Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Reader Case Research: Dwelling Well being Aide with Incarcerated Husband desires to Write Thriller Novels

Flowers from Robert

Ann is a 47-year-old residence well being aide residing in Southern California. Her 4 teen/younger grownup sons dwell with their dad 10 minutes away, which permits her to spend time with them usually. She can also be newly married to her soul-mate, Robert, who’s serving a Life With out Parole sentence in a California jail 300 miles away. Ann’s making main modifications in her life proper now, together with incomes her BA in English and getting ready to purchase a cellular residence. She’d like our recommendation on find out how to keep on with her finances, use her money within the wisest manner and work in the direction of her aim of sooner or later writing books and educating English.

What’s a Reader Case Research?

Case Research deal with monetary and life dilemmas that readers of Frugalwoods ship in requesting recommendation. Then, we (that’d be me and YOU, expensive reader) learn by way of their scenario and supply recommendation, encouragement, perception and suggestions within the feedback part.

For an instance, try the final case examineCase Research are up to date by members (on the finish of the publish) a number of months after the Case is featured. Go to this web page for hyperlinks to all up to date Case Research.

Can I Be A Reader Case Research?

There are three choices for folk excited about receiving a holistic Frugalwoods monetary session:

  1. Apply to be an on-the-blog Case Research topic right here.
  2. Rent me for a non-public monetary session right here.
  3. Schedule an hourlong name with me right here.
  4. Schedule a 30 minute name with me right here

To study extra about one-on-one consultations with me, verify this out.

Please be aware that house is restricted for the entire above and most particularly for on-the-blog Case Research. I do my finest to accommodate everybody who applies, however there are a restricted variety of slots accessible every month.

The Purpose Of Reader Case Research

Photograph by Ann

Reader Case Research spotlight a various vary of monetary conditions, ages, ethnicities, places, objectives, careers, incomes, household compositions and extra!

The Case Research sequence started in 2016 and, up to now, there’ve been 92 Case Research. I’ve featured of us with annual incomes starting from $17k to $200k+ and internet worths starting from -$300k to $2.9M+.

I’ve featured single, married, partnered, divorced, child-filled and child-free households. I’ve featured homosexual, straight, queer, bisexual and polyamorous individuals. I’ve featured girls, non-binary of us and males. I’ve featured transgender and cisgender individuals. I’ve had cat individuals and canine individuals. I’ve featured of us from the US, Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and France. I’ve featured individuals with PhDs and other people with highschool diplomas. I’ve featured individuals of their early 20’s and other people of their late 60’s. I’ve featured of us who dwell on farms and folk who dwell in New York Metropolis.

Reader Case Research Tips

Pleased Lunch!

I in all probability don’t must say the next since you all are the kindest, most well mannered commenters on the web, however please be aware that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone the place we endeavor to assist each other, not condemn.

There’s no room for rudeness right here. The aim is to create a supportive atmosphere the place all of us acknowledge we’re human, we’re flawed, however we select to be right here collectively, workshopping our cash and our lives with optimistic, proactive recommendations and concepts.

And a disclaimer that I’m not a skilled monetary skilled and I encourage individuals to not make severe monetary selections based mostly solely on what one individual on the web advises. 

I encourage everybody to do their very own analysis to find out the perfect plan of action for his or her funds. I’m not a monetary advisor and I’m not your monetary advisor.

With that I’ll let Ann, at the moment’s Case Research topic, take it from right here!

Ann’s Story

My Alter Ego

Hello, Frugalwoods neighborhood! I’m Ann, I dwell in Southern California and I’m a 47-year outdated divorced mom of 4 teen/younger grownup boys who dwell with their dad 10 minutes away. I see my sons usually–aside from the one who’s within the Air Drive. I’m the treasurer of their Scout troop and luxuriate in it a lot! I’m a really detailed, organized individual, and I discover nice satisfaction in conserving correct monetary information for the troop, plus I take pleasure in being round all of the boys every week, even when my very own two aren’t there.

