Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Redux

No-Spend Days: 19
No Eating Out Days: 25
Extra Income: $232.80 ($149 from surveys, $50 statement credit from my credit card, and $33.80 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 54.57%
Retirement Savings: $243.66
Work-Out Days: 5 – AND 21 No-Carb Days! I am on a roll! Well, over the long Halloween weekend I totally fell OFF the roll but I’m working on getting it back :)
Books Finished: 1

Look at all that healthy-type stuff! :O

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I am really, really proud of something in this post - see if you can find it!

No-Spend Days: 19
No Eating Out Days: 28
Extra Income: $249.04 ($91.91 from selling books on amazon, $105.75 from surveys, and $51.38 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 42.85%
Retirement Savings: $316.32
Work-Out Days: 0 – BUT as of today I have made it four weeks without carbs :) Going to start adding working out into the mix in October, too, but I think the diet thing is a good trade-off for this month!
Books Finished: 2

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eventually there will be a post that *isn't* a fly-by

...but this isn't it. As we ramp up for the "start of the school year" (we're open all year long but we get a big influx around this time of year) I am working on not losing my mind. Oh, and I just got laser eye surgery yesterday! Ha! Big things going on over here. Anyway, I'm rushing off to put in my ten thousandth set of eye-drops and maybe break for some food, but in the meantime:

No-Spend Days: 16
No Eating Out Days: 26 (Really surprised this isn’t higher)
Extra Income: $110.81 ($81.65 from surveys – see what happens when you stop doing them – and $29.16 in interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 44.56%
Retirement Savings: $171.74
Work-Out Days: 5 (better!)
Books Finished: 0 – yep, that’s right, a big fat zero. Honestly, after summer quarter, I’m surprised I even remember *how* to read!

Monday, August 8, 2011


No-Spend Days: 16 (I think)
No Eating Out Days: 22 (I think)
Extra Income: $198.40 ($71 from surveys, $100 statement credit from my credit card, and $27.40 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 40.38%
Retirement Savings: $201.18 (including $2 I found in the road – ha ha)
Work-Out Days: 1 (I know this one is correct – and yikes!)
Books Finished: 3 (but two of them were technical manuals – does that count for, like, 7?)

Friday, July 1, 2011

On the fly

Can't talk, gotta do more HW, but real quick:

No-Spend Days: 21
No Eating Out Days: 22
Extra Income: $224.50 ($99.25 from surveys, $86.90 from selling books, and $38.35 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 43.81% (and this even includes increasing my total goal amount, so that’s exciting!)
Retirement Savings: $217.24
Work-Out Days: 4 (real workouts – an improvement!)
Books Finished: 2 (but this will lag for awhile – tons of homework this summer!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Life is Glorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrious!

The sun is finally out in Seattle! It's been a really rainy spring/early summer, and I have had EEEEnough, I tell you what. But it's 63 today and supposed to be 80 tomorrow and I feel like dancing in the streets. Say what you will about the rain[1], but after a drizzly stretch sun isn't just sun - it's euphoria. PLUS I'm not at work, and how can you beat that!

Anyway, before I go off to frolic in the fields or something[2], here's the update for May. Need to get better about the working out, for sure, and reduce the eating out (even if Airbear pays, lol), but these last few weeks have been wiping me out. We'll have the summer schedule set at work soon, though, and things will settle a bit.

Anyway, here goes!


No-Spend Days: 19 ***OMG WHY does it make an extra space after this?!?!***

No Eating Out Days: 23
Extra Income: $231.98 ($174.45 from surveys (!!), $50 cash back from my chase card, and $7.53 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 31.36%
Retirement Savings: $220.04
“Healthy” Days (eating well or working out): 3 (2 dancing, 1 actual workout)
Books Finished: 5 – nice!

[1] It doesn't actually rain every day in Seattle. But don't tell California.

[2] Take a shower, hippie! [3]

[3] I don't stink!! I TAKED A SHOWER!! [4]

[4] Whatever. My Mom thinks I'm funny :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

My memory is not so good

... since it's mid-May, but hey, I've been later :) Anyway, April's redux:


No-Spend Days: 19
No Eating Out Days: 22
Extra Income: $197.08 ($50 cash back from discover, $140.35 from surveys (including 2 movie tickets), and $6.73 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 25.94%
Retirement Savings: $307.20
Working Out Days: 2 (both dancing – but serious, sore-next-day dancing!)
Books Finished: 3 (way better!)

