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February 2019 debt payments

February 10th, 2019 at 02:27 pm

I have so many balls in the air right now, I feel slightly behind on everything, including blogging!

I only now checked our mortgage payments to see our new balances.

US: $739 to principal
UK1: $178
UK2: $38
UK3: $39
Total principal paid this month: $994

New household debt totals:
US Mortgage $381,699
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,053
UK Mortgage 2 $6,546
UK Mortgage 3 $6,894
----
TOTAL DEBT $435,192

January 2019 retirement goal update

February 1st, 2019 at 02:07 pm

Well, now that I'm basing our retirement goal on AS's 2018 income, it just got $50K more ambitious!

Goal: $563,540 by March 2019

Current balance: $434,490 ($129,050 to go)

September 2018 balance: $436,289

Progress: -$1,799

Ordinarily, I only post retirement goal updates when we make positive progress, but since AS's salary calculation underwent a reset, I figured I should post.

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 $75,120, so $225,360; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2018 was $75,940, so $151,880.

To reach the interim goal by the end of our birthday month (March) in 2019, that's 2 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $129,050 -- $64,525 per month(!!!) -- to reach it.

So yeah, we're going to fail badly on that there goal. Considering we've made no gains since August, despite dumping thousands and thousands of dollars in our accounts, there's not much more we could have done about that.

Come March, even though we'll be short of that goal, I'm going to set another 5-year goal. Which of course will change any time one of our salaries does.

January 2019 net worth update

February 1st, 2019 at 01:52 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 28,134 pounds ($35,168)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $69,771
NT's Roth IRA: $31,272
AS's trad. IRA: $18,946
AS's Roth IRA: $50,746
AS's SEP IRA: $30,489
CJ's 401(k): $131,822
CJ's Roth IRA: $35,739
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,074,271

Debts:
US Mortgage $382,438
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,231
UK Mortgage 2 $6,584
UK Mortgage 3 $6,933
---
TOTAL DEBT $436,186

Current Estimated Net Worth: $638,085

December 2018 estimate: $608,883

Change in net worth: +$29,202

Summary: A lot of our retirement funds recovered, so our net worth is now at its highest yet! Still not at the $650K we were hoping to reach in 2018, and I'm sure we're way behind on our retirement goal (which I'll update shortly if there's been any positive progress), but all things considered, we recovered nicely from the crater of late 2018. I don't take it for granted though; I think there's a lot of volatility ahead.

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.

Random life updates

January 25th, 2019 at 06:16 pm

Wow, I was too busy to really check the blogs for two weeks, and it sounds like there was some drama with them all disappearing! Glad they didn't; it would have been so horrible to try and come back and have lost you all.

Anyway, I reached an equilibrium where travel is done for now, I'm mostly caught up at work, and personal life isn't too busy, so I wanted to take a few minutes to check in.

As you might have seen, this year I'm working on "intentions" instead of goals. I'll try to list achievements on the sidebar, but a lot of it is about the journey, so I'll also try to blog about my activities that fall into my intention categories.

- Make healthy choices. I haven't been too good about walking or morning strength training so far this year, and my eating has been all over the place due to travel. But I've been trying to add one healthier meal such as Buddha bowl (beans and grains and veggies) per week to the menu. This week's will have chickpeas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale and brown rice.

- Deepen friendships. I've been cultivating my friendship with my Canadian friend; she came to Minneapolis a couple weeks ago and if I can swing it, I'm going to try and head to Canada in April. Her trip and my hopefully future trip are both centered around seeing our favorite band.
This week I also reached out to about 6 other friends. One came over and chatted for a few hours, another will be going to a show that I'll be at on Monday, and others have promised we can make plans soon.

- Do creative things. I've been practicing guitar nearly every day and attending lessons once a week. I also play with my Canadian friend whenever we get together. I think I'm going to make my bday party in March a music jam type event, where I ask friends who play or sing to come hang out and make music together.
I've been pondering my writing projects, and I hope to get going on those soon.

