Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July goals in review

This has been one of the craziest months of my life, with the relocation talks & the job offer, traveling, and lots of work drama on my end to deal with. Phew! So glad the month is drawing to a close!

Here are my original July goals.

And, here's how I did! :-)

  1. Find and register for a race. It doesn't need to be a marathon - just something small to get me going again. - Yes! I may not make it, if we've moved, but I did in fact do this.
  2. Make $250 on eBay. - I made $180 through Craigslist sales, & selling some books at a used bookstore. Haven't sold anything on eBay recently, but just listed a bunch of stuff.
  3. Update resume. - On hold, due to the move.
  4. Update LinkedIn profile. - On hold, due to the move.
  5. Stick to budget on two upcoming trips (big girls trip in three weeks, and overnight stay at a water park). - Yes! I came in under budget. :-)
  6. Deal with house guest graciously, & look for opportunities to turn it into a "win" - Yes! There have been times when it's been inconvenient, but overall, the boys love having a new "friend" to play with, and I'm looking at it as an opportunity for bonding between my boys and an uncle they would rarely see otherwise.
  7. Reduce grocery bill to $550. - We are at $429! This is *unheard* of for us! We've stopped buying much of our "stock up" stuff, with the move looming. That combined with various vacations has reduced our consumption this month.
  8. Fitness goals:
  9. 1100 minutes of cardio - Gosh, no. Not even close. This is my lowest cardio month (just at 600 minutes) in over a year. I *need* my cardio workouts for stress relievers, so I absolutely must make time for this, even if it's not 1100 minutes/month.
  10. 12 strength workouts - Yes! I hit 12 exactly!
  11. 10 stretching workouts. - I'm at 4 stretching workouts. Having a house guest has definitely made it more difficult to get this in.
  12. Clean & inventory freezers - Oh yes! Lots of progress has been made, given my one month "use it up" menu plan.
  13. Schedule a dentist appointment - I'm WAY overdue! :-) - Yes! I scheduled my appointment. :-)
Overall, I'm very pleased with how the month went, all things considered. How did you do on your July goals? Any big wins to celebrate?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Moving - the to do list

I'm starting to get a little anxious on the moving front. ;-) I'm breaking down our tasks into weekly chunks, to make them more manageable. Here's what needs to get done this week:

  1. Finalize a move date
  2. Sign formal offer letter (M). This task will make the move "official" & trigger a bunch of other tasks that are pending until this is complete.
  3. Determine school district & register boys.
  4. Cancel child care for this school year in our current district.
  5. Continue to decluttter. This is an ongoing task. ;-) I'm hoping to tackle our bedroom & more kitchen items.
  6. Create a work back schedule based on finalized move date.
  7. Purchase flights to visit San Francisco. Coordinate childcare with my sister.
  8. Cancel boys soccer for fall
  9. Attempt to locate fall soccer for both kids in SF. This could be tricky.
  10. Take books to Half Price.
  11. Return extraneous purchases to the mall.
  12. Go through the pantry again & check to see what my sister wants.
  13. List treadmill on Craigslist.
  14. Go through the toys.
  15. Make muffins out of all the bananas lingering in the freezer.
  16. Talk to my HR department at work.
  17. Clean both freezers.
  18. Create a menu/plan with my sister for our family beach trip.
  19. Figure out additional benefits at M's work.
  20. Make a packing list/inventory.
  21. Find a new rheumatologist & get on a waiting list.
  22. Find the boys a new pediatrician.
  23. Verify immunizations are up-to-date.
  24. Cancel boys school supply orders.
  25. Get school supply list for new school.
If I can accomplish even 2/3 of this, I'll be thrilled! What about you? Any fun projects this week? :-)

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Use It Up Menu Plan

Given that we are expecting to move by the end of August (holy SMOKES that's coming up fast!!!), my goal is to use up everything we can out of the pantry & freezer. I plan to give anything remaining (and usable) to my sister when we move.

As such, you'll see lots more meals from the freezer, freezer items turned into meals, etc. I'm going to create a loose, one month menu plan to get us through until (the tentative) move date. Should be an interesting month. ;-)

In addition to the dinners, lunches will be leftovers (I have a bunch of soup in the freezer that can fill in any gaps) & I have boatloads of bananas that need to be turned into muffins & breads.

