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Archive for April, 2013

April results. May goals

April 30th, 2013 at 07:39 pm

April was a good month; our debt goal was $2500 and we paid down $2607. Our big-picture benchmark was $8916; we started the month already way ahead of that goal and ended it even farther ahead, at $14,405.04.

For May, we've got that $500 from the Craigslist sale plus our regular budget surplus, which is good because NT's tuition bill for the summer semester has arrived. I don't believe we have to pay it until June, but might as well if we've got extra money this month! Since it will reduce our "estimated future debt," we can still count it toward debt repayment as well as big-picture progress.

So the May debt repayment goal is to pay at least $3075 of debt, and the May big-picture benchmark is $11,145 (so we're already past it!).

Found $500 (sort of), enraging (but good) documentary, 401k question

April 29th, 2013 at 11:06 am

This will be quick, but I have a lot to say (and ask!):

First, yesterday in front of the "free table" where residents of our condo leave unwanted possessions for anyone else to take and do with what they please, a neighbor had left a disassembled (but in perfect condition) double Chariot stroller, the kind that cost us (with accessories) $1100 new!

NT grabbed it, assembled it to see what was there, and listed it on Craigslist. A lady is coming by tonight to likely buy it for $535!

We had a few other Craigslist items that might sell tonight too. NT suggested giving part of the proceeds to charity, since it was so random. So whatever we make over $500 from this batch of items, we'll donate somewhere. $500 will go to student loans. Yay!

***

I watched a Frontline documentary on PBS about 401(k)s. The two main takeaways were that 1) actively managed funds are useless compared with index funds and 2) 401(k) fees can erode up to 60% of your potential compound growth over the course of your career!

I immediately went to my 401(k) and got out of the target-date fund I was in, and reallocated everything to three of the lowest-fee funds: two Vanguard indexes and an international stocks fund (higher cost than the Vanguards, but lower cost than the international fund my target-date had me in).

I suggest you look at the costs of your retirement funds, if you haven't already. The spread was staggering. In some cases I was paying $12 per $1000 annually; one of the Vanguards I picked will cost me 50 cents per $1000!

***

This leads me to a question: I checked NT's 401(k) options, and they aren't great. We do want to stay in up to the employer match, but I'm not sure what to do. Should I just pick some of the lower-cost ones, even if it means he's not greatly diversified in terms of risk? Keep in mind we also have my 401(k), AS's 401(k), three Roth IRAs, three pensions in the UK, and a small traditional IRA that's in cash. So I do feel we're diversified overall.

What do you think we should do? Here are NT's options along with their costs (I'll paste plain-text and create a screen grab too; not sure which will be more readable):



What I'm considering is dividing his money pretty much evenly between MFS Massacuhusetts Investors Trust (gross operating expense .78), Franklin Growth Series Fund (GOE .96), Victory Established Value Fund (GOE 1.06), JPMorgan Government Bond Fund (GOE 1.04), PIMCO Total Return Fund (GOE .85), and BlackRock Equity Dividend (GOE .99). Those are the least expensive of all his choices (besides the first listing, which I found out was a cash holding earning 0% while they charged us $6.90 per $1000 per year!) He doesn't have a lot of great options. My company at least had a couple Vanguards, one whose expense was only .05.