I’m newly married to my soul-mate, Robert, who’s serving a Life With out Parole sentence in a California jail 300 miles away. We met by way of a pen-pal web site and have been married within the jail a yr in the past. It sounds loopy, however I might quite be married to him-in-prison than to anybody else out right here. Our relationship relies on cellphone calls (now free!), texts (0.5 cents/textual content), hour-long video visits as soon as per week if we’re fortunate (free!), rare in-person visits (our aim is twice a yr, or extra if potential), and most just lately and really excitedly, Facetime-like calls ($2.50/quarter-hour).

Ann’s Job and Hobbies

My job is good for me: I take care of an aged couple, each with dementia, of their residence (40 hrs/wk). The one downside is that whereas I’m very lucky it pays sufficient for me to dwell on, my finances is simply too tight.

I like to learn novels (I simply learn Frankenstein for the primary time), knit & crochet (I’m presently engaged on two bedspreads), watch motion pictures/television reveals (particularly ones that make me chortle), and {photograph} my life. I’m a homebody. 😊 Shade and vibrant pure gentle are my lifeblood. Robert would additionally add that I like to “manage my coloured pencils” (I’m in all probability too organized, ha ha!).

Robert and I are presently writing a kids’s chapter e book based mostly on a nightmare he had as a toddler. He has at all times thought it was a narrative deserving to be instructed. It’s sluggish going, since we’re restricted by 15-minute cellphone calls, however we hope it would complement my earnings and pave the way in which for extra books. We’re writing for a middle-school viewers and are nearly on the focused 20,000 phrases. We make a really perfect group–he’s the inventive genius whereas I present the construction and particulars for his concepts. I believe I might make an excellent editor!

Ann’s Targets

One in all my Boys

My aim is to be financially impartial in order that I by no means have to fret about cash. I discover the Meyers-Briggs personalities very correct, and my persona (INTJ) turns into pressured when compelled to consider on a regular basis issues. Since residing by myself, I’ve discovered this to be very true! I’m at all times carrying round monetary fear. I’m frightened of being destitute sometime, particularly with latest rising prices. After I was first employed for my job and discovered I’d be making $25/hr and realized this may cowl my bills, I felt an unbelievable lightness! I hadn’t realized the extent of the burden I used to be carrying till it was gone. However then costs began inflating and the worry got here again.

I moved and began sharing residing bills with a roommate in August, which has helped ease the monetary burden. Nonetheless, I’m nonetheless attempting to get better financially from August between the transferring bills (the movers have been solely speculated to price $400 however ended up costing $1,284!) and shedding 8 days of labor as a consequence of having Covid (40% of my month-to-month earnings!). That’s one other downside to my job. As a result of my couple are aged with pre-existing situations and suppressed immunities, I’ve to remain residence the total 10 days if I’ve Covid. So I nonetheless put on a masks EVERYWHERE, and I’m so anxious about getting it once more.

I’m additionally beginning a facet hustle with two merchandising machines. It can give me some mostly-passive earnings, in addition to present a job that Robert can take over within the hopeful occasion he’s paroled. Legal guidelines are altering, he has been in for greater than 20 years, and he’s now thought of “aged” on the ripe outdated age of 52, so we’re hopeful. It is going to be superb for his parole packet if he has a job prepared for him to return residence to. He has the persona and abilities to excel within the merchandising business. I don’t, in order that’s why I solely have two machines.

What brings you to submit a Case Research?

My Oldest Son

What feels most urgent proper now’s that I’m not making sufficient cash. I make sufficient to cowl my fundamental bills, with only a few frills. And I’m not even paying for medical health insurance proper now. I would like recommendation on the place to additional minimize my bills (I’ve made nice strides in that this previous yr!) and find out how to STAY ON BUDGET till I can earn extra. I’m subsisting with MediCal, which I hate, nevertheless it’s free, and since I’ve medical situations and month-to-month prescriptions, it is a mandatory evil proper now.

I really love my job, however working as a CNA/HHA won’t ever pay a lot. I’m VERY lucky to be making $25/hr. Final yr, I used to be incomes solely $17/hr working at a healthcare facility and the yr earlier than, I used to be incomes a meager $15/hr as an administrative assistant.

Ann’s Want to Write

I need to enhance my incomes energy, and since my final dream job is to work from home from my laptop computer, I’ve began incomes my BA in Artistic Writing. My best-case situation can be to jot down profitable thriller novels like Agatha Christie! I plan to go on to earn a Grasp’s as properly, as a result of then I can educate on the neighborhood faculty stage, ideally on-line lessons. Having homeschooled my sons for therefore a few years and having taught an English class for different homeschoolers, I do know I like educating.