Monday - 7/29 - Leftovers spaghetti & meatballs that are hiding in the fridge.
Tuesday - 7/30 - I have a friend & her daughter coming over for dinner, & need a vegetarian meal option. I'm thinking of pesto penne with fresh mozzarella, and a salad. Fresh fruit for dessert.
Wednesday - 7/31 - Oven baked chicken risotto, to use up some fresh mozzarella.
Thursday - 8/1 - Leftovers
Friday - 8/2 - We may be in the bay area, doing some prep/recon work. If so, eating out. If not, Easy meatless manicotti, using up some noodles that are lingering in the pantry.
Saturday - 8/3 - If we're not in the bay area, chicken enchiladas from the freezer
Sunday - 8/4 - Homemade pizza using up the last of the fresh mozzarella with thinly sliced burgers (freezer) to create our favorite - meatball pizza!
Monday - 8/5 - Taco night! Using up ground beef (freezer) & tortillas (freezer)
Tuesday - 8/6 - Chicken salad wraps (using chicken from the freezer)
Wednesday - 8/7 - Leftovers
Thursday - 8/8 - Grilled chicken & ravioli - both from the freezer
Friday - 8/9 - Burgers (from the freezer)
Saturday - 8/10 - Italian baked chicken and pastina casserole (using some canned tomatoes & grilled chicken in the freezer)
Sunday - 8/11 - Pizza night, using whatever scraps are available :-)
Monday - 8/12 - Spaghetti & meatballs (both from the freezer)
Tuesday - 8/13 - Leftovers
Wednesday - 8/14 - Chicken marsala casserole (using rice & grilled chicken)
Thursday - 8/15 - Leftovers
Friday - 8/16 - Clean out the fridge night before camping
Saturday - 8/17 - Family camping trip!
Sunday - 8/18 - Family camping trip!
Monday - 8/19 - Family camping trip!
Tuesday - 8/20 - Home from camping late. Likely eating camping leftovers or something quick & easy.
Wednesday - 8/21 - Spaghetti & meatballs (both from the freezer)
Thursday - 8/22 - Chicken taquitos (freezer)
Friday - 8/23 - Grilled chicken & ravioli - both from the freezer
Saturday - 8/24 - Taco night (beef & tortillas from the freezer)
Sunday - 8/25 - Pizza night, using any leftover scraps
Monday - 8/26 - Italian baked chicken and pastina casserole (using some canned tomatoes & grilled chicken in the freezer)
Tuesday - 8/27 - If we still have ground beef left, likely a 1/2 batch of lubia polo to use up canned green beans, rice, & any remaining ground beef.
Wednesday - 8/28 - Leftovers
Thursday - 8/29 - Use up whatever is left!
Friday - 8/30 - Use up whatever is left.
Saturday 8/31- (Tentative) travel day!
Sunday - 9/1. I'm sure we'll be eating out, grocery shopping & restocking while we get settled.

If we can stick to this plan (mostly - dinners are not fixed to any particular night, but more to give me a sense of what's available & what to make), we shouldn't need to buy any: meat, cheese, noodles, rice, etc until after we've relocated. Purchases should be mostly produce, milk, eggs, & a few recipe items.

Have you moved with a fully stocked kitchen & freezer? Did you end up wasting food, or have a masterful plan to use it up before you left? Any tips or tricks you could share?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Adventures of the day! We have made tremendous progress on our decluttering - M took two truckloads of donations to the Goodwill, and we've filled our trash & recycling bins with junk. M also returned a few unopened items to Costco today that were lingering in the garage - for a savings of $110. I sold two items on Craigslist - our patio set & two Ikea chairs. We made $60 on both. I planned to hit the mall to return a few things, but there was a festival going on. After 15 minutes of searching for a parking spot, I decided to return another day. I also didn't make it to sell back some books at the bookstore, but I should be able to squeeze that in during the week.

I listed ten items on Craigslist (and have sold two), and added another item to my Ebay listings. I started to put together a tub of kitchen/pantry items for my sister.

I did get outside (briefly) to enjoy the flowers blooming in our yard. :-)

  • Reading: Ha - nothing! I read eight books the first half of the month, but I haven't made time to read over the past few days
  • Listening to: Scooby Doo. ;-)
  • Watching: Well, the kids are watching Scooby.
  • Cooking/Baking: I baked a loaf of bread & made homemade meatball (adults) & cheese (kids) pizza.
  • Happy you accomplished this week: I'm happy with our decluttering & the progress we've made so far.
  • Looking forward to next week: Talking to the relocation person & getting the move details nailed down.
  • Thankful for today: For a marriage built on teamwork - I love the feeling that we are working together, solving problems together, & really working towards a common goal.
  • Bonus Question: Do you know any 2nd (or 3rd!!) languages? I speak passable French & Farsi.
How was your Sunday?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Job offer update

M had his formal conversation with recruiting & received his offer yesterday. There are multiple components to his offer:
  • Base salary. This is about 10% over what he's making now.
  • Performance based bonus. This is given yearly, and will be in the 20% range.
  • Sign on bonus. Pretty much what we expected. About 10% of his gross yearly salary.
  • Stock. The stock grant was very generous, and represents 160% of his base salary.
  • Relocation. We have a call with the relocation team next week, & have quite a few requests, so we'll see how that goes.
Overall, it was a very strong offer that met all of M's initial asks. The health care/benefits component is also excellent - 401K match up to 50% of the IRS maximum, and health care for all of us will run about $170/month.