Investment /
Fund Investment Class / Historical as of Date / Ticker / NAV / Gross Operating Expense / One Month / Three Month / One Year / Three Year / Five Year / Ten Year / YTD / Month End
Ready Assets(7dayYield:0.00%) Capital Preservation 03/31/2013 MRAXX $1.00 0.69 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0.39% 1.58% N/A
MFS Massachusetts Investors Trust Fund A Large Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 MITTX $23.72 0.78 2.95% 10.43% 15.12% 11.24% 5.78% 8.98% 10.43%
Franklin Growth Series Fund A Large Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 FKGRX $54.64 0.96 3.04% 7.96% 8.66% 10.01% 6.91% 9.81% 7.96%
Victory Established Value Fund A Mid Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 VETAX $31.11 1.06 3.74% 13.25% 15.86% 13.19% 9.44% 12.71% 13.25%
Goldman Sachs Growth Opp A Mid Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 GGOAX $25.00 1.41 2.42% 9.12% 11.17% 12.18% 8.83% 11.41% 9.12%
Goldman Sachs Small Cap Value A Small Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 GSSMX $47.61 1.44 4.68% 12.53% 17.28% 14.76% 9.73% 11.94% 12.53%
Prudential Jennison Small Company Fund A Small Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 PGOAX $24.95 1.17 3.83% 11.28% 13.59% 12.88% 7.78% 13.07% 11.28%
Thornburg International Value Fund R4 International Stock 03/31/2013 THVRX $27.97 1.45 0.35% 2.41% 6.37% 4.63% -0.01% 11.86% 2.41%
Templeton Foreign Fund A International Stock 03/31/2013 TEMFX $6.95 1.21 -0.57% 1.16% 6.77% 4.39% 0.89% 9.26% 1.16%
Invesco Real Estate Fund A Specialty U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 IARAX $25.94 1.30 3.20% 6.54% 12.94% 15.13% 5.77% 12.71% 6.54%
Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund A International Stock 03/31/2013 ODMAX $35.33 1.36 -0.79% 0.11% 5.35% 6.94% 5.72% 21.03% 0.11%
JPMorgan Government Bond Fund A Government Bond 03/31/2013 OGGAX $11.57 1.04 0.29% 0.05% 3.78% 6.27% 5.55% 5.01% 0.05%
PIMCO Total Return Fund A Diversified Bond 03/31/2013 PTTAX $11.24 0.85 0.30% 0.51% 7.50% 6.49% 7.31% 6.19% 0.51%
BlackRock Global Allocation Fund A Balanced 03/31/2013 MDLOX $20.58 1.16 1.63% 4.26% 6.11% 6.08% 3.60% 10.74% 4.26%
BlackRock Eqty Dividend A Large Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 MDDVX $21.55 0.99 2.81% 8.35% 12.29% 11.84% 5.00% 10.47% 8.35%
Putnam Capital Opportunities Fund A Small Cap U.S. Stock 03/31/2013 PCOAX $14.07 1.27 3.76% 11.84% 10.40% 12.45% 9.89% 11.30% 11.84%

Reached April debt goal! and other Saturday night musings

April 27th, 2013 at 09:13 pm

I'm home alone with the kids and just finished up a fun movie night with the older one. Smile Spring has finally sprung in Minnesota and everyone's in a fabulous mood, including me.

I checked AS's student loan and the payment had hit, with $129 going to principal. That takes us to $2607 of debt paid in April, surpassing the $2500 goal. Woo hoo! (That loan, by the way, is now at $10,043. By this time next month, AS's non-mortgage debt in her name will be down to 4 figures.)

The payment also counts toward our big-picture goal, so that takes April progress to $14405.04. Even more way ahead of where we need to be. Which is a good place to be!

On to other musings:

We actually had a bit of money left in the grocery budget from the last two-week period, which is good since this budget has to last us three weeks (happens a couple times a year). We may spend a bit more than a third of what we have (still have a couple things to pick up tomorrow), but even if we come close I'm happy. For the last two weeks in May we'll be on vacation, so we can use vacation money for food, but if we're on track we can add some grocery money to our vacation budget, so that's why I'm trying to stay vigilant.

Just used Amazon instant video via our Wii game to rent a movie last week. It was pretty slick: $3.99 and you have it for 24 hours. I remember when I had video-store memberships, it was about $3 for a new release and you had to walk/drive/bus to a store, so this seems like a good deal. Many movies we want to watch are available on Netflix, but this expands our options.

I forgot to mention when it happened, but a few days after April 15 (US tax day), the forms for NT's UK taxes arrived. (How I wish I knew that eye-roll emoticon right now!) It's not due until early October, but still. STILL. I know I'll probably be doing two sets of taxes my whole life, so I'd better just get used to it.

I've been having a lot of fun planning mini-vacations for after we get back from England. It'll be nice to have other things to look forward to, though obviously not as momentous as our big two-week trip. Since we're using so much vacation time early in the year, we agreed we wouldn't do any other long vacations this year, so that actually frees up travel budget funds for a series of little fun things. Besides that, I asked my dad for Xmas if he'd give me some money to help us get to the family reunion, and instead he gave me a voucher to pay for the whole trip. Smile I booked plane & hotel & car for $1262 for the four of us who can make it. I told my dad it was $1200. We'll pay for gas, food and any other transportation needed, because he offered WAY more than I asked for.