Now if I could just get motivated to do something about that workout goal ;)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What can I say, I like having goals

I read a post that one of the Ladeez on The Board had joined this "Million Dollar Club" on her blog, and because I can't resist a good challenge (unless it involves, like, running or something) I had to check it out. Not only did I find a new awesome blog to follow - seriously, what a name!! - but I spent some time reading the pledges of the people who were signing up for the challenge, and things like that always put me in a happy money-saving mood. It's nice to see (or read) like-minded individuals, you know? (Also, man is "individuals" hard to type.)

Anyway, the idea is to not just daydream about someday becoming a millionaire, but to lay out specific steps to get there, and to make a pledge to do it. Since I had already told Airbear I was going to make us millionaires someday (well, obviously), I thought this would be a fun way to make that goal real. (Plus you get a fancy little image - what are they called? Buttons? Banners? I don't know - to put on your site once you're in the club. No, I don't know how that works. You'll see it, if I manage to get it figured out.) I know what you're thinking - I am a teacher, I make $12 per year, how delusional am I being right now? But bear with me. It's not as insane of an idea as it sounds at first. To whit:

In order to make us[1] millionaires, I, Nitza Pizza (ha ha) pledge to do at LEAST[2] the following each year:
  1. Contribute 3% to my SIMPLE IRA every year in order to qualify for the full (3%) match from my employer. Total annual contribution = $2,500 (Actually, it varies, because my paychecks vary with bonuses and stuff, but it will always be at least this much, and likely a lot more as the economy and my salary improve. But we'll go with this number for ease of calculation.)
  2. Make Airbear contribute 6% to his 401k every year in order to qualify for the full (6% - lucky!!) match from his employer. Total annual contribution = $13,300 (Again, will be at least this amount. Also, maybe I should go work at his company.)
  3. Max out my Roth IRA every year. (Already done for 2010 - first time ever - woot!) Total annual contribution = $5,000.
  4. Continue to find ways to accumulate "extra income" - cash back on my rewards card, surveys, interest, etc. Total annual contribution = $1,000. It was actually more than double this last year, but I want to set an achievable goal that leaves me room to actually spend money, too.
  5. Contribute to non-retirement long term savings (so that not ALL of the money is locked away for 35 years). Total annual contribution = $2,000. Again, between the two of us we typically save a lot more than this each year (we certainly did the last two years!), but some of that savings is actually for SPENDING on things. Like fabulous vacations. And books.
Now, I also want to start a Roth for Airbear, and maybe even max it out, since at this point he's so used to saving money (HA! I DID THAT!!!) that he might not even notice ;) But for right now I'm going to leave that off the list because I haven't done it yet and I'm only making a list of steps I can commit to.

But here comes the really fun part. On his post for this challenge, J. Money (ha ha, YES, again with the names! Brilliant!) also includes a link to this millionaire calculator, and I used that to figure out when we will theoretically reach our goal, according to the plan laid out above. Taking into account our current retirement balances, inflation, and some estimated rates of return, Airbear & I should be millionaires in:


18 years and 5 months!

Yes, that's a long time[3], BUT(t) it's not infinity. So this means that I was right (of course) when I told Airbear I'd do it. More importantly, while that sounds like a long-ass time from now (and it is), it will happen when I am 49 years old. 49! Suddenly that sounds a lot sooner, doesn't it? And that's just doing things we're already easily doing - no insane frugality, no 'going without,' no eating Alpo in order to hoard all the money, etc. We will still be able to save for things like down payments and vacations and college tuition and all that crap - this is mostly automatic deductions (and, shit, $7900/yr of it is free money in retirement matching). If we are able to easily fit in a Roth for Aaron, then that's great - it shortens the time horizon to 16 years and 7 months (47!!!), but even if we don't - even if we take that $5k a year and blow it on hookers (kidding! obviously I meant books) - even without that, being a millionaire at age 49 still sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Of course inflation being what it is, being a millionaire won't be like yacht-sailing-champagne-bathing money, but - and more importantly for me personally - it does feel like a reassuring place to be in when I turn 50 and retirement is on the horizon. Don't you think?