With a bachelor’s in English, there are additionally on-line positions accessible to show English to international college students. My plan is to stick with my aged couple till I earn my BA, then discover a web-based job utilizing my diploma, however staying with my couple part-time, as a result of I actually love them. Then I can begin lessons for my MA. After that, I ought to be capable of work and earn sufficient for my monetary objectives. A advantage of working from residence shall be that I gained’t need to retire till I need to, as I can hold incomes cash so long as my mind works regardless of what my physique could resolve to do. I plan to maintain up my medical licenses, as I like eldercare, and it’s one thing I can do part-time, even only a few hours per week if that’s all I need to do. I’ll at all times be capable of discover work since eldercare is a reliable, recession-proof supply of earnings.

Ann’s Plans to Purchase a Dwelling

Robert’s Dwelling

My roommate and I’ve determined to separate (our lease is up in September), so I’m within the technique of searching for a cellular residence to purchase, since I just lately discovered that I can! Hopefully once I replace this publish, it will likely be from my very personal nest. I’ve been pre-approved for a $130k cellular residence mortgage with a most month-to-month house hire of $1,000. My mixed month-to-month funds can’t exceed $1,650.

I do know a rental is a greater funding, however I shall be happier in a cellular residence—it’s unattached, and I’ll be capable of have my very own out of doors house. Additionally, there are actually no condos in my county within the vary I’ve been permitted for ($250k max). My monetary advisor approves, because the necessary factor is to cease losing cash on hire. I’ll use my non-retirement account (which is now at $68k) because the down cost and for the money move mandatory when shopping for a brand new residence (since there are at all times bills).

I’m very new to being in command of my very own funds and it has been a trial by hearth. In my earlier marriage, my ex-husband managed all of the funds. I used to be blissfully blind to the whole lot besides the cash I obtained for groceries and my private expenditures. However I’ve a very good monetary advisor whom I belief and whose recommendation strains up with what I learn on Frugalwoods and listen to on the ChooseFi podcasts. His recommendation is to withdraw nothing and let my investments develop, whereas doing my finest to contribute $6,000 into my Roth IRA every year (the max allowed). Proper now, I’m not contributing something, however that’s one thing I need to do.

The Feast or Famine Cycle

Nonetheless Life with Oranges

One other factor that feels very urgent is my purchasing drawback. For my whole grownup life, I’ve by no means been in a position to keep on a finances. Buying is my coping mechanism when life will get anxious. I’ve a feast or famine manner of coping with this. I begin out with the perfect of intentions, sticking intently to my finances, however once I really feel pressured and overwhelmed, then I OVERSPEND—typically on issues I used to be denying myself whereas I used to be being so good, after which some. After which I really feel so wretched that I’m even stricter with my finances, which in fact begins the entire cycle over once more. I’m additionally this fashion with consuming.

I do know that if I used to be in charge of my spending, I might have constructed up my money cushion already. I’ve been utilizing a finances program to finances my bills this yr, and it has been actually useful in curbing the senseless overspending. Nonetheless, I can’t appear to manage the emotional spending.

What are the perfect components of your life?

Nonetheless Life with Handspun Yarn

One of the best components of my present way of life are spending time with Robert and my boys, my English lessons, and my job. I like my husband–he’s a beautiful man, by no means just like the stereotypical prisoner. I actually take pleasure in my boys and I’m unhappy I miss out on being with them every single day. I do know I might dwell less expensive some place else, however I don’t need to transfer away from them. Writing satisfies one thing inside me, and I’m very excited by the concept that I might earn a residing doing it. And I really have the perfect job! My couple adores me, their household values me, and my co-workers are great individuals.

What are the worst components of your life?

The worst a part of my present way of life will not be having sufficient time. I’m working full-time, education part-time, beginning a small enterprise, and attempting to purchase a house and transfer, on high of constructing positive I’ve common time with Robert and my sons. I’ve usually scheduled time with my two youngest boys, and Robert and I speak on the cellphone within the evenings after I get residence from work.

The place Ann Needs to be in Ten Years:


  • To haven’t any cash worries!
  • To be properly on my solution to monetary independence, with investments in actual property.