- Chase pleasure. I saw my favorite band for the 30th time this past Monday, so I think I'm chasing pleasure pretty well! And tonight I'm going to a bar to see another band that I like quite a bit. I've also got tickets to a few other upcoming shows. I'm really really into live music these days! I've also read a novel by one of my favorite authors. And I'm hoping to go to this big book festival in a couple months that another favorite author will be appearing at! Oh, and I'm thinking about scheduling a "bad movie night" in February with some friends who also enjoy that sort of thing.
Our birthdays are all coming up in March, so I'm starting to plan our parties. AS is hitting the big 4-0, so hers will be the biggest event! I'm determined that she have fun and not freak out about this milestone!

- Build my career. I had to do my self-assessment at work. Since my boss/mentor left, I've been a little unsure the best way to advance my career. So I figured I'd just put that comment in it, and hopefully my direct boss will have some ideas. I also put down a goal that I want to win an award at work, or at least resolve to work harder and better to make my job performance award-worthy. (Since winning isn't something one can really control.)

- Be flexible when life throws things at me. We've had a couple challenges this year -- a houseguest who was meant to leave in October but is still here, AS's mom repeatedly needing money due to some unexpected problems -- and so far we're dealing with them pretty well. Nothing too bad has happened this year.

UK trip spending

January 11th, 2019 at 07:49 am

We got back from England Sunday and have been incredibly tired AND busy since then! Last night I got a second night of fairly solid sleep so I'm feeling partly back to normal. Still a lot of work and housework to catch up on, though, so I don't have time to run down our trip. Suffice it to say, fun but tiring, lots of quality time with family and friends, didn't see a ton of new sights but that wasn't what it was about this time.

I did keep track of our spending so I thought I'd do a quick summary and compare it with our more epic July 2016 trip. That one was 15 days, included a short jaunt to Barcelona in the middle, and came to about $10,500:
UK flights & travel insurance: $5500
(UK lodging paid for by NT's parents)
Rental car & insurance: $900
Barcelona flight and lodging: $1300
Other spending: $2800

This trip was 12 days, included stops in Exeter, Cornwall and Oxford, and came to about $7,300:
Flights & travel insurance $4,200
Car rental & minor damage (just some scuffs from all the narrow roads and parking lots) $700
Other spending (gas, food, gifts/souvenirs/clothes, sightseeing, drinks): $2400
(some lodging paid for by NT's parents; stayed w/people the rest of the time)

So there you have it!

January 2019 debt payments

January 6th, 2019 at 07:02 pm

All the mortgage payments hit:
US: $736 to principal
UK1: $179
UK2: $37
UK3: $40

That's $992 to principal. (Maybe this will be the year when my minimum payments put $1000 or more to principal!)

Current debt totals:
US Mortgage $382,438
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,231
UK Mortgage 2 $6,584
UK Mortgage 3 $6,933
---
TOTAL DEBT $436,186

New year's non-resolutions: my 2019 mindset

December 31st, 2018 at 03:08 pm

Usually I have goals with measurable results and I achieve maybe half of them? So for 2018 I tried to really analyze why goals succeeded or failed, and come up with ones I was sure to meet, and enjoy meeting.

Well, the results were not what I expected. Over the year I ended up abandoning most of them and doing some other equally awesome things. Basically, my focus and priorities changed. It was still one of my favorite years, but I don’t like the feeling that I didn’t meet my goals.

I won't go into them in detail, but here are the things I achieved in 2018:
Creative - learn guitar.
Vacations: UK family trip after Xmas. Solo trips for adults. CJ family reunion in June/July Niece's wedding in Va. in August.

