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May Savings

June 12th, 2019 at 06:52 am

Received $60 bank interest for the month of May.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $36 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $88 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 10 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

TOTAL: $144 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$700

Snowball to Savings:
+$1,000 MH Paychecks
+$3,200 April/May self-employment income

TOTAL: $4,200 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 4,000 Orthodontist (*fingers crossed, this is it?)
-$ 260 Summer college tour for MM (school trip)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$1,000 Beach Vacation
-$ 555 Dentist/Medical
-$ 70 Misc.

TOTAL: $1,169 deposited to cash and investments

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We paid cash for school trip this summer, 4 days/3 nights touring several colleges. $260 is an incredible deal. (The school is also covering all the costs of AP, ACT, SAT tests, etc., which I mentioned recently. I am feeling very spoiled on this front right now).

That reminds me too, MM can also take community college classes for free the next two years (junior/senior year of high school).

*As to Ortho costs, that's still another post for another day. It's almost comical how many canceled ortho appointments we had before we had this quote. Yeesh! We had one ortho decide to retire after booking a consult appointment. I think we majorly dodged a bullet! The good news is that though DL(13) completely inherited my mess, he was only recommended 18 months of ortho, versus the 5+ years or whatever hell I was put through. I never in a million years expected him to end up on the lower end of time/cost. MM(15) was told his situation is just cosmetic but no other reasons to have braces; he is not interested. I was planning for the worst case, which I thought was very likely. (To be fair, we already invested $3k-ish in preventative ortho work for MM, when he was very young. It seems to have paid off).

It's not quite so simple. No cause to overly celebrate yet. MM(15) is being monitored for a new problem and may need (relatively minor?) surgery.

We were told up front that DL(13) need major jaw surgery, which I had already assumed. I was not surprised and is one reason why we chose this ortho. He was very up front about it. I had the same surgery at 16. We didn't discuss the reasons for waiting but I think it's because boys stop growing several years later than girls. We are looking at age 20 for him, or 7 years down the road. They are going to do the braces in an attempt to prevent surgery. I am not holding my breath, but appreciate the effort. It's either this or "wear braces forever" so it's not a purely cosmetic surgery, but I doubt it will be covered by insurance. Overall, I could see that one coming from a mile away and don't feel much financial stress about it. But kicking the can down the road for 7 years sounds nice, of course. So that's a quick sum up of everything ortho. We decided to just pay cash (for braces) due to the short treatment, the smaller dollar amount (much smaller than we were expecting for two kids), and probably mostly because of the significant tax break we get for paying cash this year, in addition to cash discount. I am relieved, because it was my very strong preference to pay cash up front.

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June 1 is it. I've managed to kick the can down the road for 8 months, but it's time to accept my lower salary. Unfortunately, the timing hits with MH's summer off work.

June savings update will be similarly nasty, but without all the extra income. I have a $5,000 credit card bill (May charges) that I paid off the first of June. There was probably about $1,000 that ended up being reimbursed by employer (phew) and most the rest was vacation expenses. Plus some medical bills, school lunches for several months, and DMV/insurance on the kids' car.

I did not save all of our side income this month. Well, I suppose I did in a sense. But mostly I was doing a major reset on all things financial. No more, "I have an extra $2,000 coming in this month, and I am completely exhausted, so who cares about $50 here and there."

Where we are at:

Still have 12 months of expenses liquid. Which is very easy peasy with three jobs, but will be more of a challenge with just the one.

I have about $10,000 set aside for 2019 IRAs. Just depends what other big expenses come up this year. Not adding to savings in any long-term meaningful away. Is more "keep afloat level" at this point. I am speaking to just my salary. I realize that I probably have to shift back to letting MH fund IRAs. Which is probably okay with combo of pay cut and work retirement plan (I am able to contribute about 10%, even with reduced salary). Funding IRAs is a very stubborn "live far below our means" goal, and I think is still pretty doable. In the short run, I probably have 2019/2020 covered. In the long run, I am due bonuses/raises (soon) and MH will be looking for more work.

