Monday, September 21, 2015

Forty week project - week two

I'm two weeks into my 40 week project, and here's where things stand.

1) Investigate Health Insurance:
Done! It will cost $155/month to add everyone to M's healthcare plan.

2) Build a "40 week fund" & plan:
Well, I've set my sights on building a fund of $100,000 before I leave, as well as being able to fund any 2015 federal or state taxes that we may owe, and our summer plans. I'm hoping that we will owe less than in 2014, as I increased my IRS withholdings & state withholdings. But, I'm going to assume (worst case), we'll need about $45,000 for the IRS. I'm also budgeting $5,000 for the summer, although think it will be less. I want a lot of "slush" in my slush fund. :-)

So, net/net, I'd optimistically like to have $150,000 in 38 weeks. Where are we at right now? I'm currently at $82K, so around 54% of my goal. We have Hawaii rapidly approaching, which I need a plan for, so we don't dip into our savings.

Determine our "post 40 week" budget:
I'm by no means done, but I've come up with the following category groupings:

3) Categories that will decrease:

  • Taxes! This should be pretty significant for us, given our current tax liability. But, I'm not planning to adjust anything until the end of 2016, if at all possible, to ensure we don't end up owing after the fact.
  • Childcare. Huge decrease, both during the school year & with summer camps. I will budget some for date nights, and for a few summer camps that the boys enjoy. - Savings of $1200/month.
  • Cleaning. I'll pick up the cleaning, but may retain a once/month service. - Savings of $270/month.
  • Groceries. I'd like to reduce this to $550/month, but I'll be home more & I currently get free breakfast & lunch 5 days/week. So, don't know if that will net out at the same or not. - Savings of $50/month

Categories that will increase:

  • Utilities? I'll be home more. Assume this will be very moderate, but bump up by $25.
  • Health insurance. As noted above, $155/month increase.
  • General health category, as I'd like to join a gym. Increase of $30/month. 

Categories that I'd like to/need to reduce to afford our new lifestyle:

  • Travel. I still want to have some flex here, so we can visit family & enjoy our vacation house more. But, need to cut this back by $4,000
  • Boys activities. They play soccer, which is super expensive, but are also doing some after school activities & I may need to cut back on the non-soccer activities. No plans to cut back on soccer right now. They both LOVE it. Reduction - $700
  • House. Keep spending on all house related stuff to $1,500. Reduction - $500. This includes all three houses, so not sure if this is reasonable.
  • Taxes. Plan to keep our current budget (which is $5K, ha ha, as we paid drastically more than that last year) at $5,000. No change.
  • Personal. Drop by $200. 
  • Auto. Drop to $1,500. We may also consider selling our third vehicle. We use it very infrequently. Savings of $500.
  • Boys college. Remains the same.
  • Charity. Remains the same.
  • Clothing (entire family). Cut back by $500.
  • Christmas. Cut by $500. 
  • Boys all. Bucket category for field trips, lunch money, etc. Remains the same.
  • Gifts. Cut back by $500.
  • Summer camps. Cut from $2500 to $1500. Savings of $1,000.

With all of the changes above, we're still short $3,300/month from M's salary, given our current expenses. We'll be doing a few things to offset this. 1) that's what my "40 week slush fund" is for - to offset the gap & allow me to take time off. 2) I do plan to work again, but want to find something much more flexible and part time. Once we have an assessment of the tax impact, that will also help us understand what the true gap is going to be.

Any recommendations on how we can get a better understanding of our revised tax impact, after the changes? Our income will go down by ~50%. Suppose I should just bite the bullet & set up time with our accountant. 


  1. Great start! Go see the accountant on tax issue - 2016 may be very different - you'll stop working but you will have had the stock vest, etc. And 2017 - it would be worth it to have the accountant run some scenarios - if you make x, y or z - what is the tax impact. I suggest a couple more things: (1) identify areas that can be cut further that don't impact day to day much (vacation for example); (2) how much lower could you monthly nut go if you stayed out of work for longer than expected (by choice or otherwise); (3) how long do you want your savings (apart from taxes) to cover? is it till it runs out or want to keep a minimum?; (4) do you have a budget for you to continue to network professionally since you do want to go back?

  2. This list is great! Definitely go see the accountant. It'll cost you maybe a couple of hundred but well worth it to have firmer answers that can help you plan appropriately.
    ~ Pru

  3. I would spend the money on a good accountant. I would think that your tax liability would be much less than what it is currently.

    I know you budget very differently than I do but I would just figure out all of the fixed expenses and readjust all the disrectionary spending after that. I would use your savings to supplement areas like Christmas and travelling.