  • To have a cat or a small canine and to be working from residence, residing by myself (with Robert!)


  • To be a profitable author—working from residence and getting paid for my writing.

Ann’s Funds


Merchandise Variety of paychecks per yr Gross Revenue Per Pay Interval Deductions Per Pay Interval Web Revenue Per Pay Interval Annual Totals
Ann’s job 26 $2,000 taxes: $314.22 $1,686 $43,836
Robert’s contribution 12 Month-to-month. He can typically contribute extra, however that is the fastened minimal I can depend upon. N/A $207 $2,484
Annual Complete: $46,320
Month-to-month Subtotal: $3,860

Money owed: $0


Merchandise Quantity Notes Curiosity/kind of securities held/Inventory ticker Title of financial institution/brokerage Expense Ratio Account Kind
Conventional IRA $310,440 Passive ETFs LPL Monetary 0.06 Retirement
Non-Retirement Account $68,797 Down cost + move-in prices LPL Monetary 0.06 Emergency
Roth IRA $25,770 Passive ETFs LPL Monetary 0.06 Retirement
Checking Account $14,764 0 California Coast Credit score Union n/a Money
Financial savings Account $11,343 Earmarked for tuition. This shall be sufficient for my Bachelor’s diploma. Ought to I put this in the direction of my down cost, after which use my additional month-to-month money to pay for varsity? 0.05% California Coast Credit score Union n/a Money
Enterprise Checking Account $1,018 I’m beginning a small facet hustle with two merchandising machines. That is my enterprise checking account. 0 Union Financial institution n/a Money
Shares $579 Only for enjoyable. Not planning to promote! Initially value $700. 14 completely different shares Robinhood n/a Enjoyable experiment
Complete: $432,711


Automobile make, mannequin, yr Valued at Mileage Paid off?
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid EX $27,842 ~30,000 sure


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Lease $1,461 My half
Groceries $200 Solely meals
Textual content & face messaging w/Robert $200 Typically over this quantity.
Robert’s discretionary spending $200 He makes use of this for issues he desires me and our family to have, so he doesn’t need to wrestle the purse strings from me to have the ability to do it.
Ann’s discretionary spending $185 Clothes, sneakers, yarn, residence dec., and so on. (I’ve a tough time sticking to this quantity.)
Gasoline $175 My work is 26 miles away. Automobile averages 37 mpg. Final fill-up was $4.759/gal.
Consuming out $125 A solution to bond with my boys, and I would like some breaks.
Robert’s meals packages $100 He can have 4 packages a yr ($300/pkg.), letting him take a break from state meals.
College books & bills $100 I’m estimating this, as I’m simply beginning and undecided how a lot my books shall be. This additionally consists of CEU lessons for renewing my licenses.
Financial savings–>Visiting Robert $100 Driving to see him prices about $1,200, if I’m unable to commerce shifts at work for the times I miss. If I can commerce, it prices about $600.
Auto insurance coverage $86 By Wawanesa
Dietary supplements $75 Some are mandatory for my well being situations.
Utilities $65 My half (typically it’s much less)
Financial savings–> Cushion $58 Purpose is a month’s earnings. Proper now it’s at $1060.86. Further earnings goes right here. I get time beyond regulation and vacation pay typically (I earned an additional $600 take-home in November), BUT I’ve been attempting for a lot of the yr, and I simply can’t get it there. I do have $2000 saved (Dave Ramsey’s Child Step 1), however I would like this cushion on high of the $2000. (The additional $600 this month coated my over-budget bills.)
Electrical energy $54
Automobile upkeep $50 I do know next-to-nothing about automobiles, so I take it in for nearly the whole lot. My good-with-cars brother has the identical automobile, so he helps me remotely with the simple issues.
Family provides & HBA $50 From TP to mascara to hoover filters.
Compassion Worldwide $38 Sponsoring a toddler in Rwanda
Web $33 My half
Coated parking spot $30 My half (not an choice–it’s the one solution to have two parking spots at our advanced)
DMV registration $27 $318 due yearly
Robert’s treats to me $25 He likes to have the power to offer me particular meals/meals that I in any other case wouldn’t need to pay for.
Birthday presents $25 Xmas presents are out proper now for monetary causes, however I want to have an envelope for these.
Chuze Health $25 I simply joined, as a result of I like train lessons and the health club is 1/2 mile away, and traditionally, train lessons work finest for me to be in step with train. Proper now, I’m not exercising in any respect.
Cellphone service $17 Mint Cellular
Haircut $15 $30 each different month
Xmas playing cards $10 Yearly. I prefer to ship good picture playing cards.
YouTube Music $10 Crucial to me. I exploit it nearly continually once I’m not working.
Renter’s insurance coverage $8 By our advanced
Amazon Prime (scholar) $7
Netflix $7
Microsoft $6 Yearly
Goodbudget $5 Yearly (my budgeting program)
McAffee $4 Yearly
Parking allow $2 Yearly (for the advanced).
Apple $1 My cloud house
Month-to-month subtotal: $3,579 Virtually precisely my month-to-month earnings.
Annual complete: $42,947.76

