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Archive for November, 2017

Finished writing my novel! (One more 2017 goal down)

November 30th, 2017 at 09:09 am

I finished up my NaNoWriMo challenge on Nov. 27 this year (Monday). After being pretty behind on my word count most of the month, I had a couple of marathon days and cranked out the 50,000 needed to reach this goal.

I don't know if I'll ever return to this novel and attempt to revise it. It's pretty bad. I know what mistakes I made during the planning stages and the (especially) poor writing was a result of not having the scenes worked out in advance, so often I was just riffing and making up details as I went along. This leads to issues with continuity, pacing, and much more.

But at least I wrote it! Since I did not fulfill my other goal of self-publishing some previous novels (and probably won't reach that goal by the end of the year), it's nice to have ONE creative win to report.

November 2017 retirement goal progress

November 30th, 2017 at 09:04 am

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).

(AS's goal may revise downward for 2018 because it looks like she'll make a little less this year. But we're thinking 2018 will be a bigger income year for her, so it may go up again the following reset for 2019.)

Current balance: $379,984

October 2017 balance: $372,435

Progress: $7,549

We had a big month! If every month were like this we'd reach our goal.

To reach the interim goal by the end of our birthday month (March) in 2019, that's 16 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $114,759 -- $7,172 per month -- to reach it.

I'm suspicious of all the market gains, so I feel like we're going to see a fall soon. I guess it'll depend on timing as to whether we'll recover in time to get close to our interim goal. Only time will tell.

November 2017 net worth update

November 30th, 2017 at 08:49 am

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 26,544 pounds ($33,180)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $60,003
NT's Roth IRA: $23,824
AS's trad. IRA: $18,807
AS's Roth IRA: $44,069
AS's SEP IRA: $19,484
CJ's 401(k): $120,918
CJ's Roth IRA: $29,162
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,019,765

US Mortgage $392,556
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $33,751
UK Mortgage 2 $7,115
UK Mortgage 3 $7,493
---
TOTAL DEBT $449,915

Current Estimated Net Worth: $569,850

October 2017 estimate: $561,332

Change in net worth: +$8,518

Summary: Not as huge a jump as the previous two months, but still good. And, we got our debt below $450K! That means the only financial goals we haven't reached this year are getting NT's 401(k) up to 10% and getting our net worth above $600K. (And refinancing the duplex, which turned out to not be a good option.)

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.

The deficit is gone! (at least temporarily)

November 25th, 2017 at 12:00 pm

AS got two freelance checks in the mail, totaling $2200. After taxes, retirement and reno savings, I was able to apply about $930 to the deficit, soo...it's gone! We actually have $170 in shared spending, the first time we've been in the black since maybe mid-June?

We have a big date night today (we hired a babysitter, which makes dates much more expensive than when we can get one of our friends to watch the kids for free). And I know there are some other expenses coming up (like me getting a proper pair of snowboots that are good for long walks, before the snow and ice hits this year, another date night for our anniversary next weekend, and I still need to get my niece a wedding gift and/or send her a check).

But, I also know AS is getting at least one more good check yet this month, possibly more. So even if the deficit comes back temporarily, I'm thinking income will outpace spending, hopefully even through Christmas and AS's mom's 2-week visit.

Hooray!!!

Deficit under a thousand!

November 22nd, 2017 at 12:16 pm

AS got a few payments this week, and our deficit is now at about $800! She's expecting many more payments before the end of the year, hopefully some of which will come before the end of November. It feels like we're close to the finish line!

We went about $300 over budget on groceries this past week, so without that we'd be even closer to paying it off! We had a potluck to buy ingredients for, plus we bought extra alcohol for both that and the Thanksgiving holiday, plus of course Thanksgiving meal items and some special snacks and foods for the long weekend. Yeah, we were very indulgent, but considering we probably saved $500-$700 from our grocery budget over the past few months, I don't feel too bad about it.

NT spot bonus brings deficit under $1500! Plus new meal tried, etc.

