Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Plan For The Week

I struggled a bit with this week's menu plan. Do you ever just have those week's where you're not particularly inspired? :-) That's me, this week. My attempts to clear out my freezer continue!

  • Sunday - Likely, out with the family at a Halloween party. If not, frozen pizza.
  • Monday - Fiesta Chicken (moved from last week)
  • Tuesday - Spaghetti (from the freezer)
  • Wednesday - Leftover Fiesta Chicken
  • Thursday - Beef manicotti (from the freezer)
  • Friday - Cashew crusted chicken with basil pineapple rice
  • Saturday - My mom & sister are visiting for my mom's birthday, so we'll be eating out. Girl time!
  • Sunday - Cashew crusted mahi mahi + leftover rice
What's on your menu this week? And, Happy Halloween! :-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

I love a good splurge

I'm a firm believer in splurging on a (few?) things that you prioritize in your life, and truly enjoy. I'll be the first to admit that my splurges may not be yours, but add value in some way to my life. I'm willing to give up plenty of other things to indulge myself every now & then.

  • Good wine. No need for $40/bottle wine. The kind I love the most is $10 a bottle at Costco - Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc.
  • A cleaning person for the house. This saved our marriage when we had two tiny babies (our kids are very close in age) & both working full-time. The husband would give up pretty much every indulgence before he let this one go. We're both tidy & clean, but he leans more toward the obsessive side than I do. ;-)
  • Espresso. We purchased an expensive espresso machine for our house, but rarely buy coffee at Starbucks, or other coffee shops.
  • Activities for the kids. They are expensive, but I love exposing my kids to new things, and teaching them healthy things (both for their brains & their body). My older son is currently in Chess Club (or, Chest Club, as he calls it), both kids play soccer, and take swimming lessons. In the winter, they'll spend weekends at the mountain with us skiing.
  • Our vacation house. I get a little giddy inside when I think of the family memories we've created at our house, and the time we've spent with family. I LOVE this house, and we've made a lot of sacrifices as a family to make it happen. And, it's worth it.
  • Shoes. I am very hard on shoes, and have just a couple of pair of basics for each season, so they have to fit well. I currently have a broken bone in my foot, so comfort and support is essential.
  • Travel. Both trips with M (when we can make it work) & trips with the kids. We try to keep the spending in check and budget for these trips, but the occasional long weekend with just adults keeps us sane. :-)
Things we can live without:
  • Cars. Well, not really, but we're both driving cars that are a bit older. M's car is 11 years old, and mine is 7 years old. We're looking to replace one in the next year or so, but if it were up to me, I would drive my existing car into the ground & also downgrade. M is admittedly a bit more of a "car person" than I am, so I don't see that happening. Not having car payments, however, is a wonderful feeling.
  • Private school. Many, many, many of our neighbors send their kids to private schools, despite the top-notch public schools in our area. Not a priority. We value education very much, but the schools where we live our excellent, and sending our kids to public schools allows us to save more for their college education.
  • Fancy electronics. We both have laptops & phones via work, but we own nary an iPod, iPad, iPhone, or anything of the like. We have one TV at our house (okay, confession, we have two, but the second one is listed on Craig's List & will be exiting the house soon). We're not big TV people. M got an MP3 player for me free at work, and I've used it for years. Not very glamorous, and it *only* plays music, but we live. :-)
  • Designer clothes. I think I must be the only mom in my neighborhood who doesn't spend her free time at Nordstrom. And, honestly? I'm okay with that. I own plenty of classic clothes, a few splurges, and I feel like I looked pulled together most of the time. :-)
  • Dining out. I'm not saying that it never happens, but our dining out budget is fairly limited & allows for a few meals out per month. (Save for a month like October, where we ate out several times on our anniversary trip.) It's not a regular part of our life. I don't enjoy taking our kids to restaurants at this stage of life, and find eating at home to be much more relaxing.
  • Pets. I hope this isn't disrespectful to all of those loving pet owners out there, but owning pets is both expensive and time consuming, and we're not up for the challenge on either end at this stage of our lives.
  • Frequent salon visits. While I do get pedicures about 6 times/year, I get my hair cut twice a year, and went back to my natural color to save money. I actually like it better now!
I would love to hear more about what you consider to be the splurges of your life, and/or the areas you don't care to spend money on. Please share!