Credit score Card Technique

Card Title Rewards Kind? Financial institution/card firm
Chase Sapphire Most popular Journey Chase Financial institution
LL Bean Web site cash (I’m presently working in the direction of a $300 down blanket for my mattress.) Citibank
Kohls n/a Capital One, N.A.
I solely use one bank card at a time, to concentrate on the rewards. I pay it off utterly every month.

Ann’s Questions For You:

  1. How can I additional minimize my bills whereas I’m at school these subsequent few years? And the way can I maintain this finances?
  2. How can I eke out $6,000 a yr to place in my Roth IRA?
  3. How can I management my purchasing drawback?
  4. How ought to I pay for my Grasp’s diploma?

Liz Frugalwoods’ Suggestions

Ann’s oldest son

I need to thank Ann for sharing her story with us at the moment and congratulate her on all of those thrilling life modifications forward!

Ann’s Query #1: How can I additional minimize my bills whereas I’m at school these subsequent few years? And the way can I maintain this finances?

Whereas I agree with Ann that her earnings is low, it’s additionally true that she’s managing to dwell on it. That’s an enormous win! Loads of of us don’t break even each month and doing so is an accomplishment all by itself. So take some reward right here, Ann: you’re making it work! Wouldn’t it be simpler if she had the next earnings? In fact! However since that aim is probably just a few years away, her inclination to spend much less is smart.

Anytime an individual desires to spend much less, I encourage them to comb by way of their bills and categorize every merchandise as Fastened, Reduceable or Discretionary:

  • Fastened bills are stuff you can’t change. Examples: your mortgage and debt funds.
  • Reduceable bills are mandatory for human survival, however you management how a lot you spend on them. Examples: groceries and gasoline for the automobiles.
  • Discretionary bills are issues that may be eradicated solely. Examples: journey, haircuts, consuming out.

That is at all times an illuminating train as a result of we are able to’t understand how a lot we are able to save if we don’t know our classes. That is additionally, by the way in which, why I encourage everybody to discover a system for expense monitoring that works for you. I exploit and suggest the free monitoring service from Private Capital, however there are many different choices in the marketplace (affiliate hyperlink).

Beneath is that this categorization train for Ann and it assumes that each one Robert-related bills, which complete $625 per thirty days, are fastened and non-negotiable.

That is an austere, naked bones finances, nevertheless it illuminates Ann’s baseline. In different phrases, that is probably the bottom quantity she might spend each month. I eradicated the whole lot Discretionary and diminished the whole lot Reduceable. From a high quality of life standpoint, I can’t say I like to recommend this. However from a saving cash standpoint, that is essentially the most aggressive solution to go about it:

