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.
LastDollar is on Team Neal, with Certified Financial Planner Neal Frankle. This is LastDollar’s final Naked With Cash report. Get her update from last month.
LastDollar’s own analysis and comments are followed by feedback from Neal Frankle.
Comments and analysis from LastDollar
An entire year has passed since I started providing these Naked with Cash updates. It’s hard to believe! When I was young, my mother used to tell me time seems to speed up as you get older and I never really knew what she meant until the last few years when I experienced it myself.
Over the year, being part of this journey has forced me to keep a closer eye on my finances than I probably would have otherwise. It is so easy to get caught up in day to day living and forget the details of your money. For that, I am thankful. While I am still nowhere near where I want to be in my financial life, there has been progress made during the year.
My car has been paid in full, and is up to date with maintenance (and should therefore give me several more years of worry-free driving). I have kept up with my kids’ tuition payments and will not need to play catch up for that obligation over the summer like I did last year. I paid off a year of back taxes, and have started making payments via a payment plan for last year’s taxes. I have a strategy in place for 2014 to avoid continuously growing the taxes I owe.
There have been a few comments and ideas for things to try to help improve my situation which are great ideas. If some of the things in my life on the “out of my control” list should change a bit, I will definitely put many of those things into action.
As I write this, my children have been home from school for 18 days on winter break and from snow days. They went back yesterday and within a couple hours, I had to run to school to pick one child up who became ill and is still home the next day with a fever. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not reminded how lucky I am to have figured out how to make money from home. I simply could not keep a “real job” as the only caretaker for my children.
With some prompting from the team here, I have already increased rates for several of my current customers successfully, and will continue to raise rates as new clients start working with me. Looking at my financial situation so closely for twelve months has made me realize that pretty much the only real option I have at this time (short of falling in love and marrying a very rich man, perhaps, or winning the lottery) for improving the overall situation is to consistently increase my income and so that is where my focus will be moving forward.
Feedback from Neal Frankle, CFP
Good observation. Indeed, it is easy to get caught up in the day to day and lose track. Congratulations on your progress. You strike me as a very strong and determined person and I believe the future will continue to be bright.
In my experience, having a plan is really the cornerstone of financial success. I am glad you have one in place and are tracking it.
Feedback from Luke Landes
LastDollar, thanks for participating in Naked With Cash. Your story has been very interesting to follow, and I think you have done a great job of illustrating just how difficult it can be for a single parent — a single parent with children with special needs, no less — to get ahead financially.
It’s great to hear you’re prioritizing your income and have taken steps to increase rates with your clients. The overall key for you is going to be increasing your business output, possibly getting to the point where it pays to hire some help to grow your business further, and handling those distractions that come up, financial and otherwise.
Best of luck in 2014!