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Archive for March, 2018

March 2018 net worth update

April 1st, 2018 at 12:12 am

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): $62,357
NT's Roth IRA: $26,841
AS's trad. IRA: $18,996
AS's Roth IRA: $45,908
AS's SEP IRA: $22,102
CJ's 401(k): $124,529
CJ's Roth IRA: $30,782
NT's flat: $212,500 (200,000 pounds value x1.25 -15%)
CJ/NT/AS house: $427,281 ($454,554 value -6%)
TOTAL ASSETS: $1,035,013

US Mortgage $389,707
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $33,029
UK Mortgage 2 $6,963
UK Mortgage 3 $7,333
TOTAL DEBT $446,032

Current Estimated Net Worth: $588,981

February 2018 estimate: $590,997

Change in net worth: -$2,016

Summary: Another decrease this month, though not nearly as bad as last month's crash. Hopefully things are stabilizing!

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.

Tax stuff

March 31st, 2018 at 03:52 pm

We got our returns back from the tax guy. Now I'm trying to figure out if we owe or break even:

AS overpaid federal, so the overpayment will apply to her 2018 Q1 payment (which is going down a little this year, though I'll still set aside the same amount and keep the difference in savings).
She owes $48 in state.
She owes $589 in federal 2018 Q1 estimated payment.
She owes $340 in state 2018 Q1 estimated payment (up $20 from last year).
She's getting an $826 property tax rebate.
She owes $385 in tax prep fees.
So overall, she owes $536.

NT and I owe $995 to federal.
We owe $1,321 to state.
We owe $455 in tax prep fees.
So overall, we owe $2,771. (Ouch!)

Together, we all owe $3,307.

I had set aside $697.72 from AS's paychecks last quarter.
I have $2,001.91 set aside for AS federal 2018 Q1 estimated tax.
I have $383.90 set aside for AS state 2018 Q1 estimated tax.
(These may adjust if AS gets a check in the mail today, since it's the last day of the quarter, but it won't be by much.)
So all told, we have $3,083.53 set aside.

That means we need to come up with $223.47. Definitely not as bad as it could've been -- NT's and my returns looked scary at first! AS does have a couple payments coming soon, so I'll edit this post if one of them comes today! Smile

Delicious collards recipe

March 25th, 2018 at 11:52 pm

I always kind of wing it with greens, but tonight's turned out really delicious, so AS said I should write it down. I didn't measure anything, so it's all guesstimates, but here goes:

1 large bunch collards, ribs removed, chopped and rinsed
1.5 T vegan bacon grease (could use real, or canola with bacon bits)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T sugar
2 T white vinegar
1 t salt
1/4 cup water

I sauteed the garlic for a minute or two in the "bacon" grease. Then I put all the collards in (you can stuff the pot and fill it the top because they shrink way down). Throw in the remaining ingredients, cover pot and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, anywhere from 15-45 minutes. (Collards are hardy plants and could be cooked even longer than that.)


March 24th, 2018 at 03:24 pm

I seem to have shaken the last of my illness and fatigue, and most of the ice has melted off the sidewalks, so I have a nice springy feeling lately. Smile I started doing my morning strength training again this week and AS and I walked to work twice, plus got plenty of walking in the other days. I'm back to averaging over 10K steps a day.

Last week I achieved my two days of no drinking and two days of no screens after work. No personal internet use at work was a little patchier the two days I tried it. But I did stick to not having windows open; if I needed or wanted to go on a social site or budgeting spreadsheet or whatever, I opened a window, did what I intended, then closed it out.

I think for April (and maybe for the rest of the year if it works well), I'm going to structure these goals slightly differently, now that I've developed some pretty good habits:

I'll aim for two weekdays of no drinking, and other weeknights sticking to 0 or 1 glass of wine, unless something is planned like a happy hour or going to a show. So Monday-Thursday no or little drinking, with exceptions allowed for social events.

I'll aim for screens with intention at home after work Monday-Thursday. In other words, if I want to work on my novel, or do some budgeting, or check in with my Canada friend, or read a news story I'll do that and then step away from the screen. No aimless sitting with my laptop on my lap just idly flipping around the internet, or flipping through social media apps on my phone over and over. I can check them, but not spend a ton of time on them.

I'll aim for minimal personal internet at work Monday-Thursday. That means doing what I did last week, opening a screen if I need to check or do something but then closing out when that specific task is done. Keeping tabs open just invites aimless scrolling.

I'm interested to see how I behave in April, whether I feel like I have a more balanced life where I'm not feeling deprived but not overdoing it on unhealthy/unproductive activities. I like that this is an evolving goal that I can structure however I want from month to month.

For the kitchen renovation, we made a tiny bit of progress: The room has three doorways, which gives us limited wall space despite its size. So on our designer's advice we taped cardboard over the doorway we think we could stand to lose. If we feel like it's not too disruptive, we can consider walling that doorway over and using the space for something else. Currently it doesn't give us much more options because the fridge opens onto the space from one direction, the dishwasher from the other. But if we moved or turned the fridge or dishwasher, it could really expand the possibilities. So we'll start thinking about that.