Up next - talking full specifics with the relo team to understand all of our options. The relo package is likely to be more complicated than the entire employment offer, so I'm very anxious to get that nailed down.

We haven't yet told my family. My parents are heading to Hawaii in a few days, & my mom is the kind of person who would be overwhelmed & stressed & saddened by the news of us leaving. We're planning on sharing the news in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I'll share the details with you all, so I don't explode! :-)

We are in full scale house decluttering mode. M is tackling the (quite frankly - SCARY) garage. I have a list of tasks longer than my arm. We're attending my nephew's birthday party tomorrow, and opted to make a full day of it to maximize time with the family. Here's what else I want to get done this weekend:
  1. Get a bunch of stuff listed on Craigslist:
    1. Treadmill. It's in awesome condition & I'm hoping we can get $500+ for it.
    2. We have a brand new meat slicer - never been used.
    3. Patio furniture
    4. A train table from Pottery Barn with drawers that hold lots of toys
    5. Bookshelf
    6. Pressure washer
    7. Leaf blower
  2. Start decluttering of the kids toys & clothes
  3. Go through our pantry for donations, things I want to give to my sister, etc.
  4. Make a menu to use our freezer food
  5. Make a list of what we're moving vs selling
  6. Start on a moving/timing/work schedule. Yikes!

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this weekend?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making progress

Sadly, not much progress on my personal July goals, but - financial progress is being made nonetheless! :-) As we approach September (the time of year when I receive my annual bonus, & stock award vest), this is the first time in at least ten years that some of that money hasn't already been spent. We always approach the September 15th paycheck with at least 25% of the money due on credit cards that have accumulated over the summer. But - NOT THIS YEAR!

I'm very pleased - can you tell? ;-) It's been a heck of a year, with the unexpected bonus payback, large tax bill, car repair, and several home repairs (one unexpected & urgent). Yet, we've stayed on track. How, you ask? Well, we refinanced into super low interest rates on both our primary residence & our vacation house. On the vacation house, we offset the majority of the savings by going with a 15 year mortgage. We also made other changes:
  1. Tracking our spending! By far our number one tip for not overspending.
  2. We cut miscellaneous spending:
    1. Cable at our vacation house
    2. Internet at our vacation house.
    3. Reduced our cleaning from every week to 2x/month, and cut this back as much as possible when we were out of town, etc.
  3. We traveled far less, and stuck to the planned trip for my sister's 40th birthday (funded not out of our budget, but my eBay earnings) & one trip with M.
  4. We also cut the kids activity budget (camps, lessons) quite a bit by planning & evaluating which weekends we'd be in town, and combining a lesson that's at our gym. I get a free workout while the kids are in karate. (Normally I pay for child care while I work out).
So, what will we be doing with my bonus & stock award? Although I can't predict the company stock price on the day my options vest, I'm (loosely) estimating $38,000 (post tax, which is taken out automatically) & an after tax bonus of $10,000.
  1. Pay off my 401K loan. I took this out in February, to buy our home loan down from a jumbo, enabling us to lock in an incredibly low rate. Current balance - $40,917. I also have four pay period deductions to pay this off, so the stock combined with the pay period payments should close this down.
  2. Save, save, save the other $10,000. I'm hoping to have $30,000 in our emergency fund before I quit my job. I'm currently at $16,745, so the extra $10,000 and payout on any remaining vacation days should get there.
Having this large slush fund will ensure that I can quit and/or look for another job, and will greatly reduce stress during the (still potential relocation).

How have you improved your financial picture over the past year? Love reading all of the stories of people tackling debt, saving for the future, and changing their circumstance.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Trying to get back into the swing of life after all my trip - it's always so much easier to plan for a trip, than to get yourself back into the groove when you get back! :-)

I'm so excited - our container plants are actually starting to produce! Washington's growing season is notoriously short, so some years we get almost nothing. We picked our first couple of tomatoes yesterday (which the boys ate before I could put in a salad), they also enjoyed the first two cucumbers (easily their favorite food), & we have a small handful of fresh strawberries. I need to go check the blueberry bush before the birds much on whatever is left. Yeah for gardens! Can't wait until the majority of the tomatoes ripen.