And things I didn't quite get done in 2018:
Creative - get a novel publishing-ready.
Health - Limit drinking on everyday nights.
Health - limit screen time outside of work.
Health - Try relaxation/destress tactics on nondrinking/no-screen-time days
Pragmatic - emergency preparedness.
Work/professional development: Look for class on Agile; see if work will pay for it.
Work/professional development: Limit social/personal internet at work.
Jan: No personal internet/phone at work one day per Financial: Retirement assets to $475K. Net worth to $650K. Bump NT's 401(k) up 2%.
Financial: Kids' savings up to at least $1K per year of age.
Home: Full kitchen renovation.

So there you go.

I feel like I've entered a new stage of life where I can achieve anything I set my mind to, but can't necessarily map out the exact things that I'll want to do.

So for 2019, I've decided I’ll have less structured “intentions”: a mindset where I try to live a full and successful life and, yes, have ambitions, but I'm not laying out specific ambitions or milestones I'm working toward.

Part of it is my new mindset but also, I realize with family members in all three of our extended families struggling, and also all of us chasing our dreams, which may make our day-to-day schedules and finances less predictable.

So here are my intentions for 2019:

- Make healthy choices (with an eye toward fitness, weight control and general energy and vitality and hopefully longevity). My initial thoughts are getting back into walking and AM exercises and intermittent fasting, and trying to bring more salads and whole foods into my diet. But I'm leaving this open to any other ideas or inspirations I have.

- Deepen friendships. In 2018 I put a lot of effort into widening and deepening my social circle with mixed results. Recently I've been spending less time chasing the people who don't seem to be putting any effort in reciprocating. If they want to hang out, I'm not shutting off any avenues; I'm just going to focus more on the people who have been more responsive, and putting out feelers for other people to focus on.

- Do creative things. Right now I'm feeling very happy learning guitar and working on a new novel with a college friend. I'm also seriously considering finally self-publishing one of my novels as kind of a test run. But we'll see what other creative urges hit me! The point is to do things that aren't just stressing over the news or mindlessly checking my phone or computer.

- Chase pleasure. I don't know how many solo trips we'll get to go on (due to the uncertainties I mentioned) but if I do get to, it'll likely be to see my fave band in other places, meeting up with my Canadian friend I met in January via their concerts. That friendship has been the single biggest social success I had, even though we mainly communicate via computer! I also want to see lots of other live music, which has become one of the biggest pleasures of my life. So has guitar. Maybe it means more date nights with my partners; we didn't get many this year. I also consider reading a creative activity, and I don't read as often as I used to, so I could try to focus on that. And my kids are getting to the ages where we start to have activities we both enjoy, so I hope to hang out with them more and more! This is a wide open field, so hopefully I'll surprise myself pleasantly!

- Build my career. I'm still very happy with my current job and seem to be still making good impressions and doing good work, so right now that's my focus. I don't have any big ambitions about moving up quickly; as long as I get modest raises and the work environment stays supportive and the work interesting, I don't see any need to do anything other than continue to challenge myself and keep growing and deepening my skills in this position. But I realize jobs are a fluid thing, so again, a wide open intention!

- Be flexible when life throws things at me. This is about resilience as well as openness to new ideas and new situations. It's optimistic that amazing new opportunities may present themselves, but also realistic that challenges may arise, and I don't want to be blindsided or feel persecuted, I just want to land on my feet no matter what. I hope I can do that!

So, those are my thoughts. I'm in the UK, so we're about to hit the new year in about an hour. I wish all my SA friends the 2019 they want, and the ability to tackle the year even if it doesn't turn out the way they hope!

December 2018 net worth update

December 31st, 2018 at 09:14 am

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 28,134 pounds ($35,168)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $65,000
NT's Roth IRA: $28,427
AS's trad. IRA: $17,592
AS's Roth IRA: $45,967
AS's SEP IRA: $31,914
CJ's 401(k): $119,579
CJ's Roth IRA: $32,096
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,046,061

Debts:
US Mortgage $383,174
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,410
UK Mortgage 2 $6,621
UK Mortgage 3 $6,973
---
TOTAL DEBT $437,178

Current Estimated Net Worth: $608,883

November 2018 estimate: $626,147

Change in net worth: -$17,264

Summary: We lost last month’s clawback and then some. Sigh. We’re essentially where we were at the end of June. Not a great way to end the year, but oh well.

