April 10, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: March 2017

Money and Life Report: March 2017

On Money


Our normal income is two full time day job salaries. We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property. The goal is to replace our day job income before my health gives out and prevents me from working. Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

As a general rule, I don’t factor bonuses into our budget or projected income because they’re not guaranteed, but if we get any, they land in March. PiC’s company is more forthcoming with the compensation than mine is, so his is many times larger than mine. That would make me extra grumpy with a side of spicy if I thought about it too long. Remember, there are also very important non-monetary reasons to choose jobs!

We direct most of the bonus into the 401(k) so that’s filled up with a large deposit really early in the year. We won’t keep much cash but it gives us a tiny increase in take-home pay since the amount remaining needed to invest is vastly reduced.

Philosophically, when paychecks hit our checking accounts and fill them up nice and plump, and I breathe a sigh of relief, I know our spending is out of whack. Which I already knew. This is going to be an expensive year and that’s causing quite a bit of stress.

Swagbucks: I use this daily and my big earners tend to be surveys.

Poshmark: This is a passive earner. This month, 2 items sold for a total of $4.10. Selling small things gets problematic because of the cost of shipping. You don’t get much out of the sale and they’re paying a whole lot for a small item.

Achievemint: March: earned 331 points.

Blog income: I will occasionally accept a paid post. This defrays the costs of running the site: hosting, domain name, and FinCon any year I decide to go and learn something new. This tab comes to about $2000 a year, give or take, and has been coming out of pocket most years. That figure doesn’t begin to touch on the time it takes for me to run the blog of course. They’re posted under Nom de plume, and categorized under “side money”, and definitely don’t replace my usual writing. These are all ways to keep them from being annoying and I hope they stay not-annoying.


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr.Rebates and Ebates for cashback.

My January dental chickens finally came home to roost. As usual, the amount the dentist billed was well over the allowed contractual amount, so after I had the Delta Dental claim in hand, I compared that to my statement from the dentist. A 2 minute phone call took the extra $110 off that bill. I wonder how many people don’t realize this happens, and keep paying over and above their contracted amount?

Meanwhile, I’m eyeballing over $4000 in expenses racked up on PiC’s Chase Sapphire Reserve with a frown. That’s not due until April – thanks card float!  Nearly $3000 of that was one enormous expected expense – our property tax. I decided that the $61 fee to charge it on a card was worth it. We were spending that $2900 anyway, and this gets us 75% of the way to qualifying for that huge spending bonus. The math works out.

We’ve “splurged” on Global Entry for all three of us. The splurge is on JuggerBaby who can’t come through on one of our Global Entry passes, ze has to have zir own. That’s at least a little absurd but our two applications were free ($200) so the other $100 for zir to come along made more sense than not. We’re not going to travel internationally without zir, so there’s no point in having, but not being able to use, the timesaver.

It should please me, but it does not, that my $145 in survey money was exactly to the penny the cost of our monthly Subscribe & Save delivery. I was going to give myself $10 in new book money! Instead, we are awash in diapers for JuggerBaby, and pill pockets, healing cream, and dog food for Seamus. FINE.

#GivingCards and Charitable Giving

I don’t believe in tooting our horn for every donation we make. The point of giving isn’t to brag, it’s to help someone in need. The exception is when the cause is sound and could use help. I’m delighted to be taking part in the Rockstar Forums’ giving project where they send out a $20 gift card each month to forum participants who sign up.

My February card arrived late in the month, so I didn’t get to decide what to do with it until March. There was a theme to last month’s #GivingCard, but I overlooked that in my zeal to donate to meals for disaster relief. Plus there were the #1GoodMoneyThing babies. I don’t really have coworkers that it would be appropriate to give a card like this to, but there’s an awesome young teacher at the daycare who works really hard at taking care of the kids and making up engaging age-appropriate activities, all paid for out of her own pocket.

We really admire how patient she is with the kids even amid total chaos, and how much she puts of herself into her work, and felt she was the perfect candidate for a surprise thank you and good job card. She was so surprised, I don’t think she tends to get just a candid “thanks for all you do” during her daily work.