Tales from the grocery store

Or, tales from Costco, rather.

It feels like we were out of a lot on this trip & had to stock up, but I swear it's like that every week. Not the same items, but this week we were out of various cheeses, tortillas, pancake mix, and picked up candy for Halloween. It's always something. :-)

Here's what we got:

Dry goods/snacks:
  • Pancake mix - $6.45
  • Candy - $12.89
  • Z Bars (like Clif Bars, for kids) - $10.79
Bread - $21.46:
  • Bagel thins - $5.99
  • Bagels - $5.49
  • Tortillas - $4.99
  • Two loaves of Italian bread - $4.99
Dairy - $29.81:
  • Goat cheese - $6.29
  • Eggs - $4.69
  • Brick of sharp cheddar cheese - $9.59
  • Brick of mozzarella - $4.95
  • Milk - $4.29
Produce - $45.61:
  • Pineapple - $2.99
  • Oranges - $9.99
  • Bananas (x2) - $2.78
  • 3 pack of cucumbers - $3.29
  • Roma tomatoes - $4.49
  • Fresh cranberries - $4.99
  • Brussel sprouts - $4.79
  • Grapes - $6.79
  • Apples - $9.99
Total = $131.50

Evaluation of the shop:
We did end up with two unnecessary items. My husband (M) is in love with crostini, and picked up more bread & goat cheese for this weekend, even though it wasn't on the list. (We had both items at home.)

I'm realizing that we spend more than I expected on bread. I always think of bread as a time consuming process, and not something I can take on right now. Am I right, or lazy? Is it something you can quickly whip out? I would love quick & easy recipes!

We needed a bunch of cheese (and actually, M forgot to pick up an additional kind that we needed). I'm in charge of soccer snacks this week, am bringing two casseroles to a family event, and I need to make snacks for two Halloween parties next week, so this is around where I thought it would be.

I buy as many fresh cranberries as I have room for, freeze them in individual serving bags, & use them year round to make Fresh Cranberry Muffins. Swoon.

Please share your favorite/easy/quick/beginner bread recipes! I'd love to eliminate or reduce some of these costs!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weight Loss & Random Miscellany

I added a weight loss tracker, so I thought I'd give a bit more background on my plans for that.

Weight Loss Background:
Two years ago (Christmas, 2009), I was at my all time high of 180 pounds. I started really working out, tracking my eating, & paying more attention to what I ate. I lost 17 pounds, and was down to 163 by Christmas, 2010.

On January 1, 2011, my sister mentioned that she also wanted to lose weight, so we decided to email each other daily with our calories, workout, and weight. We've been doing it for close to 11 months, and it is SO helpful to have someone to talk to when things are challenging. I'm currently at about 145 at the moment. I would like to eventually get to 130, which is the weight I was at before I had kids. My plan is to be at 140 by January 1st, and then to lose the last 10 pounds (the hardest!) by next Christmas. My sister & I go to Las Vegas every summer together, so looking good in our bikini is always a great motivator. :-)

Working Out:
I was training for a 1/2 marathon, but broke a bone in my foot in May. It's been very hard to continue to work out, as I'm extremely limited in the type of workouts I can do. I was supposed to be healed & running again by now, but I'm definitely not. I get frustrated that I can't just use our treadmill at home or go for a quick run when I have a small window for a workout. I spent a ton of time learning to run and enjoy it, and it kills me that I'll be starting again when I eventually am healed. I MISS running. And, I never thought I would say that.

My daily calorie goal is to be under 1500 calories. I find this much harder to achieve on the weekends, as I like to have a glass of wine or a mixed drink. As a result, I generally try to only have wine on the weekends, and keep the rest of the eating under control. I also focus on getting five servings (each) of fruit & vegetables.

