Saturday, December 2, 2023

Reader Case Research: Residence Well being Aide with Incarcerated Husband needs to Write Thriller Novels

Flowers from Robert

Ann is a 47-year-old dwelling well being aide residing in Southern California. Her 4 teen/younger grownup sons dwell with their dad 10 minutes away, which allows her to spend time with them repeatedly. She can 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 dwelling. She’d like our recommendation on persist with her funds, use her money within the wisest approach and work in direction of her objective of at some point writing books and instructing 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 via their scenario and supply recommendation, encouragement, perception and suggestions within the feedback part.

For an instance, take a look at the final case examineCase Research are up to date by individuals (on the finish of the submit) 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 people desirous 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 be taught extra about one-on-one consultations with me, test 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 obtainable every month.

The Purpose Of Reader Case Research

Photograph by Ann

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

The Case Research sequence started in 2016 and, to this point, there’ve been 92 Case Research. I’ve featured people with annual incomes starting from $17k to $200k+ and web 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 people and males. I’ve featured transgender and cisgender individuals. I’ve had cat individuals and canine individuals. I’ve featured people from the US, Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and France. I’ve featured individuals with PhDs and folks with highschool diplomas. I’ve featured individuals of their early 20’s and folks of their late 60’s. I’ve featured people who dwell on farms and people who dwell in New York Metropolis.

Reader Case Research Tips

Completely happy Lunch!

I most likely don’t have to 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 objective is to create a supportive setting 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 options and concepts.

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

I encourage everybody to do their very own analysis to find out the most effective 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 repeatedly–apart 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 particular person, 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 via a pen-pal web site and had been married within the jail a yr in the past. It sounds loopy, however I’d somewhat be married to him-in-prison than to anybody else out right here. Our relationship is predicated 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 objective is twice a yr, or extra if attainable), and most not too long ago and really excitedly, Facetime-like calls ($2.50/quarter-hour).

Ann’s Job and Hobbies

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

I like to learn novels (I simply learn Frankenstein for the primary time), knit & crochet (I’m at present engaged on two bedspreads), watch motion pictures/television exhibits (particularly ones that make me chuckle), and {photograph} my life. I’m a homebody. 😊 Coloration and vivid pure gentle are my lifeblood. Robert would additionally add that I like to “arrange my coloured pencils” (I’m most likely too organized, ha ha!).

Robert and I are at present writing a kids’s chapter guide based mostly on a nightmare he had as a baby. He has all the time thought it was a narrative deserving to be informed. It’s sluggish going, since we’re restricted by 15-minute cellphone calls, however we hope it’s going to complement my earnings and pave the way in which for extra books. We’re writing for a middle-school viewers and are virtually on the focused 20,000 phrases. We make a super group–he’s the inventive genius whereas I present the construction and particulars for his concepts. I feel I’d make an excellent editor!

Ann’s Targets

One in all my Boys

My objective is to be financially unbiased in order that I by no means have to fret about cash. I discover the Meyers-Briggs personalities very correct, and my character (INTJ) turns into harassed when compelled to consider on a regular basis issues. Since residing alone, I’ve discovered this to be very true! I’m all the time carrying round monetary fear. I’m frightened of being destitute sometime, particularly with current rising prices. After I was first employed for my job and discovered I’d be making $25/hr and realized this is able to 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. Nevertheless, I’m nonetheless making an attempt to get better financially from August between the transferring bills (the movers had been solely speculated to price $400 however ended up costing $1,284!) and dropping 8 days of labor resulting from having Covid (40% of my month-to-month earnings!). That’s one other disadvantage to my job. As a result of my couple are aged with pre-existing situations and suppressed immunities, I’ve to remain dwelling 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 aspect 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-about “aged” on the ripe outdated age of 52, so we’re hopeful. It will likely be superb for his parole packet if he has a job prepared for him to return dwelling to. He has the character and abilities to excel within the merchandising trade. 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 could be that I’m not making sufficient cash. I make sufficient to cowl my primary 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 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 essential 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 wish to increase 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 state of affairs can be to write down profitable thriller novels like Agatha Christie! I plan to go on to earn a Grasp’s as effectively, as a result of then I can train on the neighborhood school degree, 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 really like instructing.

With a bachelor’s in English, there are additionally on-line positions obtainable to show English to international college students. My plan is to stick with my aged couple till I earn my BA, then discover an internet 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 to work and earn sufficient for my monetary objectives. A advantage of working from dwelling will likely be that I received’t need to retire till I wish to, as I can maintain incomes cash so long as my mind works regardless of what my physique could determine to do. I plan to maintain up my medical licenses, as I really like eldercare, and it’s one thing I can do part-time, even just some hours per week if that’s all I wish to do. I’ll all the time be capable to discover work since eldercare is a reliable, recession-proof supply of earnings.

