<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: April, 2017
 

Archive for April, 2017

Savings progress

April 30th, 2017 at 10:25 pm

We've made some progress on savings over the past few months. The EF is up to 3950 pounds, which is nearly $5,000, which is almost halfway to my EF goal! We have $7,625 saved for renovations; we're mainly saving up for a kitchen reno but will use some for minor porch improvements soon. One-third of AS's net income goes into reno savings, so we'll keep adding to it every time she gets paid.

Oh, and we also have $425 saved up for whatever vacation AS decides to take. She's wavering between NYC and San Francisco. Either way we have enough for her plane ticket, but we'll need to save up for hotel and other expenses (transportation, dining, etc.). We also need to save up for the family trip to Va. this summer. We'll get there!

Retirement goal progress

April 30th, 2017 at 08:17 pm

Goal: $494,743 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 (which changes whenever our salaries change) is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $68,291, so $204,873; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2016 was $51,785, so $103,570)

Current balance: $324,735

March 2017 balance: $317,920

Progress: $6,815

A nice bump up, but our goal also grew because of my raise.

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 22 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $170,008 -- $7,728 per month -- to reach it.

April 2017 net worth update

April 30th, 2017 at 08:07 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 20,398 pounds ($25,497)
FL: 5,534 pounds ($6,917)
NT's 401(k): $52,216
NT's Roth IRA: $18,842
AS's trad. IRA: $17,059
AS's Roth IRA: $37,131
AS's SEP IRA: $15,964
CJ's 401(k): $106,285
CJ's Roth IRA: $22,365
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
Total Assets: $964,516

Debts:
US Mortgage $397,463
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $35,025
UK Mortgage 2 $7,384
UK Mortgage 3 $7,775
---
TOTAL DEBT $456,647

Current Estimated Net Worth: $507,869

February 2017 estimate: $555,321

Change in net worth: -$47,452

Summary: Retirement accounts went up at a nice pace, but I decided to adjust both home values to what seemed like a more accurate estimate, so our assets are below a million again. Darn! Hopefully the next time they get up there, they stay there.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat, but it's been on the market a long time.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.

Progress on a goal (finally)!

April 26th, 2017 at 02:46 am

I pretty much consciously abandoned trying new meals during the month of March and the first part of April. Way, way too many other things going on, so we opted for easy, familiar meals (when we weren't having restaurant and delivery meals for birthdays and other occasions).

But tonight I finally got back on track with this particular goal. I made a pasta dish called "lentil-a-roni" out of the cookbook "Isa Does It." Pasta, pureed cashews and veggie broth, lentils, and a simple tomato sauce. Everyone loved it but AA, and even she managed to finish half her bowl, so if I gave her a smaller portion and let her have a healthy snack after, it would work for her. It's a keeper!

That's our 16th new meal this year, so we have 34 to go. There are 35 weeks left in the year, so if we average one per week, we should be able to meet it. Luckily we were trying more than one a week before our seven-week break!

Note to self for next net worth update

April 23rd, 2017 at 08:23 pm

In light of Zillow's drastic reduction in home valuation, I decided to adjust the value in my net worth calculation. eppraisal has it at $472,235 and Zillow $436,873, so I chose a midpoint of $454,554.

Minus 6%, that's $427,281.

While I'm at it I thought I'd update the UK flat. I think I have it valued lower than it's worth, but I also never accounted for how much it would cost to sell. I know we'd have to pay our management company 10% and I imagine there are other closing costs involved, so I'll say I need to take 15% off the value.

I had the flat valued at 180K pounds, but I think it's closer to 200K. At a 1.25 exchange rate that's $250,000, and minus 15% it's $212,500.

Slightly less than what I had in my net worth calculation, but it seems more accurate.

Weird Zillow fluctuation

April 22nd, 2017 at 03:52 am

Looking at my Mint.com account, I noticed my home value seemed a lot lower than usual. So I went and checked eppraisal for that and our Zillow estimate.

Zillow is now estimating our value at $436K. That's a far cry from the $586K in September! And I believe it went even higher than that, but that's the note I found.

Weirdly enough, they seem to have reverse engineered their trend line so that the value has never gone above $470K in the past 8 years. If I hadn't blogged about it, I'd think I was going crazy. They must have course corrected, but it seems disingenuous to fix their past estimates like that. It makes them look more consistent than they really are.

