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Retirement accounts over $100K!

May 26th, 2016 at 07:22 pm

My personal ones, that is.

I typically only check retirement accounts once a month, but lately I've been thinking about retirement savings more, and so sometimes I absentmindedly go check the balance of my main 401(k) to get an idea where the market is. Well I just did that right now and noticed it was up over $87K for the first time: $87,033.08, to be exact. I knew my Roth was close to $13K, so I went and checked that: $13,003.21. That puts my retirement funds value at $100,036.29!

I know it's just a drop in the bucket compared with what I need, but it sounds like such a massive number to me!

NT has been over $100K for about 2 years now, thanks to his early investing in pensions in the UK. AS, who had barely any retirement savings to speak of until a few years ago, is getting very close to $50K: She's at $49,151.47. Unless hers take a major dive, she should hit that milestone in early July, when we'll put $2750 in her Roth.

Update on tax bill: Dental bill & business expense

May 26th, 2016 at 08:57 am

These were both expected expenses. The dental bill is just for the first part of AS's tooth implant procedure. It's a bit different amount from any of the estimates we got, so I'm not sure what the final total will end up being. But the next appointment is in September, so maybe we'll be done with the tax bill goal before new charges come in!

That does mean we'll need to spend up her Chase Sapphire with other stuff to get the bonus, because September will be too late. The NYC trip plus groceries and other regular expenses will hopefully get us to $4K. Who knows, maybe we'll open ANOTHER bonus card for September's charges!

AS also ordered business cards (finally!) for her freelance business.

Both of these expenses increase the actual deficit and reduce the future surplus.

AS dental bill: $1,450.57
AS business cards: $53.88

Actual deficit: $6,479.87
Future surplus: $6,546.34

The NYC trip (first weekend in June) will further increase the current deficit and reduce the future surplus. AS is expecting some freelance payments in early June that will reduce the actual deficit but have no effect on the future surplus.

The projected surplus is based on booked work to date; after our UK trip (last week in June/first week in July) she can continue to book work for the remaining six months of the year, so we hope there will be more money in play then.

Since we have such a large deficit to clear up first, we haven't formed any specific ideas about the projected surplus or any other money that comes in the second half of the year. Obviously a big chunk will go to AS's dental procedures. We may owe more on the basement bathroom than we have set aside; we still haven't spoken to our contractor since work was completed last month. We haven't put any more money into improving the house, so I imagine there may be some things this fall/winter. I wouldn't mind a warm-weather vacation in December or January, so maybe some of it would go to that. We've also talked about rebuilding an emergency fund. I also feel like the kids' mutual funds need some replenishing. And we'd all like to get back to charitable giving.

But I'm not going to make any specific plans because there could always be more unexpected expenses this year; we've already had so many big hits that nothing would surprise me!

Seitan

May 22nd, 2016 at 04:34 pm

For LuckyRobin and anyone else who's curious, this is the fake meat I make, how I slice it into strips for "pulled pork," and how it looks cooking in BBQ sauce (also homemade).



Added to AS's SEP IRA, super cheap meal plan, etc.

May 21st, 2016 at 02:28 pm

I finally added AS's first-quarter contribution to her SEP IRA. I'd been holding back because of the tax bill and upcoming dental bill, but even though we still have a shortage on paper, the income that's going to cover it is a sure thing, and thanks to the 0% credit cards, we can easily float some of our expenses until those freelance checks come in. So I finally fought back my worries and contributed. It's just $568.67 anyway; AS had a light first quarter in terms of actual checks received, even though she's been booking work at a very steady pace.

First quarter of 2015, she pulled in $19K, vs. less than $6K this first quarter. It was because of work she did in late 2014 that she didn't get paid for until January 2015. So considering that, we're not sure she'll make as much this year even though she's working at about the same pace as last year. She might, though; she just hit on what may be a lucrative steady stream of work from a former co-worker of mine.

