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A blog to help me document my journey out of debt.Ceejay74's Personal Finance Blog
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Note to self for next retirement goal update

December 5th, 2019 at 04:27 pm

Shoot, I just realized I forgot to factor in NT's annual salary since he got a raise in October! That changes our retirement goalpost. I'll update next month. To remind myself, salary WAS $62,100 and is NOW $64,118.

December 2019 debt payments

December 3rd, 2019 at 04:21 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:

US Mortgage $760 to principal
UK Mortgage 1 $183
UK Mortgage 2 $37
UK Mortgage 3 $41

All told, that's $1,021 of debt paid.

New household debt totals:

US Mortgage $374,193
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $29,238
UK Mortgage 2 $6,164
UK Mortgage 3 $6,490

TOTAL DEBT $425,085

November 2019 retirement goal update

December 3rd, 2019 at 04:04 pm

Goal: $776,700 by March 2024

Current retirement balance: $517,266

October 2019 balance: $506,160

Progress since last update: $11,106

Still needed: $259,434

The new interim goal is based on getting my and NT's retirement to 4x our salaries (currently $75,120 and $62,100) by the time we turn 50 and AS's retirement values to 3x her annual income ($75,940 in 2018) by the time she turns 45.
$75,120 x 4 = $300,480
$62,100 x 4 = $248,400
$75,940 x 3 = $227,820

It will shift anytime our salary/annual income changes.

There are 52 months to go before March 2024, so that means we need to gain $4989 per month on average to meet our goal.

The ultimate goal we're working toward is 8x our annual income by the time we retire at 65.

November 2019 net worth update

December 3rd, 2019 at 03:45 pm

I was so busy last month that I'm late on my update. Therefore some retirement contributions that would ordinarily show up in my December net worth update will be here. This note will remind me not to be disappointed at our progress end of December! Smile

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 22,397 pounds ($27,996)
SW: 29,047 pounds ($36,309)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $82,940
NT's Roth IRA: $40,895
AS's trad. IRA: $21,198
AS's Roth IRA: $62,163
AS's SEP IRA: $37,479
CJ's 401(k): $154,863
CJ's Roth IRA: $45,345
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,157,047

Debts:
US Mortgage $374,953
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $29,421
UK Mortgage 2 $6,201
UK Mortgage 3 $6,531
---
TOTAL DEBT $426,106

Current Estimated Net Worth: $730,941

October 2019 estimate: $718,815

Change in net worth: +$12,126

Summary: Another good month, also bolstered by the fact that December contributions got in here as well. I'll enjoy the gains while I can!

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.

Note to self for next net worth update

November 9th, 2019 at 03:37 pm

One of NT's UK pensions sent their annual statement. The new value of his SW pension is 29,047 pounds ($36,309).

Last year's value was 28,134 pounds ($35,168), so a small increase to factor into net worth at the end of the month.

November 2019 debt payments

November 5th, 2019 at 01:44 am

All our mortgage payments hit:

US: $759 to principal
UK1: $182
UK2: $39
UK3: $40

That's $1020 of debt paid.

Current household debt:
US Mortgage $374,953
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $29,421
UK Mortgage 2 $6,201
UK Mortgage 3 $6,531
TOTAL DEBT $426,106

October 2019 retirement goal progress

October 31st, 2019 at 03:44 pm

Goal: $776,700 by March 2024

Current retirement balance: $506,160 (yay, we passed the half-million mark!)

September 2019 balance: $496,098

Progress since last update: $10,062

Still needed: $270,450

The new interim goal is based on getting my and NT's retirement to 4x our salaries (currently $75,120 and $62,100) by the time we turn 50 and AS's retirement values to 3x her annual income ($75,940 in 2018) by the time she turns 45.
$75,120 x 4 = $300,480
$62,100 x 4 = $248,400
$75,940 x 3 = $227,820

It will shift anytime our salary/annual income changes.

There are 53 months to go before March 2024, so that means we need to gain $5105 per month on average to meet our goal.