I've not gotten much done on my novel revision or emergency preparedness, but at least guitar practice is going gangbusters! My Canadian friend also takes lessons, so she's encouraging and I can discuss things with her.

In big-picture goal land, I assume our net worth and retirement are down with the latest chaos from our government and esteemed leader, but I won't check until the end of the month.

Also, we asked our UK property manager about selling and he said the market was bad due to Brexit chaos, and strongly suggested we wait another year. So we will. He did think the flat would sell for about 200K pounds, which I don't think is terrible, but we'll wait and if the market is better next year, we'll hopefully sell for higher. If not, I'm fine with 200K so we'll put it on the market no matter what.

Back on track?

March 19th, 2018 at 03:43 pm

I took it pretty easy this weekend, and finally today I feel like I have most of my energy back. The aftermath of my illness was much worse than the thing itself!

I did my morning strength training exercises today for the first time in about two weeks, and AS and I walked 3 miles to work for the first time in over a month. While we were sick, the temperature went up and most of the thick coating of ice melted off the sidewalks. We hope we can get back to daily walking, because it's so nice to get 3 miles under your belt first thing in the morning. Come into work a lot more energized and clear-headed too, versus just taking the bus in.

Last week I didn't bother with my two days of no screen time in the evening and two days of no personal internet at work. Most of the days weren't my normal routine; I was out sick or working from home or leaving early for a work happy hour, so work and personal time kind of blended together anyway. I did achieve two days of no drinking, just because I didn't feel like drinking two of the days due to being so fatigued post-illness.

But I'm starting back on all those goals this week.

We really got sick at the best possible time during birthday month, after the first three birthdays and during the two-week lag before the other two birthdays. Now we have NT's on Wednesday, his celebration on Saturday, SL's birthday next Thursday and party next Saturday, and AA's makeup party the following Saturday (that'll be in April). So five birthday-related things still coming up. We're not as prepared as we would normally be, but we'll just wing it and try to make it as fun as possible for the birthday boy and girls. Smile

Our shared spending deficit has been hovering at the $5K mark for the past few weeks, which was bumming all of us out. AS would get a payment or I'd apply a budget surplus, only to have some shared spending bump it back up again. I finally realized that we'd all be better served, psychologically, if I took AS's co-working membership ($1800) and planned to pay it off over the next several months out of the regular budget. So now I have $200 per month coming out of the budget May through January in the annual budget spreadsheet. I moved that $1800 on its own line in the tracker spreadsheet and will whittle it down a little at a time. Then I moved the roughly $1700 of prepaid summer programs for AA, and made a plan in the annual budget spreadsheet to pay back each portion during the actual months the programs are happening, July through August. So now that's on a separate line in the regular tracker too.

We still have the same deficit to float and will have to be mindful of that, but the shared spending deficit is now about $1500. Much more doable, even though AS's jobs have been much slower to pay than we predicted. But we know the money is coming. It might be in April but it will come.

Shared spending will still take some hits: The three birthday parties will all have expenses of a few hundred each, and AS and I will need new clothes for our spring/summer capsule wardrobe. And since we all went to the doctor at various times this month, those bills will likely be another few hundred total when they come in. But it's all looking manageable. I'm holding some money in checking that I would ordinarily put into savings, and I'll keep it in checking until the deficit is lower just to make sure we can float everything. But I know it's going into savings eventually so that's good.

Two of my annual goals are kind of stagnating: Getting my novel publishing-ready and working on emergency preparedness. But it's not to say they can't get done; the year is still pretty young. So we'll see if I can get those back on track soon too.

Odds & ends

March 10th, 2018 at 05:56 pm

Ugh, I'm sick. The whole family has been dropping like flies and finally AS and I succumbed. I don't seem to be as hard hit (fingers crossed) so I'm hoping I snap out of it soon.

We had to cancel AA's pool party that was going to be today. She was sick every day last week (except, thank goodness, on her actual bday Monday), and yesterday she got a high fever. It only lasted a few hours, luckily, but she still has a cough and she's barely eaten for four days, so I'm glad I canceled her party. Plus her parents are in no condition to host a bunch of energetic kids, even if it is at another location! We rescheduled for early April, because the rest of March weekend days are already filled up.

AS and I have tickets to a show tonight. We'll see. AS looks worse off than me, so maybe I can go and she stays home.

Because I was home sick yesterday, I didn't complete my weekly goal of two days no personal internet at work. Friday was going to be my second day of the week. It was out of my control, so I'm not going to worry about it. There's only been one other week when I didn't complete one of these goals--no phone/computer time after work two days a week--and I added a third day to the next week to make up for it. But since this one wasn't my fault, I'm not going to do a make-up day next week.

