January 9, 2017

2016: Our year in review

HNY

2016 highlights

EARNING, SPENDING, SAVING

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.

BEST OF

  • 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.

WORST OF

  • 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.

GETTING THINGS DONE

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.

2016 NUMBERS

  • 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*

January 4, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: December 2016

Money & Life Report: December 2016

On Money

Income

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 incomes remain the same. I don’t anticipate any danger to them this year, but the election result is very likely to impact both of our industries to varying degrees. I think we have at least a year before we start to see negative changes but that might be optimistic.

Spending

Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses.

Charitable giving: We don’t do as well in this area as I’d like, and the way I know this is that I end up making monetary donations at the beginning and at the end of the year. What this tells you is that it isn’t yet a regular part of our budget – or that I have trouble committing the funds throughout the year regularly. One reason for that is uncertainty. When unexpected expenses creep in, I need to know that we have enough cushion in the cashflow to bear it, and this hasn’t been the case this year. The other reason is that I do give regularly to individuals. When dear friends suffer loss, when dear friends hit a rough patch. While causes are important to me, the people I love are that little bit more important to me, and I have to take care of my chosen family before I can lend a hand to others outside that circle. This is an extension of my policy of taking care of my biological family – they’re not a burden on the state and taxing those meager resources.

I have to decide if I am ok with giving twice a year and making that our plan so that we have the flexibility to continue sending care packages as needed or if we should change to monthly contributions even if they’re still small.

Personal spending: PiC and I spent $800 on clothing in December. Most of it will be returned. Of the 4 pairs of pants for me, I’ll keep one pair ($70). It’s quite hard to meet my exacting specifications, one of which is that these pants will last at least 7 years. The pants these are replacing are worn all the way through, cost $15 and only lasted 4 years. Of the 13 pairs of pants bought for JuggerBaby to get zir through an awkward growth spurt, we kept 2 pairs ($12). We were able to raid the yard sale pile a little while after that, but we couldn’t go 2 weeks without pants in the winter. Both my Target shirts for layering were perfect ($12 for both) so they’re staying with me. That totals $94, or around $100 after tax, and is more than we normally spend on clothing, but we also rarely buy clothes and everything will last. We’re also very lucky that we have good access to used clothing for JuggerBaby.

Saving and investing

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

An IRA for all, or a ROTH?
One thing that I’ve well overdue to take care of: an IRA for PiC. He always maxes his 401(k) but we need to be maximizing our investing dollars. Whether that takes the form of a backdoor IRA or not, we should be putting more dollars into an IRA for him too. This action will partially be a concrete action to combat that feeling of strong pessimism and worry about our future.

Our net worth: increased 1% from last month, and 34% from January.

I’m holding on to cash that I was going to move into investments for a few reasons: uncertainty with the government situation, prices in the market are too high to buy, my next focus is now on a second rental property.

Links from this month

On Life

On holidays:  I didn’t get to enjoy the holiday period as much as I would have liked because I had to work the whole time, but we finally scheduled a week of visiting that was much less stressful than previous years. Part of the success was not overcommitting. We broke up the visits by location and group instead of trying to fit multiple visits in a day and we had to give up seeing several friends, but it was necessary to maintain our sanity.

On horrible neighbors: I am mentally living on Zillow or Trulia now.  Still looking for tall walls and a moat. After PiC remarked to the PigeonFeeding DogPoop Neighbor that leaving out dishes of water and cat food attracts vermin as well as stray cats, he showed up on our doorstep twice on New Year’s Eve, the latter time to bang on our door with a cane and leave a threatening note saying that he was going to make sure that “you, your family, and your things will all pay!”

That’s enough. I called the police to file a report. They can’t do anything until he actually harms someone or something, which is Just Great. But they spoke to him, saying that he was to leave us alone, that he wasn’t allowed to leave notes, and that he had no reasonable expectation that people wouldn’t clean up his messes if he persisted in leaving things out on public property, particularly if it was going to attract vermin.

Supposedly he agreed to this but who the heck knows what he’s going to pull next. He is a horrible person. What a way to ring out 2016.

:: How was your December? Are you as grateful as I am that 2016 is over, in the high hopes that 2017 will be less nervewracking and sad?  Do you have any concerns for your jobs with the incoming administration?

January 2, 2017

A quarterly look back: Q4 2016

More than ever, it’s been important to do what we can to remember the bright spots in life. Even while I’ve immersed myself in what we can do to make the world a better place, I’ve kept on with paying attention to life and participating in it.