Here's what a sample day looks like:
  • Breakfast - coffee, fruit, and an egg on a bagel thin - 300 calories
  • Snack - either a serving of trail mix, mixed nuts, or a homemade oatmeal/granola bar - 150
  • Lunch - Leftovers. Tortellini with fresh tomatoes & 1 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese - 300
  • Snack - apple - 80
  • Snack - Mini Luna bar - 80
  • Dinner - Persian rice/meat dish & spinach salad - 520

Are you working on your health/fitness? What strategies are you currently using? Biggest challenges and successes?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A-Z About Me

I've seen these fun lists all over the blog world, so a little more about me. :-)

A-Age 35
B-Bed Size - King
C-Chore you hate - Picking up toys. Constantly.
D-Dogs - No, I'm a country girl & can't get behind the "inside dog" thing. We don't have space for an outdoor dog (or the lifestyle for it), so we don't have one.
E-Essential start to your day - Coffee at home. Green tea when I get to work.
F-Favorite Color- For clothes, black. I also love pale blue.
G-Gold or Silver - Silver
H-Height - 5"5'
I- Interests - Travel, Cooking, Running
J-Job Title - Program Manager
K-Kids - Two - ages 5 & 4.
L-Live - Near Seattle, Washington.
M-Mothers Name - Mom :-)
N-Nickname - Just a shortened version of my name
O-Overnight hospital stays - Kids, and a handful of minor surgeries
P-Pet Peeves - Loud cell phone talkers. In public. Cringe.
Q-Quotes from films - Anything from "Hangover". I have a crass sense of humor.
R-Right or Left Handed - Right
S-Siblings - One sister
T-Time you wake up - Between 5 & 6am
U-Underwear - Thong. *blush*
V-Vegetables you hate - PEAS. Cannot stand the smell or texture.
W-What makes you run late - I'm an early bird, so rarely late. Traffic on occasion.
X-X-Rays you've had - Broke my ankle recently.
Y-Yummy food that you make - Goat cheese crostini or granola bars
Z-Zoo animals - I'm not big on zoos.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Plan For The Week

I created a two week menu plan (here) last week, but need to update it. Our freezer is crazy full, so I need to work through our stockpile. I've recently started keeping an inventory of our freezer, and it's so helpful for meal planning. Why didn't I think of this sooner?!

Here's my plan for the week. Things from the freezer are bolded.
  • Monday - Tacos (meat from the freezer) for the kids & M. I think I'm going to have a big salad & use up a giant tub of spinach.
  • Tuesday - Barbecued chicken salads. (M barbecues 20 or so pounds of chicken every few months that we freeze & we use that for recipes & quick dinners.) Taco quesadillas for the kids.
  • Wednesday - Mahi Mahi (barbecued, if it's not raining. Pan-fried, if it is. And, it's Seattle, so it seems likely that we'll be making it inside :-)) + tomato paella
  • Thursday - Fiesta Chicken
  • Friday - Risotto with spinach + mahi mahi (if we have leftovers). I LOVE risotto.
  • Saturday - I'm having dinner with the family, and I'll be bringing this Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina.
  • Sunday - We may be going out. Our community center is having a Halloween party, and there will be dinner available. The dinner menu is "spooky" (i.e. meatballs dressed as eyes, bread sticks like fingers, etc) so my kids will definitely be wanting to eat there.
What's on your menu for the week? Any freezer organization tips?

Weekly To Dos

Hope everyone had a fabulous & relaxing weekend. I'm still dreaming of my hot stone massage and leisurely dinner. M & I actually had uninterruped conversation - such an unexpected treat when you have small kids at home. :-)

I have a lot going on this week, and want to track my progress. Here's what's on my list!

