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Archive for May, 2013

One more debt payment for May!

May 28th, 2013 at 04:36 pm

I couldn't resist checking AS's student loan account to see if the payment had posted. It had! $130 went to principal. That makes it $3950 of debt repayment for May, and brings out big-picture goals progress to $18,100.02.

AS's student loan is down to 4 figures, just under $10,000! That's her only debt in her name besides the US mortgage.

We've been re-energized to really try and get to England since being here, so I'm glad to be able to post some financial progress. Even though the money situation is only part of it, it's a big part of whether we'll be able to move here.

Edit: Oh, and I almost forgot, we had a wee bit of interest that counts as medical-fund savings: 27 cents. So our big-picture is $18.100.29. Smile

Quick hello from Oxford, England!

May 25th, 2013 at 03:19 pm

Hi everyone! We're about halfway through our two-week vacation and having a wonderful time. The first week was spent with family in Exeter. We did lots of family-friendly activities like nature walks and amusement parks, and the girls got to spend tons of quality time with their British grandparents.

Yesterday we drove up to Oxford where we're spending the rest of our holiday with friends. It's much less structured so it'll be more relaxing, and we don't have to worry about making sure relatives get the maximum amount of quality time. (NT's parents are divorced and re-partnered with other people, so it was a delicate dance to make sure both sets of grandparents felt they got an equal share of the girls.)

I have an hour or so to myself while AS and the girls nap and NT is out food shopping with our friends. They're throwing a small party tonight so it's nice to have quiet time. It's perfect weather suddenly -- a break in the cold, windy days we've been having -- so I'm sitting out in the back garden enjoying the sun and the sound of birds and insects. I'll go in soon and get showered and changed for the party.

I'm afraid I've put on weight with all the delicious but starchy food we've been having. I'll have my official weigh-in next weekend when we get back, and we'll see if I have to go on the straight-and-narrow for a bit to get back down to my ideal weight. Hopefully I won't go too far off track.

So far we've only spent about a third of our vacation funds, so I think we're going to end the vacation under budget! The family kept paying for everything on our first leg of the journey, so we didn't spend as much as planned. We do want to go clothes and souvenir shopping, and we'll eat out a few times, but at most I think we'll break even. We haven't been taking out our weekly allowances either, so there will be three weeks' worth waiting for each of us when we go home. Smile

Anyway, I'd better get going. I just wanted to check in since I had the time!

May debt goal reached, big-picture goal progress, etc.

May 15th, 2013 at 02:44 am

Tonight I sent off the tuition payment for NT's summer semester. It wouldn't even technically be due until we got back from vacation, but I figure why wait if we've got the money? The payment won't hit until tomorrow or Thursday, but unlike debt payments I don't have to wait to see how much actually goes to principal.

The payment was for $2039, which I can take out of "estimated future debt" and thus reduce our debt total. That confusing line item is nearly gone, so I won't have to talk about it much longer. College is going to cost about $11K more than the $40K I designated as "future debt," but luckily we're paying as we go now, so I know I won't have to add to student loans anymore.

Anyway, that takes our debt progress to $3820 for May, surpassing the $3075 goal!

It also takes big-picture progress to $17,970.02! At this point we're nearly four months ahead. That's good, because our goals were all estimates, so I wouldn't mind reaching the goal sooner in case we move sooner and/or saving more in case the move costs more than we estimate.

It's also good because I've been thinking about loosening the purse strings, just a tiny bit. We've all felt very run down and overworked for the past year or so, and while money can't fix every aspect of that, I'm going to try and be more willing to spend unscheduled money if certain purchases can ease our fatigue enough to be worth it.

Of course, me being me, I want at least a ballpark number. So, since we have about a $150 monthly budget surplus, that's what I'm going to aim for, about. But I'm going to try and not be too anal about that amount.

What do I think could ease our burdens? I think it could vary from month to month. Maybe we order food a bit more often vs. cooking. Schedule an extra housecleaning midmonth. Hire babysitters more often. Take a meditation class together. I'm just brainstorming. Obviously we can't do all of them, every month, but we could change it up and see what works.

***

In other news, we all have a springtime cold. I caught it last (almost thought I was getting off scott-free for a while), so I'm the sickest while everyone else is recovering pretty well. We leave for England Thursday night, so I REALLY hope I'm mostly better by then.

I stayed home sick (well, worked from home) today, but didn't get any preparation for the trip done. Mostly did work and monitored my work email, then took a nap in the late afternoon.

I've got to go in the next two days, to make sure everything's in good shape for me to leave. This will be the first time leaving my newish co-worker in charge of my main task, and it's for two full weeks! I've been training her since October, so I feel pretty good, but it's such a complex task and our client is so unpredictable yet picky, I can't help but be nervous.