November 15th, 2017 at 01:07 pm

NT got some good news that because his company did $1M+ of business six of the months so far this year, they were giving everyone a $600 bonus. We netted $543 and even after sending a third of that to reno savings, it brought our deficit under $1500, to about $1312!

The fact they did well enough for this small bonus really bodes well for NT getting a bigger bonus at the end of the year. I hope so and I hope our deficit is gone by then so we can put a big chunk of it toward the kitchen reno savings!

My paycheck went down a small amount ($1.80) due to an increase in bus pass pricing. It will be reduced again in January because of health insurance premium increases (I haven't looked at the new pricing in detail but need to soon). I sure hope my sad little attempts to get a raise/promotion pay off at some point!

I made an uber-simple meal last week, and it was such a big hit with the kids that AA requested it again this week! It was cooked rice mixed with a little salsa and cilantro, spread in a baking dish, topped with a mixture of black and pinto beans, which was then topped with a mixture of shredded cheddar and mozzarella and put under a broiler for about 5-10 minutes. I served it with avocado pico de gallo, chopped fresh cilantro and onion, and hot sauce. Everybody loved it! We had a semi-unexpected dinner guest who's originally from Mexico so I was embarrassed by this really basic Mexican-esque dish, but he had two helpings and said he really liked it. Whew!

Deficit under $2K! Plus new meals, possible life changes, etc.

November 9th, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Hi friends! It feels like it's been a long time, but I guess I posted at the beginning of the month. I have lots of things to catch you up on.

First off, AS got two payments today and our shared spending deficit (at least temporarily) is under $2K -- it's at about $1958! I say temporarily because we have a date night tomorrow, and I was going to use the gift cards from my work's step challenge, but they haven't arrived yet. Plus we need a few winter gear items now that the weather's cold. I did an inventory and we're in good shape except I need a new pair of snow boots and SL needs a second pair of snowpants, and both kids need several pairs of spare mittens since they tend to leave them at school and daycare a lot (or lose them on the bus or playground).

But when the gift cards do come in, I can use those for groceries and take some money from the grocery budget to reduce the deficit again. Also, AS is raking in the money, or at least booking lots of lucrative work, but hasn't received a lot of the money for the work she's done. So a couple of those bigger paychecks could all but wipe out the deficit!

I tried some new meals and finally used the last of the squash from our CSA! This is our first year using it all up, not giving it away or letting it go bad, so I'm really proud of myself for that.

We tried a sausage-stuffed butternut squash: basically roasting and scooping out the squash, mashing it with diced browned vegan sausage, herbs/spices, garlic & onions, and stuffing it back in the shell. Then topped with cheese and baked it. I served it with pasta aglio olio on the side (pasta with olive oil and garlic). Overall it was a very garlicky meal, but I liked how the sausage flavors counteracted the sweetness of the squash.

Then I did a creamy pumpkin-acorn squash soup with the last acorn squash and a small pumpkin the CSA had sent us. The "cream" was cashews, soaked overnight and then blended with water. We topped it with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitos) and dollops of vegan sour cream. On the side, we had veggie buffalo wings and buttered multigrain toast points. It was really good! I had the last of it today for lunch. I'm glad to see the last of the winter squash but I do feel like I found some good uses for it that I'll refer back to next year when I'm in the same situation. Smile

Anyway, life changes: Really it's just one big possible adjustment. AS's mom is now talking very seriously (it seems) about moving to Minneapolis sooner vs. later. Her reasons are nebulous but it seems like the big thing is she's getting older, she doesn't have a good safety net in Va. (in terms of money OR family) and it's scary for her. She thinks her apartment was broken into recently, and last year she was mugged, and this year she had open heart surgery. She also may be having memory/comprehension issues, although it's hard to tell if they're being caused by the medicines she's on or if it's a sign of the onset of a more serious issue.

I'm trying not to freak out. I like my orderly (though already too busy) life, and AS's mom is like the opposite of organized and punctual. I like slowly building a more secure financial future for us, and AS's mom has caused several hiccups in our financial progress over the years.