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year and save 20% of cash of our net salaries. I cherish our savings rate right now because it’s going to go away as soon as we find a place. :silent sobs:

Our stock portfolio is with TradeKing – I’m a low maintenance investor so they suit me perfectly with low-cost trades. They’ve got two good offers right now: New accounts opened with a $500 minimum deposit get $500 in free trade commission and new accounts opened with a $5000 minimum deposit get $1000 in free trade commission!

Our net worth: increased 2% from last month, and 6% from January.

Links from this month

On Health

Working out

March (127,274 steps): about 57.28 miles.

In addition to trying to aim for a higher steps average this month, despite another cold, I’ve been adding short jogs to our afternoon walks. Not every day, but at least 2-3 days a week, to get my heart rate up.

On Life


I was never ever allowed to sleep away at friends’ homes growing up, and while that seemed like it’d be a scarring and traumatic abstention from normal teenage life, I came through it with a fairly pragmatic acceptance of the reasons behind it. What stayed with me, though, was the sense of fun of having guests stay overnight with us – we could eat whatever we wanted (that we cooked), stay up as late as we liked (or til we nodded off), and the fun would still be there in the morning. We had three sleepovers this month – old friends all, with and without kids of varying ages! While it was more work, it was so much fun. We balance being frugal and doing takeaway because my energy to cook is inversely proportionate to the number of people I spend time with, and so many tasty treats make their way home from the local bakery because what kind of hosts would we be if we didn’t share our local delicacies? (Confession: it’s also because I have an addiction and I’m not sorry.)

JuggerBaby adores the company of visiting adults and kids alike, and incorporates the names of recent guests in zir good night songs for days afterward. It stretches the fun out that much longer.

Ze gets to bunk with us when guests sleep over, and ze takes a proprietary interest in the lucky people who use zir room. It’s good for zir to learn about sharing space, and being a touch less possessive, though it’s hard on us hearing “MAMA. DADA. MAMA. DADA. HI!” at 6 am sharp.

I may or may not exile zir to my office once we have enough room for me to have an office.

On getting sick and common sense

With several weekends of hosting family on the board, I Definitely Absolutely Totally could not afford to catch JuggerBaby’s cold. If you’ve been following along for more than two months, you’ll know how this story goes.

Of course I caught JuggerBaby’s cold.

Not wanting to welcome guests into the House of Plague, when it was clear the germ bullet hit me right in the throat, I gave up and took a few days off. “Off,” as in, I only worked for an hour or two a day, and laid down and did nothing useful the rest of the time. Putting on a pot of soup to simmer all day doesn’t count.

That’s right. I legitimately rested. The last time I actually had more than 3 hours of solid rest where I wasn’t actually just working laying down, or fretting, or taking care of the household was in the Great Flu of 1997. I remember because I lost 10 pounds and I wasn’t aware it was possible to lose that much weight and not disappear into the ether.

And I’m almost positive that even though the symptoms didn’t subside for several more days, that initial rest right at the onset made all the difference in how severe they didn’t get. Now, do you suppose someone could remind me of this the next time I play host body to the plague? It would really help!

Booking travel

This rightly belongs in spending but it’s also a big life thing – we booked an international trip for family reasons (so, not vacation). This trip is for just over a week and it’s a big deal for us, especially with JuggerBaby being at an ALL SQUIRREL stage of life. Hence, Global Entry. I estimated that this trip would cost us $4,000.

So far, the total is coming right up to $3,000 for all booked expenses, which is offset by $600 in Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credits. Because it’s a family visit, and an odd one at that, we won’t have much in the way of incidental costs, so that’s a minor relief. If we manage this under $3,000, you’re going to hear me hootin’ and hollerin’. If we survive flying with JuggerBaby, you will also hear that hootin’ and hollerin’ but it’ll likely be a lot more quietly.

Of course you’ll hear all about the preparation and the trip itself when the time comes.

On the home (hunting) front

We’ve submitted an offer, with a pretty awesome letter, that was promptly rejected because a much higher bid was accepted instead. I’m not too surprised, nor too disappointed, because I was comfortable with the size of our offer given the expected extensive repairs. We’re willing, and eager even, to do our own renovations since the taste of the homeowners in this region has proven to trend toward non-functional and horrifying ugly. Who renovates a kitchen and refuses to put in an oven??  ANYWAY.