  1. Work out 5x this week.
  2. Blog 5x this week.
  3. Take the boys to visit my grandmothers over the weekend. My grandfather recently died, so my grandmother is struggling a bit, understandably. Both of my grandmothers are reaching the stage where we need to be making time for more frequent visits. I'm planning to take the boys to visit on Saturday & letting the boys dress up in their Halloween costumes for the grandmothers. :-) We'll also visit with my parents, sisters, and nephews, so it should be a fun day.
  4. Prepare for Halloween. I still need candy, I need to get the costumes laid out for the boys, and I'm in charge of treats for both school parties, so I need to buy the supplies and get cracking.
  5. Bring my lunch every day this week. Spending was out of control last week, so I need to rein it in.
  6. Decide on plans/destination for our week off in February. We want to take our nephews skiing, and we're tossing around locations. I need to get that wrapped up.
  7. List a bunch of stuff on Craig's List.

What's on your list for this week?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spendy week

I knew this week was coming, but I'm still shivering at all of the expenses happening within such a short time period. . .

This weekend was our anniversary, so we enjoyed a mini-getaway and an overnight stay at a lodge near our house while my parents watched the kids. It was fabulous to have an evening away and we made the most of our time - shopping, lunch out, massages, and a great dinner. The good news is that we finished our evening at a casino & ended up winning $700, which was the cost of the lodge/dinner/massage/breakfast at the hotel. Such luck. :-) And, I have M to thank - he plays craps, and has far better luck than I ever seem to have.

I did manage to eke out three No Spend Days, but even that wasn't enough to offset the spending.

Here goes:
  • Monday
    • $1.16 spent on a protein smoothie at the gym after my workout. Yum.
  • Tuesday
    • No spend day
  • Wednesday
    • $25 gift card for a friend going through chemotherapy.
    • $17.29 for groceries
    • $49.62 for gas
    • $459.78 for a hotel stay in December. My sister and I are going with our four kids, so I'll be getting reimbursed for 1/2. We go three times/year to celebrate kids birthdays. It's at a waterpark, and everyone has an amazing time, but it's spendy! This comes out of our vacation budget, so not a regular budget line item.
  • Thursday
    • $473 for soccer lessons for the kids. This is for 3+ months for two kids, and of course, this time I had to pay the yearly "membership" fee at the club. Yikes.
    • $119 for a hotel stay in November. This is a birthday gift for my mom. My sister & I are having a girls weekend with her.
    • $66.65 for a pedicure. M & I are going away for our anniversary (just an overnight) on Saturday, and I have to have cute toes! I've tried the cheaper salons & always get ingrown toenails, so I'd rather go less frequently and get it done right.
    • $96.65 at the liquor store. We were out of a few things, but shouldn't need to go back for a few months.
    • $61.26 - Costco for produce, eggs, milk and a few snacks to have on hand while my parents are in town for the weekend.
  • Friday
    • No spend day.
  • Saturday
    • $167.21 on shopping at the outlets on our anniversary trip. This was all stuff for the kids, including a new jacket for one child, 4 pairs of pajamas, a fleece, 2 pair of shorts for $1 for my nephews, and 12 shirts. Most of these are for the next size up and will be stored.
    • $45 on lunch out. I think. Lost my receipt.
    • $689.59 on our anniversary getaway/overnight. This includes: two hot stone massages, drinks & an appetizer, dinner + a bottle of wine, breakfast, and the room itself.
    • +$700 in the casino
  • Sunday
    • No spend day.
Total spent for the week (not including standard bills - I only include variable expenses in my write up. Not sure if that's the best way to look at it, but anyway. .. )

GRAND TOTAL SPENT: $1571.21. Hold me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grateful for . . .

It's way too easy for me to get caught up in the mindset of saving more, investing more, paying off more on our mortgages, etc. . . I'm going to take a break from that today  focus instead on what I'm grateful for.