I'm also planning on filling the freezer with wild blackberries, but with the pending conversations about our relocation, it seems silly to plan ahead. I suppose I can always give the frozen berries away to a neighbor if we do end up moving quickly.

My entire life is in limbo & I'm not the kind of person who deals well with the unknown. I'm sure you've gathered that, with my extensive list making & all. ;-)

Things I'd like to do this week:
  1. Menu plan
  2. List a bike on Craigslist
  3. List 4 items on Craigslist (two necklaces, one table runner, and a dress)
  4. Figure out what I'm bringing to my nephew's birthday party
  5. Wrap nephew's gift
  6. Get in a few workouts. Especially needed after all of the indulgences over the weekend.
  7. Yoga! Pilates! My back has been bothering me - time to get serious.
Short of knowing where we will be living in a few months, that's pretty much all I can do.

What about you? Any produce yet from your garden? What are you hoping to do this week?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back from a fabulous vacation!

Ahhhh, such fun was had in Las Vegas for my sister's 40th birthday celebration. I actually spent less than expected (woohoo!) & my money that I made on eBay more than covered it.

I'm exhausted, and in a bit of a post-vacation funk, but so happy that we had a great time & my sister enjoyed herself. I ended up gambling for about 15 minutes total on the trip, and won $288, so I'm going to cover my sister's portion of our cabana rental as her birthday gift. (I also bought her airfare).

A few pictures from our trip . . . our arrival

Before a fabulous dinner at the Encore hotel

Celebration martinis! :-)

More to come, but I need to collapse in bed & somehow get a full night's sleep. M's alarm went off at 4:30 this morning for his flight to Chicago, & I barely survived a full day in the office. As I get older, I realize that I need a "buffer" day between my return flight & showing up in the office again!

In positive news, I sold three more items on Craigslist over the past few weeks, & made $85. Sweet! All going into our relocation fund. The possibility of moving has certainly lit a fire under M. :-) We should have confirmation and a formal signed offer this week. I'm on pins & needles!

How about you? If you're 40, how did you celebrate your big day? I have a few years left, but I hope to go to Hawaii with a few girl friends, and many a low-key family celebration at the coast.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

It's a short week for me, as I'm heading to Las Vegas on Thursday to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday! I've been looking very forward to the girl time. :-)

I'm feeling very uninspired on the meal front this week - not sure why.

  • Monday - Quinoa Mango Chicken dish (STILL haven't tried this one :-))
  • Tuesday - Spaghetti (sauce from the freezer) + meatballs
  • Wednesday - Oven baked chicken risotto
  • Thursday - Boys having leftovers
  • Friday - I'm assuming the boys will eat out or M will barbecue
  • Saturday - Ditto Friday
  • Sunday - Leftovers - I'm getting home in the late afternoon from the airport

So, there you have it. My very boring meal plan for the week! But, even putting together a boring meal plan means less eating out, & less food waste.

What's on your menu for the week?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Frugal tidbits for the week & a Sunday recap

I'm trying to get better about focusing on frugal tasks each week, so I thought a weekly post might help. Here are things I've done to save money this week:

  • Three no-spend days! (Monday-Wednesday)
  • Remembered that I had money left in an old survey account that I rarely use, and requested a check for $10.
  • Uploaded my fitness activity (we get rewarded at work for exercising) & earned a $10 drugstore gift card.
  • Used the $10 gift card to purchase magazines for my trip this week. (We split up some of the shared items, & each buy a few things).
  • Listed two items on Craigslist (decluttering & potentially making money - double win!)
  • Went through all of the books in the house (and, I swear that I thought all of the adult books had already been donated!) & found two bins of books (mostly kids books) to sell at Half Price Books

And, while I didn't get everything done today, I did get quite a few things marked off of my list.

  1. Yoga
  2. 4 mile run
  3. Bike ride with the kids
  4. Menu plan for the week
  5. Finish packing for my girls trip on Thursday
  6. Sunday Funday event at our gym with the kiddos
  7. Strength workout - arms
  8. Wash all sheets/make beds
  9. Laundry
  10. Make cranberry muffins for M
  11. Bake bread
  12. If it's not too hot, bake banana wheat germ bread - Yes, although I ended up making chocolate chip muffins instead.
  13. Go through filing cabinet & ditch all unneeded paper work
  14. Clean out gift/card area of our laundry room
  15. Use up a gift card at a drugstore that's about to expire
It was too hot today for a bike ride in the afternoon (should have done it in the morning!), & the house is now too hot for yoga. I didn't get to the filing cabinet, but did the books instead.