Naturally I saved the copy of my awesome letter to be tweaked for the next eleventeen offers we’ll likely have to make before we land our fish home.

An interesting exercise: remember the worst flu you ever had. Imagine that’s how you feel every day, and choose your home based on that level of energy and need for accessibility. That’s one of the major requirements guiding our search – it must be accessible so we can age in place.

:: How was your March? What’s your dream home? Did you dodge this round of colds and flus?

Read past monthly updates here!

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

March 29, 2017

The fun we had: Winter 2017

What fun we had in Winter 2017

The past three months haven’t been exactly rife with fun and jollity, between spending January in and out of court, February dealing with meetings and paperwork, and March, well, March has been more paperwork. But we still had a few bits of downtime. More and more, I see the importance of having some fun to balance out all the work, not just collapsing when I run out of steam and calling it a day.

My prescription for a more fulfilled life: more belly rubs for Seamus, more ticklewars with JuggerBaby, more reading time, more relaxing with PiC. This is some of it.

What I watched

City in the Sky: Airbus 380

Everything I didn’t necessarily want to know about airports and the building of the Airbus. Flying was a bit of a mystery to me, and not having had anxiety about the mechanics about it, I was satisfied to leave it that way for the nonce.

But we couldn’t get PBS to cough up any of the Masterpiece shows we wanted to see, not without paying a premium, and so PiC got to pick his free show instead.

It was actually a good documentary. I just didn’t necessarily want to know that a single misplaced rivet could mean a plane is torn apart mid-flight. I wasn’t worried but NOW I am!

Happy Feet

I was expecting something cute with penguins. But it also felt vaguely racist and we both came away from it with these faces: -__-


That’ll do, pig.” Now, Babe, that’s a movie that’s really held up over the years. I’ve been quoting it for as long as I can remember.

What I Read

Guards! Guards!

I’ve been in a mood for Pratchett more and more, lately. I need the humor to break off the spiral of negativity that suffuses our days with the political atmosphere and not being sure how it’ll affect my career in the next few years.

Ms. Marvel

I’ll read anything G. Willow Wilson writes and this is absolutely no exception. Her version of Ms. Marvel, a Muslim Pakistani girl named Kamala Khan, is wonderful and I can relate to her version of the 1st generation immigrant’s kid’s experience, even though I’m neither Muslim nor Pakistani. The parental concerns, the preservation of culture worries, they’re the same. And a kid taking on way too much, that’s a familiar story too. The difference is that Kamala is occasionally smart enough to ask for help, I wasn’t.

The View from the Cheap Seats

I’d been saving this book for a special read, and managed to bury it under the pile of packing things. Luckily, I uncovered it when most of the book shelf was packed away and have been curling up with it for a little while each night.

They’re a collection of Neil Gaiman’s speeches and talks and forewords, random things he’s shared over the years that weren’t published in books or comics or made into film. It’s nice to read them and catch glimpses of his thoughts in the past.

What I ate 

I’ve had a vague hankering to try my hand at making St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage dinner for ages. This was the first year I actually made it a point to do recipe research more than a week ahead, and pick up the ingredients on the actual week of. We haven’t a drop of Irish in either of us, but I just like trying new-to-us traditional foods. 

Since I was more confused after the recipe research than is usual for that stage of cooking, I hied me to the local (fancy) butcher to get meat that was definitely going to be good and they sent me home with a fine corned beef, a bag of spices they premixed, and instructions on how to prepare it. 

Verdict: Wow but I underestimated the level of saltiness we’d be facing! But it now makes sense why all the sides are plain and boiled. PiC enjoyed it, JuggerBaby was indifferent. Ze tried everything with a bit of a shrug and neither loved nor hated it. Ze was also singularly unimpressed by the fantastic tiny red potatoes I’d splurged on. Some days it makes me wonder why I try. 

Oh, because it’s entertaining, that’s why! It was a fun experiment and we’ll probably do it again.

What was your entertainment of choice this quarter? What should we put in our queue for movie night?