Still, I'm happy to be adding to our retirement. Since I've put off maxing our Roth IRAs until later in the year, it hasn't been a very exciting year for retirement fund growth (especially since the market has been so stagnant). Starting July 1, it'll get better as we start working to max our our Roths before the end of the year.

We've had a lot of expenses, including grocery expenses for a couple of recent parties, so this week we wanted to plan as cheap a meal as possible. Our groceries came in under $100! That's really good for us.

Here's our meal plan:
Saturday lunch: leftovers from last night's party
Saturday dinner: spaghetti & tomato sauce (total cost about $3)
Sunday lunch: spinach salad with strawberries, tofu & pumpkin seeds (already had pumpkin seeds; cost for other ingredients about $5)
Sunday dinner: mock pulled pork sandwiches, broccoli & potato salad (only needed a Vidalia onion and some garlic for the sandwiches since we have buns in the freezer and I made some extra fake meat last week; total cost of new ingredients about $5)
Monday: cereal & toast (things we had on hand; bought some more bread at $2.50 a loaf in case we need more bread for breakfasts etc.)
Tuesday: parsley breadcrumb pasta (already had heels of bread + parsley; spaghetti was $1)
Wednesday: General Tso tofu, peapods & rice (cost of new ingredients about $3)
Thursday: pizza (bought flour for the crust, vegan cheese, plus bell pepper and mushrooms; $9 total)
Friday: French toast, fake bacon & hashbrown patties (only needed the veggie bacon; about $4)

So weekend meal and dinner ingredients only came to about $31; the rest was spent on things like milk, kindergarten snacks, toilet paper, lunch items for the adults, fruit and cat food. Which all came to about twice the actual cost of our meals! Amazing how it all adds up.

We budget $200 per week, but we'd gone over the previous week, bought wine for last night's party, and bought supplies for a lemonade stand for the kids, so we about broke even this week. That's all I wanted, so I'm happy.

I started using an allowance tracking tool for the kids called threejars.com that I think I'm going to love, but I'll write about it another day when I've had more experience with it!

This weekend and next week look pretty cheap, so hopefully we'll stick to that. (Except AS's dental bill if it comes in, of course.) I'm trying to be very conscious of spending until June, when we have a bunch of travel that will rack up expenses.

Update on tax bill: Much randomness (edited)

May 19th, 2016 at 10:02 am

EDITED to add even more random bits of money in ....

We had a lunch out with my sister that I put on the card, but we also received various cash reimbursements from her, a friend and NT's group. AS got a payment but it was less credit card charges. I made a grocery budget error in our favor. Overall, the net result is positive to the actual deficit but reduced the future surplus a bit.

Also, our cellphone bill was a bit under what I budgeted, and we found out AS's mom will need $75 less than we budgeted for.

Error in our favor $10.87
Restaurant $66.97
Pay in from various sources $40.00
Payment net $610.13
A's mom doesn't need $75.00
Cell phone budget surplus $18.90

Actual deficit: $4,975.42
Future surplus: $8,050.79

Nice to see our deficit go under $5K and our surplus back over $8K, even if it's only a temporary bump before the first of the dental bills arrives!

Update on tax bill: Lotta hits

May 16th, 2016 at 09:29 am

As I detailed in last night's entry, we had lots of small blows to our progress on the tax bill. One thing I forgot to mention was some replacement parts for NT's bike. The one bright spot is that NT was able to use the bus pass allotment from his work to top up AS's and AA's bus passes, so I added $85 toward the tax bill goal that would have been used for bus passes.

All of these impact both current deficit and future surplus.

Groceries over budget $72.22
Bday gifts for 3 kids $51.67
City fine for basement bathroom $250.00
N medical bill $40.00
Bus pass budget surplus $85.00
N bike repair $10.67

Actual deficit: $5,663.35
Projected deficit w/ future money in: On paper we still have a projected surplus of $8,007.88

Market malaise

May 16th, 2016 at 08:41 am

I was checking my retirement balance (it's a bit less than it was at the end of April) and saw the performance summary for the first quarter of this year: up 1.26%.

