July 2014 Monthly Review

Hey everyone, glad you are here, and welcome to our monthly review. Every month, we go over our finances and see what progress (or not) that we have made in the last 30 days.

This July has absolutely flown by, and it seems that our relatively relaxed, non traveling summer is about to go with it. We will be attending some sort of social function one or both days every weekend for 6 of the next 8 weeks (or more, I havent looked). It’s going to be pretty crazy with the baby, but we are having fun having her around. She has started smiling and laughing and I really enjoy hanging out with her. I wish that I had a bit more time to do so, but I have probably taken on too much and cant wait till everything wraps up.

On the online income front, one niche site has been continuing to do well, and will top $500 earned for the month of july, on about $150 in expenses. I am totally hooked, and am already building out 3 more sites that I hope will be even more successful than this one, and am planning to expand my current one. The crazy thing is I am not even in position number 1 for my target keyword, so I’m happy about that and expect this site’s potential to continue to go up as I add more content and value for my readers. On to the monthly review.

Debt

House

Mortgage $ 108,638 (-$561).  Just the normal payment here. This note goes down by about 550/mo, which for now is acceptable. I think we will bump up the payments on this once the student loan is gone, but I’m not sure exactly how we are going to do that. I’ve considered paying extra, as well as switching to bi-weekly payments (and paying extra on those bi-weekly) but there are a lot of things going on right now and I kind of want to wait till the dust settles before I lock in something.

What I mean is that since I took a new job and my wife is not going to be working full time next year, we are going to see a serious reduction in income from 2013 (my last full year at my old job) and 2015 – where my wife is working 66% time, and I’m working an entire year where I took a 10%+ pay cut. We will also need to add a “day care” item to our monthly nut, which increases our monthly nut by about 25%. I have settled on $200 bi-weekly (after I get paid) and I’m testing it now, and I’ll see if we can keep it here or need to move it around.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $0 (-$2,079) I finally pulled the trigger on this one at the beginning of July, and it is awesome not to have this hanging over our heads. I wrote a full post on how we are now debt free except the mortgage, and it’s probably the first time since age 20 or so for me (though not for my wife). Now that we have accomplished this, we have been talking a lot about where we should go next with our financial goals, and what direction we should take them. I believe that we have figured that out, we are just looking for a roadmap to get there now. Of course, I will be writing about it when everything is nailed down.

Total Debt: $108,638

We are down $2,642  from last month, and Im totally excited about that – there’s nothing better than wiping out a debt. It would be nice to pay off the house before I turn 32 (in 3 years) but that would require a lot of sacrifice. Our finances are going to undergo a major change over the next few months as we switch insurances and my wife goes back to work (part time). We will also be increasing the contributions to our retirement accounts, so we will be adjusting to living on less than we are currently used to (which may slow down the house projects – not that I’d mind). Our best course of action for this right now is to just keep our spending low and see where the dust settles at the end of the year.

Savings

We have moved all of our savings over to vanguard, and instead of putting them in different accounts, we allocated the funds based on a hard number for our emergency fund and a percentage of what is left. Right now, we have our emergency fund in two places: Vanguard Money Market Fund (VMMXX) and Vanguards Total Bond Fund (VBMFX). There have been some suggestions to move a portion of that to a dividend fund, but I’m not too keen on that with the balances where they are at the moment. I forgot to turn on the automatic withdraws, so these didnt really grow much last month.

Child Fund $2,000 – we have moved half the remaining balance of this into our childs 529 plan, and are going to hang on to this account at this amount for the time being. Our medicaid (finally) came through, so we should be past this whole hospital thing sometime soon. Im looking forward to not having to deal with the hospitals or government agencies anymore.

House Fund  $3,000 – This is going to pay for some remodeling in the basement, but we are not sure how much yet. I have been trying to get some people to come out and do this miserable work for us, but no one thinks that it is worth their time to even bother calling me back. We may end up getting friends involved and doing this ourselves.

Vacation fund $1,000 – We are building this account up for a big trip we plan to take next summer.

Emergency Fund $10,000 – just the boring old 10k in here. Going to leave it steady at this level for the forseeable future.

That’s all there is for this month folks. I’ve got some big plans for SLB coming, and hope to have them wrapped up by the end of the month. How did july go for you?

June 2014 Monthly Review

Welcome back. I do these savings and debt reports every month (and have for about 5 years). I dont do these to brag at all (and if you look at some of the ones from 2009 and 2010, that would be very clear). I do these every month to show all the awesome readers that I have that it IS possible to turn the ship around and start doing your finances right. Obviously, it takes hard work, and dedication to your own success, but it is all totally worth it. There are a lot of opportunities that you can take advantage of when you’re not struggling with debt, and each opportunity becomes bigger than the last as you continue on your journey to debt freedom.

