I have been working on our 2015 budget and financial goals the last several days. Things are changing in my professional employment life, and I anticipate the 20% cut in hours and pay at my full-time job will continue into at least third quarter 2015. Thus far it’s actually been okay; I have had more time to devote to special projects at my part-time jobs. The drop in income concerns us, but we should be able to absorb it by adjusting our home enhancement and adventuring plans as well as our savings goals. Each year, our basic guidelines for developing our financial goals are as follows:
We live well below our means. While not especially frugal people, we have an adequate income that supports our simple lifestyle. Our food budget is ridiculous and as new cat people we have gone a little crazy on food, treats, stuff for the fluff buckets the last couple of months. However, we are on track to save 48% of our income this year, which includes retirement savings vehicles, taxable investments, and general savings accounts.
We give back. While M and I do not belong to a church or religious organization, we give 10% of our income to worthy causes, whether it is a charity or a friend going through tough financial times. The wolves would have to be at the door before we would alter this habit, as we believe it is a cornerstone of the blessings in our lives.
We save diligently for our older and grayer years. After we got out of debt we got serious about retirement savings, and one of our first big financial goals was to save enough for 2 years of IRA contributions for each of us and then fund our IRA accounts immediately in each new year. Our income increased and our expenses decreased enough to achieve that milestone in 2008, and since then we transfer our IRA deposits as early as possible in January to get them out of the way and then start the savings process all over again. My Simple IRA contributions at work will fall short of maximum next year, but I may make adjustments later in the year to narrow the gap.
We save up for what things that enhance our lives. Between my full-time job and steady part-time gigs, I save 15% of each full-time paycheck for various non-retirement goals and 50% of part-time income for taxes and then to pad our vacation/adventuring/home improvement goals. With the cut in full-time income, I am cutting our savings from 15% to 10% at first and keeping the part-time income at 50%. I expect it will even out fairly close to the amounts I was able to save in 2014, but we shall see. Our adventures away may be less frequent and more modest this year, and we have no fall house project on the drawing board at this time.
I had hoped to do some work toward paying down our mortgage, but with the uncertainty with my full-time job I am postponing decisions on that until I see how the decrease in full-time salary and any offsetting increases in part-time income work out for the bottom line. There is a rational part of me that recognizes it is time to start implementing a search for another full-time job, but the emotional side of me remains in denial and threatens a world-class meltdown if pushed into action. There are personal goals I would like to pursue before exercising that option, so unless something else happens I imagine it will be summer before I get serious about polishing my resume and seeking something else.
Despite the stressors and pressures of work and today’s bad storm and all-day rain, December has been busy, social, and lovely thus far. Our home is decked out in its holiday best, we have had opportunities to see out-of-town friends, and there is so much more fun yet to come.