I'm not really thinking of a refi anyway; I think the best course of action will be to start paying extra on the mortgage once we've gotten most of our major home renovations out of the way. That won't be for another couple years at least.

Happy Easter and wrap-up of the past couple weeks

April 16th, 2017 at 04:31 pm

Happy Easter! I see it's been nearly two weeks since I last posted.

Our screen-free vacation at the lake went really well. The kids, AS and I didn't look at screens at all, except I checked the time on my phone if there wasn't a clock nearby. NT used his phone for directions a couple of times (which we could have figured out with the map and a little bit of thinking, but oh well), for playing iTunes in the car (we thought it came with satellite radio and it didn't; I would've been fine with whatever radio stations we could find, but...) and to look up a couple of things. So he couldn't make it a day without the thing, but at least he wasn't constantly on it. Huge difference!

I was going to look at AS's edits of my novel, but she hadn't had a chance to work on it before we left. She printed it out and worked on it a little, and she's continuing to work on it electronically in her spare time now that we're back. Hopefully in a couple weeks I'll be able to start fixing it up for self-publication!

The lake house was really nice. We wished the main bedroom had a king-size bed but otherwise it was perfect. Both floors had a view right out onto the lake. The kitchen and whole layout was really nice. We had a rental minivan that was roomy and nice.

The weather was gray and rainy before and after our trip, but it was clear and 40s-60s the whole time we were there! Magically it started drizzling just as we were getting ready to drive home!

We were a near a small town (Alexandria), so we drove in occasionally. We went to a candy/ice cream store (twice), a quilting store (twice), a multi-level antiques place, fast food places, and the movies (Beauty and the Beast).

I got the kids out of bed some nights to come look at stars. The nearby town and other houses meant there weren't as many visible as I thought there'd be, but still more than in Minneapolis. We had a book to help us but I still couldn't figure out any constellations except Orion and the Big Dipper. NT found the North Star.

I read one and a half giant Stephen King novels I'd been meaning to get to: Duma Key (really good) and Under the Dome (amazingly good, but tense and dark. I mean they were both dark, but this one really hit me).

The kids did some drawing, playing on the beach, board games, reading and just bumping up and down the stairs with balloons the grocery store gave us. The only time one of them asked for a screen was when we were going to put SL in the bath, because at home we sometimes put a show on an iPad in the bath. But it was just habit and when we reminded her no screens, she just smiled and said she'd forgotten.

We cooked all but three meals; we grabbed Chipotle on the way up there, fast food for lunch after a nature walk one day (there was a paved trail that went between lakes), and Chinese takeout after the movie.

It wasn't a very frugal trip; between the movies, the three meals out, firewood, groceries and wine, candy and ice cream, and a few items at the quilting and antique stores, we spent probably about $400. And that wasn't counting the $450 for van rental and I think the house rental was about $600 or $700. But it was really fun and relaxing. I loved being away from screens! I've been trying to use them less since I got back, with varying success.

We got back last Sunday, and I've mainly been focused on getting back in the swing of things at work and back into the home routine of cooking etc. After four straight weeks of trips it's taking a while to feel settled again.

One thing I had to do in the middle of the week was get follow-up tests for the abnormal mammogram I got in March. I'm happy and relieved to say that it turned out to be a benign cyst which they drained on the spot. I'm sure the Wednesday appointment will result in some bills, and it wasn't exactly fun, but immeasurably better compared with the alternative of having the tests raise more concerns.

I had other things going on this week too; a friend over on Monday for dinner; a show Friday; the "Tax March" protest/rally on Saturday; and meeting with a friend Saturday evening to help her adjust her withholdings and with other financial things. Then last night we had to hide the eggs and put out the baskets from the Easter Bunny. This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 7:30 so the kids could start the egg hunt. I've been mainlining coffee to try and perk up!

Oh, and yesterday I got word of a raise! Just 2.5% cost of living, but I'll take it. I immediately bumped my 401(k) contribution up a percent, so I won't see most of the raise. But I did get one paycheck with it and gave each of us $15 extra in spending money.

