Monday, March 31, 2014

April Goals

It's time to look ahead & set new, fresh goals for April. Here's what I'm planning on doing:

  1. Lose 3 lbs. 
  2. Track my calories every day using MyFitnessPal
  3. No dessert at work! For the entire month!
  4. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio.
  5. Complete 8 strength workouts.
  6. Complete 8 stretching workouts. I'm good at getting in one workout a week (on Sundays). I need to also do one evening per week.
  7. Register for a half marathon, or a 15K. Start training.
  8. Better manage my work schedule - take more breaks, work out regularly, and block out time on the calendar.
  9. Have one date night with M (should be easy - we're doing a long weekend together).
  10. Do one social activity.
  11. Find a running club.
  12. Finalize tax payment plan.
  13. Stick to our budget.
  14. Continue exploring next career options.
  15. Make a list/plan for my trip to the beach over Memorial Day of what I want to accomplish/get rid of. It's a fun girls trip, but I plan to take full advantage of being there to go through our stuff. Minimize the pain when we actually sell. ;-) 

I think that will work. What are you planning to accomplish in April? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Thanks so much to Carla for hosting!

  • What are you watching? - The boys are watching a car show about Porsches. ;-) 
  • What are you looking forward to this week? - My parents are flying in on Wednesday. Super excite for them to see the boys, and to spend time with them. They have never been here, so it should be fun. M & I are also going away for two nights to Napa. CAN'T wait!! :-) 
  • Lesson did you learn last week? - That I need to branch out, socially. And, manage my calendar more diligently. Also, I learned to give a bit more (socially) at work. I'm all business (but friendly), but have discovered that investing the time & energy to be more social means a happier & more enjoyable work environment. I'm naturally more of an "eat lunch at my desk, run back & forth to meetings, & then hustle out to pick up the kids" person, but I'm trying to carve out like 30-60 minutes per week to be more social. 
  • What was your best moment over the last week? - Today, spending time with my boys, playing in the sun, and laughing. So nice! I also made the effort to go & talk to two of the neighbors & exchange email addresses, so maybe we can go for the occasional hike. I miss having friends, so these are needed steps!
  • What is your #1 goal for next week? - Finish our planning to come up with the money to pay for our major tax bill. Good times! ;-) 
  • What was your Best/Worst Financial decision over the last week? - Best decision - rather than suggesting take out after a very long & wet soccer game, I threw together a quick & delicious dinner. Worst decision - not last week's decision, but not finding an accountant until it was too late. SO painful to go it alone this year. 
  • Which recipe is next on your "to try" list? - I've been craving chicken parmesan, so may try this one
I managed to walk 4 miles today (split into two groups), did my power yoga, made homemade pizza for dinner (chicken pesto, with goat cheese for the adults, cheese for the kids), made bread, cleaned the fridge, did laundry, coordinated the April soccer carpool schedule (I swear, i need a masters degree in scheduling), & started to pack for our trip. Great & productive day!

How about you? How is your Sunday going?

Taxes are finished

Oh, sweet love a duck, was it ever ugly. We've owed every year, but I went out of my way in 2013 to plan better. I had more deducted from each paycheck, and I saved a substantial chunk of my bonus. However, nothing could quite prepare us for unexpectedly moving, switching jobs, renting our house, and dealing with California state taxes as well as the relocation costs.

We are getting an $11 refund from the state. Party! :-)

We owe $14,300 to the IRS. Sobs. . . I have almost all of the money saved, but need to pull a bit from investments to cover the rest. Oh, sad times. Sad, sad times. We continue our search for a tax planner to help us figure out how to minimize our tax burden while planning ahead for our total taxes in 2014. Fingers crossed that someone will free up after tax season.

On that note, I'm off to be productive. We had an 8:00 am soccer practice, and I've been relaxing since. I need to make bread for the week, pack for our adult getaway, squeeze in yoga & a walk, and do the stack of laundry that is sneaking up on me daily.

Back for chit chat later.

Are you done with your taxes? How did they turn out?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Thanks to Carla for hosting the chit chat!
  • What are you reading: Some pretty tragic free romance novel on the Kindle. I just purchased a few books (Gone, Girl was my favorite), so I'm back to only free books for a while. 
  • Are you watching: My kids are watching magic tricks. Nick received a magic set for his birthday, so we're all about the magic shows!
  • Are you looking forward to this week: I'm doing a happy hour with a girl friend on Tuesday. I'm still working on making friends here, so happy that I'm building my network.
  • What is one thing you did last week that you don't want to repeat this week: I didn't do a good job of managing my calendar (I was on jury duty, so it was a total crapshoot anyway), which meant it was hard to manage my time & get things done.
  • Was your best moment over the last week? I did a great 5 mile hike yesterday, and had all of these fabulous & creative ideas to problems I've been facing. Plus, it was gorgeous & I saw tons of wild animals & just soaked up the sunshine.
  • Is your #1 goal for next week? Stay focused on my workouts, and stay RELAXED. Do not let work stress get me down.
  • Song can't you get out of your head? Happy, by Pharell. 
  • Best/Worst financial decision over the last week? Best - let's see, I don't think I spent anything during the work week. Worst, I'm planning to buy a ticket to go visit my sister and best friend in May! :-) 
  • Is something that you'd like to learn to do? I'd love to learn to play chess! My husband and the boys play often, but I've never learned.
Hope you're having a nice & relaxing Sunday.

