YMOYL: I Hate Charts

I’ve been sharing my general impressions of “Your Money Or Your Life” (YMOYL) on my journey as a book club of one.  Part of me feels like I should have started the online book club but I would not have been as thorough as minhus and a bout of flu would have killed any enthusiasm.  And as you can see from my distaste for doing the actual exercises, I can’t lead a club if I am doing the minimum to get through the book! 

As I mentioned earlier, I did finally come up with my real wage.  According to YMOYL, this is your hourly income AFTER you add in your commuting time and subtract all work-related expenses from childcare to work wardrobe to lunches.  I think my number is on the low side but I’m sticking to it for now and using that as a mental yardstick to rein in my purchases.  This is working so far and I highly recommend this step!

In Chapter 5, you’re also supposed to figure out your monthly income and expenses, then create an awesome chart so that you can have a visual reminder of your spending habits.  I haven’t take the step of tracking my real-world expenses.  However, I did an estimate which takes my gross income minus health insurance, taxes, and regular monthly expenses.  I looked at my previous year’s expenses for auto insurance, auto repairs and renter’s insurance and divided it by 12 to come up with a monthly amount.  End result: I have a $300 buffer each month.

It’s a bit of a relief to know that I even have a buffer.  At the same time, I’m not sure how/why we have a buffer considering that a few years ago, I estimated that we had about $100 left over after expenses.  Since then, expenses have generally gone up while wages have been stagnant.

Possible reasons for this mysterious buffer are:

  • Grossly under-estimated expenses: In other words, I really should track expenses.
  • Lower taxes due to child credits? 
  • Lower bills for cable, DSL and phones: I re-negotiate expenses all the time but this year, I was able to really trim these bills by reducing cable channels and getting $40-50/month discount off my DSL/phone.  Most years, the rep offers a $5 – $10 discount if I threaten to cancel.  As I learned this year, the offer can vary greatly depending on timing and the customer service representative you talk to!

I may have to suck it up and chart expenses and/or go over old credit card statements to get more accurate numbers.  Part of me thinks that this buffer is real. I included as many variable expenses as possible from gifts to auto insurance.  I also estimated on the higher side for stuff like household goods and toiletries.    However, nothing beats a real estimate based on actual tracking of expenses!

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2 responses to “YMOYL: I Hate Charts

  1. Things that blow us out are…medical expenses/chemist bills and added school trips/camps. My oven died last month….there goes several hundred dollars. We plan and save as much as we can…..I suppose like you say …we are lucky to have a buffer and for that I am grateful.

    • It’s amazing how many things can happen and it seems like there’s some bigger unexpected expense every month or tons of little unexpected expenses that add up!

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