The last couple weeks have been really frustrating for me financially. I’ve had a lot of annual or routine-but-not-monthly expenses come up. Here are a few things I’ve paid for in the past 2 weeks:
$50 – Doctor visit
$50 – Eye Doctor visit + 1 year of contacts
(I have excellent insurance through my employer, or neither of those would have happened!)
$50 – Oil change and windshield wipers for car
$270 – New timing belt for car
$45 – Textbook for a class I’m taking this spring
$70 – Warm clothes for ski trip
I honestly don’t remember the last time I spent this much money in 2 weeks, and obviously this doesn’t even include normal bills, groceries, gasoline, etc.
All of these are necessary purchases (or at least, “good investments”). I have enough money in my savings to pay for these without going broke or putting things on credit. I’m in a fairly good place financially right now, and I realize that. I also found bargains on the things I needed: the textbook is usually over $120 but I found it online for $45; warm clothes for the ski trip include bibs, new coat, and hat, all on clearance after the holidays. In case you’re curious, the ski trip was paid for by my employer – I work at a high school, and was a chaperon on a trip for students.
So why am I frustrated?
I feel rather stagnant right now. I’m past the point of living paycheck to paycheck. I have a decent savings/emergency fund. My paychecks are guaranteed until the end of June, and if I decide to stay for another year, they will then be guaranteed until the following June. (In other words, my job is very stable, even in this economy.) Also, I’m from an extremely low cost-of-living area. If for some reason I decided to leave my job and move back to home town, my savings could easily last me 7 or 8 months, should I decide to go that long without working. (No, that plan doesn’t involve free rent and food by staying with a parent, either.) So, I can have months like this one (so far) without wrecking havoc on my finances.
But I’m having trouble figuring out what’s next. Everything’s more or less on auto-pilot right now – I made a budget, I know how much goes to savings and how much I can spend. There is minimal chance of increasing my income in the near future, and not much point in cutting back further – I’m down to pretty much a minimum in spending for the most part, and cutting any further will start reducing quality of life. So now what? I don’t want to try to invest my savings, since I’ll likely need it in the next few years – especially if I decide to start graduate school.
What do you do when you’re not sure what to do next?
What do you do to keep yourself on track, once you’ve started meeting goals? How do you decide what your next goal should be?