Out of curiosity I ran a report for Jan 1 2015 through Dec 31 2015. Down 1.27%.

I don't know if that's a net gain or loss if you count all 15 months, but if it's a gain it's probably a depressingly small one.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that my investments will show a 6% return over time. Now that I'm paying more attention, I hope to someday see a good period that makes up for these crappy ones, but so far I haven't. My first foray into the market was when the tech bubble burst in 2000 or so and I had just put most of my 401(k) into a tech fund that had previously been making money hand over fist. I lost about 50% of my meager funds. Since then I've experienced the real estate bubble bursting, the Great Recession, and whatever you call this crappy period of time. So it's hard to have much faith.

Progress lost this week, but I'll total it later

May 15th, 2016 at 10:22 pm

It's been a bad weekend for our tax bill goal. Most of the lost progress was expected, but it still stings after we'd been on such a roll and cut the goal in half in about 2 months. Groceries went over budget because of some prescriptions plus a potluck, a dinner party and my sister being in town. We had to buy birthday gifts for 3 kids who had parties this weekend. We got notice that the appeal of our county fine for the basement bathroom was rejected, so we owe $250. NT got a straggler medical bill for his collarbone stuff. Looks like AS's mom will probably need the money after all (at least that's already been taken out of the progress, but I was kinda hoping to get it back). Could be I'm forgetting a couple more things; I'm kind of tired which is why I don't want to figure it all out now. We may get one more AS freelance check this month but probably no more than that, so positive progress may be slow to nil for the rest of this month. Adding the AS dental bill will take our progress back quite a ways. June has a lot more expected payments but also our NYC trip which is going to cut into their positive impact.

Ah well. I know we'll get through OK; I'm just impatient to be done with this goal and get on to using our money for other things!

Update on tax bill: Daycare tuition increase

May 11th, 2016 at 08:34 am

I got the contract for summer daycare for AA, my kindergartner, and it's $80 more than expected. This impacts the budget for June, July and August, so that's $240 total. It has to come out of our future surplus and impacts our actual deficit.

Daycare tuition increase: $240

Actual deficit: $5,323.79
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $8,347.44

AS's mom called back yesterday to say she didn't want us to send the money; she wanted to figure things out on her own. She has an appointment today with an organization that can help with rent and is also going to contact her apartment's management. AS is going to check back in with her today; we're now worried that she's putting a good face on her situation because of our initial hesitation to give her the money. I'm keeping that $400 as a line item for now in case AS determines that we should send the money anyway.

Update on tax bill goal: Ups and downs, upcoming dental visit

May 10th, 2016 at 02:02 pm

AS and I celebrated Mother's Day with brunch and mimosas at a favorite restaurant and some lattes on the way home. Total cost with tips: $77.

AS's mom called and won't be able to make rent without a loan. Some resistance on my part and a heart-to-heart talk with A ensued, and we got her mom's promise to get some documentation of what's going on with budget that she's not making ends meet. But we are giving her $400. There are lots of petty angles I could vent over, especially involving AS's aunt, but I've already hashed it out.

To compensate, AS took another $1000 writing assignment for this month, which is going to be hard on her time. I'm torn: very glad for the money but worried about how hard she'll be working this month.

Mother's Day (affects both actual and future): $77
Money to AS's mom (affects actual and future): $400
AS freelance job net (affects only future): $650

Actual deficit: $5,083.79
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $8,587.44

AS's first dental appointments are tomorrow. We'll pay for them when we get the rewards card, but I'll put them in the spreadsheet right away as we get billed for them. I think I'm just going to tack them onto this goal and call it the "tax/dental bill goal" from now on.