Fall 2016 recap: See what I read, where I went, what I learned, and what I made in the past 3 months.What I read

Jaran, by Kate Elliott. A generous gift from a good friend, I’d been hankering after a new world in a book and I got just what I was hoping for from Jaran.

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, Selina Siak Chin Yoke. This was a surprise and a pleasant one at that. Maybe it’s the geographical proximity that I responded to but there were so many parallels between my family and that of the protagonist’s that it felt like reading the biography of grandma’s second cousin. And it was oh so well written, too, blending languages like the flavors of blended cuisines. Oh and life with the changing of the times, losing grip on old traditional cultures with the British influence increasingly encroaching.  That too could have been grandma’s dictation as she bid goodbye to her children going abroad for a better life.

Fate of Perfection, K.F. Breene. This was the December free Kindle book for Amazon Prime members. This seemed like it could be interesting but the writing felt stilted and awkward. I wanted to like it but I’m spoiled by excellent writers, who probably also have excellent editors who know how to bring the best out of their raw material, so this was an uncomfortable read. There was exactly one good pair of lines that hit the right note and tickled up a smile in the entire book. Just one pair. And that was my only reaction. Much of the time was filled with painfully overwrought emotions or action. Bored, I was mentally asking, “where’s the baby??” and “when’s the last time you fed her or changed her?” instead of being enthralled by the plot. Clumsy is the word I’m looking for. It’s how I feel my writing is on days when the words just won’t flow. They clunk around, they do the job of conveying what I’m thinking, but there’s no pleasure in reading the result.

What I watched

It’s been a very Netflix kind of quarter.

The Crown. I wonder how much of this show was fabricated whole cloth. My nose used to be buried in English history, during the Tudor period, mostly, but I don’t know anything about the current monarchy. If you have any interest in the English monarchy, even if it’s mostly just academic, it’s a fun watch.

Zootopia. We’ve let JuggerBaby watch a bit of tv on the weekends sometimes. It’s a little bit of rest for us, one of the few times ze is conscious and sitting still, and also a great way to teach zir not to be addicted to the tube. I’m glad that ze is willing to say All Done when it’s time to stop watching because we don’t allow the tv on during meals. We’ve tried it a time or two and ze ends up with more food in zir ears than usual. Generally we give zir 10-15 minute sessions so we can catch our breath but when I’m in terrible pain or fatigue, we’ve gone as long as 25-30 minutes. Ze actually voluntarily picks a book at the tail end and asks to read instead at that point.

The Land Before Time: The Land of the Brave.  This was pure nostalgia for me. I was looking for the original but Netflix only had this one. Unfortunately JuggerBaby was not a fan of dinosaurs on the screen – they should only be in books or small plastic figures I suppose. It also earwormed me with the song “Hot and stinky” so double awesome.

Jessica Jones. I didn’t remember very much of the Alias series but this was very well done. It was hard seeing My Doctor as the villain but he pulled it off.

Luke Cage. This show was spun off Jessica Jones, rather naturally given the relationship between the characters, and had a wholly different feel.

Where I went

FinCon! That was it. We had a great deal of travel earlier this year and it was time for me to be home and rest for a good long while.

What I made or did

It feels like I didn’t do anything this quarter aside from work, dodge germs, and plan for the holidays. A lot of planning goes into minimizing the madness that surrounds our visiting of relatives. It’s still a madhouse, but at least it’s a short period of the year.

What I learned

Believe it or not, I learned basic electrical wiring: how to safely cut, strip, and reattach wiring, and what exciting things happen when you touch a live current with metal. The dogs didn’t quite poo themselves when said exciting things happen. Thankfully no one was hurt, it just made us all jump.

:: What did you enjoy reading or watching this quarter? Did you go anywhere exciting or is that on the agenda for the next quarter?

December 5, 2016

Net Worth & Life Report: November 2016

On Money

Income

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 incomes which I am exceedingly grateful for remain the same. This is good from a stability standpoint. There have been too many nights lying awake after working a 100 hour week for the overtime and wondering how long it was before I fell apart completely and could I get us to a safe place before then? So I’m grateful for what we have.

I’m also aware that the clock could run out on my particular job, whether it be my patience or my professional stagnation, so there is some internal buttkicking going on in trying to nail down the important things I need to address when crafting my next step.

