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April Savings

April 29th, 2017 at 07:30 am

Received $35 bank interest for the month of April.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $65 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $4 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$20 Savings from Target Red Card (made a big purchase)
--$40 Insurance refund

Snowball to investments (MH Paycheck):
+$500

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

+$3,000 OT to savings (will fund my mortgage goal)

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$1,000 airfare London
-$ 500 life insurance
-$ 400 Drama Camp

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I had a CD mature this month, so a little less interest income. Since we do want to replace our vehicle, I think I will keep this CD money in our savings account. There is that, and I am also just completely exhausted with work. Maybe in a month or two it will sound appealing at all to jump through hoops to earn more interest. For now, I am over it. (Now that I think about it, I haven't done one of those since MH was unemployed. We've had this "nice and simple" CD for 22 months. Though my exhaustion speaks more to my work situation than his. So we will see in another few months).

I had a complete DOH moment today. American Express is really finicky with their gas rewards. They often don't give rewards for gas stations they clearly label as "fuel" on their statements. ??? I has a DOH moment today as I recalled we might have gas rewards on other cards. We do! In the end, we can get 3% back on our CU Visa. It will take me a while to remember, but MH is really good at keeping track of all this madness. I'd rather use our credit union than the big banks, any day. So this is good.

My last entry I mentioned OT status, so nothing new there. I don't know when I will literally transfer the $3k to our mortgage. Maybe soon, since I also have all this cash that had been tied up in a CD. I just need some time before I tie up money indefinitely. I will put it to the mortgage sometime between now and January 1.

From short-term savings, I paid off the London airfare. I did also fund drama camp, apparently a full month earlier than last year. Drama Llama LOVES his drama camp.

Neither kid was interested at all in other summer classes. We didn't push it. I think us parents just need a break. We will have a very lazy low-spend summer. It sounds absolutely divine!

March Savings

April 2nd, 2017 at 08:09 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of March.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $53 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $0 cash back on Visa/dining card.
(Didn't eat out)

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$4 Savings from Target Red Card

Snowball to investments (MH Paycheck):
$1,000

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

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

+$1,300 to cash
- 280 Auto Insurance
- 140 cell phone for MM
- 100 car maintenance

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Other Snowflakes:
--$25 Focus Group

I didn't invest this snowflake; I donated it to DL's school.

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MH's work has been slow, which is nice because my work has been *completely insane*.

I still needed to get $1,400 "tax savings" over to our investments. For now, I am just hoarding MH's paycheck to that end. I have $1,000 to throw at that today and will probably have $400 in another couple of weeks.

It probably works out that I will get that funded by April 15th. Around then I should get my OT for the year and we will have to look at our tax situation and figure out the rest of the year.

February Savings

March 1st, 2017 at 07:57 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of February.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $74 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $5 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$8 Savings from Target Red Card

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$20 Citi Price Rewinds (price match for computer parts)
--rounded up $3

Snowball to investments (MH Paycheck):
+$365

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

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

+$1,300 to cash
+ 260 insurance refund
-$1,342 Insurance (various)
-$1,200 Auto Repairs
-$ 90 dentist
-$ 95 Windows OS (for new computer)
-$ 50 Professional Fee

Edited to add: I later realized that I forgot to update short-term expenses paid out this month. It was a spendy month! (I hadn't realized or particularly thought about it because most of these expenses were charged around Jan. 1 and paid off Feb. 1. But I include in February because that is when I transfer the funds out of my savings account).

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One of the insurance bills that I paid was my disability insurance. In the past I have had a $4,200/month benefit without having to have a certain income. I can "up" this to $5,000 monthly benefit now. I really should make this a priority.

I noticed that our gas rewards aren't calculating correctly, so will have to keep an eye on that.

I did receive $1,000 tax refund and have yet to literally deposit that into our investments. It works out because we usually charge health insurance around the 29th, but it went through a few days early with the short month. We actually didn't have any big bills on our credit card this month, but the health insurance was charged twice (1st and 28th). So I will just use the $1,000 to float that. Will put it to investments in April. Just kind of worked out in an easy peasy kind of way.

I am still in a groove where I just pay all the (cash) bills on the first of the month, which includes paying off all prior month credit card charges. Then I don't have to think about it again for another month. (I am just not into automating things. I have to look over things carefully, and this may also be largely driven by not having direct deposit. Lord knows when I actually get my paycheck sometimes, like if we are on a vacation).

March and April are big savings months for us. MH is back at work & all my OT gets paid out in a lump sum every April. Plus, we are just both super busy with work, so we aren't spending money. It is always interesting to see how those months shake out. But then we generally relax and enjoy the rest of the year.

I do have a CD maturing mid-month and will have to figure out what to do with that. I've seen some good options, but will just depend what's available when I get access to the cash. I'll let you know what I find.

January Savings

January 29th, 2017 at 07:42 am

Received $41 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $5 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $90 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $6 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$4 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$1,120 insurance (various)
-$ 200 dentist
-$ 100 school lunches (for rest of school year)

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All of the expenses above were December charges that we paid off in January. So this wraps up 2016.

Not much to report for January. MH had no income this month.

Yes!

January 17th, 2017 at 06:12 am

Yes!

I did an update yesterday with where my head was at with our 2017 goals and budget.

I *know* my employer would pay me more if he could. But given the economics... He told me some years back that I Was the only one in the office getting raises (for several years). I had *no idea*. It was just some weird circumstance of being the youngest in the office but having most of the responsibility. I figured that was a warning of some sort, so have not even expected a raise for the past 2-3 years.

Fast forward to this year. We have a big software conversion, and we are getting really down to the wire. I had to work crazy OT the past couple of months just to get it done before the old software expires. I am actually feeling pretty happy and refreshed because it's January and I am knee deep in the fun part of my job. & the bulk of that software stuff is over. PHEW!

Usually my employer is more open with me, but today he didn't say much. Maybe that's a good sign. Usually he says something along the lines of pulling out of his income to be fair to me. Today all he said was he was giving me a 3% raise. (I don't have any indication that economics are better. I am guessing no speech just because he didn't have to apologize for not being able to do more). & he knew and appreciated how hard I was working. I think I just kind of needed that. Of all years to pull it out, this was the year to do so. I have been working SO HARD.

I *know* I am appreciated at my job, but it's nicer to be appreciated with a raise. Big Grin

(I don't even think it was a bigger raise than usual, percentage-wise, but dollar wise it just feels like more!).

In the end, the raise will just cover our increased expenses for the year, and will allow me to cover MM's gymnastics classes. Just perfect! It was actually kind of crazy because I already went through our expenses a couple of weeks ago and updated for all the little utility increases in recent years. (I don't know that I have been that *exact* lately, just knowing it all seemed to balance in the checkbook). I decided to pull $20/month out of my check for taxes, without looking at the budget. It's just what we needed to do for taxes. & when I plugged my new net check into our "budget" sheet" it was within $1 of our monthly expenses. Seriously! I told MH you would think I PLANNED that. The reality is I got "just enough raise", net of taxes, to not have to rejigger anything. Couldn't have planned it better if I tried.

