March 2014 Monthly Review

Well, another month has passed. Crazy how time flies. Eleanor is still in the NICU, and I have been going down to denver every weekend to see her and my wife, and spending monday – thursday at home in wyoming. Its kind of lonely having this huge house to myself, but I’ve found pretty good ways to occupy my time. I’ve been making a lot of cook-ahead meals for when the baby gets home and we may not have as much time as I do now.

The baby is doing well right now, and if everything progresses as they say, we will probably get to take her home sometime in late april. She’s gaining weight and is over 4lbs now, which is exciting.

I also got myself into a basement refinishing project that is currently in the demo stages. When I was moving stuff around in the laundry room I found a lot of soft drywall (a sign of water) and ended up finding mold everywhere. It was pretty gross, so I’ve started to demo most of the basement and am almost done. I’ll update the site with pictures and such, but this has opened up a lot of opportunities now that we have all this space and room to work. For example, we are considering replacing our heating system with a radiant floor heating system (much like pete). There are also tons of things we can do in the energy efficiency area with this as well, so stay tuned for that.

House

Mortgage $ 110,881 (-$557).  Just the normal payment here. This note goes down by about 550/mo, which for now is acceptable. H and I talked about goals and savings for 2014 and once we meet our emergency fund goals, we can start paying this down more aggressively. We also got a nice note that our payment was increasing because our insurance went up by 33%, so I will have a post dealing with that soon.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $5,071  (-$772) This month H and I have really focused on lowering our expenses by watching our spending carefully (and I’ve been annoying her with almost daily text messages) and it has worked very well. I made the regular payment of $400 (above my minimum of 156), and then sent them another $400 as march was winding down. As I write this, I’m hoping to send them another $400 before april begins. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that – the end is finally in sight for this one, and I’m getting excited. (edit: I’ve scheduled another payment of $400 for april 2, so hopefully this will keep going down fast. Our goal is the end of the year)

Total Debt: $ 115,952

We are down $1,329 from last month. It’s crazy to see such a number that is lower than what I’ve become accustomed to, when back in the early days of the blog the debt level would go down like 1,500-2,000 per MONTH. It’s not going down near as quick now, which is OK because we don’t have near as much debt as I used to. I’m keeping all of that extra cash now, instead of paying interest on it, which is nice.

Savings

I’ve decided to add our savings accounts to the mix. Currently, We have 4, and I have a Roth IRA. Both H and I (s0rt of) expect to get pensions if we stay with our current employers and retire with them. That being said, I’m not really one to trust all that, so we are looking at having a significant nest egg when we do end up retiring. We keep our savings accounts with capital one 360. We’ve used an online bank for over 5 years, and have had no problems with the at all. They pay the best (meager) rates of all the accounts we’ve found, so if you’re interested in getting a bit better rate, sign up with capital one now.

Kid Savings $6,685  (+$304) – Looks like this one got bumped up to a $300/mo contribution. We arent drawing from it yet for expenses related to birth, but I assume we will start getting bills soon. We have started getting a few bills from the hospital, and I can tell you that it will take the insurance YEARS to make up for how unprofitable a customer I am right now. I got over 20k in bills in one day earlier this month. We have met almost all of our out of pocket maximums for the year (we have about 1,200 to go for the ‘family’ out of pocket), and she’s still probably going to be in the nicu for at least 6 more weeks. This account (for the moment) is probably a bit over funded, but we will keep adding to it just the same.

House $1,927  (+$201) – Last month, I said “We dont really have any remodels planned for the house anytime soon”. Well, that changed probably about 4 days later. We were planning on doing some stuff to the laundry room, and when I started doing that I noticed a bunch of mold and other problems that indicated that the basement had flooded at one point. So, I decided to begin demo of the entire thing, and I’ve been working on it every night. At this point, Im about finished with demo, and then the real work (spending) will need to begin.

Emergency Fund $8,265  (+2179) – This is advancing slowly and steadily, and should be to a level where we will consider it “fully funded” in one year! We are shooting for a goal of 10k-12k, and got a HUGE bump from our tax refund this year (last year I believe we paid down debt with it). This is almost there, and should be there by the middle of the year or the 3rd quarter at the latest.

Vacation $427 (+126) – This is just going to keep building at this rate for a while. Obviously, we dont have many plans for vacations any time soon.

Total Savings: $ 17,304

We were up $1,010 this month on savings, with the majority of that being our contributions. Changing this at the beginning of the year has made a HUGE difference in the speed of growth. Before that, it was kind of stagnant as we were using it for house renovations and traveling to alaska. Those accounts will get built back up, and we will probably go somewhere else, though not for a while. We are solidly contributing 900/month to these accounts, but we arent getting much return off of it, which is just how it’s going to be. I personally would like to keep a few months cash on hand in case of an emergency, and since the other accounts are targeted, I dont think that it’s wise to put them in the market and risk losses.

Health

Last month, I mentioned that I was doing a whole30. I was supposed to be done as of this writing (It’s my last day), but I had to push it back a week when Eleanor joined us. The experience has been really, really good, and It has really opened my eyes. I’m working on a more in depth post about how it went, what I ate and how I felt. That’s coming soon, but for now just know that I’m really, really happy with it and the results.

Readers: How did your month go? Did you make progress, or did you stay the same?

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