In Naked With Cash, seven anonymous Consumerism Commentary readers publicly track and analyze their finances on a monthly basis. For almost a decade, I tracked my own finances on Consumerism Commentary; now I’m sharing the benefits of public accountability with the participants. I’ve partnered with financial planners who will offer some guidance along the way. Read this introduction to learn more about the series.
JW is thirty-one years old and a father of two. He works in retail and is underemployed, and his wife and kids are on state medical plans. Their household income is supplemented by SNAP (food stamps). Read his bio for more information about his family’s situation.
His goal is to be able to provide for his family while still tithing 10% of his income to his church. JW is on Team Neal, with Certified Financial Planner Neal Frankle. Get up-to-date on JW’s progress by reviewing his update from las month. Today’s financial report describes his progress throughout June 2013, with comparisons from the two previous months.
Keep reading for JW’s March update. JW’s own analysis and comments are followed by feedback from Neal Frankle and budgeting expert Jacob Wade from iHeartBudgets.
JW’s comments and analysis
My job search process. I have a feed funneling job postings to me. Instead of searching for postings I have set-up alerts and RSS feed filters to get only relevant job postings. I have multiple resume templates based on job descriptions, and I can build a custom resume in under five minutes. I usually spend less than an hour on this part of the process.
Knowing that the hidden job market is much more likely to result in a job than searching postings, I tend to focus my efforts there. Each week I try to contact two long-term connections that I haven’t had any contact with for years. I make an effort to find something I can do for them. My initial contact, normally an email, usually discusses catching up. If I get a reply, I mention I am searching for a job, but I don’t ask for any help at this point. After a little bit of back-and-forth, I will ask specifically about connecting me with someone towards a job prospect. I ask them to let the third person know I’ll be contacting them.
Working with this third person, I try to get a warm introduction to the actual hiring manager. So far, using this strategy for three months, I have found two positions that were not a good fit.
I have one outstanding interview that I am waiting to hear back about. I made it through the first round and have had the second interview. Their plan is to make a hiring decision now, but I could still face a third round of interviews.
Money making efforts. I sold a couple of things on eBay this month. I made $368, or $323 after eBay and PayPal fees. I have a few more items that are sitting in the garage that could also be sold and a few more that I have listed on Craigslist. If they don’t sell, I’ll move them to eBay. With school ending, piano was a partial month. $496 income with $176 of expenses for end of year party, recital, and supplies for the summer and fall. This brought in $643 beyond my paycheck.
Top spending. The biggest spending this month was paying $500 toward my wife’s student loans. The normal payment would have been $65, and since we have been paying ahead the next payment is not actually due until sometime in 2014. The next largest purchase was a new bicycle. My current bicycle was beyond repair. The new bike was less expensive than the repairs would have cost and is a better quality bike. I had saved around $150 in Amazon gift cards starting before Christmas. My wife added to that the $100 she would have spent on a Father’s Day present and we got the bike. There will be some additional spending related to the bike. My water bag (generic Camelback) grew some funny looking mold and my bike lock is nowhere to be found.
Vacation. Since we did not take a longer vacation this year we are doing some small weekend trips. I took a Friday vacation day and we went camping for the weekend. The biggest expense for the trip was we took a couple hour cruise down the Columbia River. The cost was $65 for the entire family to go. Total spent was $199 for gas, food, camp site for three days and the cruise.
The credit cards looks higher but remember they are paid in full each month. I did not make a mid-month second payment this month which I usually do.
Feedback from Neal Frankle, CFP
I am really happy to read that you are using the same ideas I’ve been advocating for a very long time regarding the search for a better job. Networking is absolutely the most effective way to land a job in my opinion. I also like the fact that you have a goal of connecting with two people each week. Sounds like you are having some great success. Kudos.
Since you are changing jobs, I am wondering how you will work the benefits angle. I just don’t recall what your life insurance/health situation is. Do you currently have life coverage at work? Do you have your own life insurance? The nice thing about having coverage through work of course is that you get life insurance without needing a physical. The downside is that if you change jobs (like you are now) there may be gaps in coverage. Then, as you age you might lose control over this. If you change jobs later to an employer who doesn’t offer this benefit you may to even be able to get life insurance on your own even though you need it and want it. Could you please remind me of your situation on this front?
Feedback from Jacob Wade
Sounds like good efforts on all accounts, nice work. Very awesome to sell some junk and get that cash flow up for the month, that’s huge. My wife and I have been on a selling frenzy as well, it really does help a lot. And I know things are very tight with the budget, but have you considered setting up savings buckets for some of those irregular expenses, such as vacations and parties? I find it easier to set aside a small chunk each month so that when an irregular expense comes up, most, if not all of the money is already there. Might help ease the monthly dent when those things come up.
Glad to hear you have some contact leads for the job search, as that is most likely where you’ll get a job. I don’t have a ton of experience with job searching, but I can tell you that I have only gotten two jobs without a personal connection. The other five or so were because of someone I knew recommending or introducing me to the hiring manager. Good luck with your quest! It sounds like you are Vvery close.
Updated July 23, 2013 and originally published July 22, 2013.