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NT's getting another raise! and other money stuff

December 6th, 2016 at 02:33 pm

NT's company is doing phenomenally well lately. Although we haven't heard confirmation of a year-end bonus, they've gotten big ones on just regular years, so we're hoping for a nice sized one to be announced soon.

But they DID let everyone know they're getting a 3.5% raise in 2017! I'll be upping NT's 401(k) another percent when that happens, so we'll only see 2.5%. I'm conservatively estimating another $30 per paycheck after taxes, or $60 per month.

Also, our mortgage randomly went down $40 this past payment! It looks like the escrow shortage amount was less. Assuming that stays the same until the escrow is caught up, that's another $40 per month. So $100 per month in the 2017 budget just from two random occurrences. Pretty sweet! It doesn't make up for our healthcare increases, but since I'd already factored those in, it feels like a win.

AS is still cranking away at her freelance work; should be a pretty big month for receiving checks. If not, then January will be big. We've now got nearly $7K saved up for the bathroom renovation. We're thinking it'll be $12K-$13K total. So we're getting there. I think 2017 is going to be the year her business really takes off; she's now got a hundred-dollar-an-hour client who sounds like they have a lot of work. She can probably shed some more of her lower-paying clients and less pleasant work.

Let's see; I did finish NaNoWriMo; did I say that already? Despite getting really behind the first part of the month, I finished earlier than I ever have before.

I haven't even looked at Xmas shopping yet. Right after NaNoWriMo I dove into an editing project helping AS out for her class, then was really behind on my regular job so have been playing catchup ever since. Plus we've all been taking turns getting sick for the past month or two. AA was the latest, staying home with strep yesterday.

In between all of that I went to NT's work holiday party, my college alumni holiday party, and our 10-year anniversary dinner. All were a blast! I got such thoughtful anniversary gifts from NT and AS. I didn't set us a budget for gifts for one another, but we each stayed within $60 to $200, so it was really reasonable but felt extravagant because there was no dollar limit.

Now those things are back in balance, we will probably get a lot of Xmas stuff done this week. And walking! I want to get back into nightly walks. Too bad I missed the mild November and early December weather; now it's probably too cold to walk and I'll have to do it on the treadmill in the basement.

Hoping things will be settling down now so I can come back here and participate more regularly!

December 2016 debt payments

December 3rd, 2016 at 11:29 am

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $685 to principal
UK1: $181
UK2: $38
UK3: $40

All told, that's $944 to principal. Total debt is now $460,445

November retirement goal progress

December 3rd, 2016 at 10:13 am

Goal: $479,875 by 2019

(As a reminder, this is just an incremental goal along the way to 8x income by retirement. This mini-goal aims to get us to a milestone by the time I turn 45 and AS turns 40.

The milestone is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $60,000, so $180,000; and AS to 2x hers, which this year is projected to be $50,000, so $100,000)

Current balance: $289,384

September 2016 balance: $280,625

Progress: $8,759

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 27 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $190,491 -- $7,055 per month -- to reach it. Yeah, that's probably not going to happen, but I'll keep doing the best I can!

November 2016 net worth (a bit late)

December 3rd, 2016 at 10:04 am

I haven't worked on my budget since mid-November, so I'm catching up on a lot of tracking! Hopefully I get it all done today.

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($21,381)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($25,626)
#3: 5,523 pounds ($6,904)
NT's 401(k): $47,324
NT's Roth IRA: $15,873
AS's trad. IRA: $15,593
AS's Roth IRA: $31,168
AS's SEP IRA: $10,935
CJ's 401(k): $95,549
CJ's Roth IRA: $19,031
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($225,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $470,000 (value -6%)
---
Total Assets: $984,384

Debts:
US Mortgage (duplex) $400,907
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1: $35,932
UK Mortgage 2: $7,574
UK Mortgage 3: $7,976
---
Total Debt: $461,390

Current Estimated Net Worth: $522,994

October 2016 estimate: $513,295

Change in net worth: +$9,699

Summary: The market showed some gains this month, so we regained about a quarter of the net worth we lost last month due to my downgrading the value of the British pound. Two more good months and our assets should be up over a million again.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat and one for the US duplex, but no movement on them as yet. Their sale prices [if they sell] should give me a good idea of both properties' true worth.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24th, 2016 at 07:19 am

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. I am very thankful for this community's support, wisdom, criticism and sympathy. I know I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't found a resource and group of people like this.

I promise I'll be participating more in the blogs come December; November has been a perfect storm of stuff and I've barely been keeping up with my budget, let alone blogging about it.

The good news is I think I'll be able to finish my NaNoWriMo; I've been feverishly pounding away at it the past week or so and am almost caught up to where I should be. And I'm starting to come out of my funk and be more creative and productive at work, though I'm still not at my best.

The bad news is that me and AA keep getting hit by illnesses this month. At least the rest of the family has been relatively OK.

Money stuff is up and down; AS is booking a lot of work but we haven't been getting a ton of checks. But we're hanging in there.