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.

Quick check-in, hopefully more soon

December 23rd, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Hi friends!

I had an absolutely crazed December; working nights and weekends trying to get through a mass of work that suddenly hit me all at once. I did all I humanly could, so now I can take my two weeks with a clear conscience if not a clear plate. I'll have a lot to do on Jan. 7 so I'll need to hit the ground running, jetlag be damned.

But until then, I have some time off, so I'm going to try and rest my brain as much as possible.

I want to do a detailed end-of-year rundown like I typically do. I'll be in the UK on New Year's Eve, so I'm not sure if I'll do it beforehand or try and do it from my phone in England. I don't think I'll take my laptop...but I'm still figuring that out. We leave the day after Xmas and I haven't even thought about what I'm going to bring!

This was an odd year. I started off with some of my most organized, regimented goals ever, did really well the first two months, and then things just kind of went off the rails. But not in a bad way, really...I still had a busy, fruitful, creativity-filled year, I just ended up doing things differently from the goals I had so methodically put in place.

So I think next year, I'm going to structure things differently, in that I won't really structure annual goals. It'll be more about being ready to jump on something when I feel it, no matter when it happens in the year. I'll still have intentions, ambitions, but not as many yardsticks or finish lines. It'll be about the doing, and hopefully there will be some achievements reached along the way that I'll celebrate.

Besides the fact that the very concrete goals didn't work as well for me last year -- indicating I'm moving into a different way of getting things done -- another reason I don't want to be so specific with my benchmarks is we have a number of wild cards next year.
- My mom is home from the hospital and doing somewhat better, but I still feel it's very possible that she's not long for this world.
- AS's mom is struggling financially and with finding a stable place to live and any kind of employment; we've had to bail her out financially a few times in the past couple months and feel the worst may be yet to come.
- AS had her best income yet this year, and we have high hopes for next year, but she's taking a leap and getting rid of some of her steady but lower-paying work to give herself more time for higher-paying work and also to build her personal brand. So there's some risk but also more potential for reward.
- We've enlisted a kitchen designer, and depending on what the estimates come to, we may have to decide whether to take on a short-term loan to cover part of it, or find alternatives that work within our current savings, or put off the renovation a while longer until we have the funds. So it's hard to say the impact that will have.

Anyway, still taking stock of the year and thinking about next year, so I'm hoping to do a longer, more coherent post soon. But since I had a bit of time to drop in, I wanted to at least say something. One of my "intentions" for next year will definitely be to blog more frequently again -- I miss it! Even though I still read all of your blogs, I haven't had time to comment as much, so I hope to be more present in general here.

December 2018 debt payments

December 4th, 2018 at 08:50 am

All the mortgage payments hit:
US: $735 to principal
UK1: $180
UK2: $38
UK3: $40

That's $993 to principal.

Current household debt:
US Mortgage $383,174
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,410
UK Mortgage 2 $6,621
UK Mortgage 3 $6,973
___
TOTAL DEBT $437,178

November 2018 net worth update

December 2nd, 2018 at 02:56 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 17,967 pounds ($22,459)
SW: 28,134 pounds ($35,168)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $68,536
NT's Roth IRA: $30,623
AS's trad. IRA: $18,848
AS's Roth IRA: $49,538
AS's SEP IRA: $26,427
CJ's 401(k): $130,284
CJ's Roth IRA: $34,576
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,064,318

Debts:
US Mortgage $383,909
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $31,590
UK Mortgage 2 $6,659
UK Mortgage 3 $7,013
---
TOTAL DEBT $438,171

Current Estimated Net Worth: $626,147

August 2018 estimate: $615,442

Change in net worth: $10,705

Summary: We made up about half the net worth we lost last month, partly through modest fund recovery, plus debt repayment and retirement contributions.

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.