Sunday, July 13, 2014

That glorious moment & a half marathon!

When you meet with a tax accountant to start planning for 2014, and realize you made an error on your 2013 taxes. Run home, enter the correct data in TurboTax, and realize you're getting a $2500 refund (or, your enormous tax bill that you already paid is reduced by $2,500, thus you'll be getting some of your money back). Hot dog! :-)

Today has been filled with cookie making (sending them with the boys today, as they are both attending pool party/sleepovers) & turning a LOT of fresh tomatoes into this:




I can honestly say that having too many tomatoes was never a problem in Washington, but this is the second weekend in a row that I've used up 20+ pounds of tomatoes

In other news, I finished my half marathon & ran this morning! Feeling very, very happy that it was still an option with the lupus. I'm slower than I used to be, but I'll take it!


I'm a little sore & tired, but feeling pretty great. Life is about embracing changes, challenging yourself & believing that anything is possible. If you'd asked me if this was in the cards a year ago, I would have said no. What a great day!

What's the best thing that happened to you this weekend?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Mid Point Net Worth Check

I keep track of our net worth semi-regularly, and use the information as a directional guide for how we're doing. Lately it's been all about paying down our mortgages, while increasing our retirement savings. I consider us in the wealth accumulation stage of our lives - we have no debt other than our mortgages, and have a large retirement portfolio. That said, we live in/near San Francisco, and a starter house in our neighborhood is $2.5M, so we may never buy here ;-) It's all relative, I suppose. We have a decade left until our kids are out of the house, and we're starting to consider whether it makes sense to tie up SO MUCH equity in an expensive house that we will not need for very long. . . More thoughts on that later.


  • At the end of 2013, we were at $1.2M. 
  • At the beginning of June, we were at $1,411,000
  • As of July 1st, our net worth is at $1,439,000. So, a small increase, but we're moving in the right direction. Our property values have remained stable, and we continue to pay down our mortgages and max out our 401Ks. The stock market gains have also benefitted us, given the size of our portfolios. 
Liabilities:
-$904,000 (property loans). 

Assets:
+Seattle house value - $1,180,000
+Vacation house value - $400,000
+Retirement savings - $760,000
+Cash - $3,700
Total assets = $2,343,000

Assets - Liabilities = $1,439,000

I don't count either of our current stock equity packages in our net worth, as it's dependent upon us staying with our employer. We currently have about $475,000 worth of stock equity vesting over the next five years (pre-tax, and we're taxed at the 50% rate for these), but I think it's highly unlikely either of us will be there for that long. We'll recognize those assets towards our net worth once the stock has been converted into cash (or, another asset).

I also don't count the kids college accounts in our net worth, but we're about 50% of the way done with saving for tuition (does not include room & board). We're technically at 46%, so would like to see us hit 50% by the end of this year. We're buying tuition credits, which have gone up pretty drastically over the past few years, so we need to focus if this is going to happen.

That's pretty much it! Do you regularly track your net worth? What are you focusing on for 2014 - increasing retirement, paying down mortgages, reducing debt? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The year is half over! 2014 Goal Check

Wow - time to check in on my 2014 goals. If I don't continue to check my own progress, I have the bad habit of forgetting to do what I'd hoped for. ;-)

Here are my 2014 goals, with a status check:

  1. Lose 10 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. I've really struggled to lose at my current weight & activity level, so I need to spend some time considering what's necessary to drop these last (very stubborn) 10 pounds. After my doctor's appointment & prescription complication, this goal is more important than ever. Time to focus.- I'm decently on track. I'm at 142, so while the progress has been slow, it's at least there!
  2. Continue tracking my food and exercise every day in My Fitness Pal. This has been tremendously helpful. - On track! 
  3. Improve my fitness by doing the following:
    1. Complete 11,000 minutes of cardio. -On track, with 5,300 minutes completed!
    2. Complete 100 strength workouts. - Close - I'm at 44%
    3. Complete 75 stretching workouts. - I'm at 32%, so need to step this up.
      4. Choose a half marathon to train for, and complete it! Sometime this spring. - Yes! The race is in two weeks. :-)
      5. Have one date night per month with M. - On track! 6 for 12. :-) 
      6. Plan one social/friend activity per month - On track! 6 for 12. :-) 
      7. Finalize will/guardianship. - Half way done! I've ordered all of the paperwork. They just need to be signed & finalized. 
      8. Save $50,000 towards a downpayment for a house in California. - We've paused this, as we continue to pay for our vacation house, and have decided to instead focus on paying down our second mortgage.
      9. Put $5,000 in boys college accounts. - Not on track - we've paid around $1200. 
      10. Pay $30,000 towards our mortgage principal(s). - We are on track! We've paid just over 10% of our yearly total
      11. Figure out a plan for vacation house. - Yes! It's listed and we've made all needed repairs. 
      12. Track our all of our spending, stick to our budget, and create monthly spending reports.-On track!
      13. Plan an adult only vacation with M! - Yes! This is happening in April. Can't wait.
      14. Likely most importantly, figure out the work/life balance, even if it means finding a new job. Money isn't worth the current schedule. - Somewhat on track. There are short term and longer term plans in the works. Not ready to roll them out (as we are still working through some big challenges, but they are on our radar.)

I'm feeling good about our progress on the year so far. How about you? How are you doing with your 2014 goals? Are you on track? How can you refocus your time & energy on the most important tasks? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Planning our weekly menus reduces stress on weeknights & ensures that we don't eat out - keeping us healthier & saving money!

