Home > Considering Making a Change

Considering Making a Change

February 29th, 2020 at 11:44 pm

Right now we are fully funding our IRA's, plus at work I have 7% taken from my salary plus a 9% employer match (which is required), and then an extra $300/month pulled pre-tax to a 457 plan.

However, a number of our monthly bills have been going up. This is causing us to not be able to fully fund some of our categories more months than not. I do all the budgeting each month, and allocate the money in the MUST categories, and then have DH decide the allocation for the remaining categories.

Those categories are the Pet Fund, Medical Fund, Auto Maintenance Fund, Bridge Fund, Vacation and Date Night.

To fully fund all of those, we need $850. Most months we are at least $300 - 400 short. So, vacation usually doesn't get funded, Bridge fund and other funds get about 50% funded.

From conversations we've had, I know this stresses DH out.

There's only two solutions I see to this - one is DH putting all his cash tips into the family budget (which may or may not help enough); or me decreasing the extra I'm having withheld from my paycheck to my 457.

I've talked to DH about increasing the amount he puts in - and he did up it a bit. But the idea of putting it all in makes him feel like he'd have no motivation to go into work. (Sarcastic thoughts in my head about this ... but not going to say them.) So I don't think asking him to increase his contribution more is workable.

That leaves reducing my 457 contribution. If I completely stopped it, it wouldn't be a straight $300 extra back each month, due to being pre-tax. But it would be about $250.

This would make it possible for us to fully fund the important categories (pets, medical, auto, bridge) every month, and put something in vacation every month too.

I really hate the idea of scaling back on the retirement savings, but I'm not sure what else to do.

If we could get our electric bill down that would help. (It went up another $5/mo for the next 6 month period - budget billing.) And maybe in another year or so the car insurance bill will go down to a more reasonable level (as long as there's no more accidents ...) So maybe this won't be a permanent thing.

I'll have a raise in May, and again in August. So, maybe by the following May I could start funding it again?

Or should I just leave well enough alone, and hope that our current funding level in these categories will be enough?

I have 14 years to go to retirement (hopefully!) and am on good track for that. DH hopes to be retired in a bit more than 6 years (that's partly what the Bridge fund is for.)

This is when I wish I had someone I could lay all the numbers out to and the goals and obstacles and have them just tell me what to do. Sigh.

Really trying to avoid looking at current fund balances - other than knowing this is a good time to buy, buy. buy!

18 Responses to “Considering Making a Change”

  1. Lots of Ideas Says:

    Is this a case of scale back now or scale back more in retirement?

    Is picking up a part time gig an option? The census is hiring, and paying more than minimum wage.

    Do you get a tax refund? If so, could you reduce your withholding to move the money into your hands now?

    Do you spend on coffee, snacks, soda outside the home? Could you pack snacks? Do you buy lunch out? Could you brown bag? Have egg based meals twice a week for dinner? Make sure there is no food waste - make soup or stir fry with odds and ends of vegetables.

    When was the last time you looked at recurring payments like subscriptions? Anything you can give up? Call cable and check out insurance rates? Change cell phone carrier?

    Yard sale? Buy a clothes rack to hang clothes instead of using the dryer? Wash fuller loads of laundry and dishes? Turn the heat down a degree or two? Or A/c up? Plan your errands to use less gas? Shop every other week to lessen gas usage and impulse buys?

    There are a lot of variables, but figuring out what income you will need in retirement and how your resources stack up is a math exercise - a scary one, but doable.

    I think tracking spending for a month is always eye opening. Or a year.

    Best wishes.

  2. Butterscotch Says:

    Had DH made an progress on selling any of the electronics on the basement? Can that money go towards retirement?

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    You state there are only two solutions. Are you sure? Are there things you can sell, things you can forgo buying? Are the amounts you feel you need to fund in the categories mentioned correct? In other words are you potentially over saving in those areas? Are either of you or both willing to find a side gig? Can the money you are saving for retirement also be used for the bridge IF it came down to it, with Roth withdrawals for example?