I have a cough and the medicine gave me a weird night of sleep, so this is going to be a mellow Thanksgiving for me. Luckily I'm cooking all familiar foods so it'll be an easy year.

Money into savings, quick update

November 18th, 2016 at 07:39 am

It's been a crazy crazy month. Starting with being sick, then a visit from family, then THE EVENT that will reshape our entire world, then NaNoWriMo, a flurry of stuff to do at work, AS being busier than she's ever been, social justice events going on in my city around police issues, plumbing/water issues, AA getting really sick (possibly the flu--kicking myself for not getting her the flu shot yet).

What's fallen by the wayside: my evening walks, my appetite, sleep, my ability to focus, peace of mind, blogging, keeping my inboxes clear, quality time with spouses & kids, housekeeping.

Half and half: NaNoWriMo. I've written every day except Nov. 8, but I'm only about a third of the way to my goal because I've either had work to do, have dozed off over my computer, or have wanted to just turn my brain off and watch The Walking Dead.

What I've kept up with: my 5-minute daily morning strength training, the basics of budget tracking, home-cooked meals, the minimum amount of work and housekeeping required to not live in filth and not get fired.

We were getting pretty far in the red on shared spending because of some expected expenses and AS just hadn't gotten many paychecks in October or the first half of November. She finally got nearly $3K in the mail yesterday and a third of it went to our shared spending deficit so we're less than $100 in the hole, although we have a long-planned date night tonight that will set us back some. But she's got lots of work coming in so we know the deficit will eventually be made up.

I also put about a third of the money into savings for our eventual renovation plans. I was also able to transfer some flat-rental money from UK checking to UK savings for our emergency fund. So we now have $6,250 in the U.S. account for renovations and $2,812.50 in the UK account as an EF.

We got one estimate for the bathroom reno and it came a little over $12K (would be more because we'd purchase the new vanity and toilet ourselves). Still waiting for our regular contractor to come do an estimate. The first one would be a fast job using that single-sheet shower stuff, which won't look very high-end but will be much lower maintenance. And they could do it in a matter of days. Our regular contractor will give us an estimate for traditional tiling, which will take longer and be higher maintenance but will look so much better. It's our upstairs bathroom that only we use, so I'm not as set on it looking high-end. So cost and quick turnaround will definitely be considerations, but until we get the estimate I can't say which way we'll go.

Tonight is a daycare sleepover. Even before we knew how busy and stressed we'd be, we planned a "parents' night in" instead of the usual "parents' night out." NT is going to make us a special cocktail and we'll order food delivery. Really looking forward to unwinding. I need to do a bit of NaNoWriMo on my lunch break today because I don't want to think about it tonight.

So much more has happened, but I've had a couple good nights of sleep and AA isn't sick anymore, so things are starting to turn around I think. Hope to get back on my routine soon though it probably won't really happen until December, when NaNoWriMo is over.

Last thing I want to say is though I'm very distressed by the state of the world, I love and respect all of you and thank you for keeping the discourse relatively civil at a very highly charged and divisive time. (The few trolls I saw on these blogs seemed very out of place!) I intend to do all I can to protect the environment and equal rights for all. I know there are so many good and caring people in America so I won't go it alone. It somewhat heartens me that even some who voted for the T-word don't support the insults and slurs he used. Hopefully they will keep the pressure on him to abandon that behavior and rhetoric and hopefully step up to represent our country in a way that doesn't humiliate us and put us and the rest of the world in greater danger.

Relativity

November 3rd, 2016 at 07:47 am

I forgot one tidbit of news in my last update. Kind of a funny story.

I went trick-or-treating with the kids Monday evening. When I came home, at some point I realized I couldn't find my work phone, which had been in my jacket pocket.

I remembered checking the time on it during our jaunt, so I retraced my steps to the best of my ability. It was getting dark and tons of people had walked the same streets before me, so I was convinced either I'd walk right past it or that someone had already grabbed it.

I wasn't too upset about the phone itself since I wouldn't have to pay to replace it; I was pretty sure my work would just issue another one, and even if they didn't I still have my personal phone. Obviously I wasn't looking forward to telling work I lost an expensive piece of company property, but I didn't think that would be a huge deal. I was more sad because I use the phone to take pictures a lot, and I don't have them saved anywhere else except on Facebook.

I didn't find it and headed home, trying not to let the bummer of it spoil the rest of Halloween. AS told me about the "find my iPhone" apps and features, but I was pretty sure my phone was about to go dead and wasn't sure it would be detected. Plus the tool I found required an iCloud login, which I wasn't even sure I'd ever signed up for.

But I fumbled through the "lost username" and "lost password" things and sure enough, I did have a login. I searched for my phone, and a map appeared that showed it was somewhere on a corner just a block away!

I went back out with NT, and after scouring the small part of the street (which was dark and covered in leaves), he finally saw it poking out from under a bin of drinks someone had left out on their steps for trick-or-treaters. Either it had fallen and slid under there, or someone had seen it and decided to tuck it into an unobtrusive place so no one would find it but the owner looking for it. I felt like I won the lottery!