I tend to do all/most of the cooking on weekends, to minimize time spent in the kitchen after work.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Monday - Grilled burgers (reheated)+ grilled peppers stuffed with goat cheese
  • Tuesday - Homemade meatball pizza (really, thinly sliced burgers instead of meatballs) with peppers, tomatoes, & basil from the garden. (Leftovers - it was amazing!)
  • Wednesday - Chicken & pesto pasta
  • Thursday - Tacos with homemade guacamole
  • Friday - Clean out the fridge day
  • Saturday - homemade pizza
  • Sunday - Chicken tacos
How about you? What's on your menu plan this week?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A very sunny Sunday

The weather has been a bit too warm for my taste over the past couple of weeks. It makes it hard to get out & do my runs. I was out at 8:00 am yesterday, which was nice & cool. I missed the window today, but have a 5 mile walk planned. Let's see how I do. ;-)

I've been off since Thursday, and it's been a great mix of relaxing & productive! On Thursday, we went to a water park (we have season passes) & it was great. Not very crowded & perfect weather. I put on loads of sunblock, but still managed to get a few small patches of burn. This is what happens when you're extremely pale. ;-)

I made a quadruple batch of fresh tomato sauce, using all of the fresh tomatoes from the garden - plus our basil & green peppers. It turned out extremely well. That's all now frozen in individual dinner portions, ready to go. I also made homemade bread, a chocolate cake, cranberry muffins, homemade pizza dough, and this morning, I made 9 dozen muffins - 3 dozen pear muffins (loosely based on this recipe), & 6 dozen orange muffins - to use up our stray yard oranges. The muffins will be frozen & added to lunch boxes for the kids.

We barbecued burgers on the 4th of July, so I turned the leftovers into homemade pizza yesterday, using up extra green peppers & tomatoes.

I have some additional housework to tackle today, but am looking forward to relaxing (maybe doing some reading?!) & planning the week ahead.

Here's what's still on my list:


  1. Complete 30 Day Shred workout DVD.
  2. Yoga
  3. Walk 5 miles.
  4. Clean kitchen
  5. Finish laundry
  6. Pack lunches for tomorrow
  7. Menu plan for the week
  8. Plan calendar/week/camp drop offs & pick ups
  9. Find an alteration place to hem a dress.
  10. Finish packing for my trip in a few weeks. (I like to have the majority packed well in advance, so I can just top off the suitcase with the final stuff the day before. Especially important, as I have a late meeting the night before the trip).
  11. Figure out dinner for tonight.

I think that will do it. I hope you all are having a fabulous weekend!



Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Goals

I'm excited about July - it's going to be a fun month! Here's what I have on my to do list/list of goals. :-)


  1. Fitness-related:
    1. Lose 2 pounds
    2. Track my calories every day in MyFitnessPal
    3. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
    4. Complete 8 strength workouts
    5. Complete 6 stretch workouts
    6. Run/finish a half marathon
  2. Finance-related:
    1. Meet with a tax planner
    2. Rework our budget to take into account yearly categories (vs solely focusing on monthly numbers)
    3. Stick to our budget!
    4. Stick to vacation budget on girls trip to Las Vegas.
    5. Sell 2 bikes on Craigslist, and put the money in the boys activity fund (help offset their expensive soccer club).
    6. File all paperwork.
  3. Personal
    1. Finalize all nanny details. 
    2. Get passport picture taken, and get this renewed.
    3. Sort out vacation hours at work.
    4. Get to the dentist & doctor for regular check ups. I've been putting these off due to work conflicts. :-(
    5. At least one date night with M.
    6. Rework my schedule at work to better accommodate evening meetings (consolidate them all into one evening to minimize disruption to my life).
    7. Use or freeze all fresh produce from the garden.
I think that's more than enough! What about you? What are you focusing on this month? 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June spending recap - where did all of the money go?

At the end of each month, I review our entire budget & share where we went over our targets, and any learnings from the month.

Here goes!

Areas where we were over:

  • Boys activities - They both were selected for a competitive soccer team (lots of $$). Previously, expenses for their lessons were lower than expected, as the payments are due twice per year. Over by $375.
  • Groceries - over by $120, thanks to our fridge/freezer outage. 
  • Vacation house utilities - we're now paying for regular yard service, to keep the house "show ready", so over by $130.
  • Taxes - this is the longstanding dispute over our 2011 taxes and an employer error. It's over now, but we had to pay $5600. I'm not bitter. . . 
  • Travel - over by $550. Bought all tickets for summer travel, which pushed us over the standard budget. 

With all of the overages, and a few small underages, we came in over our monthly budget by $2,550. Yikes!!

Total spend for the month = $21,650
Total income for the month = $19,317

NEVER a good month when you're spending exceeds your income.

Learnings from the month:

  • It may make more sense to consider some of these expenses as yearly (ie. boys lessons, taxes, travel, etc), and track them separately. Good action item for me to rework this, because the monthly model doesn't make sense in each category.
  • Restocking a fridge & freezer is expensive!
  • I'm SO overwhelmingly happy to have the 2011 tax situation behind us. And, in related news, we're meeting with a tax planner next week to help us get up to speed on 2014, and start planning! It's been a goal for several years to hand this off to someone who can help us better prepare and maximize our situation, and we're finally doing it.
  • Still no bites on our vacation home. We need to reconsider what we're doing with this, as keeping it on the market is expensive from an upkeep perspective.
And, that's it! That's how our June went. How about you? Did you stay on track & on budget in June?