June was a pretty crazy one, with me starting my new job and traveling to Vermont for the spartan death race. All of those changes, plus still adjusting to caring for our baby left not a whole lot of time for finances this month, but I still was able to take some action and get all of our accounts consolidated and hopefully make things easier for us going forward.

In other news, I have finally started the post about changing my diet, but it will be long and will take a while. It has been started though, and it has some great stuff in there (so far).

Debt

House

Mortgage $ 109,201 (-$561).  Just the normal payment here. This note goes down by about 550/mo, which for now is acceptable. I think we will bump up the payments on this once the student loan is gone, but I’m not sure exactly how we are going to do that. I’ve considered paying extra, as well as switching to bi-weekly payments (and paying extra on those bi-weekly) but there are a lot of things going on right now and I kind of want to wait till the dust settles before I lock in something.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $2,079  (-$400) I said that I was going to pay this completely off this month, but unfortunately never got around to doing it. Things just got rather crazy with our cash flow, and I wanted to make sure that we could handle it this month. I have moved from getting paid once a month to bi-weekly, and have gone from paying about 200 dollars per month in heath insurance (for the family) to almost a thousand. That coupled with all the savings account maneuvering I did this month just made me put this on pause until july. We have the cash (and the desire) and I’m just waiting for all the dust to settle, so to speak.

Total Debt: $111,280

We are down $948  from last month. Im satisfied with this, because I focused more this month on getting out savings account situation sorted out and ready to turn (back) into something that was easily managed and automatically done for us every month. We still have the cash to retire the student loan, and I hope to do that in July. I have also been exploring some strategies to pay down the house note, and have been talking with my wife about what she wants to do and our future goals.

Savings

The major shakeup that I have been toying with doing was finally executed this month. A while back, I wrote asking people where they kept their emergency fund, mainly because I was tired of getting slaughtered on low interest rates. I fully expect this low rate environment to last well into 2015, so I was looking around for something with a bit higher ROI and was willing to take on a small amount of risk to get there. I was also seeking to simplify our accounts, as I felt like we had a few too many accounts at a few too many financial institutions. I knew this was going to be a process (and honestly is not quite over yet) but we are about through.

Now, instead of a whole bunch of accounts and a whole bunch of banks, we have 1 account, with 1 institution and 1 spreadsheet to manage it all. We are all moved into vanguard for all of this, and I’ll break down where the funds from each account went. Even though we track them separate in the spreadsheet, they are technically all one account according to vanguard.

Unfortunately, because of all the things up in the air with switching jobs and changing banks and migrating funds, we didnt contribute much (any) to savings this month. I didnt want any money to get stuck in the middle of wires, so I stopped all our withdraws to the bank before I closed the accounts and did the transfer, and didnt get the new auto withdraws up in time. Such is life I guess.

If you are curious how we did it, we ended up putting 5k in the Vanguard Money Market Fund (VMMXX) because we could easily transfer it to our checking account if need be in the case of an emergency, and put the rest in vanguards total bond fund (VBMFX). I have since set up our auto deposits to the money market, and will go in there once every quarter or so and move some cash from there into the bond fund so that we keep a stable amount in the money market fund.

Kid Savings – This was the account we established for a future child in like, 2010. We ended up not needing this because our daughters care got picked up by the government (thanks guys) because of her super-low birthweight. So, we hardly ended up spending anything on her birth, etc and ended up with a lot more cash for her than we thought. We took 50% of her account balance (the kid is RICH!) and opened a 529 for her, and have the other 50% in cash for now. Once all the bills get settled up (we are still arguing with medicaid). Once everything is settled, we will move 1/2 of the remaining 50% into the 529, and start building this account again for (potential) future children.

House This got lumped into everything else as well, and didnt grow at all in june.

Emergency Fund Holding steady at 10k. So thankful for the work that we have put in to get this amount. This is about 3 months of expenses if both of us lose our job (very unlikely) and probably wont get touched at all if we suffer one job loss.

Vacation Same as above here. Hopefully going to tap into this in 2015 – we are talking about a pretty big trip.

Total Savings: $ 17,000

Savings numbers are down, but that’s because I’m not counting the 529 that we opened for our daughter. Overall our numbers are up slightly, but only because of market gains – we didnt make any savings contributions in june.

Health.

I i

May 2014 Monthly Review

Hi everyone.