When I got it home, I saw that the screen had several spiderweb cracks from its ordeal. Now ordinarily that would have REALLY bummed me out, but compared with the alternative -- not ever finding the phone again -- it felt like nothing. The phone still works perfectly well.

Now I actually kind of smile when I check my phone and notice the cracks again, because it reminds me of that feeling of relief and elation when I finally found it! And it makes me chuckle that something that could have been upsetting didn't bother me at all because of the near-miss I had beforehand.

PS: AA didn't win her primary election for first-grade class president, but she seemed totally fine. Turns out she didn't even vote for herself! One of her friends is in the final election next week, so she's happy about that.

The daycare lady took her to get a donut after school to celebrate her effort. I'm sure that lessened any sting she felt too. Smile

Various money things & life updates

November 2nd, 2016 at 09:52 am

Feels like a long time since I posted ... let's see if I can remember some of the stuff that's happened.

Our CSA farm invited members to a talk; turns out they've had a disastrous year due mainly to the overly rainy summer we had. Lost lots of crops to rot and disease and therefore made far less money than expected. They asked members to help out in various ways, and one of them was to purchase three years of shares now. That one made the most sense because we have no intention of quitting our farm, so we did it.

I already had the money saved up for the 2017 share but not 2018 or 2019. So for now we're floating that money. We typically have $2K-$10K of wiggle room in the checking account at any given time, so I don't think it'll be a problem floating $1575 until such time as we can make up for it in the budget. (Probably will pay off before the money comes up in our 2017 and 2018 budgets, but if not, I think we could easily float it that long.)

I got a voicemail from a farm staffer thanking me for the advance subscription and saying we were the only people at that particular event who signed up. Frown They sent out a follow-up email and she did say that others are starting to sign up too. She also said if they don't manage to keep afloat for next season, they will refund our money. Frown

We love our farmer and his devotion to the land, so hopefully other members will step up. They need $150K to make the changes they think will protect the farm from climate-change effects in the future.

***

Halloween was a bit of a budget buster, with costumes, candy, pumpkins, and Lyft rides to and from a party. So worth it though! October was a very low-income month for AS; she pulled in $1865 and only a third of that goes to shared spending. So I'm actually pretty happy with the fact that our shared spending is only $140 in the red right now.

My sister is coming for a visit this weekend, and this time she's bringing her foodie husband, so we expect to eat out at least 4 meals. I'm sure they'll pick up the tab on a couple of them, but we'll still go farther in the hole unless AS receives some checks soon. It'll all work itself out!

We have one contractor coming out to give a quote on the upstairs bathroom next Friday and a text message in to our regular contractor, so hopefully we can get him in soon. Our preference would be to work with him because he's done such an amazing job on all jobs so far, but we'll take cost and other things into consideration when making the decision. We have $5350 saved and know we'll likely need a lot more than that, but we just need to find out how MUCH more so we can have a goal to shoot for.

We're still waffling about whether to appraise for a refinance of the US duplex. I've got my eye on a similar listing -- a duplex right across the street from us with fewer bedrooms/square feet that's listed for $515K. It just went on the market, so who knows what it will actually go for, but if it does go for over $500K, the refi just might be doable.

I've also found a very comparable flat to NT's UK property that's listed at 215,000 pounds (about $270K). We currently value his flat at 180K pounds, so that's very interesting if it actually sells for that amount. It's been on the market for 4 months and they've dropped the price twice, so we'll see if it ever sells and where the sale price lands.

I started NaNoWriMo last night! I did 1,580 words, which is less than I like to do per day (I shoot for 2,000 per day so I can have a few free days in the month and/or finish early), but I spent most of the day working on my outline, so I was kind of burnt out by the time I was ready to start writing it. I'm not totally happy with the plot I came up with but think I'll find it entertaining enough to keep going through the month. It's mostly a straight-up action novel and I didn't come up with many twists and turns, so I don't think the end result will be very commercial. I'll just look at this year's NaNo as a chance to practice my fiction writing skills. I'll try to write the heck out of my paper-thin plot! Big Grin

What else? Oh, lots of kid updates! AA has finally graduated from preschool-level swim class and is SO close to being able to swim on her own. She's running for 1st-grade class president and the "primary" is today, so wish her luck! She wrote and gave a speech to her class; it was 3 sentences long. Smile 4-year-old SL has suddenly learned to read! She has trouble sounding out words she doesn't know, but she knows a ton of words on sight, so she can get quite far in reading a new book. She's about where AA was in early-mid kindergarten, so she's about a year ahead of her. But AA was more of a sounder-outer so could figure out more unknown words. They just learn and process information very differently. Both smart as whips though! AA is going to take the gifted tests soon at school, so we'll see if she qualifies for whatever gifted program is available. SL I'm pretty sure will go in the gifted program right away.

Other family news: Today is the 10-year anniversary of NT arriving in the United States!