The ultimate goal we're working toward is 8x our annual income by the time we retire at 65.

October 2019 net worth update

October 31st, 2019 at 03:30 pm

Assets:
NT's UK pensions:
AV: 22,397 pounds ($27,996)
SW: 28,134 pounds ($35,168)
FL: 6,462 pounds ($8,078)
NT's 401(k): $82,176
NT's Roth IRA: $39,305
AS's trad. IRA: $20,906
AS's Roth IRA: $60,273
AS's SEP IRA: $36,925
CJ's 401(k): $151,644
CJ's Roth IRA: $43,689
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
---
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,145,941

Debts:
US Mortgage $375,712
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $29,603
UK Mortgage 2 $6,240
UK Mortgage 3 $6,571
---
TOTAL DEBT $427,126

Current Estimated Net Worth: $718,815

September 2019 estimate: $707,736

Change in net worth: +$11,079

Summary: Another good month; I'll enjoy the gains while I can and then try to focus on how I'm buying low during the recession! It's only a matter of time before it hits...

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.

Goings-on

October 9th, 2019 at 06:35 pm

Sorry for the big dump of posts! I went through Google and rescued every missing entry I could find that was cached. Then I read you could do the same with the Yahoo search engine, and it turned out there were a few posts cached there that hadn't been on Google!

Life is still careening along at a breakneck pace in the ceejay household. AS was on a business trip last week (speaking at a bookseller convention in Ohio), and then she met me and a friend south of the Twin Cities at our friends' huge house for a DIY writing retreat. It was very productive! Though I turned up problems in some of my manuscripts that I'm not sure how I'm going to address, so in a way I feel farther away from finishing them. But it was good to be in a quiet house and be able to have a clear mind while editing so I could see these flaws. I'll get there eventually on a manuscript!

I haven't been doing a ton to actively market my current published novel, but I did sell another copy to a friend who said she would suggest it to her book club and that she would ask our local library to carry a copy. So those are bits of progress! Smile

In other news, I'm still considering my career options. They laid off another person last week, and my workload is extremely light still. I haven't applied to any new jobs in about a week, but I've been making LinkedIn contacts and such. I have a happy hour Friday with a friend who's pretty high up at an ad agency.

And AS and I have still been discussing the possibility of my joining up with her freelance operation. I've done some "test" projects for her in my ample downtime at work, and they've gone well so far.

I researched healthcare costs and I think it would be about $700 per month for me and the kids to get on Obamacare (called MNSure here). That's about $400 more than I pay now, but $500 less than if NT put us on his work health insurance (that would be over $1200 per month!!).

So I'd be nervous about taking on that extra monthly expense, but I do think AS and I could bring in quite a bit of work between us. So we're still thinking about it. Meanwhile she can book a little extra work since I have capacity to help her out with it! And, if I do get laid off, we could immediately go into hyperdrive to pull in more money, either with my going permanently freelance or just while I look for another job. Either way I'm glad I wouldn't be twiddling my thumbs if I lose my job!

Something else that's been (literally) plaguing us may be coming to an end...we did a third and hopefully final lice shampoo treatment on AA last night, because we kept finding one or two stragglers every couple nights when we combed her hair. I didn't find when combing last night post-shampoo, so we're hoping that's the end of it...but we're going to comb every night for 10 more days to make absolutely sure we get 'em all!

We have another meeting with our kitchen designer tomorrow...hopefully we can finalize the design and start getting a quote and then financing and then a start date!! I can't wait to get this project over with, but I'm glad we're taking our time and doing it right. And maybe in the end (after the kitchen is done and we get another appraisal) we could end up with a lower monthly mortgage payment (albeit more principal). That'd be great.

Saturday I'm going out of town again...just an overnight trip to St. Louis to see my favorite band and my Canadian bestie. That should be the last trip for any of us this year. We don't have any vacation savings to speak of, so I'm not sure when we'll get to England. Maybe sometime next year, we'll see. Might be the year after.