We're putting the dental expenses on a Chase Sapphire card. I'm thinking I'll keep the eventual (approximate) $550 cash/$700 travel in the rewards account. The cash will be there as a mini-emergency fund. If we don't need the cash this year, we can use it to help pay airfare for a warm weather vacation in December or January.

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance check

May 9th, 2016 at 11:53 am

AS got a $300 check in the mail for some freelance work. This was already figured into our future surplus but it affects the actual deficit.

AS freelance payment net: $195

Actual deficit: $4,606.79
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $8,414.44

Knowing our long-term budget looks good, and now that our checking account balance is no longer in the danger zone, it's tempting to pay off the CC balances we're carrying on some 0% interest cards. But I know the smart thing to do is wait until there's no actual deficit, or at least until it's closer to being eliminated, just in case anything unexpected happens.

Looking ahead, it's hard to predict when we'll actually clear up the budget deficit, but I think it'll be in July sometime. Once we do, future snowflakes and surplus will go toward AS's dental procedure. I'd love to be done paying for that by August or September! I want to start thinking long-term about our money, but until we clear up these two big expenses, it's hard to focus on anything but them.

Does anyone else track future checking account balance?

May 9th, 2016 at 10:45 am

I was reading an old thread on the forums started by someone who said when they look at their checking account, all they can see is how much money they have and think of it as money they can spend, not as money that's allocated for other stuff.

I used to have this problem waaay back in the day. I think that's why the system that has worked best for my budgeting is my "future checkbook" spreadsheet. Instead of entering bills as they come and seeing what my current balance is, I start with my current balance and calculate all my future income and expenses a month or two out. On each line item, I have a column that shows what would happen to my checking account balance with each transaction. I even have that column programmed to turn red if a number is negative.

It's really helpful to see if there are any dates in the upcoming months where the checking account balance could dip dangerously low. Usually it never dips below several thousand, but since big expenses come up occasionally, it helps.

Once an expense is paid or income comes in, I update the current checking account balance and delete that line from the future budget. I don't really track things that have already happened; I'm really only interested in what's going to happen in the future and whether I have enough money to fund everything I want and need to. When there's only a few weeks left in the future tracking, I add another month to the bottom of the spreadsheet.

I make sure the bottom of the spreadsheet always balances out to zero, even though my checking account balance never gets to zero. Basically if there's any surplus in the upcoming budget, I add that as an expense line item so if I spend more than predicted in my future checkbook, I have to take it out of my surplus.

Anyway, knowing where every cent is going in the future helps me not see my checking account balance as available. Obviously it's a commonsense notion, but I like having the concrete proof of that.

I haven't seen anyone else use a system like this, but I taught one of my friends how and now she uses it religiously. It hasn't solved all of her problems but it does keep her from overdrawing her checking account, so at least she doesn't get hit with NSF charges anymore.

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance job

May 8th, 2016 at 07:37 am

AS confirmed another freelance job for $2500. Her projected gross income for the year (so far) is up over $30K now!

This adds to the project surplus but doesn't affect the actual deficit.

AS freelance job net: $1,625

Actual deficit: $4,801.79
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $8,414.44

I'm very glad to have this much upcoming income, because AS's dental bill estimate just went up, to $3781.32. (Still better than my was; I paid over $5K even with insurance!)

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance check, tax refund

May 6th, 2016 at 08:41 am

AS's state tax refund hit the bank yesterday, so not nearly as late as I'd feared. It didn't affect our tax bill goal since I'd already factored that into how much we owed, but that $701 did clear up any lingering worry that we might have to take a LOC advance to avoid a checking account shortfall.

AS also received a direct deposit for the second half of a remote teaching gig ($625). This was already factored in to the future surplus but does reduce the actual deficit.

AS freelance job net: $406.25

Actual deficit: $4,801.79 (We're over halfway to clearing this up!)
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $6,789.44

AS booked her first dental procedure for the tooth extraction and implant, and I got her approved for a Chase Sapphire card that we'll hopefully get in time to put the charges on. So that reward will be helpful in the future.

