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Archive for December, 2015

Mortgage/Goal Update

December 23rd, 2015 at 02:53 pm

**I paid down the mortgage below $175k, as planned. Woohoo! I threw an extra $800 to the last payment of the year, to get there.

**I am happy with financial goals and have updated sidebar. I think financially I am mostly done with this year.

The one goal that I will fall short of is our investment goal. I am waiting for end of year credit card rewards to sort out, but I expect to get to $4,300-ish of of our $5,000 goal. I am actually feeling very okay with this. We will get our total taxable investments up to $10k with our tax refund in a couple of months. & if dh works all year we will be able to throw a lot into investments. So I was okay with the short term sacrifice (being $800-ish short) since the longer-term is looking better than I expected.

Overall, these goals were pretty aggressive and I never really expected to meet them all. I will say that often writing down the goals seems like 99% of the battle. Sometimes it just seems to happen magically. Certainly not always, but this year was more of a magical kind of year.

**I expect next year to be more of a savings year and less of a splurge year. Will see what we can do. I am thinking we can maybe save 40% of our income next year. Need to sit down and work the numbers though, probably mid January when I find out my salary for next year. A lot of our bills/utilities are creeping up, and I know we have some home improvements to tackle, plus expect a lot of medical bills. It could be a spendy year on the not-so-fun stuff. But on the flip side, we can probably boost our savings rate by about 10%, if we save everything dh makes.

December Doings

December 14th, 2015 at 02:43 pm

This month is pretty quiet for us. We sit out most the Christmas Crazy.

We do have other things going on. Dh and BM saw the Mythbusters live last week. The tickets went on sale many months ago and the price was totally insane. We compromised that just dh and BM would go.

& of course they are going to one of the first showings of Star Wars. My dh really lucked out. I recall him joining a group to hold a place in line to buy tickets, back when we were in college. (The members of the group took turns waiting in line for days or weeks. Probably for Episode I). This time, he was impatient and just noticed the website was selling tickets early. (Since he kept checking before they were to be on sale. I mean like this might have been an hour early). Shortly after they were to go on sale the website crashed. So he did end up getting one of the first tickets. No huge lines necessary. & I am glad I didn't have to hear about all the frustration if he waited longer and couldn't get tickets.

He is planning to wait in line at the theater a few hours to ensure decent seats. IT helps to live in less of a nerd city. He isn't expecting the same kind of lines that there usually are in the Bay Area.

**Christmas shopping is done.

For work exchange, I drew the "new girl" for the second year in a row. So EASY though because she just got married. I ordered a personalized ornament and I also stocked up on Starbucks gift cards (one for her, and then will have some laying around for whatever).

Dh told me he didn't expect any Holiday doings with his job.

**I am noting the kids' gifts here for future reference. This is where we ended up.

--Show tickets (panel for one of their favorite TV shows)

--Shared extension pack for a favorite board game

--One practical gift/each (mostly because they both needed something)

--Stocking stuffers: junk food and mad libs, presented in re-usable laundry bags that I got for $3/each on Etsy. Which I suppose is another practical gift.

**I ended up ordering a "Grandma necklace" for my mom. I've been coveting a mom necklace for myself when I stumbled upon this one. Decided to get one for my mom instead.

There was also a gift I wanted to get my mom that Amazon wouldn't let me ship to the my address. I tried a couple of different times and wasn't sure why I couldn't order it. Anyway, in the end I received this gift for my birthday! So I am re-gifting to my mom for her birthday.

Oh, and I am going to pick up some flowers for my mom. They've been having great small-ish bouquets at our grocery store for $4. If I remember to pick up a few days before Christmas I will do well. These flowers are so fresh and they last several weeks. For the long run, may make a bit of a tradition of this so it's less focus on the material. (I just think the Grandma necklace is so special! But don't need to buy something like that every single year).

I had already bought my dad some candy and have a non-material birthday gift planned.

**Dh is figuring out whatever for his family. They are WAY into the material Christmas thing, but they also do a lot for us and so we just give them nicer gifts. Maybe $50 per person for his parents and grandma. They will give us more than $150 cash for Christmas, and so I always figure they buy their own Christmas gifts anyway.

Year of Splurge

December 13th, 2015 at 02:30 pm

So I thought we had already concluded our year of splurge. I'd say it was like 12 months of splurge, starting at the end of 2014.

But at the last minute we decided to top off 2015 with one more splurge. I don't think by itself it's a huge splurge, but it caps off a spendy year.

But let me back up first. My dh may be a videophile, but he's never been an audiophile. Just as an example, the sound system in our home theater is something dh bought in college, and the stereo speakers we have I bought when I was like 12 or 13. Don't get me wrong, these are GOOD speakers, but we are good with good. If it ain't broke why fix it.