Let's see, other news from the family...SL learned to ride her bike this week! AA started private voice lessons and loves it; she has a recital in November and I'm excited for her. NT got a $750 spot bonus, a small cost-of-living raise and negotiated comp time going forward for all the overtime he works. AS of course continues to expand her freelance business and somehow found time to repaint her sewing room on top of everything!

Our parents (and NT's grandma) are hanging in there despite some health challenges. AS's mom got a job, so hopefully things will start turning around for her a little. My dad sent me some memoirs he's been writing and they are awesome: funny and interesting little vignettes from different times of his life.

We are still waiting on Brexit to see where NT's UK flat goes in value; meanwhile we still rent it and make a modest amount of money after covering the mortgage payment. We'd still love to sell it and buy a rental property in Minneapolis, but the property manager tells us it's not realistic right now.

What else? I'm still plugging away at losing weight and practicing guitar. Still loving going out to shows frequently. Still being conscious about making and cultivating friendships with pretty good success. I'm actually going to a show tonight with someone I befriended through Instagram!

So despite some recent challenges, life is still pretty great right now. Fingers crossed I can sort out the job situation soon, though.

Ups and downs (9/24/19)

October 9th, 2019 at 05:24 pm

Originally posted
September 24th, 2019 at 02:07 pm

Another blog post already?! Let's see if I can manage it!

The past year or so I've kind of felt like I'm living a charmed life. Yes, some problems cropped up but overall I was just super happy. Now life is feeling more like a series of ups and downs. Not terrible but a lot bumpier than before.

Up: Our kitchen reno is finally getting back in gear. I have some hope we could get it done this year or early 2020! We'll have to borrow about half the funds, but at least it's not the whole amount. I'm super excited about the design. I think it's going to be awesome and well worth a little extra debt (which we can probably roll into the mortgage eventually).

Down: My work situation still worries me. I'm slower than usual and my main client (a big company) continues to face financial issues. Plus, I've taken on a new project to fill some of my downtime, and I just hate it. It's not creative, the process is completely muddled, the account exec is hard to communicate with. Plus they "fixed" the AC and now my office is freezing cold. Plus, I've spent all day in a constant loop between HR, the commuter benefits provider and our local transit company trying to figure out why my bus pass suddenly stopped working when I continue to pay $90 per month from my paycheck, and no one is claiming responsibility.

Up: I've been seeing loads of great live music and nurturing friendships. Someone I "met" on Instagram because of a concert pic she posted last year just invited me to a show last week, and she was so nice and fun, I think I might have made a new friend! I gave her a copy of my novel and she wrote a really nice review on Goodreads and Instagram. And I've become a little closer this week with one of the local musicians I really like.

Down: This is entirely my fault, but with everything going on, I haven't been working at marketing my book so haven't sold many copies. So I'm still in the hole about $340 for this book. And I'm in the hole another $310 for the extra ISBNs I purchased; I need to make some progress on my other books so I can get more published.

Up: I'm still practicing guitar almost every day and making some decent progress after plateauing for seemingly months. It's one of my favorite hobbies. Another woman I might be becoming closer friends with wants to play with me, so I've now got a handful of "jam buddies" even if we don't get together very often!

Down: I've only gotten one response from the 10 or so jobs I applied for, and it was a rejection. I've only gotten one person to write a LinkedIn recommendation though a few others said they would. I know I need to adjust my cover letter and maybe resume and keep going, but it's a little hard.

Up: AS's freelance business continues to go gangbusters this quarter after a slow year, so our shared spending and vacation deficits are gone, and she has a lot of money coming in soon.

Down: AA brought lice home from school, and AS and I unexpectedly had to spend our entire Saturday treating everyone's hair, doing all the laundry, vacuuming/spraying all surfaces, bagging up stuffed animals etc. We'll treat AA's hair one more time Friday but I'm really hoping I got it the first time so we don't have to go through the whole house thing again!

Up: I became a great-aunt last week! One of my nieces had a baby! I won't see the baby for a long time probably because she lives far away, but I'm really happy for her and looking forward to cute pics on Facebook.