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance job, future expenses

May 4th, 2016 at 12:18 pm

AS worked for my company a few hours Monday, and invoiced them for $146.25. Since she won't get paid for a while, this affects the future surplus but not the current deficit.

AS freelance job net: $95.06

Actual deficit: $5,208.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $6,789.44

Just to remind myself not to get too comfortable with that surplus, I need to note some upcoming expenses happening in May/June. They aren't set in stone, so I'm not taking them out of the surplus yet. I'll do that when I have exact amounts:
Mother's Day
Bday gifts for 3 of the kids' friends
Eating out during my sister's visit
Father's Day
AS dental surgery
NYC/reunion travel/food expenses

Only the dental surgery will be a huge expense, though the NYC trip might add up a bit. At least most of the meals, lodging and transportation are already paid for, so this would just be for subways/cabs, meals on the days of travel, and any incidentals. The other things are small, but they probably will have to come out of the surplus, since AS and I depleted our spending money in the trip to Va. and NT probably has other plans for his spending money.

My love story (trying to be brief but ...)

May 3rd, 2016 at 08:49 pm

I've always been upfront about my relationship because trying to write about our finances without revealing that facet would be hard. When I started this blog I made that decision and figured if I got a lot of negative attention or harassment, I could just delete it -- nothing ventured, nothing gained. Well, nearly ten years later, I can barely remember any negativity about my family structure, so here I still am! Smile

And then LAL asked if I'd ever said how we'd met, and I didn't think I ever had! So here's the long story short (OK, not that short) of how we got together:

The beginning sounds worse than it is. I first met AS when I was a teacher and she was a student. In 1996 I was fresh out of college and working in Georgia when I got in a bad car accident (broken pelvis, damaged spleen and stomach). My parents flew me home to Virginia when I was released from the hospital and I spent several months in a wheelchair, recuperating.

One day (after I was walking again but going nowhere with my life) my old high school English teacher called to say she was going on maternity leave in the spring and wondered if I would sub in for her. I signed up to be a substitute teacher and took some short gigs at other schools until she went on leave.

AS was a senior and worked on the literary magazine, as I had done when I was at the same high school. She wasn't in any of my classes, but she was often working on the magazine while I taught, and we'd chat between classes and during my free period, and after school.

After school ended and she graduated (1997), I was still living at my parents' house trying to figure out what to do with my life (I'd hated teaching and was terrible at it, and I didn't much like Virginia either). AS and I continued to hang out over the summer, and friendship soon (and surprisingly) turned to love.

After we'd been dating for only a week, she announced she was moving to Northfield, Minnesota for college in a month, and I said I'd move out there too if we were still dating by then. (It felt awfully sudden, but also like the right thing to do, and virtually no risk for me since I could always come home again.) We were, so I did! (Well, I moved to Minneapolis, where a friend of a friend had a house with a room to rent.)

I had hardly ever been a one-person type and AS was OK with that, so we dated other people but were extremely committed to one another. We stayed together during weekends, holidays and summers and when she transferred to a college close to me in 1999, we moved in together. Several apartments later, we bought a condo together in 2003.

In the meantime, we'd befriended a couple of British guys who were visiting one of our MN friends, who had spent some time in the UK during and after college. AS and I went to visit these guys in 2002 (I think), and they introduced us THEIR friend, who happened to be NT. We liked him instantly.

After our trip we corresponded occasionally with him and the other Brits, and in 2005 they announced they were all coming to visit. They stayed with us and NT met a MN girl and started dating her (oh the pangs!). So he made plans to come back and see his new girlfriend in a few months. However, she broke up with him a couple weeks before his trip! He couldn't cancel the flight so asked AS and I if he could crash in our spare room again. We said yes and this time, spending some time just the three of us versus a large group, things suddenly clicked and we all realized the romantic feelings were mutual.