Ann’s Plans to Purchase a Residence

Robert’s Residence

My roommate and I’ve determined to separate (our lease is up in September), so I’m within the means of on the lookout for a cellular dwelling to purchase, since I not too long ago discovered that I can! Hopefully after I replace this submit, will probably be from my very personal nest. I’ve been pre-approved for a $130k cellular dwelling mortgage with a most month-to-month house hire of $1,000. My mixed month-to-month funds can not exceed $1,650.

I do know a condominium is a greater funding, however I will likely be happier in a cellular dwelling—it’s unattached, and I’ll be capable to have my very own out of doors house. Additionally, there are actually no condos in my county within the vary I’ve been authorized for ($250k max). My monetary advisor approves, because the essential 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 circulate essential when shopping for a brand new dwelling (since there are all the time bills).

I’m very new to being accountable for 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 unaware of all the things besides the cash I obtained for groceries and my private expenditures. However I’ve a superb 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 annually (the max allowed). Proper now, I’m not contributing something, however that’s one thing I wish to do.

The Feast or Famine Cycle

Nonetheless Life with Oranges

One other factor that feels very urgent is my procuring downside. For my whole grownup life, I’ve by no means been capable of keep on a funds. Procuring is my coping mechanism when life will get hectic. I’ve a feast or famine approach of coping with this. I begin out with the most effective of intentions, sticking intently to my funds, however after I really feel harassed and overwhelmed, then I OVERSPEND—usually 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 funds, 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 command of my spending, I’d have constructed up my money cushion already. I’ve been utilizing a funds program to funds my bills this yr, and it has been actually useful in curbing the senseless overspending. Nevertheless, I can’t appear to manage the emotional spending.

What are the most effective components of your life?

Nonetheless Life with Handspun Yarn

The perfect components of my present way of life are spending time with Robert and my boys, my English lessons, and my job. I really like my husband–he’s an exquisite man, in no way just like the stereotypical prisoner. I actually take pleasure in my boys and I’m unhappy I miss out on being with them on daily basis. I do know I might dwell less expensive some place else, however I don’t wish 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 most effective job! My couple adores me, their household values me, and my co-workers are fantastic individuals.

What are the worst components of your life?

The worst a part of my present way of life shouldn’t be having sufficient time. I’m working full-time, education part-time, beginning a small enterprise, and making an attempt to purchase a house and transfer, on prime of constructing positive I’ve common time with Robert and my sons. I’ve repeatedly scheduled time with my two youngest boys, and Robert and I speak on the cellphone within the evenings after I get dwelling from work.

The place Ann Needs to be in Ten Years:


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

Way of life:

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


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

Ann’s Funds


Merchandise Variety of paychecks per yr Gross Revenue Per Pay Interval Deductions Per Pay Interval Internet 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 mounted minimal I can rely upon. N/A $207 $2,484
Annual Whole: $46,320
Month-to-month Subtotal: $3,860

Money owed: $0


Merchandise Quantity Notes Curiosity/sort of securities held/Inventory ticker Identify 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 will likely be sufficient for my Bachelor’s diploma. Ought to I put this in direction of my down cost, after which use my additional month-to-month money to pay for college? 0.05% California Coast Credit score Union n/a Money
Enterprise Checking Account $1,018 I’m beginning a small aspect 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
Whole: $432,711


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


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Hire $1,461 My half
Groceries $200 Solely meals
Textual content & face messaging w/Robert $200 Generally over this quantity.
Robert’s discretionary spending $200 He makes use of this for issues he needs 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, footwear, yarn, dwelling dec., and so forth. (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 option 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.
Faculty books & bills $100 I’m estimating this, as I’m simply beginning and undecided how a lot my books will likely 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 essential 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. Additional earnings goes right here. I get time beyond regulation and vacation pay usually (I earned an additional $600 take-home in November), BUT I’ve been making an attempt 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 need this cushion on prime 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 all the things. 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 baby in Rwanda
Web $33 My half
Coated parking spot $30 My half (not an possibility–it’s the one option 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 flexibility to present me particular meals/meals that I in any other case wouldn’t wish to pay for.
Birthday items $25 Xmas items are out proper now for monetary causes, however I wish to have an envelope for these.
Chuze Health $25 I simply joined, as a result of I really like train lessons and the fitness center 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.
Mobile phone 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 Essential to me. I take advantage of it virtually continually after I’m not working.
Renter’s insurance coverage $8 By our advanced
Amazon Prime (pupil) $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 Identify Rewards Kind? Financial institution/card firm
Chase Sapphire Most well-liked Journey Chase Financial institution
LL Bean Web site cash (I’m at present working in 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 funds?
  2. How can I eke out $6,000 a yr to place in my Roth IRA?
  3. How can I management my procuring downside?
  4. How ought to I pay for my Grasp’s diploma?