We received an unusual gift in the form of money quite unexpectedly. I must have experienced some kind of spiritual growth (or maybe I’m just a bit numb to Big Things this month) because I didn’t react quite badly to it. The biggest reason is likely that there were no discernible strings attached. Generally there are always some kinds of strings or obligations attached to those sorts of gifts so I find that whole idea abhorrent but in this case the gift was more about the giver than the recipients so I found a way to be not adamantly against accepting it. Sometimes I can’t shake the thought that it’s not my money, since I’m so accustomed to having earned every penny I hold. Not sure if that’ll ever pass. 

A question and Swagbucks: I asked last month but no one commented whether the Swagbucks posts bothered them so I’m guessing that it was ok?  (I use Swagbucks. Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join and earn.) This month’s Swagbucks earnings were good. I made enough to cash out for $100 Paypal dollars just in time to help a friend in dire need of assistance.

Spending

Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses.

Groceries and eating out:  I spent $250 hosting friends earlier this month, feeding 18 people rather well, then 4 people for about a week thereafter. Friends also pitched in for drinks, alcohol and non-alcohol, and desserts which would probably have added another $150 to the bill. This was a grand plan months in the planning and it went off without a hitch. Pretty awesome.

Then there was another $100 on groceries the weekend before Thanksgiving. One of my favorite people came to spend a week with us and so we laid on more supplies than usual for the week, and we also ate out a few more times especially to treat her to delicious local foods. We discovered an amazing brunch spot that serves fantastic beignets (4 for $15 after tax and tip because I feel awkward not tipping for take out) and a perfect sandwich shop around the corner that borders on too generous with the pate which I didn’t think was possible and priced like back home in 1997 (4 for $16).

I might normally feel quite guilty over the indulgences but not when it involves feeding a favorite person. That brings me joy. And also great food. It took 8 days to run out of all the good food. Glory and bliss!

Christmas preparation: I splurged on a tree this year (on sale at Target, with cash back, paid using a gift card). It’s JuggerBaby’s first tree and I hope it survives zir early years of sowing destruction. We run very light on decorations, we have two strings of lights, because we have so little storage so it’ll be a minimalist tree. I’m a bit excited about this, especially the part where we put a few gifts under there and hope JuggerBaby leaves them alone. We all know Seamus is too good a dog to bother them. 

Saving and investing

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

Discovery! I had 2500 Citi Thank You points to redeem and nothing good to redeem it for. Normally I redeem for gift cards to stores we frequent but that list gets shorter every year. We pretty much shop for food and a handful of gifts, but the redeem for cash option is terrible, at 2 points per dollar. But I poked around some more and found that I can get them to cut a check toward the mortgage. Sure it’s a drop in the bucket but whatever, $25 toward principal is way more useful to me than maybe $20 worth of cash should I get a gift card and turn around to sell it. Much less effort, too! The catches are: they will cut a check addressed to the lender, mail it to you, then you have to mail it out, so it’ll cost a stamp. Good enough for me!

I’m always on the lookout for ways to increase our savings and investing.
I had intended to pick up some i-bonds this month but I hate hate hate using the Treasury Direct site and didn’t bake in enough time to log in, much less actually buy the bonds. I’ll have to tackle that in December or January, perhaps.

Our net worth: increased 3.9% from last month, and 33% from January.

After a few down months, our total holdings have perked up a little. I’m holding on to cash a bit more than I had intended earlier this year, but will likely move a bunch of it into less liquid investments once I have a moment to set up the account.

11-16-asset-allocation 11-16-total-assetsLinks from this month

On Life

On Stress: This was a tough month for me personally. My work hours have been barely tolerable. I was logging 15 hour work days and the work is still piled up ceiling high. Metaphorically speaking. Combine that with the current political climate and actual Nazis getting airtime to spew hatefulness like “are Jews people” and I find myself wound extra-tight. I’ve been wrapped in Thermacare and Salonpas patches to force my muscles to relax.

On food: I pulled off a glorious victory this month. I ambushed PiC with the perfect day. It’s a good thing he takes some direction well or he would have ruined everything but since his instructions were fun and a nice break from his usual duties, I was confident he’d follow through. Plus after 8 months of planning, does anyone for a minute doubt that if he tried to back out I would have hogtied him and delivered him to his friends? You betcha I would have.

But it didn’t come to that.

So he had a great morning with his buddies, then came home to a luncheon feast and cake and more friends. It was a ton of work and, thanks to some fantastic friends helping out, worked beautifully. I’ll be smug for at least another month over how well it went off.