November 2016 debt payments

November 2nd, 2016 at 08:20 am

All of our mortgage payments hit:

US: $683 to principal
UK1: $180
UK2: $38
UK3: $40

All told, that's $941 toward debt this month. We were getting close to having $1000 be the minimum debt paid each month, but that's not going to happen for a long time now. (The amount paid is smaller now because of the exchange rate calculation shift on the UK debt.)

October 2016 retirement goal setback (vs. progress)

November 2nd, 2016 at 08:14 am

We did contribute a lot to the Roths -- maxed out two of them this past month! So I'm proud of that progress, but the UK currency exchange gave us quite a setback on paper.

Goal: $479,875 by 2019

(As a reminder, this is just an incremental goal along the way to 8x income by retirement. This mini-goal aims to get us to a milestone by the time I turn 45 and AS turns 40.

The milestone is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $60,000, so $180,000; and AS to 2x hers, which this year is projected to be $50,000, so $100,000)

Current balance: $280,625

September 2016 balance: $290,052

Progress: -$9,427

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 28 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $7,116 per month to reach it. Yeah, that's probably not going to happen, but I'll keep doing the best I can!

October 2016 net worth

November 2nd, 2016 at 08:10 am

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($21,381)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($25,626)
#3: 5,523 pounds ($6,904)
NT's 401(k): $45,526
NT's Roth IRA: $14,268
AS's trad. IRA: $15,380
AS's Roth IRA: $30,665
AS's SEP IRA: $10,762
CJ's 401(k): $91,383
CJ's Roth IRA: $18,730
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($225,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $470,000 (value -6%)
---
Total Assets: $975,625

Debts:
US Mortgage (duplex) $401,590
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1: $36,112
UK Mortgage 2: $7,612
UK Mortgage 3: $8,016
---
Total Debt: $462,330

Current Estimated Net Worth: $513,295

August 2016 estimate: $556,383

Change in net worth: -$43,088

Summary: The market trended downward slightly, we managed to put quite a bit into our retirement -- but the biggest change was the currency exchange rate from $1.50 to $1.25 per British pound. Took our total assets below a million for the first time since May, and our net worth to its lowest since March. Ah well -- it's just a math thing. We'll build back up.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat and one for the US duplex, but no movement on them as yet. Their sale prices [if they sell] should give me a good idea of both properties' true worth.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.

Healthcare rate hike, spot bonus

October 19th, 2016 at 09:49 pm

AS found out her current healthcare is going up from $228 to $351.86 per month, effective January 2017. Yeeowch! That's a 54% increase and $1486 more for 2017.

NT and I haven't found out what our workplace plans will be doing, but mine almost always goes up. NT's has always remained without premium (though if the kids or I went on his plan it would be more expensive per person than me having the kids on my plan, oddly enough).

The only 2017 months where we couldn't pay for AS's increase on my and NT's checks were January and March. I moved some birthday money to February and April so all months were in the positive.

Oh well. It's a painful increase but not devastating.

On the bright side, NT was handed a bonus at work because they had a record month in September. $250 cash! I put half toward our shared spending deficit, half into renovation savings. We also got our electric bill and it was $29 less than budgeted, so I used that to offset more of the deficit.

Home value estimates ... October update

October 18th, 2016 at 01:33 pm

Today's estimates of my home's value:
Eppraisal: $462,930
Zillow: $607,769

These are even more wildly divergent than the September estimates:
Eppraisal.com $474,269
Zillow $586,363

If we paid all closing costs including escrow, we'd still need to be valued at $501,988 to qualify for a private loan with no mortgage insurance. So, I'm still not ready to pull the trigger on an appraisal.

Dreary day doings

October 17th, 2016 at 08:47 pm

I'm feeling for you, SA friends -- seems like nearly everyone's going through the doldrums (or worse) this week.

It's a rainy gray day here. Bit concerned about AS, who has a lot on her plate workwise, is just getting over a cold and has her mom on her mind. My life has had some ups and downs -- took a sick day Friday because I was feeling run down, have had some frank discussions with NT about spending more time with family and less on his activist group obligations, and more of my projects at work feel stalled than are going anywhere. "Losing" $45K of net worth because of Brexit wasn't fun, but it was only on paper (see previous post). All minor stuff though.

We decided to buy 2 pepper sprays and a money clip that fastens to a bra strap on Amazon, and had them sent directly to AS's mom. I don't know if it'll afford her any peace of mind but hopefully it might cheer her up a bit to know we're concerned for her safety; I don't know.

That put us another $34 in the hole on shared spending. I also spent $25 at the thrift store on about 6 pairs of trousers for AA; we usually have plenty of hand-me-downs but for some reason not many pants in her current size, so I finally broke down and bought some.

We're only about $230 in the hole, not too bad. We won't likely get any significant influx of money until the end of the month, but not really worried.