But AS is, for all intents and purposes, an only child, and her mom is divorced. AS's aunt is the only close living relative, and she's got her own problems (and friction with the mom, if you remember from the heart-surgery drama days). So it's inevitable that AS will take a larger and larger caretaker role, and better for us all if she doesn't have to travel out of state frequently to do so, or try to manage healthcare and other concerns via phone, as she's been doing for the past few days.

We're hoping that it won't cost us too much financially (at least in the early days). AS's mom has military benefits via the ex. Retirement communities in our neighborhood are actually renting for cheaper than the mom's current apartment. So hopefully she'd actually have a little less tight of a budget with less of her money going to rent. Of course we'll probably have to pay her moving expenses.

This being AS's mom, none of this is written in stone. She's coming to stay in our basement for two weeks around Xmas, so that may move her a little closer to a decision one way or the other.

So I'm nervous, reluctant to face this new chapter, but realizing that AS needs to take care of her mom and I need to support that in whatever form it takes. Stay tuned for more news one way or the other, I guess.

October 2017 retirement goal progress

November 2nd, 2017 at 07:55 am

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: $372,435

September 2017 balance: $358,790

Progress: $13,645

We had another huge month, even a little more than last month! This puts us more on track to reach our goals.

To reach the bigger interim goal by the end of our birthday month (March) in 2019, that's 17 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $122,308 -- $7,195 per month -- to reach it.

I'm suspicious of all the market gains, so I feel like we're going to see a fall soon. I guess it'll depend on timing as to whether we'll recover in time to get close to our interim goal. Only time will tell.

November debt payments, new higher mortgage payment, but hit another goal!

November 2nd, 2017 at 07:46 am

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $707 to principal
UK1: $183
UK2: $39
UK3: $40

All told that's $969 to principal.

Our escrow reassessment happened in late October, and our new monthly U.S. mortgage payment is $3138.77. That's $67 higher than it already was. Part of it is an increase in our property insurance rate for the year, and part is that we apparently have another escrow shortage (maybe due to said increase) so are paying $144 per month to make that up.

I got myself into this mortgage payment, but I naively didn't think we'd be paying $390 per month for property insurance (yes I've shopped around), $257 mortgage insurance for the life of the loan, and $144 per month escrow shortage. We're paying about $500-$600 more than I had hoped when we got the house, and it does hurt the old budget. Not a ton I can do about it right now. If our neighbors wanted to finalize the agreement to buy their portion of the house, I could ask them to pay 2/5ths of the mortgage, which would be about $1250 vs. the $1100 they pay now. ($1250 is also closer to what the rent would be on their space if we were regular landlords.) But they're both in job transition situations right now and I don't want to bring it up until they're in a more stable place.

Anyway, our current debt is now:
US Mortgage $392,556
Loan from friends $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $33,751
UK Mortgage 2 $7,115
UK Mortgage 3 $7,493
---
TOTAL DEBT $449,915

So the good news is, our total debt is under $450K, which was one of my 2017 goals!

October 2017 net worth update

November 1st, 2017 at 02:29 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 26,544 pounds ($33,180)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $58,806
NT's Roth IRA: $23,454
AS's trad. IRA: $18,537
AS's Roth IRA: $43,401
AS's SEP IRA: $19,182
CJ's 401(k): $118,001
CJ's Roth IRA: $27,337
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,012,216

Debts:
US Mortgage $393,263
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $33,934
UK Mortgage 2 $7,154
UK Mortgage 3 $7,533
---
TOTAL DEBT $450,884

Current Estimated Net Worth: $561,332

September 2017 estimate: $546,722

Change in net worth: +$14,610

Summary: We somehow surpassed last month's progress this month! One of NT's pension values went up more than I'd thought, so that was a big help. We're now safely past the $1 million mark for assets! Since I know we're not getting to $600K in net worth, it's nice we hit one more of our other goals! We should hit the debt-below-$450K mark once I check our debt payments for November. Sweet!

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.