Financial update

It's been so long since I posted last! I hope everyone is doing great, knocking their goals out of the park, & having a fabulous March.

M has the kids at soccer this morning (bright & early, at 8:00 am), so I'm trying to be productive before sweaty little boys come home. ;-) I've got muffins in the oven, bread in the bread maker, I'm washing sheets, & cleaning the fridge!

A few quick updates - I've been working out more! Working out makes me feel sane. :-) I get my best ideas on runs/walks. I also feel much better about myself when I make time to exercise. All of those endorphins, I suppose. I'm still working too much, but hope is in sight! I've already hired an employee who will start on 4/1, and I have two more in the pipeline that I expect to be able to hire in the next month. YES! These people will all work in different time zones (where we have other staff), so I can reduce my evening meetings & early morning meetings. I'm very happy about that. ;-)

We celebrated our little leprechaun's birthday on Monday (he turned 7 - seriously, where has the time gone?), and we've been doing carpools & soccer & sleepovers. Childhood is much like I remember it, and I do everything I can to not let my work interfere with all of the activities that make childhood special.

Here is the birthday boy, putting on a musical performance

I've been doing much of the cooking on weekends, and then eating leftovers during the week. By doing that + adding in a few freezer meals, it's been working extremely well. We are already over our March grocery budget, but M's been doing most of the shopping, & he tends to be more "free" with the grocery spending than I am. ;-) 

In other financial news, everything is just sort of working. We are waiting to figure out our tax bill. Mostly, I have to go through the effort of closing out the last few details. I think we're going to owe around $15K to the federal government, and get a small refund from the state.

M & I are also going to take a mini adult only vacation in a few weeks. My parents are coming to hang out with the boys, and we're going to Napa. I wish it were longer (just two nights), but I'm thrilled to get some alone time just the same!

In other great news, we have a showing at our vacation house today. Fingers crossed!!

Have a fabulous, relaxing, & productive Sunday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

February financial recap - where did all of the money go?

At the end of each month, I look back to evaluate how we did against each budget category, and determine what changes I need to make in the months ahead to keep us on track with our yearly budget.

February was a wild month - lots of car repairs, my birthday, Sam's 8th birthday, a trip to see family, Valentine's Day, & an extremely high amount of dining out (as a result of all of the special events & travel).

Here's how we did!

I received a peer bonus at work - $86
And made a little money on eBay - $25
Plus our normal paychecks
Grand total of $15,629. (This is our net, after health insurance, retirement savings, taxes, & charitable giving come out, plus all of the regular old deductions).

We also made $3,800 on our rental property in Washington.

And, total spending (includes both mortgages on our two residences, and our rent in San Francisco):

Major areas where we were over:

  • Our auto category. Two cars needed new tires. Budget is $200, we spent almost $1,000.
  • Dining out. Budget is $150, we spent $516!
  • San Francisco Utilities - budget is $400, we spent $660. Cost of increased power & water usage.

Areas where we were under:
  • Gas - we continue to spend less than anticipated. (Our budget last year included lots of driving to our vacation house, as well as trips to the mountain for skiing). Under by $150
  • Groceries - who can believe it?! As you can guess from the dining out, we ate way too many meals out for birthdays, and on our trip. The grocery bill was a record low of $286, so saved $163.

That's pretty much it. It was not the normal month, but I'm glad that I track, & plan ahead. March will involve finalizing our taxes, which is most definitely not going to be pretty. I need to start planning for that.

How was your February spending? Any big areas where you were over or under? Do you need to adjust your yearly budget to stay on track? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

February Goals Recap - How did I do?

February was a *very* difficult month. Way too much work, I started to have a flare with my lupus (it's gotten better since I've increased my medication), I got locked out of the house while I was supposed to be making work calls from home, I got a flat tire, I got into a fender bender, our roof had a leak, M's team went through an organizational change, & it was very likely for a while that he was going to get laid off. . . from the job that we moved here for. . . . Ahhhhh, yes. It was good times for sure.