I left enough side income in the checkbook to zero out our checking balance (no projected negative). Mortgage is technically pre-paid by two months. When things are not tight at all, I pay before the end of the month. In addition, am paid ahead one full month. (Other than that, I one million times more rather pay down principal, but I like the buffer of being one month ahead). I am going into June 1 with all bills paid far ahead (still have built-in 6 week emergency fund in that regard). Mortgage paid two months ahead. Credit card balances all zero (as they always are the first of every month). It was mostly knocking the mortgage back to "before the end of the month" to get us started this summer with as much buffer as possible. It would be my preference not to use any of this buffer this summer, but we will have drastically reduced income from what we have gotten used to the past few years. & I have absolutely no plans whatsoever to reduce our savings goals. Will see how it goes.

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I am so late getting to this post. So... How is June going so far?

Dining out is at $20 for the month, with the month 1/3 over. I suppose we have done well with the reset. Gas should go down significantly without work/school (MH kids). I think we may be able to rein in adult grocery spending a bit (without all the stress spending). The big splurge so far this month was $4 at Home Depot to get a couple of house keys made for the kids. MM(15) needed a key, and I just made a copy for when DL needs a key eventually. June should be pretty easy as we will be out of town a few days with all expenses covered.

Life is good. I've been "busy", but the vast majority of it has been family time and self care.

April Savings

May 4th, 2019 at 08:09 pm

Received $72 bank interest for the month of April.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $42 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $33 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $12 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 12 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$ 1 Rounded Up

TOTAL: $100 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$700

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 800 MH Paychecks
+$2,000 March self-employment income (received April)

TOTAL: $2,800 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 2,365 Medical Expenses
-$11,000 Fund IRAs 2018

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 720 Auto Insurance
-$ 500 Life Insurance
-$ 300 Dentist
-$ 294 DMV (Auto Registration)

TOTAL: $1,443 deposited to cash and investments

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Last month's commentary:

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

Second job is definitely winding down. I am hoping to deposit another $3,000-ish in the next couple of months. But I am only working two more weeks for old/forever employer. I am cramming on deadlines this weekend and then it's just running up as much hours as I can to pay for braces. The work is there, since their workload is far beyond their capacity at this point. It just depends on my motivation. Which has mostly been wavering, but I have a dollar figure for braces. I am paying cash up front this week. So this is my renewed motivation. Is another post for another day, but it feels good to have more clarity on that situation and to cross a large financial goal off my list.

Last net worth update:
Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

Net worth is up $60,000 for the year, which is my goal. I am feeling pretty good about dropping second income at this point.

The reduced salary at my new job has little to do with our forward financial progress and is more shifting things around. I've traded $11,500 cash (used to fund IRAs) for $7,500 in retirement benefits. I only need to come up with $4,000 net to be whole. So while I am bracing for significantly less cash in June, I don't expect any change to big picture goals.

March Savings

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Received $83 bank interest for the month of January.

Also received a $150 bank bonus.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $30 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $46 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$100 Tax Refund
$170 Dividend

TOTAL: $359 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$800

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$ 750 February self-employment income

TOTAL: $1,550 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 890 Elliptical purchase (dropped gym membership)**

**My super awesome discount gym closed and transferred my membership to a really crappy gym.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 450 Misc. Expenses (school lunches pre-paid for a few months, medical bills, etc.)

TOTAL: $2,750 deposited to cash and investments

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Last month's commentary:

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

I don't know what happened to MH's income. I wasn't able to save any of it (around $900) which is totally ridiculous. But I am still pretty buried and it is most likely an accounting error. Either that or we over-spent something like $400 last month and $400 this month. That is more likely. I know we didn't over-spend $900 this month. Anyway, I share to explain why I saved -$0- of that, but will chalk that up to "life is chaos." Because I track our spending so closely, is why I am fine with, "I don't have time to track it down and don't care." I suppose is the flip side of working crazy hours/extra money. Our life is usually more slow/relaxed, and lots of time to pinch pennies. Life is just the polar opposite of that right now.


All of this is still true. I put $2,000 medical bills on new reward card. I pulled this out of savings in April, along with $11,000 to fund IRAs (for 2018). All of this will show up on my April report.

{I ended up funding our IRAs today}.

I also didn't save any of MH's income in March (again) and couldn't tell you why. It's kind of moot because March is really just paying all of February expenses (credit card charges). So this month was already over (spending-wise) when I did my last monthly update. I don't know that anything has particularly changed, but March expenses (paid in April) ended up balancing to about the penny. & that was during a crazy busy month when I doubt we were particularly frugal (except for being too busy to spend money). I actually just found $150 I accidentally transferred to savings for April, and will fix that by the end of the month. I expect I might find more stuff like that if I look back the last two months.

Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

I will try to do some more work posts later. But I am starting to feel more *chill* about dropping second income. Some of my reluctance to drop the second income was not having any real idea how things would go with new job. But after 6 months, I feel pretty confident I have found a long-term work home. I also think it's pretty likely I will replace my old salary this year (with the one job). This was part of my strategy and willingness to take a pay cut in the interim.

February Savings

March 3rd, 2019 at 06:47 am

Received $80 bank interest for the month of
February.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $89 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $13 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$13 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases) ~ this month included some clothing purchases

TOTAL: $165 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$730

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$2,500 January self-employment income

+$ 200 Missed prior month when moving money around - moved back into savings

TOTAL: $2,700 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 360 Driving School (for 15-year-old)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
+$ 210 Insurance Rebate
-$1,289 Various Insurance
-$ 175 Dentist
-$ 200 Vacation (Weekend Away)

TOTAL: $3,800 deposited to cash and investments

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Driving school was very one-off and nothing I specifically saved for, so it comes out of the mid-term savings.

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

I don't know what happened to MH's income. I wasn't able to save any of it (around $900) which is totally ridiculous. But I am still pretty buried and it is most likely an accounting error. Either that or we over-spent something like $400 last month and $400 this month. That is more likely. I know we didn't over-spend $900 this month. Anyway, I share to explain why I saved -$0- of that, but will chalk that up to "life is chaos." Because I track our spending so closely, is why I am fine with, "I don't have time to track it down and don't care." I suppose is the flip side of working crazy hours/extra money. Our life is usually more slow/relaxed, and lots of time to pinch pennies. Life is just the polar opposite of that right now.

January Savings

February 10th, 2019 at 09:13 am

I am reviving my "monthly savings" posts. I abandoned last year because I knew I would just be in hoarding cash mode. Not very exciting. But in the end, I didn't have time for this, so probably for the best. Going forward, I should have time to keep up with these:

Received $67 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $0 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
--$8 "Price Rewind" for washer/dryer purchase

TOTAL: $106 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$686

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 500 MH Paychecks
+$1,500 December work for old/forever employer

TOTAL: $2,000 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$0 No Mid-Term Expenses this month

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 800 Home Insurance

TOTAL: $4,000 deposited to cash and investments

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I had been putting $300/month to savings and investing $250/month into taxable investments. I just combined these to "savings" for 2019. We are "retirement heavy" with more retirement space and new job situation. If nothing else, will eventually be redirecting that $250/month to our IRAs. Will abandon taxable investments, except for snowflakes.

I like to put snowflakes to either the mortgage or taxable investments, because it's a "small things add up" thing, and if we keep it in cash I have no problem not touching it, but at some point when you have an extra thousands of dollars laying around you will be tempted to spend it. So I always tie up snowflakes in things I won't touch. I am going to fund retirement regardless, so that leaves taxable investments or mortgage.

On the income front, I traded $11,500 reduced salary for $7,500 401k contributions/match and significantly reduced taxes. Just means we can fund 401k with $7,500, without reducing our cash flow at all. So I am really only short $4,000 net; $4,000 less going to retirement. I expect to easily make that up this year with raise/bonuses. (& I've already made that up with side income, but more long term I'd let to get my net salary where I left off, with just the one job).

I've also lost the OT, which we were throwing at the mortgage. So we will stop mortgage pre-payments for the short run. We may stop indefinitely. We just want to pay cash for our next home when we downsize and we have achieved that goal (we have enough equity to do so: $300,000+). But we don't want to make this move until our kids are adults and done with high school. For now, we would rather fund our IRAs, and otherwise hoard cash for college and a down payment on our next home (we expect to buy our downsize before we sell this home, the down payment will keep things more flexible). That's our plan for now, but I do expect things to change significantly in the next 5 years. It's a very loose plan, but just to explain why the mortgage will fall off our radar for a while.

We are doing well on extra cash/side income, but we also want to fund our IRAs (in addition to the above retirement savings). We have three cars now, both kids need braces, college is right around the corner, we have some home improvements to tend to, etc. Oh, and the down payment we want to work on. We are going to be in "hoard cash" mode with the extra income.