Liz Frugalwoods’ Suggestions

Ann’s oldest son

I wish 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 funds?

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 people 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 a better earnings? In fact! However since that objective is doubtlessly a couple of years away, her inclination to spend much less is smart.

Anytime an individual needs to spend much less, I encourage them to comb via their bills and categorize every merchandise as Mounted, Reduceable or Discretionary:

  • Mounted bills are stuff you can not change. Examples: your mortgage and debt funds.
  • Reduceable bills are essential 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 completely. Examples: journey, haircuts, consuming out.

That is all the time an illuminating train as a result of we are able to’t know the way 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 take advantage of and advocate the free monitoring service from Private Capital, however there are many different choices in the marketplace (affiliate hyperlink).

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

That is an austere, naked bones funds, nevertheless it illuminates Ann’s baseline. In different phrases, that is doubtlessly the bottom quantity she might spend each month. I eradicated all the things Discretionary and decreased all the things 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 probably the most aggressive option to go about it:

Merchandise Quantity Class Proposed Naked Bones Quantity
Hire $1,461 Mounted $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
Faculty books & bills $100 Mounted 100
Robert’s meals packages $100 Robert 100
Financial savings–>Visiting Robert $100 Robert 100
Auto insurance coverage $86 Mounted 86
Dietary supplements $75 Reduceable 50
Utilities $65 Mounted 65
Financial savings–> Cushion $58 Reduceable 0
Electrical energy $54 Mounted 54
Automobile upkeep $50 Reduceable 30
Family provides & HBA $50 Reduceable 30
Compassion Worldwide $38 Discretionary 0
Web $33 Mounted 33
Coated parking spot $30 Mounted 30
DMV registration $27 Mounted 27
Birthday items $25 Discretionary 0
Robert’s treats to me $25 Robert 25
Chuze Health $25 Discretionary 0
Mobile phone service $17 Reduceable 17
Haircut $15 Discretionary 0
Xmas playing cards $10 Discretionary 0
YouTube Music $10 Discretionary 0
Renter’s insurance coverage $8 Mounted 8
Amazon Prime (pupil) $7 Discretionary 0
Netflix $7 Discretionary 0
Microsoft $6 Discretionary 0
Goodbudget $5 Discretionary 0
McAffee $4 Discretionary 0
Parking allow $2 Mounted 2
Apple $1 Discretionary 0
Present Month-to-month Subtotal: $3,579 Proposed New Month-to-month Subtotal: $2,918
Present Annual Whole: $42,948 Proposed New Annual Whole: $35,016

At this naked bones funds degree, Ann can be on observe to avoid wasting an extra $7,932 per yr. This is able to 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 procuring downside?

Paper cranes

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

To that finish, I encourage Ann to carry out this identical train together 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 you can set a objective for the way a lot you wish to spend every month after which work backwards to determine get your spending to align with that objective. 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 probably the most. If Ann is ready to remove something that doesn’t match the standards of being a highest and finest precedence, her objective ought to come into sharper focus. She’s already completed the arduous work of monitoring and itemizing all of her bills–now she simply must reckon with which of them matter probably the most to her.

At work

This feast or famine mindset is a well-known one for lots of parents. We severely prohibit ourselves after which binge in the other way as a result of we really feel disadvantaged. The objective of sustainable, lifelong frugality is NOT to deprive your self–it’s to create a tenable steadiness between treats and financial savings. I name it ‘luxurious frugality‘ as a result of the hope is that you just’re capable of create a funds during which all your wants are met and sufficient of your ‘luxurious needs’ are additionally met. Thus, you’re capable of really feel ample 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 submit I wrote a couple of years in the past titled, The best way to Create Sustainable Cash Habits:

Establish: Suppose via 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 the way you’ll remove or cut back that expense.

For every of those spending junctures, work out in the event you can: 1) remove it completely; or 2) make the most of frugal substitution. (You too can carry out this train through spreadsheet with the above expense categorization method).

Listed here are a couple of examples:

    • Frugal substitution: bringing your lunch from dwelling somewhat than shopping for it out
    • Elimination: cancelling a fitness center membership you’re not utilizing
    • Frugal substitution: shopping for a costume to put on to a buddy’s marriage ceremony at a thrift retailer as a substitute of recent
    • Mixture elimination and substitution: not ingesting 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 cellular phone service is an ideal instance of frugal substitution (affiliate hyperlink). She’s not going and not using a cellphone, however she’s spending solely $17 a month on service, which is drastically lower than most People.