So, I just threw up some goals in my sidebar. They are basically the same as last year. Still aiming to save 30% of my income. I rounded up investment goal a bit to keep it an even 30% of gross income.

This will get me through April and then I may re-jigger a bit. I get my OT pay in April, and then MH starts the busy season of his work in September. So it just works out to do a tax and goal evaluation every 4 months or so. I need to manage our taxes a bit more, with MH working.

Budget Update

January 16th, 2017 at 10:05 am

No idea on the income side yet, for 2017 (Both MH and I find out this month if we get raises).

So I am just fine tuning the expense side of things. Many years we have had some expenses go up while others go down, but this seems to be one of those "expenses just going up" kind of years.

Monthly Increases:

Gymnastics $100 (added luxury splurge)
Health Insurance: $40
Cell Phones: $35
HOA $11
Internet: $10
Total: $196

Notes:

I did evaluate groceries and we spent about the same both of the last two years, so I think those expenses are leveling off. Phew! (Then again, MM(13) now considers 3 potatoes a single serving; I am not overly confident in the staying power of our current grocery budget). But, for now...

Cell phones: We added a line ($6/month) and I changed our budget since we are covering my parents' cell expenses.

HOA went up. We've been incredibly lucky. The bill has generally never gone up (in 15 years!) The more recent HOA boards have started updating common areas, which I think is reasonable, and some study came back that we were under-funded for something or other (long-term). This is definitely the biggest increase we have ever had, but was probably a one-off type increase.

Internet went up and MH is peeved. We are biding our time for cheaper or maybe even free internet. Our small company got bought out by a bigger one, so I know that was a lot of my husband feeling disgruntled. It's like the third time that has happened to us. (But at least it wasn't Comcast this time. A medium fish swallowed the little fish). On the flip side, we do have 100mbps. As long as MH is working, he can have his insane high speed internet. We do get use/benefits from it. It's been actually saving me a lot of time on a work project, to just take home and use our super fast internet. (We may have 100mbps at work, but it gets bogged down in various ways).

Gymnastics: They only take cash and I have been mostly been funding by selling stuff around the house. I suppose more than that, have just been funding from MH's income. I realized last fall that I never put this in our budget. Something wasn't quite adding up right, until I realized. But I've just been winging it because I didn't have any room for this expense. So... I would like to work this into our budget, which is basically how we allocate *my* salary. I don't know if we will be able to. Plan B is I will allocate MH's salary for this expense. Looking back at 2016, I think that $100/month should be ample. I am okay with MH's income funding "splurges that we can't otherwise justify". I don't want to just wing it again, for this year. It was an expenses we added middle of 2016 and that I didn't give a whole lot of thought, beyond "MH is working and we can swing it."

On the flip side, DL(11) is giving me a bit of a financial reprieve. His first class at art school was a visual arts class, which would have been the lowest on his list of interests. But he LOVED it and he has been working hard on his drawing. I kept telling him he could just take more art classes later, but he felt intimidated by how much talent some of the kids have. I don't mind buying him classes now to get his confidence up, and he can't even take any (free) electives this year anyway. That will come later. But for whatever reason I procrastinated on getting him enrolled in the single drawing class I could find. (I am not a procrastinator usually). By the time the first day of class rolled around I brought it up and said I could try to get him signed up, but he seemed no longer interested at that point. Phew! He is very protective of his free time (which is why I think this art school is so important for him; will give him LOTS of exposure during school, without cutting into his "time to be a kid"). But he also later told me he felt like he had caught up to the other kids. He is practicing and improving on his own time. (If he changes his mind later, we can cover with MH's income, or money from grandparents).

So...

If we don't get any raises, what ever will we do? I actually have $200/month going into investments. It was a placeholder for past raises that we didn't *need*. So I feel very *shrugs* about any scenario at this point. We have been investing the $200/month mostly with funding college in mind. & I mean, we already have enough money to get both kids through college (in a bare minimum kind of way). So this is just extra that allows our kids more options. Either way, it's just gravy.

I will find out today what I have to work with. Then I Can work on figuring out our goals for 2017.

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Edited to add: After getting multiple comments focusing on income (on other blog posts too), I felt it was worth clarifying. This is how we manage our expenses. If I was getting a 50% raise tomorrow, I would still go through this exercise. Keeping expenses down is probably the most important factor, as to early retirement. So, I am just sharing my thought process on the expense side of things. It is very "Money Mustache". I don't care if we double our income tomorrow. If we can find a cheaper internet alternative, we will find a cheaper internet alternative.

The income side is important too, but is rather divorced from the "expense" side, for me.

Financial Updates - 2016 Year End

January 1st, 2017 at 02:01 pm

I think this is my last post for the day. I am getting to all my financial updates, since I have time today.

We did really well on net worth for 2016. Up $60,000 for the year. Our goal was to increase net worth by $42,000.

We paid down the mortgage by $8,000. The rest of our net worth gain was investments.

Home Equity is at $250,000.

Cash/Investments have surpassed the $300k mark.

I don't know if I have ever said specifically, but I have a very comfortable emergency fund for next job transition. (It's been a BIG goal for me, and we made it!)

ROTH IRAs and Traditional IRAs seem to be about 50/50, as to their balances. We do not contribute to ROTHs given our current tax situation. But we heavily funded the ROTHs while my spouse was not working (low tax rates). I would guess that the Traditional IRAs will pull ahead in 2017, since we are contributing to those.

Our savings rate was 30% in 2016. 25% of our income went to long-term investments and retirement. The other 5% went to cash savings.

If we paid off our mortgage, we'd be debt free and we would have $150,000 in investments. We'd have to cash out our ROTHs, cash, and taxable investments to do this. We could leave college money and Traditional IRAs intact. I suppose it's feasible (for the first time ever), but not wise. I don't think we would seriously consider this unless our mortgage was in the $50k range. & we wouldn't cash out our ROTHs to pay off our mortgage. So we have a ways to go. I just know that we will ponder more as this number gets bigger.

Our household income hit six figures for the first time. I am just counting "salary" for this purpose. I really thought we had an income around $100k last we both worked full-time. But it turns out we had peaked at $99,000 (per old tax records). This year our salary income was something like $100,200. We just squeaked by. So I guess that is kind of an exciting milestone. Of course, our income is kind of the same as it has been. I just did the math, and once you figure how much less OT I worked and how much less money we made in side hustles, economically we made the same amount in both 2015 and 2016. So while pretty much everyone generally reacts like we are suddenly "made of money" with MH working, it's more as I expected: We are the same financially either way. We've just replaced some side hustle income with wages. & the wages are WAY less efficient, of course, but the motivation has been for resume and "future employment" versus more immediate financial gain.

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My long-term goal has been to get to a point where our net worth increases by our expenses every year. I figured if we could do this in our 40s that we would consider "financial independence" at 50.