We kept in steady communication this time and soon realized it was serious (Dec. 1, 2005). Over the next year, we managed 2 trips out to see him and he came out to see us twice. (All the travel, mailed gifts and long-distance phone charges certainly contributed to the debt we all had when we combined our finances!)

By April 2006 we knew we had to do something to get together permanently. The most expedient way was for him to marry one of us, come here and hopefully we could all then find a way back to the UK together. We figured AS's career goals made her the most primed for a work visa, so we all agreed I would marry NT.

I worked obsessively on the fiance visa process (I think it improved my organizational skills, attention to detail and persistence, which set me up well to deal with our finances later!) and in October 2006, NT arrived in the U.S. permanently. We married that December and were in completely irresponsible honeymoon mode until early 2007, when I realized we were about to hit rock bottom financially. Soon after that I joined SavingAdvice, so you know the rest of the story from there! Big Grin

May 2016 debt payments

May 3rd, 2016 at 08:03 am

All our mortgage payments hit:

US: $671 to principal
UK1: $226
UK2: $48
UK3: $51

All told, that's $996 paid in May. Getting close to where the minimum will be a thousand a month; that's got a nice feeling to it, like we're actually going somewhere! Smile

Retirement goal progress

May 1st, 2016 at 09:53 pm

I revised our retirement goal because I got a small raise but AS made slightly less in 2015 than projected. The old goal: $486,000 in retirement assets by 2019.

The new one: $485,480 by 2019
(As a reminder, this is to get me to 3x my current salary which is now $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $57,083, so $171,249; and AS to 2x hers, which last year totaled $57,178, so $114,356)

Current balance: $265,900

March 2016 balance: $263,174

Progress: $2,726

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 34 months, so we'd need $6458 per month to reach it. Looking less and less likely we'll reach it, but I've got to keep trying!

April 2016 net worth update

May 1st, 2016 at 09:23 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($27,368)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($32,801)
#3: 4,452 pounds ($7,123)
NT's 401(k): $41,444
NT's Roth IRA: $9,932
AS's trad. IRA: $14,950
AS's Roth IRA: $25,764
AS's SEP IRA: $7,679
CJ's 401(k): $85,900
CJ's Roth IRA: $12,939
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($288,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $440,000
---
Total Assets: $993,900

Total Debt: $478,821

Current Estimated Net Worth: $515,079

March 2016 estimate: $511,362

Change in net worth: +$3,717

Summary: The market had a (very) modest gain, so our net worth went up. I can't wait until we start contributing to our Roths and AS's SEP IRA again, so we can hopefully top a million in assets yet this year!

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. I don't have a way to check NT's UK pensions or flat value, so their values stay static for the purpose of this update (unless I happen to get some info by chance). UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.60 for every British pound.

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance check

April 30th, 2016 at 04:15 pm

AS got a $700 freelance payment, nearly a month earlier than expected! This was like kismet, because we found out that state refunds may take longer than usual this year, and we'd been depending on a $701 state tax refund for AS to prevent the May checking account deficit. Now it doesn't matter when the refund comes!

This payment was already factored into projected deficit, so it only reduces the actual.

Actual deficit: $5,208.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $6,694.38

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance job (BIG!)

April 27th, 2016 at 10:34 am

I had some financial ins and outs that I managed to balance against each other: CC rewards and low grocery spending due to gift cards on the one hand; NT's passport, my and AS's vacation spending and a much higher than expected electricity bill on the other. AS and I used some personal spending money to make it break even, so no positive or negative effect on the tax bill goal.

However, AS got confirmation of two new jobs, a medium one ($500) and a HUGE one ($7900). We're still where we were on the current deficit, but our future surplus now looks much bigger.

AS freelance jobs net: $5,460

Actual deficit: $5,663.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $6,694.38

Once we clean up the actual deficit, AS can start planning her dental extraction and implant. She got the final piece of the post-insurance estimates, and the procedure will end up costing us a max of $3034.32.

