finch turning two so we can get another break (Only looking forward to him turning two for monetary reasons… 9 months is a pretty awesome age).

Anyway, we are super blessed with our daycare situation, and I know that we get a good deal for the area, so no complaints.

Budget increase for daycare: $657 per month. (Includes a 15% second child discount)

Health Care

Yuck… there’s probably nothing I hate more than paying for healthcare. Especially when it increased by 17% in 2016. It forced us to look into different options for coverage. Kelsey gets great coverage through her work, but to add a family member onto her plan is expensive. I don’t have health insurance offered through my employer so I work with an independent agent to shop around for options. It’s cheaper for me to insure myself and the two kids on our own plan and for Kelsey to take advantage of the health benefits with her employer.

We decided to move to a HSA plan this year. Which means we’re able to save a little bit on our monthly premium, and have the option to save money into an account tax-free (up to $6,750 in 2016). The downside is that it’s a high deductible plan and we are responsible for 100% of the healthcare costs up to the deductible. It was a gamble we lost this year. It’s only March and we’ve already met Finch’s individual deductible thanks to an ER visit and two days in the hospital. Long-term, no doubt it will be the way to go for us, but this first year, the healthcare and insurance industry wins.

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Inside our HSA plan, well child visits and yearly physicals are covered, but we have to pay for everything else. So, we’re budgeting to contribute the max amount this year.

Health care increase in our budget from last year is $450 per month.

Baby Supplies

This category is definitely more discretionary from month to month as needs come and go. Babies change so quickly in the first year. I guess the most constant expenses for us are diapers and wipes.

Again, the diapers and wipes are the main expense, and Rooney has since graduated from pull ups all together in the last six months, so while she is 100% potty trained now, we’re spending more on Finch’s diapers… man this budget gets more complicated with more kids, huh?

Anyway, we have a category for “baby” on our budget that has been there for the past four years. When Finch was born, we added $20 per month to it.

Food

Finch is now eating baby food, but we just absorb that into our family food budget for the month and haven’t had to increase that since he has been born. We did increase our food budget while Kelsey was pregnant.

Clothes

Kelsey is in charge of the kids’ clothing budget because Snappy Casual. We added a clothing budget for Finch, but it only added $5 to our budget per month. I know that doesn’t see like a lot, but really, he gets clothed very well everyday, and most days, a few different times (blowouts).

It’s also a shift as Rooney gets older, her clothes last longer (she isn’t out-growing them at near the clip that Finch is). But, we’ve always managed to be blessed with great hand-me-downs that make up most of our kids’ wardrobes. The monthly budget helps us fill in the gaps. And Kelsey has been able to sell some of the out-grown clothes and helps supplement our budget as well.

Toys

We don’t really buy toys for our kids. They have enough other people in their lives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) that have given them plenty of toys over the years. We really actually need to purge some things at this point. So, aside from Christmas or birthdays, we’re not adding this into our budget anytime soon.

GRAND TOTAL

Having a second child added roughly $1,150 per month to our budget. It’s been a stretch for sure. There’s not much if any margin from month to month, but we’re making it work. We’ve had to pause some of our longer term goals for now, but hope to get back to them in the next year or so.

All this financial talk is great, but seriously, we are loving being the parents of two. Now that Finch is finally sleeping through the night, we’re able to really enjoy this special time in our lives.

By Eric on June 1, 2015 +

Birthdays, nesting for a baby due in June, basement projects, a trip to Chicago to visit a friend, and a new job… that’s what I’ve been up to since my last post on March 5, 2015. I haven’t gone that long without publishing a blog post since 2011. It’s crazy to think about, but here I am at another transition point.

This past year has been quite an adventure for our family. Of course, in His infinite wisdom and sovereign timing, God has provided for us every step of the way. As the journey takes a turn in the months and years to come, I can be certain that I’ve learned to lean on him with my every need and concern.