Of course, this would be an average of a $60k increase per year, since our annual spending is at the $60k level. But I am fine with aiming for $50k since this will probably be a more reasonable expense level when our mortgage is paid off (and kids are grown). Also, if we can achieve these net worth gains, I know they will just grow with time, as investments compound. All this to say, my goal for the next 5 years or so will be to grow our net worth by $50k per year. In 5 years I will probably re-evaluate and hope to push that goal up to $60k or $70k per year. Maybe averaging $60k per year, for this next decade.

Estimate Net Worth Change for 2017:

Cash: Increase $5,000
Mortgage: Paydown $8,000
Investments: Contribute $9,000
Retirement: Contribute $15,000
Investment Returns: $13,000 (would need 4% gain)
TOTAL INCREASE: $50,000

Of course, it also seems likely that the value of our house will increase significantly next year. It's been rather stagnate for a few years, but things are starting to take off in recent months. It looks like a $60k net worth increase is feasible, factoring home equity gains. OF course, almost anything is feasible. I don't get too hung up in the "year over year" changes, as I am more concerned about the next decade as a whole. But this is just what I am starting with.

I had said that maybe I would change my blog focus to "countdown to financial independence" when I turn 40 (last month). But... It's still too far away and nebulous with way too many moving parts. So I am laying out our more long-term plan. I feel that there are way too many unknowns to start a countdown at this point. It's just a very loose plan, for now.

The loose plan will be to get our kids through college, to have $1 mil in investments, and to downsize into a paid-for home (smaller than what we have now, and lower maintenance). We should be able to achieve this in 10 years.

2016 Goal Update

January 1st, 2017 at 01:43 pm

I am copying and pasting sidebar, to memorialize in my blog. Brief Commentary below.

2016 Goals

**Financial**

[X]$11,000 to IRAs 2016 (MAX)
...($10,850 @ 12/1/16)
...$10,800 savings;$50 credit card rewards
...We save $900/month

[X]$5,000 to savings
...($5,287 @ 12/1/16)
...We save $300/month, plus interest.
...Topping off with snowballs

[ ]$7,500 to investments
...($7,000 @ 12/31/16)
...$2,416 from monthly contributions; $2,084 snowflakes; $2,500 tax savings
...We save $200/month, plus snowflakes
...Will also invest tax savings when contribute to Traditional IRAs

[X]$3,000 to mortgage
...($3,100 @ 12/31/16)
...$3k per year to pay off in 15 years (from last refi); also ensures that we pay more principal than interest
...Funded with overtime

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Note: Savings goal ended up with a little extra to top off the IRAs, so the IRA goal was met.

2016 was fairly similar to 2015. I just fell short of investment goal by about $500. (Same thing happened in the prior year).

I am VERY happy with how the year shook out. We also had about $6,000 in unexpected vacation expenses. So it does not bother me that we fell a little short of our financial goals.

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Edited to add, because I forgot this one:

[/]50% of dh's income to 401k
...This is the max that he can contribute

We did 50% for most of the year, but not all year. We did what we needed to do for our taxes. Otherwise, I *much* rather put that money towards our mortgage or keep some of it liquid for college. So I do not consider this a goal fail. We ended up putting about 1/3 of dh's salary into 401k. We also put 1/3 into MM(13)'s school DC trip, which I think we only entertained seriously because MH was working. If you want to know why we did not achieve 50%, that is the obvious answer. But lack of tax motivation (at year end) was also part of the equation.

December Savings

January 1st, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Received $41 bank interest for the month of December.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $95 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $10 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$15 Savings from Target Red Card
--$ 5 American Express Credit
--$ 1 Citi Price Rewind

In addition, I added $16 to investments to get up to a total of $7,000 contributions for the year. I fell short of my goal, but figured I could round up $16 to make it even.

Other snowflakes:
--$85 Craigslist sale

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$143 Auto Expense
-$470 Dentist/Ortho

Short-term savings was otherwise drained for the year so I pulled the following out of mid-term savings:

-$500 computer expenses (MM)
-$250 Sketchfest tickets (3 shows)


2016 Spending & 2017 Vacation Plans

January 1st, 2017 at 06:45 am

In the end, it looks like we spent within $90 of what we spent in 2015, for total household spending. I mentioned in my last post that we are VERY consistent.

{Edited to add: Um... The kids owe me like $60 for Christmas gifts that they bought. MH was settling up with them yesterday. Once I settle up with them, I think our spending will be within $30 of the prior year. That is just CRAZY!}

Here are top 5 expenses and bottom 5 expenses for last 2 years:


NOTE: Edited to Top 6, to capture big expenses. All other expenses were $2,000 or below.

I highlighted the vacation spending because we aren't big vacation spenders and these are very one-off type expenses. Our annual budget is only $2,000 for vacation, and is more in the realm of what I foresee spending the next several years.

On the mortgage, we made an extra payment (or two?) versus last year. We should be under the $7,000 mark on mortgage interest in the future. This is one of those expenses that is snowballing downward very rapidly.

Auto expenses include repairs/maintenance, insurance, registration, fuel. (We pay cash for cars; no car payments). You might presume that our auto expenses were down because we now have a newer vehicle. But our repair spending in 2016 was $0 on our 2005 minivan. In contrast, the 2013 vehicle needed a new battery and new tires. (We replaced the crappy/cheap stock tires, and the battery died prematurely).

{I do have details on the autos, and I also track expenses per vehicle. For 2016: $1944 fuel, $1800 insurance, $278 registration, $803 repairs/maintenance}.

Medical expenses are insane, but our insurance has covered almost seven figures in medical procedures for my husband (before age 40). So, at least I know we get our money's worth, and it's very important for us to have high quality insurance. I am sure given different circumstances we would have just gone "cheap". It's been our biggest expense for several years, so is nothing new. It's been our biggest challenge with *one income* living, but we live so far below our means that we have been able to deal with it. But I know it's so glaring that I should address.

**I have not included income taxes because is not a big expense for us.**

The interesting thing about our lowest expenses is that it tends to be our more luxury spending. I am sure I have said it a million times before, but will say it again. We don't do without. We just are careful and rein in costs, and shop around. & prioritize what is the most important. So most of our "luxury" type spending ends up towards the bottom.

The only reason we paid any childcare in 2015 is that our carpools were flakey and they'd forget to pick up our kids (and their own kids too). *sigh* Our attitude for 2016 was to just take care of it ourselves. I am sure this is reflected in additional driving (A LOT), but gas has generally been cheaper this year.

Haircuts went up substantially because MM(13) is suddenly interested in a short hairstyle.

Vet care - we learned that our vet is cheap when it comes to shots.

