A little over two months ago, I found out that my company was hiring an entry-level accounting clerk. I applied, since Accounting is what I’m currently going to school for, and I got the job!

With the job came a new starting salary, which was a very nice effective raise from the salary I had previously been paid.

Beware of Lifestyle Creep

As any personal finance blogger worth their salt will tell you, the biggest thing to watch out for when you get a raise is “lifestyle creep.” The theory is, if you were living within or below your means before your raise, there doesn’t seem to be any reason you can’t continue to live even more within or below your means after the raise.

But, if you’re not paying attention, it’s very easy to spend the extra money on little things that add up and without realizing it, you’ve become a victim of lifestyle creep.

Preventing Lifestyle Creep

The solution is to look at your budget/spending plan before you get the money in your account, but after you know how much more you’re going to have, and make a plan for that new income.

The change in our budget looked like this:

Before

After

(The differences are marked in peach.)

As you can see, we did our best to put the majority of my new income into Savings, but we did add a little bit into the Wants category. (Lifestyle creep is not inherently bad, it’s just something that you don’t want to happen without your knowing about it.)

Contributing More to My Roth IRA

Before I got this new job/raise, I was putting $60 per paycheck, or $120 a month, into my Roth IRA. (I work for the state, so don’t have a company 401(k) into which to be putting money.)

Now that I’ve got this new job/raise, my plan was to put $100 per paycheck into my Roth IRA. A relatively small change that we probably wouldn’t even notice, month-to-month.

However, when I did my fancy planning on the spreadsheet up there, I forgot to make said change, and now I’m finding it harder to go back into one (or several) of the categories we increased and decrease it (or them) by the necessary $80 a month.

I know, logically, that it’s a good idea to put that $80 into an investment account where compound interest can work its magic.

I also know that if I don’t reallocate the money, when I look back in 20 or 30 years, I won’t be able to tell you what I spent that $80 on each month, but I will be sad that it didn’t get added to my Roth IRA, and therefore isn’t available as I get ready to pay for one of of my crazy retirement goals.

So clearly I should do it. But it’s hard.

Saving Automatically is Truly the Way to Go

And that, my friends, is why making any saving you do automatic is a really good idea. Because even with everything I know about why saving (especially long-term saving) is a good idea, I still find it challenging, psychologically, to take the steps to make the change. It’s so much better if you only have to go through that psychological battle once to set up the automatic saving plan, instead of every month.

Am I going to make the change to the amount I contribute to my Roth IRA?

Yup.

In fact, while I was giving this blog post a bit of time to stew before I reviewed it for posting, I printing off the Direct Deposit form from my work’s website, and filled it out. Tomorrow when I go into the office, I’ll turn it in to the HR department, and adjust my budget spreadsheet accordingly.

What I Learned at FinCon12, Or Why I’m Putting my Blog on Hold

September 26, 2012

I spent most of the weekend of FinCon12 (which was almost two weeks ago now) surrounded by a bunch of really amazing, inspiring, and talented people. For that experience alone I am very grateful. Attending FinCon12 When I found out that the Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon or FinCon12) was coming to Denver I was thrilled. [...]

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Less than 1 Week to FinCon12!!

August 31, 2012

At the beginning of the year, I posted as one of my goals “Attend the 2012 Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon12) as part of my job.” Well, it’s (almost) September, and that means that FinCon12 is just a few days away. My ticket is purchased, I’ve got my (very nice) FinCon Connection Issue 1 with the [...]

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Tragedy has struck the Finance Geek household: my worms are dead. :(

Things were great

My worm bin was doing really well for the first few weeks. The worms were happily wriggling about, doing their worm-y thing, (slowly) making beautiful dirt.

But then…

Then I fed them. You wouldn’t think this would cause problems, and it normally wouldn’t, except that I actually overfed them. It turns out they had not sufficiently processed the food I had given them originally, and adding more overwhelmed the system.

Compounding the problem

Not only did I give them too much food, but I did during a time when we weren’t really running our AC during the day, which meant it was 80+ degrees in the house every day—too hot for worm bins. I didn’t know to make sure that the worms had enough moisture in their environment to cope with the heat (but no so much that they would drown), and so they fared poorly.

First sign of trouble

So, after (over)feeding them and letting them sit in a too-hot house, the worm bin started to smell. Anyone who knows anything about worm bins (not me, clearly) will tell you that worm bins don’t smell if they’re “healthy,” so a smelly worm bin is a sign of worm distress.

Ignoring the signs

I just thought that it meant the worms hadn’t been able to process the food I’d given them quickly enough for it not to smell, so I decided to leave them alone, and let them do their thing a little while longer.

Tragedy struck

I thought I was right, because after a few days, the smell died away. I assumed the worms had processed the excess food, and all was going well in their little worm home. I should have known better. I opened up the worm bin yesterday and was smacked in the face by the stench of ammonia. In case it’s not glaringly obvious, that’s not good. What’s also not good is the fact that half of the contents of the worm bin were soggy and stuck together. Worms need a certain amount of moisture to function, but too much water also causes problems, which is why you always see worms on the sidewalks after a heavy rain. I dug through the bin with my trowel, hoping against hope that there were still some worms in there, but no, they were all dead. In my ignorance and (accidental) neglect, I had killed them.

The aftermath

With a heavy heart, I emptied the rotted contents of my ex-worm bin into a garbage back and took it down to the dumpster. I still have some food scraps in my Worm Food container in my fridge, because I haven’t given up hope that I could try again.

If at first you don’t succeed…

And I do want to try again. I just need to save up another $30 to buy myself a new pound of worms. Maybe two, so they can process the food scraps more quickly. My birthday’s coming up at the end of this month. Maybe someone will buy me worms for my birthday. I promise I’ll take better care of them this time. I know what I did wrong now. RIP my worm-y friends.

August 20, 2012

Tragedy has struck the Finance Geek household: my worms are dead. Things were great My worm bin was doing really well for the first few weeks. The worms were happily wriggling about, doing their worm-y thing, (slowly) making beautiful dirt. But then… Then I fed them. You wouldn’t think this would cause problems, and it [...]

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PF Olympics: I didn’t make the cut

July 30, 2012

I am sad to report that I didn’t make the Top 3 in the first heat of the Personal Finance (PF) Olympics. I did however make the Top 10, which I think is pretty darn awesome, considering how many submissions it seemed like there were. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone [...]

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Considering Expenses: Why We Got Cable

July 23, 2012

Cable is expensive and over-rated I’ve always thought that cable was over-rated. Most of the time when I look at the “deals” that the various cable companies are offering (“Try these three services, for only $200 for six months!”), I just shake my head. Getting internet and having Netflix and Hulu Plus has always seemed [...]

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