And, here are a couple of pictures of my crew at the water park over the weekend! The two younger ones are mine. :-) Obviously, they had a great time!

I'll take it! How was your Sunday?

Saturday, July 13, 2013


We got back late this afternoon from our water park adventure with the kids. Good times were had by all. :-) I'm going to take advantage of the hint of relocating & work on my ongoing 2013 decluttering projects. I went through the kids bookshelf tonight & found about 50 books to donate. So, I'm about .002% done with decluttering the house! ;-)

Anyway, here's what I'm planning to do tomorrow:

  1. Yoga
  2. 4 mile run
  3. Bike ride with the kids
  4. Menu plan for the week
  5. Finish packing for my girls trip on Thursday
  6. Sunday Funday event at our gym with the kiddos
  7. Strength workout - arms
  8. Wash all sheets/make beds
  9. Laundry
  10. Make cranberry muffins for M
  11. Bake bread
  12. If it's not too hot, bake banana wheat germ bread
  13. Go through filing cabinet & ditch all unneeded paper work
  14. Clean out gift/card area of our laundry room
  15. Use up a gift card at a drugstore that's about to expire

If I get all of that done, I'll be thrilled! :-)

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish tomorrow?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Considering a relocation

I'm still in a bit of shock, but M received a verbal job offer yesterday . . . for a job in San Francisco! It's a great job (and an even better company - one of the best places to work in the US), but it requires relocating. We're of course waiting for the formal job offer, and details of pay, benefits, & relocation before we make any decisions, but we are strongly considering it.

  • We need a job with excellent health benefits, with my disease. This would easily solve that, and reduce the need for me to find a job with benefits.
  • The long-term career potential for M is huge. There's really no career upside at his current job.
  • While the salary is comparable to what he is getting now, the stock options that would vest over the next few years would be very big.
  • The weather would sure be nice :-)
  • When I'm ready for another career, or even more flexible contract work, the job market in San Francisco is huge, & perfect for my skill set.
  • It's a nice transition as I quit my job, and would take some time off to get us moved, get the kids all settled, etc.
  • Relocating. The general stress & work involved - especially because we'd like to have the kids start school there, which gives us just over a month.
  • Selling our house here, which we love & has a ridiculously low interest rate, which we'd lose.
  • Selling our beach house, which makes me very, very sad. :-(
  • The cost of living is insane. Housing, state income tax, etc. One more time for emphasis - the COST OF HOUSING.
  • And, the biggest issue for me - we'd be further from my family. M doesn't see this as a big issue, as we don't get a chance to see them *that* frequently, but I know moving would mean we see them a lot less anyway.

Holy smokes! So  much to consider, & so much to do!!

Have you ever relocated? Tips or advice? Do you live in the San Francisco area? Can you recommend nice areas with great schools? :-)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

2013 - goal check

In my last post, I covered a budget check point, so now I'll look at our 2013 goals. Writing the post is a nice forcing function for me to review our 2013 yearly goals & understand where we stand, with just over half of the year elapsed.

Here are the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

  1. Lose 12 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. I'm trying to shoot for a healthy, but realistic number. - Well, I've been as low as 141. I'm currently at 144, so I've lost three pounds so far this year.
  2. Track my food/exercise every day in My Fitness Pal. - Yes! Even though I guesstimated a few vacation days, I've tracked every day.
  3. Improve my fitness by doing the following:
    1. Complete 13,000 minutes of cardio. This will be a huge stretch goal for me, but I'm ready for the challenge! - I'm at 6700 minutes, so right on track!
    2. Complete 100 strength workouts. - I'm at 57 strength workouts. WOOHOO!
    3. Complete 100 stretching workouts. - I'm at 22 stretching workouts, so need to improve this.
  4. Run consistently, as measured by the following:
    1. Run 10 races. I have a few in mind, but basically want to challenge myself to really maintain my running endurance throughout the year. - my healthcare diagnosis changed my plans, but I did complete 3 races this year, and hope to do a couple more.
    2. Run 20 miles (or more per week). - This is no longer a goal. I would like to build up to 10 miles/week.
    3. Run 1000 miles in 2013. - No longer a goal for 2013. 
    4. Achieve a personal best in a half marathon. - I did this! :-)
    5. Run a 5K, 10K, 15K, & potentially a 30K. - I did a 10K, a 5 miler, and a half this year.
  5. Reach 50% of our boys college fund savings. This will take around $10,000, depending on the tuition price fluctuation. - We are at 44% saved, and I don't envision us finishing this out this year, due to other priority shifts. . namely, coming up with a huge efund in case I decide to leave my job.
  6. Pay $50,000 of principal on our mortgages. - We're at just over $10,000, but I expect to make major headway on our primary residence the second half of the year.
  7. Have one date night per month with M, & get together with two friends per month.  - Yes!
  8. Track our spending, stick to our budget, & continue the monthly reports. - Yes!
  9. Review our charitable contributions, & increase our yearly giving by 10%. - Yes!
  10. Organize one room in our house per month. - I've done a tremendous amount of decluttering, but haven't focused on any one room in particular. Maybe I should start that.
  11. Learn to bake bread (bagels, english muffin bread, sandwich bread). This is partially because I'd like to trim our grocery budget, but also because it's something I've tried & failed at before & just want to improve. - Yes! I made bread from scratch multiple times, & then M bought me a bread maker for my birthday. I *adore* it!
  12. Create/finalize will & guardianship papers. I hesitated even adding this to my goals, as I've failed at this for the last two years. But, it's important enough that I'm adding it again. - Fail. :-( Need to focus on this.
  13. Generate $1,000 in "side hustle", loosely defined as anything outside my normal paycheck, for the year. I've never tracked this before, so keeping the bar low. The money will be used to convert my grandmother's old movies into DVDs, and the rest will go towards my sister's 40th birthday trip. - Yes! I've made over $2400!! So excited.
Given my progress, I'm going to set some more challenging (or, more realistic, depending on the goal) stretch goals.