I did notice that our telephone expenses (not listed) more than doubled. It was one of the more noticeable changes, since everything else was so consistent. We just didn't get as many Ting referrals (discounts) in 2016. So we paid $300 for landline + cell phone service for 2015. We paid closer to $700 in 2016. This included adding cell service for DL(11) the last couple of months. Both years we just paid for my parents during the last 6 months of the year. We are going to add MM(13) to cell plan this summer. So, should be an additional $144 per year, for the long run, with the two new lines. (It's only $6/month to add a line to Ting). I don't expect the kids will use much data/texting. They've had smart phones for years, so they are used to seeking out free wifi. I think we will probably just cover this bill for my parents. We used to split 50/50, but now it's going to be more 66/33. & we seem to use more data which is why we just tell my parents not to reimburse us for the second half of the year. Maybe I should just ask them to cover their $144 per year for the additional lines. As long as their usage remains low, we will just cover the rest. I think this sounds like a good compromise, since I don't know that we need to be subsidizing my parents' phone bills. But maybe $144 is a good compromise where we don't have to try to divide the bill as it gets more complicated. That's just their obvious "share" of the bill. You pay per line and then it's a flat amount for all the data, text and minutes that you use for that month (as a group). Even the first line is just $6/month.

I expect our total expenses to be about the same for the next couple of years. We have some home maintenance ($$$$) to tend to. Starting to talk braces for both kids. So stuff like that will probably replace our recent vacation spending. These are things we also want to take care of while our income is high and before our kids start college.

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While discussing vacation spending, I want to jot down some notes on that.

2017 Vacation Plans:

I really want to do a National Park vacation. It will have to be without the kids. Aiming for fall. I am thinking more frugal road trip. I don't even know if we'd spend $500 on something like this. So it's like my "Dream vacation" for the moment, but is nothing that is a big financial drain. Grand Canyon is at the top of the list.

MH has plans to go to Florida for his Grandpa's 90th birthday. It's in the fall; the kids and I won't be able to go. So it just works out. (I do not want to go, so it really works out!) That will be with his family, so I expect our only expense will be airfare, which should not be much.

My dad was making plans to river raft down the grand canyon with my son. He told me on Thanksgiving that he would cover the costs and would expect us to pay for airfare. I think that's fine and reasonable. (Though our vacation spending has been insane, I have just been trying to go with the flow, not knowing how this trip would shake out. Time like this, with Grandparents, is just too priceless). As our parents get more financially comfortable, they invite us on trips less often that they expect *us* to pay for. (They also give us more cash, which we set aside for these type things. Is why I often say that "the Grandparents are paying for it," whether they realize or not). Since it was domestic, I just went with it. In the end the trip sounds quite expensive (more than I would have thought), but I believe that my dad will follow through on paying for it. Anyway, we weren't sure if it might be too late to reserve for summer and I mentioned that MM(13) will get out of school the following year on May 31st. No more of this crazy "short summer" stuff, for him. So my dad told me yesterday that the more he thought about it the more appealing it sounded June 1 versus mid-July. It would be just so crazy hot in July. I think it's probably best all around to push that off. MM has his big school DC trip this spring. So this will space out his big trips a bit. Heck, maybe I will try to tag along if they wait another year. I just couldn't even think about it with my broken foot. That gives me time to save up too. (If this seems feasible, I suppose that MH and I would consider visiting Yellowstone instead, in 2017. We will start making decisions this summer).

November Savings

November 30th, 2016 at 05:56 am

Received $39 bank interest for the month of November.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card. But... Paid annual $95 fee. I will subtract $95 from snowflakes/investments.

Redeemed $64 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $7 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$17 Savings from Target Red Card
--$40 Focus Group (survey)

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 500 to Investments

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$200 Tahoe Weekend
-$200 Monterey Weekend
-$185 Auto Expenses
-$200 Medical
-$325 Life Insurance
-$5,400 Property Taxes

& with that, we have drained short-term savings for the year. Still choosing to pay ahead property taxes, paying just once per year for simplicity.

----------------------------------------------------

Our fiscal year should be over. I paid all of the December bills already. Mostly expecting any expenses this month to affect our 2017 bottom line. Anything that comes up in December will most likely be charged and paid off in 2017.

I will update sidebar through December since I will fund December savings tomorrow with 12/1 paycheck. It's just the investments that I do at the end of the month and it looks like I will need to top off a bit. Oh, and I don't plan to pay extra $3k to mortgage until the end of December. Just making sure no surprises come up before I part with that money.

October Savings

October 30th, 2016 at 08:39 am

Received $43 bank interest for the month of October.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $62 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $7 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$8 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 500 to Investments

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$860 Auto maintenance/insurance/registration
-$280 Medical Bills
-$255 Hotel Deposit (40th Birthday)
-$185 Donations (just random stuff that came up)
- $50 School Expenses

In addition, I pulled $350 from mid-term savings to cover some tree trimming and shrub removal.

----------------------------------------------------

Our fiscal year is just about over. I paid all of the November bills already. Mostly expecting any expenses this month to affect our 2016 bottom line, but anything that comes up in December will most likely be charged and paid off in 2017.

This month was pretty boring on the financial front. As planned, we funded our VR splurge with MH's income. (I've already paid off October charges, so it's paid for). The other 50% went into his 401k.

-----------------------------------------------------

That reminds me, I also sold the knee scooter. We had paid for it with focus group cash that MH had received the day before we bought the scooter. Since we had paid $150 for it, we just listed it for $150. it sold easily at that price. Net cost was $0 to use it.

I decided to just use that cash for MM's gymnastics, since they only take cash. This should cover him for the rest of the year (particularly with all of the holidays). I also used some of the cash for a school fundraiser. I will account for gymnastics somehow when I do the 2017 budget. But for this year I was able just to wing it.

September Savings

September 30th, 2016 at 09:18 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of September.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $41 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $6 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$6 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-220 school expenses
-188 Medical Expenses
-110 Large Purchase**
-90 Dentist
-40 Took kids/friends to fancy pool

**MM was going to reimburse us partially for a shared electronic purchase. I think we just forgot in the chaos. I'll check with MH on this.

Edit to add: MM reimbursed us $55 for large purchase

-----------------------------------------------------

July Flashback:

In August we really need to get moving on some home improvements. I know I am procrastinating because I don't wanna. *sigh*

August Flashback:

No movement on this. I can't imagine readying for contractors in my current state. Though we have lost MH's free summer time to deal with this, work is really slow for me this time of year and I can handle it. I need to at least start getting some quotes in September.

September Update:

No progress on this front because life is chaos right now. I don't see how/when until things settle down a bit.

----------------------------------------------------

MH is back at work. He got a nice raise but is working less hours. It almost evens out, though making a little bit less.

For this month I am just putting his paychecks (3 weeks) towards replenishing our checkbook for vacation expenditures & gymnastic spending.

Next month he will put his 401k back to 50%. He's pre-ordered a VR system, which will take all of his income in October. November income will pay for the hotel on my birthday. I guess that except for the 50% 401k thing, we are just splurging his income most the rest of the year. (We have cash for these things, but we are also working on saving up for some big expenditures, so it will be nice to just cash flow our big splurges).

Until I typed this out, I thought we had maybe gotten used to the extra cash flow and were over-spending a bit. In the end, I was $750 short in the checkbook, after MH being off work for 3 months, which is easily explained by $250 vacation overage plus about $500 of gymnastic spending. Now I just feel silly. We have enough float in the checkbook so I was just kind of muddling through in the interim. I had forgotten that I hadn't otherwise planned for the gymnastic expenses.