We spoke with a kitchen designer Wednesday, and it was very interesting. She's definitely got us thinking and if we hadn't gotten sick right after we'd have already started planning. The good news is we really like her way of thinking and explaining things; I would love to see the designs she could come up with. The bad news was she thinks ballpark for a full renovation will be $60K, and we're closing in on saving up $30K. But, just the planning phases are going to take some time, so it'd be a while before we had to pony up the full amount. Plus, she said she couldn't really give an accurate amount until we settled on a plan, and spoke to our contractor about it. So it may well come under that--our contractor's rates are really reasonable. So we're going to go ahead with planning and discussion, and if it does seem like it'll be in that price range, we may just have to pause on actually getting it done until we have more money saved up. She totally got that, so that's good.

On my other goals, I've been making sporadic progress. My one big success story so far is guitar lessons; I've kept up on practicing every day, even yesterday when I was sick, and I can see some small improvement for sure. I even practiced finger positions on a piece of lined paper when I was out of town on business one night!

Emergency preparedness hasn't seen much progress. With so much spending for AS's co-working space, reserving summer programs for AA, and birthday celebrations, I don't feel like adding to the deficit. I'll pick up on it once the deficit is less. It's not like it's a ton of high-end items, just a lot of little things that add up. The most expensive thing will be CPR/first aid classes for me and NT and AS, since I couldn't find any free ones in our area. And those will be less than $100 each I think. I should at least work on the written portion of the EP plan; that doesn't cost anything. Note to self!

Working on the novel has been very sporadic since my class ended. I keep circling it, making little notes, thinking and talking things over, but not really diving in. Maybe today if I feel a little better later.

Not much more preparation on the vacations front. I do have over $1,000 saved, so we could book airfare on any trips that got settled. Everything is still a little up in the air as to exact timing.

My informal friend-making goal is going pretty well. I message my Canadian friend almost every day. I'll hopefully see my other new friend, as well as an old friend that I'm trying to step things up with, at the show tonight if I'm well enough to make it out! I texted my ex-co-worker to see if we could set up a dinner party in April, but I'm waiting to hear back.

The one goal I'm not sure I'll pursue is an Agile class for work. It felt like both my main clients were talking about this work methodology all the time, but now they barely mention it. Plus, that was something I was going to do to try and get attention for a promotion, and then they went and gave me my promotion already! So I may drop that one off. But I'll keep it on there a little longer in case it starts to seem like a good idea again.

Catching up on news and goals

March 4th, 2018 at 11:37 pm

It's been nearly a month since my last post (besides my strictly numbers-focused ones)! I did try to write one a week or two ago, but I lost it and didn't have the energy to rewrite it.

The basic story of the last couple months has been spending like drunken sailors, with not much freelance income coming in to balance it out. AS has booked quite a lot of work for this first quarter but they've been bigger, longer-term jobs, so actual checks received in January and February were pretty average.

Between AS's $1800 fee to join her co-working space (this covers her for a year), $1600 to book spaces in summer programs for AA, a couple of expensive dates, my new guitar, birthday party spending, and other random unbudgeted expenses, our shared spending deficit is back -- up over $5500! And we're not done yet -- AS's birthday dinner tonight is food delivery, same with AA's tomorrow night, I've put deposits on AA's and SL's party space rentals but we still have to pay the remainder, and NT is having a night out for his upcoming birthday that's going to run us a few hundred as well.

Also, I've decided to continue my guitar lessons, which is $30 per week. I'll pay half with my spending money but the other half will come out of shared spending too.

NT has been running a deficit on his personal spending money too, and he wanted to float an additional $1100 for a booth he's sharing with other vendors at a big concert coming up. Since we're floating such a big deficit already, I had to borrow from savings, which I wasn't thrilled about. It'll get paid back from NT's money, but not a habit I want to get into.

I have no idea what our taxes will look like this year, so I can't tell if we'll end up owing, getting a refund or breaking even. I have our initial meeting with the tax guy scheduled for tomorrow, so we should know in a week or two.

The bright spots in our money outlook: AS has a lot of money already worked, and we expect much of it to come in this month. April is a three-paycheck month for NT. We continue to put a third of AS's net pay and any budget surpluses/windfalls to reno spending and a third to pay for upcoming vacations, so we do have over $20K in US savings even after borrowing $1100 for NT's booth rental. And some of the prepaid summer expenses were budgeted for in the months they will happen, so we'll have more of a budget surplus in those months when we don't have to pay for summer programs.

And of course, birthday month will come to an end, so this level of spending won't continue indefinitely! If I wasn't confident in the future money coming in, I'd be reining things in more, but I think it'll balance out in the long run. It's just a bit tight right now, but as long as we can pay credit cards off in full and float this deficit, we'll be OK. Not that I won't be very very happy to get things more in balance, hopefully in the next month or two!

March 2018 debt payments

March 4th, 2018 at 10:59 pm

Well, birthday month is upon us! I had a business trip on the 1st, my bday was the 2nd (got to keep ages on the sidebar up to date!), and AS's is today. So I'm a bit late on reporting mortgage payments, but here I am.

US: $716 to principal
UK1: $184
UK2: $38
UK3: $40

In total that's $978 to principal.

Our current debt levels:

US Mortgage $389,707
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $33,029
UK Mortgage 2 $6,963
UK Mortgage 3 $7,333
TOTAL DEBT $446,032