[1] Because Airbear is now My! New! Husband!, I am making this goal a collective one. And yes, I do have THE POWER (muahahah) to make pledges about what he will contribute to his retirement. Because I am The Boss.
[2] Gotta give myself room to overachieve!
[3] I ran the calculator with just myself, no Airbear, and it took me 35 years and 4 months. Ha ha ha. More disgusting than funny, really, but what can ya do but laugh![4]
[4] Besides kill your employers, I mean.[5]
[5] That is a joke. [6]
[6] It really is a joke, but aside from that, I looked back at that year number and realized, you know what? In 35 years and 4 months, I would still only be 66. Look at that!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ta da!

Check it out:

I borrowed some from Airbear to get it in before the 15th (since my paycheck doesn't land until midnight on the 14th and it takes 48 hours to transfer from the bank to the Roth), so it feels a little like cheating. But hey! Maxed out Roth! First time!!

Friday, April 1, 2011


I'm back again already, and March JUST ended!

March:No-Spend Days: 16
No Eating Out Days: 17 (9 vacation days = EO!)
Extra Income: $165.90 ($83.62 from surveys, $50 cash back from my chase card, and $32.28 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 23.69%
Retirement Savings: $3195.50 (yes, really!)
Working Out Days: 0 (Gave myself the month off as a wedding present, lol)
Books Finished: 0! Again! Man! BUT I am f
inally getting close to the end of this reaaaally slow classic I’ve been slogging through, so hopefully I’ll have enough non-homework time to make this number pick up in April.

Other Achievements: Finally wrote my 2011 goals.. but already realized there are more things I want to add to the list! Agh, I want to accomplish them all, but I need to be realistic so I don’t get discouraged. Hmm, choices, choices. I *did* finally get some into my 2010 Roth (and started my Total Bond Market Index Fund, finally), so that felt awesome. I’d like to be able to max it out by April 15 but I just don’t know if that is in the cards. Well, in the wallet, you know. Ha. Anyway, I want to beef up the EF, start the laser eye surgery fund finally, and pay for this math endorsement internship so I can finally get that old goal off my to-do list (uh, from 2009, heh). Of course I’d ALSO like to: max out my 2011 Roth, start a Roth for my NEW! HUSBAND! And max that out, and start (and fill) funds for the remaining classes I’ll need for my Ed.S degree after my work stops paying tuition for me (only one more class to pay). So we’ll see, the goals may get adjusted a bit. But the great thing is they’re all positive goals – education, job security & marketability, retirement, vision (!), security… It makes me smile, actually. Pretty proud of all that :)

OH and I got to make a brand new net worth chart in Excel, too. I made one for me and one for me & Airbear combined. Both are POSITIVE (!) and, between you and me, they are both just some damn fine lookin’ charts. There are colored header bars and everything. Man I make beautiful spreadsheets. Just look:

Now tell me you're not just DYING to evaluate some assets!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two in a row - zing!

Of course it's only because I'm catching up on stuff that is old, but whatever ;) It's a growing trend!


No-Spend Days: 16 (not bad for including 5 vacation days, all spends)
No Eating Out Days: 23 (also includes 5 vacation days, all eating out)
Extra Income: $60.79 ($42 from surveys - just couldn't fit the time in for more - and $18.79 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: (skip - as planned, writing 2011 goals after wedding) %
Retirement Savings: $223.86
Working Out Days: 10
Books Finished: 0 (Yikes!)

No-Spend Days: 26
No Eating Out Days: 29
Extra Income: $200.81 ($143.38 from surveys, including a little food processor thingie and a 16-pc Ginsu knife set, $50 cash back from my chase card, and $7.43 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: (skip - as planned, writing 2011goals after wedding) %
Retirement Savings: $203.98
Working Out Days: 19
Books Finished: 2

Friday, March 18, 2011


SO it has been a very busy 2.5 months so far! Since the beginning of the year I have been eating healthy, working out, learning Portuguese, doing a special education internship, saving all the dollarz I could get my hands on, doing homework, finishing up wedding and travel plans, and working long hours at school. Actually, being that busy really helped in the saving dollarz department - the real motivation exercise was refraining from eating out every day and so that I could use the saved time to sleep. But I did pretty well. I haven't been posting on the money message boards (partly because they moved off of MSN to a new format I didn't have time to learn, but also because I didn't really have time to read or write, either), but I have been continuing to track my no-spend and no-eating-out days. Of course the busy schedule did not do much for my posting frequency over here, as you've noticed (which was funny to me when this blog was actually mentioned by our officiant in the wedding speech), but I figured the keeping-on-track was paramount to the talking about it, at least for the immediate present.