I was expecting that MH's income would cover the kids' extra-curriculars. In the past we've covered with other windfalls or they just haven't been significant expenses. I can't say they were a big financial priority. But now we are in a better place to afford this type stuff. I think a lot of it will be moot given the kids' school changes for this year and next. So any bigger expenses will probably be rather temporary. For the next calendar year I can plan ahead better.

----------------------------------------------------

Overall, I'd say that this month was chaotic. Probably too much stress spending.

More fun spending is planned for October. MH and I are going to Tahoe this weekend, and next week we are taking the kids to Monterey. (Instead of the usual big October break that we usually take advantage off, the kids have only one day off together. {Which is why we moved our DC trip up to June}. Though technically MM is skipping his math class so that we can go to Monterey during the week).

August Savings

August 30th, 2016 at 08:42 am

Received $41 bank interest for the month of August.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $43 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $4 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$10 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-900 Auto Insurance and Maintenance
-300 Staycation Spending
-165 70th Birthday Party
-100 Kids' Birthdays

---------------------------------------------------

Other Snowflakes:

--I did earn $250 in gift cards but have yet to be able to redeem them.

--Dh earned $150 cash from a focus group. We invested in a used knee scooter/walker and I am hoping we can sell it next week. When we sell it we will probably buy a used violin for Drama Llama. I don't expect that to cost an entire $150. It seems more sensible to buy used than to rent.

---------------------------------------------------

Kind of a boring month financially. I have some medical bills that will charge next month. Most the expenses above were for July spending. August has been more of a "stuck on the couch" month for me, and busyness with back to school.

-----------------------------------------------------

July Flashback:

In August we really need to get moving on some home improvements. I know I am procrastinating because I don't wanna. *sigh*

August Update:

No movement on this. I can't imagine readying for contractors in my current state. Though we have lost MH's free summer time to deal with this, work is really slow for me this time of year and I can handle it. I need to at least start getting some quotes in September.

This week we are taking the kids to the Doctor (well visits/shots), putting new tires on the newer car (replacing low quality stock tires before rainy season) and I got a referral for tree trimming and dead shrub removal. I am pulling a list of contractors to call but I don't know if we will get to that this week. As long as we are steadily ticking things off the list, it can wait a bit longer. Physically, I might be up to dealing with readying the house this weekend.

P.S. Also labeled this post in the *one income* category since dh had no income during June/July/August. His income is more in the "snowflake" range anyway. (If he had a larger income I don't know that I'd differentiate on or off months, but I am definitely feeling the difference without the extra breathing room). I am not even entirely sure he has a job still, so I guess that is some of it.

July Savings

July 30th, 2016 at 06:24 am

Received $39 bank interest for the month of June.

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash

Nothing was pulled out of Savings in July.

---------------------------------------------------

July was kind of a crazy spendy month, but that will be funded with August income. We spent $1,500 on auto insurance, auto maintenance, auto repairs, birthdays (3), and our trip to San Francisco. I will deduct all this from short-term savings next month.

I decided to apply snowflakes to bills this month. That was my instinct last month but I stuck to the investments. This month am going to take a break since the budget needs a breather.

Snowflakes to Bills:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $75 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $12 cash back on Visa/dining card.

--$20 Savings from Target Red Card

I also received a random $50 settlement claim check.

----------------------------------------------------

I did round up the mortgage payment by $9 since that got us down to the next $xxx,999. I could care less about round numbers and would rather see a lower number in the thousandth place!

I just tend to round up when I make a large extra payment (one or twice per year). I guess I felt I should snowflake something this month.

----------------------------------------------------

In August we really need to get moving on some home improvements. I know I am procrastinating because I don't wanna. *sigh*

P.S. Also labeled in the *one income* category since dh had no income during June or July. His income is more in the "snowflake" range anyway. (If he had a larger income I don't know that I'd differentiate on or off months, but definitely feeling the difference without the extra breathing room).

June Savings

July 2nd, 2016 at 05:29 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of June.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $182 cash back on Citi card. (Lots of travel expenses this month)

Redeemed $20 cash back on Visa/dining card. (More travel expenses)

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$6 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$2,000 Airfare (Entire vacation budget)
- 725 Dentist (3)
- 20 Vet (shots)

---------------------------------------------------

More spending than saving this month. Pulled the following amounts from long-term savings:

-$1,300 MRI
-$2,700 8th Grade Trip
-$3,000 Family DC Trip

It probably won't get much better. In July we will work on some big home improvements.

I suppose for this month it should be called "June Spending".

May Savings

May 30th, 2016 at 06:52 am

Received $42 bank interest for the month of May.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $5 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$8 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

Also, redeemed $208 Barclay card one-time bonus.

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 230 to Investments

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$400 Drama Camp (summer)

---------------------------------------------------

As to dh's paycheck, I turned off the 401k mid-month. I think because we had so many bills coming up. (I don't remember exactly why I turned it off when I did). So we put 50% to 401k first half of the month, and that's it. I used his check to cash flow some of the May/June craziness. Turns out he will only get one paycheck in June so I am so glad I did that. I'll turn the 401k back up to 50% as necessary for tax purposes. Taxes were the only reason we put so much into his 401k, but in the meantime my OT was not as much as usual and his work has been slow, so don't need to put so much in the 401k. (Is not a financial priority at all, to fund his 401k, since we have more than enough saved for long-term retirement). So I will see where we are at in the Fall and what is more efficient. If we can use his fall paychecks to pay for some of BM's class trip, that would be great. At some point I know I will have to put 50% into his 401k again(maybe October - December, or something like that. He has the summer off).

The savings drain will be pretty big for the next two months. Will pay for BM's class trip and our vacation. Oh, and I got dh's MRI bill too. That's $8k+ right there. Fun Fun!

April Savings

April 29th, 2016 at 06:21 am

Received $36 bank interest for the month of April.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $42 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $5 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$7 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

+$3,000 OT to savings (will fund my mortgage goal)

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 840 to Savings/Investments

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

+$1,300 to cash
- 500 life insurance

{That's $6,155 total saved this month!}

-----------------------------------------------------

Grandma slipped me $300 for doing her taxes. I'd say we spent about $200 of that for Robot Wars and related expenses. So I just left this money in the checking account to cover expenses. Will consider all that a treat from her.

Mortgage goal is funded, thanks to OT. (I really didn't work a lot of OT this year, so was glad I made just enough for our annual mortgage goal). But as usual, I am just setting it aside for now and seeing how everything else shakes out. I will apply the $3,000 to the mortgage some time between now and 12/31.

I mentioned in my last post that we are going to spend down some of our liquidity. It's a long story. But I wanted to be clear that it's not a "spend money to spend money" kind of thing. The next step for us is hitting our mortgage hard (our only debt). The short version is that it seems to be more sensible to take care of home improvements before we start throwing large sums at the mortgage. If I have $8k to throw at the mortgage, maybe I'd rather complete some long put off home improvements with that money. On the flip side, we want to have *all* of our ducks in a row before we start throwing bigger dollars at the mortgage. I believe this is our last duck. (& if we had no ducks to tend to, then we'd be throwing some of this money at the mortgage. So I guess either way we will be spending it down).