  • My husband, M. I get emotional just thinking about how wonderful he is. Our anniversary is this weekend, and marrying him was the best decision I've ever made.
  • My adorable kids, S & N. Two wildly different personalities, but they never fail to make me laugh or entertain me with their stories of their day.
  • Employment - both for myself and M. M's team has been through quite a few changes in the last year, and I feel blessed that we both have good jobs.
  • Our families. M's family is not local, but they are wonderful. And, my family is my rock. My sister and I are extremely close, as well as my parents.
  • Our health. A friend is undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer. It's times like this that make you re-evaluate your life and appreciate your health.
  • Our friends. M & I are both blessed with a few fabulous friends.
On a slightly less serious note, I'm also grateful for these small things that make my life more enjoyable:
  • Wine. Specifically, Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc. Bless you, New Zealand, for this amazing (and affordable!) wine.
  • An overnight, kid-free evening with M this weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Courtesy of my parents. Sleeping in past 6 am? Can't wait!
  • OPI Russian Navy on my toes - putting a smile on my face.
  • Halloween - the kids are giddy with the thought of costumes, parties, and trick or treating.
  • Coffee. I heart you, my espresso machine. Thank you for bringing me my steamy java every morning. You complete me.
  • Gap Skinny jeans. With boots. Or flats. So comfortable. Trendy but not too much for trudging through the wet soccer fields at practice tonight. (S's practice, not mine :-))
What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2011 Goals

I realize that it's October, and I'm putting up my 2011 goals, but I want to have them easily trackable. And, even though my blog is new, I've been working on these goals all year, so I should be held accountable. :-)

Here they are, in no particular order, along with the current status.

  1. Pay off my 401K loan. - Done. Due to a windfall from M's work, I was able to pay this off even earlier than I expected.
  2. Fund both kids college accounts to 40%. - Mostly there. I am at 40% for S's account, and 37% for N's account. I have the money to get N's account up to 40%, but I'm waiting for a refi on our second property to close, in case I need to bring money to the table to wrap it up.
  3. Run a 5K - Yes! I was actually a week away from completing a 1/2 marathon when I broke my ankle in May. :-( I fell in love with running & can't wait to get back into it!
  4. Learn to bake bread - Epic fail. I did make corn bread recently? ;-)
  5. Complete 4500 minutes of cardio workouts. - Huge success! I'm currently at 7198, and that includes taking time off for my broken foot. I crushed this goal.
  6. Lose baby weight. - Well, I achieved this back in July, but I've regained 3.2 lbs. I need to focus on this one, so I can end the year with a success on this goal.
  7. No shopping for clothes, shoes, jewelry, or makeup. - I made it for three months, but that's it. To be fair, I've done really well with conscious consumption this year, and replaced a few essentials (I had to buy several pair of flats due to my injury, as I'm normally an exclusive heel wearer at work.)
  8. Get together with two friends per month. - I stopped tracking this at some point, but for the most part, I think I've done this.
  9. Create a list of our favorite 25 recipes, to make meal planning easier. - I created the list, and we're now in the process of testing the old favorite recipes & making sure that they are: easy, kid friendly, and relatively frugal. So far, I have 10 recipes that meet this criteria.
  10. Track spending all year. -  Eh, I wasn't very good at this. However, I've tracked all of August, September, and I'm currently on October. Honestly, I've learned a ton about our spending by doing this and wish I would have done it all year.
How are you doing on your 2011 goals?

Best things - frugal date night

I loved a post Debt Free by Thirty had this week about the best things in life being free, and thought it was a great subject for a post.

We have two young kids in our house, and a night out is typically pretty expensive. A babysitter plus dinner usually runs us $100, so we try to limit date night to once/month (honestly, it's usually less) & meet for lunch for a cheaper option every other week. We try & make nights at home frugal & special when we're with the kids on Saturday evenings. We kick start the night with "Happy Hour", and M & I have: margaritas (summer), cosmopolitans (fall/winter), or wine (spring, or anytime I'm looking to have less calories :-)). We make the kids their own special (non-alcoholic :-) drink, and I also make an appetizer tray. It's typically something inexpensive & healthy, like vegetables with hummus or tzatziki dip (Costco sells a yummy one). If I have more time, and ingredients on hand, I'll make this amazing goat cheese crostini recipe. We generally don't drink during the week and our kids don't get juice regularly, or have appetizers before a meal, so this is a nice treat for everyone.

We enjoy our happy hour, play Uno or games with the kids. . . sometimes we let them watch a special movie and M &I prepare dinner together. Dinner is usually more of a harried affair, so getting an opportunity to enjoy a drink together & have a more relaxed time making a meal is great.