Merchandise Quantity Class Proposed Naked Bones Quantity
Lease $1,461 Fastened $1,461
Groceries $200 Reduceable 200
Textual content & face messaging w/Robert $200 Robert 200
Robert’s discretionary spending $200 Robert 200
Ann’s discretionary spending $185 Discretionary 0
Gasoline $175 Reduceable 100
Consuming out $125 Discretionary 0
College books & bills $100 Fastened 100
Robert’s meals packages $100 Robert 100
Financial savings–>Visiting Robert $100 Robert 100
Auto insurance coverage $86 Fastened 86
Dietary supplements $75 Reduceable 50
Utilities $65 Fastened 65
Financial savings–> Cushion $58 Reduceable 0
Electrical energy $54 Fastened 54
Automobile upkeep $50 Reduceable 30
Family provides & HBA $50 Reduceable 30
Compassion Worldwide $38 Discretionary 0
Web $33 Fastened 33
Coated parking spot $30 Fastened 30
DMV registration $27 Fastened 27
Birthday presents $25 Discretionary 0
Robert’s treats to me $25 Robert 25
Chuze Health $25 Discretionary 0
Cellphone service $17 Reduceable 17
Haircut $15 Discretionary 0
Xmas playing cards $10 Discretionary 0
YouTube Music $10 Discretionary 0
Renter’s insurance coverage $8 Fastened 8
Amazon Prime (scholar) $7 Discretionary 0
Netflix $7 Discretionary 0
Microsoft $6 Discretionary 0
Goodbudget $5 Discretionary 0
McAffee $4 Discretionary 0
Parking allow $2 Fastened 2
Apple $1 Discretionary 0
Present Month-to-month Subtotal: $3,579 Proposed New Month-to-month Subtotal: $2,918
Present Annual Complete: $42,948 Proposed New Annual Complete: $35,016

At this naked bones finances stage, Ann can be on monitor to save lots of a further $7,932 per yr. This might reply her second query of:

How can I eke out $6,000 a yr to place in my Roth IRA?

She might simply take $6k of that saved $7,932 to place into her Roth IRA and nonetheless have $1,932 leftover.

Ann’s Query #3: How can I management my purchasing drawback?

Paper cranes

Whereas the above naked bones finances solves Ann’s first two questions: find out how to save extra money and find out how to discover $6k to put money into her Roth, it possible makes query #3 extra of an issue. The problem I see with this finances is that it’s excessive and miserly and would possible catapult Ann into that feast or famine mindset she talked about she’s fallen sufferer to previously. It appears a center floor shall be extra sustainable for her (and anybody) for the longterm.

To that finish, I encourage Ann to carry out this identical train along with her bills. She could have completely different categorizations for every merchandise and completely different proposed new quantities. What I like about this format is which you can set a aim for a way a lot you need to spend every month after which work backwards to determine find out how to get your spending to align with that aim. I can’t inform Ann (or anybody else) what she ought to spend her cash on or what her priorities must be–solely she will be able to determine what she values essentially the most. If Ann is ready to remove something that doesn’t match the factors of being a highest and finest precedence, her aim ought to come into sharper focus. She’s already performed the exhausting work of monitoring and itemizing all of her bills–now she simply must reckon with which of them matter essentially the most to her.

At work

This feast or famine mindset is a well-recognized one for lots of parents. We severely limit ourselves after which binge in the wrong way as a result of we really feel disadvantaged. The aim of sustainable, lifelong frugality is NOT to deprive your self–it’s to create a tenable stability between treats and financial savings. I name it ‘luxurious frugality‘ as a result of the hope is that you simply’re in a position to create a finances through which your whole wants are met and sufficient of your ‘luxurious desires’ are additionally met. Thus, you’re in a position to really feel plentiful versus disadvantaged.

My favourite techniques for attending to this place of luxurious frugality entail frugal substitution and the ruthless elimination of issues that aren’t priorities.

Right here’s that concept fleshed out in a publish I wrote just a few years in the past titled, Methods to Create Sustainable Cash Habits:

Determine: Suppose by way of your typical day/week and determine each juncture at which you spend cash.

Disrupt: For each money-spending occasion you determine, make a proactive plan for a way you’ll remove or cut back that expense.

For every of those spending junctures, determine when you can: 1) remove it solely; or 2) make the most of frugal substitution. (You may also carry out this train by way of spreadsheet with the above expense categorization strategy).

Listed here are just a few examples:

    • Frugal substitution: bringing your lunch from residence quite than shopping for it out
    • Elimination: cancelling a health club membership you’re not utilizing
    • Frugal substitution: shopping for a costume to put on to a good friend’s wedding ceremony at a thrift retailer as an alternative of recent
    • Mixture elimination and substitution: not consuming alcohol on sure days/weeks to scale back your expenditure in that space

With frugal substitutions, we’re not giving one thing up, we’re simply doing it extra cheaply. Ann’s utilization of the MVNO Mint for her mobile phone service is an ideal instance of frugal substitution (affiliate hyperlink). She’s not going with out a cellphone, however she’s spending solely $17 a month on service, which is drastically lower than most Individuals.