March Savings

April 1st, 2016 at 08:02 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of March.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $40 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $2 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$5 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$1,400 to Savings/Investments

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

+$1,300 to cash

{That's $4,235 total saved this month?}

----------------------------------------------------

It's been rather weird and quiet on the financial front. Eventually we will get hit with some bigger bills. I have no idea why I have not gotten dh's MRI bill yet.

Of course, we saved so much by virtue of February being a short month I guess. I don't feel like it was a spectacular month on the low spend front, but these numbers say otherwise (since we pay off all February bills in March, then any March savings reflects last month's spending).

April should be a bigger savings month since I expect to receive one check for 4 months of overtime. I feel like March was a pretty lax month on the spending side of things. Probably justified a few too many treats because it was busy. But that said, all the splurging was food related. There was no retail spending this month.

Work has been really slow for dh, which I think has worked well with my busy work season. We only saved so much because it was a 3-paycheck month. I believe he had at least 3 Fridays off in March. I much rather put more of his paychecks to the mortgage or taxable investments and will re-think that since we don't seem to be on track to make as much money as we thought we would this year. I think I will leave it as is but might back his 401k down to 6% from 50% (for match) come fall when maybe he should be working more. I just have to run some tax projections and is why I figure I will let it be for now.

February Savings

February 29th, 2016 at 06:08 am

Received $36 bank interest for the month of February.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $37 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $3 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$40 Citi Price Rewind
--$ 5 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$355 to Investments

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

+$1,300 to cash
+367 Insurance rebate
-$250 Auto Insurance

---------------------------------------------------

March is a 3 paycheck month for dh and we already have the cash to pay all the bills (February spending) and so I expect we will be able to save $1,500 (his entire paycheck) + the $2,700 I usually save.

This is how I Was expecting to hoard up $10,000 (for car replacement) by May. I am also expecting a $4k overtime check for this tax season, in addition to the above. I will get a lump sum in April. Dh will probably match that with his job, first 5 months of the year. Then he will have summer off and I won't be working OT. So this is peak earning season for us. Taking advantage.

How has it been him working during crazy busy time? Dh working = *shrugs*. It's been really slow and he has had a lot of time off. March and April might be a different story, but it will just fly by. I can't believe it is the end of February already!

-----------------------------------------------------

For February, dh's check was so small that I just threw it into investments. I believe it was $160 net. The rest of it went into 401k.

I expect his net to be closer to $700 for March (after 401k), and so will just add his paychecks to savings. I will probably keep throwing that into savings until summer. We have some big expenses coming up.

February 14, Using up Gift Cards

February 15th, 2016 at 06:20 am

February 14:
$117 Groceries
$12 Kohls
$ 2 amazon (TV show streaming)
Dinner: Sweet & Spicy Salmon w/Garlic Butter Rice

Dh did a grocery run Sunday.

I made out well at Kohls though I didn't find anything suitable for work. I think it was my mood. I tried on like 30 things (which is why I like Kohls so much - they are okay with you taking in piles of clothes to the dressing room). I just felt so "meh" and "ugh" about everything. Which is too bad because I actually found a lot of nice stuff in the clearance racks. I usually don't bother to go through those, but I spotted some really pretty colors and started going through it all. Then I tried it all on and said, "UGH!" In the end I picked up 3 t-shirts. Two are a little winter-y and Christmas-y (long sleeved). & I had wanted to pick up another plain black shirt. They didn't have the nicer one I had bought last time but they had a short-sleeve one that will do. I did take a picture of a couple of shirts that were not on sale and that I think I would have been happy with. I can look online later.

Anyway, the three shirts I picked up were $12 total. I think I did pretty good. I really loved the two winter-y shirts I got, so there is that. Oh, and I scored a plastic bag! I suppose I don't know what all the rules are with that. I was thinking it must have been the first retail store I have been into this year. But now that I think about it I went into Walgreens once and they were charging for plastic bags.

Dh wants to use up our movie gift card this week (going out while the kids are gone). We discussed using a restaurant gift card that we got for Christmas but decided to keep that for when we take out the kids. It will be nice to cut down the bill when it's the four of us. I think that is all we have left in gift cards right now. Well, other than a $2 Barnes & Noble gift card balance.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I also have a $20 Target gift card from work gift exchange.
Dh is planning to use it today towards a grocery run.

----------------------------------------------------

Mid Month Spending Totals:

$283 Groceries
$19 Fuel
$4 TV Streaming
$209 Everything Else

That leaves $367 left for groceries and $68 left for everything else. I expect we will spend about that much on fuel for the rest of the month. & of course, we can always spend less on groceries to free up more general spending money.

We are very aggressive with paying ourselves first, and so we would never have money left over at the end of the month. Psychologically it's what works for us.

We are planning to take dh's Grandma out this next weekend though. That is such a one-off thing, as is our medical co-pay this month, that I will probably cover these things from our short-term savings. We do also save aggressively for that, which is just for non-monthly expenses during the year. So that buys us some wiggle room. Especially early in the year when we have not spent down any of that. But of course, if I can cover these things from our monthly budget I will do that. The more I can keep for more fun spending later and for the more random things that always pop up, the better.

On the flip side, we both get paid this week and we already paid all of our bills for the month. So 100% of our paychecks are going to savings. (The daily spending is put on our credit card for rewards. Will pay this month's charges off on the first of March, or the following payday).

January Savings

February 1st, 2016 at 06:19 am

Received $35 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $45 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $10 cash back on Visa/dining card. {Lots of eating out in January, with a couple of weekends out of town}

I have officially phased out 5th credit card (ROTH rewards) and so all my ongoing rewards are now just cash back. 4th credit card is Target card. I suppose I should add those savings to snowflakes too. For January it's a whole whopping $1.50 saved (I have no idea how or why we only spent $30 at Target this month. Is probably a record low. Dh manages the grocery shopping there). I'll add that to "other snowflakes".

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$25 Ting Credit
--$1.50 Savings from Target Red Card

Snowballs to investments:
--Invested $2,500 tax savings (for funding Traditional IRAs)
(Funded $1,500 with tax refund + moved $1,000 over from savings)

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$750 Various Insurance

-----------------------------------------------------

Dh did not work this month. I received a small raise that just covers increasing expenses. So I just kept our savings goals the same as prior year.

-----------------------------------------------------

First 4 months of year is low-spend/high-save, generally. Will hoard up cash for medical expenses (dh had an MRI this month) and some home repairs. We also want to save $10k in addition for car replacement.

Taxes Done & Goals

January 29th, 2016 at 06:06 am

I did complete our taxes. I don't really need any tax forms except some investment information. But I wasn't thinking that I didn't have dh's W2 from which I needed his employer Tax ID for e-file. So I thought that would hold us up for a while.