Anyway, suffice it to say that February was mostly about survival. But, I hate not recapping my goals, so I'll just get right to it. ;-)

  1. Lose 2 lbs. - Nope. I lost, then gained, then evened out. I'm just where I started the month.
  2. Track my calories every day in MyFitnessPal. - Yes!
  3. Complete 900 minutes of cardio. - I finished at 467. My lowest in the last year, as far as I can tell. 
  4. Complete 8 strength workouts. - No, I completed 4.
  5. Complete 6 stretching workouts. - No, I completed 3.
  6. Decide on a half marathon. - I did look at a couple, but didn't make a final decision until last week (in March). 
  7. Have one date night with M. - Yes!
  8. Build long term financial scenarios. - Yes, although with M's potential lay off (it didn't end up happening, but that's a story for another day), we opted to hold on going further with our discussions, as it was very stressful with so many unknowns.
  9. Finalize our legal documents. - No.
  10. Put $500 in the boys college accounts, as their birthday gift. - Yes!
  11. Track spending, create a month end summary/report. - Not yet, but coming out in the next few days!
  12. Get together with one friend. - Yes!
  13. Read 4 books. - Yes!
  14. Have 10 no spend days. - Yes - I rarely spend money during the work week, as food & drinks are free at the office!

Not a banner month, by a long shot. But, I'm refocused in March, & determined to get my workouts in.

How about you? How was your February?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Planning a menu for the week is the only way I manage to get dinner on the table on crazy week nights, and avoid eating out. I have evening calls twice a week (meeting with Japan), so it's super important that I do the majority of the cooking on weekends & then add a side dish, or defrost something from the freezer during the week.

I made monster cookies for the kids lunches (YUM) yesterday, plus bread, pizza dough, & taco meat.

Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Saturday - we had grilled burgers. It was 75 here. ;-)
Sunday - Homemade pizza
Monday - Tacos (meat prepped on Sunday)
Tuesday - Leftover burgers
Wednesday - I have an evening event to attend, so leftover pizza, I'm guessing.
Thursday - M is out of town, so I'll probably do pasta & chicken for the kids, and something to use up all of the red potatoes that are going bad for me.
Friday - M is out of town, so something easy like sandwiches.
Saturday - M is out of town, & Nick is having a friend sleep over for his birthday. Likely cheese pizza, homemade popcorn, & birthday cupcakes! :-)
Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - out to dinner for Nick's actual birthday. He's requested Greek food.

What about you? What's on your menu plan for the week? What are your tricks for getting dinner on the table during busy week days? 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March Goals - better late than never

I'm late to the party, but really need to get some March goals together (and, recap February, but who's counting? ;-)).

Here we go! In case you want to see the big picture, my 2014 goals can be found here.

  1. Lose 4 pounds, bringing my weight to 146.
  2. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio
  3. Complete 10 strength workouts
  4. Complete 10 stretching workouts.
  5. Register for a half marathon.
  6. Run 20 miles.
  7. Have one date night with M.
  8. Plan one social activity with a friend.
  9. Review all legal documents (wills, etc) & get notarized.
  10. Finish taxes.
  11. Complete Feb financial & goal summary.
  12. Figure out April vacation with M.

I think that will do it!

How about you? What are your March goals?

I just did yoga with Nick (he's six, & is crazy flexible -jealous!), and I'm planning to squeeze in a quick run around all of my other weekend fun. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, so looking forward to a run in the sunshine. In other good news, my doctor increased my dosage of lupus medicine, & it seems to be working! I'm feeling much better.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Is it March yet?

Wow - how the time is whizzing by, in a haze over the past few months.

So very happy that February is over! The last day of the month went out with a bang - I had to go to the doctor to discuss some complications with my health, someone hit my car on the way home from the doctor's visit, & then drove off after he motioned that we should both pull over. No one was hurt, luckily. I picked up the other car so that M could repair the minor damage, and got a huge screw in my tire.

We also have a hole in our roof (rental house, not ours, thank goodness), which means we've had people in & out trying to get things dry, and repair the roof. A giant tarp is currently attached to our roof, but blew off last night during a storm.

Ahhhhhh, yes. Life is very complicated sometimes, isn't it? :-)

On the agenda for today:

  1. Yoga
  2. A walk, rain or shine. I'm a Washington girl - I can handle it!
  3. Take the boys to see the Legos movie, as promised
  4. Bake cookies.
  5. Run a few errands (produce stand, Rite Aid)
  6. Set March goals
  7. Review Feb goals
  8. Build a menu for the week
  9. Update our budget
  10. Do the laundry
  11. Help the kiddos with a couple of homework projects
That should do the trick! What's on your to do list for today? It's very stormy here, so it will mostly be an inside day - perfect for getting things done around the house.