Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Austere October

It sounds right when you say it out loud, at least.  And it worked out pretty well, too: 

No-Spend Days: 16
No Eating Out Days: 25 (way better!)
Extra Income: $289.90 ($200 work bonuses, $66 from surveys, and $23.80 interest)
Retirement Savings: $715.88
Work-Out Days: 0
No-Carb Days: 29 (!!)
Books Finished: 6 (!)

Better take all the good feelings I can get from that, because wait until you see how terrible November is ;) But it's not my fault! Well, it IS my fault, but it's (at least partly!!) because of this:

Ack!! Wish me luck!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

So, summer


It turns out, summer and goals do not get along well.  Is it like that for everyone? Does everyone's life turn into this manic, sun-driven, social madness in the summer? Maybe it's a Seattle thing, like we become convinced that we'll never see the sun again and so zomgwtfbbq we better spend every waking second outside with our buddies and go out to eat all the time and go drunk karaoke instead of to bed?  

Anyway, I kept tracking things during July (and just did worse at them) but mid-August realized I hadn't kept track of any of my new charting thingies & couldn't figure out how I'd done so I had to drop them. September got even more out of control because I lost track of no-spend days, no-eating-out days and pretty much everything in the world.  I blame it on back-to-school. 

But here's the redux(en?)es, for what they're worth, and hopefully you'll see another post soon when I figure out a total for that 'extra money to throw at the mortgage now that the refi finally went through and everything is set up' thing.  Plus, so far in October, no carbs, no drinking, no eating out, and very little spending. Woo hoo! (Still no working out yet, though. Ha!)

No-Spend Days: Didn’t track – probably none!
No Eating Out Days: Didn’t track – probably none!
Extra Income: $605.51 ($10 from surveys (yes, really, only $10!), $500 work bonus, $50 cash back from my rewards credit card, and $45.51 interest)
Retirement Savings: $597.40
Work-Out Days: 0
No-Carb Days: Didn’t track – probably none!
Books Finished: 3

No-Spend Days: 12
No Eating Out Days: 12
Extra Income: $530.02 ($250 work bonuses, $58 work reimbursement, $115.25 from surveys, $24.44 from my piggy bank, $50 cash back from my rewards credit card, and $32.33 interest)
Retirement Savings: $601.50
Work-Out Days: 0
No-Carb Days: 4
Books Finished: 5

No-Spend Days: 6
No Eating Out Days: 6
Extra Income: $712.92 ($36.75 from surveys, $50 cash back from my rewards credit card, $1.82 from selling something back on amazon, $169.29 healthcare reimbursement, $375 work bonuses, $40.24 expense report, and $39.82 interest)
Retirement Savings: $571.53
Work-Out Days: 1
No-Carb Days: 12
Books Finished: 2
Annoying Task at Work: 1/14
Annoying Task at Home: 15/31
15+ Minutes of Surveys: 10/31
Flossing: 7/31
30+ Minutes Reading a Book (not HW): 5/31
Letting My Fingernails Grow Out: 1/31 (haha)
No Soda Days: 6/31

In other good news, I'm getting a 5% raise at work (hooray!) and since we aren't eating out and going out all the time in October we ought to be able to save at LEAST five million dollars.  I'm estimating. 

Happy October!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Man, I totally missed the memo

Did you know it is JULY now?! What the hell!  I think I must have hit my head and missed the first six months of the year. Honestly, what the heck is going on with this calendar.  Anyway, June results:

No-Spend Days: 12
No Eating Out Days: 12 (yikes!!)
Extra Income: $551.76 ($88.25 from surveys, $375 from work bonuses, $26.53 from my piggy bank, $38.78 selling books back on amazon, and $23.20 interest)
Retirement Savings: $467.02
Work-Out Days: 0 (heh)
No-Carb Days: 18/30 (including the end of a 35-day streak – new record!)
Books Finished: 5
Annoying Task at Work: 5/16 days (too busy still)
Annoying Task at Home: 19/30
15+ Minutes of Surveys: 12/30
Flossing: 9/30 (kind of fallen off the wagon here)
30+ Minutes Reading a Book (not HW): 17/30
Letting My Fingernails Grow Out: 0 – I let myself have the month off from worrying about this one
No Soda Days: 18/30

Actually, because I didn't realize it was the end of the month I missed getting my 12 debits for my rewards checking account (for the first time EVER! BOO!) and didn't get the special rate. What a giant bummer! Dumb mistake, too, as that is completely within my control. But it's a good reminder for next time.

