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.
Kathleen is thirty-one years old, single, and living in Portland, Oregon. She loves her job, even if it isn’t very lucrative. Since her income was $33,000 last year, she’s looking to make more money from “side hustles” (like her blog, Frugal Portland) this year. To learn more about Kathleen, read her bio. Kathleen is on Team Sara, with Certified Financial Planner Sara Stanich.
Kathleen’s report this month, below, includes Kathleen’s progress during September 2013. You can read her August report here. Following Kathleen’s own self-analysis, Sara Stanich will offer thoughts from her perspective.
Comments and analysis from Kathleen
Okay, so this month, the numbers are looking a little ragged. I can explain (although I know that explanations and excuses are pretty much the same thing). I paid for the other half of my living room set, but then I simply didn’t work very much in September. My mom passed away at the end of August, and the memorial was on the 14th. I was with family a lot, and honestly, I just didn’t feel like working. It was like I was shown a reason for saving so much this year. Since my job is hourly, I’m going to see that hit well into next month (we’re paid monthly), but if you can’t use your savings while you’re grieving, when can you?
Seeing my mom die at such a young age (58) reminded me that we don’t get to pick when we leave this Earth, and it made me rethink the way I spend my life. What if I never make it to retirement, either? I also realized that I’ve been avoiding dealing with my finances when I’m gone, using another set of excuses: I don’t have kids, I’m not married, I don’t have anything to give. That’s an old script, an outdated one from before I bought a condo.
I’m not sure I want life insurance (first things first, let me get health insurance on the open exchange), but I definitely need to figure out where my retirement savings, regular savings, car, and the condo loan go to if for some reason I don’t make it to retirement.
Feedback from Sara Stanich, CFP
I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, Kathleen. I hope you are doing OK.
The death of a loved one can often inspire changes. Thinking about what would happen in the event of your death is the first step in estate planning. Although you don’t have any financial dependents (yet), it is wise of you to consider what would happen (from a legal perspective), and what you would want to happen.
You can take action by making sure you have assigned a beneficiary to your retirement accounts, keeping your financial life simple and organized, and looking into a basic will. Over time, your needs will likely become more complex, but those are a few places to start.
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Feedback from Luke Landes
Kathleen, I’m so sorry for your loss.
I’ve been thinking about mortality probably too much recently. You have to find the right balance between saving for the future, an important goal, and enjoying your life today. Find ways to accomplish the latter without sacrificing the former when you can. There’s always the possibility of never having the chance to enjoy life later on, and you don’t want to have a lengthy list of regrets.
Your finances are in good shape. Despite buying and furnishing a condo, your net worth has been increasing relatively steadily month to month. I’m curious about your mortgage, though. I noticed the balance hasn’t changed since July. Are you skipping payments or is there something I’m not understanding about the home ownership process? Perhaps this was explained in an earlier month and I don’t remember.
Thanks as always for sharing the intimate details of your finances with us!