So we've booked thus far:
-May 16-June 1: Trip to England (Exeter, Oxford and possibly a couple day trips to London and some smaller towns)
-June 14-16: "Strawberry Social" at our CSA farm, plus whatever other fun we can find that weekend in Southern Minnesota
-June 24: Spa day in town while we send the kids to daycare
-July 15-16: Family reunion in Ohio

Other things we have our eye on so far:
-"Braham Pie Day" (a small-town MN festival) Aug. 2
-Dinner at the restaurant down the block, which is a fantastic gourmet place we've only eaten at once (a friend's wedding reception so we didn't have to pay)
-A hotel night where we get someone to stay overnight at our home with the kids

I'm sure we'll come up with other ideas. Should actually be a lot of fun to spread our travel budget over a lot of little indulgences vs. 1 or 2 big vacations.

Speaking of the UK trip, I have to do some fancy mental financial calculations soon. So we saved up the spending money for the trip in our US checking account, but we're planning on using NT's UK credit card, which is linked to his UK checking/savings account, to actually make purchases over there (to make sure we avoid any harsh transaction fees).

We have more than enough money to cover our vacation budget in UK savings, but it's all allocated to various things: the emergency fund, the house/moving fund and the girls' savings.

So I just have to decide how to reallocate UK and US money in a way that benefits us the most. The girls' money is the easy decision; if it's in US dollars I can use it to open/enlarge mutual funds. The house/moving fund, too. But we'll also need to use part of the EF money too. Currently I have US$5000 in our US savings and 6250 pounds (US$10000) in the UK account. I like those round numbers, and I like having two-thirds of the money in a harder-to-reach place. So I may continue to shuffle money after the trip to get the UK portion of the EF back to $10000. Like I say, it'll just take some fancy financial footwork and possibly a minor migraine to figure everything out on my spreadsheets.

I'll probably do the first part of the calculation May 1, when the last UK mortgage payments before the trip happen. Then I can see exactly how much we have in the UK accounts.

While we're in England, I'm thinking we should take advantage of the opportunity and meet with an immigration-focused lawyer, to get someone's take on what our real chances, and biggest obstacles, are. If so I'll take that money out of our regular budget surplus, not the travel budget. It would slow our big-picture progress, but in the long run could help us focus our efforts and maybe save us mental effort, time AND money. We'll see if I can get it together to schedule something.

Another related expense we'll have to take on eventually is getting the girls British passports. While there's no official dual-citizenship status that one can seek, Americans with a British parent are allowed to obtain a second passport, which we see as a helpful foothold should we ever move (or should the girls want to live there someday whether or not we do).

Listed a few things on Craigslist today, things that have been hanging around for a while: a rusty bike with a broken wheel (NT bought a new-to-him bike and gave me his old one, so I can ditch this one), a supportive device for babies for the Chariot stroller brand, a Bumbo infant seat, an Apple Airport device, an armchair we have no room for in our living room, and a baby monitor. If we get no nibbles on these, I'm happy to Freecycle them instead, but thought it was worth the 15 minutes of effort photographing and posting them to maybe make a few bucks. I did get a $25 offer for the Airport but am waiting until tomorrow to see if I get an offer closer to the $40 we're asking. If not, I'll try to bargain this guy up to $30.

AS made a fast $45 working a couple hours on a freelance editing project for a co-worker of mine. The lady also took me out to lunch and AS out to coffee, so it seems like she's nurturing a longer-term relationship to maybe use us for editing off and on. This could be a good source of lower-paying but faster and shorter jobs (as opposed to the grueling book-length freelance projects AS gets that pay well but really drain her energy and our together time).

OK, I think that's it. May make it an early night, since all I'm doing besides blogging is snacking and watching TV. Smile

Financial and other tidbits

April 22nd, 2013 at 09:13 pm

Let's see how many I can think of before I get too sleepy... Smile

We had a hard week on our spending money finances last week, so we decided to divvy up the last $300 of our tax refund, just to give our pockets a boost. We had it set aside for computer repair, but that ended up being very inexpensive. Now I feel like a millionaire! Wink I've been letting loose a tiny bit more, but I haven't blown it all, so maybe there is hope that I'm conditioning myself to not be a spender.

Still waiting for several AS freelance checks; I've kind of lost count. But, they'll come eventually. Still waiting for one more $100 credit card bonus too. That should hit this week and I'll be able to order a check. After our vacation I'm going to cancel a ton. Then we'll see if there are any good new deals or if we should just take it easy for a while. Oh! And I got my first $5 Amazon credit for Swagbucks. Only took me a year or so. Wink

One of my co-workers asked if I knew any great copy editors, so of course I recommended AS. I figured whatever side projects she had, they wouldn't be entire books like the grueling freelance projects AS usually takes. She already gave her one assignment, a few hours' work at $30 per hour. And, she and I are having lunch tomorrow to talk about some possible projects for me, too! I wouldn't mind having some little one-offs to raise a bit of money for our goals. Even though we're ahead of where we need to be for our original timeline, it wouldn't hurt to still attack it and try to get even further.