    Personally, I'd attempt to do everything and anything but scale back retirement contributions. I suppose if you are really oversaving it would be worth it to fund current needs.

    Good luck!

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Lots of ideas,
    Thank you for your suggestions. We don’t have cable, just Netflix. I don’t eat meat/eggs, but DH does. Our heat stays on 62, and air at 75. I only do laundry once a week, but DH does it more often because he wears the same clothes most days of the week. We use Ting for our cell service. The only subscriptions are Netflix and YNAB.

    Our electric has doubled since our first year here. The main change has been DHs fish hobby- lots of aquariums. He has reduced the number in the last few months. The overall usage seems to be going down, but I think the extra charges have gone up... so not much effect on our bill.

    I don’t really have anything I can sell. DH has lots of electronics he could sell - he has started selling them again recently. He’s using that money to day trade - and up to this past week, he was doing really well. He’s working 50 hours a week and feels he has no time to do anything he wants.

    I’m taking the bus to work, which costs $8/mo. Doing that had some startup costs - ie getting appropriate clothing for winter weather. I do take my car when I have an appointment after work where the bus would be really inconvenient. I’m also taking classes at the local community college to increase my work value. I’ve tried things like DoorDash, but can’t get hours anymore. I haven’t looked into the census, that might be possible.

    We use YNAB for our budget and I track our spending pretty closely. Our groceries have gone up. Mostly because DH is eating at home more rather than the “free” food at work (really junky restaurant food). I’m shopping a lot less due to taking the bus, but I definitely need to be careful with the impulse buys.

    We are barely keeping up with what is needed to cover auto repairs. DH does a lot of it DIY, but there’s a lot he can’t do. He also is really good at finding parts for less. My car is going to need new brakes soon - hopefully that can be delayed for awhile with using the bus. DHs cars though have lots of miles put on them every week, and so repairs are constant. The medical fund was wiped out last year when we spent the FSA money, then had an ER visit for DHs shoulder ...The Bridge fund is to cover the time from when DH retires to when he gets SS, or .. the time before he can get disability. I’ve told him that he’s going to have to come up with a certain amount on top of what we’re saving- otherwise it’s not going to happen. The pet fund ... with all our cats, all it would take is one illness to wipe out what we have in there. As we learned with Sunny - we had it fully funded, and wiped out six months later.

    I’m on my phone right now, but I can post our budget.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Mortgage - 526
    Phone - avg $50/mo (Ting, 2 lines)
    Garbage - 23
    Nat gas - 49 (budget billing)
    Electric - 202 (budget billing)
    Water - 35 (billed every other month)
    Internet - 70 (have looked for cheaper - there aren't cheaper options)
    Netflix - 13.93
    Groceries - 300
    Gas - 325
    Auto maint - 200 (ideal amount)
    Pets - 200 (ideal)
    Medical - 200 (ideal)
    Umbrella ins - 17
    Property taxes - 241
    Home insurance - 84
    Home warranty - 50
    Home maint - 233 (2% of home value/12)
    Household general - 50
    Car taxes/fees - 30
    Car ins DH - 130 (1 vehicle, commercial liability every six months)
    Car ins other - 111 (2 vehicles - liability only, 1x yr)
    IRA - 1083
    Car savings Laura - 75
    Car savings DH - 125
    Bridge fund - 100 (ideal)
    Vacation - 100 (ideal)
    Date night - 50 (generally 1 meal out)
    Student loan - 50

  6. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Vacation funds have to cover not only the actual travel expenses, but also the time DH takes off from work. If he's not there, he doesn't get paid.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Lots of ideas -

    I take my lunch to work everyday, and rarely get snacks or eat out n my own. DH does buy fast food, but it comes from his spending money.

    I'm really not sure how we can scale back currently. Once DH retires, our gas and car expenses will plummet (though groceries will probably go up.)