Another month has gone by, and it has been a busy one.We were finally able to take our kiddo home from the hospital, after almost 3 months of her staying there. We are both really enjoying having her home, and my wife is having fun being at home as well. I have also taken a new job this month, and will start the first working day of june. I had been with my employer for the last 3 years, but I felt that it was time to go. I had most likely reached my ceiling there for the next 5-10 years, and because it was a government position I wasnt really expecting any raises during that period either. I really enjoyed working there, but it was time to move on. I honestly didnt think that I would be able to change jobs without leaving town, but I was offered an opportunity so I jumped on it.

Thankfully I will still be able to bike or walk to work, as the office is less than 2 miles away. Not having to drive to work is crucial to my long= term financial, heath and sustainability plan, so its not something that I was going to give up easily. All in all, Im excited for this new opportunity.

In other financial news, my wife and I have figured out a plan and a new financial goal going forward, so I’m working on a post  about that as well. Im not sure when it will be ready though, as the kiddo is taking up a lot of our time, as well as the services I offer on my other website, online side income.

Debt

House

Mortgage $ 109,763 (-$560).  Just the normal payment here. This note goes down by about 550/mo, which for now is acceptable. I think we will bump up the payments on this once the student loan is gone, but I’m not sure exactly how we are going to do that. I’ve considered paying extra, as well as switching to bi-weekly payments (and paying extra) but there are a lot of things going on right now and I kind of want to wait till the dust settles before I lock in something.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $2,465  (-$1,827) Another big pay down month here, like two months have been. We are so close to being “debt free except the mortgage” and I can not believe it. Remember when I was 55k+ in debt in 2009?! This is totally wild and exciting, and it just proves that changing your finances isn’t just about the “big wins” (though those help A LOT) it’s about changing your habits and lifestyle.  It’s about sticking with those changes for 5 years! When I first started this whole “debt payoff” kick, I honestly thought it would be less than 24 months of work, and here I am more than 5 years later still grinding away. No wonder people give up and just resign themselves to an indebted lifestyle.

I’m also amazed by the amount of momentum and desire to just pay it off kicks in once you get down around 6,000. I have been kind of flopping around on this loan for a while, but once we got near 6k (which in my mind was basically 5k, a realistic payoff number) we kicked it into high gear. I foretasted a stretch goal of the end of the second quarter for this loan, and it looks like we might be able to hit it. If we don’t end up killing it by 6/30/14, we will be able to knock it out at the beginning of july for sure!

Total Debt: $112,228

We are down $2,387 (!!!)  from last month. This is the second third 1k+ pay down month in a row, and the first 2k+ Paydown month in a long time! A few  one more month like this and we will be debt free except for the mortgage! 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 someone else interest on it, which is nice.

Savings

There are going to be some major shakeups coming to this area. Even though we have all of our accounts at one bank now, I’m probably going to end up moving them to another bank so that we can have one less bank than we do right now. There will also be changes to the monthly contribution of most of these accounts. There has also been a staggering amount of growth in this arena over the last 6 months, mostly due to unexpected money coming in from various places. We got a gift from the in-laws, money from social security, a refund from our home insurer and money back on our income taxes. Those windfalls have really solidified our financial position.

Kid Savings $7,893 (+$904) – This is the account that we started for childbirth expenses. Since we had such a crazy birth experience, we didnt end up needing it. The insurance covered everything (except our deductible), and we are currently working to get medicaid to cover the remaining portion. The reason that this went up so smartly is because we got the last of the checks that we were getting from SSI (which I’ll write about later). Once all these hospital bills are taken care of, we’ll probably move these funds (or a portion of them) to a 529 account for the baby.   This is one other reason that we are going to move our accounts to another bank.

House $2,329  (+$201) – This account is higher than I think we’ve ever let it get, but that’s a good thing because right now our basement is nothing but concrete walls and a few framing studs. Work will begin hopefully soon, but there’s plumbing, electrical, wall removal (hopefully), framing, drywall and more to be done. It’s going to cost more than what we’ve got in the account now.

Emergency Fund $9,924 (+1,280) – 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. <— I Wrote all that at the beginning of last month, and right now we are just on the cusp of where we want it to be (10k). I’ve already bumped the contributions down from the normal $375 on this account to $100, and we will just slowly let this build up and increase our emergency fund. Right now, it holds about 4 months worth of expenses if we were to both lose our jobs, which we feel is enough buffer. We will keep slowly contributing to it, and probably cut off the fund totally when it gets to ~8 mos expenses.