Good money things

April 20th, 2016 at 09:16 pm

A few positives have happened, but I'm not counting them into the tax bill goal yet:

I ordered CC rewards from 3 cards, totaling about $120.

NT got reimbursed for a Prime membership with his work that I forgot we'd paid for: $99 in the bank from out of nowhere!

AS heard from an old co-worker of mine about a possible ongoing writing job. She'd have to sign up with a staffing agency his company uses, but if that works out, should be a good source of income!

We used a CC rewards Target gift card for groceries last week, so we were able to put AA's school lunch refill and a few other extras on it. So far we still have $20 left over from last week's grocery budget. This week we got more gift cards, so we're going to try and do as much of our grocery shopping as possible on Target cards.

The reason I haven't put any of this toward the tax bill is that NT has his passport application coming up this week, and AS and I are traveling with the kids to visit our parents in Va. I'm hoping we can also use Target cards there to buy some snacks and whatever else we need, and use whatever surplus we have from the above good money things to fund NT's passport and whatever incidental expenses AS and I can't either pay for with a gift card or use our own spending money.

I'd be really happy if we just broke even and didn't have to dip into the progress we've made on the tax bill so far!

April 20 health and moderation

April 20th, 2016 at 09:04 pm

Breakfast: coffee, banana.

Lunch: leftover Cuban black beans, plantains and rice.

Dinner: Southern-fried tofu, mashed potatoes, broccoli and a biscuit with jelly, glass of wine.

Snacks: mango, another glass of wine.

Extra activity: only a bit.

April 18-19 health and moderation

April 19th, 2016 at 08:50 pm

April 18
Breakfast: strawberries and grapes, coffee.

Lunch: leftover cauliflower and "cheese."

Dinner: sesame tofu with green beans, carrots and rice.

Extra activity: a bit, about half a mile.


April 19
Breakfast: part of a grapefruit, 2 oranges, coffee.

Lunch: salad with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, orange and sunflower seeds, 3 veggie chikn nuggets, 1 small piece of bread. Snack: coffee.

Dinner: grilled refried bean & vegan cheese sandwich.

Snacks: more refried beans, salsa and potato chips, 2 glasses wine. (I know, bad snacks!)

Exercise: only about half a mile again.

Yesterday was so great eating-wise; today started out great but I admit the NY voting news depressed me and I self-medicated with carbs and wine. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Update on tax bill goal: Freelance payments and budget surplus

April 18th, 2016 at 01:31 pm

AS just received a check containing payment for several smaller jobs she did for my company, totaling $1576.25. I'm now 99% sure we won't need to pull from the line of credit at all to cover a temporary shortfall! There's one other place where we could fall short if AS doesn't receive a payment, but it's from a university, and those have been very reliable direct deposits, so I'd be surprised if it didn't work out.

These expected payments impact the current deficit but were already figured into the future surplus.

I also noticed a line in the budget for AA's April bus pass renewal. Even though her 6th birthday was in early March, we only recently pulled out the bus pass we'd ordered and started using it, so I won't need to renew it in April. This benefits both actual and projected.

AS freelance payment net: $1,024.56
Bus pass budget surplus: $85

Actual deficit: $5,663.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $1,234.38

April 17 health and moderation

April 17th, 2016 at 09:29 pm

Breakfast: cinnamon Life cereal and soymilk, coffee.

Lunch: molletes (salsa, refried beans and melted cheese on a bolillo roll) w/lettuce & cherry tomatoes.

Dinner: roasted cauliflower with nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce.

Snack: 1 glass of wine.

Extra activity: walked maybe 2 extra miles.

Weighed in at the usual time tonight and I was 2.6 lbs. down! That puts me at 138.5. It's good to be back in my 130s, and only 11.5 away from my ideal weight.

