Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stopping the hemorrhage

Okay, so JaneMD has been a bad blogger. She also has been a bad part of the FI community/anti-consumerism because it has been a rough few months.

As a start, Child2 will not be needing a big surgery and he's 4 months old. Child1 got referred to physical therapy for failure to walk and then learned how to walk a week later. We lost both of our dogs in the past months - one died, the other was returned to a rescue organization because it stopped getting along with Child1.

Things spun a little out of control with a move, second kid in daycare, and three out of state trips.

The good financials Feb-May: We got our full safety deposit back on our old apartment - $1000. We found out we were overcharged by the electric company for a year - $303. We had a delayed flight and got two free round trip tickets to be used at some point in the next 12-18 months. HubbyJD finally submitted our FSA forms and we got $2000 back pre tax. I opened a new FSA and will get around $100 a month back pretax. We examined out internet bill and got an employer discount by $7. We used our tax refund to pay off the last higher interest loan on graduate school - about $6000 on a 7.9% loan. We have now paid about 40k of our loans off in 10 months.

The bad financials Feb-May: The move, the new rent, the car, Passover, the trips, the visitors, doubled daycare, and the pets. Daycare doubled - $675 extra a month. We spent $1000 on end of life/dog sitting charges. We needed car repairs, $450. We had to pay 'personal property tax,' $350. Rent with utilities went up by around $600 for an apartment more than twice the size. Passover is one week a year and has special food that costs 2-3x normal. I cringe in shame because our grocery bill in April was $1500. We also had three weeks work of visitors since April to feed and included all of our  apartment expenses in that grocery bill.

The new apartment: we had to come up with a $1500 security deposit, and our rents overlapped by one week $350. The only thing we outsourced was the movers ($700), but I moved the kitchen the night before. We also had some friends help us pack and unload to make the movers as efficient as possible. Other friends volunteered to watch Child1 and Child2 for free during the move.

The bigger issues involved furbishing the apartment. I don't mean buying new stuff - I mean there weren't curtains or curtain rods in the apartment. Of that $1500 grocery bill, $200 on curtains for the entire house, $40 on carpets, and $250 for a full bed. My dad paid for his visit by installing and hanging 20 curtains. We also craigslisted a desk, an entertainment armoire, a bunkbed with 2 mattresses, a night stand, and a toybox for a total of $230. Some of that we paid in cash by selling off our own stuff on craigslist; we probably got $100. So total moving and housing expenses = $1420 (700 moving, 720 furnishings)

The trips: Hubby JD and Child1 flew to a wedding alone - ticket $300, hotel $180, taxi ride $88. Yes, a family member picked them up from the airport, but made no arrangements to get him back. Since he didn't have a car, he had to stay at the wedding hotel, and then pay a taxi to get him to the airport. Then we took a family trip while I was on maternity leave in a minivan $550 for 7 days and gas $200 in 30 hours of driving. Second wedding next month was $650 for tickets, hotel $80, rental care $30, and gas $30. Hilariously, the first wedding for two people cost $618, but four of us on a similar trip cost $790. We easily could have saved $100 if I'd just had him rent a car and picked a different hotel.

Want to know the damage after all of that? It was bad - an extra $6000 more than planned spent over those 4 months . I was able to account for $5000 in the above expenses. We got about $3000 in deposits/reimbursements, but that was still nowhere close to where we wanted to be.

I know trips and weddings will come up, but this was ridiculous to have it all happen at the same time. It was awful to watch our money bleed out like that. These were cousins' weddings who had flown to our wedding so it would have been an awful slight to not attend because 'JaneMD and HubbyJD couldn't afford it.' That would not have gone over well. Hubby JD also claims he is never moving again.

While I understand it's the 'one time/emergency' expenses that got us, but things like that will always come up. Time to review the budget and try to adjust to what we actually spend. And then evaluate where to cut things out.


  1. Hi Dr. Jane, I've been a long-term lurker/reader... so I'm glad you're back! Sorry to hear about the troubles and the cash outflows, and best of luck going forward.

    I actually have a question around your emergency fund. I would assume that your job security is very very high given that you are an attending - is the E-Fund more for peace of mind then? I always thought that more than the high pay, the job security of a doctor is what sets them apart when it comes to financial planning. I mean, chances are you won't lose your job, right?

  2. Thanks for waiting around so patiently for me to return. :)

    Our emergency fund is for an expected 3+ months of expenses with the assumption that one of us lost our job. Without daycare, we would need about 4000 a month. We could cut expenses and probably get to 3500, but I error on the side of conservation.

    Physicians (and lawyers) face the same pressures everyone else does. I am a recent hire and not a specialist. I am a member of a 100 pediatirican hospialist/specialist megagroup and contracted at multiple hospitals. If we lost a hospital contract, I would be one of the first employees let go. HubbyJD is an equally new hire. His firm is hiring three new people this year. However, another big firm in the area let five people go, including a partner.