The road gadgets I encourage Ann to research first are Robert’s discretionary spending, her discretionary spending and consuming out–these three gadgets complete $510/month ($6,120 per yr). Once more, the aim is to not berate your self or really feel responsible; quite, it’s to interrogate if the return you’re getting on these expenditures is value it.

Ann’s Query #4: How ought to I pay for my Grasp’s diploma?

Pleased Residing Room Association!

I need to pause right here to speak about Ann’s pursuit of a BA and MA in English. Firstly, you don’t want a school diploma to be able to turn into a author. You simply have to jot down. Whereas an English diploma definitely offers helpful strategies and instruments, it’s not a requirement to turn into an writer. To that finish, I encourage Ann to discern if her aim is to jot down novels or educate English.

→If the actual aim is to show English, then sure, levels are required.

→Nonetheless, if the actual aim is to jot down books, a level will not be required and getting one is probably slowing down your writing progress.

If the aim is to jot down books, Ann ought to make the most of her time to jot down books versus sitting in a category and doing coursework.

I additionally need to pull aside the threads of Ann’s competing objectives:

  1. On one hand, she has recognized that she desires to earn extra money.
  2. Then again, she has recognized that she desires to jot down books.
  3. Sadly, #2 will not be very more likely to make #1 occur anytime quickly.

I believe most of us will agree that discovering a remunerative profession as an writer isn’t one thing to hold a monetary plan on. I write this as a printed writer who acquired paid to jot down this e book just a few years in the past. It was a grueling, difficult course of and I can consider no less than 1,000 simpler methods to become profitable.

Write since you love to jot down, not since you suppose it’s going to make you wealthy (and even pay the payments).

Yard Puffball

As a fellow author, I’m not attempting to rain on Ann’s goals right here, I simply need her to be crystal clear about the truth that an English diploma and writing books aren’t nice methods to become profitable. There are A LOT of aspiring writers with English levels who can be thrilled to make the $25/hour Ann presently makes. And Ann already is aware of that writing can occur anytime, wherever–it doesn’t have to be inside the confines of your “full-time job.” Loads of novelists maintain down day jobs whereas engaged on their craft of their spare time.

Leaping again to the discernment query, if the aim is to show English, then Ann must have a really concrete plan for a way that shall be completed. Because it stands, the BA and MA are a troublesome monetary proposition since there’s not a transparent trade-off for elevated earnings.

Listed here are the questions on educating that I encourage Ann to discover:

  1. What earnings can she anticipate as a instructor? It may not be far more than $25/hour.
  2. Will she additionally want a educating certificates or diploma to be able to be employed as a instructor?
  3. Can she be employed as a neighborhood faculty English instructor, as she famous, with out prior educating expertise?
  4. Ann talked about educating English on-line to English language learners and I’m nearly 100% sure you don’t want a level in English to do that. Ann already has a school diploma and that’s possible all that’s wanted. I strongly encourage her to discover all of those avenues.

Backside line: if getting a BA and MA isn’t going to measurably enhance your incomes potential, it’s a really costly gamble.

Holistic Monetary Overview

Let’s do an entire rundown of Ann’s belongings and see the place issues stand.

1) Money: $27,125

Diary-Free Truffles from Robert

Between her three checking and financial savings accounts, Ann has $27k in money, which is unbelievable! At her present spend charge of $3,579 per thirty days, she’d ideally have an emergency fund of $10,737 (three month’s value) to $21,474 (six months’ value). She’s over this quantity, however I believe that’s tremendous since she plans to maneuver within the close to future, which is a notoriously costly endeavor.

→Motion merchandise: transfer the money to a high-yield financial savings account.

Ann’s money is underutilized in the intervening time since it’s incomes 0% or 0.05% in curiosity. She ought to discover transferring her money right into a high-yield financial savings account, such because the American Specific Private Financial savings account, which–as of this writing–earns 3.40% in curiosity (affiliate hyperlink). In that account, in a single yr, her $27,125 would earn $922 in curiosity! That’s free and simple cash!