Goal #3
  1. Complete 14,000 minutes of cardio.
  2. Complete 120 strength workouts.
Goal #4
  1. Run 10 miles/week
  2. Run a post-diagnosis race.
Goal #7
  1. Plan a fall girls trip. Most of my trips fall into the summer, which makes fall a bit of a lull.
Goal #11
Learn to make pie! :-)

Goal #13
Make $5000 in side hustle. I think I can do this.

And, adding a couple of additional goals for the second half of the year:
14. Save $30,000 in our Efund, so I can consider other (more flexible) employment options.
15. Sort out my job situation.

How are you doing with your 2013 goals? Are you on track? Do you need to adjust any numbers, add or remove goals?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2013 - halfway point check

With the passing of June, six months in 2013 are officially over! As such, I thought it would be helpful to look at each of my budget categories, & determine where I'm over, under, or on target for the year, and what I need to do to hit my overall budget goal for 2013. It's taken me some time to put this all together, so I need to quickly implement changes for the second half of the year.

As of right now, I've spent 53.6% of our 2013 budget. So - over the 50% mark, but still within target if I make some adjustments.

Categories where we're over:
  • Groceries. At nearly 60% of our yearly target. Gulp.
  • Dining out. This is just shameful, but we're at 116% of our yearly target. Now, admittedly I cut our budget in half from 2012, but we really need to correct this immediately. I'm fine with the monthly date nights, but there's too much other frivolous spending in here. One issue is that we're frequently eating on the drive to/from the beach. We can prevent this by leaving later and/or bringing something to eat in the car, which I prefer over fast food anyway.
  • Gas - At 60% of our yearly target. Lots of driving back & forth to the beach. We're trying to drive our more fuel efficient car whenever possible.
  • Primary residence utilities - at 72%. I had to start paying for my cell phone bill at work, and our power bill is up pretty drastically year-over-year, due to utility hikes.
  • Boys clothes - 183%. I've spent $504 so far this year! I can't believe this. I've never really tracked it before, but it's far more than expected. I assume I can do better, but with buying new ski gear (I look for sales, but lots of options in their sizes tends to be rare) & new jeans, etc as they grow out of them. . . I'm hoping that we're good for the rest of the year.
  • My clothes - at 106%. I picked up the few things I had on my list (a new bathing suit, a maxi dress, and a couple of sweaters for work). I don't anticipate buying anything else.
  • Gifts - at 129%. My grandmother's 80th birthday trip pushed this one over.
  • Travel. No budget. Spent $3322 so far. I'm hoping to offset most of this with my eBay earnings.
  • Personal - 82%. This is mostly hair cuts for everyone. The boys hair cut barber shop is just getting ridiculous - almost $40 for two kids hair cuts?! We're definitely looking for a cheaper option.
  • House - 466%. Spent $5,360 and budget was $1150. . . I foolishly didn't create a category for home repairs. This category was meant to cover household items (trash bags, cleaning supplies, etc), but we've had to do almost $4,000 in home repairs to our vacation house.
  • Dry cleaning - no budget. Spent $110. We've switched to Dryel for the majority of our cleaning going forward - save for M's suits, which need to still be dry cleaned.
  • Car - 293%. This is the one that annoys me the most. Someone hit my car & did $1500 of damage - and, didn't leave a note. We paid for the repairs ourselves.
  • Boys (misc) - 77%. We haven't been spending that much (we're below $200 on all kid-related spending for the year - not covered in other categories), but it seems to trickle out. We don't have an entertainment category, so this has been mostly activity-related.
  • Liquor - 140%. Knowing that my favorite (and inexpensive!) wine is only available in the summer, I stocked up. Let's hope we don't need to buy much more for the year.
  • Boys birthdays - 118%. I came close to our budget. ;-) No future spending for 2013.
  • Taxes - 243%. Let's not talk about this one, but no future spending for 2013.
  • Refinance - not budget. Spent $1899, but we've saved a lot over the course of the year.
And, categories where we're on track or under!