On the upside: I've managed to keep my weight in the 130s for a month now (just barely, hovering between 138.5 and 139.5, but I'll take it since the last time I dipped below the 140 mark was early May). I've more or less kept to my routine of morning strength training, skipping breakfast, moderate lunch, hearty dinner, no snacks, and walking every day. I think without some social events tripping me up, I'd actually be a few pounds lighter. So hopefully I'll lose weight on uneventful weeks and hold steady/gain a bit during high-social type weeks.

I'm also excited for NaNoWriMo to start in November; I've been slipping on my monthly goals but this feels more "official" so I think I'll be OK. Plus I've finished NaNoWriMo for the past three years, so at this point I understand what it takes to do it. I still need to flesh out my story idea but I've got the kernel of it.

Other things to look forward to the rest of this year:
- getting a quote on (and maybe starting on) renovating the upstairs bathroom
- new season of The Walking Dead starting soon
- a night of dancing with friends next Friday
- Halloween
- my sister visiting the first weekend in November (and me taking a day off to hang out with her and my first-grader)
- a potluck with friends the week after that
- a daycare sleepover the week after THAT
- Thanksgiving
- my favorite (living) musicians in concert the Saturday after Thanksgiving
- NT's holiday party (with Prince tribute band!) on our 10-year wedding anniversary
- going out for our anniversary dinner the next night
- Christmas
- New Year's

There we go, I feel a bit better! Smile

Changing exchange rate in my calculations

October 17th, 2016 at 09:09 am

Last post I alluded to downgrading the value of the UK pound in my personal finance records. Well, I decided to just take the leap. Brexit will not sort itself out anytime soon.

I was using a ratio of $1.50 for every British pound in my calculations, so I'm changing that to $1.25 per pound.

What this affects:

- UK mortgage debt decreases from $62,088 to $51,740

- EF is in UK money, and that money decreases in value, but since I also added more money to it today, it doesn't feel too bad. It would've decreased from $2,025 to $1,688. However I also added 450 pounds to savings today, so the EF is at $2,250.

- UK pension value goes from $64,694 to $53,911

- UK flat value goes from $270,000 to $225,000

All in, the effect on net worth is to decrease it about $45,210. It also will set back our retirement goal. But I do feel like the pound is going to struggle for a long time, so this is a more realistic view of our finances. Even if it takes longer to become millionaires-on-paper and we miss our retirement milestone, it's better to know the truth.

Various bits of money doings and sad/scary news

October 15th, 2016 at 01:11 pm

AS's mom called yesterday to tell her she'd been mugged a few weeks ago, so it's thrown AS into emotional turmoil. I won't go over everything, but though she wasn't seriously hurt, she lost $400 and her peace of mind. AS's mom lives alone and has no family in the area, and she doesn't have a car and uses the bus, so being afraid to go out alone is especially not good.

She asked for $250 to cover expenses until her next check, so we sent that via Paypal last night. AS is feeling really terrible and wants to do something else to help, but there's no easy answers. So we'll see if she comes to some decisions in the next few days. We want to help her mom as much as we can within reason, but the real thing that was lost is intangible, so how to help is ambiguous.

The funds came out of shared spending and put us behind about $230. I had $25 in CC rewards to redeem, plus our gas bill was $25 under budget, plus we sold the wood from our living room reno for $50 today. I sent $50 to savings and the other $50 goes to making up the shared spending deficit, so now we're only $171 in the hole.

We have swim class tuition coming up soon and some babysitting, so we may go more in the hole before we make it up, but we know we have $1500 for AS's teaching coming at the end of the month, $500 of which will go to making up the deficit. Probably there won't be any other freelance checks this month; it's going to be a very low income month.

We do have a few things in November -- my sister and brother-in-law visiting for a weekend (we'll eat out a lot but they usually pay for some meals), a "parents' night out" daycare sleepover that we want to do something special for (probably order food in and get cocktail fixins, so not a huge amount of money). If we take it easy on spending otherwise in November, we might not go too far in the hole. Depending on which freelance checks come in, maybe we'll actually end November ahead. It will also depend on what we decide to do about AS's mom.

December is NT's work party and our 10-year wedding anniversary, so we're going to need babysitting 2 nights and money for a fancy dinner out. We haven't discussed gifts but we might budget a bit to buy one another things since it's a milestone anniversary. I'd like to do something homemade, but even that would probably call for some money for supplies (depending on what I made).

Since we have nearly $5000 saved up for our next big want, I texted our contractor to start talking estimate for the upstairs bathroom reno. I think it's going to cost much more than $5000, of course, but at some point we need to figure out how much we're trying to save so we know when we can start the project.

NT's UK rent has been pending in his account for a couple days. I can't wait for it to go through, because I'll be able to put 450 pounds into our EF (amount in US dollars is dubious; I've got my exchange rate at $1.50 per pound in the hopes the pound will rebound, but if it hasn't in a few months, our EF's value is going to go down as I adjust the exchange rate). Right now it's at $1.22. Should I just make my adjustment now? Probably. I don't see the UK fixing its problems anytime soon.

October 2016 debt payments and other news

October 4th, 2016 at 02:15 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:

US: $680 to principal
UK1: $217
UK2: $45
UK3: $49

All told, that's $991 of debt paid for October.