Here’s the story…

If you’ve been around since the beginning, you know that this site started as a personal blog. Then, for a couple years, Kelsey and I were both posting here about personal finance and lifestyle. Last year in April, Kelsey decided to concentrate on her own lifestyle site, Snappy Casual, and I continued to post here about personal finances. Sharing our story seemed to strike a chord with others and last June I decided to take a step of faith, follow my passion and become a Dave Ramsey-trained financial coach. In August, I quit my full-time job to pursue financial coaching to help others with their finances. Along the way I met a slew of amazing people (including many blog readers), challenges, and thoughts of “what in the world am I doing?”, while trusting that God had me where I was for a reason.

Over the past six months, I’ve worked part-time jobs to help support my coaching income, including stocking the shelves at Costco from 5:00-10:00 am and, most recently, assisting a financial planner I met through my church. After about a dozen crazy, only-God-could-orchestrate-that moments, I recently accepted a job offer from AO Wealth Advisory (where I’ve been working part-time since February) and will be started full-time June 1 as an Associate Financial Planner. I’m excited to be able to support my family while doing what I love full-time – helping other families with their money.

What this means for financial coaching

I am still able to take on financial coaching clients, but all work must be booked through AO Wealth Advisory. Advisory services through Investment Advisors Corp., an SEC registered advisory firm.

What this means for Words of Williams

As I’ve done the past couple months, I’ll be taking a step back from blogging. While I still want to help as many people as possible, I am excited to pour into my new career and my family. I will soon begin taking classes to earn licenses to further my value with AO Wealth Advisory, and with another kid joining our family soon, postings will be more sporadic. To keep up with our family adventures, check out Snappy Casual. I love how Kelsey’s documenting our family life.

The content that’s currently on the site will remain here to help those who need it. Don’t hesitate to email me with questions or contact AO Wealth Advisory if you need financial planning assistance.

By Eric on February 27, 2015 6

Plateau, boredom, stagnant, comfort… just a few of the words that are coming to mind as we enter the home stretch of our Whole30. I’ll talk about where we’re at with our budget in a minute, but for now, let’s talk feelings.

Favorite Whole30 BreakfastFavorite Whole30 Breakfast

There has been a looming event that has caused a lot of discussion between Kelsey and I over the past week. We knew about it before we started our Whole30, but talked ourselves into starting anyway because… if not now, when? That event is tomorrow… Rooney’s 3rd birthday party (Orange & Pink theme).

Our Whole30 will be complete after lunch on March 3(her birthday is March 2), but the party has been daunting to think about. Not only are we preparing a bunch of snacks, and food that we’re not able to eat ourselves, it’s just so close to the end that it seems it might be easier just to throw in the towel on day 28 rather than sticking it out for the Whole30 days (see what I did there?).

Continue Reading…

By Eric on February 17, 2015 5

Well… we’ve done it… We’re half way through our Whole30 and we’ve officially gone over-budget. We’re “OK” with this based on a few reasons.

  1. It’s an investment in our health.
  2. It’s only 30 days. (We don’t have to ever do this again)
  3. We may have overspent on buying meat in bulk.

Whole30 half way

Investment in our health

The education we’re getting in cooking at home, not eating out, grocery shopping, reading labels, etc. is priceless. We’re armed with more information about food, how our bodies react to food, and why we should stay away from ingredients we can’t pronounce.

Until a few years ago, I hadn’t given two thoughts about the food I was eating. Never. I just ate what I wanted, when I wanted. While I know now that getting started eating healthy can pretty much be a second job, it’s worth it.

I’m starting to feel the benefits of feeding my body nutritionally. Yesterday afternoon (day 11) I realized that I actually had energy at 2:30 in the afternoon. Previously, this would be where I hit a wall and wanted nothing more than to take a nap.

I can start to feel myself becoming more productive during the day as well as have mental focus and clarity. All things I hoped to gain from going through this 30 days of no ice cream Whole30.

Continue Reading…