March 6, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: February 2017

On Money


Our normal income is two full time day job salaries. We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property. The goal is to replace our day job income before my health gives out and prevents me from working. Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

Achievemint: I signed up on January 18th (sign up here and get a 250 point bonus!) but the app pulled data from Apple Health and retroactively rewarded me for activity done before I signed up for my account. Whee!! So I got credit for part of December and the full month of January. PiC pointed out a weird thing: he earned 7 points for running 6 miles. I earned 6 points for walking 2900 steps.

My guess was the app learns what your norm is and sets that as the baseline so that it’s not giving someone who usually runs 5-10 miles a week a vast number of points while giving people like me a quarter of a point per month. But it turns out these differentials were pulling from different apps so I am totally confused.

December: walked 47362 steps, earned 123 points.
January: walked 98,480 steps, earned 256 points.
February: walked 112,705 steps, earned 293 points.

Swagbucks: I use this daily and used to rack up near 100 points a day but earning has slowed down. My favorite hands-off earning method, NCrave, has turned into a hands-on activity, forcing you to keep your mouse on the page in order for the countdown to continue. Boo! My big earners now are surveys.

Poshmark: Sales remain slow so this stays on the backburner. It’s active, but I don’t spend a ton of time on it. 4 items sold for a total of $22.50.

Dividend income: Our stock portfolio has paid $168 to date. Such baby beans! A disappointing first quarter, I’ll tell you what.


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr.Rebates and Ebates for cashback.

Personal spending: $106. We FINALLY submitted JuggerBaby’s passport application. We might travel internationally this year, and I hope that that’s all we need it for.

Projected spending: Our loan was pre-approved for the vasty sum of $800k, quadrupling our monthly mortgage commitment. Eeep!!! I have a plan to cut that in half after we sell our primary residence, but it’s still ugly.

Saving and investing

We max out an IRA and 401(k) every year, and save 20% of our net salaries.

We’re going to have to cut waaaayyyy back on our saving rate when the new place comes into play. Do Not Like!

#GivingCards and Charitable Giving

I don’t believe in tooting our horn for every donation we make. The point of giving isn’t to brag, it’s to help someone in need. The exception is when the cause is sound and could use help. I’m delighted to be taking part in the Rockstar Forums’ giving project where they send out a $20 gift card each month to forum participants who sign up.

My January card arrived the day after tornados pummeled New Orleans. The Louisiana area keeps getting pounded with horrible destructive weather, hurting and killing people, destroying homes and generally making a wreck of the place. While I thought I had this earmarked for something else, my heart said that there’s no better way to spend this $20 than to provide 60 hot meals for the people of New Orleans. Better yet, we were able to get a match on the donation so our $20 #GivingCard + $20 #1GoodMoneyThing made a $40 baby, and therefore 120 hot meals!

My February card just arrived so I haven’t decided yet where it should go, but I have a couple thoughts.

Net worth: weird

Our net worth is up 10.1% since last month but this is just a snapshot of the moment.

We’re going to have a lot of ups and downs over the next several months. We’ve got a temporary loan for the down payment which will be repaid when all the dust settles. That has artificially inflated our cash account, and then you’ll see all of that and more disappear when we make an offer that’s accepted. I was going to skip this section entirely but then decided that if I’m going on this roller coaster, you’re coming with me. The more the merrier!

Total assets and asset allocation in March 2017

Links from this month

On Health

Working out: My average activity level was higher this month which was easier to figure out now that I have the Achievemint app pulling data out of the Health app. Yay apps! I wish I could just download directly out of the Health app but this works too. Assuming that 10000 steps is about 4.5 miles, since my stride is at best medium length, I’d say I’m at 2,222 steps per mile.

January (98,480 steps): about 44 miles.

Not only have I been not sick for at least several days consecutively, Seamus and I took advantage of a rare clear bright and sunny day to go for a jog. That was pretty awesome.

February (112,705 steps): about 50.72 miles.

On Life

Date night!: We paid a sitter to watch JuggerBaby for the first time ($75!) because a friend was having a Major Birthday. It was fun to see all the adult friends without kids clamoring for our attention, but I’m not in a hurry to a large gathering like that again for another … oh, a year at least.

I very much preferred what I think of as our actual first date night. After getting a fractious JB settled in bed for the night, we hung out tucked up under a cozy comforter, reading our little social media feeds. Then I found Babe, and nudged PiC into looking at the cute puppies with me. We ended up watching the whole movie together. When’s the last time we saw a whole movie, together? It was a splurge, as far as the time spent late into the night, and getting up the next morning was painful but it was cozy and enjoyable.