We still have a few things to do. We have a housesitter coming (so our cat has company), so we're trying to get everything as clean as possible. I even threw some orange and lemon peels down the garbage disposal. Smile Tomorrow I want to air out our mattress on the balcony, and vacuum it and Febreze it, and air out the condo in general. Luckily temperatures shot up (98 today!) so it won't be a problem to have the windows open a lot.

I'm nervous about having a stranger housesit, but I feel lucky we were able to find someone relatively local. We've met him twice and feel very good about him. He lives about an hour away from the Twin Cities and joined the housesitting site in hopes of trying out city living because he's contemplating a move here. He sings in a chorus here that actually rehearses at the church across the street sometimes, so he's already got ties to our neighborhood. (I just thought to Google him and found a video of him too!) So it's really the next best thing to having an actual friend housesit. And, we don't have to pay anyone to watch the cat.

We'll have a lot of prep work to do tomorrow, because we pretty much need to grab our bags and leave for the airport as soon as we get home from work Thursday. It's an international flight, and we want time to eat before we board, so we're going to try and get there about three hours before departure.

I wanted to have blog posts written for my League of Ordinary Savers website that I could time to post automatically while I'm gone, but I don't know if I'll have the time--or enough inspiration to come up with as many as I wanted to! We'll see. Dang cold is kind of sapping my ambition.

May debt progress

May 14th, 2013 at 02:07 am

A big extra debt payment hit NT's student loan, and $1028 went to principal. That makes it $1781 down, $1294 to go on the May debt goal.

I didn't count on such a big payment since we're also paying for NT's summer semester this month. But we found that stroller and sold it for $500+, and we got a freelance check and put $500 of that to debt.

I will send off the tuition payment before we leave for England, so we'll hit our debt goal and then some. (Cashflowing tuition burns off "estimated future debt" from our total.)

This also brings our big-picture progress to $15,931.02!

Eating through the pantry before our trip

May 10th, 2013 at 01:15 am

Well, it's officially one week until we leave for England for two weeks! Smile We decided to use up as much food we already have and buy as little as possible. This is one of those three-week grocery periods, so we ran out of grocery money. So it's especially fortuitous.

Here's our grocery list! It's less than a quarter as long as usual:

4 baking potatoes
whole milk
vegetarian burger crumbles
4 apples
2% milk
bread
4 ears corn
EB sticks (butter)
4 zucchini
3/4 cup walnuts
strawberries
salt
mangoes
parsley
cherry tomatoes
garlic powder
baby bellas
parmesan
macaroni
Florida Crystals

And our menu:

Friday dinner
spaghetti w/spinach-tomato sauce; garlic bread

Saturday lunch
Baked potatoes & "waldorf" salad (apples, lettuce, walnuts)

Saturday dinner
Veggie burgers, baked beans & corn on the cob

Sunday lunch
Mother's Day brunch out

Sunday dinner
Mac & cheese & cross-hatch zucchini

Monday
Sloppy joes, fries & strawberry-mango salad

Tuesday
Grilled cheese sandwiches, chix nuggets & cherry tomatoes

Wednesday
Easy pasta & sauce w/baby bellas

Thursday
eat at airport

Nice! This means we can probably bring at least $300 of grocery money to England to help pay for food there, without disrupting our regular grocery budget.

Saved about $20 on Mother's Day gift

May 7th, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Whew! I went through a bunch of different sites to try and find affordable gift delivery, but every time, all the wire fees and shipping and handling and delivery charges would bring a $30 bouquet or gift to almost $60!

Finally I rooted around for a florist in my mom's area. They still do the Teleflora orders thing; clearly every florist available online is in on the whole nationwide network thing, but they had a local delivery charge of $8. Add in $1.50 tax, and I saved over $20 over the other sites.

The only other catch? I couldn't choose delivery before or on Mother's Day. *shrug* so I picked Monday. My mom is not going to be hurt if she gets her flowers a day late! It's just a day picked at random anyway, right?

This is why I usually get my parents DVDs or books for these holidays, or send them pics of the kids. But I didn't have any ideas this year and knew I had to get my order in soon or risk being way late, so I went the sucker's route.

May goal progress

May 1st, 2013 at 08:02 pm

All the mortgage payments hit:
US: $443 to principal
UK1: $216
UK2: $45
UK3: $48

All told, $753 down, $2322 to go on the May debt-repayment goal.

I also transferred flat rental profit, US$496, into savings for the house fund, and noted $1.98 of interest, bringing that fund to $4,544.48, and our big-picture progress to $14,903.02.

We emptied the girls' piggybank yesterday and I moved some funds around (on my spreadsheets) so UK money is allocated for our trip and US money that had been for the trip is allocated to savings. That means the girls have more funds in US accounts, so I added to AA's mutual fund and opened one for SL.

Just checked NT's college tuition bill, and it's $2,039.06. Should have enough to cashflow summer class AND pay a bit extra toward his existing student loans.

Looking like a good month! Plus, the second half of it will be all vacation. Smile