Vacation $677  (+125) – This is just going to keep building at this rate for a while. Obviously, we dont have many plans for vacations any time soon, though we are currently planning out the next 8 months because our companion pass will be expiring at the end of this calendar year.

Total Savings: $ 20,823

We are up $2,510 on savings from last month to this month! That is so awesome, and I cant believe the huge jump in net worth that we’ve seen just this month alone. I’ve noticed that with your finances you can do things right for so long and seem to pleatu, but then there will be one month (like this one) that you’ll just be able to totally bust through that plateau. The oddest part is you are never really sure when you’re going to break free, it just happens one month after you look at the numbers.

 

April 2014 Monthly Review

I know that some people find these monthly review selfish or uninteresting, but I think they are beneficial for 2 reasons. The first is that doing this helps me keep track of my progress, publicly. This helps keep me on track and accountable, and makes for transparency with me. One of the reasons that I didnt do well with my finances early on is because I didnt understand the entire aspect of it. I used to think being good at money was about being good at elementary school math – which I was. Of course, after taking stock of where I was I noticed there was a huge discrepancy between my account balances and financial standing and what I thought was my mastery of finances. It took a while for me to learn that money isnt about math, it’s about how you feel and habits. The second reason that I keep these going is because I want someone to see that it is possible to dig out of a 50k+ hole, but that it does take hard work and time. I keep an archive of all my monthly review posts (for the last 5 years) for people who want to see where I came from and how long it has taken me. This review actually marks the first time I’ll have 5 months of reviews for one month.

In other life news, our daughter is still in the hospital, and we are unsure of when she’s coming home at this point. We were told when she was born to expect to bring her home around the time of her due date, which was may 1. She has since gotten moved to a different hospital which my wife and I are not too fond of, and it seems as though she’s stopped progressing (and possibly even regressed) so we are waiting to see what the doctors say. The road at this new hospital has been far bumpier than I’d like, but there’s not really much we can do about it. So now we are just waiting for her to get bigger and do more baby stuff on her own. Recently they removed her feeding tube (which she’s had for almost 3 months) so she’s moving in the right direction, just not as quickly as we’d like her to.

Debt

House

Mortgage $ 110,323 (-$558).  Just the normal payment here. This note goes down by about 550/mo, which for now is acceptable. I have been talking a lot about getting rid of the student loan and finally starting to aim the gun at this debt, but after talking with my wife and crafting a plan I’m not sure this is where we are going to focus. Obviously, there will be much more about this topic to come.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $4,292  (-$779) Another big pay down month here, like march was. We are so close to being “debt free except the mortgage” and I can not believe it. Remember when I was 55k+ in debt in 2009?! This is totally wild and exciting, and it just proves that changing your finances isn’t about the “big wins” (though those help A LOT) it’s about changing your habits and lifestyle.  It’s about sticking with those changes for 5 years! When I first started this whole “debt payoff” kick, I honestly thought it would be less than 24 months of work, and here I am more than 5 years later still grinding away. No wonder people give up and just resign themselves to this lifestyle. I can tell you that after every step, it’s better on the other side. I got SOOO much money back when I stopped paying the credit card companies, and I’ll get a significant portion of my budget back when I stop paying my student loans (~5% if you’re curious) and thats just monthly!

Total Debt: $114,615

We are down $1,337 from last month. This is the second 1k+ pay down month in a row! a few more months like this and we will be debt free except for the mortgage! 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 $6,989  (+$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 $2,128  (+$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 $8,644  (+379) – 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 $552 (+125) – This is just going to keep building at this rate for a while. Obviously, we dont have many plans for vacations any time soon, though we are currently planning out the next 8 months because our companion pass will be expiring at the end of this calendar year.

Total Savings: $ 18,313

Health

I still have not made the time to give you all an update on the whole30 and my eating habits since then, but let me just say that they have significantly changed for the better and this will most likely be permanent. I’m currently wrestling with quite a few things related to what I’m giving up (mainly beer) and how I’ll handle that going forward, which I’ll mention in the article.

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

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?

February 2014 Monthly Review

What an interesting turn of events. Just last month in the monthly review I was talking about what H and I were going to do in terms of child care when the baby came. We were mostly talking about some nebulous time in august or september, when teachers need to report back to work and what we wanted to do then. Little did I know that we’d need to figure it out this month. Not only that, we also needed to sort out how we were going to handle both of us needing to be away from work for so long while our daughter is in the NICU. My wife has been staying in denver with my parents, and I’m working monday through thursday every week. After figuring it all out, we are starting to adjust to the new routine.