On maybe not common sense, and phone maintenance: PiC’s been jogging along with his low key iPhone, getting increasingly frustrated with the loss of functionality as it got harder and harder for his charger to make a connection. He kept jamming it in there and making it work but I suspected we were going to face another phone purchase well before plan.
Usually I’m the family IT and tech troubleshooter but I just had no time to give it more than annoyed thoughts at the end of the day. Then things became dire when the memory filled up but I couldn’t do a massive clear off like usual, my desktop just wouldn’t recognize his phone.

He finally sat down with it, all set to be MacGyver, and felt like a right fool when it turned out the plug couldn’t connect because it was physically blocked by a gob of fluff, dust, and fur!

His phone hacked up a furball and they’ve been getting on swimmingly since. Free and easy – just the way I like all my tech solutions.

:: How was your February?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Super Saving Tips*

February 6, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: January 2017

Money & Life Report: January 2017

On Money


Our normal income is two full time day job salaries.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property.

The goal is to replace our day job income before my health gives out and prevents me from working. Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on!


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households, these updates ignore those ordinary expenses.

I stopped tracking our expenses to the penny five years ago because it was too time-consuming. That was fine for a couple years but I’ve observed increases in our spending in the last three years, mainly unusual expenses, that need to be budgeted for. For a fresh start this year, I’ve created a new spreadsheet where we list the bills we paid with an average spending amount listed in the budgeting column. Specific types of spending (food, gas, groceries, utilities, insurance, etc) are paid by credit card, so those will be mildly opaque but we seem to do better when we aim at reducing aggregate amounts rather than “$100 per month on drinks”. Not that we spend that on drinks.

We became hyperaware of our spending this month as we faced our unexpected housing challenge. We’re mentally spending $1M – $1.2M on a new place to live. YIKES. Nothing’s set in stone yet, we haven’t even found a suitable candidate on which make an offer so it’s early days yet, but mentally it sure feels like we’ve spent massively.


Do you count your spending when you’ve committed to it, or when you actually pay for it? I had a surprise root canal and two fillings this month which would have cost $1600, but for insurance. We’re waiting for insurance to pay their bit first before I pay the remaining balance, estimated at $350. Mentally, that money is also already spent, but they think it’ll be 6 weeks before I have to actually pay it. Then, it goes on the credit card to earn rewards which also takes advantage of the float, so I’m guessing it’ll be March before that money goes out of our account.

Property taxes: $3000. The second half of our taxes is due three months after the first. I’ll never understand why our county bills this way but it’s a bit annoying. Going into 2017, instead of stressing over cash flowing it, I’ll be transferring a tenth of the expected taxes due to a savings account per month to be held in advance of the tax payment. This makes more sense when anticipating an expensive year.

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year and save 20% of cash of our net salaries.

New CDs to ring in the new year
I picked up two 5-year Ally CDs at 1.73% interest using our emergency fund on the 1st. I didn’t have any immediate need for that cash so it should work harder to earn money while it’s waiting around. Well, I didn’t, at the time.

We’ve had some cash sitting in the Tradeking account for a while. Nothing caught my fancy, and the dividends were also making a small heap in the cash held column. Since there’s no point in trying to predict what the market will do and when, I picked up a couple more sets of dividend stocks at prices I was willing to pay and called it a day. This has been a surprisingly effective technique over the years.


I’m delighted to be taking part in the Rockstar Forums’ giving project where they send out a $20 gift card to forum participants each month. I have a list of places to donate to. Among them: Project Night Night, National Immigration Law Center, Donors Choose – dental care project, Donors Choose – snacks for kids.

It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m just happy that I get to start somewhere, even if our own money’s quite tight. Unfortunately there was a hiccup with the January cards so you’ll just have to check back in at February’s update to see where my first donation went!

Net worth: increased 1% from the beginning of the year.

I wipe the slate clean each year but that wouldn’t be very helpful with the charts, would it? I’ll keep it a rolling 12-month chart.