We were going to pay a friend to put in screens on our front porch (which is a 2nd-floor balcony), but after NT bought the supplies he realized it would be a relatively simple job that he could handle. So he did it this weekend! Now the cats can enjoy the porch and when the mosquitoes come, NT will be able to hang out there without getting eaten alive. We may still have our friend help us fix up the floor out there; it's made of old boards covered with ugly peeling brown paint and is really in need of some sprucing up. But anyway, getting the screens up only cost about $150 in supplies!

I suppose it's time to start thinking about the yard and what we can do to get ready for spring. Our neighbors put down a plastic sheet last fall down one strip of the front yard to kill the grass so we could plant veggies there this year. We've tried in the backyard but the big buildings on either side plus the big tree makes it a very shady place, so the veggies didn't thrive. The front yard gets a lot of sun and there's one side by the steps that isn't used for anything else, so we'll try that this year.

I've also got to talk to the downstairs neighbors about the dogs using the backyard for a toilet and them not cleaning up unless I tell them we're going to have people over to hang out there. I'd like to be able to send the kids out back spontaneously this summer and not have to worry about dog poop. This winter it got absolutely shocking and disgusting. They were better last summer so hopefully it was a winter thing. But I've still got to have the talk. Hopefully they'll change that habit.

AA started art class this weekend. She really liked it. I'm glad because we signed up for about two months of it and it cost a fair penny!

The swim classes we wanted this spring were filled up, so we paid a bit more for four semi-private sessions (just SL and AA with the instructor). Maybe it'll be a blessing in disguise and they'll progress a little faster.

Let's see, any other updates? The kids had a good Easter egg hunt (indoor) and we have a vegan ham thawing for dinner tonight.

I think (hope!) this week should be relatively uneventful. I'm ready for a boring week! Smile

Lake trip starts tomorrow!

April 5th, 2017 at 04:40 am

I'm mentally preparing for a screen-free trip. My plan is to try and not look at the computer or phone at all starting tomorrow morning. I hope I've got the willpower!

We've got books, games, satellite radio in the car, nature, a map, directions to several possible activities. We'll be fine and it'll be fun. It's just I've gotten so used to leaning on the internet for every little thing.

We get back Sunday, but I might not check in for a couple days depending on how much other stuff I need to catch up on.

Until then!

April 2017 debt payments

April 4th, 2017 at 01:49 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:

US duplex: $693 to principal
UK #1: $181
UK #2: $38
UK #3: $40

So that's $952 of debt paid off this month.

New debt balance:

US Mortgage $397,463
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $35,025
UK Mortgage 2 $7,384
UK Mortgage 3 $7,775
TOTAL DEBT $456,647

It's a wrap! Birthday month is over

April 1st, 2017 at 08:01 pm

Whoa, has it been three weeks since I posted here? Hard to believe, but considering I was on a short trip each of those weeks, not *too* hard.

So what's happened since the last time I checked in? I got my two business trips out of the way (both overnight trips to Memphis), and we went out for a date night on St. Patrick's Day while the kids stayed later at the daycare (we picked them up by 8:30 though; NT and AS were exhausted).

NT and I also had an impulsive date to see my fave band; they were opening for another band. We left soon after my band played though. It was an expensive impulse; my spending money is out of whack! But I always make it up in the end when that happens.

NT's birthday was the day I came back from my second business trip; he just wanted delivery food and to hang out with us and our downstairs neighbors, so that's what we did.

Soon after THAT, I had my solo trip to New York. It was so fun! I couch surfed at some old college friends' apartments, visited my old campus, went to a historical museum about the transit system, went out to eat a lot, and saw a movie plus my fave band (again, which was the main reason behind the timing of the trip). I got to see them in a little theater that was part of Lincoln Center. It was a great venue because I could really hear everything, vs. bars and concerts which tend to have a lot of peripheral noise.

It was rainy and/or gray every single day in NY, but I didn't care. I love that city and my college friends, and it was a fun and unique experience to travel without any of my family members.

I got back Wednesday, just in time for SL's 5th birthday! Everything was chaos when I got home, and AS was exhausted, so we ordered pizza delivery and hung out at our downstairs neighbors' while SL opened presents. She had a fantastic time!

Then it was two hectic days at work; basically trying to fit two weeks' worth of meetings and work into that short window. Needless to say I didn't get everything done; I'll need to work some on Sunday and be available to answer questions on Monday.