    DH doesn't believe in taking deductions ... I take 2. Possibly I could increase it to 3. We are getting back $1400 this year. Partly from my contributing to a traditional IRA (50% of my IRA for 2019) and partly from the tax savers credit. With DH doing day trading this year, I'm not sure if I should mess with the deductions.

    He puts a previously agreed amount in each week. I had figured out how much he generally was bringing in, and we agreed that if he made over that amount, he could keep it. He then preceded to increase his hours, etc., and make a lot more. We did change the amounts about six months ago when we got the insurance renewals ...

  8. Petunia 100 Says:

    Have you considered doing a case study on the MMM forums? You COULD lay all of your numbers out there, anonymously, and likely get some helpful feedback. Just an idea. Smile

  9. rob62521 Says:

    I hate to see you put less in your retirement, but that might be the one way you can get the money in your funds until you get your raise. Have you considered what your income will be after DH retires? Before my DH retired, we looked at what he would bring home and interestingly enough, his take home pay with his pension and SSA was more than when he worked due to taxes, insurance, and union dues. What we did is we pretended we were living on what our incomes would be when he retired to see if we could do it. Same thing when I got ready to retire. I took quite a pay cut retiring and so for about 6 months, we pretended we were living on what our pensions and his SSA. Since we had the house paid off and both cars, it wasn't a problem and we could still put money away. It sounds like you have cut back to the quick in so many areas. Perhaps if you fund the accounts and then return to putting money back in your retirement it would make you both feel better.

  10. FrugalTexan75 Says:


    I actually did do that a few years ago. After that, is when we re-worked our budget to where we fully funded our IRA's but didn't fund spending money. Spending money comes from what we do outside of our 40 hour jobs. I changed it a bit when I told him to keep what he made in cash over a certain amount (mainly because I was worried about whether he'd be willing to stick with our budget plan if he wasn't having some spending money. He now has 2-3x more spending money than I do most months.)

    I could do another one there I guess.

    I've tried to broach that idea to him. He would rather put it in to the day trading account. I've told him a certain amount we *have* to have set aside before he can retire. Whether that's what we're saving in the household budget, or what he's able to come up with in day trading. For him to retire, it would have to be 100% retirement, otherwise the expenses wouldn't go down any - i.e. we'd still have to have the extra vehicles and the expensive insurance - even if he was only working one or two days a week.

    Thanks. I hate to put less in too. But I am really thinking that maybe by doing this for a year to a year and a half, I'll be able to get those funds back up to more comfortable levels. Then I can start putting extra back into retirement.

    I have a pretty good idea of what we would need once DH retires, which is where I came up with the Bridge fund #'s. We can't live on that amount right now, because the expenses required for him to work are still ongoing.

  11. FrugalTexan75 Says:


    I've been told to cease and desist on suggesting other jobs to him.

  12. FrugalTexan75 Says:


    Sorry, I got interrupted before. Yes, he actually has been making money with the day trading. Until this last week or so with the plunge ... Once the coronavirus market woes are over and it starts going back up, I do think he'll be able to do well with it.

  13. terri77 Says:

    Are you actually averaging $233 a month on home maintenance? Could that be maybe $200 month instead?

  14. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    No, that category actually is pretty plump. However, we’re going to need to fix/replace our deck at some point, and other large bill maintenance items. I guess we could reduce it a little.

  15. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I sent in the paperwork to reduce it from $150/paycheck to $50/paycheck. So I'll still be contributing extra, but getting some breathing room in the budget.

  16. Petunia 100 Says:

    How are you liking your new position, FT?

  17. FrugalTexan75 Says:


    I'm liking it overall. The first two 1/2 weeks of the month I'm pretty busy, then it SLOWS down. This last week was a little stressful due to two new responsibilities being added AND a site we export from being down for two days.

  18. Petunia 100 Says:

    I'm so happy for you. Smile

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