After the kids our in bed, we typically watch a movie. It's a fabulous & easy (not to mention - frugal!) date night. Do you have any frugal date night suggestions?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Oh my, have grocery prices gone up lately! We eat out fairly rarely, and plan most of our meals. Our grocery budget is generous ($600/month), and that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for 2 adults and two kids. We eat A TON of produce. Seriously, a ton. We do most of our grocery shopping at Costco, as we can easily go through large quantities of produce. :-) I also try to menu plan, and bring my lunch to work most days, I pack lunches for the kids.

The husband ("M") is the only with a varied lunch schedule. He frequently has work events where lunch is catered, but I'm considering packing his lunch a few days a week. He doesn't spend much when he eats out, but I think he'd prefer a healthier lunch from home. We'll see how that works. :-)

I do try and batch cook, double recipes & freeze the other half, and we barbecue 15-20 pounds of chicken every other month or so and freeze it for recipes. I love having the chicken in the freezer for quick casserole additions, etc.

Here's our current menu plan:

Dinner Menu:

·         Tuesday – 10/18Leftover tomato/goat cheese pasta + spinach salad
·         Wednesday – 10/19 – Beef & cheese manicotti
·         Thursday – 10/20 – Tomato paella (freezer) + barbecued chicken (freezer)
·         Friday – 10/21 –  Leftover manicotti
·         Saturday – 10/22 – Anniversary dinner - out!
·         Sunday – 10/23 – Lubia polo (freezer)
·         Monday – 10/24 – Baked ziti (freezer)
·         Tuesday – 10/25 - Cordon bleu & tomato paella (freezer) + crostini
·         Wednesday – 10/26 - Giada chicken pastina (Freezer) + spinach salad
·         Thursday – 10/27 – Leftover Giada pastina
·         Friday – 10/28 - Fiesta chicken
·         Saturday – 10/29 – Visiting family, I am bringing a pasta dish that's in the freezer
·         Sunday – 10/30 - Leftover fiesta chicken
·         Monday – 10/31 – Baked Ziti (freezer)
I try to plan our meals two weeks out, and rotate through what's in our freezer. Our freezer is currently stuffed, so you'll see more freezer meals than normal on the list as I try to empty it out. :-)

The Budget

I've been tracking our budget for a while, and over the past few months have gotten much more disciplined about tracking exactly where our money is going. At the end of each month, I'd like to post a summary of where we're spending our money.

Our currently monthly budget looks like this:

  • Primary mortgage - $4850
  • Vacation home - $2500
  • Child care (we have one child in Kindergarten, and we have to reimburse the school for part of this, as he attends full day + after care, and a second child in preschool) - $1675
  • Utilities - $800
  • Groceries - $600
  • Gas - $500
  • Misc/clothes - $400
  • Cleaning Lady - $346 ($80/week, but the number of cleanings in a month varies, so this is the average)
  • Kids (lessons, etc) - $300
  • Insurance - $200
  • Eating out - $150
  • Gifts - $100
  • House - $100
  • Personal (hair cuts, the occasional pedicure for me, etc) - $100
  • Yard service - $60
  • Dry cleaning - $50 (my husband has to wear suits to work regularly).
As you can see, we pay quite a bit in mortgage payments, and the majority of our other expenses are relatively low. We are good with "forced budgeting" (i.e. if we had smaller mortgage payments, we would no doubt be spending all of our extra money on frivolous things). My goal is to pay down both mortgages substantially over the next few years as we pay less in child care (my older son "S" will be in first grade next year, saving us $400/month, and my older son "N" will cost $150 less next year). This will also go down the following year as "S" starts first grade. After I pay off the vacation property, I'd like to finish funding our kids college accounts as well as make substantial progress paying down our primary mortgage.

ETA: I should probably add that this is where I think our money is going monthly, & where our spending should be at. But, I'm tracking & will be regularly reporting progress against this budget. :-)

The numbers

We're currently doing fairly well with our retirement savings. Both my husband and I have been fortunate to have high paying jobs, and started funding our retirement early. As a result, we have a nice nest egg saved.