This week I also maxed out AS's Roth for the first time! I noticed that we have enough float in the budget to actually max mine out as well, rather than waiting until November, so I went ahead and did it! NT just needs one more contribution of $1375 and his too will be maxed out for the year. That's scheduled for Dec. 1 but we'll see if I feel comfortable doing it earlier.

It's going to make our retirement progress boring by comparison now that we're not making big Roth contributions every month! Oh well, it was fun (but also hard on the budget). Next year we'll settle into a sedate $1375-per-month pace; this year we had to skip many months at the beginning when we were paying the tax bill, so we've been playing catchup since July or so.

AS wrapped up her biggest month of income, taking in over $10K in September! October will be quite a come-down from that, but November should be good (though not quite $10K good).

September 2016 retirement goal progress

September 30th, 2016 at 03:28 pm

Goal: $479,875 by 2019

(As a reminder, this is just an incremental goal along the way to 8x income by retirement. This mini-goal aims to get us to a milestone by the time I turn 45 and AS turns 40.

The milestone is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $60,000, so $180,000; and AS to 2x hers, which this year is projected to be $50,000, so $100,000)

Current balance: $290,052

May 2016 balance: $285,018

Progress: $5,034

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 29 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $6,546 per month to reach it. We had virtually no help from the markets, but we managed to put quite a lot away for retirement this month!

September 2016 net worth update

September 30th, 2016 at 03:25 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($25,658)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($30,752)
#3: 5,523 pounds ($8,284)
NT's 401(k): $45,820
NT's Roth IRA: $13,236
AS's trad. IRA: $15,662
AS's Roth IRA: $29,882
AS's SEP IRA: $10,964
CJ's 401(k): $93,365
CJ's Roth IRA: $16,429
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($270,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $470,000 (value -6%)
---
Total Assets: $1,030,052

Debts:
US Mortgage (duplex) $402,270
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1: $43,551
UK Mortgage 2: $9,180
UK Mortgage 3: $9,668
---
Total Debt: $473,669

Current Estimated Net Worth: $556,383

August 2016 estimate: $550,362

Change in net worth: +$6,021

Summary: The market remained mostly flat, but we contributed a bunch to retirement and paid off nearly $1K of debt, so we saw a nice bump.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.50 for every British pound.

Current wants list covered! and other notes

September 26th, 2016 at 02:49 pm

AS got a big check from my job with most of the outstanding invoices paid (only one is a holdout and it's a small one from May -- $146.25).

One project that we had listed as $350 actually paid $500, so it's almost like we got that May invoice as well!

She got $2602.50 total and netted $1,691.62 after taxes and retirement. I sent $825 to savings, bringing our U.S. savings to $4,150. (This is after just two months of saving so I'm really happy with that total!) Of course this money is slated for spending eventually, but it feels really good to have it there as a de facto emergency fund until our EF is built up more.

AS is due to get her first teaching payment on Sept. 30, and if so, this will be her top income month since she went freelance in late 2014! Of course if my job had paid on time, the money would have been spread out more over months, but it's still exciting (and the money is greatly appreciated).

I went through and subtracted approximate amounts for everything on our wish list, and we have just enough shared spending money to cover everything on there. Of course more wants and needs will come up as soon as we check these off! But for now, everything is in balance.

One other interesting note: NT came up with a creative way to decorate a baseball cap, and he made a few different color combinations and started shopping around to friends and acquaintances. Well, there's been a good bit of interest and he's already sold a few for $15-$20 each! At this point he's just trying to make back what he spent on supplies and equipment, which was about $300, but he's about halfway there with the 7 or so he sold and he's got lots more made and ready to sell. He set up an Etsy store and also talked to a local hip-hop clothing boutique.

So that's kind of cool! Hopefully he makes back his capital expenditures and turns a little profit.

Spendy weekend, more spending to come

September 25th, 2016 at 04:25 pm

It's funny how whenever we have a shared spending surplus vs. deficit, things keep seeming to come up. Smile Obviously it's because we're more likely to find a workaround or refrain from temptation when the money isn't there.

During the week, little things came up like:
I worked late Wed. and had to pick up our CSA box, and AS was teaching a night class, so I suggested food delivery instead of cooking -- something I hardly ever do. $65

We went over budget on the carshare. One item was unavoidable -- $35 for a car to a client meeting for me. NT gets those reimbursed but I don't (I'm pretty sure being able to get to client meetings is in the job requirements; usually I can hitch a ride with someone else so it hardly ever comes up). $45 total overbudget

We let the kids spend some of their spending money. At this point we don't actually save all of the money -- we just record how much they have via a website that automatically pays their allowance, then if they want to spend it, it comes from somewhere else. Next year this is going to be a regular budget item. We did have some of the money but needed $20 from shared spending.