The road gadgets I encourage Ann to analyze 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 objective is to not berate your self or really feel responsible; somewhat, 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?

Completely happy Residing Room Association!

I wish to pause right here to speak about Ann’s pursuit of a BA and MA in English. Firstly, you don’t want a university diploma in an effort to turn into a author. You simply have to write down. Whereas an English diploma actually gives helpful strategies and instruments, it’s not a requirement to turn into an writer. To that finish, I encourage Ann to discern if her objective is to write down novels or train English.

→If the true objective is to show English, then sure, levels are required.

→Nevertheless, if the true objective is to write down books, a level shouldn’t be required and getting one is doubtlessly slowing down your writing progress.

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

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

  1. On one hand, she has recognized that she needs to earn extra money.
  2. However, she has recognized that she needs to write down books.
  3. Sadly, #2 shouldn’t be very prone to make #1 occur anytime quickly.

I feel 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 bought paid to write down this guide a couple of years in the past. It was a grueling, difficult course of and I can consider at the very least 1,000 simpler methods to become profitable.

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

Yard Puffball

As a fellow author, I’m not making an attempt 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 should not 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 at present makes. And Ann already is aware of that writing can occur anytime, anyplace–it doesn’t must be throughout 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 objective is to show English, then Ann must have a really concrete plan for the way that will likely 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 instructing that I encourage Ann to discover:

  1. What earnings can she anticipate as a instructor? It won’t be rather more than $25/hour.
  2. Will she additionally want a instructing certificates or diploma in an effort to be employed as a instructor?
  3. Can she be employed as a neighborhood school English instructor, as she famous, with out prior instructing expertise?
  4. Ann talked about instructing English on-line to English language learners and I’m virtually 100% sure you don’t want a level in English to do that. Ann already has a university diploma and that’s seemingly 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 a whole rundown of Ann’s property 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 incredible! 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 feel 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 for the time being 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: 

Intention to avoid wasting at the very least 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 observe. The caveat, nevertheless, is that Ann has recognized that her wage is simply too low and her funds too restrictive. In gentle of that, she’ll wish to keep watch over rising this quantity as her earnings will increase to a extra comfy degree. Her inclination to max out her Roth IRA yearly is a superb one and I encourage her to work in direction of that. For 2023, the utmost contribution allowed is $6,500. Observe that this jumps to $7,500 while you’re age 50 and older.

→Motion merchandise: Decide her Social Safety advantages


Ann must also work out her anticipated Social Safety advantages by following these directions on retrieve her earnings tables from (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 dwelling, so we’ll think about this cash already earmarked for that.

A Observe On Cellular Properties

Since Ann plans to purchase a cellular dwelling, I wish to embody a couple of notes–which she could already pay attention to–however I’d be remiss to not point out. My main warning right here is about cellular dwelling parks and their completely different administrative buildings.

Questions for Ann to ask:

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

This second query is very essential since, ideally, you wish to purchase a cellular dwelling in a park that’s owned by both a non-profit or a cooperative made up of the residents. If a park is as a substitute owned by a for-profit entity, park charges will be hiked dramatically over time. And regardless of their identify, it’s costly to maneuver a cellular dwelling, so that you’re basically restricted to staying within the park to procure into. Thus, if the park charges dramatically enhance, you’re caught with these charges. Plus, in the event you attempt to then promote, the worth of your own home is decreased as a result of patrons will likely be deterred by the excessive park charges. One of the simplest ways to mitigate that danger 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:

    • Establish which gadgets are priorities, which will be eradicated and that are ripe for frugal substitution.
  2. Establish the place to avoid wasting the $6,500/yr to spend money on your Roth IRA.
  3. Make sure you’re making a sustainable frugal funds that received’t result in deprivation and the temptation to severely prohibit after which binge.
  4. Spend time discerning if the objective is to write down novels or train English:
    • If the true objective is to show English, create a concrete plan for get employed and know the anticipated wage and necessities (instructing certificates, instructing expertise, and so forth) prematurely.
    • If the true objective is to write down books, then the diploma(s) should not required and are doubtlessly slowing down your progress.
  5. Write since you love to write down, not since you assume 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 shouldn’t be a secure path to that.
    • Revenue will seemingly want to return from some place else whereas the guide writing occurs within the off-hours. Many authors have adopted this path to nice literary (if not monetary) success!
  6. Contemplate transferring all your money right into a high-yield financial savings account.
  7. Preserve 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 properties.
  10. Replace us on all of the thrilling modifications you’ve got on the horizon! We’re cheering you on!

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

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