2) Retirement: $336,210

Between her Roth and conventional IRAs, Ann has $336,210 in retirement investments. Let’s see how this measures up in opposition to Constancy’s Retirement Rule of Thumb: 

Purpose to save lots of no less than 1x your wage by 30, 3x by 40, 6x by 50, 8x by 60, and 10x by 67.

Since Ann is 47, let’s go along with 5x her wage, which is $260,000 ($52,000 gross wage x 5). By that metric, she is on monitor. The caveat, nonetheless, is that Ann has recognized that her wage is simply too low and her finances too restrictive. In gentle of that, she’ll need to regulate growing this quantity as her earnings will increase to a extra snug stage. Her inclination to max out her Roth IRA yearly is a good one and I encourage her to work in the direction of that. For 2023, the utmost contribution allowed is $6,500. Word that this jumps to $7,500 while you’re age 50 and older.

→Motion merchandise: Decide her Social Safety advantages


Ann also needs to determine her anticipated Social Safety advantages by following these directions on find out how to retrieve her earnings tables from ssa.gov (the federal government’s Social Safety web site). Her anticipated Social Safety will type the essential baseline of her retirement earnings.

3) Taxable (aka non-retirement) Investments: $69,376

My understanding is that Ann intends to make use of most/all of this for the downpayment on her cellular residence, so we’ll contemplate this cash already earmarked for that.

A Word On Cellular Properties

Since Ann plans to purchase a cellular residence, I need to embrace just a few notes–which she could already concentrate on–however I’d be remiss to not point out. My main warning right here is about cellular residence parks and their completely different administrative buildings.

Questions for Ann to ask:

  1. What’s the HOA (residence proprietor’s affiliation) payment or park payment?
  2. Who owns the park?

This second query is very essential since, ideally, you need to purchase a cellular residence in a park that’s owned by both a non-profit or a cooperative made up of the residents. If a park is as an alternative owned by a for-profit entity, park charges may be hiked dramatically over time. And regardless of their title, it’s costly to maneuver a cellular residence, so that you’re primarily restricted to staying within the park you obtain into. Thus, if the park charges dramatically enhance, you’re caught with these charges. Plus, when you attempt to then promote, the worth of your property is diminished as a result of patrons shall be deterred by the excessive park charges. The easiest way to mitigate that threat is to purchase a house in a park that’s owned by a nonprofit or cooperative.


  1. A Present Challenge

    Carry out the expense categorization train outlined above and mess around with the proposed new quantities to spend every month:

    • Determine which gadgets are priorities, which may be eradicated and that are ripe for frugal substitution.
  2. Determine the place to save lots of the $6,500/yr to put money into your Roth IRA.
  3. Make sure you’re making a sustainable frugal finances that gained’t result in deprivation and the temptation to severely limit after which binge.
  4. Spend time discerning if the aim is to jot down novels or educate English:
    • If the actual aim is to show English, create a concrete plan for find out how to get employed and know the anticipated wage and necessities (educating certificates, educating expertise, and so on) upfront.
    • If the actual aim is to jot down books, then the diploma(s) aren’t required and are probably slowing down your progress.
  5. Write since you love to jot down, not since you suppose it’s going to make you wealthy (and even pay the payments):
    • Ann wants a sensible and life like plan for supporting herself and writing books will not be a secure path to that.
    • Revenue will possible want to return from some place else whereas the e book writing occurs within the off-hours. Many authors have adopted this path to nice literary (if not monetary) success!
  6. Think about transferring your whole money right into a high-yield financial savings account.
  7. Hold your eye in your retirement investments and make sure you’re rising them as you develop your earnings.
  8. Decide your anticipated Social Safety earnings.
  9. Analysis the park charges and park possession construction of all potential cellular houses.
  10. Replace us on all of the thrilling modifications you could have on the horizon! We’re cheering you on!

Okay Frugalwoods nation, what recommendation do you could have for Ann? We’ll each reply to feedback, so please be at liberty to ask questions!

Would you want your personal Case Research to seem right here on Frugalwoods? Apply to be an on-the-blog Case Research topic right here. Rent me for a non-public monetary session right here. Schedule an hourlong name with me right here, refer a good friend to me right here, or e mail me with questions (liz@frugalwoods.com).

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