It did get a little tiring, that first quarter of the year, and with so much on my figurative plate the Shoulder Angel of Self-Indulgence (TM) really did start to whine loudly in my ear. And honestly, if I hadn't had a really big, short-term financial goal to push me (the wedding/trip), maybe I'd have listened. I mean, really, sometimes something has to give. And if your schedule is going to go insane and your time is going to get devoured, even *I* am not against making choices to balance things out a bit and save some of your sanity. But I DID have a really big, short-term financial goal, and it was motivating enough to help me ride out a short period of probably having a little too much on said proverbial plate.

And because I DID work really hard to ride it out, I get to say this:

The fancy-pants wedding? With the two fabulous venues, and transportation, and bodyguards [1], and samba dancers, and gourmet food and drinks? And the trip to Brazil? And the Carnaval costumes, and the parade, and the hang-gliding, and the 13 days of dancing and celebrating and eating out and shopping and doing what-the-hell-ever we wanted?

That was paid for in cash. Credit card balance: $0.

[1] Yes, really! They were hysterical!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm surprised this site hasn't shut down by now

Seriously, fell off the face of the Earth there, didn't I? Things got kind of crazy busy for me, and while I kept tracking everything and saving, obviously the reporting kind of fell by the wayside. I know you've been shivering with antici-(SAY IT!)-pation [1] without my monthly reduxes (reduxen?), though, so I totaled up everything and am presenting ......drumroll....... 2010 in Review!

TOTAL for 2010:

No-Spend Days: 249
No Eating Out Days: 300
Extra Income: $2150.38 (Holy crap!)($1464.30 from surveys, $200 cash back from my chase card, $118.98 from selling back books, $3 from a rebate, and $364.10 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 143.75%
Retirement Savings: $3,012.56
“Healthy” Days (eating well or working out): 54.5 or so (lost count the last four months)
Books Finished: 17 (that does not seem like very many, considering the amount of time I spent reading this year!)
Times Flossed: lost count
Letters/Cards/Contacts: lost count of exact number, but completed goal – see below

Progress on 2010 Goals:

