Sundries

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I’m in the kitchen this morning preparing the best avgolemono and chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion salad with this dressing for a newly post-partum co-worker. I make the chicken by simmering it in the crockpot in chicken stock all day and shredding just prior to dinnertime.

I also wanted to point out several great links that I’ve been perusing:

The best cooking blog ever.

Some clarification on how to choose good retirement funds from April. Turns out an important point is looking for low expense ratios, preferably below 0.5%. Mine range from 0.05% (a Vanguard fund) to 1.02% (a Transamerica fund), so next goal is to figure out how to switch my contributions from the high expense funds to the lower expense funds.

From a text conversation with my lovely, super efficient and smart cousin: “We do a monthly budget, Dave Ramsey-style payoffs, meal planning via emeals.com and automatic money to tithing, retirement, deferred comp and HSA.” I had never heard of the emeals before, but it looks amazing!!

And a great article about a girl who paid off 25k of undergrad debt in four short years despite not making a ton of money.

A splendid (new) comment on an older post I wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to read from Lula because it has so many important things to ponder:

“I’d say my top three values are relationships with my siblings and friends, the ability to be generous with my friends and others in the community, and a cozy, comfortable home. The struggle for me is that these things can really trigger some crazy endorphins that lead me to spend frivolously. Like, I’m pretty sure I spent about $300 on frames and mattes to frame pictures of my study abroad and some old family pictures that I could have done without. I’m not sure they enriched my life, but I like doing projects. And I do the same thing with gifts, because I want them to be “just so”–at which point I don’t even know if it’s about being generous to that person anymore; it may be more of a compulsion to have things be perfect. All of that to say that a substantial portion of my money goes to gifts and ridiculous projects I needn’t do.

My other (un)disposable income I spend on groceries I throw away, eating out, and coffee. I realized I was spending $30/wk ($120/mo) on lattes!!! That was about two months ago. Now I drink the free (and gross) Keurig coffee at work, and allow myself one latte a week. For a while there I was also buying lunch out everyday, in addition to dinner about three times per week. I’m slowly trying to get better at dealing with this. Being a single lady, I really struggle motivating myself to cook. I used to go over to Ashley’s for dinner frequently, and now I visit Graham and Mely quite a bit, and I’d rather spend time with them than cook by myself. Between that and having the occasional dinner date with Rhylee, its hard for me to predict how many meals I should plan per week. But, I made chili last night and froze half of it, and I’ve been buying bag salads (don’t judge!!!) for lunch in an attempt to eat my veggies without buying lots of vegetables that I never cut up and eat. So that’s $3 for lunch instead of $10 to $15. Baby steps, people.

On the bright side, my net worth is getting a bit better! About one year ago, I had $6000 in credit card debt– which is now down to around $1000. Though I’ve been saying this for four months, I actually should be able to pay it off within a month. I have about $117,000 in student loans, at varying interest rates, some of which are quite high (6.8%), but which I’m paying off first, as April suggested (Abby, yours will be the same and will allow you to select the loan you want to make payment on–I can help if you need). I have contributed $3,800 to a retirement plan I just realized I will probably never benefit from (unless I work for one more year for Washington), and that I should have chosen the defined benefit plan that my employer alone contributes to, and opted for contributing my own income to the defined contribution plan, in which I could have chosen my investments, and not had to worry about vesting. Oh, and I have zero assets. 🙂 So, my net worth is -$118,000. At the beginning of the year (I’m estimating), it was -$123,000.

I both like and abhor talking about finances. Paying off my credit card is really the first time in my life I’ve felt like I could make a financial goal and make progress toward it. And not spending on everything makes the things I do spend money on more special. That control has been empowering (I’ll maybe need help on not becoming a money control-freak though, sisters). In addition, I started giving 10% of my income to World Relief (for every dollar I give, the federal government gives two more!), which has been helpful in reminding me that even if I feel stressed out about money, or maybe haven’t planned perfectly, money can always be taken in an instant, and isn’t the type of security I often perceive it to be. It also helps give me a little perspective when I’m feeling whiny about not having my lattes or envious that others are making more than I do.

On the other hand, I feel really powerless when it comes to learning about retirement plans and healthcare options because they feel so contingent on so many different scenarios that I need to predict. I don’t really even know enough to know what I need to be looking for. I just spent the evening reviewing the pamphlets I got from work, and I think I maybe understand a little more than I did last year, but it is still mostly incomprehensible. I also get really overwhelmed when I see other people who have mastered more than I have (like meal plans), which annoys me about myself, but is nonetheless true.”

If you guys have been reading any great articles regarding finance, or have any tried and true recipes you want to share I’d love to hear! Happy Sunday, everyone. XOXO.

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Author: Diana Boss

I am a resident physician in dermatology, living with my husband and our two little ones in the southern USA.

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