Thursday through Monday I'm visiting my parents; traveling to the boring suburbs of Virginia usually makes me want to stuff myself with junk food. We'll see if I can keep the goal in sight and keep the noshing under control!

April 15-16 health and moderation & a credit card question

April 17th, 2016 at 06:32 am

You'll notice I'm allowing some of the forbidden foods back into my diet, such as white-flour products, alcohol and fake meats, but still trying to limit them overall.

April 15:

Breakfast: everything bagel w/hummus (my work's treat), coffee.

Lunch: mock chicken dijon sandwich and salad with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and sunflower seeds (my boss's treat, but I tried to stay good by swapping out chips for salad).

Dinner: spaghetti & veggieballs.

Snack: one delightful glass of red wine.

Extra activity: Walked about 2 miles extra.

April 16:

Breakfast: 1 slice 12-grain toast with peanut butter and a banana.

Lunch: grilled hummus sandwich and tomato soup.

Snack: wheat grass shot, apple-spinach juice.

Dinner: Twice-baked potato and broccoli.

Snacks: popcorn and 1 glass of wine.

Extra activity: walked about 4 miles extra.

Now to my question: A friend I've been trying to help confessed that she's been making charges to a credit card that she'd opened for the purpose of a low-rate balance transfer. The purchases, of course, are subject to the higher interest rate. Frown She's since gotten rid of the card so the spending temptation is gone. Now she has another balance transfer opportunity. She'd like to only transfer the higher-interest portion. The credit card company when she talked to them refused to tell her what portion of the debt was at the higher interest, and they said she couldn't just transfer the higher-interest balance. Both things seem anathema to the Consumer Protection act, but I admit I can't find anything explicit about these two things: whether they're required to tell you what portion of the balance is at a higher rate, and whether balance transfers apply to the higher-interest portion. (I know payments do, but I'm not sure if balance transfers count.)

I'm going to talk to my friend about what led to making this mistake so hopefully we can figure out how to keep her from doing it in the future. But in the meantime, I'd like to help her with this problem.

Update on tax bill goal: Payment, less transaction fee

April 15th, 2016 at 12:34 pm

AS let me know she got partial payment ($1984.66) early for a freelance job. She took a credit card payment, so there was a fee, meaning we're getting a bit less than expected. But we're getting it earlier than expected, so that's great!

The payment affects current deficit, while the fee impacts both current and future. What's really cool about this payment is that it possibly eliminates the remaining temporary shortfall in our May budget that would have required a LOC advance. We may get out of this situation not paying a cent of interest to anyone!

AS freelance payment net: $1,290.03
CC fee: -$69.61

Actual deficit: $6,772.60
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $1,149.38

April 14 health and moderation

April 15th, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Breakfast: coffee, soy latte (my co-worker was buying!).

Lunch: Moroccan stew and rice.

Snack: ended my cleanse a half day early to celebrate Neil's citizenship with a margarita and some chips and guacamole.

Dinner: "Buddha bowl": sweet potato, broccoli, onion, kale, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, tahini.

Exercise: walked about a mile and a half extra.

Update on tax bill goal: My raise!

April 15th, 2016 at 07:37 am

My paycheck hit the checking account with my raise reflected: $44.41 more. Not bad! I was hoping for at least $30 more.

I'd already worked out my budget through the end of May, so when I updated my April 30 and May 15 paychecks, I had a net gain of $133.23.

This helps reduce the actual deficit as well as increase the projected surplus.

I also applied the raise to the rest of my annual budget. I'd been holding $742.16 in checking to help cover maxing out the Roth IRAs July through December. Since I'm doubling up contributions the last half of the year to free up money the first half, for those months my budget is in the hole. Now with the raise, I only need $229.07 plus my June surplus to fully fund the Roths. That frees up $513.09 to apply to the tax bill!

CJ raise (3 paychecks): $133.23
Roth funding surplus: $513.09

Actual deficit: $7,993.02
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $1,218.99


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