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Archive for January, 2013

Two new projects

January 29th, 2013 at 06:20 am

Project number one is that DH asked me how much we had made through the years. Was surprised to discover we could go back to 2003 with only having to recreate 2 years of income. Mind you, this is only adjusted gross that we were able to track but its only recently that there has been a significant difference between gross and adjusted. It was interesting to see that tracked next to the net worth increases. As I remembered, 2008 was a high point before a significant dip in income which lasted the next three years. Nothing too shocking, just a reconfirmation that its how much we spend more than earn that dictates our net worth increases.

Project number two was importing all our information into mint. I wasn't very impressed with it at first because some of the imports took work to get mint to find the right website and their budgeting and goal making is on a monthly basis whereas some of our bills are more periodic as are our goals. But it did have two areas that won me over. Actual income over time data (useful when the swings in your income are huge) and having all the investments in one spot. I will still keep my old fashioned excel spreadsheet but the mint website has some fun tools that I think will compliment what I am already doing.

On an amusing note, my DH is becoming highly invested in my long term goals for the household. I had decided I wanted to make sure he understood my goals and plans so that he could have input and own the process despite not being the one who takes care of the financial picture (he always been on board with saving, but he tends to vague whereas I work on specifics). With him working with other peoples financial data all day, he has no real interest in messing with ours.

So I did a number of projections using data we had already generated in order to show him what was doable. Obviously, lots can and will happen between now and retirement but a lot of this is occurring despite any setbacks. Main thing will be reminding him its okay to live in the meantime as well. He loves going full bore on challenges so sometimes moderation is difficult for him. I figure this year probably will be full bore simply because so many debts are close to their ending point and the more we stash now, the less we have to stash later.

Upping the 401(k)

January 24th, 2013 at 06:55 am

I just raised my contribution rate from 10% to 20%. Its the only way to double the amount in our retirement accounts because we did so well stashing money in them in December. What a problem to have...

It doesn't interfere with any of our other goals so everything is still on track or even ahead of schedule.

The January statement for my paid in full card closed and we did extremely well. We had cut our spending in January by over $2k and plan to keep it low in February as well. We did have to buy DH some clothes since he waits until everything has holes before telling me he needs some but even that was pretty cheap so we still didn't go much above $700 (original goal was under $1k, secondary goal was $600).

December is going to be huge for us. Because of all the payoffs this year, our monthly expenses will have dropped by $800. Which is good, because while I think we will start funding our EF this year, I have a hard time imagining it completed by the end of December, just because we are tackling a lot this year. So reduced expenses means less to save and more income available for saving. That said, I still see everything as targets in motion, probably because the idea of no salary interruption in a year seems foreign. We shall see.

Side benefits to being lazy

January 18th, 2013 at 06:34 am

Since we have stopped eating out as much, we now have to go home and cook after work. But, we are lazy. So one of our staple meals has become a french baguette (take and bake loaves are wonderful)and cut up veggies. The baguette has either brie smeared on on it or we dip it in oil and balsamic vinegar and the veggies are whatever is in the house dipped in ranch. Our meal prep is the time to heat the oven plus the 10 min bake time for the bread so about 15 minutes. We eat this 2-3 times per week. We have been doing this for months now. Another thing we do is cut up veggies as a side dish to a main entree (we just cooked up hamburgers last night and had cut up raw veggies because I was too lazy to make a side dish).

The other day, DH and I looked around and realized we had been under constant exposure from our coworkers to a variety of illnesses and neither of us has caught anything. At this point, both of us should have caught something. In fact, December is my usual bad month because that is when the constant exposure usually wears me down. Given that work has been unusually stressful this year, you would think I would have been sick a couple of times. The only thing that has changed for the better is the constant healthy eating.

Because veggies are easy to prep and last forever, our grocery bill has dropped as a consequence as well (despite buying brie). So healthier and saving money. Go figure.

Progress report on our austerity month

January 16th, 2013 at 06:45 am

We are more than half way through our "austerity" month and have already decided to do it for February as well. We have cut back on spending so much that I bet my paid in full card thinks I replaced them with somebody else.

My original goal was under $1000 on the card but we are now shooting for under $600 since the $1000 is guaranteed. We also expanded the original austerity to include cutting the cash allowance in half for the last 2 weeks of the month.

Part of the reason we are doing this is because work got crazy for awhile and made me realize I really wanted to have a large cash savings now and also partly because we have a couple of goals in sight that we want to complete at the earliest possible second.

Part of the reason we have been so uber successful at it is that we appear to have broken our out to eat habit. Our first thought for supper now is to go home and make something, not list all the restaurants we could grab food at. We still eat out and actually the meals tend to be more expensive since we have been only eating out at relatively healthy options but the frequency has dropped significantly.

I figure come March, the spending will go back up because of nice weather and garden prep but 2 months of practicing austerity should help us develop a habit of keeping the spending low.

Networth increases as a percentage

January 4th, 2013 at 06:21 am

I had been seeing people post their networth percentage increase for 2012 and decided since I have the numbers to go back and see the change for the past 5 years. Below is the list.

2008 48.15%
2009 75%
2010 1471.43%
2011 30.32%
2012 63.78%

Honestly, I was a little shocked at the outcome. 2008-2009 was paying off debt, 2010 included an updated appraisal after lots of fixing up of the house (we refinanced an FHA loan 15 year to a conventional 15 year and dropped mortgage insurance and the interest rate as a result)but the real shockers for me were 2011 & 2012.

2011 is the year that I felt I was treading water, we made no progress except on things that were on autopilot due to limited income. My main challenge that year was keeping our heads above water. A 30% increase is pretty dramatic for a period where I just tried to keep us from falling further in the hole.

As a result 2012 was more spendy than normal. We had deferred some expenses and deferred our play money in 2011 so we cleaned that up in 2012. Nonetheless, we still increased our networth by about my income this year.

Out of curiousity I projected out 2013 and the minimum percentage increase is about 68%, well more than my expected salary and a lot closer to all of what my husband expects to make. That one was heart stopping for both of us. While we have always had a rule about being able to live on one person's income (preferably the smaller salary), this sort of drove home the fact that we do manage to do that.