  • Always paid off my full credit card balance each month (just used it for the rewards) and did not pay a cent of interest – GOAL MET!
  • Paid cash for all wedding expenses to debt and have stayed debt free – GOAL MET!
  • Aside from about two weeks (waiting on transfers back and forth), kept my Teacher Bank savings & checking balances above $750 to earn the special interest rate – I’m going to go ahead and count this one as GOAL MET!
  • Met the requirements for my rewards checking account every month to earn their special interest rate – GOAL MET!
  • I never did start an ING account for that $25 referral bonus – I just never got around to it. Actually I’m not sure if they have the program still. If I get my balance above $10k in my rewards checking account (ha ha), which is the limit for the special rate, maybe I’ll look into additional accounts. For now, I think I’m doing pretty well.
  • I utterly failed on the Roth goal for 2010, but that was by choice. I decided to just save everything I could so that I can make sure to have enough to pay the wedding expenses in cash, and while I know retirement is important (trust me, it’s my first financial goal after the wedding!), I really want to stay out of debt, too.
  • Contributed at least $2500 to my SIMPLE IRA w/matching – GOAL MET!
  • Kept a “gifts fund” and a “vacations fund” and did not go into debt for either of these two former danger zones – despite an unexpected, short-notice trip to Paris! I call that a major life success, right there! GOAL MET!
  • Contributed $100 to my niece & nephews’ tuition accounts (and did it early, before the price went up in March) – GOAL MET!
  • Kept “Little Emergency Fund” above $1000 (actually above $1500 – I keep this in my Teacher Bank account) – GOAL MET!
  • Did not get the “Big Emergency Fund” to $5000 this year – same reason as the Roth goal, really. It’s grown, it’s shrunk, but it’s didn’t make it that high. I’m okay with it, though – I handled every emergency life through my way this year without freaking out too excessively (fewer F-bombs, Mom!!) because I had a financial buffer to cover things. So I didn’t meet the specific goal but I am still feeling pretty happy about it.
  • Had a goal to “focus on the Wedding Fund” – certainly did that! (I’m not going to tell you how much, because you’d throw up, or I’d throw up, or maybe both, but in any case at least it’s all paid for!) We’re going to have an amazing wedding and a fabulous trip with 25 of our nearest and dearest, and I didn’t have to take out a loan or stack up credit card debt. I’m pretty proud of all this. GOAL MET!
  • Started an Eye Care Fund, a “Fixing Stuff” Fund, and a “Car Maintenance Fund” and prepared myself ahead of time for these big (and infuriating) expenses. It was all a little too much work, though – I think in the future I’ll just have one “Big Emergency Fund” (i.e., money set aside for if Airbear were to lose his job or the house burned down) and a regular bank balance that can handle new contacts or replacement tires. It’s funny, me, going in the direction of fewer things to track instead of more – not what you expected, I know – but between wedding planning, working, going to school, doing homework, working out, and learning Portuguese, it turns out that I do eventually run out of time for even my beloved Excel spreadsheets. Who knew! Anyway, the original point was GOAL MET!
  • Continued posting on the Controlled/No-Spend Thread (and managed quite a few no-spends, as you can see above… Much more than last year’s 222 & 290, respectively. Exciting!). GOAL MET! I kind of ran out of steam with the posting toward the end of the year, but I kept tracking. The boards have all been discontinued at MSN’s site (boo!) and have moved over to a newer site, but I haven’t really had time to figure out how to use it yet. So we’ll see if that ends up being something I continue, maybe after the wedding/school program when I have some time and/or brain cells to spare. Either way I met some great friends there that I am still in contact with and certainly developed some great financial habits. I will always be grateful that I found that place when I did.
  • As far as whether I got to a positive net worth (including the student loan debt), unfortunately I have to say I have no idea. Ha ha ha. That’s terrible. But honestly I haven’t updated that spreadsheet since like January – just haven’t had time – and with money transferring here, there, and everywhere it’s just not something I can stop and figure out right now. Obviously the net worth is solidly in the positive when the school loan isn’t figured in, and so I’m fine with being happy about that and figuring out the rest in a few months. When I write my goals for 2011 (which will be after the wedding & trip are over) and I have fewer, simpler savings goals, everything will be streamlined and this will be easier to calculate.
  • Working out came and went in phases, as I’m sure it does for most people – some months I did absolutely zero, some I did four times a week. I’ve been on a good run lately so I’m pretty excited about that.
  • I still have trouble being “patient and positive” in the mornings (Sorry, Mom) – I have a really short fuse in the a.m. and it’s something I want to try to improve.
  • I found out all the remaining requirements for adding the middle school math endorsement to my teaching certificate, and have everything lined up for a program to do my “internship” (a few BS assignments and an observation or two). What’s more, I finally got a middle school math student! (That’s what’s been holding this process up.) In fact, I could be doing the MS Math internship program right now – but for once in my life I decided not to play on All The Way Hard and am only doing ONE internship in addition to my full time job, instead of two. Aren’t you proud? Anyway, this will be any easy one to finish up post-wedding/post-current-internship.
  • Continued my special ed endorsement classes without going into any additional student loan debt, and so far have maintained a 4.0! That’s TWO GOALS MET!
  • Ha ha – I had a goal in this list (I’m looking at it now) that said, “Research additional mutual funds and continue to diversify my investments” – Uh, nope, didn’t do that! I have learned more along the way (and balanced both mine and Airbear’s retirement portfolios for a second year of larger-than-average returns!). It turns out I make very good investment decisions. So many things I would never have expected. ;)
  • Saved my whole tax return – GOAL MET!
  • Checked my credit reports – GOAL MET!
  • Used each of my 3 backup credit cards every 3 months and paid them off immediately to keep them active – GOAL MET!
  • Did more surveys – a TON more, actually – and found ways to make $2150.38 of extra money this year. That’s like half my annual salary! GOAL SOUNDLY MET!
  • And finally I followed through with my goal of sending both of my grandmothers at least one card every month and keeping in touch better. I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but it feels good to me to do it, and I hope it makes them smile.

All in all a very productive, very busy, and (if I do say so myself) (and I do) financially successful year! That sounds like bragging, but when “financial success” means a lot of hard work, planning, self-denial, and energy (and not, say, just winning the lotto), it is important to stop and say, if only to yourself and your mother (Hi, Mom!), I did a good job. There is still room to grow – isn’t there always – but I worked really hard and I did a good job and I am going to take some time to celebrate that and be proud of myself.

Happy end of 2010!

[1] Lol nevermind, it's a lame reference ;)