I also need to do some research into IRAs and see a) if I qualify and b) if it would be better to put my above-employer-match contributions in one of those instead. I never looked into it when I was first learning about investing, because I figured I'd never be able to fill a Roth and, thus, need to worry about it. Now that I can't have a Roth, I need to make sure the work account is still the best place to put that extra.

Speaking of extra I am going to TOTALLY LOSE MY SHIT if our refi doesn't hurry up and go through. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE I WANT TO PAY OFF THIS THING!!! Heh. Sorry about that. Will go do some deep breathing exercises. Or, you know, call up the mortgage company ;) 

Monday, June 4, 2012

May Redux

No-Spend Days: 17
No Eating Out Days: 14
Extra Income: $702.76 ($108.70 from surveys (including 2 movie tickets), $250 in work bonuses, $308.04 from work reimbursements, and $36.02 interest). The rate on my rewards checking is all the way down to 1.75%! Ugh!
Retirement Savings: $419.39 (I increased this, but I need to check into some SIMPLE v. IRA strategizing, now that school’s out and my brain power will hopefully be returning)
Work-Out Days: 0
No-Carb Days: 22 (including an 18-day streak at the end – still going!)
Books Finished: 7!
Annoying Task at Work: 5/19 (but this is actually because work has been slammed – so that’s a good thing!)
Annoying Task at Home: 26/31
15+ Minutes of Surveys: 23/31 (the end of the month went to heck)
Flossing: 23/31 (same)
30+ Minutes Reading a Book (not HW): 26/31 (same)
Letting My Fingernails Grow Out: 9/31 (okay, honestly, I just let this one go for the last few weeks – it really has to be a streak anyway to make a difference)
No Soda Days: 31/31 – yes, really! All month long!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April Redux


No-Spend Days: 12 (Yeesh!)
No Eating Out Days: 17 (I decided to start counting when Airbear pays, too, so I expect this number to be lower from now on; but really, it’s a combined “big picture” now so I should be realistic!*)
Extra Income: $609.71(!!!) ($157.89 from work reimbursements, $225 from work bonuses (!), $160.29 from surveys, $25 from a bank referral, $4 for making dinner, and $37.53 interest)
Retirement Savings: $402.65 (I upped my contribution percentage – good job!)
Work-Out Days: 0
No-Carb Days: 6 (yeah, yikes)
Books Finished: 1
Annoying Task at Work: 6/15
Annoying Task at Home: 22/30
15+ Minutes of Surveys: 19/30
Flossing: 21/30
30+ Minutes Reading a Book (not HW): 18/30
Letting My Fingernails Grow Out: 18/30

*Unless I have food and am ready to cook at home and he forces me to go out :P

I also had 15 no soda days :) Still waiting for the refi to clear, though, so I can start actually *making* my extra payments. Gah, I hate waiting!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March MADNESS!!!!111!1ONE!!!!

Yeah, I'm really excited about March. Check me out:

No-Spend Days:13

No Eating Out Days:19

Extra Income: $581.12 ($0.90 from bank transfer set-ups (haha), $25 for a bank referral, $5 for cooking dinner*, $250 in bonuses from work**, $20 for jury duty**, $143.70 HSA reimbursement**, $20 we got in an anniversary card**, $62 from surveys, and $54.52 interest)

Retirement Savings: $263.32

Work-Out Days: 0

No-Carb Days: 16

Books Finished: 4, including 1 audiobook (I decided that I *am* going to count these, since the point is to get more stuff into my brain and not practice my decoding-via-the-eyeballs skills)

New (!) Goals (!!):

Annoying Task at Work: 9/16 days

Annoying Task at Home: 13/19 days

15+ Minutes of Surveys: 24/31 days (I missed every single Sunday, strangely)

Flossing: 23/24 days****

30+ Minutes Reading a Book (not HW): 18/19 days

Letting My Fingernails Grow Out: 4/4 days (REALLY, MOM!!)

The reason the New (!) Goals (!!) are all out of some-number-of-days is because I started them at different points in March. I started marking off accomplishments on a calendar… and then… well, you know… I made a sheet with some more goals… and… well… Oh, shut up, goals are awesome and checking things off is awesome and you are SO JEALOUS OF MY INCREDIBLE RAINBOW CHART(!):

Hmm, this photo looks much blurrier than I intended. But you get the idea, right? Awesomeness!

All in all, I think I seriously kicked March in the rear end! Now, April, on the other hand… Well, nevermind that for now. There are a lot of days yet to turn things around. ;)

* I told Airbear he had to pay me $1 every time I cooked dinner. And he agreed! Ha!