I needed socks and tights -- $23

NT's activist group had a stall at a street festival, so we went to listen to live music and hang out with him. A nearby vendor was selling ice cream and funnel cake, so bye-bye $21

We went to various stores today and checked off a lot of wants and needs:
3 adult winter coats
2 kids' Halloween costumes
4 Halloween decorations
1 prescription and 2 other medicines
bowls, plates and butter knives

All told, we spent about $200 today, which isn't bad considering how much we got! The winter coats were steals at the thrift store, nearly new and ranging from $12 to $25 each. Including a Columbia one and a DKNY too!

Our shared spending surplus is down to about $170, but AS expects some more freelance payments next week. We added some new things to the wants/needs list, but considering we did an assessment of winter needs, not too bad. We basically have doubles of everything the kids need, except gloves and scarves. That means no coats, snowsuits, boots or hats are needed! Those years always make me happy. Big Grin

new athletic shoes for AS (+inserts), CJ ($200?)
Syl 2 gloves, scarf; Astrid 1 gloves, scarf ($40)
Anitra dread maintenance ($100?)
toilet seat ($30?)
food processor bowl, Roomba part, fridge filter ($75?)
handheld steamer ($35?)
door handles ($50?)
NT jeans, work shoes, trousers, underwear, tank tops ($150?)
babysitter for party ($60)
plumbing stuff (leaky shower, running toilets) (?? $50?)
AA & SL's mutual funds ($100)
AA & SL giving ($70)

What is that, $960? Wow, really adds up! But I may have overestimated on some of those. AS is expecting over $4K of freelance jobs yet this month, and about $1400 should be able to go toward these wants, so we should be OK, with $600 to spare for any other wants that come up.

Shared spending back in the positive! Plus added to both savings

September 19th, 2016 at 01:41 pm

AS got some more money from my company today! Not everything they owe her, and not the most overdue payments, but at least it was a good chunk of what she's got coming. She got $1805, and I was able to put $550 to savings and still get rid of the deficit in our shared spending category. We now have just over $160 (and a big list of things we need and want, so that won't last long).

AS is expecting a few grand more this month, so hopefully it'll come in and we can keep ticking things off our list without going in the hole.

And of course, keep adding to savings! With today's transfer our U.S. savings is up to $2900. I checked the UK account and our rental income had come in. It's a light month probably due to management fees, but I still managed to transfer 125 pounds to savings, bringing our UK account (which is also our emergency fund) up to 1350 pounds ($2025). That's just over 20% of the way to our EF goal of $10K!

It's exciting to be saving again. I forgot how good it feels to be saving up for things vs. playing catchup on unforeseen expenses or overspending. After our U.S. account has had time to accumulate some serious funds, we can start talking and deciding what our next big project or purchase will be.

Freelance money trickling in

September 16th, 2016 at 01:07 pm

AS has gotten three freelance checks this week, to the tune of $2290. One of them was from my job, but they still owe her a ton, including for two jobs that were invoiced BEFORE the one she got a check for. Weird and annoying, but at least they sent her something.

We would have made up the deficit of our other purchases except it was time for me and AS to put together our fall capsule wardrobes. We both chose some new colors and both temporarily retired black, so we had quite a bit to get. We spent about $500 between us and the average price per item was about $15.

With the freelance checks received so far, we have a shared spending deficit of $403.84. That's with sending nearly 50% of the net payment to savings every time (I round down to the nearest $50). Our U.S. savings is now at $2350!

Hopefully some more of the late checks come through soon so we can clear our deficit. There are winter gear purchases and Halloween costume stuff that will be purchased when we need them regardless of whether the checks have come, but it would feel much nicer if shared spending were in the positive again! And I might break down and buy some of the little household things we want soon.

Oh well, we know the money IS coming, and we have plenty of float in the checking account, so it'll all come out fine.

My list

September 15th, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Thanks to Gramma Ray for starting this! Sorry I'm so verbose and can't keep it brief. Smile