This update is a bit weird, though. PiC and I decided to remove an asset from the net worth tracking list because it’s an odd account that may not stay with us and so I’d rather not count it while I’m tracking our money. This creates a dip, but that’s fine, I’d rather know what assets we can truly include.

Links from this month

On Life

On purging clutter from our home: We donated two huge boxes of good clothes that we can’t use any longer, passed along three piles of hand me down clothing, and cleaned zir closet (which has become our catch all closet and I hate that) so that at least one door can be opened and shut safely. Three more bags of clothes sit on the closet floor that are being posted for sale, and if those don’t go, they’ll be donated too. I can see floor! And carpet! And walk into the closet! It’s a miracle!

Also I went through my desk drawers to clear out unnecessary paperwork, and organize our tax filing paperwork that goes back to Tax Year 2010. I double checked the IRS to confirm I could purge Tax Years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Since 2013 was filed in 2014, so that can be shredded this April.

Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.

(Of course, this always happens to me – as soon as I shred paperwork that I haven’t needed in years, I think of some reason I needed it. *tsk*)

Rehash: I spent a bit of time fixing things that should have been completed last month.

  • My application to fund our trust with our Ally accounts was returned because they wanted more postage.
  • 3 holiday cards were returned because the recipients moved a week (or, uh, a year and I forgot) before I sent them. And I sent them early December, too! Curses, I hate being thwarted.

Damn those germs! It was hubris, I don’t mind telling you. I thought I’d make it through this month without getting sick and I let down my guard. One too many drooly kisses from JuggerBaby infected me and it was back to the Robitussin for me. Sadface. The good thing about being able to avoid the office most of the time is not infecting my coworkers, and it’s easy to be a germy mess without worrying about how it looks. Who wants to worry about looking professional when you might have coughed out a lung??

Last year’s stash of fancy tissues with lotion (rapidly running out!) has been sparing my nose admirably but not this time! Pro-tip: after each bout with a tissue, a smear of Vaseline  rehydrated my nose so it’s not a gross peeling mess when I have to show up in the office.

:: How was your January? Are you getting ready for tax season – 2016? How are you dodging germs this cold and flu season?

January 9, 2017

2016: Our year in review


2016 highlights


The good

My day job income stayed the same, PiC’s increased a little. My competitive side HATES that mine stayed the same but my realistic side knows that was part of the deal of accepting the job with more risk. With more risk, I should remind myself to be glad the job is still alive and kicking!

We focused on our areas of our side money project which generated the funds to send much needed support to friends who’d hit rough patches: severe illness, loss of loved ones, injuries.

We didn’t splash out on a jumbo loan for a bigger house, nor did we add a second dog to the pack. I wanted to but reined in those currently unsupportable desires. Reminder, I need early retirement more than I need to take on more responsibility and I don’t want the guilt that comes with taking on more dependents than we can truly care for.

1. Debt reduction is saving. We refinanced our mortgage, freeing up our cash flow, halving our interest, and sending more straight to principal. We had the original mortgage for 4 months of the year, and the refinanced mortgage for the remaining 8.

See what a difference the lower interest made:

From January to April, we paid $3,628.05 toward principal and $4,151.61 toward interest. The next 8 months on the same loan would have seen $7,256.10 toward principal and $8,303.22 toward interest for a total of $10,884.15 (P) and $12,454.83 (I), or $23,338.98 spent by year end.

Instead, we paid $6,985.28 (P) plus closing costs, and $3,510.48 (I), totaling $10,613.33 (P) and $7,662.09 (I), for a year end total of $18,275.42.

Savings: $5.063.56. This was one reason we absorbed this year’s financial hits a little more easily than we might have any other year.

2. Automatic savings. We reduced our automatic savings rate to increase our cash-flow once JuggerBaby started going full-time at daycare. Hard to believe we held out for 2/3 of 2016 on a part time schedule but that saved another tidy sum.

We maxed out PiC’s 401(k), my IRA, added $10,000 to JuggerBaby’s 529 plan out of savings, and saved 25% of our income after that.

The bad

We had all manner of unbudgeted expenses this year and had to dig into savings. I HATE touching savings. We absorbed them but this removed $25,000 from our assets. *grouse*

Also, I secretly wanted to bump up our savings rate. Wait, let me rephrase that. I wanted to bump up our savings rate in secret and see if anyone (PiC) noticed a change in our lifestyle. This might be an unethical human case study but c’mon! Never mind, though, that didn’t happen because – see Spending.