In the end I poked around online and found his W2.

Yes, our taxes are very simple. (I don't need W2s because neither of has any benefits, and even if we did I could figure it out from our pay stubs. I don't need any tax forms except for "qualified dividends"; is the only info I don't seem to have on my own).

-----------------------------------------------------

We did save $2,500 doing Traditional IRAs instead of ROTHs. I will get a $1,500 tax refund that (I will invest) and already moved $1,000 over from savings to investments. The deal is if we do the Traditional IRAs then we invest the tax savings.

Edited to add: And I just noticed we already got tax refund. So will move the other $1,500 over to investments today.

-----------------------------------------------------

For 2016 goals I just copy and pasted 2015 as a starting point. I didn't have enough information otherwise to form goals yet.

In the end I got a small cost of living raise, which just covers cost of living increases for this year (our utilities all seemed to go up suddenly and our HOA fees went up for the first time ever). So I will keep my salary goals the same. Which are the goals in my sidebar.

As to dh, he went back to work this week, post long winter break. The last thing we really want or need is more long-term retirement funds. But it is the most efficient thing to do. I Was surprised when I ran a tax projection and his income is being taxed at 30%. Yeesh! Thankfully he does have a 401k that he is already eligible for. We discussed it a while ago before I knew the taxes would be so bad and dh was leaning more towards the 401k. I was more trying to talk him out of it. After running the tax projection dh didn't want to talk about it because he is getting some MRI results next week. He just can't think "future" until he knows where his health stands. So we will enjoy his first full paycheck for the year and figure it out after that. Historically we always delay taxes and I expect that is what we will do, even if we haven't had the formal "let's do the 401k" discussion yet. I don't see either of us throwing 30% of his income down the drain. We had abandoned ROTH contributions around the 20% marginal tax mark.

We are also still very much in the 15% tax bracket; nowhere near the 25% tax bracket. But taxes aren't exactly simple. They can be pretty whacked.

What we miss more than anything is the liquidity of dh working and this doesn't do much to resolve that. But... Our parents are in a generous stage and so this is helping us to just suck it up and fund the 401k. We might get some cash gifts this year to fund more "Early retirement" funds. If we do the 401k and we hang onto some taxable investments (gifts) then that takes away from the potential mortgage avalanche. The big picture is more important to us.

Net Worth Update

January 3rd, 2016 at 05:53 am

2015 was a big year for us. We had a peak net worth of $498k in 2005, and then our net worth went down years 2006-2011. Our house lost $400,000 in value during that time, while we were saving and doing well with the rest. Housing started to turn around here in 2012. Our house is still $250,000 below the peak, but we've been increasing cash and investments over the years.

& so it seems like it took forever, but we finally did it! We surpassed $500k net worth in 2015. Moving on up!

We also made our net worth goal, which was to increase net worth by $42k (70% of expenses).

This is what I had estimated for 2015:

Cash + $5,000
Investments + $5,000
Retirement + $11,000 (Max IRAs)
Investment Returns + $14,000 (assumes 6% returns)
Mortgage Paydown + $7,000
---------------------------
net worth + $42,000
---------------------------

& here is how 2015 shook out.

2015 Actual:

Cash + $0
Car Purchase + $13,000 (Added asset to net worth)
Investments + $6,000
Retirement + $11,000 (Max IRAs)
+ $5,500 (2014 IRA)
Investment Returns + $0
Mortgage Paydown + $8,500
---------------------------
net worth + $44,000
---------------------------

I am fine with leaving this goal the same for next year. I think it will be doable. But overall, we want to start increasing our net worth by a full $60,000 per year. Even though that is 100% of our current spending, it is actually far more than I Expect that we will spend in retirement. I'd like to get to this somewhere in our early 40s. With dh working, maybe we can get there at 40. I really do expect to hit a seven figure net worth by age 50, which we will call "financial independence." I expect our 40s to be our last final push on the earned income/growing net worth stage of our lives. I expect to earn far more from our investments by the time we are 50, and in turn I expect "work" to fall down the importance scale significantly.

I am sure if we start hitting $60k annual increases early on that those amounts will increase over time with investment compounding. On the flip side, gives us some room to still make our goal with normal market fluctuations.

2016 Estimate:

Cash + $10,000 (saving to replace vehicle soon)
Investments + $10,000
Retirement + $11,000 (Max IRAs)
Investment Returns + $15,000 (assumes 6% returns)
Mortgage Paydown + $7,000
---------------------------
net worth + $53,000
---------------------------

Wow! More than I would have expected. Maybe at 40 I will just revise my goal to $50k annual net worth increases.

2015 Goal Update

January 2nd, 2016 at 06:46 am

I am copying and pasting sidebar, to memorialize in my blog. Brief Commentary below.

2015 Goals

**Financial**

[X]$11,000 to IRAs 2015 (MAX)
...($11,000 @12/31/15)
...$10,850 savings;$150 credit card rewards
...We save $900/month, plus ROTH credit card rewards

[X]$5,000 to savings
...($5,000 @ 6/30/15)
...We save $300/month, plus interest
...Received an unexpected gift and so will stop tracking savings this year. Just want to have $5k cash more than last year.

[ ]$5,000 to investments
...($4,596 @ 12/31/15)
...We save $200/month, plus snowflakes

[X]$4,100 to mortgage
...($4,100 @ 12/31/15)
...$3k per year to pay off in 15 years; $3,100 *this year* will be more principal than interest!
...Funded with overtime
...Added $825 (gift) to get balance below $175,000

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I am putting this under the "one income" category because these goals were based on my income alone. & dh brought in a whopping $2,000 in 2015, which was more of a snowball. I did not use any of his wages for the above goals.

We fell a little short of our investment goal. I am fine with that since I will have a tax refund to deposit in a month or so (getting us to $10k+ in taxable investments, which was more my "bigger picture" goal). Since the "big picture" is currently much better than I expected for 2016, I just can't bring myself to care that I Fell short of my 2015 goal by $400.

October Savings

November 1st, 2015 at 07:06 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of October.

Snowflakes to investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $80 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $10 cash back on Visa/dining card.

{These last two were much higher than usual due to vacation expenses}.

Other snowflakes to investments:

--$12 rounding (gets us to $3k)

--$ 25 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)
**This is the final free month since we've run through our credits**

Savings (From paychecks):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
- $150 Auto registration renewal

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A little commentary on our savings goals:

With dh working, I expect to increase our savings rate roughly from 30% to 40%. But I suppose we will work through that next year.

IRAs: I just happen to expect another $50 credit card reward to my ROTH and so we will get exactly to $11k max this year. It usually doesn't work out quite that perfect. I usually try to get close and just top it off end of year.

I did see that IRA limits are unchanged for 2016 so this goal will remain the same for 2016.

Investments: I am thinking of abandoning this goal. Not in a bad way though. I had intended to invest $7,500 this year.