  • Boys lessons - at 37%. We've just cut back the number of activities and looked for bargains when possible.
  • Vacation house utilities - at 49%. Right on target!
  • Child care - at 37%. When I created our budget, I forgot that I put $5,000 in a tax savings account for childcare, which accounts for the savings.
  • Health - 25%. This was mostly allocated to race fees, and my lupus diagnosis put a (hopefully temporary) stop to my running.
  • Primary residence mortgage - 19%. This is our biggest savings of the year, due to our refinance. We do plan to increase our principal payments after all of the house repairs are done.
  • Insurance  at 50%. It's a planned/fixed fee, so easy to stay on track. ;-)
  • Cleaning - at 32%. We've cut *way* back, & picked up the slack on our end.
  • Vacation house mortgage - at 42%, courtesy of our refinance.
As you can see, we still have a lot of work to do to hit our 2013 financial goals. Here's what I'm working on to try & bring us back on target:
  1. Call about our car insurance. They just raised our rates again (and, we pay $4,000/year!), so I'm going to see what we can drop.
  2. Find a less expensive place for the boys hair cuts.
  3. Really evaluate my clothing budget, as well as the boys, & not make any unnecessary purchases.
  4. Continue to look for opportunities to cut our utilities, grocery & gas costs. Groceries are hard for us, but I'll keep working on it.
  5. And, make enough money via eBay to offset our travel expenses, which were unbudgeted.
How about you? How are you doing with your 2013 budget? On track? If you're over, how are you going to get things back on target? If you're under, what is your secret to success? :-)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu plan Monday

Once again, we have a week where not everyone will be around for the week ahead. I'm finally just accepting that this is a regular part of life, rather than an exception. ;-) It's taken me a while!

I only cover dinner plans in my menu. Breakfasts consist of eggs, fruit, the occasional muffin or fruit smoothie. Lunches are sandwiches, fruit, and a snacky item for the kids. I take leftovers & whatever needs to be eaten.

  • Monday - Leftover grilled chicken from the weekend.
  • Tuesday (M out of town) -
  • Wednesday (M out of town)
  • Thursday -Tacos
  • Friday - I'll be out of town with the kids at a water park.
  • Saturday - Southwestern Quinoa Salad (with chicken) - bumped from last week
  • Sunday - Homemade pizza
What's on your menu for the week? I'm keeping things easy, as it's supposed to be warm here again.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat

I'm not really ready for it to be Monday, but I think the clock is going to move forward, regardless of how I feel about it! :-)

My inspiration for the week. Whenever I get down about the lupus, or think I'm not able to do certain things, I think of my dad. He completed a 100 mile mountain bike race in 24 hours over Memorial Day. He's in amazing shape, & pushes himself every day to stay healthy. At the finish line. . .

  • Reading: I can't remember. Something I downloaded for free for my Kindle. As long as it's free, I don't spend much time vetting the titles. ;-)
  • Listening to: Scooby Doo!
  • Watching: Again with the Scooby Doo!
  • Cooking/Baking: I made two loaves of bread & homemade meatball pizza. It was amazing.
  • Happy you accomplished this week: I completed our 2013, half way there financial summary. So happy to have that done.
  • Looking forward to next week: I'm taking the boys to a waterpark with my sister, & we always have a great time, drinking wine in the evenings & catching up. The adults, that is. :-)
  • Thankful for today: The health that I do have. I was able to go for a run & I'm feeling pretty good.
  • Bonus Question - Do you play games? Board games, card games, video games, games online, on your phone, iPad, etc... Not really. I sometimes have to test out games for work, & it makes doing something like that in my free time not that attractive. I think of it as "work". :-)

  • Thanks to Carla for hosting!

    Sunday night activities

    Well, to be fair, I accomplished most of my tasks early on in the day, & now I'm ready to relax. :-) We got home from the beach late last night (after a fabulous & relaxing 4th of July weekend), so today I had plenty on my to do list.