Down: NT's job continues to be stupidly busy. He doesn't really know when it's supposed to settle down for him.

Up: AS and I have a really cheap DIY writer's retreat with a friend coming up in early October. We're using another friend's massive house while he's away; it's on the Mississippi River about 2 hours south. It should be a wonderful experience for not much money, and hopefully we'll manage to be really productive about writing!

Up: I've managed to steadily lose weight this summer. From the end of April till now, I'm down about 7.5 lbs.! I don't want to jinx it but I've made most of my progress in the past two months and feel like I have a good routine going on.

So I guess that's it. More downs than ups really! The biggest "down" of all of them is just this job insecurity. I was really happy with my job for a really long time but I know I'm not anymore and need to find something more solid-seeming. But it seems so impossible to get another job when I'm so rusty at the job search process and places probably get hundreds of applications more interesting than mine. One of the main things I hate is not being able to project my finances out very far because I have no idea what my eventual take home pay will be. And the thought of switching all the benefits, phones, computers, routines etc. if I DO get another job is just stressful and exhausting to think about. But I know things aren't dire yet so I'll just keep plugging along and try to trust that I'll find something that works well for me financially and lifestyle-wise.


7 Responses to “Ups and downs”

Butterscotch Says:
September 24th, 2019 at 04:06 pm

I would love to get a copy of your book! Is there a link? Is it on amazon?

MonkeyMama Says:
September 24th, 2019 at 05:14 pm

Good Luck! A big job change is hard.

Lice was one of those infinite bad things we had happen that I haven't had time to blog about. I think exactly a year ago, because I am pretty sure it was the first week at my new job (which was just the icing on the cake. "BTW, I might have given you all lice!"). My son actually didn't talk to me most of 2018 and refused to hug me. All was forgiven the day he got lice. (By some miracle, he also did not pass his lice to his brother).

FrugalTexan75 Says:
September 24th, 2019 at 06:32 pm

Butterscotch - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SQKBP2H/ref=docs-os-doi_0

Ceejay - I'm sorry about your work woes. My supervisor is retiring soon, and I've applied for her position. But I'm not entirely sure I want it after some of the things I've seen in the past few months. But I really need a different job. I'm totally stagnating where I am. At any rate, I can kind of understand where you are coming from.

ceejay74 Says:
September 24th, 2019 at 08:49 pm

Thanks everyone! Butterscotch: You can buy it anywhere that sells books. Amazon works as does Barnes & Noble, Glose, Indiebound, Alibris...supposedly you could even call up a local bookstore and have them order a copy! Just search "Viral Berkeley" and it should pop up.

Here's a page from my author site that lists a few of the purchase options; it's available as ebook or paperback. https:// taberkeley.wordpress.com/home/purchase/

MonkeyMama, I dealt with them a few times in high school and college but that was because my mom babysat a bunch of kids in our home. I had hoped when kids got older the chance was much lower! I think we did a good job but it's hard to tell with those suckers, so I'll check AA during the week and see if the treatment Friday turns up anymore. We have kids coming for a sleepover Saturday so I really hope I don't have to cancel!

FrugalTexan -- yeah. I've been where you are a few times before. The thing I hate most about this situation is that I still love the work, coworkers and workplace -- or would if I weren't constantly sad/stressed about this major downturn and all the recent layoffs. Even the account I'm working on wouldn't bother me this much normally -- I'm just in a more pessimistic state at work so it's hitting me harder.

CB in the City Says:
September 25th, 2019 at 10:42 am

I just ordered your book! I had a $5 Kindle offer so I got it free! Hope you still get some benefit! Glad to have it because I was coming to the end of my stash!

ceejay74 Says:
September 25th, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Yay, thanks CB! I'm still trying to work out ebook payment issues with my publisher, but yes, eventually I should get a bit of residual money from ebook sales!

ceejay74 Says:
September 25th, 2019 at 12:04 pm

PS a review on Amazon or Goodreads also helps me with visibility! I promise you it doesn't have to be a positive review; I know not every book is for everyone. :-)