I've yet to fund $1,400-ish from my OT. Sure we've had a splurge-y year and maybe that is a lot of it, but we have also had a very charitable year (by our own standards). I am thinking of letting this go since we have given about this much to charity. & I definitely foresee charity being a higher focus next year with dh working. For this year, we just knew a lot of people suffering a lot of hardships. A lot of stuff came up that we felt compelled to give cash to. I know next year we will probably have more means AND also switching to more cash giving as we have less time to donate. (We've been infinitely more focused on donating *time* since having kids - with lots of time and less money, but that is starting to shift the other way - probably more 50/50 in the interim).

I was also going to invest our tax refund, estimated at $2,500. I was going to invest around 12/31, since we have the cash, and reimburse our cash when we get our tax refund in early February. I am still going to invest the refund, but I am not going to count it towards this year. I will just invest it when I get the money. I was thinking the money was really saved this year, and it's true, but I'd also rather keep it simple.

I've revised my sidebar for the $2,500 (tax refund) and we can wait and see on the other $1,400. I've still got time to scrounge it up.

July Savings

August 3rd, 2015 at 05:57 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of July.

Snowflakes to investments:

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

Redeemed $50 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $2 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$ 30 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)

Savings (From paycheck):

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

But... Took out $800 for medical bills.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$2,000 Hawaii airfare

June Savings

July 2nd, 2015 at 06:49 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of June.

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $1 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes:
--$200 (no piano lessons July)
--$300 sale of piccolo
--$ 30 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)

In the end, I added all the snowflakes to savings. Savings got drained a bit for the car purchase and mortgage pre-payments. So I felt all the windfalls were better used to bulk up savings a wee bit.

Savings (From paycheck):

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

But... Took out $2,600 for summer school, medical bills, and wildlife vacation. OF course, after that drained savings further for car purchase/mortgage paydown.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$60 Medical
-$385 Auto maintenance/repairs

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Current cash position:

Still have about 8 months of expenses in the bank, so am happy with that. Plus a 9th month in taxable investments.

Upcoming known expenses:

--Medical, medical, medical

--Still have not paid anything for Hawaii yet

Doings, Snowball

June 26th, 2015 at 06:07 am

Just got back from annual camping trip in the Sierras.

Life continues to be stressful and crazy. The minor annoyances continue to pile up.

While my dad was here (we camp with my dad and in-laws) he fixed a couple of minor things around the house for us. But we found a new problem that we will have to call the gardener to fix.

Of course, we appreciated the break and our trip went smooth as could be. Phew! (A nice sea of calm in a month of crazy).

Finances:

**Dh has been earning tons of google credits and amazon gift cards for whatever survey stuff he is doing. He ended up getting a new roku for $25. (Our old one has been clunky for a while but I didn't really want to spend the money. In the end he spent a whole $25 and it is 10 times better).

I suppose that is unofficially his Father's Day present.

**I sent a payment to the credit cards today. I had booked summer classes for BM, our random wildlife vacation, and had charged dh's MRI. I had charged that all in June wanting to push off actual payment to next month, BUT the credit card balances were getting kind of crazy. Plus the one card has a low limit and so I think it was best to pay it down before the end of the month.

So much for delaying those expenses...

**I had to deposit my big check in person. For whatever reason (I guess since I was very nonchalant about it) they made it available immediately. Which was nice since I received the check Saturday night and we weren't back home until yesterday. Seriously, they asked me when I NEEDED it and I shrugged. Apparently that is how you get immediate access to large sums in this day and age. (If you haven't had a large deposit lately, they usually put a hold on some of it).

So I went home and took all the money out (online). I didn't NEED it but if it was available I might as well allocate it.

**So... I went ahead and made my big mortgage payment.

Mortgage balance is now $177,999. I project that we will be at $174,999 by end of year. $169,999 by April 2016.

**I had already opened a $10,000 CD (at my credit union) for a 1.50% rate and so opened up a second one. I don't know that I felt entirely comfortable tying that much up in CDs, but... we also expect a chunk of cash in December. I am always way too cautious, anyway. Odds are we will probably never never touch this money. (I consider about $15k of our cash savings completely untouchable but for extreme emergency). Of course, the CD is easy to access and there isn't much downside if I have to raid it later.

**Money continues to rain down from the sky. I had my piccolo on consignment and apparently it sold recently. Received a $300 check in the mail yesterday. Woohoo!

I am putting this $300 into investments.

{It was in disrepair and this was a very easy route to get it sold for more than I am sure I could have gotten on my own. Certainly was far less hassle than FB and CL have been of late}.

It was funny because I swung by that area yesterday and was stuck in the heat and traffic staring at the music store for a while wondering if they would ever sell my piccolo. (It's an area that I do not frequent). The check was, at that time, on a mail truck en route to my home. Ha! (We kind of reasoned summer/fall would be a good time to sell but had left it at the store at some point in the spring. Better than gathering more dust in my closet).

**The kids just told me that they have no piano lessons next month and so the snowflakes continue to fall. That's another $200 that I will move to investments. Plus credit card rewards this month (About $90?). Plus $30 to investments since we don't have a Ting bill this month. We also have a REI dividend to cash out.

Possibly a $600+ snowball for this month.

May Savings

June 2nd, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Received $35 bank interest for the month of May.

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $37 cash back on Citi card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $4 cash back on Visa/dining card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $50 AmEx rewards as a ROTH contribution.

Savings (From paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$1,132 for concerts/events, vet visits, medical, dental, summer class registration, printer ink, organization purchases, pirate gear for camp (pirate theme this year!) and other misc.

CRAZY month!! In May and June of last year we had -0- in non-monthly expenses. For this May I had ten different entries on my spreadsheet (as to 10 different kinds of expenses). Which is probably like more than we have ever had.

I am happy to put May behind me. It wasn't anything big but just a lot of little expenses. It was just a weird month. We are overall in a "no spend" kind of mode with our big vacations this year. (Not planning anything else all year and being more homebodies than usual). On the flip side, there is also a feeling of "doing very well financially" since we keep surpassing financial goals at a more and more rapid pace. This could be some of the spendy-ness. (It seems silly to deny some random things that came up this month).

I've noticed that "May spendy crazy" seems to have been a common theme for SA bloggers.

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For June dh has a pretty busy schedule and so I will probably have lots of time to work on some more house organization and de-cluttering. It's the kind of thing that sounds so awful and boring to me, but since diving in I have gotten a bit in the *zone*. & it's probably a good redirect of energy since we won't really have any "fun" funds for the rest of the year. (Spending it all on big trips!) So my attitude has adjusted a bit and if I am stuck at home I better make the best of it. OF course, joining a group is also really motivating.

{& I wouldn't feel sorry for me. The worst case is we just lounge by the pool all summer, which is what we have been doing. Boohoo? Big Grin }.

I have more to blog about organizing and de-cluttering but honestly I've been spending less time blahblahblah and more time keeping my house in order. Maybe not a bad thing? Though I do expect to eventually get over the other side of the mountain. I don't want to spend all my time cleaning for eternity. I am enthused to make 2015 the year to get well on the other side of the mountain! & I know blogging about it will keep me motivated too. So more on all that later.


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