    1. Bake two loaves of bread for the week.
    2. Make pizza dough.
    3. Go for a 4 mile run.
    4. Do yoga.
    5. Take the kids to Sunday Funday (a free bouncy house/ping pong/basketball open activity time at our gym).
    6.  Do a strength workout.
    7. Bonus second cardio workout = 45 minutes on the bike.
    8. Come up with a creative use of our leftovers. Yes! Especially proud of the pizza I made tonight. I took barbecued beef kebabs, thinly sliced them onto a pizza with some leftover gouda that was hanging out from the long weekend, added green pepper and a red sauce base. Topped with fresh tomato, salt & pepper as it came out of the oven. Perfection! Better than anything I've had in a pizza place.
    9. Unpacked all of the beach stuff.
    10. Hit the store for a few things to get us through the week.
    11. Laundry. (ALMOST DONE :-))
    12. Update budget
    13. Menu plan for the month ahead.
    14. Sign up for a run for the fall.
    15. Have a glass of wine with M & talk about the weekend. Our version of "happy hour." :-)
    16. Make a packing list for our overnight at the water park.
    I think that's it. I didn't finish everything, but I accomplished most of what was on my list. I'll take it!

    How about you? What did you get done this Sunday? Have you tried any good recipes with creative leftovers recently?

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    July Goals

    Before I dive into the goals, I wanted to focus for a minute on the unexpected call I received last week while on vacation. A family member (an uncle) is in dire straits, and needs a job immediately. The only position he could find is over a two hour drive (each way) from his house, but is near our home. He asked if he could stay with us for a bit as he figures things out.

    I must confess, I'm not a "houseguest" person. My in-laws stay with us for three months at a time, and they are totally amazing and helpful. But, having houseguests makes it very difficult for me to stick to my routine, and I find it hard to relax when I know there are other people around. I try to use the treadmill at 5:00 am, which is right next to our spare room, so that's out. I tend to do yoga at 8:00 pm, but that's not the kind of thing you do in front of guests. ;-)

    All this said, I truly believe in helping those who need help. My uncle is a fantastic guy, and my boys are thrilled to have him around. :-)

    Now, onto my July goals.

    1. Find and register for a race. It doesn't need to be a marathon - just something small to get me going again.
    2. Make $250 on eBay.
    3. Update resume.
    4. Update LinkedIn profile.
    5. Stick to budget on two upcoming trips (big girls trip in three weeks, and overnight stay at a water park).
    6. Deal with houseguest graciously, & look for opportunities to turn it into a "win"
    7. Reduce grocery bill to $550.
    8. Fitness goals:
      1. 1100 minutes of cardio
      2. 12 strength workouts
      3. 10 stretching workouts.
    9. Clean & inventory freezers
    10. Schedule a dentist appointment - I'm WAY overdue! :-)
    I think that will keep me busy! How about you? What's on your list of July goals?

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    June Goals - Recap

    I must confess that I didn't even look at my June goals while I was on vacation, so things got a bit dicey there. ;-)

    Below are my goals for June, along with how I did.

    1) Pay cash for our vacations & take nothing out of our regular savings (I have a special vacation savings) to cover. - Done!
    2) Stay within our grocery budget of $500. - Massive fail. I thought we would be able to hit this, but had to stock up last night, and have an unexpected house guest. (more on that later.) We spent $729.
    3) Research 10 job options, including 2 networking contacts. - I've definitely done this. I deemed July my official month to kick off the search.
    4) Update LinkedIn profile. - Nope. This will roll over to July's goals.
    5) Make all reservations for girls trip in July (my sister's 40th birthday trip). - Yes! All set - but I just did it last night. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. ;-)
    6) Read 4 books. Reading helps me relax, which I know I need more of. ;-) - Yes! I read 7 books, most of them on vacation.
    7) Fitness goals:
    • 1000 minutes - 1102!
    • 15 strength workouts - 9
    • 10 stretching workouts - 5
    8) Add $500 to our savings account. - Done!
    9) Earn $500 for my girls trip. This is a huge stretch goal, as I've already made close to $2500 on eBay, and have limits on selling multiples of my higher ticket items at one time.  - I made $215.
    10) Come up with something for a family that is really struggling. One of my son's friends mother is losing her battle with cancer, and they have brought in hospice. She has twin seven year olds, and a ten year old. My heart is breaking & I want to help, but also don't want to burden or inconvenience them. :-( - Done.
    11) Turn the following freezer items into "something" :-):
    • Ham - I used 1/2 of it. Still a chunk in the freezer.
    • Carrot puree. I used what was frozen, but now there's more in my fridge. Too many carrots! :-)

    How did you do with your June goals? I hope they were a success! On to July! :-)