On weird neighbors: One embittered, bizarre neighbor wasn’t enough, we acquired another strange set recently. They are oh-so-unfortunately much closer to us, they can easily see our front door, and their lack of boundaries has led to a lot of quick entrances and exits so as not to be caught on the sidewalk with them.

When we met, they seemed so nice! Just a young couple starting a new chapter of their lives here. We were friendly to them, that was our first mistake. Usually it takes me a year to do more than a nod and a hello. Four years to organically develop a chatty relationship that’s not awkward if they’re our kind of people. And by our kind, I mean: respects boundaries!

When we first met, they claimed to love both dogs and children but every other time Seamus and I rounded the corner on a dash home and came face to face with them the Wife, who made it such a point to pet him when meeting him and expressing her love of all dogs, would jump back with alarm and dismay. What kind of dog lover ARE you?? Then the Husband would repeatedly catch us outside at the end of a weekday and, without asking us if it was ok, invite JuggerBaby inside. People, this is a toddler with no self determination. Ze goes into no one’s home without us. Leaving aside the assumption you seem like you’re trying to abduct my child, has it never occurred to you that it’s 6 pm on a work night and we’re just getting home? Every single time we have to remind them that Ze needs dinner NOW and isn’t a young adult who can stop to play for an hour.

The nights when Ze is having a meltdown, not often, thankfully, they’d open their door and watch. CAN WE HELP YOU?

The last straw was when they had family visiting. They’d told their parents about “the adorable neighbor kid”. When they heard us coming home from work, they all came out to say hello and AGAIN invite zir to come play. Again, what makes them think this is appropriate to just ask a sub-2-year-old to come play? That wasn’t enough forced socializing, the parents heard us leaving for work the next morning and ran out in their pajamas, calling out to JuggerBaby to come over while we were herding zir to the car. Who does that?? What possesses four grown adults to have zero presence of mind to think that maybe you shouldn’t call a stranger’s child over to you when they are clearly going somewhere?? Anyway, in a very short space of time, it’s become clear there are more neighbors to avoid now.

After every encounter, I go hop onto Zillow or Trulia, looking for a new home. Preferably with tall walls and a moat.

:: How was your November money? Do you have more good or weird neighbor stories? Are you uncomfortable receiving monetary gifts? 

November 7, 2016

Net Worth & Life Report: October 2016

Money and Life Report: October 2016

On Money

Income

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

Poshmark: I talked about the reselling experiment earlier this year as part of an ongoing effort to earn money separate from our day jobs. It’s quite slow, no doubt because I don’t own spectacularly covetable items, but I’ve made three additional (small) sales since, netting an additional $32.

I have no intentions of becoming a boutique shop so using Poshmark to move used clothing and shoes out (shipping is paid by the buyer, I can schedule free USPS pickup for the items I’m shipping, money is available for transfer 3 days after delivery) is worth the fees ($2.95 for sales under $15, 20% for sales over $15). The earnings are almost secondary to clearing up the clutter on my ongoing closet curating quest.

Swagbucks earnings: I use Swagbucks. Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join and earn. This month I’ve shared some Swagbucks promotions for extra SBs. I aim to keep them unobtrusive, but I prefer them to sponsored posts because I’m just sharing offers. Earnings are minor, but it costs about $600 a year to keep this blog up, disregarding my time, and that’s before paying for FinCon. Since this blog’s been in the red more years than the black, a bit of cash would help. This isn’t a reliable source of income but it’s a decent steady earner for now which preserves our capital. I hope it hasn’t bothered anyone and maybe some will be helpful or interesting. Let me know!

Spending

Our normal spending covers the living expenses for two households: lodgings, insurance, utilities, etc. This update ignores those ordinary living expenses.

Comcast: We don’t have many internet provider choices here (does anyone?) and Comcast just keeps on being a mediocre disappointment. I used to switch between them and AT&T but it was hours of hassle  to go back and forth. We saved a good amount when I did (around $360 a year) but it also took hours that I can no longer spare so it’s a cost we have to swallow.

They sent an email saying that they’re going to start capping our usage on November 1st to 1 Terabyte (1024 GBs). Our average usage the past three months has been about 238 GBs so we’ll be well within the limit. That’s useful data, it tells me that I can’t save anything by switching to my hotspot device (MyKarma) fulltime.

Target haul: There’s a weird allure at Target that makes it a dangerous place. Is it the ambiance? The bright colors? The sometimes awesome deals?