(I'm going to create progress bars to track all of this stuff!)

  • Between the two of us, we have around $420K saved in our 401K accounts.
  • We have no consumer debt, but we do have one 401K loan for around $35K. Our goal is to have this loan paid off by mid-2012.
  • We also have various investment accounts to serve as an emergency savings, and to save for a new vehicle in the next year or so. Those investment accounts total around $30K.
  • We own two homes, and our primary residence is in a very expensive neighborhood. We've made fairly substantial improvements to our primary residence, but the current downturn in the real estate market means we are about even with our equity in this property. A bit of research shows that it's worth $860K, and we owe $738K.
  • I've been aggressively paying down our vacation home (I use the term "I", because we pool finances, but each pay different bills. The vacation home is one I pay, and I want it paid off as soon as possible so we can focus on other goals!). The house is worth $330K, and we owe $308K.
  • Noted earlier, we are also saving for college for our children. We have 40% (tuition only - need to fund room & board separately) and 37%, respectively saved. The GET tuition fees went up dramatically after we had our first child, which is why we have slightly less saved for our second child. My goal is to have both accounts at 40% funded by the end of 2011.
  • My husband and I also both receive stock options through our employer. I do not count this in our monthly budgeting, as they are subject to our continued employment per a vesting schedule. However, I do count them in our net worth calculation. Should either of find new jobs, I will adjust our net worth accordingly. Between the two of us, we have about $160K in stock options that will vest over the next five years.

Financial Background

With my first few posts, I'll try and provide a bit of background on where we currently are with our finances, and our goals - both short-term and long-term. I'll discuss the challenges we're currently facing, and the opportunities.

My husband and I are planning to retire in 20 years, which will make me 55 and my husband 64. At that point, I imagine both of us will choose some sort of part-time employment, be it volunteer or for pay. We'd like the flexibility of not working if health is a concern, but both like to be busy with activities. I'm not sure how that will change as we enter our 50s and beyond. :-)

Our goal is to move, sell our current home in Seattle (it will need to be fully paid off at that point), and take the settlement from that house & buy a house outright in Hawaii. We're anticipating downsizing, and hope to have additional funds leftover to cover taxes, insurance, start up costs (furniture), etc on our new home.

The Plan:
Obviously, we're a long way from making this a reality, but planning for retirement requires a bunch of steps along the way, so I am looking at 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, etc plans to get us there and make sure we are no track for retirement. We also have other financial goals related to our children, like sending them to college, so you'll so those goals weaved in as well.

Here are the things I can currently think for our retirement plan:
  • Primary residence fully paid off (we're 5 years in to a 30 year mortgage, so we'll need to accelerate payments to make this happen). Goal is to pay this house off in 15ish years - so have it paid off by 2027.
  • Vacation home fully paid off. We may or may not sell this house when we retire, but it will need to be paid off. We're aggressively paying this off, and my goal is to have this house paid off by February, 2017.
  • Fully fund our kids college accounts. We're currently saving in GET accounts, and I have 40% of tuition credits saved for our oldest, and 37% for our youngest. (Our kids are 5 1/2 & 4 1/2.) I'm still wrestling with how much we will need to save, so more to come as I work on this goal.
  • I've run quite a few simulations on how much money we will actually need to retire, and I'm just not sure I have a firm answer. I'm using $6,000,000 as our current target, but I'm sure that will get revised along the way.
  • Retire with no debt (credit card, auto loan, etc).
Ahhhh, such small goals to focus on. ;-)


Hello, and welcome to my first blog post! I'm a 35 year old, living in Seattle with my husband and two lovely kids. I'm super motivated by reading all of your personal finance adventures, so I'd like to track my own progress.

As you can guess from my blog title, our long-term retirement plan is to move to Hawaii. Hawaii (and retirement!) is expensive, so we have a long way to go on our journey to making that dream a reality. I'd like to use this blog as a place to track our finances, retirement savings, regular spending, share our savings tips, & learn from all of you.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!