AS and I both, concurrently but over separate things, had a bit of a freakout yesterday about staying in the condo for 3+ more years. For me, it's our younger kid's propensity to dump out every shelf, toybox and drawer she can get her hands on, so our small space is constantly cluttered no matter how much we tidy. (I decided to start leading her through the motions of cleaning and will try to do that frequently, so she starts to get the hang of it.)

For AS it's the fact that we've gotten one or two noise complaints from the neighbors below us. We think it's from the kids dropping things on the floor. This condo sells you on the pretty parquet wood floors, then you read the association rules which say you have to cover at least 75% of it with carpet. Well, we haven't done that, but between furniture and area rugs probably 50-60% is covered. Still, the girls find ways to drop and drag noisy things all the time. We haven't had a noise complaint in a few months, but we still wince every time anything happens. It tends to make one feel very closed-in and helpless in one's own home.

The weather is not helping (it's been snowing since 3pm today). Nor is the cat, who wakes us up early each morning scrabbling at the doorknob to get in, then tromping on our heads purring thunderously if we do let him in. Nor are the kids, who both require near-constant supervision and/or interaction when we are home. Nor is the fact we haven't had a proper vacation together since January 2012.

So we talked about ways to cut down on toys so SL has fewer things to dump out, and cut down on furniture so it doesn't feel as crowded in here. Take more of kids' stuff into their room so the common spaces don't feel dominated by them. But of course these are just Band-Aids for the bigger problem. Lipstick on a pig, as I put it to AS this morning. I know that, but if we really want to move and be happy, we need to A) make sure we've given it our best shot to get to England before we resign ourselves to Minnesota and B) save up money and let our properties appreciate as much as possible so we don't fall way back financially, and so we can afford to get a place we want to stay in for a long time, if not forever, whichever country we end up settling in.

So, we're going to try and spring-clean and make little improvements to make this place more livable, and we're going to try and get out more so we don't feel stuck in here. But mainly we just need to stick to the plan as long as possible so we're in a good position and not moving out of desperation.

Actually, letting our feelings kind of overwhelm us for a couple hours actually burned them off a bit. We both feel a bit calmer. We have a lot to look forward to, but we have a little bit of work to do to bring some equilibrium back into our present-day lives. It needs recalibrating every once in a while, a pattern some of you have no doubt detected on my blog over the years. Smile

To end on a cheerier note after that vent, two friends posted on my League of Ordinary Savers page on Facebook to say that they had upped their retirement contributions several points because of me! That was so very gratifying. No matter what else happens with that project/hobby/whatever, I've actually improved some friends' futures!

April 2013 net worth update

April 18th, 2013 at 02:01 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
#1: 13,884 pounds ($22,214)
#2: 17,268 pounds ($27,629)
#3: 3,709 pounds ($5,934)
NT's 401(k): $22,601
NT's Roth IRA: $5,278
AS's 401(k): $9,178
AS's trad. IRA: $1,682
AS's Roth IRA: $11,483
CJ's 401(k): $52,309
CJ's Roth IRA: $5,278
NT's flat: 125,000 pounds ($200,000)
CJ & AS's condo: $145,000
Emergency fund (shared asset): $15,000
House down payment/moving fund (shared): $4,047
---
Total Assets: $527,633

Total Debt: $264,430

Current Estimated Net Worth: $263,203

March 2013 estimate: $259,884

Change in net worth: +$3,319

Summary: Retirement funds stagnated; most increased less than the amount we contributed, or actually lost value. However, a good amount of debt payment still gave us a decent increase in net worth.

I will update my "Individual Net Worth" page shortly so you can see how it breaks out per person.

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.

April debt/big-picture progress

April 15th, 2013 at 07:53 pm

Well, that student loan payment hit. Watching the news about Boston I'm not feeling much like celebrating, but I want to log the progress anyway.

$1731 went to principal. Since it all went to the highest-interest portion of the debt, it brings the average interest rate to 4.27%. Still our highest-interest debt, but not by much. (The next-highest is actually our mortgage, at 3.5%; I just checked our other student loan that has a variable rate, and it has decreased from 3.8% to 3.3%.)