All told, it’s going about as good as can be expected. The baby is doing well, and we are handling the (major, unexpected) disruption to our routine pretty well. Just taking it 1 day at a time and we will be fine. The baby is progressing fine, and is gaining weight. She’s doing all she’s supposed to do, which is good.

House

Mortgage $ 111,438 (-$555).  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.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $5,843   (-$368) This payment was bumped up to 400/mo when I did all the savings moves, and it’s going pretty well. I’ll probably leave it at 400/mo for a few more months while we adjust to the lower spending levels and our daughter comes home. Once that happens, I’ll bump this up to whatever amount it needs to be to make this go away by the end of the year.

Total Debt: $ 117,281

We are down $923 from last month. It’s crazy to see such a small number there, 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 dont have near as much debt as I used to. Our savings is going up quite a bit though, as we’ve seen good gains there.

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 $6,381 (+$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 enough to cover our insurance maximum for the year with this cash, and I’m certain we will hit that soon.

House $1,726 (+$101) – We dont really have any remodels planned for the house anytime soon, but this will probably be tapped to replace appliances or whatever if needed. They say that 1% of your value should be tied up in this, so we will just keep building this up for a while.

Emergency Fund $6,086  (+378) – This was one of the big winners when I redid our savings levels and withdraw rates at the beginning of the year. I increased contributions to this by 3x. Once this gets to 10-12k, we will call this done, and start directing funds to other goals (probably a split between investment and vacation).

Vacation $301 (+125) – 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: $ 14,494

This has gone up nicely since I started tracking it a few months ago. 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 this account, but we arent getting much Return off of it

Health

I’ve been doing pretty well in the health department lately. Some friends of mine did a whole 30 in january, and I had been looking at doing one for a while. They had positive experiences, so I set myself up to do one, and was supposed to start 2 days after the baby was born. I didnt get to start on time, but I was able to gather myself and start 1 week after I thought I would start. It has been going pretty good so far, and as of this writing I’m on day 8. I havent had anything more than a fleeting or passing craving for anything on the no-no list, which I count as a pretty big win.

I have been feeling pretty good so far, but I’m curious to see how well I’ll feel as the time goes on. Im going hopefully get back to the gym today and get some sort of routine down that will fit in with all the driving I’m doing and the time away from our house.

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

January 2014 Monthly Review

This month H and I finally decided that if we wanted her to stay home with our daughter (still undecided) that we would need to live off of one income and bank the other. We gave it a trial run for this month, and aside from doctor bills that we paid related to our now deceased son, everything went well. We lived on a fairly low amount (subtracting savings) and still had a pretty enjoyable month.

I didnt get an elk this year, but H’s dad did, and since I helped him pull it out (~4 miles) he gave me quite a bit of it, which was really nice. We were running low on meat since I’ve had an awful hunting season. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time coming up here processing all of that.

House

Mortgage $111,993  (-551).  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.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $ 6,211   (-$169) After talking with H, we decided to get rid of this last bit of non-mortgage debt. I bumped up the auto-pay to $400/mo, and if things go well with our increased savings goals, may make it $500 per month.

Total Debt: $ 118,204

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 $6,077 (+$254) – This account is for expenses incurred related to the birth of our daughter. Honestly, I dont really know when to stop contributing to this account and move those contributions elsewhere, so for now this is going to continue at this level (or more, I may have bumped it up earlier this year)

House $1,525 (+$175) – This was probably the biggest loser (and the only loser) during the savings reshuffle. I knocked $50 per month off the contributions to this account, because right now we really are not doing many house projects, and dont have anything big planned (yet anyway). H is talking about finishing the basement, but since she’s pregnant, that means I’ll be doing it. Not sure when i’ll make time for that.

Emergency Fund $5,708 (+107) – This was one of the big winners when I redid our savings levels and withdraw rates at the beginning of the year. I increased contributions to this by 3x. Once this gets to 10-12k, we will call this done, and start directing funds to

Vacation $176 (+25) – Savings account for vacations – it grows very slowly at the moment, and when we went to alaska, it was fairly depleted. This was another big winner, with the contributions to this account increasing by 5x. Hopefully, it will grow fast, but given the fact that we have a child on the way, we probably wont be tapping this anytime soon.

Health

This is going pretty good. I’ve been getting back into going to the gym after taking most of december off, and I’ve really started getting better at eating better. Something that I’ve always tried, and pretty much failed at wholesale. Soon, I’m going to do a whole30 challenge. I’m looking forward to the results from that to see where to take it in the future. I’ll start writing about the challenge, the parameters and why I’m doing it in the future (I’ll be starting in the middle of next month)