** Normally I wouldn’t have worried about counting these as “extra money,” but now that I have a specific goal for that extra money I really want to sock away *any*thing that’s “extra”!

**** My dental hygienist is going to flip out at my appointment on Friday!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Ack, sorry about that. I've been drinking.

No, just kidding, this is my week off of classes, no papers to write, why would I be drinking? Ha ha, just joshin'. Well, mostly.

Anyway, this is not the March redux yet; I'm sorry if you were disappointed, but dude, March isn't even over yet! Maybe YOU are the one that's been drinking.

But no, I thought and thought and thought about the 2012 financial goal situation. I looked at my goals charts for the last couple years, and a lot of the things ... well, it's hard to explain, but it seemed like I don't need to track them anymore. Not because I'm not still saving for them (like gifts, vacations, work retirement contributions), I AM, but most of those things are automated or manageable. The only one left that I would still get all passionate about filling up was the Roth, and thanks to SOMEONE I can't have a Roth anymore[1]. So adding amounts to the chart wasn't driving me on in a frenzy of motivation like it used to. And you know me. It's 0% or 100%, baby. Minor motivation is just boring.

Investment literature (*cue posh voice*) would say that my next goal should be maxing out retirement accounts (i.e., before paying down the mortgage), but our retirement situation is doing okay at the moment and the market feels inflated to me at the moment so I don't want to go whole hog on it right this second. I could blitzkrieg the student loan, but the rate on that is so low that my savings account makes more positive interest than the student loan makes negative interest. So paying that off would actually be dumb. (I have to repeat this to myself frequently, because it's debt and I hate it and I would love to murder it the way I did my credit card debt back in the day.)

The mortgage, on the other hand--well, that rate is not lower than my savings account rate. WAY not lower. Like 7%. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little? Because I did. And then I had to go brush my teeth. AGAIN. Jeez.

What sucks is that we can't refinance it to one of the MUCH lower rates that are available right now, despite having two rock solid incomes, money in savings, and credit histories that make the angels weep, because we bought it at the absolute height of the housing bubble (remember what I said about 0% or 100%?) and it's seriously underwater. Apparently they're removing the loan-to-value cap for HARP loans soon and when they do we'll qualify, but until that happens OR until we pay down a good chunk on the mortgage, we're stuck with that grotesque 7%.

So I started playing around with numbers--like ya do--and came across this nifty mortgage paydown chart[2] that not only does the amortization but a) allows you to plug in a changed monthly payment (i.e., if 10 years in you start paying a $500-higher-per-month payment) AND b) allows you to plug in one-time extra payments. If you do either (or both, I suppose), it not only auto-corrects the little graph showing how much of your payment is interest and how much is principal (yay! graph!), but it also, RIGHT THERE AT THE TOP IN A GOLD BOX, calculates how much interest you've now saved yourself in the long run AND how many years & months you've shortened your payoff date by.

This is incredible.

And it's not just incredible if you're some kind of ubermeganerd that loves spreadsheets, it's really flat out incredible. Because watch this:

Remember when I said I can't contribute to a Roth anymore? Well since I just paid my final tuition payment (hallelujah! hallelujah!), my original plan of starting auto-deposits to the Roth each paycheck is no longer an option. So what happens if I auto-deposit it to the mortgage each paycheck instead?

Interest saved: $158,120.86
Mortgage shortened by: 8 years, 2 months



Now, if you've resumed breathing, let's continue. What about that little "one-time" column? What if I just made little deposits as extra money came along? Like $3 from a survey, or $45.23 from a reimbursement check, that sort of thing?

I decided I'd tally up all my March "extra money" (see reduxen, below), and pop it on there as a little bonus deposit.

$3 survey? Saved $14 in interest. All by its little self. What the hell!

I mean, I know how compound interest works, obviously, but dang.

So anyway I'm up to like $80-something for March already, and the interest saved has climbed above $400 already. And that's without even starting the auto-deposits - those will kick in starting April 1, and between the extra money and the first auto-payment we're up to nearly $3k in interest saved and a month off the end of the loan.

I think I've found a new obsession. :D

[1] I guess it's worth it. :P
[2] CHARTS!!!!!!!! GRAPHS!!! ZOMG!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

February Redux

Did finally do taxes, but am in the middle of final papers for my second-to-last quarter at school, so I have to wait to make my financial goals. (Agh!) Did some interest chasing this month, though, love that. :)


No-Spend Days: 14

No Eating Out Days: 17

Extra Income: $73.46 ($48.25 from surveys and $25.21 interest – rewards checking account is down to 2% – boo! – but I just opened another account that will get $1k to 6%. Come to me, Interest!!)