That takes our April debt progress to $2478, just $22 to go.

Big-picture progress is at 14,276.04.

If I can keep putting at least $1700 per month to that student loan and/or tuition for NT's classes, I should be able to pay off this loan and cashflow tuition (so not incur any more debt) for the rest of the year.

My raise came through :)

April 15th, 2013 at 08:39 am

Still haven't had my official annual review with my boss, but the 2% raise hit the checking account, so I'm happy. Looks like I'll net $60 instead of my guess of $40 per month! It's going straight to extra student loan payment for a while, then eventually to saving for a house.

We had a miniscule amount of big-picture progress; $0.26 of interest earned in the regular savings account, which I'll put toward the medical EF (taking it to $1,487.61). It reminded me to check our house-fund savings account and we earned $2.04 of interest in there, which will go to the house fund (making it $4,046.50). That brings our big-picture progress to $12,545.04.

Had my second "League of Ordinary Savers" meeting on Sunday. A few people canceled so it was just three good friends, which was super fun. We mostly talked about "All Your Worth," the great personal finance book by Elizabeth Warren and her daughter. One of the main premises of the book is trying to achieve that 50/30/20 budget balance, so we talked a lot about all the categories, how to calculate them, how to get them in balance and where to put your money once you were ready to really focus on saving for retirement.

That evening AS and I watched a documentary about the explosion of the consumer debt problem, called "Maxed Out." Even though our family is out of consumer debt, hopefully for good, it was very chilling. Elizabeth Warren was in it a lot; I love that she's had a very consistent career of trying to stick up for the little guy against big financial institutions and crooked politicians. Anyway, watching the documentary made me really hope that my new group/blog/Facebook page will actually make a difference in a couple of people's lives.

We spent a bit more on groceries this weekend than I wanted, but we feel good about our chances of getting back on track next week. There are some very good sales on produce coming up, and we have some staples that we can eat through to make our list shorter. I don't think we'll be dipping into the next two weeks' grocery money.

AA had her very first completely dry diaper overnight this weekend! She seems to be naturally training herself out of going in the middle of the night. So someday soon maybe we won't have to buy pull-ups anymore.

This weekend I had several unexpected drains on my personal spending money. First, we were supposed to have a babysitter Saturday but she flaked. But we all paid in anyway, because we'd bought her tickets to a show that she was supposed to pay back with babysitting. We decided she's so flaky we'd just pay in the money for the tickets into the checking account anyway, and never ask her to babysit again. Then, AS and I went to a party and missed the bus on the way home, so we split the cost of a cab. I had the munchies when I got home, so I ordered late-night delivery. And, our daycare lady had a health scare this weekend, so we decided to pitch in $20 each and get her a food-delivery gift certificate.

Despite all that, I still have about $50! I have a dinner and drinks date with friends and potentially a lunch date with some other friends this week, so I think the $50 will just about cover it. Cutting it close, though. I'm so glad I barely spent any money the week before, which is why I had so much available for these unexpected purchases.

I sent off a nice big payment to NT's student loan Friday, but it hasn't hit yet. It's come out of our checking account, so I think it'll hit tonight; that's the pattern this account has followed lately.

One of SL's first-birthday presents was a $50 Target gift card. Well, she literally wants for nothing; she has more clothes and toys than we know what to do with. So we used the gift card for groceries and I put $50 of grocery money into savings for her. She's at $480 in her U.S. savings, almost enough to start a Pax mutual fund. I should empty their piggy bank so I can get that started for SL.

Finally, some big-picture progress!

April 11th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Wow, this month has been dead in terms of financial news and progress! But last night, we got a $101.54 check in the mail from American Express. It wasn't for our currently open Amex card and I couldn't think of anything it was for, so I called them to make sure it wasn't a scam. (Not sure what scam it could be, but always assuming someone has figured out a way to outsmart me!)

They confirmed it was a legit check, because a clinic NT went to had refunded some money to a paid off (and closed) credit card. We remembered he disputed a medical charge because it was supposed to be covered by workman's comp, but we thought the clinic had already paid us directly? Dunno, but we'll take it anyway! I'm putting it into the medical EF, so that's our first big-picture progress for April, and it takes us to $12,542.74 of progress. Takes the medical EF to $1,487.35.