We've also already maxed out our medical deductible for the year. I don't expect this side income to really remain in our account very long.

P.S. If it isn't not obvious, our emergency funds remain entirely intact. I did not end up having any time off work, beyond what was covered by PTO owed to me.

2017 Goal Update

January 15th, 2018 at 07:15 pm

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

2017 Goals

[X]$11,000 to IRAs 2017 (MAX)
...($11,000 @ 12/31/17)
...We save $900/month

[ ]$5,000 to savings
...($4,013 @ 12/31/17)
...We save $300/month, plus interest.
...Topping off with snowballs

[ ]$8,000 to investments
...($7,236 @ 12/31/17)
...$2,200 from monthly contributions; $2,636 snowflakes/snowballs; $2,400 tax savings
...We save $200/month, plus snowflakes
...Will also invest tax savings ($2,400) when contribute to Traditional IRAs
...Will top off goal with snowballs

[X]$3,000 to mortgage
...($3,225 @12/31/17)
...$3k per year to pay off in 20 years (from last refi); also ensures that we pay more principal than interest
...Funded with overtime

In addition, we save 100% of MH's income.


My goal has been to save 100% of MH's (take-home) pay. I think that's been a little hit and miss. But probably complicated by paying all of the income taxes out of my check (though we pay 6x as much tax on his income; my salary is almost tax-free and is why there is such a substantial difference). I know we have also been using to justify some splurges. Which I am totally cool and fine with. Just don't want second income to be going towards basics like housing and groceries, insurance, etc. Don't want to get used to it. We have always used the second income for more one-off expenses and larger purchases (while primarily invested).

I will have to re-evaluate with tax law changes and all that. I'll update my sidebar when I figure it out.

As to the rest, I fell about $1,500 short of savings goals. Considering we spent about $2,000 on random last minute London trip (over and above vacation budget), I think that pretty much sums that up. Considering we easily paid $1,500 less to go in 2017 (versus any other recent years) and we can now cross that off our list, it probably all evens out in the end. Which is why we take advantage of opportunities like this.

At the end of the day, I always find it hard to sweat these things when our assets are up substantially. I am happy with how 2017 turned out.

Financial Updates - 2017 Year End

January 6th, 2018 at 07:55 am

We did really well on net worth for 2017. Up $95,000 for the year. Our goal was to increase net worth by $50,000.

Mortgage: -$ 8,000
Home Value: +$25,000
Investments: +$62,000
TOTAL: $95,000 Increase Net Worth


Our savings rate was 30% in 2017. 25% of our income went to long-term investments and retirement.

If we paid off our mortgage, we'd be debt free and we would have $225,000 in investments. We'd have to cash out our cash and taxable investments to do this, as well as 2/3 of our ROTHs. We could leave college money and Traditional IRAs intact. I suppose it's feasible, 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 (most of) 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.

2017 was a very good income year for us. I mentioned last year that MH's income was offset by loss of other side income and that economically we were about the same as we were before, which is what I expected. (His income is more about getting a foot back in the workforce, more than any meaningful contribution to the household). But anyway, this year we had a banner year with the credit card rewards and I made tons of OT so our income (W2) increased by 6% this year.

Last year our W2 income matched our highest (two-income) year (2001). This year was a significant improvement and some forward movement. I know we have significantly more expenses in some regards (health insurance, kids) but we are also no longer saving up frantically for a house (with real estate appreciating faster than we could ever possibly save), so I'd say this "feels" the most financially comfortable we have ever been. I suppose we also have a wee bit more assets now than we did in 2001. (Net worth isn't drastically different because of the housing bubble and crazy home equity in 2001, but our investments are 15x what they were in 2001).

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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.

It was nice to have a strong start for Year 1!

Estimate Net Worth Change for 2018 (Year 2):

Mortgage: Paydown $8,000
Investments: Contribute $8,000
Retirement: Contribute $11,000
Investment Returns: $14,000 (would need 4% gain)
Real Estate Increase in Value: $9,000 (would need 2% appreciation)
TOTAL INCREASE: $50,000

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. Just to say that I more than well aware that the market can go the other way (been there done that).

I've updated sidebar to reflect this 10-year plan.