Whatever it is, I have a hard time resisting the urge to browse. To avoid the temptation, I save it all up for an online order. Their online shopping user experience stops short of torture so there’s zero lingering.

This time, their ineptitude worked in my favor. I started with an order of 5 items (2 packs of cotton swabs, 2 lotions, a sweater) for $28, and received a $5 promotional gift card. They screwed up my address so I had to spend time following up online which was a pain but in the end, I paid $10 less for a bigger order than I planned and we’re now owners of 30,000 cotton swabs. No regrets!

I do have questions, though:

  • Why do men need their own Q-tips? Will you not use regular Q-tips?
  • Why was L’oreal facial lotion cheaper than the generic brand?
  • Why was expedited shipping on Saturday for Tuesday delivery $90??

Baby gear: We avoid buying stuff for JuggerBaby on the premise that zir basic needs are met – food, shelter, clothing, and the luxury of lots of free toys and books. Once in a while we concede and pick up a bit of baby-sized furniture. PiC’s great at finding high quality stuff that will last years, and hold its value when we decide to resell it. This time, he found a great Stokke high chair that ze can use for several years, bought for $100. It retails for $200 and still sells for half the price as a used item, so we can expect it’ll be worth something in some years. We may also look out for a toddler sized table and chair set so that ze can draw more comfortably.

Car gear: We made $200 on a car rack that we couldn’t use on the “new” car, but it went right back out again ($150) when PiC found the right replacement so that we can safely road trip this winter.

Giving and spending: Even while I feel like money is flowing out the door much faster than it’s coming in, despite my earning extra income beyond our regular day jobs, it’s coming to the end of the year when I traditionally identify charities that we should make donations to before December 31, 2016, if we hadn’t already done so. It’s a weird feeling to look for more ways to spend money after a year like this.

And sometimes those ways present themselves without my needing to look – as I mentioned to Ms. Montana, we’re in the habit of sending care packages when someone close to us suffers a loss. I’m always glad that we keep a tight rein on most spending that allows us to spend a bit on providing comfort to friends.

Saving

Business as usual: Our savings are automated. PiC maxes out his 401(k), Vanguard takes $458 monthly for my IRA, then we save 25% off the top of the remaining paychecks after pre-tax accounts and health benefits are deducted.

Saving thanks to Swagbucks: I’ve been hoarding my SBs so that I could redeem for one large PayPal check in addition to funding JuggerBaby’s diapers with the discounted redemption once a month and I’m just about ready to place the order! The PayPal check goes straight to savings. The Amazon gift cards have replaced my hard earned cash to buy necessities and the occasional gift from Amazon, and I simultaneously add that amount to our savings as well.

Our net worth: went down 0.9% from last month, reducing the total increase from January to 128%.

The markets shivered in fear this month, or so it seems by the look of all our investments. I’m assuming that’ll be true through mid-November.

Our asset allocation has stayed largely the same, and I’ll leave it that way for the next month or so, except for the cash I have set aside for any Election Day stock drops.

 

On Life

On Fitness: Yoga hasn’t been happening every night, and even after only several weeks, it’s clear that nights with yoga are better than nights without. It’s not huge, but I notice a lot more stiff muscles, and creaky joints, on the nights we have to skip. Thanks to having guests, and visiting friends on the weekend, my steps have gone way up. This would be a good thing if it was in combination with yoga because without it? OW. Many days of ow.

On catharsis: I shared something incredibly personal this month.

On fun: We were really active this month, despite my heavy workload, going to the Cal Academy, the parks, to visit several friends. Halloween was a bust, though. Heavy (welcome!) rainfall kept us indoors and it’s clear that JuggerBaby has inherited my dislike of being dressed up. Drat.

On backing up precious memories: I spent several hours making sure that our photos from the last two years are backed up in at least three different places. Vital documents are next on the list. It’s possible my priorities are backwards 🙂

On holidays: Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday. I’m looking forward to having my favorite cousin over to cook a ridiculous dinner for three adults. Then I’m pulling out our Christmas lights in a few weeks and decorating something like the bike, or the armchair, since we won’t be getting a tree. No point, since we’ll travel a bunch around Christmas. :sad face: The whole POINT of growing up was to be able to get my own tree.

On health: Is it a surprise at all that I’ve been sick for the past two weeks? Anyone want to take bets on whether I can kick this before 2017?

:: What did you do for Halloween? Have you backed up your important documents and photos? If not, what’s stopping you? What should I decorate with lights: a bike, the television, or the floor lamp?

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2017. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red