Other than that, really not much happening! AS switched us back to Comcast for internet, and I have yet to find out what the monthly cost will be. She got some kind of intro deal that's temporary. Anyway, she's using $500 of freelance money to cover however much more it is than our budgeted amount, and when the $500 runs out, we'll talk about whether to cut back, fund it in our regular budget, or fund it with our spending money. The $500 may cover it for quite a while.

AS turned down a $1000 freelance job. It was hard for her, but I'm glad she gets to relax a bit more. She still brings work home, but at least she doesn't do that on top of freelancing at night.

The 15th should be exciting, because I get to send a big student loan payment, plus I may see how much my raise nets out to. But until then (and after that), probably a pretty boring month financially. I think AS is expecting three more freelance checks, but I'm never sure when they're going to come, so I don't count on them.

This Sunday I'm hosting another meeting of the "League of Ordinary Savers" group I started. It may just be me and two good friends, which would be kind of nice so I don't mind. We'll be discussing the book "All Your Worth," among other things. I've also tried to keep up with my ordinarysavers.com website and corresponding Facebook page; I've been doing about a post per week. I don't have a huge audience or many responses, but I'm having fun with it and that's the main thing! Smile

Grocery budget is under control, spending money is back in balance, and we've been good about not using the carshare this month to try and get that line item caught up.

The main project I work on at my job just got renewed for another year, so I'm feeling good about job security. Smile

My friend was happy about my publicizing his Facebook reading page Short Story Short. Not sure if I drummed up enough support to win one of the gift cards; I think his contest runs until the end of the month. Still time for you to "like" his page and tell him ceejay sent you! Smile

Seriously, I think that's it for my financial news! I've been sick for the past few weeks, so just as well it's been a slow period. I think I'm finally getting better but I hesitate to say that because every time I have, I get sick again! I think I'm in one of those vicious circles where my body is more vulnerable from being sick, so I get sick again, and my body gets more and more susceptible as I get all these little illnesses. Hopefully it'll peter out soon. I've been trying to eat a lot of fruit to try and get more vitamin C.

OK, I'm done meandering. Smile

Shameless cross-promotion

April 4th, 2013 at 06:18 pm

Completely off-topic financially. Well, not completely, but mostly.

My friend asked his buddies to drum up support for his Facebook page, Short Story Short. It's basically a site that gives weekly novella and short-story collection reading recommendations. He's trying to get more followers, so he's running a contest.

The person who gets the most people to "like" his page AND say who sent them wins a $500 Amazon gift card! There are also smaller 2nd and 3rd place prizes. The details are on the Facebook page.

So, if you want to support me in my attempt to win one of the prizes, "like" Short Story Short and tell them ceejay sent you. (I told him that's my blogger handle so I'd get credit for those referrals. Big Grin) Or, if you have a bunch of Facebook friends who would be interested in the page, you can compete yourself. Just make sure your friends say who recommended them when they join, so my friend can keep score.

OK, I've done my friend duty. Smile

April debt progress, and news of a raise!

April 2nd, 2013 at 08:35 am

The mortgage payments all hit:
US: $441 to principal
UK1: $213
UK2: $46
UK3: $47

All told, $747 down, $1753 to go on the April debt goal.

We had no leftover money to add to savings because of the rental management's fees this month, so no big-picture progress.

However, my boss emailed me with good news today. He's behind on doing annual reviews, but has promised a lunch out for our review AND a 2% raise! This will probably only net about $40 per month, but since we're already at a comfortable place in our budget, this means more money toward our big-picture goals, so I'm very happy!

I was home sick yesterday and fell asleep for four hours with HGTV on, so when I woke up all I wanted to do was look at real estate online. Even though it's a few years away, I like seeing that there are lots of nice places within our projected price range (in both Oxford and Minneapolis, so wherever we end up). And any extra money we manage to save will give us more flexibility -- either a more expensive home, or a lower mortgage, or a less financially stressful transition between selling our existing homes and purchasing the new one.

March results, April goals

April 1st, 2013 at 07:04 am

One more chance to linger on the triumph that was March, before planning for a much more normal debt-paying month in April.

My March debt repayment goal was $6770, and I blew past that to $8208! It was by far our biggest month of debt repayment; the past record was $5901 in January 2011.

Our big-picture goal was to have $6687 worth of progress toward our three goals (medical EF, house fund, student loan repayment); instead we're at $12,441.20!

For April, I'm shooting for $2500 of debt repayment.

Our April big-picture goal would be to add another $2229 of progress and get to $8916. But we've already exceeded that! If all goes well, we'll now always be ahead of our monthly benchmarks for this goal.