1. An unexpected on-paper-only change meant our taxes cost more than $13,000.
2. We had to replace a car earlier than planned which came with a lot of unplanned maintenance: $4,000.
3. PiC has a health thing: $7,000.


  • This was a great travel year: Seattle, Hawaii, SDCC, FinCon! We flew with JuggerBaby and it didn’t kill us.
  • My sewing kit and I bonded this year over torn seams, preloved toddler shirts falling apart, and crafting new pockets for PiC’s pants. I’m 0% crafty so these tiny successes were a big deal for me.
  • I celebrated ten years of blogging and don’t feel like hanging up my keyboard anytime soon.
  • I spent quality time with longtime blog friends, and made new friends, at FinCon. All bonuses in a trip with no clear purpose at the outset.


  • I was sick with one virus or another for ten months of the year. That’s 83% of a full year being sick but not being able to call out sick because you can’t just call out from being mom, wife, or dog-mom. Professionally, I can’t take sick time because I have zero backup. It shouldn’t have been any surprise that I took so long to get better after each infection.
  • We broke the baby. We fixed the baby (yay) after breaking zir (whoops).
  • Coming to terms with Dad.


Plan for 2016

  1. Save 25% of our income. If we stay on track with regular income and barring any catastrophes, we should come within shouting distance of a Major Milestone Net Worth Number in 2016.
    DONE and DONE. We hit our first Major Milestone this year, and saved 30% of our income counting all forms of saving. 
  2. Finish the last steps of our estate planning.
    DONE. Oh my goodness, we FINALLY completed this one. Now we have to finish transferring all our assets to the trust.
  3. Decide on JuggerBaby’s college savings vehicle and set up a savings plan for zir.
    DONE and it was easier than it looked to be, at first.


  • TOTAL MONEY – Our Net Worth increased by 34%. Exactly half of that was updating our real estate valuations, the other half was saving cash and adding to our investments.
  • DIVIDENDS – Our last dividend payouts for 2016 were later than expected so I didn’t have time to pull together a report before we traveling. I’ll publish our next updates on a April / July / October schedule so I’m not publishing all reports in the first half of January which is BOR-ING. Besides, I shouldn’t have another dividend payment until February so there’s no point in reporting before them. At our last dividend update, we had a grand total of $434.50 in dividend income and I projected a final total of $600. Our final 2016 year end total was: $710.60! Yay, I beat projections!
  • SIDE MONEY – $855 was earned from Swagbucks, Mr. Rebates, and ebates; $2920 was earned from Craigslist sales making a total of $3775 in alternate income.
  • BLOG MONEY – $200 was earned by the blog which goes toward expenses (hosting, FinCon2017, etc). It’s a LONG way from paying me for my time.

Hello 2017!

  1. MONEY – Save 30% of our income, PLUS max out PiC’s 401(k), my IRA, an IRA for him, and
  2. MONEY – Organize our retirement funding for tax and income efficiency.
  3. MONEY – As part of the above, research the backdoor ROTH IRA and decide when would be best for us to do one. I think I’ll need our CPA’s help running some numbers for this.
  4. MONEY – Decide if we’re going to hoard more cash (investing it) or pay down more mortgage, then do it.
  5. LIFE: Mail hand-written letter to one of JuggerBaby’s surrogate grandparents every month. We always send hand-written thank you cards to the loving surrogate aunts and uncles who think of zir or send lovely thoughtful gifts but I’d like to be more proactive in this area, and sharing a bit of life in a more meaningful regular way instead of reacting to their generosity or hoping we can visit.
  6. LIFE: prepare one New Baby Care Package to send to an expectant mother friend per month. The first half of the year is spoken for! This is a hobby though sometimes I think it’d be a fun job.
  7. LIFE: travel will definitely be happening this year, that’s not a question. The open questions are: how much of it can I travel hack and will we enjoy it all? I’ll be setting up a travel calendar to address these questions.

:: What were your bests/worsts of 2016? How’d you do this year with spending and saving your money? Did you remember to make time for life? 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, and Racing Towards Retirement*

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