Here is my list:
1. I am married, officially to one spouse, unofficially to another, for coming up on 10 years. Technically we're "polyamorous" though I'm not crazy about that term because it covers a huge range of different lifestyles.
2. Dating wise, I've been with my now-wife 19 years and we've been with our husband 11 years.
3. I have 2 daughters, age 6 and 4. One is mine and my husband's biologically, the other is my partner and my husband's biologically. But we each legally adopted the kid that wasn't ours biologically, so in MN they have 3 legal parents.
4. I work full time at a job I have been at over 10 years.
5. I have blogged here for 9 years.
6. I believe I have prosopagnosia (face blindness), which makes it very difficult to remember people out of context. I also have fairly severe fear of death (thanatophobia).
7. I have two FIV+ rescue cats.
8. I'm one of the biggest Simpsons fans ever. The old stuff was better, but I'm a faithful viewer still!
9. I've been a mostly-vegan for about 23 years, since my sophomore year in college. I love to cook.
10. Shortly after college in 1996 I was in a life-threatening car accident and spent 6 months in a wheelchair. I still have a surgery scar that runs down the length of my midsection.
11. I have only traveled to the US (including Puerto Rico), Mexico, Canada, England, Netherlands and recently Spain. I hope to gradually expand that list. My bucket list destinations include Italy, Greece and some more tropical places like the Caymans.
12. I was raised without a TV and have a hard time not bingeing on TV just because I can! Instead I listened to old-time radio shows on NPR growing up. I only know Gunsmoke the radio show, not the TV version! I also love old movies the best, partly from my parents and partly from film history class in college.
13. I am a huge fan of old-time country music and rock 'n' roll. My idols are Jimmie Rogers, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash and Elvis. I like other types of music but this is what's at the core of me.
14. My No. 1 cause is alleviating racial inequality (economic and other) in this country. No. 2 is helping people figure out personal finance.
15. I still don't see a clear path to retirement, but I'm working on it more and more!
16. I love to throw parties -- big blowouts or small dinner parties or anything in between. I was an introvert but have become something of an omnivert over the years.
17. My mom was nearly 40 when she had me and my next-youngest sister is 10 years older than me. All my kids' 11 cousins are young adults. My brother is 20 years older than me and I feel like I barely know him.
18. I have lived in 6 houses, 4 dorms, 3 apartments and 1 condo during my life, and have owned 3 cars. I currently own a duplex and no car.
19. I've written fiction on and off in my life but never been published outside of school literary magazines. I'm a copywriter so have produced lots of marketing copy on web and in print, though not under my name.
20. I have met 1 fellow SA blogger. I hope to meet more!

Home value estimates ...

September 14th, 2016 at 12:38 pm

... are crazily different! I still feel unsure we have enough equity to refinance -- which is a real bummer because mortgage rates are climbing now.

Eppraisal.com has stayed steady at $474,269.

Zillow's estimate continues to rise and is now at $586,363! They're now over $100K apart.

If we paid all closing costs including escrow, we'd still need to be valued at $502,838 to qualify for a private loan with no mortgage insurance.

Credit scores

September 8th, 2016 at 07:50 am

It seems like credit card companies just give away credit scores like crazy now! I remember when they were hard to come by without paying. NT's is always available on our Amex card, mine is now available on my Capital One, and I checked AS's old Capital One just now to make sure it got canceled -- although the card is canceled and account closed, they offered me access to her credit score anyway!

I don't know how "official" these scores are (whether they're estimates or the actual credit bureau's score), but I assume they wouldn't bother too much with inaccurate quotes.

So we're in pretty decent shape:
AS: 784
Me: 784
NT: 781

I think (ironically) all the credit checks during the refi consideration process may have caused us to dip. Also we've gone through a lot of new credit cards this past year reaping rewards and then closing them out. But these are good scores.

September 2016 debt payments

September 2nd, 2016 at 07:16 am

All our mortgage payments have hit.

US: $679 to principal
UK1: $215
UK2: $45
UK3: $48

That's $987 of debt paid.

I also contributed $1245 to AS's SEP and $2750 to NT's Roth, and probably my and NT's regular 401(k) contributions hit today, so I'd say our net worth jumped about $5K today. Big Grin But I don't calculate until the end of the month, so a market dive could change that by Sept. 30.

August 2016 retirement goal progress

August 31st, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Goal: $479,875 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 $60,000, so $180,000; and AS to 2x hers, which this year is projected to be $50,000, so $100,000)

Current balance: $285,018

May 2016 balance: $279,380

Progress: $5,638

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 30 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $6,495 per month to reach it. We came somewhat closer to that level of progress this month!

August 2016 net worth update

August 31st, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 17,105 pounds ($25,658)
#2: 20,501 pounds ($30,752)
#3: 5,523 pounds ($8,284)
NT's 401(k): $44,856
NT's Roth IRA: $10,436
AS's trad. IRA: $15,685
AS's Roth IRA: $29,931
AS's SEP IRA: $9,735
CJ's 401(k): $93,312
CJ's Roth IRA: $16,369
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($270,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $470,000 (value -6%)
---
Total Assets: $1,025,018

Debts:
US Mortgage (duplex) $402,949
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1: $43,766
UK Mortgage 2: $9,225
UK Mortgage 3: $9,716
---
Total Debt: $474,656

Current Estimated Net Worth: $550,362

July 2016 estimate: $543,746

Change in net worth: +$6,616

Summary: No huge gains anywhere but we contributed over $3K to retirement and paid off nearly $1K of debt, so we saw a nice bump.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.50 for every British pound.

First day of first grade!

August 29th, 2016 at 07:52 am

AA started school today! She finally got to wear the sparkly outfit she bought a month or so ago. It's a nightgown; none of the real dresses at Target were fancy enough for her taste. Wink

Overall it went well, though she was nervous and out of sorts at first. SL is champing at the bit to start school, so it was hard for her to watch AA get to have another special first day. Next year she'll have her turn.

I'm feeling tired and distracted after the excitement and noise of dropping her off. Wish I could take the day off, but alas, I can't. I do have a work-from-home day planned for Wednesday, and we have Friday off, so I really can't complain about being at work today.




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