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Archive for October, 2016

Healthcare rate hike, spot bonus

October 20th, 2016 at 04:49 am

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 08:33 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 18th, 2016 at 03:47 am

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 04:09 pm

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 08:11 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 09:15 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).