Along the same lines, though we've never kept a car stock stereo, we have also never replaced the speakers. I'd say we've always had fairly good car speakers.

So we've absolutely never gone car speaker shopping before. BUT... This Hyundai's speakers SUCK. If we notice or care then it is probably pretty darn bad. I'd say this is my only single complaint about our recent car purchase.

Since dh has some time next week he decided to get that taken care of. (It was probably a bit much to stomach immediately after our largest car purchase ever. Needed to give it some time). Since we always upgrade car stereos I didn't think too much about it. The stock stereo in this case is more than fine and so we just do speakers instead with this car. It's all kind of the same in the end. We buy a car and we do something with the stereo. It's not a surprise financially.

We weren't really expecting to spend much because we are at the "anything is better than what we have" stage. Which overall was a pretty solid conclusion. We bought some low end speakers that sounded absolutely incredible.

But... We are also taking a gamble on some of the sound dampening they offer these days (soundproofing for the car, basically). I don't think it's anything we would invest in otherwise, but takes on a whole new meaning when you only have hearing in one ear. We are a little skeptical if it makes that much of a difference or is worth it, but is worth a try. If it's absolutely amazing then it is something we will invest in our future cars. If not, we won't bother with our next car. (I expect it will mostly greatly enhance dh's enjoyment of music in the car. BUT... If we could actually have a conversation when he is driving with is deaf ear on my side, that would be nice too).

I am probably a little extra excited because this is something *I* am excited about too. Which is not the case for most of dh's big purchases. Big Grin

& thus concludes our year of splurge! This is really it!

This & That

December 6th, 2015 at 05:09 pm

*Got some de-cluttering done these past couple of weeks. Dh sold a large box of books. They seemed to take 99% of them. I put the last couple of books in the donate pile.

Dh also cleared out his office (for Thanksgiving, since guests may watch movies in our home theater/office). He handed me a bag of used gift cards. (Mostly because when you redeem $500 with Citi or Chase they often send 20 x $25 gift cards, and my spouse doesn't throw things out when he's done!) I thought I Recalled Best Buy taking gift cards for recycle. I looked it up and they do. So I put the pile in the Best Buy box (with old electronics to recycle, etc. - sometimes they take it all but sometimes they will only take a few at a time, so we just keep a box for when we are in that area).

I've got a bag going of old clothing. Mostly the kids' outgrown clothes. Two charities are coming by this week.

In the grand scheme of things, haven't put a lot of effort into it, but definitely more going out than coming in.

**I paid some of the big bills due by the end of the year and did some fiscal chores. I had to pay one bill by mail and I believe this is the *only* bill that I can't just pay online. Wouldn't you know it? They did not provide a return envelope! So here I am endlessly throwing envelopes in the recycle bin, and the one time I actually need one there is no envelope with the bill. HA!

I just used an envelope from another bill.

**Dh went out on Black Friday. He got $20 gift cards (free) from his favorite resale shop. He did the same deal last year.

I did also pick up some nice fleece pullovers from Kohls, for dh, BM and I. About $12/each. They were men's sizes and I initially just ordered a couple of different sizes to try for myself. But dh tried on the too-large one and it fit him perfect. He wore it to work, and really liked it. They were still on sale so I bought a few more. I was going to order one specifically for BM (blue for school uniform) but dh said, "Didn't you already buy a Blue medium?" We tried it on BM and it fit him perfectly. This is actually kind of genius because he will outgrow it in a minute, and the kids will very rarely ever wear a sweater. So I figure I will just share this one with the kids as they need it. In a year or two they can share sweaters with dh.

November Savings

December 1st, 2015 at 03:41 pm

Received $36 bank interest for the month of November.

Snowflakes to investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $48 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $2 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$200 to investments
+$300 to cash
+$900 to IRAs

Snowballs to savings:

+ $ 85 Citi Price Rewind
+ $207 credit card reward
+ $220 freelance video work (net of expenses)
+ $300 Chase checking reward
+ $900 Dh's paychecks

I am just hoarding up cash for now. Waiting to see how things shake out 12/31.

{P.S. What a month!!}

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
- 340 Auto registration and insurance
- 550 Dentist(3)
- 5,000 Property taxes

I went ahead and just prepaid property taxes again, for the whole year. It is so much simpler.

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Goals for 12/31:

--6 months' cash efund (bare minimum cash for long run)

--Have $11,000 cash to fund 2015 IRAs, in addition to the above

--Put an additional $1,400 to investments

--Put an additional $825 to the mortgage

I am hoarding cash and seeing where we end up. I know at the least I can probably attain all of the above if I fund IRAs in January or February. Not so confident doing it all by 12/31, but will see.