Today was SL's bday party; we had eight kids besides our two, which is a good number. We had several activities besides karaoke: hunting for clown pictures all over the house, temporary tattoos, blocks and puzzles. For snacks we did fruit, veggies, chips, pretzels, juice, frozen pizzas, and cupcakes. Pretty easy spread and not too expensive. Everyone seemed to have a great time besides a couple of minor meltdowns by kids.

It's beautiful outside, and I know we should take advantage, but we're forcing the kids to have some quiet time in their rooms, mostly for our own sake so we can rest up after the party, and then I'll take them to the playground.

Coming up in our crazy lives: a full week off! AA is on spring break, so both kids are in daycare Monday and Tuesday. We have a rental car the whole week, so we might go clothes shopping and to a movie, and anything else that occurs to us. Oh, and our precinct's caucus is Tuesday night. I might sign up to be a delegate this year. I wished I'd done it last year.

Wednesday through Sunday we're going to a house on a lake, about three hours northwest of here. I'm going to try and enforce a strict screen-free policy there, so I'm going to print out directions to everywhere I think we might want to go, and we'll bring lots of games and books. The only screen time might be going out to a movie; I think that's different from the sitting around staring at screens, which we all (especially me) do too much of.

I even asked if the house had a landline, thinking we could turn off all our phones, but they don't. So I'll keep my oldish phone out, with WiFi/data turned off, just in case any of our parents need to reach us in an emergency.

The week after that things should hopefully start to slow down. A friend is coming over the Monday after our trip to say goodbye before she moves out of state. Wednesday 4/12 I have a follow-up scan because of something concerning on my mammogram last month. I got the call about it while in NY, which wasn't very nice, but I've decided not to worry about it, after reading that most things turn out to be nothing. If it does turn out to be something, of course, our lives will change a lot, but I'm going to hope and assume that it isn't anything to worry about before then. I was thinking about buying some new glasses, but now I think I'll hold off until I see how much this follow-up exam costs (and if anything else comes up as a result).

Our shared spending went in the red for a while this month due to all the rampant birthday and travel spending, but some of AS's checks came in and we broke even. There will be more spending during our week off, but also AS is expecting a few more checks soon, so hopefully it'll balance out.

We might have to take it easy on shared spending for a while; she's booked a couple jobs, one of them quite big, but I don't think she'll get paid for them for a while. Hopefully we can stay about even until they start coming in, and then we can book our summer trip to Va. and whatever AS wants to do for her solo trip this year.

We're still adding to our reno savings for (hopefully) a kitchen redo or insulation or HVAC system. But it's in the back of my mind that this money may end up going to medical. Hopefully not. I'll know soon enough!

Retirement goal progress

April 1st, 2017 at 07:13 pm

Goal: $489,745 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 (which changes whenever our salaries change) is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $66,625, so $199,875; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2016 was $51,785, so $103,570)

Current balance: $317,920

February 2017 balance: $315,041

Progress: $2,879

A smaller bump than the past few months.

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 23 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $171,825 -- $7,471 per month -- to reach it.

March 2017 net worth update

April 1st, 2017 at 07:09 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 20,398 pounds ($25,497)
FL: 5,534 pounds ($6,917)
NT's 401(k): $51,449
NT's Roth IRA: $18,574
AS's trad. IRA: $16,825
AS's Roth IRA: $35,223
AS's SEP IRA: $14,328
CJ's 401(k): $104,601
CJ's Roth IRA: $22,047
NT's flat: 180,000 pounds ($225,000)
CJ/NT/AS house: $470,000 (value -6%)
---
Total Assets: $1,012,920

Debts:
US Mortgage: $398,156
Loan from friends (duplex): $9,000
UK Mortgage 1: $35,206
UK Mortgage 2: $7,421
UK Mortgage 3: $7,815
---
Total Debt: $457,599

Current Estimated Net Worth: $555,321

February 2017 estimate: $551,489

Change in net worth: +$3,832

Summary: A very flat month; well over half the positive change is due to debt paydown and contributions, so very little growth in our accounts. I'm actually surprised there wasn't a loss this month.

Notes on the numbers above: House value estimates are approximate. (I do have my eye on a comparable listing for the UK flat, but it's been on the market a long time.) UK pension values updated about once a year. UK asset values and debt amounts are calculated figuring $1.25 for every British pound.