Progress Toward Savings Goals: Still not set yet – crazy busy! After last tuition payment – just one last one, hooray! :)

Retirement Savings: $245.60

Work-Out Days: 0

No-Carb Days: 7 (yeesh!)

Books Finished: 2

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gotta run, goin to Vegas!

No-Spend Days: 16
No Eating Out Days: 19
Extra Income: $192.63 ($75.50 from surveys, $50 cash back from my rewards credit card, $38.84 from selling back book on amazon, and $28.29 in interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: - Haven’t set it yet! Married taxes are … complicated. Will figure it out shortly.
Retirement Savings: $216.16 (more on THIS later, what a pain!)
Work-Out Days: 1

No-Carb Days:16
Books Finished: 2 (including an audiobook – does that count? I’m going to say yes for now.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Looking back (and forward) (are you getting dizzy?)

Well, this fall I've managed to hold onto a 4.0, keep saving enough money to pay cash for my grad school classes, not go crazy at my job, spend time with friends and not lose my mind[1]. What I have not managed to do, as you have noticed, is update The Internetz. I also haven't had time to do a lot of surveys lately, so that extra income bit trailed off for awhile (as did my no-spending-excellence, toward the holidays, yeow!). But it's a new year now, and that always makes me excited. I find once more that I have to wait a little bit[2] to figure out a few financial goals, since I need to figure out what our New! Married! MAGI will be before I know if we can contribute to 2011 Roths, which I'd really like to do. And honestly between my variable paychecks, Airbear changing jobs, employee stock stuff, and, well, Married Filing Jointly, I have NO idea what that's all going to shake out to be. If he screws up my student loan interest deduction, though, I'm going to poke him right in the eye :P

Anyway, MAN was 2011 a hell of a year. Student taught in Special Ed, went on a workout spree, got married (twice? ha ha), traveled to South America, wore a Carnaval costume made out of wires and sequins and feathers (and not much else), paid for a lavish[3] wedding IN CASH, paid for grad school classes IN CASH, actually got dedicated to eating better and lost 15 pounds, had a ridiculously fun and silly summer, made a new nemesis, worked as a financial advisor, found really thoughtful Christmas presents for Airbear, maintained a 4.0 GPA, got two endorsements added onto my teaching certificate, and was able to save up enough to take my brother, my best friend, and my 87-year-old grandmother with me to Rio. Shit, now that I've typed it all out I need to go take a nap!

But first I'm going to FINALLY post the last two reduxes (reduxen?) of the year, as well as the totals for 2011. Not *quite* as good as 2010's, as I let myself relax a little after the wedding was paid for, but all in all a year I'm pretty proud of!

No-Spend Days: 19
No Eating Out Days: 21
Extra Income: $142.29 ($108.75 from surveys, and $33.54 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: Don’t know, never got around to the mid-month update! Ack!
Retirement Savings: $24.66
Work-Out Days: 2

No-Carb Days: 9
Books Finished: 1 (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – tough to read)

No-Spend Days: 17
No Eating Out Days: 25
Extra Income: $76.29 ($19.38 amazon credit from my chase card, $3 from surveys (Uh… I kind of took the fall off—oops), and $53.91 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 74.40%
Retirement Savings: $213.56
Work-Out Days: 0

No-Carb Days: 14
Books Finished: 6 (!!!)

And the grand total (!):

TOTAL for 2011:
No-Spend Days: 223
No Eating Out Days: 283
Extra Income: $2090.59 ($1202.20 from surveys, $369.38 cash back from credit cards (AND NO INTEREST PAID, TAKE THAT! Ahem.), $178.71 from selling books back on amazon (actually, I think there was more than this but they were small books and I forgot to watch out for them when doing my tallies), and $340.30 interest)
Progress Toward Savings Goal: 74.40%
Retirement Savings: $2753.94
Work-Out Days: 51

No-Carb Days: 68 (So a total of 119 "healthy days" compared to last year's 50-something - WAY better!)
Books Finished: 25 (A lot better than last year!)

And no, I don't know why it won't do the spaces normally. But whatever. Good job, self, now let's get started on conquering 2012!

You know, right after that nap ;)

[1] Well, you know. Further.
[2] HATE!
[3] If you ask me![4]
[4] Or even if you don't![5]
[5] But obviously, why wouldn't you, since you're here :)